Last weekend, we celebrated and reflected upon God's mercy to each of us. Pope John Paul II, in instituting Mercy Sunday on the second Sunday of Easter, offered these words of reflection: “To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the risen Lord offers the gift of his love that pardons, reconciles and opens the soul to hope. It is love that converts hearts and brings peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!” In this time in history when war, violence, stress and unsettledness deeply affects so many people, let us continue to pray that God's mercy may come upon all who are in need of healing at this time.
Because today (Sunday, May 1) is the Third Sunday of Easter, we do not celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker that is usually celebrated on May 1. However, I believe the life of St. Joseph offers us many things to reflect upon and to guide us in these troubled times in which we live.
What do we know about him? He was a carpenter…He was just a man…We do not know when he was born or when he died. We do not know if he was tall or short or young or old when he married Mary. We do not know his parenting skills or even for that matter, how good a carpenter he was. In fact…not a word he might have said on this earth is recorded in the scriptures. So what does a writer do with such a meager amount of information?
I could speculate and spin possible tales…as books and preachers have done. In fact, the scriptures given for his feast barely mention Joseph. It’s almost as if the Church acknowledges the need for Joseph (Mary had to be married to legitimize the birth of Jesus) but doesn’t have much else to say about him.
However, I believe if we take the meager knowledge we have about Joseph we can hold him up as a model for many men in the world today. For as scripture says He was a carpenter…he would have been a hard worker…he provides for his family and he must have been a man of patience, honesty and persistence…not afraid of hard work.
He was a just man…Did not God entrust the care of Mary and Jesus to him? Contrary to many paintings depicting Joseph as an old man…Joseph would have been young and strong. He trusted in God…He took a pregnant Mary as his wife when, by the law, he did have to do so…and he did all this based on a dream! He journeyed with his wife and young child to a foreign land to escape persecution and death.
If we want to really understand the terror that must have faced Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus …we need only speak to the men and women from Ukraine or Afghanistan who recently left their countries seeking to escape persecution, war or death. The parents and children of many other countries who have been forced to leave their own homes to save their families and seek safety in other foreign lands also call us to have compassion for them.
There are no written words Joseph said for us to reflect upon. There are no relics or sayings he left to guide us. Rather, what we do have is the faithful witness of a man of love…who married his fiancé though she was pregnant. He was a man of courage who left home, country and all that was familiar, to journey to a foreign land to save his family. What we do have is a brief but powerful example of a man who was faithful to God and the dreams of God’s messages.
As we remember St. Joseph it might be good for us to consider what will people say of us 100, 500, 1,000 years from now. Whether we leave thousands of words or nothing spoken at all…will our presence here on the earth have made any difference? Joseph…though we know little…did make a difference. May our dreams be as faithful to God’s call to Joseph was over 2,000 years ago.
As I mentioned in last weekend's bulletin, now that Lent and Holy Week have concluded, we are resuming activities to celebrate the last few months of the 175th Anniversary of St. Peter's Church. I have listed below a couple of upcoming events and encourage you to mark your calendars now and plan to attend any of these celebrations.
Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4 we will host a concert with the world premiere of "The Nature Suite" composed by Fr. Robert Hutmacher, OFM (the Guardian of the Franciscan Friars community at St. Peter's.). The Chicago Sinfonietta will be performing this wonderful reflective music at the concert. A number of other music selections will also be performed. If you want a preview of Fr. Bob's composition, CD's are presently available in our Book/Gift shop here at St. Peter's. More details about the concert will be available in the coming weeks.
On Thursday, July 14 we will have our annual Gala fund-raising event for St. Peter's Church. After two years of needing to do the Gala virtually, we will return to the Union League Club to have the Gala in person. More details and tickets will soon be available in the church lobby. This is our biggest fund-raising event of the year to help support the ministries here at St. Peter's. Hopefully, many of you will be able to attend.
We will conclude our 175th anniversary of St. Peter’s the Church with a special Mass on Sunday, August 14, 2022 at 11:00 am. Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, will preside and preach at this special Mass. We are grateful to Cardinal Cupich for his willingness to join us for this special Mass.
With spring here and summer soon to arrive, I am noticing more and more folks in the Loop. Hopefully, more workers will be returning to their offices and places of business in the coming months. With many concerts, festivals and other activities set to resume this summer, we hope to see more people also stopping at St. Peter's and joining us for Masses, services and coming to the church for quiet prayer and reflection. Let your relatives, friends and co-workers know that all people are welcome here at St. Peter's.
May you have blessed and safe Third Week of Easter!