From the Pastor

A Pentecost Message

from Fr. Tony, Associate Pastor

Pentecost from Fr Tony

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From The Pastor's Notepad

September 12, 2021

The readings today confront us with the fact that Jesus’ invitation to faith leads us into suffering.

In Isaiah, the prophet accepts pain and shaming from others, as he trusts in God.

In Mark, Jesus is blunt about this: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

When we respond to the call to live Christ in our lives, we are confronted with our own fears about suffering and about losing comfort, status, physical health—basically losing control of some part(s) of our lives.

Life has plenty of suffering already, so why choose to add to it?

Because comfort and control are dead ends. They lead to disappointment, anger, bitterness.

Avoiding our fears and clinging to dead-end illusions and superficial comforts will not lead us to what we really want from life.

Instead we are to cling to Christ and learn the self-sacrificing love he has for us.

Following Christ in this life involves great suffering and great joy, and in the end, the former leads to the latter.

Fr. Don Antweiler, Pastor

Past columns from the Pastor's Notepad

September 5, 2012

In the Gospel, an extraordinary healing showing the extraordinary compassion of Jesus for him, and for us.

The Church sets the stage with a section from Isaiah. The whole second half of this prophet’s book, hundreds of years before Jesus says that in the future, not Moses or Elijah or some other messenger, but God himself will come for the salvation of his people. At that time, miracles will abound including “The ears of the deaf will be cleared...the tongue of the mute will sing.”

In Jesus, God himself is fulfilling these prophetic promises.

A deaf and mute person was extremely isolated. There were no hearing aids of any kind. No sign language. The brain develops the synapses and pathways that are used. Perhaps a deformed or unformed eardrum was the problem from birth. In terms of talking, it takes a child years of hearing the sounds of others around him/her to learn to speak. All this left him isolated, cut off from his world. Jesus usually heals with words of authority and power, but this man can’t hear words. It is likely that he was confused, fearful and uncertain, suddenly pulled out of his normal circumstances and into the midst of a crowd of strangers.

Jesus drew him aside away from the crowd of strangers. He seemed to enter deeply into the man’s loneliness and isolation, groaning. Jesus in an extremely personal gesture, put his finger in his ears. He touched his tongue. We might recoil at such an unsanitary invasion of space. But Jesus was communicating in a language the man had never experienced before.

“Be opened!”

In Jesus God has come to his people. “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

This was not just for this individual.

By now being included in his community, his community receives healing. God’s healing and love extends out for all.

In Jesus, God came to this man with such compassion and sensitivity. So he comes to every one of us in our needs and circumstances.

We need to be willing to come to Jesus with our loneliness and needs and to be touched in the most personal way possible.

Let our hearts and lives “be opened” to his healing and love.

Fr. Don Antweiler, Pastor

August 29, 2021

Let us worship God not only with our lips but with our hearts.

In the first reading Moses, presenting God’s People with the Ten Commandments, tells them emphatically, “Observe them carefully.” It’s not enough to have the tablets or even memorize them. Observe them.

James, in the second reading says “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” Doing the Word includes caring for the vulnerable and marginal.

In the Gospel, the Pharisees criticize the lack of handwashing by Jesus’ Apostles.

This handwashing is not a health or a sanitary issue (unlike washing hands frequently during the pandemic), but of ritually cleansing, purifying themselves mentally and spiritually before a meal. This hand-cleansing ritual is not actually in the Commandments but is an additional custom to help support them, perhaps like making the sign of the cross for Catholics.

This is actually a good practice/habit.

Jesus doesn’t address the handwashing itself, but as usual, goes beyond it to the heart of the matter. He sees the Pharisees as missing the point. Every good habit or practice is meant to bring us closer to God. It is not an end in itself. If we are intent on the practice but are not using the practice to help us in the challenging task of transformation our lives, it is an empty ritual.

God doesn’t need rituals. We need rituals. Rituals are to remind, reinforce us on our journey to Christ. Everything and anything that we can do to lead us closer to God is to be affirmed and encouraged, e.g. sign of the cross, genuflecting and kneeling in Church, rosary, divine mercy chaplet, intentional kindnesses to a spouse, co-worker, classmate, a daily bible App or reflection. Even the Sacraments are God’s way to be present with us in order to lead us deeper into his heart. The little things we say and do can make a huge difference if we remember to whom they are meant to lead us.

What little rituals can/do you use to bring yourself deeper into the heart of Christ?

Let us worship God not only with our lips but with our hearts.

Fr. Don Antweiler, Pastor

August 22, 2021

This Sunday our Immaculate Conception Health Ministry is offering a vaccination clinic at our McCarty Plaza building down on the end from Save-A-Lot from 8:30am-12:30pm. The second vaccination will be in September. It is free and open to all.

Practically speaking: Though vaccines are not perfect or guaranteed, they seem the best defense we have to protect our children, those with compromised immune systems and ourselves.

Morally speaking, the guidance from our Catholic Church, at every level, is that there are no moral reasons NOT to receive vaccinations and good moral reason FOR receiving vaccinations.

If you were unable to get the vaccination here at I.C., there are many opportunities around town (e.g. Walgreens, Wal-Mart, several grocery stores, etc.).

Bring a friend. Send a friend.

The Gospel and first reading today deal with “crunch” time, time to make a decision, to accept and follow Christ, or not.

Jesus has stunningly multiplied the loaves to get the people’s attention, to draw them deeper. Beyond the free bread he leads them to see him as the bread of life. “Many” start murmuring. They want the free bread, nothing more, nothing else. They don’t understand, and don’t want to. They walk away, in disdain. Jesus doesn’t chase after them, trying to soften his words or make them more comfortable with their wishes. He has led them to the truth. And they walk away.

Jesus instead turns to those he has called as Apostles. He presents them the same choice. “Are you going to leave me too?”

They don’t understand either. And now the excitement of the crowds and popularity of thousands are gone. It’s “crunch” time for them, too.

Peter speaks up for all of them saying in effect where would we go? We don’t understand either. But trust you. We believe in you. “You are the Holy One of God.”

Joshua, in the first reading gives the Israelites the same choice. “I and my household will serve the Lord.” What about you? They respond, “We, too, will serve the Lord for he is our God.”

In any committed relationship (spouse, children, parent, friend) there are “crunch” times, daily choices to love the other, in big ways and little, in quiet ways and more expressive ways. So it is with our God.

“ I am the Bread of Life.” Do we choose to believe and receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist?

Will you serve the Lord? Seriously? Generously? Trustingly?

There is much murmuring, drifting away, walking away these days. There are distractions galore (busyness, sports, I-phones and Facebook, financial or health or political/cultural stresses and pressures). A lot of “crunch” times.

In everything, choose Christ. Let everything flow from there.

Fr. Don Antweiler, Pastor