Join us for our Annual Altar Society Craft Fair on Saturday, November 10. The fair will run from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM and will include themed basket, shopping cart, and gift card wreath raffles, a BBQ lunch and more!
On Saturday, November 17, multi-instrumentalist Terry Fancher will present “Spreading the Fire.”
For more information or to RSVP for these events please see the November Events Flyer.
October 28, 2018
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi
You and I are invited to take the place of Bartimaeus in order to learn how to be better disciples of the Lord Jesus. For you see, this encounter between Jesus and Bartimaeus happens at the end of the central part of Mark’s Gospel where Jesus has been teaching his followers how to become his disciples. Bartimaeus shows us the way.
His cry: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” becomes our cry. The New American Bible translation which we use for our Mass readings uses the word “pity” but the word closer to the original Greek is actually, “mercy.” “Jesus, have mercy on me!” For with this blind beggar, we first need to realize our complete and absolute dependence on Jesus.
That we are broken beyond repair and only he can heal us. That we are sinners who do not do the good we want but the bad we desire not to do. That we are stuck along the roadside of life, stuck there because of some hurt or pain or suffering, known or unknown, which prevents us from getting up and going forward with Jesus. So, we cry out, “Jesus, have mercy!”
Note that Jesus responds to this urgent plea of great need, that even with all the noise and commotion around him, Jesus hears the cry of great need. For Jesus is always alert to those who cry out to Him for the gift of His life-giving mercy, a divine gift which saves and renews and restores.
Then when we are called to Jesus’ side with Bartimaeus, we also have to throw aside our cloak, whatever it is that we wrap around us as our security. We are invited to leave behind the things that we rely on for “warmth” and instead be warmed to the core of our being by the loving gaze of Jesus. We throw aside our cloak, those things we use as our “security blanket” and go quickly to Him in whom we are protected from the power of sin and evil and everlasting death.
So, we take courage with this blind beggar and go to Jesus with our every need, from small to great and discover not only that he hears us but wants to help us with everything that burdens us.
Next comes Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?” It is the same question he addressed to James and John in last Sunday’s Gospel, and their desire was for the best seats in his coming kingdom, for power and glory. Note that Bartimaeus has a different desire, a deeper desire, a more profound desire. “Master, I want to see.”
Now in the Gospels, sight is something much more than light striking one’s retina and an image forming in one’s brain of what is right in front of one’s eyeballs. In the Gospels, seeing is always connected to faith, an insight into who Jesus is and what Jesus teaches. To see in this way means admitting that one is blind, that one does not recognize Jesus or understand completely his challenging teachings.
This is why once Bartimaeus “sees” the first thing he does is follow Jesus on the way. Jesus is on the way from Jericho to Jerusalem, where out of love for the world, he will suffer and die, giving his life so that all might be able to live forever in the light of God’s love. For those who see who Jesus is and understand that his words are the words of everlasting life, the daily call is to die with him to whatever in us that is not of God and rise with him to newness of life.
In the 3 predictions of His Passion preceding this encounter with Bartimaeus, Jesus has been teaching us how to see who He is and thus see our life and others through his eyes. Mark uses this pattern of Jesus telling his disciples about his upcoming Passion, which they then respond to with blindness (misunderstanding), so Jesus follows up with a teaching meant to open their eyes and ours.
The 1st prediction of His Passion in Chapter 8 of Mark is followed by the first teaching: “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 )
So many are blind in our culture because they do not deny themselves but instead are self-absorbed, looking out only for what’s best for them and them alone. Disciples of Jesus see that the only way to fullness of life is to direct our lives outward toward others, to move from selfishness to self-giving with Jesus.
So, we cry out, “Jesus, help us to see where we are still blinded by our selfishness!” This blindness can be seen not only in those who make the choice to abort the new life growing within them because it will be too much of a burden, but also this blindness afflicts those who choose to make “gun rights” an absolute right, more important than the foundational right of others to life itself. I am still haunted by the words of a father whose son was killed in one of the many mass killings over the past decade, “You say you have a right to own a gun. Well, my son has a right to life.” It is selfish to believe that one has the right to own whatever kind of weapon one wants, especially when that weapon can be used to kill many people in a short time. This particular blindness has devastating effects, so that no place of worship is safe, not a synagogue, Christian church, nor mosque, and the places of education where are children need to feel safe in order to learn are now places where they fear for their lives. “Lord, help us to see where we are still blinded by our selfishness!”
Jesus’ 2nd prediction of His Passion in Chapter 9 is followed by the 2nd teaching: “Whoever welcomes a little child such as this welcomes me.” (Mark 9:37 )
A heart of hospitality—welcoming the “other” as if they were Christ himself— is an essential characteristic of being a disciple of the Son of David, Jesus Christ. Jesus challenges us to see Him in the most powerless, the poorest, the stranger from another land, the one who can do nothing for us. To see Jesus in them and by welcoming them, to receive Jesus himself.
Some political leaders, including our president, play on our fears of the “other,” and this fear blinds us to Christ in them asking us to welcome Him, to help him. So we cry out: Jesus, help us to see where we are blinded by our fears of the other.”
The 3rd Prediction of His Passion in Chapter 10 of Mark is followed by the 3rd teaching: “The one among you who serves is the greatest of all.” (Mark 10:43 )
This teaching addresses a blindness of which so many of us suffer, thinking we are better than this or that person because of their race or color of skin or sexual orientation or political ideology. When we have a heart of service, we see what we all share in common—our humanity. When we bend our knee to wash the feet of others, we cannot stand over them in condemnation or anger or hatred.
Rhetoric encouraging violence against those who are different from us or disagree with us has consequences, as we have seen in the pipe bombs being sent through the U.S. mail this week. Words which demonize another person or group, spoken by the leader of our nation or by any one of us, have consequences because these words inevitably lead to violence.
When we have a heart of service, we join our lives to the Son of David, the King of Kings, the one who came not to serve but to serve & to give his life that we might be reconciled to God & to one another and live in peace. So we cry out: “Jesus, help us to see where we are blind to the violence we encourage against others.”
A healthy self-denial, which leads us out of ourselves into a life of hospitality & service, helps us to see who Jesus is and who we are called to be with him.
We desire to see Jesus more clearly, so we might follow him more nearly, joining our lives to his more fully.
We desire to see Jesus more clearly, so we might love him more dearly, and thus love Him in every word we speak and in every deed we do.
Jesus, we want to see you! Hear us and have mercy on us!!
October 14, 2018
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi
Two men appear in the verses of Mark’s Gospel we have just proclaimed; one at the beginning another at the end. One of them has no name, and the other is called, Peter. They are both men who have been looked at love.
In the case of the first man, it is the only time in all the Gospels that Jesus is said to have looked with love on an individual. It is the gaze of divine love that should have completely overcome this man and moved him to give up everything at that moment. Yet, it does not happen. The reason why is worth our thought and some reflection. We could learn from him.
In the case of Peter, the Gospel doesn’t ever say that he was looked at with love, but we can only hope that this was what Peter saw as he sat there in the courtyard of the High Priest when a cock crowed the third times. The Gospel tells us that Jesus turned and looked at him. Why would we think that look would have been anything other than the look of love? Unless our lesser selves imagine a look of reproach, like, “I told you so”, or a “how could you?” We know what that looks like don’t we? We also know how to give look, but that is not what he saw.
That man with no name could easily be us. He seems to have been so preoccupied with his own thoughts, that he does not notice how Jesus looks at him, and that’s a shame. The story might have ended up differently had he just looked up into that loving gaze.
But no, he has too many possessions to look after. In reality, they possess him. He can’t imagine his life without them. What Jesus asks of him is not just to help the poor, but to become poor. Judging from his question, that man thinks that there is something he can do to gain eternal life, and here we see the difference between him and Peter.
Having given up everything, Peter and his companions begin to discover that this “eternal life” is a free gift given by the loving Father to those who do not deserve it. At the moment of his greatest shame and sorrow, Peter looks at the face of the friend and master he has just denied and he sees the look of love.
Jesus demands the best of us. That is what he asked of that man and of Peter and the Twelve. The challenge: “If you want to be perfect” is issued to all of us as well.
However, the thing we might be called upon to sacrifice in order to take up that challenge could vary for each of us. We have to look into our own hearts to see what it is that we would have to give up in order to respond. We are reminded like the nameless man and Peter that we are invited to come along with Jesus, that life is a pilgrimage to God’s eternal kingdom.
To accept the invitation of Jesus means we must travel lightly and remember that salvation is always what God accomplishes in spite of us. Eternal life is not something we can earn, buy, or accomplish on our own.
Those who trust in themselves and their possessions have it all wrong. Only those who trust in the saving power and redeeming love of God can enter freely into salvation.
What he asks is sacrifice. It is the sign language of love. What Jesus knows is that there is no point in forcing people to make sacrifices. If you take things from people, they are impoverished; but if you can get them to give them up, they are enriched.
With these 2 men before us today, we have a choice to make and a model to follow. One leads to sadness. The other leads to the joy of forgiveness and eternal life.