Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem with his disciples.  Along the way, Jesus shares more about what it means to be an authentic follower of his.  In last week’s Gospel passage, Jesus told the disciples that they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily.  He told them whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake will save it.  This week’s Gospel passage is from the same chapter of Luke but picks up about 27 verses later.  While traveling to Jerusalem, and walking through a Samaritan town, no one welcomes Jesus and his disciples.  James and John react by posing a question to Jesus: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”  Jesus rebukes them because a true follower of Jesus does not react in such a manner.  Many times we want to “fly off the cuff” at a person or “put them in their place” if we think that the individual has purposefully ignored us, excluded us, hurt us, rejected us, or made an unkind remark to us.  Somehow, Jesus understands the motives of people who act a certain way, and he rarely judges them.  More often he takes pity on the poor souls.   He knows who he is and what he is about and goes on with his mission and the work of the kingdom. After the first encounter in today’s Gospel, one of the disciples tells Jesus that he will follow him wherever he goes.  Jesus reminds him and all of them that the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.  Taking the journey with him may become difficult.   As Jesus turns to another and says, “Follow me,” that person explains that he must first go bury his father.  Another who desires to follow Jesus wants to go home and bid farewell to his family.  The response of Jesus seems harsh.  His remarks have less to do with loving one’s family than they do about letting nothing get in the way of one’s “yes” and one’s commitment to following Jesus.  Journeying to Jerusalem, Jesus knows that time is of the essence, and that the time is now for one to give a whole-hearted yes to following Jesus: salvation is at hand.  Once upon a time, some religious orders and congregations took this passage quite literally.  There were many years when those who entered religious life in certain communities were not permitted to visit their families, or attend funerals of family members.  That changed about 50 some years ago when we realized we were getting caught up in externals.  For instance, when I was a novice, I asked my Novice mistress why we couldn’t go home to see our families when we could do so at least two separate weeks when we were Postulants.  I was told that we could only be away from Novitiate for so many days.  (I think it was only 10 days we could miss).  So, I suggested that they wait until the last ten days of Novitiate to allow us to go home but that idea didn’t go over.  Then I asked my Novice Mistress a question:  “If we can only miss 10 days of Novitiate, was Novitiate a place?  Was I, a Novice, no longer a Novice if I visited my family and was away from the place called Novitiate?”  I wondered if they were afraid that we might change our minds about taking vows if we “went back into the world.”  Sister Dismas didn’t answer my question.  However, a couple of years later, those who were Novices were permitted to go home for a visit.  (They did have a different Novice Director).  Families are important and they can be very supportive of our vocation, of the path in which God has called us to live our life (whether married, single, priest, deacon, or religious).  Jesus never meant to say family was not important, but he did want to emphasize that nothing should get in the way of putting God first in our lives and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to him.             


We welcome Father Bill Taylor for the 4:00 PM Mass this Saturday.  It is always good to have him return and celebrate Mass with us.  (If you are keeping up with Father Jim’s schedule, you know that he is teaching the new Order of Celebrating Matrimony in New York for the Diocese of Rockville Center.  He returns to Saginaw late Saturday evening and will be present for the 9:30 AM Mass Sunday).


This Friday, July 1, we celebrate our Second Anniversary as Saint John Paul II Parish.  Please join us for the celebration at the 8:30 AM Mass.  Father Randy Kelly will be here to celebrate with us.  Friday is also first Friday, so we will have our customary coffee, juice, donuts and baked goods after Mass.  We will continue to celebrate our anniversary this coming weekend with “Hospitality Sunday” and refreshments will be served after both the 4:00 PM and 9:30 AM Masses.  Father Bill Taylor will return again for the Masses on July 2 and 3.  


This is the last Sunday of the fiscal year.  If you look at our stewardship column in the bulletin, you will see that our projected income is under budget: $46,229.00 to date.  Once this weekend’s collection is tallied, it will give the whole story.  With such a large deficit, it has been most difficult to pay our Catholic School Assessment of $114,000.00.  To date, we have a $21,000.00 deficit on CSA 2015 which we are unable to pay from our operating expenses.  And we are up to date on our payments on the loan for CSA 2014.  Many are doing their part in terms of stewardship to the parish, but many others are not really doing their fair share.  If you are behind in your envelopes, please try to cover what you are able by July 1.  I encourage you to keep up your stewardship during the summer months even though you may not be in Church every weekend.  You may be wondering about the money from the sale of the former Saint John the Baptist Church.  “Closing” has not yet taken place, so we have not yet received any payment from that.  A full parish financial report will be in the bulletin once it is completed and sent to the diocese.  The deadline for the 2015-2016 Parish Report to the Diocese is August 1.   


One last item: Special thanks to all of you who continue to make pledges to CSA 2016.  We are still $6,509.25 below our assessment with 68% participation.  This is great!  Just think what we could do with 100% participation.  I am confident that more pledges will be coming forth.  Thank you for your generosity!


Blessings on your week!

Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ