FROM OUR EDITORS—August 12, 2018 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ August 6, 2018

292

The pastor of the parish where I first taught was a wise and kind man named Father Ray. In the Invitation to Communion, Father Ray would insert the words, “This is re-e-e-ally Jesus.” He did this, I’m sure, to emphasize the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist we would soon receive. And this didn’t only happen at the school Masses at which he presided. He did this at all Masses—for children and adults alike.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus says, “[T]he bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). How easy it is for us to let such words go in one ear and out the other, especially if we’ve heard and read them many times in our lives. Yet how very shocking and incredible these same words must have sounded to those who heard Jesus say them.

We pray that you—and we—may stay tuned in to the words of Jesus and the amazing gift of his Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

 

Photo credit: Catholic Diocese of Saginaw/CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr.com, cropped from larger original

FROM OUR EDITORS—August 5, 2018 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ July 23, 2018

Mark

This Sunday, August 5th, is my brother Mark’s birthday. I have three brothers and four sisters, so there’s often a birthday of a sibling, in-law, niece, or nephew to remember. But I remember Mark’s birthday with both celebration and sadness. You see, Mark died after a brief battle with cancer in May 2014. If he had lived, he’d be turning 48.

Losing Mark hit me hard, of course. I’m his big sister and I couldn’t protect him or take away his hurt as I did when he was small. Our family’s loss was Mark’s gain, but I also gained a better perspective on life and what really matters.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life” (Mark 6:27). Sure, I work to help put food on my family’s table, but how I use my time, talents, and resources is now more often to contribute to endeavors that truly make a lasting difference and that will help get me to Heaven someday—where I’ll be united with my Lord and reunited with my brother.

We pray that you find your work of forming young people in the faith, whether in your home or classroom, a labor of love that “endures for eternal life”—your own and that of the children whose lives you touch.

 

Photo credit: Submitted image of Joan’s brother Mark

FROM OUR EDITORS—July 29, 2018 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ July 22, 2018

281

Five loaves and two fish. It wasn’t anywhere close to enough food to feed a crowd of thousands, yet everyone got their fill. Plus, there were 12 wicker baskets of bread fragments left over!

We may often feel that we don’t have enough—time, money, knowledge, patience, or ability. When we give thanks for the insufficient resources we do have and trust God to provide for our need, he provides abundantly. I don’t know if the key factor is gratitude or trust in God. Maybe it’s the combination since both are vital to a life of faith. We pray that you discover the abundant provisions God has in store for you this week!

 

Photo credit: Marcel CROZET/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—July 22, 2018 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ July 15, 2018

277

Even these “lazy days” of summer can be busy and draining. In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus acknowledges our human need for rest and models both compassion and self-sacrifice.

While on a family vacation last week, I got a glimpse of the daily life of my younger sister. As they tended to the needs of their four young sons, she and her husband were constantly vigilant of the younger two near the water as they are not yet swimmers. When other adults made plans to go out on a boat or a brewery tour, they initially held back due to the need to keep an eye on their boys.

I, on the other hand, am an empty-nester. I adore my young nephews and cherish my time with them since they live 600 miles away. Whenever I could, I gave my sister and brother-in-law a break so they could enjoy some vacation time and a few all-too-brief periods of rest from their constant vigilance. While I consider myself busy, my sister is definitely more constantly so.

In Sunday’s Gospel, the needs of the crowd were so great that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. (I’m not quite that busy either.) When they got into a boat to escape the crowds and take a rest break, the people followed them. Instead of turning the crowd away in favor of much needed rest, Jesus modeled both compassion and personal sacrifice when he taught the people who sought him out.

We pray that you are finding periods of rest and refreshment this summer. When the needs of others prevent you from resting when you’d like, think of Jesus who was in the same boat. He will help you find the compassion, sacrificial love, and, eventually, the rest you need.

Image credit: Submitted photo of Joan’s nephews Mark (age 2) and Henry (age 5)

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FROM OUR EDITORS—July 15, 2018 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ July 3, 2018

273

If you tend to overpack and are preparing for a trip, seek some counsel from Jesus’ instruction to the Apostles as he sent them out two by two. They were to take only a walking stick, a tunic, and a pair of sandals. No money, no food, no second tunic. Above all that, they took their trust in God’s care for them.

Yes, we may argue, but life was so much simpler back then. Perhaps. And, we might continue, we don’t always know ahead of time what we’ll need, so it’s better to pack more “just in case.” That’s valid.

The message we can take from Jesus’ packing instructions is to carry our faith and trust in God wherever we go. That means making sure a change in location and routine doesn’t cause us to forget our mealtime and bedtime prayers or take a pass on going to Sunday Mass. And maybe there’s someone along the way or at our destination who really needs our witness of kindness that’s grounded in our Christian faith. Be sure that doesn’t get left home in favor of one more pair of shoes “just in case.”

Image credit: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—July 8, 2018 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ July 2, 2018

119

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons) defined an expert as “an ordinary fellow from another town.” Will Rogers claimed an expert is “a man 50 miles from home with a briefcase.” These two men, both born in the 19th century, quipped about a human phenomenon that’s been around since at least the time of Jesus.

Sunday’s Gospel finds Jesus teaching in his hometown synagogue to people who can’t believe this local boy is capable of such wisdom and of performing mighty deeds. In Jesus’ statement, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Mark 6:4), he alludes to the Hebrew prophets whom the people of their times had also rejected.

How many times have you not expected much from the everyday people in your life—your family members, friends, coworkers—and looked beyond them to find better guidance and wisdom? Might you be overlooking the prophets in your midst? Might you also be called to serve as a prophet for those you encounter in your home, neighborhood, parish, and workplace? We need to be careful not to sell ourselves—and those who share our daily lives—short.

 

Image credit: Renata Sedmakova/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—July 1, 2018 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ June 11, 2018

266

Life can be trying. And some days are more of a struggle than others. It’s in difficult times that we can really learn the value of our faith—in God and in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Some people lose faith in times of trial, perhaps because they’ve expected that if they live as a follower of Christ, he will make the way smooth for them. Then, when the road gets bumpy or there’s an unexpected detour, they throw up their hands and give up on God.

Others—I hope you’re among them!—lean into their faith and draw on God’s strength and comfort in troubled times. Jesus told his followers that there would be suffering and opposition, and he promised, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus accepted horrendous suffering for our sake, and he will not abandon us in our times of trial.

It is through Christ’s Paschal Mystery—the suffering, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus—that we are saved! And it is to this Paschal Mystery that we can turn when we are brought low by life’s challenges. Easter Sunday follows Good Friday, light follows darkness, hope follows despair, and joy follows sadness—if we but believe! Jesus says to us, as he says to the synagogue official in Sunday’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mark 5:36).

Image credit: Virginia CASTRO/CIRIC

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FROM OUR EDITORS—June 17, 2018 – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ June 4, 2018

258

As I reflect on Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 4:26–34) and consider that we’re celebrating Father’s Day in the US, I find it natural to connect our Father in Heaven to the farmer or sower of seed in the parable. That makes us the seeds that are planted to grow and bear fruit.

What does God who is love do? He loves. And what fruit are we called to bear? Love. As we are nourished by the Eucharist and involvement in the lives of our families, parishes, and other communities, we grow in love for God and others. May the fruit we bear—LOVE—be abundant!

May 13 was the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include a general lesson on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions. You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel Weeklies. Those who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

Image credit: Singkham/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—June 10, 2018 – 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ May 29, 2018

257

Most parish programs and schools have wrapped up or are soon to complete their program year. We pray that it has been a year of blessing and grace for all of you—catechists, Catholic school religion teachers, parish and school staff, parents, and children.

With the coming of summer, you may be involved in Vacation Bible School or a summer-intensive faith formation program. Be sure to read Nicholle Check’s “Summer Program Resources.”

We encourage you to use this summer to catch up on some of the reading you put aside until later. Perhaps you have copies of Catechist or Today’s Catholic Teacher that you haven’t managed to read. (Check out their websites for some great free content.) If you read the Sunday readings as you prepare for your class, continue to do so as preparation for Sunday Mass. We’ll continue to include the link here in GROW. Maybe the summer is a good time to fit in some catechist formation classes offered by your diocese or deanery. Your parish faith formation director should be happy to lend you resources to keep you growing as a catechist as well as a person of faith.

Our team is working hard on the Gospel Weeklies for the 2018–19 school-program year. As we do so, we keep you and your students—past and future—in prayer. We ask you to keep us in your prayers as well.

May 13 was the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include a general lesson on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions. You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel Weeklies. Those who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

 

Image credit: Corinne SIMON/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—June 3, 2018 – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Author: Joan McKamey ~ May 22, 2018

248

You are what you eat. Many of us have heard that maxim since childhood. From a strictly physical standpoint, we understand that what we eat and drink is pretty important to our health. We can also apply that wisdom to other things we consume. The shows we watch, books we read, video games we play, music we listen to—all of these affect our thinking and view of self, others, and the world. It seems we need to watch our diet of more than just food and drink!

And then there’s the Eucharist, Jesus Christ’s very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We consume this in the form of bread and wine, but its effect is far more than physical nourishment. As Christ’s Body and Blood becomes part of our body and blood, we are spiritually nourished and strengthened. We are called to become what we eatChrist’s Body in the world. May we always recognize both this gift and call!

Most Precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, save us and the whole world. Amen.

May 13 was the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include a general lesson on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions. You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel Weeklies. Those who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

Image credit: Alain PINOGES/CIRIC

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