This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Aug 18, 2016

Dear All:

This week in prayer:

Christian courage enables us to do things that (a) are scary, (b) align with God’s hopes and (c) rely on God’s help. God gives us the Christian courage we need to fulfill our baptismal promises to be priests, prophets and kings. Each of those functions requires a unique strain of Christian courage.

Sunday’s readings remind us that prophets sometimes need extra courage to withstand the ugly, unsettling and scary experience of having our motives questioned – usually unfairly.

Jeremiah’s detractors complained “he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin.” Their altogether unfounded allegations about Jeremiah’s motives led to Jeremiah’s torment. But Jeremiah persevered. He displayed the Old Testament version of Christian courage. He continued to console and to challenge.

 

In Sunday’s gospel, Jesus admits that His life and words will divided communities. Linking Sunday’s passage with others, we know that the divisions will be among those who trust Jesus and those who question or condemn His motives. His detractors accused Him or working for the devil, of trying to usurp power, of capriciously ridiculing the Sabbath. None of the accusations were true. His motives were pure. And in the face of the unwarranted criticism, He persevered. He kept being a prophet – consoling and challenging others. 

When has this been your story? When has God given you the grace to withstand unfair questions about your motives? When have you managed to persevere even when others unjustly accused you of operating out of self-interest – as you struggled to be a good prophet, to console others and/or to challenge others in ways that seemed to align with God’s hopes? Do you see moments when God gave you all the Christian courage you needed to be a fine prophet? And what about others? Do you have loved ones who are laboring to be good prophets – helping others in countless ways – yet are subject to false accusations of bad motives? Might you be able to console them with the reminder that God is with them, enabling them to persevere?

This week in service:

  • Nearly 100 parish volunteers made it happen. They enabled three moms, one dad and eight beautiful children to call our parish “home” last week. Special tribute goes to the project’s organizers and to those who stayed overnight, cooked meals, entertained our guests, cleaned up, you name it. One of the most inspiring aspects of all – the young people from our parish who gave themselves to the project. I had the privilege, a few times, of watching our youngest guests leap off their bus and dash into our parish hall, trusting that they would again be greeted by friendly young faces who would provide fun and kindness. To all who helped, remember, you saw Him homeless and gave Him a home, you saw Him hungry and you fed Him. Bravo.
  • Our Sesqui year has encouraged many parishioners to support our veterans. Remember the 150 pillows for amputees (turned out to be 300 pillows!)? The green light bulb project? The rejuvenated flags in the cemetery? The “Operation Shoebox”? The thank you letters to our soldiers and sailors? Clearly, our women and men in uniform, past and present have a special place in our hearts. Per the suggestions of several parishioners, it seems a good idea to provide a permanent memorial to all the men and women of St. Joe’s who, since 1865, have served our nation in uniform. The current plan is to install a 40 foot pole with an 8 foot yardarm along with a memorial stone in our “Great Lawn.” A preliminary picture of the memorial will be posted in the gathering space starting this weekend. If you can support the project, please put your donation in the orange box. Donations should not exceed $100. While we cannot yet specify how the details will shake out, if you are giving to the project in memory of a loved one who served, please indicate their name and the place and dates of their service. With luck, the memorial will be in place on Veteran’s Day.
  • If you are caring for a loved one who needs extra help, join us on the morning of September 10 for the “Caregivers’ Morning of Recollection.” If you know someone who is a professional caregiver or someone who is caring for a loved one, even if that person is not a parishioner or not Catholic, encourage them to join us. The day’s organizers will be available in the gathering space this weekend and next to answer questions. 
  • Kudos to the young people who are taking such great care of the parish pumpkin patch. The pumpkins are getting “ginormous.” And remember – if you buy your pumpkins here, your money will help feed the hungry.

This week in community:

  • Upcoming events: PARISH PICNIC, September 11; SESQUI-PALOOZA, October 7; Sesqui closing Mass with our bishop, Saturday, October 8 at 4:45.

All best blessings

Fr. Hank, SJ