The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah offers a word of great encouragement that speaks to our hearts today: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!” How fitting to hear such a consolation during these tense times for the Church. I have noticed over the past few weeks how the scripture readings each weekend have been so apt for our time. The cycle of the scripture readings contained in the Lectionary (a 3-year cycle of readings for Sundays, and a 2-year rotation for weekdays) has existed in its current state since 1969. Many texts have been assigned to particular feast days or seasons since the earliest liturgical books were formed in the early Middle Ages. The Word of God never ceases to amaze me in the way that there is always something new, fresh, and absolutely fitting for us. God always speaks a word that we need to hear… that is why we say that God’s word is living and active. And our hearing is inspired, too… the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts to hear the ancient words of the Bible anew every time they are proclaimed: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
Our faith formation programs for children and youth will begin soon. Our volunteer catechists and facilitators have been hard at work preparing for a great year of learning, prayer, and fellowship for our young people in a variety of programs for young children, middle school, and high school youth, as well as in our sacramental preparation programs for Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and Confirmation. If you have not yet signed up, check out our website for the latest information. You can register online at www.sjpmd.org. And there is always room for “ongoing formation” for adults, too. Opportunities abound for bible study, small groups, and our Parish Mission coming in October. If you know someone who is feeling called to become part of the Church or to learn more about the Catholic faith, the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) will begin meeting soon.
This weekend we welcome Fr. Steven Roth, Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who will be preaching at all the Masses this weekend. Vocational discernment is something that every Christian does (or should do) every day… it has to do with listening to the Lord and asking “What is God calling me to do… in this moment, in this situation, at this juncture?” Vocation has to do with how we live in response to the gifts of God. Fr. Steven’s ministry is specifically focused on the vocation of the priesthood, and this might seem like an odd time to speak about such a topic. I think the need for good priests is all the more obvious as we have been so keenly aware of the failures of some priests (which is actually a very small percentage). Fr. Steven is responsible for overseeing the recruitment, screening, and formation of men preparing to serve the Church here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore as future priests. St. Joseph has for many decades been a place where seminarians serve and continue their discernment and formation, and a number of vocations to the priesthood have come from this community. We continue to pray for hearts to be open to the will of God among us. And I want to express my thanks for the prayer and many words of encouragement that you have offered to Fr. John and me during these difficult weeks. We are all in this together as we search for ways to do our part for the healing and renewal of the Church. Know of our prayers for you as you continue to live for the Lord and follow him in faith.