This weekend we celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Easter. Once again we have the privilege of celebrating the sacrament of Baptism this Easter Season. At the 4:00 PM Mass on Saturday we will welcome the newest member of the faith community: Luke William Pack. We congratulate his parents, Laurie and Aaron, all their relatives, and friends on this joyous day of his baptism. We promise our continued prayers for the family and pledge our support to be credible witnesses of the faith for Luke in his continued formation in the Catholic Church.
The Gospel from Saint John this weekend can be summed up in the last few lines of the passage. They are: I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. The words of Jesus are straightforward and very clear. However, they are not necessarily easy to live. Throughout our lives we experience different kinds of love: love of child for parent and parent for child, the love of brothers and sisters for one another, the love of friends for each other, romantic love for our spouse or for someone we are dating, the love of caring for an elderly parent, the love that sometimes interrupts our lives when another is in crisis, and above all, selfless love (sometimes referred to as agape). All of these forms of love have some traits in common but are unique in their expression of that particular kind of love. The love that Christ is calling us to live is selfless agape love. It is more than simply putting another first. It is the kind of love that asks for nothing in return, a love that keeps no score of wrongs but is totally compassionate and forgiving. It is an all-exclusive love in which no one is left out for any reason. It is the kind of love Jesus had for us, a self-emptying love that led him to give his life for us, to die for us so that we all might live. When Jesus says, “This is how all will know you are my disciples,” he is speaking about a love that is so different from any kind of love the world normally experiences, that people can’t help but take notice of it when they are recipients of this from of love. In this kind of love, one makes a conscious choice to be a loving person – this agape love is not a falling in love” but a “choosing to love.” In order to choose this love, we need to experience the unconditional love and mercy of God through Christ. That love and mercy will compel us to treat others likewise, to extend to them the free gift of love God offers us.
Special thanks to all who came to the Religious Jubilee Mass at the Cathedral this past Wednesday. Having so many of you present for the liturgy was a special blessing. I am so grateful for your continued affirmation, love, and support of my vocation and my ministry. Please be assured of my continued prayers for all of you.
This Thursday, Bishop Cistone will celebrate one of the regional Confirmations at the Cathedral of Mary of the Blessed Sacrament. The children of our parish will receive the sacrament of Confirmation at that time. The same children will be receiving First Eucharist next weekend. Please keep them in prayer this week during their final days of preparations for completing the sacraments of Initiation.
The response to the Catholic Services Appeal this year has been great this far. If you check out today’s latest update in the stewardship column, you will notice that we need just a bit more than $12,000.00 to meet our assessment. We still have approximately 180 pledges that have not yet been returned. So, I am really confident that we will be able to meet this year’s assessment. To those of you who have already made a pledge, I thank you for your generosity. To those who have not yet made a pledge, I ask you to prayerfully consider how you are best able to participate in Serving with the heart of Christ this year. Remember, the size of the pledge does not matter; just responding to the need the best you are able makes a difference. If you need a special CSA envelope, there are extras in the pews and at the Parish Office. When you make your pledge, you may either drop the pledge envelope in the collection, place it in the mail slot at the Rectory, drop it off at the Parish Office Center, or mail it to Saint John Paul II Parish.
Blessings on your Easter Days!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ