Fr. Lara's Lines
A Call to Repentence
The first reading for this Sunday, Jon 3: 1-5, 10,
narrates the mission of Jonah to the people of
Nineveh. Jonah was sent by God to Nineveh to
call them to repentance. Because of the weakness
of the people, the city was going to be destroyed.
But after Jonah announced this news, the people
of Nineveh repented and God spared the city.
This is a story of conversion. The people heard the
voice of the prophet and changed their hearts to
do the will of God.
In this weekend’s Gospel, Mk 1: 14-20, Jesus starts
his mission by announcing repentance: “This is the
time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.” This is the
core message of Jesus’ mission. A call to conversion
for his followers and all who believe in him.
Repentance is the first step toward union with God.
Jesus wanted the lives of the disciples to be
transformed into a worthy dwelling for the Lord.
Repentance is a theme that runs throughout the
Bible. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, God is
constantly calling people to change their ways.
Jesus emphasizes this calling for all those who
want to partake in God’s kingdom. Jesus asks his
disciples to follow him, so as to transform their old
identity into a Christ-like person. Jesus is also
calling us to conversion. Through the Sacrament
of Confession, the Church helps Christians to change
their ways. Catholics believe in this sacrament of
conversion. We are people of courage, who strive
for a closer relationship with Christ by leaving our
old ways behind to embrace the new life in Christ.
Jesus is calling you to be different. He is calling
you to repent and believe in him by following in
his footsteps. What are some of the things that
you need to change in your life? What are some
of the vices you need to leave behind? What
transformation needs to occur in your life for
you to be more like-Christ? Change is difficult.
Are you willing to start today?
Saint Paul’s Conversion
On January 25, the Church celebrates the
conversion of Saint Paul. This is another great
story of conversion. Saul persecuted Christians
early in his life, but on the road to Damascus,
Saul had an encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ
(Acts of the Apostles 9:1–19). Jesus asked, “Saul,
Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are
you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you
are persecuting,” he replied. At this Saul knew
that it was God who was calling him to conversion.
Jesus called Saul, now Paul, to bring the good
news of Jesus’ salvation to all people. He became
ambassador of the Gospel to Gentiles. He spent
the rest of his life on his missions, establishing local
churches, and writing to them whenever he heard of
their accomplishments or failures.
Saint Paul’s great story of conversion highlights the
transformation of one’s heart when Jesus shows the
light. Many saints throughout history have had
these experiences in their lives. A life of sin always
has the potential to be a life of grace. As the
saying goes, “Every saint has a past and every
sinner has a future.” Christians believe in the
power of conversion. We can transform our lives;
we just need to listen to God’s call to conversion,
ask him to give us strength to make the necessary
changes, and be open to the Holy Spirit to remain
in God’s presence. Do you have a conversion
story? The Church and I would love to hear it.
Live the Liturgy
“Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Some type of honest and sincere
repentance is necessary for any type of authentic
growth and maturity. We have to come to the
realization, unless we are happy wallowing in
immaturity and superficiality, that the way we
have been doing things is not the best or the
healthiest. There isn’t a human being alive who
hasn’t acted foolishly or erratically at the cost
of almost losing a treasured relationship.
“Why did I act that way?” is a question we often
ponder after some reflection and enlightenment.
Faith works the same way. Stumbling through
life and bumping up against meaninglessness,
a person can begin to see that something
significant is missing. They see that there is
merit to a relationship with God and an embrace
of faith. Before these can take root, sincere
sorrow for past wrong-doing, missed opportunities,
errors in judgment, and short sightedness is
necessary. Repentance is necessary. Then having
realized that we were walking in darkness, we
can rejoice that by God’s grace we now see
Baby Bottle Project
Since its founding in 1984,
The Women’s Centers of
Greater Chicagoland have saved over 40,000
babies from abortion. Throughout the COVID-19
crisis, they have continued to provide counseling
and support for women considering abortion.
The Women’s Centers needs your help more
than ever. Each year, the Baby Bottle Project has
been their major fundraising effort. With Mass
attendance restricted, the traditional distribution
of Baby Bottles has been quite limited. Because
of this, a Virtual Baby Bottle Project is now
available. Please consider making a donation at
Click on “Virtual Baby Bottles.”
Be sure to note our parish name in the designation
drop down menu on the donation page so our
community can be thanked for everyone’s
For parishioners who have been collecting
coins throughout the year, a container will be in
the vestibule for returning Baby Bottles starting
Prayer for Unborn Children
The General Instruction of the Roman
Missal, no. 373, designates January 22
as a particular day of prayer and
penance, called the “Day of Prayer for
the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.
In Evangelium Vitae, Pope Saint John Paul II wrote
“A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a
prayer which will rise up throughout the world.
Through special initiatives and in daily prayer,
may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator
and lover of life, from every Christian community,
from every group and association, from every
family and from the heart of every believer.”
Borrowing from St. Jerome Catholic Church,
Almighty God, our Father, You who have given us life and intended us to
have it forever, grant us your blessings.
Enlighten our minds to an awareness and to a
renewed conviction that all human life is sacred
because it is created in your image and likeness.
Help us to teach by word and the example of our