This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Gospel passage is from Luke and it relates the story of the Holy Family’s travels to Jerusalem. After three days, Mary and Joseph are astounded at finding Jesus in the temple in the midst of the teachers. They were worried about him because they couldn’t find him. Mary does question Jesus: “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Jesus answers: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” The passage goes on to say that Mary and Joseph did not understand what was said to them. Jesus went back with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. At times it must have been very confusing for the Holy Family to sort out how God was acting in their lives. Having a child who was the Promised One of God, and who, at a young age, was beginning to understand his mission from his Father in heaven, must have been challenging at times for Mary and Joseph. They were a faith-filled family and they placed their trust in God who gave them direction. I was thinking of the question Mary asked Jesus. I am sure that most of us have been asked the same question on more than one occasion from one of our parents. Maybe the question was more like “How could you have done this to me/us?” It was probably filled with great emotion. Often, the way in which we are confronted with a question and the tone of voice that is used makes a great difference. Asking “Why?” almost sounds like a person is ready to listen for an answer (but not always). Mary and Joseph were willing to listen, and accepted Jesus’ explanation. Even though they didn’t fully understand the response, they tried to remain true to their parental role, their call from God, and to what God was asking of them in this specific situation. How do we, within our families, when either asking or being confronted with tough and challenging questions, respond? Do we have listening hearts? Do we respond with love and compassion? Do we seek God’s guidance? In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we have much to learn from the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Let us make it a point to imitate them.
This Saturday, we warmly welcome Father Duane Wachowiak who is covering for Father Jim so he is able to attend his family’s Christmas celebration. Father Duane is a priest of the Gaylord Diocese with family roots in Saginaw. Father Duane was given permission by his bishop to minister within our diocese for a short time as Parochial Administrator of Saint John XXIII Parish in Hemlock. Previous to that he was the Director of the Office of Liturgy in Gaylord. Presently, he is a member of the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corner, Wisconsin. We are very happy to have him celebrate Mass with us this Saturday!
I would like to offer special thanks to those who spent many hours in preparing and enhancing the Church environment for Christmas, making wreaths, preparing and practicing music, preparing Worship Aids, and ministering in any way to help make our liturgies festive and prayerful celebrations! Thanks to all who worked behind the scenes stuffing bulletins, mailing post cards, and helping the office staff in any way. Thanks to those who delivered flowers to the homebound and those in Nursing Homes, those who baked cookies for the individuals and families served by the food pantry, for the children, youth and adults who went caroling to the homebound and those in Nursing Homes, and to those children who made cards for them. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Advent Angel Giving Tree and who provided gifts for those in need. And, thanks to anyone or any group I may have missed for your stewardship of time and talent. All of you are greatly appreciated! Finally, thanks to all who sent cards, expressions of gratitude, kind words, goodies, and gifts to me, and thanks to those who now and then invite me to share a meal with them. I am filled with great gratitude for your kindness and generosity. I have been so blessed by so many members of Saint John Paul II Parish!
The monitor speakers for the sanctuary were installed this past Monday, just in time for Christmas. What a big difference they make for those sitting in that area! Once again I would like to thank the Rosary Altar Society for their generous donation of $1,000.00 to cover a major part of the cost of this project.
Please do not forget that Friday, January 1st, the Octave of Christmas, is a holy day. It is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Please join us for 10:00 AM Mass. Because this solemnity occurs on first Friday, refreshments will be served after Mass.
I do hope you are getting to spend some quality and relaxing time with your families, and those you love. I will be heading to see my family for the week this Sunday after Masses. As I mentioned in last year’s article, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph has been traditionally the time we celebrate Christmas within my family.
Blessings on your Christmas Season!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ