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Parish Daily Update 5/1/21

Dear Parish Family,

“Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.  Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”  

~Pope Francis

Happy Feast Day of the Patron of our Parish – St. Joseph the Worker!!!

And during this year, may we continue to pray the official prayer of the “Year of St. Joseph” –

The Year of St. Joseph Prayer:

To you, O blessed Joseph (Ad te, beate Ioseph)

To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our afflictions, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness.

As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.

God bless,

Pam

Fifth Sunday of Easter 

First Reading:  Acts 9:26-31 

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.  Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem, and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists, but they tried to kill him. And when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus. 

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers. 

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32 

R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
I will fulfill my vows before those who fear the LORD.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
“May your hearts live forever!”
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
all the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth;
before him shall bend
all who go down into the dust. 
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
And to him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

Second Reading:
  1 John 3:18-24 

Children, let us love not in word or speech but indeed and truth. Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us. 

Gospel:  John 15:1-18 

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” 

Homily 

“Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches.”  John 15: 1-8 

It began with everyone suddenly being afraid of one another. Anyone could be a carrier of the virus – even your spouse, the people you love, your children and grandchildren. We avoided each other, we masked, we washed our hands like never before; we have lived in our own safe, protected – and often lonely – bubbles. 

For thousands of families this has been a time of indescribable loss.  As families have experienced illness and isolation sometimes ending in death without being able to gather around the sick person and express our love.  Some of us will be living with the scars of this forever. 

It’s been a long 14 months. 

No one ever wants to go back to what we’ve been through.  And yet some good things have resulted. 

Some who we rarely thought of as essential; such as care-givers, factory workers, public works personnel, the ones who keep our towns and cities functioning, supermarkets stocked or who have delivered our groceries – so many low-profile (and even lower paid) workers we took for granted, we now see with gratitude and respect for the ways they keep so many things open and going.  Because of their work our lives work. 

We’ve redefined the meaning of hero. “Super” men and women have stethoscopes hanging around their necks and are covered in PPE and they don’t go home as long as someone needs them. 

We also have a new appreciation for our work – and the opportunity to work. 

We’ve discovered that school is more than textbooks and term papers: education is about building a learning community, helping one another through the hard lessons, discovering that the most important lesson we will ever learn is respect for the gifts of others. 

Most of us will tell you that Zoom is OK as far as it goes, but a “virtual” classroom or church can’t replace face-to-face learning, creating, engagement and prayer. 

And we’ve come to realize that what we need most in our lives cannot be fabricated.  You can’t put a price tag on a hug from your grandchild or a simple “How’s it going?” from your best friend. 

This pandemic has instilled in many of us a new appreciation of today’s Gospel: our “connectedness” to one another.  And perhaps even more importantly our connection to one another through Jesus. As branches of Christ the Vine, we’re part of something greater than ourselves, something which transforms and transcends the fragility of our lives. In our simplest acts of kindness and most ordinary offerings of help and support, we realize with a new spirit of gratitude that we are part of one another, that each one of us matters to all of us, that in our love and respect for one another we realize the very presence of God in our midst. 

For each of us there comes a time of need.  A time when we are especially vulnerable, at risk, or alone.  For some people finding help is hard to do.  Some do not know where to turn.  Still others, like children do not know how to ask.  And sometimes the problem itself requires very special help.  

Jesus called us to love in some particular ways.  Recall that he called us to serve “the least of our brothers and sisters” and told us that when we serve them we serve Him.  This is the mission of the church. 

When God calls us, he transforms our lives.  He calls us out of our selfishness and sin.  He forgives our indifference and negligence.  He takes us like we are and makes us godlike.  God’s generosity calls us to show that same generous love to others. 

Barnabas acted as Paul’s sponsor speaking on his behalf and testifying to his faith.  Later others in the community gave him shelter and protection from his potential assassins.  For Paul, the bonding to Christ, the vine, was no empty metaphor; it was something tangible.  He owed his life to the brothers and sisters in the community.  The blood of Christ coursed through their care and support for one another.  Jesus prayed that they all might be one.  The model for that oneness is the unity that existed between Jesus and the Father.  The bond of that love is the Spirit who binds God together in the community we call the Trinity. 

The mystery is beautiful and comforting but it challenges our Western mentality as well as way of life.  We tend to be independent, self-sufficient, not needing anyone else.  Until we lose control and then we need all the help we can get. 

Traveling through 19th century Europe the German poet Heinrich Heine stood with a friend before the cathedral of Amiens, in France.  “Tell me Heinrich” the friend wondered aloud “why can’t people build buildings like this anymore?” 

Heinrich answered, “In those days people had convictions.  We moderns have opinions.  And it takes more than opinions to build a cathedral.” 

Unless Jesus becomes a real part of our lives, the faith we profess is doomed to wither and die in emptiness.  Unless we embrace the Gospel and its demanding spirit of selflessness, compassion and forgiveness, our profession of faith is a harmless, meaningless opinion.  The risen Jesus calls us to be convinced branches of the vine of his life and love. 

An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
I ask You to come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You, trusting that you are already there and I unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.  Amen.