This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - January 18, 2019


This Week – January 18, 2019

Dear All: 

Monday morning was another one of “those moments,” a moment that exposed the great generosity of spirit that lives in the hearts of so many St. Joe’s parishioners. The volunteers – both the 8:35 Club regulars and the folks who came especially to help – had all the Christmas decorations put away by 9:30. The dozens of poinsettias, the creche, the flying angels, everything was all relocated in a half hour. It then took a bit more time to schlepp everything over to the rectory basement, to sweep up the hay and to put away the outside lights, but it was all done speedily with great good humor. Major thanks to all who pitched in and thanks to those who would have pitched in if they could have. And, of course, great thanks to all who labored mightily to make the church as beautiful as it was for Christmas. Your outstanding efforts helped many people to pray and to feel and trust God’s infinite love.


  • Sacrament of the Sick – Don’t hesitate to ask for it! If you are about to have an operation or have received a challenging diagnosis, please let me know ASAP. On your way in or out of church is the best time to tell me. My usual response is to anoint as soon as I have greeted the last departing parishioner. The anointing only takes a moment and the grace is, according to the many who experience it, palpable. God wants to help you get better. Also, please let me know if you have a loved one who is homebound or living in a healthcare facility. The goal is to provide spiritual sustenance to every parishioner, whether or not they can get to Mass. I anointed about 160 parishioners last year. It is a beautiful part of who we are.

  • Travelling Devotions – Our Lady of Guadalupe Icon and Prayers – Remember, if you would like to host the icon and pray the prayers for a week in your home, please get in touch with Suzanne Kral at 

Sunday’s Homily – “January 13, 2018, The Baptism of the Lord; I Have Called You for the Victory of Justice”

  • 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


  • Calling all Technical Writers – Have you had experience writing manuals or other technical guides? If so, can you help us out? Our recent tech upgrades – the Church sound system, the new wifi throughout the building, excellent AV equipment in the CCD classrooms – in addition to the tech upgrades that we hope to make this year, require people who know how to run the equipment. Many would like to help but need better instructions. Might you be able to help us produce the manuals or user-guides that will enable more people to join the tech ministries? If yes, email me at

  • Ministry Recruiting – Our ministry recruiting season will occur in Lent this year. Suzanne Kral, parish liaison to all ministries, has invited all ministry leaders to sign up for a recruiting station. We have 2 or 3 slots remaining for the recruiting season. If you would like to claim one of the available tables, email Suzanne at 

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – Mark your calendars. People involved in every parish ministry are invited to the annual morning of recollection on Saturday, March 16. The morning provides time for reflection on your ministry and it also provides an excellent opportunity to connect with the many parishioners who share your ministry. 

  • Turkey Pot Pies ― Did you ever wonder what happens to all the turkeys we collect around the holidays? Any turkeys not consumed by needy families get turned into turkey pot pies that will be used by our emergency meals ministry throughout the winter. This past Saturday our youth group baked - from scratch - 22 pies and enough trays of food for two meals at Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen. Let no turkey go to waste! Way to go!


  • Our Government Shutdown – The shutdown makes life difficult for many government employees and for the many who work for government contractors. If the government shutdown has put you in a difficult financial position, please Contact Michelle Laffoon in our Social Concerns office. Your parish is praying for you and might be able to help you a little with your highest priority bills. 

  • Dates to Mark:

    • Our Annual Pasta Dinner – Friday, January 25 –– a great night for the entire family. My personal regret is that I will not be there as I will be away making my annual retreat from January 23 to January 31. Yes, I confess I am feeling a bit envious of you who will be there. 

    • Calling all Married Couples – “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.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day ― This Monday is a holiday and our parish offices will be closed. There will still be 8:35 am mass, if you are home, please feel free to join us.

I leave for retreat on Wednesday. I still strive for the Jesuit norm of an 8-day retreat each year and at least one 3-day follow up at another part of the year. I spent last year’s 8-day retreat with the Franciscans. I am once again being ecumenical and spending this year’s retreat with the Passionists. They eat standing up. That works for me. Say one for me and know that I look forward to rejoining you at Mass.

Fr Hank

January 13, 2018, The Baptism of the Lord
I Have Called You for the Victory of Justice

The word “justice” has a way of activating our political antennae. We hear the word and we quietly drift to our Democratic or Republican or Libertarian or Bolshevik corners. We hear the word and we start thinking as conservatives or liberals or anarchists or monarchists.
The tendency to turn “justice” into a political notion is both understandable and problematic. Scriptural references to “justice” typically invite us to take the bigger view. Perhaps it is fair to hear biblical invitations to promote “justice” as invitations to promote right relationships (a) among all humans and (b) between humans and God. Those “right relationships” are the relationships that delight and glorify God, that lead people to peace, and that are guided by love.

Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 42), the first of Isaiah’s four magnificent “Servant Songs,” claims “I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand.” That line is addressed primarily to Jesus. It is also addressed to the mysterious suffering servant and to us. God the Father wants to use us to promote right relationships in our own lives and around the world. Not only does God want to use us in that effort, God grasps us by the hand – i.e., God helps us.

Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 3) depicts Jesus’ baptism and a moment when Jesus experienced the profound, interior awareness that he and the Father were linked in a completely unique relationship. The moment affirms Jesus’ singular role in promoting true justice. To whom else has the Father ever said, “You are my beloved son"? No one.

But to whom else has God said “in you I am well pleased”? He has said that to millions of people, including you. It didn’t happen with an opening in the sky and the descent of a dove. It happened in the quiet of your heart when you knew that your relationships lined up with God’s hopes. It happened when you had that quiet awareness that what you were doing and the way you were living your relationships was consistent with “justice” – even though the awareness most certainly did not rely on that word. 

What about it? In what moments have you experienced that profound, God-given conviction that your relationships were right? That they reflected what Isaiah terms “justice”? When have you felt particularly right, because you felt particularly close to Jesus in your life as a parent, as a child, as a sibling, as a spouse, as a friend, as a caregiver, as a kid who includes the lonely, as a worker who helps colleagues, as an athlete who plays for the team’s best, as a benefactor who, in large ways and small, helps the less fortunate? Surely, there have been many moments when you felt a deep-down confidence that your relationships and God’s hopes were very much in synch. When were they and what do those moments say about God’s desire to keep “calling you for the victory of justice?”