Letter from Father Lester, 1-21-21

Dearest Parish Family,

Before we know it, January will be over. How is life for you at the beginning of the year? We cannot deny that it is still difficult and very challenging. However, I witnessed the great transformation of many of us becoming faithful disciples of Christ and children of the Father. I’m so glad that we have started talking about how to stay safe and strong, we have been more intentional than ever before in taking care of and loving our loved ones and those in need, and we have been prayerful.

On Sunday, I ask that together we celebrate life. As Catholics we celebrate life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, and every moment in between. We also take this opportunity to commit ourselves to respecting, protecting, and promoting life in all stages.

Let us pray for all selfless essential workers who are making a difference in the lives of so many. We pray as well for the thousands who have lost their lives, and for their families. Pray for President Biden and Vice President Harris, that they may work for the good of the nation and all.

I assure you of my fervent prayers and love for all of you. Please join me in reaching out to our fellow parishioners and together we will persevere.

In God we trust,
Fr. Lester

Reflections : Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Readings for January 24, 2021

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"Sunday Connection" from Loyola Press

First Reading
God spared the people of Nineveh because they heeded the message God sent through Jonah.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord teaches us His ways.

Second Reading
Paul warns the Corinthians that they must act differently because the world in its present form is passing away.

Gospel Reading
Jesus calls the fishermen, Simon and Andrew, James and John, to be His disciples.

*** Background on the Gospel Reading ***

Today we begin a continuous reading of Mark’s Gospel that will carry us through this segment of the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. Remember that in Cycle B of the Lectionary, most of the Gospel readings are taken from the Gospel according to Mark.

The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a narrative about Jesus’ birth. Instead Mark begins by reporting on the preaching of John the Baptist. John is described as the voice in the wilderness sent to prepare the way of the Lord. Immediately after describing the work of John the Baptist, Mark reports on Jesus’ baptism and his temptation in the desert. Jesus’ public ministry begins after the arrest of John the Baptist. Mark wants his readers to understand the important connection between the end of the ministry of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ own ministry.

As we learn at the beginning of today’s Gospel reading, Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God in continuity with the preaching of John the Baptist. Like John the Baptist, Jesus’ pronouncement of the kingdom is a call to repentance. Yet Jesus’ preaching is greater than John’s. Jesus begins the time of fulfillment; the Kingdom of God is already here. This will be demonstrated again and again, both in Jesus’ words and in the actions that follow. Jesus’ healings and forgiveness of sins are signs of the Kingdom of God that he announces in his teaching.

In contrast to last week’s Gospel, in Mark’s Gospel Jesus takes the initiative in calling his first disciples. As mentioned last week, it was more typical of first-century rabbinical schools for students to seek out rabbis, asking to be their disciples. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus breaks with this tradition and invites his disciples to learn from him. Jesus is said to have first called four fishermen—Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Simon and Andrew are brothers. Jesus promises that he will make them “fishers of men.” James and John are also brothers. Mark does not report Jesus' words of invitation to them, but he does report that they left their fishing immediately; their father, Zebedee, was left behind in the boat.

Mark’s Gospel is told with a great sense of urgency and immediacy. Jesus is a person of action, and events occur in rapid succession. We see this in today’s Gospel. Time is of the essence; the fishermen immediately put aside their livelihood to become Jesus’ disciples. The Kingdom of God is here and now. The time of fulfillment is at hand. How might our lives be different if we more fully shared this sense of the immediacy of God’s kingdom?

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