The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel of Mark portrays Jesus moving quickly from place to place, from miracle to miracle, preaching and teaching at a relentless pace. Crowds gather around him to experience his power, and when he tried to get away to pray the crowds came looking for him. I see that same passion and longing for the Lord when I see everyone coming to Mass on Sundays, because all of us come seeking something, needing to experience the healing power of Jesus in our lives and to allow his word to penetrate our hearts to encourage us to follow him in faith. Sometimes, though, we get so into our patterns and habits that we lose sight of WHY we do what we do. It’s great that we are here, but let’s keep in mind what we are doing, and what the effect of our participation in the Mass is… the saving presence of Jesus transforming our lives. Place yourself in that crowd gathering around him with such fervor and excitement, and feel that sense of urgency to be close to him.
As we prepare for Lent, I would like to share news regarding the Lenten Simple Suppers (formerly Lenten Soup Suppers) that have been organized by Outreach Ministries for the past three years. This year Outreach Ministries has decided not to hold the Lenten Simple Suppers. Instead, Outreach Ministries has decided to reallocate funds to better meet the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters, and spend more time developing local and international partnerships to provide more opportunities for all of our parishioners to encounter Jesus in the poor. We are also considering future opportunities for “Lenten Fellowship.” Outreach Ministries will still be sponsoring the CRS Rice Bowl during Lent. I encourage you to pick up a CRS Rice Bowl after Mass on February 10 & 11 or on Ash Wednesday and spend time with the daily reflections praying for our brothers and sisters around the world.
I also want to share some information about some of our long-range planning. As you know our strategic plan called for a study of our campus and our buildings and the creation of a campus master plan. With the support and permission of the Archdiocese, I have formed a building committee, and we have engaged the work of an architect to further study some of the needs raised in the master plan with a goal of design work on two potential projects: a large-scale meeting space (a social or fellowship hall), and some needed upgrades in the church. For some time we have needed to address problems with aging systems and antiquated technology in the church (lighting, heat/air conditioning, and sound), and inadequate restrooms and vestibules, so we are studying potential renovations to the church to address these and some other needs for the liturgy and for our growing music ministry. We are also looking at exterior spaces including entrances, walkways, driveways, and parking to improve access and traffic flow. This study will take several months, and we do not yet know what our next steps will be, what it will cost, or what the possible timeline might be. There is much to discern and to pray about as we take these steps, and we will not do anything hastily. I ask your prayers for the work of the Committee in the coming months.