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Parish Weekly Update 6/16/21

Dear Parish Family,

To celebrate the Eucharist, we need first to recognize our thirst for God, to sense our need for him, to long for his presence and love, to realize that we cannot go it alone.”    ~Pope Francis

CHICKENPENDANCE DAY SMOKED CHICKEN:  The KCs will be hosting an applewood smoked chicken plate fundraiser on July 4 Weekend.  They will be preparing applewood smoked chicken leg quarters, baked beans, and potato salad.  A plate will be $7.00 and you can also order items ala carte.  Pre-orders will be taken—on-line only – June 20 – 27 by filling out a form.  The link to the form is on the KC webpage:  www.kofc11934.org or follow this link:  KC 4th of July BBQ Chicken Plate Order Form – Google Forms.  Orders can be picked up on Saturday, July 3, in the Parish Hall.

MANY, MANY THANKS to all who donated to the Good Samaritan Drive.  The truck was completely full and Room 107 was also full of items to be distributed to people in need! 

The readings for this coming Sunday, the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

God bless,

Pam

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time  

First Reading:  Job 38:1, 8-11 

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:
Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb;
when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door,
and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled! 

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31 

R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
They who sailed the sea in ships,
trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the LORD
and his wonders in the abyss.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
His command raised up a storm wind
which tossed its waves on high.
They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths;
their hearts melted away in their plight.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them,
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
They rejoiced that they were calmed,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his kindness
and his wondrous deeds to the children of men.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
 

Second Reading:  2 Corinthians 5:14-17 

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 

Gospel:  Mark 4:35-41 

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:  

“Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” 

Homily 

“Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still!’”   Mark 4: 35-41 

In the Middle Ages, rats were common stowaways on merchant ships.  In the mid-fourteenth century the fleas they carried also bore the bacteria that caused the bubonic plague.  In just five years, the Black Plague claimed some twenty-five million lives – three fourths of Europe’s population.  The people wondered about God’s role in this disaster.  Many today ask the same question as we grapple with the current pandemic.  Whenever tragedies occur, whether a natural disaster strikes and affects large numbers of people or a personal tragedy – the death of a loved one, the onset of a grave illness – we wonder where God is in all of this. 

The Black Plague had a profound effect on Christian belief.  Some tried to place the blame for the epidemic on the Jews.  “Surely God was trying to punish them for not accepting Jesus” and Jews, our ancestors in faith, were massacred all over Europe.  Others took the blame on themselves and performed extraordinary penances.  A large number of people wandered through the countryside, constantly whipping themselves in an act of self-mortification.  Its most lasting effect may have been to etch an image of a punishing God in believer’s minds for future generations. 

Job heard God in a storm.  Friends saw God walk on water. How do we imagine or vision God?  Jesus, of course, stressed God’s mercy.  He insisted that God’s greatest desire is to embrace sinful people.  He depicted God as the father who opened his arms to a wayward son without waiting to hear the young man’s apology.  He described himself as the shepherd who drops everything to find one lost lamb.  He scandalized the self-righteous by keeping company with public sinners.  He taught us to pray for the ability to forgive others as generously as we are forgiven. Similarly, in the book of Job, God makes a very clear point that is contrary to that of the one learned in the Black Plague.   

Job knows his conscience is clear, despite his “friends’” insistence that he must have committed some sin or offense against God.  Even though he stands up to them, he still feels that God is somehow responsible for his situation.  He wants to argue with God – even to put God on trial.  And God answers Job, essentially telling him that running a universe is no easy matter.  “Where were you when I created all this?” is the question he continually asks Job.  And Job finally has to admit that he probably couldn’t do the job at all. 

Our readings today are filled with strong symbols and images.  The first is water, a powerful and often unpredictable force of nature.  Water figures very significantly in the lives of every human being and throughout the created universe.  A source of life and sustenance, water can also be a fierce dealer of death.  Human life begins swimming in a watery womb, but the same life could later end, suddenly and shockingly, in a boating or swimming accident. 

Farmers rely on the rains to water their crops and see them through to a successful harvest, but when too much rain floods their fields, they see their livelihood and their hopes washed away.  Those who harvest the edible treasures of the sea, like the disciples, look to its waters as an ever renewable and sustaining resource, but when the seas become angry and dangerous, they become a cause for fear. 

In recent years we have seen tidal waves, tsunamis and hurricanes that have turned tourist destinations into watery deathtraps in a matter of minutes and hours.  On the other hand, the annual flooding like that of the Nile leaves behind rich silt that brings new life. 

Water also enjoys strong spiritual significance.  Creation, in the very beginning of the book of Genesis, describes God bringing life and order out of the ‘tehom’, or abyss or primordial ocean.  Remember, water was how Noah and his family escaped through the water to a new start, cleansing the earth of the unjust.  As an infant Moses was saved from death by being hidden in a basket and floated down the river.  This same Moses would lead his people through the Red Sea to freedom while the same waters would swallow up their enemy.  There in the deep dark waters also dwelled the Leviathan and Behemoth and all manner of creatures that struck fear into the hearts of the ancients. 

With Jesus, water became a strong symbol for forgiveness and freedom.  Through the waters of baptism, believers would pass from death to life and thereby become, as Paul has affirmed, a new creation. 

In the Gospel, the use of the symbol of a boat is used to signify the Church.  We, by our baptism, are in the boat.  The boat, the church, has and continues to encounter many challenges – the wind and waves.  One point of the story is that Jesus is in the boat with us but how do we react.  Do we fear the storms around us, do we fear the wind and water or do we trust that God is in the boat with us?  Do we ignore him sleeping or do we wake him up?  Do we trust and believe that there is no storm greater than our God?  Do we believe/trust that since Jesus is in the boat with us nothing can harm us?  The disciples clearly were fearful – maybe they thought that the young church would be capsized and destroyed – there certainly were many challenges to the young community as it quickly spread through Gentile communities.  Certainly, they feared for their own life – they enjoyed the way things used to be, but all these new members were requiring that they rethink what was core and central to them as the Body of Christ.   

In waking Jesus, it would appear to have been more of a desire to have him worry with them than to quiet the storm or strengthen their faith.  “Teacher do you not care if we perish?”  And even after he calms the storm they ask, “Who then is this that even the wind and sea obey him?”  Jesus gives us the solution – FAITH. “Why are you afraid, have you no faith?”  We like to say we have faith but when overcome by the waves of life and accusations of others we are filled with fear.  Hopefully we learn from this lesson that Jesus is in the boat with us and will ride the storm out with us.  Maybe like the disciples we need to wake Jesus up.  Pray – and then we need to trust that, no matter what the outcome, God is with us and wants our salvation, not destruction. 

God’s last word on the subject of suffering is the Word made Flesh because God loves even the sinful so very dearly.  Jesus suffered, as every human being does at some time in life.  But he rose in glory and now offers his Body and Blood here at this table – the food that sustains us in good times and terrible times. 

In the movie the Soloist (2009) we see the story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, one of Los Angeles’ 60,000 homeless poor.  The cruel voices of schizophrenia have driven him into the streets.  His only refuge: a two-string violin that he plays constantly – and beautifully.  A reporter for the Los Angeles Times hears him one day.  Muddling through another long, bad day, the reporter is gulping down his lunch in the park where Nathaniel has taken up residence.  The reporter is captivated by the music that Nathaniel is able to create on just two strings.  The two strike up an improbable friendship.  The reporter learns that Nathaniel was a promising virtuoso before his illness forced him to drop out of Julliard.  The bond between the homeless cellist and the street-smart reporter is a true story. 

The reporter wrote several columns about Nathaniel.  Moved by his plight, a reader delivers a beautiful cello to the reporter to give to Nathaniel.  It is the first shard of hope in Nathaniel’s fearful and paranoid life.  Whenever Nathaniel plays Beethoven, the music has a transforming effect on everyone and everything around him: the voices in Nathaniel’s head are stilled for the moment; the scores of homeless people milling around sit in rapt attention; even the traffic clogging LA’s freeway seems to quiet. 

But the friendship has an even deeper effect on the reporter.  Burned out and disillusioned – as many reporters and others of his day – the reporter is profoundly affected, not only by Nathaniel’s skill, but by his love of music. 

The reporter says to his editor, who happens to be his ex-wife, “You can see in his eyes how much he loves music, especially Beethoven.  I can’t imagine loving something as much as he loves music.” 

The editor replies simply, “It’s called grace” 

Music brought tranquility and hope to the fearful, schizophrenic Nathaniel. Because he set aside the turbulence in his own life so as to bring peace and hope to the life of another, he transformed the life of the reporter.   

So also, the voice of Jesus can bring peace to the storms of our own lives and light to the darkness of nights and nightmares we all suffer through.   

Within each of us is the grace of the “awakened” Jesus in today’s Gospel, the wisdom, patience and courage to discern the presence of God amid the storms of tension, fear, anxiety, and injustice we experience.  The grace of the Risen Jesus enables us to realize the presence of God amid the roar of anger and mistrust and to recognize the light of God in the darkness of selfishness and prejudice. 

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.