The Pastor's Column

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.

Fr. Lara

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 the light.

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 generosity.

Note: For parishioners who have been collecting coins throughout the year, a container will be in the vestibule for returning Baby Bottles starting next weekend.

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,
we pray:

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 lives. Amen