Catholic Service Appeal 2021-2022
First of all, I take this opportunity to thank all of you for your generous support to our parish, and yearly Catholic Service Appeal (CSA). Your generosity makes a difference. This weekend is the KICK-OFF of our annual CSA 2021-2022. The theme for this year's appeal is “Christ has no body but yours”.We are his eyes, feet and hands. We are his body. Bishop James Powers says, “The Catholic Service Appeal has been the one constant in providing the annual resources vital to all we do as the Diocese of Superior.”
Sometimes we ask why I need to give my money to the diocese. It can be used in my local church. It is a valuable thought. The reality is we are part of the universal church; we are part of the bigger mission. Whether promoting vocations, educating our future priests, providing lay ministry formation, teaching, evangelizing, providing outreach to youth, young adults, and those in need, diocesan ministries reach beyond the ability of any single parish to support. We benefit from the diocese in so many different ways. You should have received the CSA booklet in the mail. It will give you a picture of how our money is used and how many lives you have touched.
The Goal for this year for our parishes are: St. Anthony $38,873.00; Immaculate Conception $10,543; and St. Francis $4,073. Please participate and reach the goal this year. Our participation becomes successful by our own participation and by encouraging others to participate. Let us respond to Bishop Power’s invitation and make it a successful one. If everyone makes a commitment, we can reach the goal in two or three weekends. Let us be part of a miracle, and witness a miracle.
We are back to the Gospel of Mark from John. This weekends reading emphasises the obedience to the Divine Law. In the first reading there is an exhortation by Moses to keep the law, that Israel may live in the land as a wise people. All through the book of Deuteronomy it repeated this message (Deuteronomy 4:45, 5:1, 6:1, 12:1, 26:16). The Book of Deuteronomy says there is no other nation like them who has statues and ordinances (Dt. 4:8). We can see the same message in the second book of Samel 7:23, “What other nation on earth is there like your people Israel? What god has ever led a nation, redeeming it as his people and making a name by great and awesome deeds, as you drove out the nations and their gods before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt?”
Today we begin a series of five Sunday readings from the letter of James. In this letter, James will stress doing the law rather than hearing only. He stresses that God is the source of all good and of good alone, and the evil of temptation does not come from him.
In the Gospel Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for observance of human custom rather than the Divine Law. They had written law and oral law. The oral laws, known in Jesus’ time as the “Traditions of the Elders,” were a series of oral traditions intended to act as “a fence around the Law,” so that the Mosaic Law itself, and, thus, the Covenant, would never be violated.
We see in the Gospel passage for today, the Pharisees are scandalized that Christ’s disciples “took food with unclean hands" (Mk 7.2). We see this same passage in the Gospel of Matthew 15:1-20. This dispute begins with the question of the Pharisees and scribes why Jesus’ disciples are breaking the tradition of the elders about washing one’s hands before eating. Jesus’ counterquestion accuses his opponents of breaking the commandment of God (Divine Law) for the sake of their tradition.
Jesus challenged them, today, he challenges us, with the same question. For example, Sunday obligation to join the parish community and celebrate Eucharist, or finding time for daily prayers. Jesus invites us to do it in true spirit and grow in our discipleship.
The Bread of Life…
A climber fell off a cliff. As he tumbled down into a deep gorge he grabbed hold of a branch of a small tree. “Help” he shouted. “Is there anyone up there?” A deep majestic voice from the sky echoed through the gorge. “I will help you, my son. But first you must have faith in me.” “All right, all right. I trust you,” answered the man. The voice replied, “Let go of the branch.” There was a long pause and the man shouted again, “Is there anyone else up there?”
The first reading and Gospel place a question in front of us: are we for God or against God? Christian life is a series of daily choices for God or against God. In the first reading Joshua, the leader who succeeded Moses, gathered all the tribes of Israelite in Shechem, where God first appeared to Abraham. We read in the Book of Genesis 12:6-7, “Abram passed through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, by the oak of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said: To your descendants I will give this land. So Abram built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.” Joshua gathered the Israelites in Schechem, and urged them to commit themselves to serve the Lord, and not to fall into the wrong path and serve the false god. Joshua told them he is going to serve the Lord, and then he asked them whom are they going to serve the Lord. The people pledged their fidelity and ratified the covenant.
The first reading clearly compliments the Gospel, the conclusion of the Bread of Life discourse (John 6:60-69). After listening to Jesus many of his disciples complained, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” If we want to understand the background of this question, we need to read the previous passage. Jesus claims to be “the bread that comes down from heaven” (John 6:50); “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day”(John 6:54); “What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” and these claims provoked them. Jesus encouraged everyone to take a leap of faith and at the same time he did not try to rephrase his words in order to clear up the misunderstanding. Jesus meant that his Body and Blood are real food and drink. He repeats this at the Last Supper. He took the bread, gave thanks, blessed and gave to his disciples and said, “This is my Body” likewise he took the cup, gave thanks, blessed and gave it to them and said, “This my Blood.”
Even today it is hard to understand and people turn away. Today’s passage describes the various reactions of the people to Jesus’ claims. What is our reaction? As Joshua spoke to his followers, Jesus speaks to the twelve apostles and gives them the option of leaving Him or staying with Him. Jesus said to his twelve disciples, “"Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The disciples couldn’t reject Jesus after all that He has done for them. The apostles exercise their freedom of choice by choosing to stay with Jesus. The disciples cannot reject Jesus after all that He has done for them. The apostles exercise their freedom of choice by choosing to stay with Jesus.
Every Mass, we gather to meet Christ. We are here to listen for Christ's word for our life. We are here to say with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." We have Mass every day of the week. We have the opportunity to spend time in adoration every Friday of the month. Let us meet him personally in the Eucharist celebration.
God is walking around Heaven one day, and notices a number of people in the heavenly streets who shouldn't be there. He finds St. Peter at the gate and says to him, "Peter, you've been remiss in your duties. You're letting in the wrong sort of people."
"Don't blame me, Lord," replied Peter. "I turn them away just like you said to. Then they go around to the back door and your mother lets them in."
August 15th we celebrate the Assumption of Mary. This solemn feast of Mary was defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950. Even before the church celebrated this feast in different names: as the Feast of the Dormition, or falling asleep of Mary. In the Gospel of Luke 1:28 at the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Hail Mary full of grace.” Mary Immaculate received the grace to be body and soul in Heaven along with her son. The other just souls that have preceded us are in Heaven, but they’re separated from their bodies until the Last Day when Our Lord raises everyone from the dead in the Last Judgment. Our Lord ascended into Heaven in glory. Our Blessed Mother was assumed into Heaven.
We know from the Bible, God created Adam and Eve in the image and likeness of God. CCC 397 “Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what man's first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.”
God gave us second Adam and Eve: Jesus and Mary. If we look at the first book of the Bible, Genesis 3:15, we read, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” In the Gospel of John 19:26, we see Mother Mary and the Apostle John at the foot of the cross. When Jesus saw them, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” And said to John, “Behold, your mother.” In the book of Revelation, John talks about his vision. In our first reading for the Mass of the day, Revelation 12:1 “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” We read in the Book of second Samuel 6:2, “Then David and all the people who were with him set out for Baala of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which bears the name “the LORD of hosts enthroned above the cherubim.” John sees the heavenly counterpart to the ancient ark of the where God sat invisibly enthroned in the sanctuary of Israel.
For the vigil Mass, the first reading is from the first book of Chronicles chapter 15, which gives us the picture of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem with the help of musical accompaniment by the Levites. The Arch of the Covenant was a golden container which held sacred items such as the tablets of the Commandments, the rod of Aaron, and some of the manna from the desert. In the Book of Revelation 2:1-6, the woman adorned with the sun, the moon, and the stars symbolizes God’s people in the Old and the New Testament. The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah (Rev 12:5) and then became the new Israel, the church, which suffers persecution by the dragon.
God chose Mary, second Eve, in a special way to bring Jesus, the second Adam, who bring us salvation. Mary is new the Ark of the Covenant. When the old ark was completed, the glory cloud of the Lord covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35; Nm 9:18, 22). The new Ark of the Covenant, Mary, was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. The new Ark of the Covenant, Mary was assumed into heaven.
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven reminds us that suffering and trials are also gifts from God. It was not easy for Mary, but she made it. Assumption reminds us of what awaits for us. Let’s pray today that Mary helps us make the journey to Heaven and one day shine there alongside her and her Son.
I am the Bread of Life…
We are living in a world where people everywhere hunger more for physical or spiritual food or both. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started the entire world changed. We remember a couple of months ago we didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist. There are parts of the world who still don’t have the opportunity to come together as before.
This is the third Sunday of the fifth, we reflect on the Eucharist. We started reading from the Gospel of John beginning with chapter 6, the multiplication of loaves and fish. Jesus fed the hungry in the deserted place. Last Sunday we saw the people were searching for Jesus and Jesus taught them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, he who believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35).” The continuation of this passage we read this week where we see Jews have a hard time accepting Jesus’ words. They look at him as another hometown boy.
The first reading from the Book of First King prepares us to reflect on the Eucharist in the Gospel. In the first reading, Elijah was fleeing from Queen Jezebel, wife of King Ahab. We have to read the previous passage to see the reason for his flee. King Ahab of Israel married a pagan queen, Jezebel. She began to spread pagan worship in Israel. The prophet Elijah challenged 450 of the pagan god Baal’s prophets, defeated them in a public sacrifice contest, and killed all of them. So the furious Queen Jezebel sent soldiers to kill the prophet. Elijah's journey into the wilderness and he was sustained by bread and water from an angel. After eating and drinking, Elijah walked forty days and nights. We see in the Book of Exodus 34:28, “Moses was there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten words.” The story of Elijah’s journey to Mount Horeb begins as a flight from danger but takes a surprising turn. The Mount“Horeb” is an alternate name for the Mount “Sinai” where the Lord had appeared to Moses and the Israelites (Exodus19).
God’s strengthening of his prophet by the miraculously provided food. Jesus tells us in the Gospel, God strengthens us in our pilgrimage to Heaven by the Bread from Heaven: the Holy Eucharist. The Jews had had time to accept it, “The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,
“I am the bread that came down from heaven...” We recall from the book of Exodus 16:2, Number 11:11, Israelites murmured against Lord and Moses. Here they gathered against Jesus. But Jesus continues to teach them, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah about the messianic age which we read in Isaiah 54:13. Jesus says in John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven;...I will give as my flesh for the life of the world.” Here Jesus talks in the future tense, it is about the Last Supper and the Cross where Jesus gives himself as living bread to a starving world.
Jesus is ready to go any distance to bring us closer to the Father. To come into a relationship with the Father, something has to happen. You and I are created in the image of God with gifts of freedom and understanding. We have pulled away from God, and separated ourselves from Him. We need redemption. St. Paul speaks about "the day of redemption" in the second reading. The question is: What does redemption mean? Pope Benedict puts it this way: "Why does God require the death of his only Son?" (Jesus of Nazareth, part II). We will never fully understand the mystery of redemption, but we can say this: it is not illogical. Pope Benedict writes about the logic of redemption, "God cannot simply ignore man's disobedience and all the evil of history; he cannot treat it as inconsequential or meaningless." In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” To feed the spirit, we need good nutrition. Our journey is like Elijah’s it is not easy, but Jesus gives himself in the Eucharist to nourish us and make us ready for the journey.
Thank you! Thank you to everyone who helped to set up the tent and sell the ice cream and everyone who enjoyed ice cream at our stand during the Flambeau Rama. Thank you Lemmer family for the freezer. We made a $ 1475.00 profit. Thank you, everyone! Fr. Shaji