First of all let me take this opportunity congratulate our St. Anthony Confirmation Candidates as they make their commitment. We, faith community with their sponsors, families, and teachers asked to make a commitment to pray for them and support you in their journey.
This week, we celebrate Veterans Day: veterans is the national day to recognize the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes. I would like to share St Ignatius of Loyola’s prayer about heart-felt generosity. It goes like this: Dear Lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil, and not to seek for rest; to labor, and not to ask for any reward except that of knowing that I am doing your holy will. Amen. Veterans Day is to honor them for their love and sacrifices for our safety. Our men and women in uniform in past, present and the future, God bless you and Thank You.
The month of November is dedicated to pray for our loved ones. Every year we celebrate a Mass of remembrance to honor and to pray for those who have gone this past year. So this weekend we join with families and friends who lost their loved one.
Thirty second Sunday readings talk about resurrection. There is a story about a singing group called "The Resurrection." They were scheduled to sing at a church. They had to postpone the performance, because of a snow storm. Then the pastor fixed the outside sign to read, "The Resurrection is postponed."
The First reading and the Gospel talks about resurrection. In the first reading seven brothers with their mother are arrested and persecuted. At the time of death one told to the executioner, “you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.” We see a amazing witness to their faith. Second Maccabees became one of the favorite books of the early Christians. They would choose Christ and his Kingdom rather than give in to the so-called modern yet pagan world of the Roman empire.
In Jesus time there were two prominent groups, such as Sadducees and Pharisees. In the Gospel, Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. So they came up with a story and asked a question. The woman in the story married over time to seven husbands. Their question, “Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?”
Although we believe in the resurrection, we often hear tribute at the funerals in which people talk about the person being united with a deceased spouse, “oh yah he or she enjoyed doing something in this world” and now, “he’s up there fishing with Uncle George” or “dancing with Mom.” We say those things; it is easy way for us to understand. Jesus might want to correct us as well as the Sadducees. Heaven, as he indicates, is going to very different from what we experience here on earth. Jesus answered their question and said, “To the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.” Jesus added, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."
Our God is God of living. Let us pray for our loved ones every day, especially as we celebrate Mass of remembrance.
We are celebrating National Vocation Awareness week. We all received a call to holiness, but in different ways: as a priest, religious, married couple and family, singles, and so on. Vocation in general is openness to God’s call. How do we foster this call? One of the brochures for Vocation Awareness week talks about seven ways a family can foster vocation: 1) snuggle up and read fascinating age appropriate saints story at bed time; 2) watch a better movie as family (e.g. life a St. John Bosco); 3) Set the record straight, means tell children about real happiness, instead TV tells them what is happiness; 4) Play dress up, let children imagine being a priest or nun and play it out, 5) pray from the heart, have family prayer time and during the family prayer pray for the families, priests and nuns too; 6) Talk about vocations openly, marriage, priesthood and religious life; 7) Befriend priest and religious, invite a priest or nun at your home.
I remember in 2015, 8th grade St. Anthony students invited me as their special guest at the radio station for an interview. Their first question was, why did I became a priest? I told them the short answer is because God called me. Then I explained to them how I found out God was calling me. It was through my family, pastor, nuns, youth group and so on. Definitely I can say that the youth program called “Cherupushpa Mission League” which made a remarkable influence in making my decision. I was very much involved in this youth ministry. I was a participant at the beginning and in my high school years, I was in the leadership team under the guidance of pastor and nuns. The experience with youth ministry encouraged me in my decision making to become a priest.
These are the little steps to teach our children about vocation. Everybody is not going to be a priest or nun. It is their choice, but it our duty to teach them about different vocations and have an opportunity to talk about it and to get to know. When it comes to faith, normally we say it is their choice. But in reality, automatically they are exposed everything else, they should be exposed to faith and its traditions and roots. Then they can make the right choice. Always it starts with prayer. Let us pray for vocation. We all are called to holiness in different paths.
Today we hear the story of the little man Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus the head tax collector, had climbed a tree along the road that Jesus was walking down. He was merely curious. He wanted to see this Jesus. But then Jesus stopped under the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly because today I must stay at your house.” Jesus didn’t intend to stay there. He was passing through Jericho. But something happened that made Him change His plans. Compassion and mercy caused to stay. At the same way was Zacchaeus’ reaction…amazing! He promised to give half his possessions to the poor and payback four times over all he had forced. Jesus cared about Him. Zacchaeus would not let the moment pass.
Jesus loved Zacchaeus- sinner and by that love Zacchaeus was transformed. Sometimes we have the temptation to withhold love from the other. For example, a husband and wife may withhold love from each other. There may be a temptation to withhold one’s love from a rebellious teenager. But just as Jesus loved Zacchaeus even though he was the worst of sinners, so we must love others in spite of their weakness. It is not easy, but let us try it. Let us receive Christ’s peace and love; at the same time let us share Christ’s peace and love to one another.
What would be your first thought when you walk into the Church? Is it about ourselves or God? Do we compare ourselves with others? I often wonder what everybody thinks during the readings and homily at Mass. Do we reflect on our life or neighbors? Couple years ago, someone approached me after the Mass and said, “Father, while you were talking about “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” (2Timothy 4:7) I was thinking about two of my neighbors who had a good fight last night.
This weekends Gospel reading we see a parable of the tax-collector and the Pharisee. In Jesus' time, his Jewish audience would have expected the Pharisee to have been the "good guy" and the tax-collector to have been the "bad guy." But, Jesus flips this predisposition of his audience. Pride is found not in the tax-collector but in the Pharisee; and, conversely, humility is found in the tax-collector. If Jesus look at disposition our life what would he find: pride or humility?
This is the last weekend of Respect Life month, we are praying for victims of Domestic violence and human trafficking. The violence against another person is a failure to treat that person as someone worthy of love. The violence within the sacramental marriage, the abused spouse may question, "How do these violent acts relate to my promise to take my spouse for better or for worse?" An article from United State Bishop’s says, “We focus here on violence against women, since 85 percent of the victims of reported cases of non-lethal domestic violence are women. Women's greatest risk of violence comes from intimate partners—a current or former husband or boyfriend.” The human trafficking is new form of slavery. United Bishop’s Conference says, “Human trafficking violates the sanctity, dignity, and fundamental rights of the human person.” They state that, every nation is affected by this this disease—the United States is no exception.
We all are called to love God and love one another. It is essence of our discipleship. Month of October, we were reflecting and praying, especially through the devotion to the Rosary, on the dignity of the human life. This weekend reading talks about being humble in the presence of God. Our relationship with God is unique. Even though each one of us are different, in the eyes of God no one is fundamentally better or worse than another person. He created us to be ourselves, our best selves. That’s how He sees us.
All Saints Day and All Souls Day: In the month of November Church invites us to pray for our loved ones. We celebrate November 1st is all Saints day and November 2nd is all Souls day. Sometimes we think that the church means we who are on earth. Church has three realms: the church on earth is called militant church because we are in a battle between good and evil; the souls in purgatory are called suffering church because they are in state of purifying to fully experience God’s glory and the saints who have already entered in the heavenly glory are victorious or triumphant church.
All Saints day is a feast honoring all Christian saints – known and unknown. On All Souls day we remember all those who have gone before us. The souls in purgatory, they need our prayer to help their purification and to attain in heavenly glory. On November 2nd we celebrate a special Mass at St. Cecilia Cemetery at 11:00 am. We celebrate a Mass of remembrance on Sunday, November 10.
We ask saints to intercede for us. We pray for our loved one those who have gone before us. Every Mass there is place we pray for our loved ones. Please remember our loved one every Mass. Another way, Church invites us to offer Mass in their name. It costs only $ 10.00, but it take conscious thought and action to do it. Please join for All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebration.
I read a story of a phone call Father O’Malley received. Hello, is this Father O’Malley? Father O’Malley says, “Yes, It Is.” From the other side, “This is the IRS. Can you help us?” Father O’Malley, “Yes-I can” “Do you know a Ted Houlihan?” Father O’Malley, “Yes, I do” Is he a member of your congregation? Father O’Malley, “Yes, He is” Did he donate $10,000 to the church? Father O’Malley, “Yes, He will”
We are celebrating Extraordinary Mission Sunday. Some give to the missions by going. Some go by giving. Mission Sunday is the day to reach out beyond the needs of the local Parish and diocese to assist missionaries as they go and tell in the young churches. The theme for the Extraordinary Missionary Month is: “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.” Pope Francis in his recent Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “Missionary action is the paradigm of every work of the Church.” (EG 15)
In 2017, Pope Francis wrote a letter to call the whole Church an Extraordinary Mission month on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of The Apostolic Letter “Maximum Illud” by Pope Benedict XV. Pope Francis wrote in his letter, “The Apostolic Letter “Maximum Illud” called for transcending national boundaries and bearing witness, with prophetic spirit and evangelical boldness, to God’s saving will through the Church’s universal mission. May the approaching centenary of that Letter serve as an incentive…(to) be open to the joyful newness of the Gospel. In these, our troubled times, rent by the tragedies of war and menaced by the baneful tendency to accentuate differences and to incite conflict, may the Good News that in Jesus forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear, be proclaimed to the world with renewed fervor, and instill trust and hope in everyone.”
Our baptismal call is to be a missionary. Church is missionary. St. Therese of Lisieux, also called St. Teresa of the Child Jesus or the Little Flower, is the patron saint for the missionaries. She was a spiritual master of the contemplative life. St. Therese didn’t go out to mission journey, but in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, she reflects on the new freedom of a new joy she will enjoy in heaven. She writes, “There will be no longer any cloister and grilles and my soul will be able to fly with you into distant lands.” She didn’t go too far, but she prayed for missionaries.
This weekends First Reading from the Book of Exodus and the Gospel reading from Luke both speak about perseverance in prayer. In the battle against Amalek, the forces of Israel were winning as long as Moses held his hands up. The ancient way of praying, and the way many of us pray at times is to lift our hands up to the Lord. When Moses’ let his arms fall, Amalek succeeded. When Moses stopped praying, Amalek succeeded. He needed the help and support of Aaron and Hur to keep his arms up. He needed the support of others to persevere in prayer. Jesus tells a humorous story of an unjust judge and a persistent widow. Judge says, “While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.”
As we celebrate Mission Sunday, reading remind us that our missionary journey needs to start with prayer and perseverance in prayer. Let us pray for missionary, and share our resources. At the same time let us encourage each other to grow in our faith. Let us be a missionary!
In the ancient world, lepers were not included in the community. They were supposed to keep distance from others. The communities were afraid of them. Today we read this story and may say, it is so sad. Are we different from them? Flu season what do we do. We are afraid of those who are sick or self-conscious of our health. Jesus’ story, there were ten lepers. In this story there are two points for reflection: inclusion and gratitude.
What is inclusion? Some of them must have been limping with deformed legs, most likely relying on crutches. Some had lost fingers and even parts of their face. Many had horrible sores all over their bodies. They were hideous.
All of them had bells. All were required to call out continually, “Unclean, unclean.” The healthy would do everything possible to avoid them. That is why at the beginning of the Gospel the lepers stood off at a distance and called to Jesus to heal them. They were not supposed to come closer. Jesus told them “Go show yourselves to the priests.” It is because there was a ritual to be welcomed back to the community. Jesus healed them, not just leprosy, but brought them back to community.
Respect life month invites us to meditate on dignity of life. Fr. Dennis Mullen at the cluster mission reminded us that our culture tells us that we have to be young and wealthy. So we are tempted to move towards that goal. The Bible teaches that life is a gift of God and hence we have to respect it from womb to tomb. This weekend we celebrate Inclusion Awareness Day as a part of respect life month. Respect life month we celebrate life with our ability and disAbilities, our strength and weakness. We are one family. Because we like to see ourselves young, healthy and wealthy, sometime we forget to appreciate the rest of the community. Inclusion awareness Sunday is opportunity to reflect how we include everyone in the community by looking at our abilities, rather than looking at disAbilities. How we appreciate the gift of each and every one. In other words, how we celebrate our differences. This weekends reading invites us to “do something beautiful for God” by reaching out to others.
Father Henri Nouwen, the founder of the Pathways Awareness remarked that "I was always studying about God and teaching about God to all these bright students. I wanted to be smarter than others. I wanted to show them that I could be "with it". And I suddenly realized that it is not in strength and power that God was coming to me, but in weakness."
God’s love includes everyone. He opened his arms and heart on the cross to embrace everyone. So Jesus invites us to open our hearts, minds and doors for everyone. But in reality, sometimes many people with disAbilities are unintentionally excluded. Inclusion Awareness Sunday invites us to reflect that what I can do to include everyone.
Second point is gratitude. On the way to the temple priest, all of them received healing, but only the Samaritan came back to Jesus to express his gratitude. He was outcast twice, he is outcast because he was a Samaritan and then because of leprosy.
We try to teach our children to say please and thank you. When we reach our adulthood, do we still keep the positive attitude or do we become a more negative person. Do we count our blessing? Do we still keep that attitude of gratitude? It is most beautiful prayer. Eucharist is a beautiful prayer of gratitude.
Let us pray, Lord, may we never fail to recognize your love and mercy. Fill our heart with gratitude and thanksgiving. Lord, give us strength to bring others closer to you. Amen
First of all let us wish our St. Francis parishioners, a happy and joyful Feast of St. Francis. Feast of St. Francis of Assis was on October 4th, but we celebrate on Sunday October 6th. St. Francis of Assis loved the whole universe. The custom of blessing of animal originated from St. Francis’s love all creatures. Animals used to come and listen to St. Francis preach. How beautiful is to begin month of October reflecting St. Francis’ love for all God’s creation.
I assume most of you got a chance to watch the movie, "Unplanned." After the movie, I said, what a powerful message. Why is it powerful, because it involves real life. Life matters.
The month of October is month of respect life and month of the rosary. This year, the theme for the respect life is "Christ is Our Hope in Every Season of Life." Every moment of our life from womb to tomb is a gift from God and He is our Hope. Every season of our life encounters challenges- moments of being vulnerable, but those vulnerabilities give us the opportunity to grow closer to Christ who is our Hope. As I mentioned above, October is month of Rosary, a devotion to our Mother Mary, which very well connects with respect life month. When we meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary, we walk through life Jesus: from very moment of his conception in the womb of Mary, through his passion death and resurrection to his ascension and coming of the Holy Spirit. He restored the dignity of our life. Through his salvific action, we received the dignity of life.
In this month of October, let us pray for life: life from the womb to tomb. Let us become voice of the voiceless: unborn, vulnerable and elderly. The first week we pray in special way pray for unborn babies, mothers and babies aborted and healing of their parents. The second week we will be praying for people with different abilities (disabilities). We call it Inclusion awareness Sunday. If you know someone is not received Sacrament in appropriate age, please call Kathy Rominske, Sandy Kennedy, we can prepare them for Sacraments. If you know someone who would like to read, serve or bringing the gift this Sunday please call parish office. We will train and prepare them for the ministry.
The third Sunday, we celebrate World Mission Sunday. Pope Francis wrote in his 2017 message, “Carrying out our mission, let us draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelization. Moved by the Spirit, she welcomed the Word of life in the depths of her humble faith.” Fourth Sunday, we meditate and pray for the domestic violence and human trafficking. Again, an opportunity to reflect on dignity of life in our day to day life.
October 18th we will be celebrating a healing Mass. It is the feast of St. Luke, who was physician and patron saint of the medical profession. During the healing Mass we pray for all those who are sick, opportunity to receive the Sacrament of the Sick, and offer a special prayer for the caregivers and healthcare professional.
Respect Life month invites us to reflect on the dignity of the lives and evaluate, how we respect one another’s lives. Let us take a special attention to pray Rosary this month and pray for peace, human life and the family.
“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” -Saint Padre Pio
Lazarus means ‘God is my help.’
Imagine this scene. A man dies and arrives before the Judgment Seat of God. The divine Judge goes through the Book of Life and does not find the man’s name. So He announces to the man that his place is in hell. The man protests, “But what did I do? I did nothing!” “Precisely,” replies God, “that is why you are going to hell.”
This weekend again the readings challenge us on stewardship. Are we a good steward? I do not remember anywhere in the Scriptures where Jesus condemned the wealthy simply for having wealth. He condemned those who allowed their wealth to make them forget about the God who had blessed them so generously, like the farmer we heard a couple of weeks ago. He had such a great harvest that he had to tear down his barns to build bigger ones and he gave no thought to the eternal life. Or Jesus condemned those who allowed their wealth to lead them into dishonesty like the unjust steward we heard about last week. Or Jesus condemned those who allowed wealth to make them selfish and self-centered like the rich man in today’s Gospel.
The poor man Lazarus was lying at his gate. And the rich man simply couldn’t care less. In the meantime dogs went and licked Lazarus’ wounds. And the poor man died. Of course the rich man did nothing against Lazarus. But he has failed to do a good deed.
We are not told the rich man acquired his wealth by foul means. We are not told he was responsible for the poverty and misery of Lazarus. We are not told he committed any crime or evil deed. All we are told is that he was feeding and clothing well as any other successful human being has a right to do.
Whenever we sin/mistake, we think we commit sin/mistake by our thoughts, words and action. Most of the time we forget, we commit sins of omission. In the prayer “I Confess” we say these words: “I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.” This is what happens to the rich man, he failed to reach out and share a little of his blessings with someone in need.
In the first reading, God, through His Prophet Amos, warned people of the coming downfall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of its disrespectful, and arrogant treatment of the poor and the needy by the rich and powerful. In the second reading, St. Paul instructs the first century Judeo-Christians to become true stewards of the Gospel of Jesus, the only mediator, by preaching the “Good News” to the gentiles and by including them in intercessory prayers, too.
The first and second reading brings connection with the Gospel story and invites us to reflect on stewardship. There are many Lazarus’ at our own gates, in our own families, and in our neighborhoods. They are the people that we easily overlook, dismiss, or ignore.
Invest for Eternity!
I learned an interesting story about George C. Parker. He was a clever con man who used to convince people that he could sell them the Brooklyn Bridge. They say he sold the Brooklyn Bridge as often as twice a week for thirty years. Now, why would anyone want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge? It’s not like they could put it in their back yards. Well, Parker told his victims that once they owned the bridge, they could set their own tolls. This is a true story. It took place during the 1920's in New York City. Several times the police had to stop the “new owners” of the Brooklyn Bridge from setting up toll booths in the middle of the span.
Now, aside from being naive, and perhaps a bit dim-witted, why would people believe Parker and give him up to $50,000 for the Bridge? This happened because Parker worked hard studying his potential victims. He knew what made them tick and exploited their weakness. For some it was greed; for others it was vanity. “You could rename the bridge after yourself. After all, it would be your bridge.” One man had his doubts and asked Parker, “Are you sure the bridge is for sale?” Parker told him, “Of course it is for sale, didn’t you see the for sale sticker on one of the beams?” And the man believed him!
For those who were a bit more intelligent, hopefully the rest of the world, Parker had set up an office complete with pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge and bogus legal papers. He did quite a bit of work and earned quite a bit of cash. Oh, he also was convicted of fraud and spent the last nine years of his life in New York’s Sing Sing Prison.
In the Gospel passage the rich man wants his money. St. Augustine said, “I can’t believe that this story came from the lips of our Lord.” Jesus tells a paradoxical story about the steward (manager) of the estate of a rich absentee landlord. The rich man heard that his employee was taking advantage of him. The main point is not about the employee was stealing nor reducing the debt that various businesspeople owed his master. The main point of the reading is that the employee was cleaver and wasted no time in planning for a secure future for himself. Jesus wanted to tell us that we need to be as cleaver in planning for a secure future for ourselves: not just few years here on earth, but also for our time eternity.
The first reading from the book of Amos tells us that when Israelites enjoyed prosperity, they forgot about God who blessed them so richly. When they lost touch with God, this led them to its collapse. In the second reading, I Timothy instructs the first century Judeo-Christians to become true stewards of the gospel of Jesus, the only mediator, by preaching the “good news” to the pagans and including them in intercessory prayers.
Jesus said at the end of today’s Gospel, "You cannot serve two masters, you will hate one and be devoted to the other or vice-versa. A person cannot serve both God and Mammon." We need money to operate our family or institutions. We may need to invest money in the market. Our resources are a blessing from God. The question is who has first place in our life/heart? Jesus is telling us today to use the blessings God has given us to help us get closer to God and not let our possessions become a god in themselves. All three readings challenges us to use our blessings - time, talents, health and wealth - wisely and smartly so that they will count for our good in eternity. Our life in this earth is temporary. Eternity is forever.
Have you ever lost something? What do we do? We search for it. The intensity of the search is determined by the value of the lost item. A couple of years ago, I lost my car key. I cannot remember all the bits and pieces, but remember the tension when I lost it and joy when I found it. It was a Sunday afternoon, after all the Masses, had a bit to eat. There were a couple of events taking place that afternoon. All of sudden I cannot find my car key. If I remember correctly, I was planning to go for Chequamegon High School Madrigals. After or before the madrigal, I was suppose to visit someone in the hospital. I was praying and searching for the key. I prayed to St. Anthony. I cannot go anywhere, I am stuck. I remember at the last minute, I found the key outside of the door. It was a moment of relief and joy.
The Gospel presents to us three lost and found stories. The first one, shepherd who loses his sheep. The shepherd goes out to search for the one lost sheep. Second, women loses the coin. She turns the house upside down in search of it. Third, the story of the prodigal son. I would like to call this story, story of prodigal Father who lavishly shares with his lost son. All three stories talk about celebration of joy. In our faith journey, sometimes we may be the lost one, some other times we may be the older brother of prodigal, who is reluctant to accept the fathers generous forgiveness.
I would like to borrow a thought from Fr. Bloom. He writes, many years ago, in England, three men were pouring into a trough a mixture of water, sand, lime and other ingredients. A passer-by asked them what they were doing. The first said, "I am making mortar." The second: "I am laying bricks." But the third said, "I am building a cathedral." They were doing the same thing, but each looked at it differently. And what a difference that made! We can see something similar in the way people relate to their parish, why they give. One person says, "Oh! All they do down there is ask for money." The second person replies, "Well, you have to pay the bills." But the third person says, "I am building the Body of Christ."
Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to this mission as a community of faith. Each one of us is a catechist. There are a good number of people who volunteer to teach our faith with our young people. We recognize them and we thank them for their generosity. Audrina Damrow and Andria Schwemmer are making their first Communion. All summer, they were attending the Right of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC). Our celebration of Catechetical Sunday is made more joyful. I would like to Congratulate Andria and Audrina at their first communion.
Prayer for Catechists
O God, our Heavenly Father, you have given us the gift of these catechists to
be heralds of the Gospel to our parish family.
We lift them up to you in thanksgiving and intercede for them concerning their
hopes and needs.
May we be attentive to the presence of your Word in them, a Word that lifts up
and affirms, calls forth and challenges, is compassionate and consoles.
We pray that our parish family will always be blessed with those who have responded to
the call to share in Christ’s prophetic mission as catechists. May we too be open to the
universal call to service that Christ addresses to all of his disciples, contributing our gifts to
the communion of faith, the Church.
We ask this in Jesus’ name.
Gale Sayers, who played with the Chicago Bears back in the 1960s, ranks among the greatest running back in the history of professional football. Around his neck he always wore a gold medal about the size of a half-dollar. On it were inscribed three words: I am Third.
Those three words became the title of his best-selling auto-biography. The book explains why the words meant so much to Gale. They were the motto of his track coach, Bill Easton, back at the University of Kansas.
Coach Easton kept the words on a little sign on his desk. One day Gale asked him what they meant. Easton replied, “The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.” From that day on, Gale made those words his own philosophy of life.
In his second year with the Bears, Gale decided he wanted to wear something meaningful around his neck, like a religious medal. So he bought a gold medal and had the words I Am Third engraved on it. In his autobiography Gale says, “I try to live by the saying on my medal. I don’t always succeed, but having the saying around my neck keeps me from staying from it too far.”
The story of Gale Sayers illustrates the readings as well as celebration of Blue Mass. We are celebrating Blue Mass to honor and pray for all active, retired, and deceased law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personal. We also remember in a special way all those who died on September 11, 2001, all those who did heroic action to save lives and pray for them.
As we remember September 11, 2001, let us try to imagine we were on the ground running to save our lives or running to someone else. What will be our mental and emotional condition? It is hard to explain, isn’t it? It is about call, it is about commitment.
This weekends reading Jesus talks about commitment. He says: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Are we supposed to love or hate? The Lord is not telling us to ignore the Fourth commandment, Honor your father and mother. Nor is He telling us to refuse to see God in others. And He is not telling us to ignore God’s handwork in our own lives. He illustrates the demands of being His disciples. The discipleship demands true commitment to the duties entrusted to us. Maybe we don’t want to leave the security of our home, parents, or comfort of life. The commitment demands sacrifices. We suppose to help one another to face the challenges.
I am almost certain that many of you have stories from your childhood of how you had imagined yourself becoming a police officer, a firefighter, or a medical technician. I remember, when I walk into the daycare, they try to dress-up like policemen, firefighters, doctors or nurses. They like to dress up in the uniforms and act out various make-believe adventures.
Blue Mass is an opportunity to express our gratitude to all those who decide to dress up for our safety, members of the public safety community for their sacrifices and love. As a Price County Law Enforcement Chaplain, I have the privilege to witness many of their sacrifices, and listen to their stories. They are willing to stand between us and all the violence. They’re out there selflessly to serve others. They don’t do it for the honor. We all should say THANK YOU for their commitment!