July 02, 2023
Can you recall anything that was said by a keynote speaker at graduation from high school or college? I can. Attending as a Campus Minister at Alfred Sate College, I remember the guest speaker telling the graduates to get a passport, travel, discover new places and cultures, meet new people. I have been following his advice.
The setting in the Gospel according to St. Matthew is a graduation event. Jesus has called 12 disciples by name and now sends them on mission to the House of Israel, the Jewish community in Galilee. Jesus instructs them to travel light, to proclaim the kingdom of heaven, to heal, and to confront evil. Jesus tells these early missioners they must have love for him and his way of life that is greater than their love for spouse, parents, and children. These are tough words for the apostles to hear living in a culture that prizes family ties and relationships. Jesus seems to be saying, “If you don’t go all the way with me, through adversity and sacrifice, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you will never find yourself. But if you forget yourself and look to me, you’ll find both your true self and me.”
But Jesus goes on and assures them that those who receive the missioners will be rewarded for their hospitality and new spiritual bonds and families will be created. We find an example of such hospitality in our first reading, the Book of Kings: a woman extends welcome to the prophet Elisha. She persuades her husband to arrange space, a room on the roof, furnished with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp for the prophet to stay. (It is a beautiful illustration of how we must open our hearts and homes to the Word of God.) There is a blessing that comes back to the woman, the hostess, and her husband. They are childless. Elisha promises that next year at this time they will be fondling a baby boy.
For some time we have been waiting with anticipation for the Bishop to assign priests to serve our parish community. I am pleased to announce that Bishop Mike is sending three priests to our Family of Parishes: Fr. Gerard Skrzyinski will be our new pastor. Fr. “Jerry” is in the class of 2018, 5 years ordained, and presently pastor of St. John the Baptist, Boston, New York. Fr. Karl Loeb, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, Springbrook, will continue as the Senior Parochial Vicar and Fr. Aaron Kulczyk, Our Lady of Pompeii, Lancaster, will be the other Parochial Vicar. We extend a warm welcome and our support to these three priests who will shepherd us and provide the essential leadership and care as we align our five parishes into a Family. On your behalf I have sent a congratulatory message to Fathers Jerry, Karl, and Aaron. I am looking forward to their coming and will do my best for a smooth transition.
Some know I have just returned from a trip to Northern Ireland with my sister Mary. We took a bus and then a taxi to a small village, Roslea, to find St. Tierney’s Catholic church and cemetery where relatives of the Kavanagh family are buried. My sister Mary found this quote on a marker in memory of Captain Michael Dunleavy, September 3, 1963 – May 23, 2019. It reads: “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: to reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
We are setting sail with Christ aboard.
11th Sunday Ordinary A
14th Sunday Ordinary A