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Monthly Archives: January 2021

Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 31, 2021

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

Mark’s Gospel has just begun and already Jesus is facing resistance. Though the brothers Andrew and Simon, and the brothers James and John, are open to his call to follow him, there are others who resist. That resistance happens from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

With today’s Gospel passage we are only 21 verses into Mark’s Gospel and right away there is a man with an unclean spirit who rises up to resist Jesus and his message. Where does this take place? In the synagogue. In a place of prayer, a place where Jesus is teaching about God’s word proclaimed in a holy place.

The resistance which Jesus faces from the beginning is only a prelude to the resistance he will encounter to His person and to His message from many others. The opposition which Jesus encounters from the start of his ministry will continue on a regular basis from a number of different groups and people.

As soon as Chapter 3 in Mark’s Gospel, the Pharisees and Herodians will start to plot his death. (3:6) The Gospel Jesus proclaims and the actions he takes threaten the religious and civil leaders of his day so much so that from early on in his ministry they plan to get rid of him. Later on in Chapter 3, as the religious scribes witness Jesus casting evil spirits out of people, they will make the claim that he is possessed by Beelezbul, the prince of devils. (3:22)

In the same chapter, some members of Jesus family, seeing the crowds surround him and seeking his help, so much so that he cannot even eat, come to take him home, claiming he is “out of his mind.” (3:20-21).

So it is not a surprise when Jesus faces opposition in his hometown of Nazareth (6 : 1-6), those who think they know him so well and think he is too “full of himself.” Their resistance to him and his message is so strong that he cannot even work a single miracle in his hometown.

This resistance comes from all places, even from the inner circle of his disciples, from one of those closest to him. When Jesus shares with his inner circle of followers that he is going up to Jerusalem to suffer and die, Peter, the leader, takes him aside and rebukes Jesus, almost as if he is saying that Jesus has an unclean spirit. Jesus’ words to Peter are some of his strongest in the Scriptures: “Get behind me, Satan.” (8:32-33)

What is important to note is that Jesus identifies the source of his opposition, that like the man in the synagogue Peter is being controlled by an unclean spirit. What Peter is thinking and saying is not from God, but from the evil spirit.

It is important to remember where Jesus encounters resistance from the very beginning— in a place of worship where the word of God is being proclaimed. It is important to remember when Jesus encounters resistance from the very beginning— on the sabbath day, the day set aside for worship. Therefore, that man being controlled by unclean spirits is US!

For all of us come to this place of prayer struggling in some way with “unclean” spirits. All of us, in one way or another, resist Jesus and his message of conversion. Each and every one of us have parts of our heart that are hardened that need be softened. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.”

Every one of us has part of our heart that is hardened, telling Jesus: “I’m not going to let you in here.” For each of us in our own way resist Jesus’ command to love God with all we have and are and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

This unclean spirit manifests itself in many different ways, but most often in the lives of Christians it shows its face in the form of pride– pride in the sense that we give thanks to God that we are not like all those other people out there who are great sinners. We are so quick to judge and so quick to condemn.

Pride can also show itself in the refusal to forgive ourselves for the things we have done, that we still hang onto out of shame or guilt. The Lord is ready to forgive but we out of pride, thinking we should have been better, still hold onto the sin out of pride.

The unclean spirit shows its face in many different ways of selfishness. Selfishness manifests itself not only in self-centered actions but also in the attitude energizing those actions: “I will do what I want!” or “I will do my own thing,” forgetting that to do the will of God is where we experience the greatest freedom of all.

Each of us need Jesus to free us from these unclean spirits continue to control us and which prevent us from responding more fully to the love of God. For some that takes the shape of “unforgiveness.” Some need to be freed of “grudge-crete,” that hardening of the heart resulting from a pride-filled refusal to forgive. Only the jackhammer power of Jesus’ authority can free such a person from this malady.

Others knowingly choose sin, over and over again, even though they know this action is leading away from God. Only the authority of Jesus can free one from such an unclean spirit.

Others find themselves enslaved to the meanness of some social media and denigrate those who think differently from them.

For all of us there are parts of our hearts that are hardened of which we are not aware at all.

In this time of pandemic it so easy to listen to the evil spirit, to be tempted to despair, to hopelessness, to throw up our hands and say, “There is nothing I can do.” That is not the voice of God.

The voice of God which we hear through Jesus is always a voice of hope, calling us deeper and deeper to trust in his promises and in the power of his love. We have been so accustomed to listening to the voice of the evil spirit that we are not even aware we are walking in darkness.

So we come like that man in the synagogue, crying out in our aching need:

Come, Lord Jesus, shine the light of your love wherever there is darkness! Expose the darkness and expel it from me! Come with the fire of your love and purify me, melt what’s grown hard in my heart, and help me to love!

Jesus has the authority, the power to set us free if we but turn to Him in trust and hope.

High School Scholarship

2021 College Scholarship Award

For eligible 2021 high school graduating seniors of registered parishioners at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mustang, OK, or St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church in Yukon, OK. The 4th Degree Archbishop Salatka Assembly 2044, Knights of Columbus (KofC) is pleased to present the opportunity for award of two monetary scholarships for post-high school education. The purpose of the scholarship awards is to assist eligible 2021 high school graduating seniors with financial assistance to continue their education. The scholarships will be awarded based on evaluation of an essay submitted to a review panel and titled, “Patriotism in the Catholic Church”. There are two $750.00 scholarships to be awarded. The scholarships will be provided in the form of a check. The successful applicant will be required to supply a valid SSN for the scholarship award.

Scholarship Rules

  1. The applicant is required to submit a 300 – 500 word typed essay entitled, “Patriotism in the Catholic
    Church”, along with an application and a reference letter, to Bill Kennedy, Jr., Archbishop Salatka Assembly
    2044, c/o St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church, 600 Garth Brooks Blvd., Yukon, OK 73099.
  2. The reference letter must be completed and signed by the parish pastor, deacon, or youth director who can
    comment on the applicant’s status as a practicing Catholic.
  3. The applicant must be a practicing Roman Catholic of the parishes of Holy Spirit Catholic Church (Mustang)
    or St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church (Yukon).
  4. The reference letter and the essay will be used to judge the applicants who are eligible for the scholarship
    award and to determine the recipients of the two scholarships.
  5. The essay evaluation panel will evaluate essays based on content, writing skill and argument.
  6. The essay will be the property of the K of C and will not be returned to the applicant.
  7. The deadline for applicants will be September 1, 2021. The two scholarship winners will be notified on or about
    June 1, 2021.
  8. Scholarship awards will be presented to the two winners at Mass in early October. It is requested that both
    scholarship winners be in attendance for the presentation.

Homily for the Baptism of the Lord

January 10, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

With today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we come to the end of this Christmas Season.

During the past 2 weeks we have gone from the manger to the Jordan River, from encountering Jesus as the babe of Mother Mary to seeing him as the Beloved Son of God His Father, sanctifying the waters of the Jordan.

With the magi, we adored him as the newborn King hidden from the world, to now we see him beginning his public ministry at the age of 30, bursting forth onto the world scene after his baptism by John.

This feast concludes the Christmas Season as a very strong reminder that the Son of God became the Son of Mary not only to save us from sin and death but also to share divine life with us.

The Son of God takes on our human nature so we can share in his divine nature. The 2nd person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Eternal Word, comes into the world as the Son of Mary so we human beings might become sons and daughters of God.

It is mind-boggling— God’s burning desire is to share God’s life with us. God’s love for us seen in Jesus is a love inviting us into Communion with the divine.

God’s sends His Only Beloved Son into the world is not out of pity— look at these poor, pitiable creatures that need saving— but out of love, longing to share divine life with all humanity.

For joined to God’s Son in the waters of baptism, we have indeed become daughters and sons of God.

The meaning of all baptisms can be found in this one baptism in the River Jordan. If you want to understand the beauty and the power and the mystery of your own baptism, plunge deeply into this account of Jesus’ baptism. As the fully human Jesus comes up from the waters of the Jordan, the Spirit comes down. Through that hole in the heavens flies the Spirit like a dove, the Spirit of love, which rests upon Jesus and upon all who are baptized into Him.

Then comes the Father’s tender voice, “You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Though we may not have been aware of this voice of the Father at our baptism, the same voice whispers in the ear of our soul every time we bless ourselves with holy water. “You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter.” Every time we shower or swim or drink, water calls forth the Father’s voice, resounding from the center of our being: “You are my beloved daughter, my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”

Beneath the surface disturbances of our life, beneath all the failures and the sins, beneath the doubts and the fears is this current of divine life, the water of life, from which we drink and from which we hear how we always will be children of God in whom God delights.

At our own baptism, we were immersed into this saving truth— because of the Incarnation of the Son of God and because of His baptism in the Jordan River, there are no longer any barriers between humans and God, between the human and divine.

With Jesus’ baptism, God has aligned God’s self forever with sinful humanity. Remember John’s baptism is for sinners, and even though Jesus is without sin, he allows John to baptize him. By this act of loving union with humanity, the heavens are no longer closed, but torn open forever.

Jesus’ baptism signals the beginning of his public ministry. He will rise up from the waters of the Jordan and go into the world to teach others about God’s love and how to love God and neighbor. He will heal those who are broken and free those imprisoned by the power of evil. He will announce good news to the poor, open the eyes of those blinded to God’s goodness, and in him and through him others will learn of God’s favor, God’s pleasure.

Jesus’ mission is our mission. Our baptism signals the beginning of this mission, which is ongoing until our last breath. For those of us baptized as infants, we come to this mission gradually as we learn from parents, godparents, and the Christian community what it looks like to love God and neighbor.

At the beginning of the baptismal ritual, the parents of the child to be baptized are addressed by the minister: “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him/her in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring your child up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and neighbor.” The duty of Christians parents, with the help of godparents and the Christian community, is to initiate their newly baptized children into the mission of transforming the world by loving God and neighbor.

Baptism is our birth into the family of God, our being joined to the Son by the Holy Spirit in order to become a child of God. The weekly celebration of the Eucharist strengthens that identity. As food gives strength to the physical part of our being, so this food come down from heaven strengthens the life of the Spirit within us. With every celebration of the Mass, we are invited to grow more and more into this life with the Lord Jesus. We are to become more and more open to the Holy Spirit, the dove who is love, who conquers the world through us with the humble power of love.

For we have been given a mission by God, who calls each of us by name, to be in a world beset by so much chaos and cruelty: instruments of peace, advocates of mercy, and bearers of joy and reconciliation, We have been given this mission by our Heavenly Father, who keeps calling us His beloved.

For Jesus, his baptism not only propelled him into his public ministry but assured him that he would not be on mission alone. Rather, the Father would accompany Him with his love and good pleasure and the Spirit would empower Him in loving. Jesus would never be alone, even at the cross.

I recently blessed a crucifix which revealed this truth. It had the tortured body of Jesus on it supported by the Father’s embrace and the Spirit flowing out of that tender embrace at the cross.

So it is true for us, as we go through our life living from this deepest, most real identity of ours as God’s beloved daughters and sons.

We are never alone, though we may feel alone at times.

We are sustained by the Father’s love, forever joined to Son, & empowered by Spirit.

Lara Family Donations

On New Year’s Eve, parishioners Francisco and Margarita Lara’s home was destroyed by fire. Francisco and their son Joel were injured in the fire and were taken to the hospital. They are now at home recovering. The fire claimed their home and belongings. A GoFundMe Page has been set up for the Lara Family to help them rebuild their home and their lives. Our parish will be collecting household items for the family, too. Please continue to pray for the Lara family!

Sign up to donate household items here:

View and donate to the GoFundMe page here:

Homily for the Epiphany of the Lord

January 3, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

The Epiphany story is a favorite of just about everyone, what with the star of wonder and the mysterious visitors from the East and their gleaming gifts. But beneath the glory of this story is the reality of the magi being faithful to something others did not see. They had a vision which guided them through unknown and dangerous territory. They saw something which others dismissed as unimportant.

Surely as they struck out on their journey they would have been ridiculed by others. Following a vision that few others share is a very hard thing. Surely others who did not see what the magi saw mocked them, thinking the magi to be silly or worse, just plain stupid. Remaining faithful to the vision is a difficult decision. The journey is long and full of challenges.

If it would have been easy and obvious, there would have been more than just a few wise men making the journey. If the vision would have been so readily believable, then all the folks in Jerusalem would have been going with the wise men on the short trek down to Bethlehem. But the magi saw something others did not see, in the darkness a light to guide them, a star speaking to them of something of great importance happening in the world.

It had to have been a hard decision to remain true to their vision, to remain faithful to what they felt called to do, especially when no one else saw what they saw.

Being faithful to your life, following the path onto which you have put your feet with fidelity and confidence, is a very hard thing. To set out on a journey that does not make much sense to many others is difficult. To respond to a call that no one else hears is challenging.

Being in church every time the community assembles to make your commitment to its mission and life is a very hard thing. To do so during a pandemic is even more challenging. It is even challenging for those who because of health issues or advancing age, choose to join Sunday Mass by way of livestream. There are so many other more “productive” or “fun” things to be doing with our valuable time on a Sunday morning.

Remaining faithful to the vision is a hard decision.

It can be hard to choose marriage in a culture which mocks commitment. Or, after earning a college degree, and then answering the call to work with the poor in a 3rd world country, one can be looked upon as crazy. Or, you want to be a priest—are you out of your mind? To choose a lower-paying job that gives one more time with one’s family—loco! In a culture which views children as a burden rather than as a blessing, to decide to have more children or to adopt a child is looked upon with disbelief. Or when a nurse or doctor chooses to come out of your retirement during the middle of a pandemic others look upon them as if they have lost their mind.

Remaining faithful to the vision is an ongoing hard decision.

Holding on to the vision of the kingdom of God that our Church proclaims and wanting to share that vision is a hard thing, too. To choose mercy over vengeance, to choose forgiveness over resentment, to choose peace instead of violence is challenging in today’s world. To choose to respect and honor all life from conception to a natural death— that’s a difficult journey of faith.

What keeps us going on the journey, following the star of faith? What keeps us faithful to the One who is calling us to walk to the beat of his drum? How do we keep our head up and focused on the light instead of being swallowed by the darkness?

Having the support of other “wise” sojourners makes all the difference. Notice that there were several “Wise Men” who followed the star. If there was only one, then the Scripture text would have read, “behold a magos from the east” but instead the text reads,”Behold magi from the east appeared in Jerusalem.”

The wise men had each other’s support and encouragement to remain faithful to the vision, to keep putting one foot in front of the other on the long journey. Remember they had to journey at night, in the dark, in order to see the star. They did this together, as lights to each other in the midst of the darkness.

Really, there is no such thing as a “wise man” or a “wise woman” because as human beings we are only wise together. We can only see the way ahead and find the strength to keep moving toward our goal with the help of others who are wise in the ways of faith, hope and love.

To make important decisions and keep them, we need the support of other people of faith.

Together we accept and respond to the calling of a star which others tell us is folly, impractical, or old fashioned. When we are tempted to give up on what we have seen and hope for, others are there to encourage us to overcome the temptation. And we are called to support them, to urge them on, to hold them to their commitments which seem like foolishness to a secular world.

Because together we are called to bear God’s glory to the world. One light shining in the darkness is not much. But when we join the light of our lives to others’ light we shine like the sun, bringing the Son of God’s love to the world.

Do you see what I see? A star, a star shining in the night. Do you see what I see? The child of promise, the child of hope, the source of love, the source of all light laying in a manger. Do you see what I see? The king of kings nailed to a tree. The Lord of Life coming to share his life with us in this sacred meal!

Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

January 1, 2021

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

The Scripture readings for this 8th day of Christmas begin with a blessing prayer from the Book of Numbers, acknowledging the truth that God is always blessing his people, whether they are aware of it or not. On this Solemnity of Mary as Mother of God, Mary teaches us how to recognize and receive God’s blessings.

A quick glance at Mary’s life would seem to reveal not blessings from God, but trials. She goes through an unexpected pregnancy like none other. She lives under occupation. She is poor. Her beloved Joseph dies. Then her only son suffers terrible torture and dies a horrific death. Blessings? She would appear to be cursed by God.

But because Mary ponders what is said about her son, she sees blessings in the midst of trying times. Because Mary reflects on all that her son says and keeps these things safely guarded in her heart, she receives God’s blessings even in times of suffering.

For her unexpected pregnancy is a blessing, bringing her a child like none other. She lives under Roman occupation but experiences the blessing of profound freedom because of her faith. She is materially poor, but rich in God’s love shown her by Joseph and Jesus. Even Joseph’s death bring blessings back to light, as she recalls how he provided for her in Bethlehem a place to give birth, protected Jesus and her from King Herod’s murderous wrath, and provided and protected for their family as refugees in Egypt.

Because Mary pondered and treasured all that her Son said and did, because she meditated on his life and held him in her heart just as surely as she had held him in her womb, she was even able to trust that God would bring blessings from his death. Though even Mary could not have imagined the great gift of Jesus’ resurrection.

As Mother of the Church, as our mother, Mary teaches us how to recognize and receive the blessings of God. As mother of gratitude, she teaches us how to be grateful for all God has done for us.

In order to move into 2021 with hope, we need first of all to give thanks to God for the blessings of 2020. Many people would like to take the Year 2020 and toss it in the trash can. However, Mary teaches us that we need to ponder what God has done for us in and through Christ in this past year, even to take a second or third look below the struggles to the blessings hidden there. She teaches us that even from the sorrow of the loss of a loved one we can experience anew the blessings of God that flowed into our life through them.

As we worship today, we are enjoying one of God’s blessings from 2020— the gift of this holy place raised up for the glory of God. God provided this building in a nick of time, or what faith-filled people would call “Kairos” time—the fullness of time.

We began celebrating Mass in this building at the end of May a week or so after the Catholic Church in Oklahoma had reopened for communal worship in the celebration of the Eucharist. We could not ask for a better place to worship safely during a pandemic— a large, airy building with plenty of space for physical distancing that can seat almost 300 people. It would have taken three Masses in the old church building to allow for all the people who come to one of our Sunday morning Masses to safely distance. In addition, the blessing of having the newest technology to livestream our Masses to people who could not attend for fear of their safety, and to be able to do it in high quality, to make it the best experience possible to connect those not physically here with us.

If we join Mary in meditating on the blessings of God, we will begin to see many of these blessings hidden underneath the struggles of 2020, such as creatively finding new ways to connect with others, new ways to reach out and share the love of God. We now recognize as daily blessings all those whose work is essential to our life together, people who we most likely took for granted before the pandemic. But it takes time in solitude in silence, time alone with our Blessed Mother, to recognize and receive these blessings from God.

Gratitude expressed to God propels us into 2021 as a hope-filled people. Instead of making resolutions for this New Year, we can instead dare to dream with Jesus about God’s Kingdom. Mary, as Mother of God and our mother, also teaches us how to first receive Jesus as God’s dream in order for us to dream with him about the transformation of our world.

Pope Francis says it this way in his post-synodal exhortation to young people in 2019 entitled, “Christ is Alive:”

“Jesus can bring all the young people of the Church together in a single dream, a dream whose name is Jesus, planted by the Father in the confidence that it would grow and live in every heart. A concrete dream who is a person, running through our veins, thrilling our hearts and making them dance” (#157).

These very words could have been spoken by Mary, the one who gave birth to the dream of the Father, the one who experienced Jesus thrilling her heart and making her heart dance for joy.

These words of Pope Francis, directed to young people, are actually directed to all of us who are spiritually young enough to remain open to imagining a future full of hope. So, we reflect with Mary upon the words of actions of her Son which reveal his dream of the Kingdom of God. Joined to Mary’s Son and filled with the Holy Spirit at baptism, we now dare to call God, “Abba, Father” and to rejoice in the truth that we are adopted sons and daughters of God. By baptism, we are now as close to God the Father as God the Father is to his very own Son whom he sent into the world. By baptism, we are able to see how all people on the face of the Earth are brothers and sisters to each other, with one Father.

With Mary’s help, we can enter more profoundly into the dreaming of her Son, which moves us into a life lived in relationship to others, not to things or to “screens.” Turning away from the “passive” watching of TV together, couples can spend more time talking and listening to each other, especially sharing their dreams and acting on them. Parishioners can share their dreams for our parish, rooted in Jesus’ dream of God’s kingdom. Citizens can move away from spending way too much time in social media “echo chambers” and instead participate in ways to make their communities better.

By dreaming in Jesus and with Jesus, we can move from the virtual to the real, to real encounters with Him living in those who are on the margins, who are different from us.

We can dream with Mary, His Mother, about a world transformed, where God lifts up the lowly and fills the hungry with good things.