Love our enemies? Really?! That’s a ridiculously difficult request. Yet, Jesus Christ not only calls us forth to that in our Gospel this weekend, but we see Him model that request for us. He loves and forgives Judas, Peter, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the soldiers who kill Him, and many others who hurt Him. Jesus loved His enemies with a truly sacrificial love. Don’t get me wrong, He hated the sin, but He most certainly loved the sinners. As we approach Lent, I think it is important to look at our attitude toward those we disagree with, or have hurt us. We are called forth to love them, but what does that look like? It can start by praying for them. Pray, “Lord, be with (name). Help me to see their perspective but also see Your perspective, so that your peace and grace may bring about healing in our relationship. May we have respect and appreciation for each other, even if we continue to disagree. Help us both to have willingness to grow, so that your kingdom would be more fully established here on Earth. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
We see so much division in our world right now with the ongoing wars and conflicts. We see so much division in our nation at the most recent State of the Union Address. We see so much division in our state with the evil abortion laws that were passed recently that allow abortion right up to birth. We see even division in our city, as I am getting emails now from city workers who list their preferred pronouns. So, I believe, this Gospel comes at a perfect time as we approach Lent. I encourage you to utilize this Lent to grow in charity toward your enemies. Offer up your fasting for them and see what the Lord does with those sacrifices. The Sacrifice on the Cross brought about healing and the salvation of the world. Your Lenten Sacrifices will help further that healing in the world and bring about greater ability to love our enemies.
We have our Parish Men’s Retreat coming up March 3-5 and there are still a handful of spaces open. Perhaps God is calling you forth to attend as a means to delve deeper into your faith this Lent. It will be a great time for not only deepening one’s faith but also growing in community and fellowship with all the other parishioners who will be on the retreat. Pray on this invitation and if God is inclining your heart towards you joining us, then please say ‘yes’ to Him! You can register here.
Additionally, this Lent, we are adding a couple of extra Mass times to help you grow closer to God and to better form good habits based in holiness. From February 22 – April 1 there will be a 5:30 pm Mass every Friday and a 9:30 am Mass every Saturday. Note that the Saturday morning Mass time is not 8:30 am, but it is at 9:30 am to accommodate other parish ministries happening Saturday mornings. Please take advantage of these extra Mass times. Our Heavenly Father wants to be with you and to walk closely with you throughout Lent, and what better way to join Him than to come to Mass, to pray, and to receive Him?!
Next weekend, we reflect upon the Catholic Services Appeal. The CSA supports many essential and vital efforts in our local Church. Thanks to your generosity to the 2022 Catholic Services Appeal Foundation, St. John the Baptist is due to receive over $32,000 as our “Parish Sharing” portion. When you support this annual appeal, St. John’s benefits as well as many ministries across the Archdiocese which help to further establish the kingdom of God. Our commitment weekend for the 2023 appeal is next week. Your gift will support ministries that include pro-life, Catholic education, seminarian formation, and services to those most in need, in addition to Synod priorities to help build up our local church. Please consider being generous with the blessings that God has bestowed on you. Here is the link for donating to the 2023 Catholic Services Appeal: https://csafspm.org/givecsaf/