This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - January 4, 2019


This Week – January 4, 2019

Dear All: 

Thanks for the inspired and inspiring Christmas. I hope and trust that yours was also full of great blessings and that your new year is off to a rollicking good start. This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. Next Sunday it is the Baptism of the Lord. Then on January 20, we return to Ordinary Time until Ash Wednesday, March 6. Enjoy the 60 days of green vestments.


  • Travelling Devotions – Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Guide – Our Metuchen Diocese is promoting a year of spiritual renewal. It includes renewal of our relationship with the Blessed Mother, in her role as Our Lady of Guadalupe. Saint Joe’s and every other parish in the diocese have received an icon and a collection of prayers that is meant to stay at a different parishioner’s home every week. I thank the members of the 8:35 Club (the folks who regularly attend daily Mass) for signing up for the first 15 weeks. Thirty-seven more households can host the icon and pray the prayers once the 8:35 gang finishes the preliminary round. Great thanks to Fernando Diaz, our parish liaison to the project. Please contact Suzanne Kral at if you would like to be put on the list of host households.

  • Prayer Service for Refugees and Migrants – Think about joining the prayer for refugees and migrants this Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The diocese invited our parish to host this event as part of next week’s nation-wide effort to pray for our dislocated brothers and sisters. Join us if you can. 

Sunday’s Homily – “December 30, 2018 – Feast of the Holy Family: Hope Part VII: Family Hopes, Me and Us”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily (and access to past homilies), click here.

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page


  • The Inhalers: At the end of each Mass on December 30, I asked you to consider putting an offering in the poor box, an offering that would help pay for a local man’s inhaler. Because he is not a U.S. citizen, our friend is not eligible for government assistance. Your response was truly outstanding. Your generosity has enabled us to set up an account, within our Social Ministries accounts, that will pay for his next six inhalers. Imagine our friend’s relief when, as we stood at the cash register and the very kind pharmacist said “That will be $620. How would you like to pay,” and I was able to reply “St. Joe’s Parish will cover it.” Thanks too to all who offered other forms of assistance. You are a blessing.

  • Virtus Training available for any parishioners interested in volunteering to work with youth, special needs adults or the elderly is available tomorrow from 9:30 - noon. There are only 5 of the 40 spots still available. Click here to register.


  • Welcome to Our New Parishioners – Once again, we are delighted to welcome several new members to our parish. May your years at St. Joe’s be many and may they be years of great grace for you, and because of you, years of great grace for all parishioners:

    • Maureen Amter and her son Michael

    • Patrick and Diane Baldoni

    • Ryan and Sarah Forrester and their children Charlotte and Adam

    • Ellen Schwalm

    • Logan Stahl

    • Christopher and Carol Wishbow

  • Dates to Mark:

    • Our Annual Pasta Dinner – Friday, January 25 –– a great night for the whole family

    • “All You Need Is Love” – Saturday, February 16 – at the 4:45 Mass with dinner and a party afterward, a celebration of marriage for all our married couples. Recall last year’s reception after the 11:30 Mass on Valentine’s Day? This celebration will be that excellent but different. Plan to be there.

With blessings for every St. Joe’s parishioner and whatever is going on in your life these days. May God divide whatever sadness you are feeling and multiply the joy.

Fr Hank

December 30, 2018, Feast of the Holy Family
Hope Part VII: Family Hopes, Me and Us

We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family every year on the Sunday after Christmas. For most families, the feast occurs on the heels of a wonderful family celebration of Christmas. For others, the feast follows some difficult days. Regardless of the state of our family, the feast offers consolation and challenge. By inviting us to look at our hopes – our “me-hopes” and our “us-hopes” – the feast consoles and challenges all of us. The feast’s scriptures do the same.

Sunday’s first reading (First Samuel 1) touches the stories of two families. The main family in the story, Samuel’s family, includes several people who care primarily about “us.” Elkanah and Hannah reveal a strong, underlying concern for each member of the family. Neither of them pursues “me-hopes.” Peninnah, a very influential and severely self-centered woman who lurks in the story’s background, could not care less about others’ wellbeing. She is all “me-hopes.” Eli’s family is the story’s other family. Eli cares deeply about the community and about his family. His two deadbeat sons, Hophni and Phineas, are great examples of pathologically self-absorbed youths. They hope only for their own gratification. That misguided hope proves to be their undoing.

The gospel (Luke 2) recounts the time when Jesus became separated and then reconnected to his family. He has one idea about what is best for “us.” His parents have a very different idea. Their story is not like that of Hannah and Peninnah or like that of Eli and his sons. Those stories were about “me-people” confronting the “us-people.” The gospel, by comparison, is a story of “us-people” having different notions of what is best.
Both readings challenge. The first reading challenges us to wonder about our “me-hopes,” – i.e., hopes that focus only on my wants and needs rather than on the family’s. They invite us to put down our Peninnah and take up our Hannah. The gospel challenges us to consider the possibility that we might need to put down an “us-hope” even though that hope gives every indication of being inspired. 

But the readings also console. They invite us to recall moments when, with God’s help, we have recognized our “me-hopes” for what they are and put them aside. They also invite us to recall those graced moments when we surrendered a beautiful “us-hope” in favor of another’s.

When have you put aside a powerful “me-hope?” When have you recognized that a goal you are pursuing benefits only you, not the family? Maybe it was about your professional life, or your training schedule, or your sports schedules, or your recreational life? And when have you put your “us-hope” aside in favor of another’s? Maybe it was about family finances or relationships or recreation?

Regardless of the current state of our families, whatever we regard as “family,” there is probably a chance to go from a me-hope to an us-hope, and another chance to go from one us-hope to a better one. What is your story?