"As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him" (Jn 6:66).
We have finally finished the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. On July 29th we began this Johannine excursus. Up until that point we were reading from the Gospel of Mark. For four weeks we reflected on John's pivotal chapter on the Eucharist (the multiplication of the loaves and fish, followed by the Bread of Life discourse). Next week we will return to Mark's Gospel.
Kind of a depressing end, eh? Jesus performs this incredible miracle, gives this incredible teaching, and we're left with the fact that people have left him.
It's one thing for the Pharisees and chief priests to reject Jesus. We know they are obstinate. But it's another thing for Jesus' own disciples to leave him. Think about that. We often forget it in the Gospels. People who believed Jesus, followed him, and loved him changed their mind. They returned to their former way of life. Jesus went from 5,000 followers down to 120 (we hear at Pentecost there were only that many waiting for him).
Fulton Sheen has an excellent chapter in his book The Life of Christ. If you have never read this book, I encourage you to read it. The chapter is titled, "The Refusal to Be a Bread King." Here is an excerpt:
"[Jesus] asked a faith too much for most men; His doctrine was too sublime. If He had been only a little more wordly-minded, if He had only allowed his words to be treated as figures of speech, and if He had only been less imperative He might have been more popular. But He rocked all His followers. Calvary would be the hot war against Him; this was the beginning of the cold war. Calvary would be the physical Crucifixion; this was the social Crucifixion."
Thank God we know the story doesn't end here. And if anyone today has left Jesus and the Church, like those disciples 2,000 years ago, hopefully their story hasn’t ended either.
I spoke at all the Masses on Sunday last weekend (not the Saturday 5pm, as I was at the men’s club golf outing) about the resurfacing over the last few weeks of the clergy sexual misconduct issue, what with the Cardinal McCarrick and the PA Grand Jury Report situations. Inside this bulletin you will find a few pages of Cardinal Cupich’s letter. The rest can be found on our website. I want to reiterate here my deepest apologies about this scandal, which, in my mind, is the greatest in the Church’s history. The Archdiocese of Chicago has done a tremendous amount over the past decade to ensure this will never happen again; that every child who walks through our doors will be safe. But I am still sorry you all have to go through this again. Please know I am available to talk, particularly if you find your faith shaken by this. And please, let us all keep the victims of abuse in our prayers.
We had a successful start to the school year last week. As I mentioned previously, the school's enrollment currently is 478 students, and we are opening up a third kindergarten. Mrs. Kathleen Barton, former principal of St. Juliana and longtime parishioner, will act as our interim principal, beginning in a few weeks, until Mrs. Marshall’s return from maternity leave. I am very grateful to Kathleen for her willingness to serve, and we are excited to have her back in the school!
Pastoral Council will meet this Monday, August 27th. I'm incredibly grateful to David Plier, the chair of the PC, and all of the members for their hard work and dedication to help the parish experience Jesus. We will be presenting soon all the work the PPC has accomplished, as well as our goals for the upcoming year.
I look forward to celebrating Mass this Sunday morning for the Notre Dame football team.
Yours in Christ,