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Parish Weekly Update 9/22/21

Dear Parish Family,

“(In John 6:41-51) Jesus reveals Himself as the Bread of Life.  For He alone nourishes the soul, He alone makes us feel loved even if everyone else disappoints us, He alone gives us the strength to love and forgive in difficulties, He alone gives eternal life.”   ~Pope Francis

GERMANFEST IS UPON US!!!!!  Germanfest is this Sunday – September 26 from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.    Things you need to know:

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ARE PREPARATION DAYS:  We need help on Friday morning cutting sausage, peppers and onions and assembling shish-k-bobs.  If you are free, please join us at about 8:30 to help.  Bring knives and cutting boards!  We are usually finished by lunch and we will provide lunch for all our workers!

Saturday is “all hands-on-deck”!  There are lots and lots of preparations to be made so please come and help!  Again, we begin about 8:30 and, if we have enough hands, are finished by lunch and again, lunch will be provided!!

SIGN-UP TO WORK:  If you have not had the chance to sign up, please call the office – 601-856-2054.  We can still use more hands to help the day of the festival!!

YOUTH FESTIVAL WORKERS:  Our young people, 5th grade and up, are very valued workers, too!  If your child can work and has not signed up, please call the office and put their name on the list.  This is a great opportunity for our kiddos to contribute their time and talent to their parish and also to earn service hours if they need them!!

TAILGATE TENTS:  If you have a tailgate tent, we need two to use the day of the festival.  Please call the office, 601-856-2054 and let us know, or bring them Saturday morning!

DESSERTS:  Please bring your desserts (uncut) to the parish hall by 10:30 Saturday morning so they can be cut, plated and wrapped. 

COUNTRY STORE DONATIONS can be brought to the parish hall Saturday morning.

                LET THE FUN AND FRIENDSHIP-BUILDING BEGIN!!!!!!!

PROTECTION OF CHILDREN PARENT MEETING:  Our annual Protection of Children Training for K-12 graders will take place on Sunday, October 10, 2021 during a portion of your regularly scheduled classes and youth meetings.  In advance of the training, we will be having a Parent Information Meeting on Sunday, October 3, 2021 at 9:30am in the church for anyone who would like to see the material that will be covered and answer any questions you may have prior to your child’s lesson.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Karen Worrell at kworrellcre@hotmail.com or Patti Greene at patti@stjosephgluckstadt.com.

RCIA:  If you know an unbaptized adult, an adult baptized into another faith tradition, or an adult baptized Catholic who has not received the Sacrament of Confirmation, who is interested in learning more about the Catholic Church, please let us know so that we can invite them to join our RCIA sessions!  RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and this the process by which a person is initiated into the Catholic Church.  Classes will begin this Fall.  Call the church office, 601-856-2054, for more information. 

COVID RESURGENCE:  PLEASE – If you are running fever or feeling “under the weather” in any way, STAY HOME!  If we have learned nothing else over the last year, it should be to stay at home when we feel poorly to avoid spreading anything to others!

                While our Bishop has not issued a mask mandate, he is strongly encouraging 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 remember that the common good of the community is always an important part of Catholic social teachings.  

                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.

Prayer in This Time of Pandemic

Let us pray,

Loving and faithful God, the coronavirus reminds us

That we have not power and we are dependent on you.

We place ourselves in your loving hands.

Please give eternal rest to all who have

Died from the virus

Please put your healing hand on those who are ill,

And give your protection to us in this time of fear and

Uncertainty.  Please, calm our fears and help us to

Trust you as our faithful God.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor,

Pray for us in this time of need.

~Archbishop Gregory Aymond

God bless,

Pam

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

September 26, 2021 

Germanfest 

First Reading:  Numbers 11:25-29 

The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied. Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp. They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent; yet the spirit came to rest on them also, and they prophesied in the camp. So, when a young man quickly told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, ” Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said,
“Moses, my lord, stop them.” But Moses answered him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!” 

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14 

R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
Though your servant is careful of them,
very diligent in keeping them,
Yet who can detect failings?
Cleanse me from my unknown faults!
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant;
let it not rule over me.
Then shall I be blameless and innocent
of serious sin. 
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart. 

Second Reading:  James 5:1-6 

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance. 

Gospel:  Mark 9:38-48 

At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'” 

Homily 

“There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me … Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward…”  Mark 9: 38-48 

In the June [2021] issue of America Magazine, Frank DiFulvio writes a touching essay about his father’s last days. Frank’s dad had been suffering from Stage 4 kidney failure, made progressively worse by complications from open-heart surgery. Dad was taken to the hospital for the last-time in mid-August of 2017. After some blood tests, doctors confirmed that he had had a heart attack and he was admitted for more tests. The next morning, the doctor called Frank aside. “Your dad is dying, Mr. DiFulvio. His kidneys are failing, which is causing fluid to build up in his body.” All they could do was make him as comfortable as possible. 

Before falling asleep, his father whispered, “Did you say August 16 is Isabella’s birthday, Frankie?” Isabella is Frank’s eldest daughter. He was puzzled by his dad’s sudden interest in his daughter’s birthday, several days away, but confirmed the date for his dad before he drifted off to sleep. 

Hospice care was suggested but, to Frank’s surprise, his dad rejected it. “I decided to give dialysis a try, which might give me an extra few weeks of life, Frankie,” his dad said. “It probably won’t work in my current condition, but I wanted to give it a try. I have nothing to lose.” 

Neither Frank nor the doctors could dissuade Dad, so he went through five hours of dialysis the next day, August 13. Two days later, August 15, Dad went through a second dialysis treatment. Around midnight, the doctor told Frank that his dad had received his last dialysis treatment and would transition to hospice. “I still don’t understand why he decided to take this path. I just hope that we can make him as comfortable as possible. He is a good man,” the doctor concluded, with tears in his eyes. 

The senior DiFulvio died early in the morning of August 21, 2017. His son had spent the night with him and held him in his arms “until God called him home.” 

Frank said some final prayers and hugged his dad for the last time. As he was about to leave, the nurse came in and asked Frank to see her outside. 

“I have to tell you something, Mr. DiFulvio,” she blurted out. “Your dad told me that there was only one reason he decided to try dialysis rather than go immediately into hospice care. He told me never to tell you, but I just have to do it. You need to know,” she insisted. She then explained that his dad would not die on his granddaughter’s birthday, which would have been a possibility if he entered hospice care. 

The nurse confided to Frank, “He told us that he wanted you and your younger daughter Sofia to celebrate Isabella’s birthday with her without having to think about his death.” 

A dying grandfather’s selfless generosity of heart for his family in his last moments is the “cup of water” that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel: a selfless, heart-felt sign of the compassion that Christ asks of all who would be his followers. Jesus promises us that even the simplest act of love and kindness will be honored by God. Anyone and everyone in need or in trouble have a claim on our care and charity because they belong to Christ. In whatever opportunities we have, with whomever we meet and are able to help, may we not hesitate to act in Jesus’ name. 

We see in the readings today the mindset of some who want to build fences, claim special rights, look with suspicion on those outside.  All of the readings show that the ways of the Spirit are to share freely what has been given.  To do otherwise is destructive.  St. James tells us that when we are busy condemning the greedy, we fail to recognize that they are no different than we are.  Their sins are only more obvious and their selfishness more apparent.  “Those people have failed to use properly what God has given them.  We have a similar difficulty with our priorities.” 

In the first reading the gifting of Eldad and Medad was a testimony to the utter unconventionality and freedom of God’s Spirit.  Moses tried to help Joshua and us understand that the sharing of the Spirit in no way diminished Moses’ authority.  His prayer, “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!  Would that the Lord might bestow the Spirit on them all.”  Only when we recognize that the Spirit moves within all who believe will each of us be able to work together toward that unity only the Spirit can achieve.  Jesus saw that the real divisions between people were a matter of the heart.  If the miracle worker had a conversion of heart, it was not that important to be part of “us” instead of “them”. 

We all too easily pit ourselves against others, we versus them, ours versus theirs, we label others a stranger, “not one of us.”  How can we be callous about the suffering of the destitute – they are strangers, people without faces?  How can we be rude to other drivers – they are strangers?  Can you imagine acting that way if you knew the other driver, if it was a friend, a neighbor, a client, your mother? 

In like fashion, Jesus offers us some very difficult sayings as well.  At first, they even sound absurd.  If your hand is your problem cut it off.  If your foot is your undoing, cut it off.  Taken literally we would be without limbs.  Yet, Jesus is making an important point.  If anything gets in the way of our becoming inheritors of the kingdom it must be removed.  It is easy to see how the rich might be capable of oppressing the poor in order to obtain more wealth.  Unfortunately, very often we don’t see how things can interfere with our own becoming members of God’s kingdom.  Our skewed priorities may not be as obvious as those of others, but we too hurt others in seeking some gain for ourselves. 

If your government, community or organization has taken a stand which you know in your heart of hearts is unjust, if acceptance into a group you eagerly want to be a part of demands that you compromise your value system, Jesus would say you need to walk away, regardless of the consequences.  Better for you to live in the presence of God than die in the company of the godless. 

There are people in business who at least occasionally make use of the achievements of others to look good in the eyes of higher ups.  There are spouses who give everything for their children or their own hobbies, they extend more energy on their daily devotions than they extend in a week to their mate.  There are parents and children who say they have no time for each other when in fact there is something else they would rather do.  When viewed from this angle the possibilities for self-destructive, self-seeking at the expense of others become infinite.  Most importantly we realize that all of us separate ourselves from God.  If negativity, hopelessness, alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs are destroying you or your family, it is better to do whatever you have to do in order to tear those things out of your life. Better to possess the life of God than to destroy yourself trying to be the life of the party. 

The gospel has one other important lesson for us, it reminds each of us of our role as examples.  “But it would be better if anyone leads astray one of these simple believers were to be plunged in the sea with a great millstone fastened around their neck.”  Certainly, we think of those who intentionally lead others astray but just as harmful are those who lead astray by poor example.  The husband who speaks despairingly about his wife gives his son an example.  The manager who treats his employees as slaves is training others to develop impersonal and insensitive management skills.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Once a president of a major corporation had a moment of truth in which he realized, “I have children who are getting ready to leave school, and I realized that I wouldn’t want them to work for this firm.  It’s not a healthy place to work.” 

To be faithful means letting nothing, nothing, dissuade us or derail us in the search for the things of God, not allowing the pursuit of prestige, wealth, social status or instant gratification desensitize us to the presence of God in our lives or diminish the love of God we cherish in family and friends. 

The gifts of the spirit multiply when shared. Love shared multiplies.  A peaceful spirit begets a peaceful spirit.  Justice rendered inspires more justice.  Joy is contagious.  One who acts patiently encourages patience in others.  One act of kindness starts a chain of kindness which eventually comes around full circle.  And on and on with all the gifts of the spirit.  “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”  The Son continues to give himself to us.  We give to others down through the generations. Jesus is inviting us to let go of whatever makes us less than what God has created us to be – that includes not only cutting off the sinful hand, or tearing out the evil eye, but removing whatever comes between us and God.  In doing so we recreate the world in light of the Kingdom of God. 

Hell is to be cut off from God, and the Kingdom or reign of God.  It is our choice. 

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. 

Extra 

There is a little parable told about a remote people who lived on the side of a steep cliff. 

A huge boulder rolled down the mountain and landed in the middle of a narrow, curving road.  An approaching car rounded the turn and crashed into the boulder.  Families living nearby rushed to rescue the injured passengers, brought them into their own homes and tended to them until they were well.  That was charity.   

Well, not too many weeks later, another unwitting vehicle collided with the boulder and again the families took them in and cared for them also.  Again, that was charity.   

Within a month, still another carload of travelers hit the boulder.  After seeing to the needs of the victims, the people in the area got together to decide how to get rid of the boulder.  That is social justice. 

When James in today’s second reading called upon the rich to attend to the needs of the poor, he was not recommending charity; he was calling for social justice.  He was not pleading with the wealthy to dip into their surplus in order to throw a few crumbs to the needy.  James charged the rich to give the poor what was their due on two counts.  First as members of the same community, all were, therefore responsible for the well-being of one another.  If one was in need, those who had the means were bound to assist.  Second, what was being withheld from the poor was their just wages.  To refuse to pay the farmhands who had harvested the fields was not only an injustice but an affront to God. 

Certainly, what James had to say was not new, there exists a whole history of similar accounts in Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi, Proverbs, Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, and the words of Jesus. 

If your hand is your difficulty cut it off.  We say Jesus was speaking figuratively here.  But do we take his words to heart.  Do we look at our lives and consider what will get us thrown into Gehenna and cut it out or off?  What are we living for?  What are we willing to die for?  Very often we are driven to seek prestige, wealth, success – but what happens when the music stops, when we realize we have danced our last step?   

Michelangelo spent a good part of his career climbing through the quarries of Carrara and Piersanti, searching for just the right vein of marble.  Then the blocks that he ordered had to be cut to size and hauled by road and river to his workshop.  Much of the stone ended up as chips on his studio floor.  As good as the marble looked on the outside, Michelangelo had to cut away at it to reveal the deeper beauty of a gigantic David, or a stern Moses. 

To cut and chisel, we don’t often appreciate these as constructive moments.  We are called to build God’s kingdom.  We are called to weave the name of Christ into the very fabric of our lives, to see as Jesus did that all is God’s to persevere as he did to pursue what is right, just and good, to be courageous in welcoming others, even those the rest of the world has thrown away. 

Hell is to be cut off from God, and the Kingdom or reign of God.  It is our choice.