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Parish Weekly Update 8/18/21

Dear Parish Family,

“If peace and love are not allowed to take their rightful place at the table of negotiation, then hatred and anger will produce conflict that will continue for many years to come.  It will solve nothing, and thousands of innocent lives will be lost.  I ask you all to pray for peace.  It is such an urgent priority.”

                ~St. Mother Teresa

CATHOLIC SERVICE APPEAL SECOND COLLECTION:  This past Sunday, I mistakenly announced that the CSA second collection would be this Sunday, it is not.  THE SECOND COLLECTION WILL BE SUNDAY, AUGUST 29.  As I announced, the original collection, which was taken up in February, fell short of the Diocesan needs, most likely due to many people still being “out of the pews.”  If you pledged/contributed during the February collection, THANK YOU!!  If you did not have the opportunity to pledge or contribute at that time, I ask you to prayerfully consider a gift.  Many, many diocesan ministries (Retired priests, Campus Ministry, Youth Ministry, Family Ministry, Catholic Charities, Seminarian Education, etc.) are supported through this collection!!  Envelopes will be available on Sunday, Aug. 29 for your gifts.

K – 6 RELIGIOUS EDUCATION begins this Sunday, 9:30 – 10:30 in the education wing of the church.  The children will be required to wear masks at this time and parents, as you drop off/pick up your children, please wear masks as well as it can get crowded in the hallways!!! 

For questions or concerns contact:

Karen Worrell kworrellcre@hotmail.co…

JR HIGH/HIGH SCHOOL RELIGIOUS EDUCATION:  This Sunday, August 22 from 6-7pm in the Church our Youth Ministry team is inviting anyone who is interested to learn more about our new Life Teen “Life” and “Edge” Nights. This meeting will take the place of the teens meeting this week. Parents, teens and especially new volunteers are encouraged to attend. We will need lots of parent and parishioner support to make this year successful!! Please prayerfully consider joining us Sunday night to see how you can be a part of the Life Teen movement. Everyone will be dismissed no later than 7pm!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

  • Sunday, Aug 22 from 6-7pm – Life Teen Info Night for parents, teens and new volunteers.​​​​Open to all Parishioners.
  • Sunday, Aug 29 from 6-7pmParent Information Night. Parents of 7th-12th grade teens enrolled in Youth Ministry/Confirmation/Religious Education (Sunday School) must attend to get expectations, and fill out Diocesan Release forms.
  • Sunday, September 12th from 6-7:30pm -first Life/Edge Night for teens.

For questions or concerns contact Patti Greene  patti@stjosephgluckstadt.com

COVID RESURGENCE:  As the Delta Variant of Covid-19 has caused hospitals to be overwhelmed once again, we would offer some guidance to our parishioners.  Both the Centers for Disease Control and the MS State Dept. of Health are recommending that all people (vaccinated as well as unvaccinated) wear masks when indoors in public areas.  They also recommend that people over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions avoid large indoor gatherings. 

                While our Bishop has not issued a mask mandate, I would strongly encourage everyone to wear masks at Masses until this spike passes.  We will not “require” masks and will not ask people to leave who choose not to wear them, but we should all do what we can to help prevent further spread of this virus, especially to our young children who are unable to be vaccinated at this time.

                For those who are uncomfortable coming to Sunday Mass because of the number of people, the bishop still has a dispensation in place for you to fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a weekday Mass.  Our weekday Mass is on Wednesday at 5:30. There are only about 30 people who regularly attend this Mass so it is very easy to socially distance yourself from others.

ALSO – PLEASE REMEMBER THAT WE ARE STILL UNDER A 3-FOOT DISTANCE MANDATE FROM OUR BISHOP!  IF YOU COME TO MASS A BIT LATE, PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO SQUEEZE INTO THE DISTANCE OTHERS HAVE LEFT IN THEIR PEWS!  SOMEONE WILL BE HAPPY TO HELP FIND YOU A SEAT!!  If there is a certain place in church you would like to sit, please come early enough to grab that spot.  😊

Have a great week!

God bless,

Pam

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time  

First Reading:  Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18 

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges, and their officers.  When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: “If it does not, please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.  As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods.  For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery.  He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among the peoples through whom we passed.  Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”  

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21 

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Many are the troubles of the just one,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him;
he watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. 

Second Reading:  Ephesians 5:2, 25-32 

Brothers and sisters:
Live in love, as Christ loved us.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. 

Gospel:  John 6:60-69 

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” 

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” 

Homily 

“Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it …?’  Jesus then said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave?’  Simon Peter said answered [Jesus], ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” John 6:60-69 

In his book “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander,” Thomas Merton tells the story of a tiger cub who is raised by goats.  The tiger grows up, acting and sounding like a goat.  One day he wanders off and gets lost in the jungle.  A magnificent male tiger sees him acting like a goat and with one swipe of his huge paw, knocks him halfway across the jungle. 

Merton applies the story to himself, saying, “I met a tiger in myself who was not familiar, who says, ‘Choose!’ and knocks me halfway across the jungle.” 

In the course of a given lifetime, we are confronted by a variety of crises.  When serious illness strikes, the crisis is a medical one.  Political crises accompany the wresting of power from one group or party by another.  An economic crisis is occasioned by the devaluation of a major currency, or the bankruptcy of some important financial organization.  An international crisis occurs when one nation suddenly invades, blockades, or encroaches upon another. 

Lesser crises are also frequently encountered: The car won’t start and you have to give a presentation to your boss in 20 minutes … unexpected guests arrive and you haven’t anything to offer them.  However, the word crisis is frequently misused.  For many of us, the term has a consistently negative ring about it.  Very often we think of a crisis as bleak and foreboding events which threaten our comfort, convenience and in some cases our survival. 

The term crisis belongs to a larger family of words such as: critic, critical, criticism, criterion, critique and so on.  Each of these words is ultimately derived from a Greek verb which means to “sift and separate” or decide.  And so, critics sift and separate what they deem as having value from what is valueless.  Critical skills refer to the ability to discern good from bad. A criterion is a standard or means of sifting, separating and deciding.  It is within this framework of derivatives that the word crisis should be understood. 

Quite literally a crisis is a turning point, a moment of decision which will determine a future course of direction; it is a time of sifting and separating and becoming committed to a choice. 

In today’s readings there exists a crisis both for the people of their day as well as for ourselves.  After the people of Israel had settled in the land promised them by God, Joshua assembles them and presents them with a choice, a decision that had to be made.  Would they decide to remain faithful to God, keep the law and thus be a nation in covenant/contract with God … or not?  Joshua issued it as a direct challenge, “Decide today whom you will serve: God or the idols of the people around you.” 

The decision represents a turning point.  From that point onward, their lives would necessarily be altered and redirected.  All following decisions would need to be made in light of this one.  The way they would work, what they would do with the fruits of their labor, how they would treat and deal with others.  So too with us, “Decide today whom you will serve: God or the idols of the people around you.”   immersed in a society where skepticism greed and the pursuit of pleasure are taken for granted, we can easily find ourselves going along with the crowd. 

Jesus in the gospel offers a similar choice.  In essence he asks us to decide whether or not we would accept to be fed by the bread he offered.  Jesus insists that we must eat his body and drink his blood.  Many refused to believe.  They muttered against him, shocked that he would insult their intelligence with such an outrageous teaching.  Jesus essentially says; “Look friends, if you can’t cope with the Eucharist, how are you going to deal with the scandal of the cross?  And better yet, what about the resurrection, and ascension?  Are these impossible things beyond you?” 

Treating others with reverence, whether husbands or wives, children or parents, poor neighbors or wealthy employers, churchgoers or public sinners, marks us as companions of Jesus who have chosen to serve God. 

Many people refuse Christ, not because he puzzles the intellect, but because he challenges their lives and lifestyles.  True faith demands the conviction articulated by Peter.  Today’s gospel poses some very hard questions.  How can anyone take this seriously?  Does this shake your faith?  Do you want to leave me too?  To whom can we go? 

Jesus presents his followers a clear challenge: Are you with me or not? It is not an abstract question.  Following Jesus has real consequences.  During the second World War there was a polish priest sent to the concentration camp at Dachau.  He was privileged to share the life stories of his fellow prisoners and he came to know their hopes and dreams.  When a prisoner had escaped, the officer in charge would single out a number of prisoners to be immediately executed and thus deter others from trying to escape.  On one such occasion, when the priest knew one of the men singled out, the priest knew this man was the father of a family, the priest came between the officer and the father of the family and asked to be executed in his place and thus give this man one more chance to fulfill his role as parent.  When Father Maximilian Kolbe was canonized a saint and martyr of charity, that Jewish father whose life was spared at Dachu was present for the ceremony in Rome. 

The horror of the Holocaust, and many other atrocities in our world today continue to shake many people’s faith in a loving God.  Others want to deny that such abominations ever happened.  For Maximilian Kolbe it was an opportunity to express his trust that Jesus’ words are spirit and life.  He believed Jesus’s words that the spirit gives life.  Rather than shaking his faith, it afforded him the opportunity to share in Peter’s conviction that Jesus is God’s holy one.  Perhaps we are not called to express our faith in such heroic form but there are times when we must freely choose to entrust ourselves to the care of this same God. 

Following Jesus has real consequences for us and our families still today.  Children have to consider how they treat playmates, classmates, and teammates.  Teens have to figure out whether their friends (the ones they hang out with and date) have enough respect for what we believe, especially about the dignity of human beings including ourselves.  If our friends are always putting us down, or our families, or other friends, it means we have to face them with it or leave them behind.  That is a consequence of following Jesus. 

The adults in the family have equal challenges.  Do our neighbors and friends destroy reputations, or undermine relationships – maybe even with people in our local church?  Do colleagues at work respect our beliefs, our moral stances, our convictions about honesty, civility, and fairness?  How do they even know what we believe?  Does what we do at work, or in the neighborhood make it obvious that we follow Jesus? 

These are the kinds of questions believers face today.  Like the gospel listeners, we can feel shaken, unsure, or ambivalent.  Or we can be like Peter, whose simple plaintive answer is the confession of faith that God is not present in the darkness of evil but in the light of goodness that seeks to shatter the darkness.  The good news is not always easy to hear or follow.  While we are obsessed with lifestyles, Jesus speaks to us of life – its purpose, meaning, and ultimate fulfillment.  We are called to move beyond the surface, perceptions, and styles to the eternal life and love of God.  If we really believe in something we have no choice but to go further. 

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.