24 Jun

Happy Birthday, Saint John the Baptist!

Dear Parishioners,

We don't typically celebrate a saint's birthday in the church. We usually celebrate the day of his or her death. Most feast days are when we think the particular saint died or was martyred. Birthday celebrations are reserved for Jesus (Christmas) and Mary (September 8th).

And for Saint John the Baptist.

Yes, today, June 24th, the Church celebrates the “Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.” Even though it falls on a Sunday this year, we still celebrate it. As if it were Christmas, the Baptist's Birthday trumps the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which would have been this weekend.

We do indeed celebrate John's death (August 29th), but so important is John the Baptist that we also celebrate his birth. He is one of the few saints who receive multiple feast days: Joseph, Peter, Paul, and Mary.

John the Baptist's birth is six months after the birth of his cousin, Jesus Christ. Christ's birthday is around the winter solstice, when days begin to grow longer. The Baptist's birthday is around the summer solstice, when days begin to grow shorter. “He must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).

17 Jun

Growth & Transitions

Dear Parishioners,

We're back in the thick of Ordinary Time and the start of summer, and we're back to hearing the parables in the Sunday Gospels. This 11th Sunday we have two parables dealing with the growth of the Kingdom of God (cf. Mark 4:26-34).

The first parable indicates the Kingdom of God doesn't come suddenly and all at once. There is a process to it: “first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” The Catholic Church didn't get to where it is today, over a billion members worldwide existing in structured dioceses and parishes, immediately after Pentecost. It took time. And there were setbacks and challenges along the way (there still are).

10 Jun

Crazy is as crazy does.

Have you ever been called crazy? The kids in school call me crazy all the time. My family and friends do too. Usually this label is justified, for I act like a goof.

But I have been called crazy once or twice by a stranger or distant acquaintance. The individual is curious why I am a priest. How could I give up so much and devote my life to such a strange calling?

I'll admit, sometimes when I step back, I see it as crazy, being a priest and pastor, that is. I think, Man, God, how did you make all this happen?

But I don't have regrets, for I love being a priest. I love being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Following Christ and being a Catholic is, in many ways, counter-cultural. It raises eyebrows or prompts jokes. But it’s so fulfilling. Jesus was called crazy too. His family said, “He is out of his mind” (Mk 3:21).

03 Jun

Lamb of God

Dear Parishioners,

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi. During the exodus, which we hear about in the First Reading, Moses put lamb's blood on the doorposts of each Israelite. When the Angel of Death came at night to take each firstborn, it passed over each house with the sign of blood, hence the name Passover for the feast. The blood of the lamb saved people from death.

The flesh of the lambs slaughtered by Moses was then used as food, to give the people nourishment for their trek out of Egypt, across the desert, and through the Red Sea. The body of the lamb gave the people life.

We see the parallel. Jesus is the Lamb of God. His real blood, which is in the chalice that we receive at Mass, saves us from sin and death. His real body, which is the Eucharist, gives us life. Blessed be God forever!