Father James Wallace

Fishers of Men

Dear Parishioners,

If you remember the Gospel from last week, we had the calling of the brothers Andrew and Peter. It was from the Gospel of John, and a slightly different version than what we have this Sunday from the Gospel of Mark. In John, Jesus simply walks by and Andrew follows him. Andrew then finds his brother Peter and brings him to Jesus. In Mark, Jesus approaches Andrew and Peter, who are fishing, and says, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They drop their nets and follow. Jesus is more proactive in today's version. So, which version is accurate?

It could be both. Historically speaking, John's version might have occurred first and then Mark's been a further occurrence. That is, after being introduced to Jesus (John), Peter and Andrew might have gone back to fishing and then Jesus called them again (Mark).

A kingdom for a life.

Baudouin of Belgium abdicated the throne in 1990. It was not for any ignoble cause or selfish pursuit that the King stepped down from his position of authority. King Baudouin abdicated because he was pro-life. The Belgian Parliament had passed a law allowing abortion and he could not add his signature to the bill as required by procedure.

Is he calling you?

Dear Parishioners,

Being called and then responding appropriately is a theme this Sunday, as we return to the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. In the first reading, the youth Samuel is sleeping in the temple when he hears a voice call to him. After the third attempt, Samuel at last responds appropriately. “When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’” (1 Sam 3:9-10).

In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist is waiting for the Lord to call him. When the Lord finally does, his response is: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will” (Ps 40:8-9).

Day of Threes

Dear Parishioners,

The Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, which we celebrate today, recalls three events in the life of Christ: the visit to the child Jesus by the three Magi, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, and the first miracle of Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana. The divinity of Jesus was revealed in these three moments. Not that his divinity wasn't revealed at other moments, but we choose to focus on these three particular scenes for this feast day. “The mystery was made known to me by revelation” (Eph 3:3).

Focusing on the first image of this tryptic, as that is our chosen Gospel for this Sunday, we hear the coming of the Magi prophesied in Isaiah: “Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD” (Is 60:6).

The Perfect Woman

Dear Parishioners,

As last weekend we had a 4th Sunday of Advent-Christmas Eve combo, so too this weekend we have a sort of Holy Family (Sunday)—Mary, Mother of God (Monday) combo. And a great combo it is. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and particularly Mary, are models for us.

If you read consistently my Tassel of the Cloak column, you probably know by now that I have a fervent love for the Blessed Mother. Instead of describing why, let me simply include a poem by William Wordsworth, "The Perfect Woman." Wordsworth had other poems explicitly about the Blessed Virgin Mary. This one, though not explicitly about Mary—it was about his wife and all of her good qualities—still speaks of the Mother of God.

Immaculate Conception

From a homily on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

My parents, when I was a child, emphasized manners. One improper enterprise of mine, for which I was often called to task, was drinking milk or Gatorade straight out of the bottle. Having a requisite glass to a drink is a courteous gesture. The rest of my family suffered from my inelegant action. It reminds me of Hilaire Belloc's limerick:

Of Courtesy, it is much less
Than Courage of Heart or Holiness,
Yet in my walks it seems to me
That the Grace of God is Courtesy.

Thanksgiving Homily

From a Thanksgiving Day Homily

The giving of a gift is a prerequisite to gratitude. We cannot be thankful if nothing has been given to us. To be a thankful person, therefore, means we understand there to be a source behind all good things. For good things do not merely happen. Good things are given by someone. A thankful person recognizes this, which, by the way, makes the virtue of thankfulness the antidote to the dangerous vice of entitlement. Entitlement destroys the concept of gift. Everything, to the entitled person, is owed, not graciously bestowed.

Daily Mass Homily

From a daily Mass homily.

We hear this morning a wrenching account of martyrdom in the second book of Maccabees. “Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother, who saw her seven sons perish in a single day, yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord” (2 Mc 7:20). The mother would not let her sons apostatize, but rather encouraged them to bravery.

Chapter Five

The past several months have been quite busy around Saint Juliana. Several committees have been formed and are currently meeting with architects and contractors for both the back of the church and the courtyard. I hope to have these plans to show you in the next month or so. For the back of the church, we desire not merely to improve our restroom facilities and accessibility, but to create a gathering space. This space, added to the exterior of the church towards Oketo, would allow folks to meet and socialize before and after Mass without disrupting the liturgy, as well as give us the space to hold a Children’s Liturgy of the Word and other functions. The courtyard in the school would give our children a playground and a place for recess when the parking lot is unavailable. It would serve also as overflow for events in the Ahearn Center. A prayer garden, alongside additional green space, will make this a very attractive feature of our growing parish and school. Finally, we are in the process of putting an elevator in the building.

Cave-Man Christmas

Dear Parishioners,

“Father James,” asked the St. Juliana students upon my abrupt entry into the classroom, “are you a caveman?”

Stroking my chin to see if I had shaved that day, I responded, “Um, no, I think not.”

“Ah-ha,” some of the class responded with glee, “we were right!”

I scratched my head and looked at the half of the class that was mournful. “What, you thought I was a beast?”

Everyone laughed and proceeded to tell me what they meant by their inquiry. Was I of the camp that believed Jesus was born in a stable or that which believed he was born in a cave? Was I a "cave-man" or a "stable-man"? Jesus was most likely born in a cave. You can see the actual cave today in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. So, I am indeed a cave-man on that historical point.