6th Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 16, 2020

I.  Bishop Medley Celebrates 10 Years as Shepherd! Someone mentioned recently that only one in three priests who are asked accept the call to be a bishop—not a surprising statistic with our present climate. We are grateful to Bishop William Francis Medley for his servant leadership as we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of his ordination as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro. You are invited to Vespers (official Evening Prayer of the Church) at our Cathedral on Monday, February 17, at 6:00pm. A reception will follow in the Community Center. Come to Evening Prayer even if you cannot stay for a bite to eat!

II.  Welcome Home Fr. Sinoj! It’s so good to have Fr. Sinoj back “in the saddle” after his return to India to visit family and friends. Arriving back Friday evening, I must say that I missed him—I missed all the many ministry things he does, but also his trips to the grocery, boiling the perfect egg, and making chai, Indian style, each morning. We look forward to his stories, one of which will be Bishop Medley’s visit with his mother and family around a banquet table overflowing with food and drink. He was particularly blessed to preside at one of the Masses in his home parish on the feast of St. Sebastian. Welcome back! May your jet lag be minimal!

III. Are We Civil? Monday, February 17th, this country celebrates Presidents’ Day, which is officially Washington’s Birthday; it is a holiday (third Monday in February) honoring George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The day is sometimes understood as a celebration of the birthdays and lives of all U.S. presidents. On this day we express gratitude for the blessings we enjoy, freedoms we can so easily take for granted. The United States Bishops Conference (USCCB) has begun a new campaign: Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate. It will run through the election.

      What does it mean to love our neighbors in the midst of such a divisive climate? Catholics are called to bring the best of ourselves and our faith to the public square—and yet today, many shy away from such involvement because our national and local conversations are filled with anger, harsh language, often directed at people themselves. As Catholics, we must model a better way. We are invited to model love for neighbor by pledging to Civilize It—committing to civility, clarity, and compassion this election year. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate is a non-partisan call to focus on the dignity of all people, even those with whom we disagree, and to put faith in action. Make room in your heart for those with whom you disagree and pledge dignity beyond the debate today at CivilizeIt.org!

IV.  The Chair of Saint Peter, a major Feast in our Church (February 22), commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-leader of the whole Church. After the “lost weekend” of pain, doubt, and self-torment, Peter hears the Good News. Angels at the tomb say to Mary Magdalene, “The Lord has risen! Go, tell his disciples and Peter.” Only after Pentecost can Peter fulfill the task Jesus had given him: “… [O]nce you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). He at once becomes the spokesman for the Twelve about their experience of the Holy Spirit—before the civil authorities who wished to quash their preaching, before the Council of Jerusalem, for the community in the problem of Ananias and Sapphira. Even a saint experiences difficulty in Christian living. Like the “committee chair,” this chair refers to the occupant, not the furniture. Its first occupant stumbled a bit, denying Jesus three times and hesitating to welcome gentiles into the new Church. Despite human weakness, still, the role endures as a sign of the long tradition we cherish and as a focus for the universal Church.

V.  Thank you Russell Vaughn and Mark Heinz! As Jeff Payne, our Director of Building and Grounds was on retreat last week at Gethsemani, we were blessed to have Russell Vaughn and Mark Heinz taking care of the many things that naturally arise for an aging campus. We are grateful!!

 VI.  Another year older. . . many thanks to all those who sent cards, made phone calls and tried to track me down on my Birthday and send me well wishes. Here’s to many more!