Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.      The Gospel passage from Luke this Sunday is very familiar to us.  It is the account of the Beatitudes.  The difference between his account and Matthew’s is that one takes place on a mountain and the other on a plain.  Luke’s takes place on the plain:  it is a “let’s get down to earth here” – the crux of the matter message.  Since the Gospel passage is so familiar to us, we may miss the depth of its meaning.  Luke not only begins with, “Blessed are you;” he follows it with, “Woe to you.”   I imagine a certain portion of the group connecting with Jesus and being comforted by his words, “Blessed are you.”  I imagine another part of the same group hearing what Jesus is saying and becoming furious at the words, “Woe to you.”  This week let us carefully read Luke’s rendition of the beatitudes, reflect upon them, think about what comforts us, and what unsettles us about them.  How do we identify with being poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, and insulted?  How have we and society contributed to others’ being poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, and insulted?  What must we do so as not to fall into the category of the “woes?”  Where do we need to experience conversion?  What must we do to change our attitudes and behavior?

Have you signed up for the parish Mardi Gras party yet?  The planning committee needs a head count by Monday, February 18, in order to prepare enough of the main dish for everyone.  All are asked to bring a dish to pass: please see the flyer in today’s bulletin for more details.  If you have not yet signed up for the party and plan on coming, please call the parish office (755-0828) by the end of the day this Monday (February 18).

We are in need of some more liturgical ministers in various areas, especially Hospitality (Greeters and Ushers), Candle-Bearers, Cantors and Choir members.  Ministers of Hospitality serve two weeks in a row every other month.  Candle-bearers need not be Altar Servers but simply be able and willing to carry a candle in procession once a month.  Cantors need not be members of the choir, but some rehearsal time with Patrick is required.  Choir members alternate singing at the 4:00 PM and 9:30 AM Mass every other weekend.  Rehearsals are normally on Mondays twice a month.  If you are able and willing to offer your gifts in any of these ministries, please contact Sister Chris, Patrick, Deb or Ed Popielarz, or call Alex at the Parish Office (755-0828).  Your help and your ministry is greatly appreciated.

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  In today’s Gospel passage from Luke, we hear the familiar story about Jesus who is standing on the shore of Lake Genneserat and is surrounded by a crowd pressing in on him.  (If you are wondering about the name of this lake, in the New Testament it has also been referred to as the Sea of Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee).  Jesus notices two boats aside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and are washing their nets.  Jesus gets into one of the boats (belonging to Simon) and asks him to go out a little distance from shore.  After teaching the crowds, he tells Simon to lower the nets for a catch.  Simon and the others tell him they have been at it all night with no success, but at his command they will do as Jesus tells them.  They catch such a great number of fish that the nets begin tearing, and even two boats can hardly contain them.  Reflecting upon this Gospel could have one go into several different directions.  It is related to the call of Simon Peter.  In Luke’s Gospel, he focuses on Simon alone (without his brother Andrew).  In the three other Gospels, Simon and his brother, Andrew, are called together by Jesus.  In today’s account, this was not Simon’s first encounter with Jesus.  Immediately prior to this story, Luke tells us about the cure of Simon’s mother-in-law.  Simon Peter has encountered the power of Jesus in two ways: healing and a miraculous catch of fish.  Peter realizes that there is something very special about Jesus (his divinity, perhaps), and as he looks at his own humanity, in humility, Simon Peter says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  While he is feeling unworthy, Jesus says to him, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  The Gospel passage ends by telling us that Simon and those fishermen with him, brought their boats to shore and left everything to follow Jesus.  No matter what our vocation from God is, we know that he is always present to us, and continues to reveal his presence through his Son Jesus, in the sacraments, in the Scriptures, in our personal prayer, through other people, and in both the ordinary and significant events in our lives.  As we reflect upon our lives and our own call, let us ask ourselves, what we have freely left behind or “let go of” to follow Jesus.  Let us also reflect upon the times in which Christ worked through us:  in times of weakness or want, at times when we were afraid, or in those moments when we felt we had little or nothing to give to others, to our families, or to our ministry. 

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday we celebrate the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.   This week’s Gospel passage begins with the exact same verse that ended last week’s Gospel: “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”   In today’s Gospel, all are amazed at Jesus and speak highly of him.  Yet, they are perplexed because they thought they knew him.  They ask, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”   Sometimes, in our own experience, we have grown up with individuals, gone to the same schools, lived in the same neighborhoods, been part of the same parish family, or worked with them.  When we encounter them in the future and they act differently from what we are accustomed or do something out of the ordinary, we may respond in a number of ways.   We may ignore it, find it hard to believe, or become amazed.  When we ignore it, those individuals make no difference in our lives.  When we find it hard to believe, we tend to criticize or spread rumors, or put the person down, or insinuate that there is no way they could have done what they have been credited for.  When we become amazed, we tend to affirm, congratulate, express gratitude, or sometimes put the person up on a pedestal (only to disappoint us at a later time).  I would like to share an example in my own life.  The least likely person in my graduating class ended up going through college, continuing his education to get a doctorate in history, and then teach at a prestigious university out east.  He came home for class reunions and I always enjoyed our conversations.  [I did not associate with him much in high school because I thought he was immature and a trouble maker].  During a conversation at our 40th class reunion he was sharing with me his ministry in his parish and his involvement on the RCIA team and how much it enriched his life.  I was truly amazed and stunned and grateful not only for his success at teaching but how spiritually enriching his life had become.   He died from cancer a couple of years ago.   Relating with him in the later years of life was a blessing and taught me that people can and do change.  Just like Jesus “grew in wisdom, age and grace,” we experience continual conversion in our lives along with deeper insight into our gifts and the ways in which we can share them for building up the Body of Christ.  Just as Jesus carried out the mission of his Father, some were amazed, and others criticized and ostracized him, and refused to accept him.  We who have been baptized into the Paschal Mystery, may experience the same.  Let us not be the cause of another’s suffering just because “someone acts out of character” from how we have known them to be.

 

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.  I would like to highlight the Second Reading from I Corinthians because I think it is worth reflecting upon this coming week.  In this Scripture passage, Saint Paul stresses that just as the human body, with many parts is one, so is Christ one.  The Church, the Body of Christ, has many members, yet is one.  The Church is the manifestation Christ’s presence to the world.  When any of us acts in a manner that is divisive, which ruptures the unity of the Body of Christ, we do an injustice in representing Christ to the world.  This week, let’s think about our gifts and how we contribute to the wholeness and unity of the Body of Christ.

This Sunday begins Catholic Schools Week.    Nouvel Catholic Elementary and High School Students will be present at Masses this weekend, speaking, serving as Greeters and acting as Gift bearers during the Presentation of Gifts.  Flyers regarding Nouvel Catholic Schools will be posted on the bulletin boards and also will be available after Mass for those interested in learning more about the schools.  We are very proud of the Nouvel students in our parish and are grateful for their presence with us each weekend.  Three of them serve the parish in liturgical ministry as Altar Servers: Tara Bruske, Andrew Kontur, and Matthew Kontur.  Elijah Cronkright takes part in Liturgy of the Word with Children. 

You are invited to attend Mass on Thursday, January 31 at 8:30 AM at Saint Thomas Aquinas Church as Nouvel Catholic Elementary School Students celebrate a special Mass for Catholic Schools Week.

Please note the flyer in today’s bulletin regarding the annual Knights of Columbus Charities Raffle.   Tickets are $5.00.  The first prize is a trip for 2 to the 2020 Superbowl and $8,500.  The second prize is $1,500 and there are several more cash prizes.   James Callahan and some of the other Knights of our parish will be present selling tickets for two weekends only. Please support them in their efforts as they continue to do great and generous work for our diocese and our Church.

Speaking of raffle tickets, please make sure you get your Big Raffle tickets, if you have not already done so.  Remember, any tickets we sell beyond 260, yield 100% profit ($5.00 per ticket) - a very simple fundraiser for us this year.  How generous of the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan to share those profits with us!  Watch for an update on tickets sold, next week.

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Welcome, Father Pat O’Connor!  It is wonderful to have you back with us to celebrate Eucharist this weekend!   

Last Sunday we celebrated the final day of the Christmas Season with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  Today we celebrate the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The worship space seems so stark now that the enhancements for the Christmas Season have been taken down and put away.  In terms of progressive solemnity, we take things “down a notch,” so to speak: placing the Book of the Gospels on the Altar before Mass begins, using a simpler Penitential Act, praying the Apostles’ Creed, and singing one of the Mass settings we reserve for Ordinary Time. With these choices, we still celebrate the Paschal Mystery in a vibrant manner.  The assigned Scripture Readings are taken from Lectionary Year, Cycle C.  The Gospels are primarily taken from Mark.  However, today our Gospel passage is taken from John.  It is the story of the wedding feast at Cana.  It is on this occasion that Jesus performs his first public miracle: changing water into wine.  John does not refer to it as a miracle: he uses the term “sign.”  Signs are performed in order to reveal God’s presence.  Note that John concludes the Gospel passage by saying, “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana of Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.”  Jesus continues to work signs in our day, in our very midst, sometimes through us.  As we look back upon this past week or upon this past Christmas Season, let us reflect upon some of the signs through which Jesus has revealed himself to us in a deeper way.

We are invited to attend a special Mass commemorating the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn” this Tuesday, January 22, at 5:30 PM at the Cathedral.  Bishop Walter Hurley will be celebrating the Mass.  This year is the 46th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade which legalized abortion in our country.  As you know, October is designated as Respect Life month.  We continue to pray for a respect for life in all its forms from conception to natural death.    [There will be no 6:30 PM Mass this Tuesday at Saint John Paul II Parish so that those who wish to attend the Mass at the Cathedral will be free to do so].

Please make sure you check out the flyer in today’s bulletin regarding the Big Raffle.  It is sponsored by the Catholic Community Foundation.  We receive 100% proceeds of any tickets we sell over 260.  Please help us. 

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ