This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 20, 2019


This Week – September 20, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

Stay tuned for news about our efforts to update parish records. We need your help!


  • WOMEN’S RETREAT – Thanks to Maryann Comiskey and all who organized Thursday night’s retreat for the women of our parish. The crowd was excellent and the material was inspiring. Time to wonder about what to plan for next year?

  • BLESSINGS OF THE BRAINS – ATTENTION ALL STUDENTS. Your fellow parishioners and I look forward to learning about your school adventures (what school and what year – also what is your regular Mass and fold) and your big aspiration for the year. Please help us out. Click here for the form to complete. Fill it out. Attach a picture of you and a symbol of your aspiration – and put it in the Communications Box in the Gathering Space by October 5. The Brains Blessing is October 12 at all Masses. Thanks for helping the parish to learn more about you. God bless you, your brain, and your aspirations.

  • PRAYING FOR OUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – Per last week’s “This Week,” our parish provides eight ways to have the community pray for your deceased loved ones. Two of those ways are especially important at this time of year. Please click here for the form to request prayers and a place in the Scrolls of Remembrance for your very nearest and very dearest deceased loved ones. For all others for whom you would like to pray, please put their names on one of the Green Prayer Cards (on the Moses Table) and put the cards in the Communications Box. Thanks for enabling the parish to join you in prayer for your deceased loved ones.

Sunday’s Homily

September 15, 2019 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Three: Curiosity’s Best Use – Wondering about Jesus
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.
To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.


  • OUR BLESSED LEADERS OF SONG – The summer travel season is now behind us and our leaders of song never missed a beat. Great thanks to Chris A., Chris L., Randa, Andrea, Tim, Matt and Laurie for the fine music at every weekend Mass all summer. You help us to pray and we are grateful. The same goes for those who participate in all aspects of the Music Ministries.

  • ELIJAH’S KITCHEN – Hats off (make that beach hats and visors) to Terry Lee and our many parishioners who go every month to Elijah’s Kitchen to provide meals to people who need them. Special thanks to Nina and Vinnie for making a few hundred meatballs for the July meal and extra thanks to the many members of the Scillitani family who played a central role in providing the August meal to 87 people.

  • ADVENT GIVING TREE – Even with the croquet mallets still waiting to be put away for the season, dozens of our parishioners – under the legendary leadership of the famed geometrician Carol Jorgensen – are already gearing up for Christmas. The first meeting of the new season occurred this week and was a great launch for the 36 volunteers who take care of every aspect of this very complicated process that includes identifying agencies to serve, obtaining the gift requests, creating the hundreds of tags/requests, sorting the gifts that our parishioners so generously supply, and then delivering the gifts. It takes a small and a very inspired army and we are blessed to have just the right folks here. Thanks for getting this going when there are still almost 100 shopping days left.

  • RESPECT LIFE MOVIE – The widely discussed movie, Unplanned, will be shown here at Saint Joe’s on Wednesday, October 16 at 7 pm and again on Saturday, October 19 at 2:30 pm. It is an amazing story of tragedy, healing, forgiveness and great grace. Admission is free. It is a very powerful movie.


  • HELLO ALL MOTORCYCLISTS – The adventure begins in our parking lot at 10:30 tomorrow morning. The carefully mapped ride to and from the Long Valley Pub should conclude at around 2 pm. No need to sign up in advance. Just be here tomorrow morning. The weather should be outstanding.


    • Last Friday’s painting party provided an opportunity for 25 of our special parishioners and friends to paint the autumnal scenes on the canvases that James Lew and his family prepared so graciously and carefully. James also led the painting process to some amazing results. Thanks to James and his helpers and all in the ministry who made it such great fun.

    • Our annual and much-loved campfire and sing along (with hot dogs and s’mores) takes place next Saturday, September 28. The mention of the campfire stirs gratitude to Hillsborough Irrigation for building the pit and John Demetrio for building the benches for his Eagle Scout Project.

  • CAREGIVER MORNING OF RECOLLECTION – If you are a caregiver, this morning of recollection is for you. If you provide a loved one with extra TLC, or if you work as a caregiver outside the home, you will probably enjoy the chance to spend time with people who “get it.” The morning consists of time to pray and reflect, time to share your insights, and time just to kick back. The morning of recollection takes place on Saturday, September 28. Sign up in the Gathering Space after weekend Masses.

  • TRIVIA NIGHT – Assemble your team or come on your own. And if you are going to assemble a team, cook up a theme and get the decorations and costumes going – or not. I mention it only because I was not aware that the table decorations and outfits were “a thing” and foolishly came dressed in clerics. It is great fun and you will be surprised by how much trivia you have stuffed in your head. The fun unfolds after the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, October 12. Ironically, brains will be blessed at the 4:45 so, even if you are a Sunday regular, you might want to go to the 4:45 to get your brain blessed before the competition starts. The proceeds benefit the Youth and Young Adult Summer Service Trips.

  • SAGES – Great blessings and thanks to AnnaMaria and all who organized and participated in Wednesday’s hugely enjoyable trip to Lancaster PA. Looking ahead, this Monday (9/23) is a Funday Monday. Lunch starts at 11:30. The Poker Game and the movie start at 12:30 (in different rooms of course). This week’s movie is “Hidden Figures,” the brilliantly told story of the three African-American women who, despite some very challenging 1960s circumstances, enabled our country to put John Glenn into orbit.

September 15, 2019 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Three: Curiosity’s Best Use – Wondering about Jesus

Curiosity: a strong desire to know, understand or learn something.
Inspired curiosity: curiosity that glorifies God and leads people further into Christ’s peace.

God designed us with the desires to know, to learn and to understand AND to do all that in ways that glorify God and lead people to peace. The readings from Labor Day weekend reminded us that curiosity can be a powerful grace.

Those readings also invited us to recall that not all curiosity is inspired. Some desires to understand lead us and others away from God. Fortunately, uninspired curiosities beset us only infrequently.

And just as some curiosities are uninspired, other curiosities are exceptionally inspired. Some desires to know and understand rise above the rest because they lead us and others to particularly wonderful places. No curiosity is more inspired than our curiosity about God. Curiosity about God transforms us in life-giving ways. A lack of curiosity about God easily gets us into trouble. Sunday’s readings underscore that truth.

Sunday’s first reading (Exodus 32) depicts a moment when the poor behavior of the children of Israel made God blow his stack and threaten to obliterate them. God goes so far as to call them “stiff-necked,” an insult that likens them to an ox that refuses to respond to its master’s reins. The beast cares nothing about the driver’s intentions, about the world around it, or about why the driver wants it to head in a different direction. “Stiff-necked” is everything that “curious” is not. To be stiff-necked about God is to lack all curiosity about God’s nature or desires. To be curious about God is to maintain an open heart toward God.

Sunday’s second reading (First Timothy 1) supplies Paul’s condemnation of his own former arrogance. Paul cringes when he recalls the days when he thought he knew all there was to know about God, about God’s hopes, and about the Father’s relationship with Jesus. In his arrogance, Paul lacked all curiosity about Jesus. He had concluded Jesus was a fraud to be ignored. Then came the Damascus Road experience and the onset of an inspired curiosity about Christ that completely redirected Paul’s life. Misinformed self-confidence and arrogance gave way to inspired curiosity and made all of us better off. A lack of curiosity impoverished Paul. A life of curiosity enriched him.

Finally, the gospel (Luke 15) begins with mention of the pharisees and scribes who possessed no curiosity about Jesus. They are perfect examples of stiff-necked, arrogant people who have no questions for Jesus, only condemnations. When Jesus connects with tax collectors and sinners, they don’t ask Jesus why he does what he does or what his larger plan is, or what the Father might think. They ask nothing. They spew insults. They possess no curiosity about Jesus. That mistaken self-assurance leads them away from Jesus and his peace.

What about you? You surely possess lots of questions for and about Jesus. Unlike the stiff-necked children of Israel, the arrogant Paul before his conversion, or the oblivious scribes and pharisees, you surely have questions for and about Jesus. Your questions reveal your curiosity and your heart’s openness to Jesus.

So – what are your biggest questions for and about Jesus? In sorting through them, it can be helpful to group them into three parts – questions concerning his public ministry, questions concerning his current ways of relating with us, and questions about how it will be in heaven. The gospels, when carefully considered, can generate volumes of questions – why he did X or didn’t do Y, how he felt when this happened or why he didn’t prevent that from occurring. The Gloria can ignite many questions about our current relationship – what it means for him to be seated at the right hand of the Father, what it means to intercede for us, and how the flow of grace really works. Questions about heaven come from every direction. What’s on your mind?

The more we know him, the more we love him. The more we love him, the more we serve him. Inspired curiosity about Jesus can do for us what God wants done – lead us further into relationship with him. There is no higher use for our curiosity than to be curious about Jesus. What questions are on your list?