Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We celebrate the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend. This Saturday we welcome the Knights of Columbus who are present for Corporate Communion.  One of our parishioners, James Callahan, who is a Knight of Columbus will share a few words with us before the announcements.  Please note that there are several pamphlets in our book rack in the main entrance of Church regarding the Knights of Columbus if you would like some information about them.  Please plan on attending this Sunday’s breakfast at Council #4232 which benefits Saint John Paul II Parish.  I encourage you to support all the charitable works sponsored by the K of C.  Special thanks to those of you who contributed to the “Tootsie Roll Drive” last weekend in support of people with intellectual disabilities, particularly in the SAID and SPRED programs of our diocese.

The Gospel passage this Sunday is the story of the man who runs up to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life.   When he tells Jesus that he has observed all the commandments from his youth, Jesus tells him that he is lacking one thing.  When Jesus says, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me,” the man went away sad because he had many possessions.  Do you ever wonder what happened after the man left Jesus?  Do you think he did some soul searching?  Do you think he made any changes to his life and maybe he was aware of the poor?  Do you think he came back and followed Jesus in some manner?  Or do you think he just couldn’t get himself to do what Jesus proposed?  Sometimes we ask questions of one another or of God and we really don’t want to hear the answer we are given.  We may think we are doing our best, but then we realize more is expected of us from our spouse, our families, our teachers, our supervisor, our boss, and our God.  How do we respond in today’s society?  Do material things, activities, sports, social events, work, laziness, doubts, or selfishness with our time, talent, and treasure prevent us from really responding to Christ’s call to fully live out our Baptismal call as a member of the Church who regularly gathers with the faith community for Eucharist, and reaches out to those in need?  What must we to do inherit eternal life?  We have been promised that gift through Baptism.  What must we do to be authentic and faithful disciples of Christ Jesus?  If we have kept the commandments from our youth, what more must we do?  Are we willing to do it?  How is Jesus speaking to us through the Gospel?

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.  In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus answers a question regarding divorce.  In prohibiting divorce, Jesus quotes Genesis: “…the two shall become one flesh.  So, they are no longer two but one flesh.”  Husband and wife become one in heart, one in hope, and one in love.  In the sacrament of Matrimony, marriage is more than a legal contract between two parties; it is a living sign of God’ presence and grace in our midst.  It is a manifestation of God’s unconditional love that has no end, and has no limit to its ability to give and forgive.  It is not simply a life-style but a vocation in which two people enter into a sacred covenant and an unbreakable bond (“until death do us part”) which reflects God’s unconditional and eternal love for his people.   This week let us give God thanks and praise for all those called to the vocation of marriage.  Let us affirm them and pray that they remain faithful to one another “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,” and that they will love and honor one another all the days of their lives.

 Special thanks to Father Emmanuel Akpobolokemi who has been part of the Sunday and weekday rotation of priests who have been helping out with Masses in the diocese.  (As we have heard again and again, there is a real shortage of priests which we are experiencing firsthand in our diocese).  Father Emmanuel who is from Nigeria has been ordained for 12 years and has done some studies at Boston College.   This past year he was serving at Saint Dominic Parish.  Since the end of that assignment (July 1), while awaiting confirmation of a new assignment, hopefully in the states, Father Emmanuel has been helping out in the Diocese of Saginaw. 

Next Sunday is Corporate Communion for the Knights of Columbus here at Saint John Paul II Parish.  Jim Callahan, a parishioner and a Knight of Columbus, will be sharing a short message with us that weekend. Please note that next Sunday is also the monthly K of C Breakfast, the proceeds of which will benefit Saint John Paul II Parish.  Thanks for supporting the Knights of Columbus and their charitable works.

The next sessions for EM of Holy Communion who wish to renew their certification will take place in church on: Tuesday, October 16 from 5:30–6:30 PM and on Wednesday, October 17 (after 8:30 AM Mass) from 9:15-10:15 AM.  Names of those required to take this class with Sister Chris are posted on the bulletin boards.

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  In today’s Gospel passage, John is upset when he sees someone who does not “follow Jesus” performing a good work, casting out demons in his name.  So, John complains about it to Jesus and tells him that the disciples tried to stop the person, but he would not listen.  Even in the day of Jesus, there were those who were considered “insiders” and “outsiders.”  It is interesting how we human beings think and act toward those who, in our eyes, don’t belong to our circle.  We criticize them and presume they are up to no good.  Jesus validates those who are doing good works in his name.  He tells the disciples: “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.  For whoever is not against us is for us.”  We are aware that today there are enough factions in society that we don’t need to experience them in our churches.  We know that people participate at different levels according to their state in life, their family situation, their jobs, their personal health, their energy level, and where they are in their own faith journey.  All of us strive to do the Lord’s work, some more closely connected to the parish than others.  The important thing is that we work together in the name of Christ to continue his mission in our day and age, in whatever manner he calls us, and wherever he calls us.  When we live and act in the name of Christ, we are promoters of life, love, compassion, forgiveness, unity, equality, peace, and justice.    As we further reflect upon the Gospel this week, let us personally ask ourselves: When have I experienced the Spirit of God from an unexpected source?

Each year, the month of October is dedicated to the holy rosary.  As has been the custom in our parish, those who have a special devotion to the rosary are invited to pray it on the weekends 45 minutes before Mass begins.  During the month of October, members of the Rosary Altar Society will lead the rosary at 3:15 PM on Saturdays, and 8:45 AM on Sundays. 

Please take note of the Stewardship Report in today’s bulletin. The deficit in Sunday income over the summer months has created some financial stress on the parish budget; we are struggling a bit to keep up with bills.  If you are behind in your contributions due to summer vacation, please try to make up the difference as soon as possible to help alleviate our financial stress.  Also, I encourage you to support our fundraisers (presently, raffle tickets) to help supplement our Sunday income.

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  In the Gospel passage, Jesus continues to teach the disciples about his mission and how the Son of Man will be handed over to those who will kill him, but after three days he will rise.  They do not understand this kind of talk.  As they journey with Jesus they begin arguing about who is the greatestJesus is not very happy about it.  He tells them: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and servant of all.”  Then Jesus places a child in their midst to further explain his point.  We are not so different than the disciples.  We need to be reminded of the reality, the demands, and the cost of discipleship.  It is not about being first or greatest, but it is about being one who serves.  Being a follower of Jesus takes courage because we live in the midst of a culture whose values are not always in sync with Christianity.  In our society, “getting ahead” and being first determine what many see as greatness and success.

All Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in the parish who completed the diocesan formation session with Father Jim in 2015, and who received a certificate for 3 years (2015-2018) must complete an hour session on the theology of Eucharist with me this year if you wish to renew your certification in this ministry for three more years.  It is required by the Diocese and the Church.  This week, there are two opportunities for continuing formation scheduled: Thursday, September 27, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM and Saturday, September 29, 10:00 – 11:00 AM. These dates have been on the September calendar, listed in the parish bulletin, and announced in church.  Only one session is required.  If, for some reason, you are unable to attend one of the sessions scheduled for this month, another formation session will be scheduled in October.  Watch the upcoming bulletin for details.  If you are unsure, whether or not you are up for renewal this year, please see the list on the parish bulletin boards, or call the Parish Office.  

Raffle tickets are on sale for the Fall Craft Show and Bazaar.  Tickets are $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00.  The prizes are cash prizes.  Also, the members of the Rosary Altar Society are selling raffle tickets for their Holiday Raffle that takes place this November.  All of the prizes for that raffle are donated by individuals and many are home-made.  Those tickets are $1.00 each.  I ask you to please support both of these raffles if you are able.  The first raffle benefits the parish, and is a necessary fundraiser to help supplement our Sunday income and keep us on budget.  The second one is a means of financial support for the Rosary Altar Society whose dues are minimal.  The Altar Society provides funds for the hosts, wine, and candles for Mass, the laundering of the altar linens, and an occasional parish outreach activity, such as flowers to the homebound.

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend as we celebrate the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we welcome Sister Donna Gunn, CSJ who is present for our annual Mission Appeal.  As I mentioned in the past two weeks’ bulletins, Sister Donna is a member of the Carondelet Sisters of Saint Joseph of St. Louis, MO.   She will be speaking about the mission work of the sisters in Latin America.  I know that you will give her a warm welcome.  There will be a special collection after Communion this weekend and I pray that you will be generous in your response to the Mission Appeal.

 

This Sunday is Catechetical Sunday.  The theme this year is:  Enlisting Witnesses for Jesus Christ.  Catechists play a key important role in passing on the faith to future generations.  Catechists share their faith with others, help form them in the faith, and accompany them on their journey of faith.  Several members of our parish are involved in Catechetical Ministry: in our Faith Formation program, in our Youth Ministry program, as part of the Liturgy of Word with Children each Sunday, as part of the RCIA process, as part of Sacramental Preparation, and as couples who help with Marriage Preparation.  I am very grateful for their ministry which is an extension of my own ministry.  Our Catechists will be acknowledged at the Masses this weekend and will receive a special blessing and commissioning. 

 

The Gospel passage for this Sunday is the account of Jesus asking the disciples: “Who do people say that I am?”   Following their responses, he asks them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter says “You are the Christ.” Jesus warns the disciples not to tell anyone about him.  Then Jesus tells them about the rejection which lies ahead for him, along with his death and resurrection.  Peter speaks up again and rebukes Jesus.  In turn, Jesus rebukes Peter for not understanding what he is saying, for thinking not as God does but as humans do.  Then he tells all of the disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me…whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”  This message is for all of us, reminding us that the Christian life of discipleship is about the Paschal Mystery.  As we continue to reflect upon the Gospel this week, let us ask ourselves the following: What is the most difficult and challenging cross that I carry?  Has it ever been a means of resurrection in my life?

 

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ