Third Sunday of Easter – Fr. Bill McNeeley
May 4 & 5, 2019 – All English Masses
Today’s Gospel reading from Johns is one of my favorite stories, not because it is so dramatic or important theologically, but because the setting is so ordinary. We can imagine the excitement, bewilderment and the truly remarkable experience of those first days after the resurrection. Here was a ragtag band of disciples of a discredited Rabbi who huddled in fear because who knows, they might be next! All of them struggled with their unbelief. The Lord told them to go to Galilee and he would meet them there. So here they are. I can imagine the stillness, the warm, spring-like weather; and finally the boredom, until at last Peter, standing in the doorway of his home, staring out over the sea, and says “I’m going fishing.“ Of course, he is not talking about fly-fishing. Peter is saying, “I’m going to work.” That’s understandable; they still have to eat so while they wait he decides get back to the business of everyday life. The scene is, in a sense, extraordinarily ordinary.
Similarly, we are in much the same situation as Peter. We have come to believe in Jesus, we bear witness to the Resurrection and our hearts yearn to be closer to him, and yet, here we wait. We still need to go about our daily lives. We still have to go to work, feed our families, care for our children and do everything else that our everyday life requires. That’s where the churches are as well. How wonderful, beyond all telling, it would be we were all taken up at once into heaven! If only,…but like Peter, sooner or later we have to go to work, we have to go about the business of everyday life while we await the coming of God’s Kingdom. I want to take this opportunity to give you a brief report about the status of our parish. July 1 marks the beginning of the new fiscal year so now we are just beginning our budget process for the coming year. As to the current year which started last July I can say we are in good shape, better in my estimation than the budget deficit numbers as reported in the bulletin. This isn’t a good place to explain the particulars, but more information will be forthcoming.
We are also over half way through our Home Campaign. We have paid off much of the debt incurred due to necessary improvements. We have enlarged and converted the Adoration Chapel use for weekday Masses. Pastoral Council member Peter Lloyd did a study of our utility use before and after the chapel was finished and he reports that our parish saves about $1,000 per month during the summer and about $800 per month in the winter by not using the chapel for weekday Masses. Furthermore, if you can hear and understand my voice you know that we have made repairs and improvements to our sound system. We still have three remaining projects for our Home Campaign. One is building a new music room outside the nursery and next to the columbarium, which will not be affected. The second part is converting the old music room for additional classroom and meeting space. The third part is the renovation of the kitchen in the Fatima Center. A committee under the chairmanship of Bob Myers is being formed to advise me and Pastoral Council on the best way to carry out these remaining projects. Some Home Campaign pledges end this September, but others will continue for another two years. I have not decided whether we will tackle the three remaining projects one at a time or do all three of them in two years when the last contributions have been received. I am inclined to wait until later, but there are pros and cons either way.
I want to focus now on a new initiative that is part of these plans and central to it. Some of you have heard of the program called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. It is an educational and experiential program for teaching children about Jesus and the Gospel and is based on the Montessori Method of teaching. It’s hard to describe the program; you really do have to experience it. It’s like trying to describe a musical performance. No matter what words you use in the description, it somehow comes down to “it was really, really good” which always seems to fall short to actually being there. That’s how it is with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. One of our own, Leslie Angerer is a catechist for this program at the Cathedral. At our last Pastoral Council meeting, I asked her to do a presentation about the Catechesis. What she did was not a talk about the program, but she did one of the presentations that the children would participate in, which the story of Jesus was sending out the 12. At the end of the presentation, everyone in the room was saying ‘Gee I wish we had that when I was a kid”. They were sold, but again all I can say is “it was really, really good.”
Here is my point. Parish ministry is all about family. We are a family, and we are comprised of families of all shapes and sizes. Everything we do a parish is done with at least an eye toward how it will affect the members of this family and of our families. If something does not support the domestic church, which is what our families are, then we don’t go there. Everything we do and say should take into account the needs, the faith and the well-being of our children. It is my fervent hope and prayer that one of the rooms that will be created out of our old music room will be an Atrium specifically dedicated for our children to learn about the love of Jesus with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. It is vitally important that we bear witness to the love of Christ in this way. The most important thing we can instill in our children is the love of him who died and then was raised from the grave for our salvation. We must do this also because the secular world, even some Christian traditions teach that children are at best an afterthought. There is no job, no career, no life goal that is more important than having and raising children. Contrary to what many secular philosophies suggest, children are not a burden, nor are they neither a nuisance nor do they get in the way of having happy and rewarding lives. Children are always a blessing. They are our reason for living for they are life-giving unto life itself and there is no greater privilege than for a man and a woman to participate in the miracle of life.
So as we wait for the final coming of our Lord, let us go about the business of living life. Let’s go to work, or go fishing, but most of all let us care for our children for that is how we share in the creative and salvific love that is Jesus Christ. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”