This Week – February 8, 2019
Two very good things about crossing February’s threshold? First, we can savor the wedding pictures posted in the Gathering Space in anticipation of the February 16 celebration of marriage. What astounds me is how amazingly good looking everyone was – and how well preserved so many are! Second, we can now say “Spring starts next month.” I like the sound of that. I also like that we can now expect some of the early spring flowers to start peeking out very soon. I will provide a reward, albeit a very meager one, to the first little kids (baptism to First Communion) and kids (First Communion to Confirmation) who can point out the first bud of spring on the parish grounds. BTW, the poor daffodil that popped up in December by the church’s front door doesn’t count.
THIS WEEK IN PRAYER:
Sacramental Preparation – With the approach of spring comes the home stretch of preparations for First Communions and Confirmations.
First Reconciliations – February 19 at 7:00 pm. Unlike some of the other penance celebrations, this one does not include an invitation to the entire parish – just to the second graders and their families. We do however invite everyone to pray for the children who are taking this big next step. This year we have 36 children making their First Reconciliations and First Communions. Thanks to Michele Tuck, our second grade CCD teachers, and all who have trained our First Communicants. Special thanks to Ginny Houle and Kathy Kafka who have worked closely with our young people with special needs.
Confirmation Conferences – Our 66 confirmation candidates will start their Confirmation Conferences this week. Each of our candidates has a conversation with a Knight of Columbus who invites the Confirmation candidate to reflect on her or his spiritual preparation up to this point. Great thanks to our confirmandi, to their teachers, families, and sponsors.
Sunday’s Homily – February 3 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Inspired Challenging, Part 1: “You Have What It Takes”
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
THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:
Feeding Hands – We are off to a terrific start with our collections of toiletries and cleaning products for the people who rely on the Feeding Hands Center in Somerville. The collection portion of the project officially starts this Sunday but we have already collected 700 items. It seems very likely that we will meet our goal of 1750 items. If you haven’t already taken a labeled bag, think about doing so. This is one of those projects that produces immediate results for people who need them.
Random Acts of Kindness – On Saturday, members of our Youth Group will be doing kind things all around Hillsborough. We don’t want to give away all the secrets about what they are doing this year, but last year they delivered flowers to residents of nursing homes, prayer shawls to people who could use them, food to SHIP (Samaritan Homeless Intervention Program). They also purchased cups of coffee for unsuspecting folks all around town. Thanks to our Youth Group and thanks to all the parishioners who supported the adventure by putting money in the poor boxes for the last two weeks.
Ministry Morning of Recollection – Calling volunteers in every ministry! Try to join your fellow volunteers/ministers on Saturday, March 16 for the Parish Ministries Morning of Recollection. The program starts with 8:35 Mass and concludes with lunch. Please RSVP to Suzanne Kral and be sure to tell her the ministry with which you want to spend your morning. You can email Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org It will be good to share the morning.
The Caregivers’ Morning of Recollection – If you are helping a friend or relative who needs a bit of extra TLC these days, or if you are professional caregiver, please join your mission-mates for the Caregivers Morning of Recollection on Saturday, March 9. You can sign up in the gathering space.
THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:
Basketball Stars – Hats off to the young people who won their age divisions in last Sunday’s Free Throw Contest: Patrick Kirwan, Julia Elmalis, Dillon Ludwig, Emily Albert, Cameron Diogene, Addison Harkin, Ethan Diogene, Kylie Freeman, Owen Albert and Scott Lentz. It is wonderful to know you are using your talents so very well. And greatest thanks to Dominick Ferrigno for organizing the competition on behalf of the Knights.
Where you sit – If you had to indicate where you usually sit at Sunday Mass, how would you describe your location? This question will take on some amusing and helpful dimensions in the next few weeks.
Broken Pipes – Great thanks to Bryan Delisi and Bob Ferretti, the staff members who led the recovery effort two weeks ago. What are the chances that, at the very same moment, a water pipe above the kitchen would break and a sewer pipe in the front yard would back up? The probability of that coincidence actually occurring is very small, but it happened and it was a mess. Thanks to Bryan and Bob for getting it under control and for overseeing both clean up efforts. BTW – the firm that came in to sanitize the kitchen has transformed it. Every square inch of the place was sanitized. Thanks too to our terrific vendors for riding to the rescue.
Pasta Dinner – Once again, great gratitude to the Knights for swapping dates for the Pasta Dinner (because of the broken pipes). That was a big effort that they completed with their usual style and grace. The food was excellent and the 200 parishioners who turned out had a fine time. It was a great grace to share the evening with so many of you. Thanks too to the folks from Petrocks for the wine tasting.
Father messed up – Calling all Married Couples – “All You Need Is Love” – February 16 – I crossed my wires on Sunday at the 11:30 and . . . . long story short, there was no one there to take reservations for the marriage celebration after the 11:30. So there will be another chance for the 11:30 folk to sign up this Sunday. Remember – next weekend’s celebration of marriage begins with the 4:45 Mass and continues with the party in the Parish Hall – buffet and DJ. (I think it is BYOB but double check).
With great and ever-increasing gratitude for the grace of being your pastor,
Sunday, February 3 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Challenging, Part 1:
“You Have What It Takes”
“To challenge others” is one of our Christian duties. It comes under the “prophet” heading of our Priest-Prophet-King job description. As priest, each of us is a person of prayer who listens to God and speaks to God. As prophet we are servants who console others and challenge others. As king/queen/monarch we build up the community. The prophet/challenge part can be one of our trickiest duties. The Sunday readings from now until Ash Wednesday shed valuable light on that duty. Last Sunday’s readings remind us that inspired challenges begin with votes of confidence in the other, with overt or subtle claims that “You have what it takes.”
Sunday’s first reading (Jeremiah 1) recounts the story of God calling and sending Jeremiah to serve as a prophet. “Before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” Jeremiah fires back that he is not up to the task – “I do not know how to speak. I am too young!” To Jeremiah’s objection that he (Jeremiah) does not have what it takes, God replies “Of course you do.” Sunday’s passage omits much of God’s rejoinder to Jeremiah, but it does describe the gifts God has given Jeremiah, “for it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass.” God is telling Jeremiah, “You have what it takes to do what I ask.”
Many argue that, in Sunday’s gospel (Luke 4), Jesus is delivering just the opposite message to his hometown people. But there is another view, that Jesus’s challenge to the people of Nazareth reveals his belief that they have what it takes. He reminds his listeners that their ancestors rejected the great prophets Elijah and Elisha. But would Jesus bother to deliver that message only to browbeat them for their ancestors’ choices? Would he gripe just for the sake of griping? Might it be more accurate to notice that Jesus only delivers challenges to those he believes can get on board? Time and time again, His challenges reveal his conviction that each person he challenges has what it takes to say “yes.” Might he be telling the people of Nazareth, “your ancestors made poor choices, but I believe you can say ‘yes’ to me, otherwise I wouldn’t bother to challenge you?” Might the implied affirmation of their graces be for them a Jeremiah moment? A moment when God says “You have what it takes to make the inspired choice.”
What about you? What about your Jeremiah moments? When have others had more confidence in you than you had in yourself? When have others believed in you more than you believed in yourself? When has another delivered the message to you, probably on God’s behalf, “You have what it takes; quit doubting yourself?” Perhaps it happened when you had a setback that shook your self-confidence. Maybe it was in your professional life or in your life as an athlete or a student? Maybe it was during a challenging time in your marriage or in your faith-life. Maybe it had to do with your ability to get back on the proverbial horse after life had thrown you. When has someone said, “I believe you can rise to this challenge because you have what it takes?”
And where might you be invited to do that for another? To speak the challenging word of belief in the other? And what story does it make sense for you to share? When was that moment when, for good reason, you thought you couldn’t and someone thought you could? When have your mistakes convinced you that you have lost the program but someone else talked you out of that mistaken belief? Or when have you been the victim of someone else’s malice or stupidity and you were ready to quit and God used another to remind you “You still have what it takes?” Because you do.
God’s call only takes you where God’s grace can hold you. If God is calling, God is supplying. When have you, like Jeremiah and the people of Nazareth, been reminded of that? Who might need to hear your story? Who has been that prophet of challenging affirmation for you and to whom might God be sending you as a prophet of challenging affirmation?