A word from our Pastor

 I entered the seminary as a teenager. With my new seminary companions, we enjoyed living our lives together: prayed in common, studied together, enjoyed team sports, did daily chores, and learned in class about religious life. At times we got homesick. We had a wonderful teacher and spiritual guide: Fr. Ralph. He was the president of our seminary college and would stay up late every evening to catch up on his academic work; because during the daytime, he did his priestly work. Yet, if one of us came to see him, even during the late hours of the evening, he wouldn’t mind the interruption. He would drop what he was doing and be totally present to us as we talked about missing our families and other teenage problems. He had a listening ear and understanding heart. He was generous because he offered us a space we could feel at home in his welcoming presence. I would often to visit him at night knowing he was at his desk. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” I am sure Fr. Ralph had many more important things to attend to in running the college. But he stopped what he was doing and listened with total attention to our grief. The point of this little story is to remind me (and us) that God sees true greatness very differently than the way we humans define greatness. God defines greatness as becoming servants and slaves of all. We humans define greatness as being “number one on the block!” That’s how James and John acted in today’s Gospel, thinking of themselves as better than the other disciples. They asked Jesus if one of them could sit on his left and the other on his right when he entered his kingdom. They wanted notoriety and prestige. The other Disciples became very upset when they learned about this. You might be asking: “So what does this have to do with me? I am not seeking power or fame.” It is actually very important for us to think about this especially in these days. Everybody feels that their rights are more important than everybody else’s. As God’s “slaves and servants” we should strive to put others first. Here at Blessed Sacrament parish, we continuously make people feel at home, putting their needs before our own. Whether visitors be poor or just want someone to talk to, they feel our understanding and care, just like Fr. Ralph cared for us seminarians. It is in this spirit of our mission of welcoming the stranger that I write these words today. Our world seems to be getting colder to the stranger and the lonely person. God needs us to listen to them and to one another.           ~ Fr. John