Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today we welcome Father Alberto Vargas who will be presiding at the 9:30 AM Mass.  He is the parochial vicar (associate) at Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish; and he began that assignment July 1.  Our regional vicar, Father Rick Bokinskie, is pastor of the parish.  Before coming to Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, Father Alberto was assigned to Blessed Sacrament Parish in Midland.  He has been to Saint John Paul II Parish before for weekday Mass.  I know you will give him a warm welcome.  I thank Father Alberto for covering for Father Jim this Sunday so that Father Jim would able to baptize his twin cousins.

This weekend I am still on vacation as we celebrate the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time.   (If all works according to plan, I should be home Monday evening.  I am writing this article two weeks ahead of time).  The Gospel passages for the past several weeks have been taken from John’s Gospel; today we return to Mark’s Gospel.  In today’s passage, the Pharisees and some of the Scribes are criticizing Jesus because some of his disciples are not adhering to the traditions of the elders in washing their hands before eating and in keeping the other “laws” of purification.  When asked why his disciples eat a meal with unclean hands, Jesus tries to teach the Pharisees and Scribes what really causes a person to be unclean.  He tells them it is not what enters a person from the outside that makes them unclean, but that which comes out from within a person, and he gives them several examples.  Jesus calls them hypocrites and leaves them with the challenge to see where defilement and uncleanness lie within themselves.  This week, we might choose to look within – not that we are hypocrites, but that we are trying to live holy lives and faithfully follow the teachings of Jesus.  We may ask ourselves if the best we have within us is always what comes out of us in the words we speak or in the things we do.  Do we ever let greed or envy or arrogance or deceit or malice or evil thoughts brew within our hearts and sometimes come through in the words we speak? Do we let our “traditions” get in the way of accepting others, and cause us to hastily judge them?  Do we “keep the letter of the law” and yet entirely miss the point of the law?  I read an interesting reflection on this Scripture passage which noted:  It is easier to clean pots and pans than to clean one’s heart!  That is a pretty strong statement, but I suspect there is some truth in it.  Basically, today’s Gospel is about purity of heart, or transparency of heart.  It’s about authenticity: speaking and acting in such a way that who we are on the “outside” truly reflects who we are on the “inside.”  The Gospel challenges us to “let go” of whatever gets in the way of letting that happen.  We take our lead from Jesus.

By the time I return, three projects may have been set in motion and some may have been completed.  One is tending to the area where the snow plows dug up grass between the rectory and former convent, one is the repair of the roof on the old school where the Carrollton Public School Omni Program is held, and the third is the re-sealing and re-striping of the main church parking lot.  Funding for these projects is coming out of the building fund savings account.  (I know that many of you have been using the building fund envelopes and I hope you continue to use them).  As for restoring the grassy area between the buildings, the cost is minimal.  The roof repair (an unexpected expense) will be shared equally by both Carrollton Public Schools and Saint John Paul II Parish (per the diocesan contract with them and consultation with the parish and diocese).  The total cost of the roof repair is $10,000.00 ($5,000.00 of which we pay).  The long range plan is to re-seal and re-stripe the other two parking lots as well: the one on the east side of the church and the one by the Education Center.  So, please know that the contributions you make to the building fund will be saved for the other two parking lots.  Any special donations you would like to make to the parking lot project would be greatly appreciated.

Just a reminder: Finance Council meets this Wednesday at 5:45 PM at the Parish Office Center on Carla Drive.

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Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ