Pastor’s Notes – January 7, 2018

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

I heard about a Protestant congregation where the pastor and the song leader were at odds with each other. They could never agree on anything, especially when it came to selecting songs for their worship services. Normally there would never be a song after the sermon. But the music director would purposely insert a song, just to antagonize the pastor.

One week the pastor preached about commitment. The music director immediately responded with the song, “I Shall Not be Moved.” The following week the pastor preached about the value of giving. The music director jumped in with the song, “Jesus Paid it all.” The third week the pastor preached on gossiping. The music director led the song, “I love to Tell the Story.”

With all this nonsense going on the pastor felt that he lost control in his parish. He was fully disgusted. The following Sunday he told the congregation that he was thinking about resigning sometime in the future. The song leader joyfully jumped up and began signing, “Oh Why Not Tonight?” As it came to pass, the pastor did decide to resign. In announcing his resignation he said, “The same Jesus Christ who led me to be pastor of this church is now leading me away>” The song leader gleefully leapt to his feet and belted out, “What a Friend We have in Jesus.”

Let me tell you about another music director who has been most supportive and cooperative. I had the wonderful opportunity of working with him during the past nine years. We know him well. He is Rick McLaughlin. Rick has served our faith community for the past 15 years. Rick decided to relocate to the Dallas area. It was a difficult decision for him. He loved being the music director for the Cathedral and the Archdiocese as well as being ‘St. Gerard’s Music Director. But his children and grandchildren live in the Dallas area. Family is very important to him. It is important for Rick to be near to his family.

Rick and his deceased wife have been an inspiration to all of us. I have been honored to have worked with Rick during the past years. he always made himself available to lead the music not only at weekend liturgies but also at weddings and funerals. Rick, thank you for being part of our lives. May God bless you. We all admired Rick’s professional work at St. Gerard. We are grateful for his leadership over the years. Now, Rick will be with his family in Dallas. He also has been offered the role of Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Jude in Mansfield. He begins in that capacity on January 22. Therefore his final weekend here at St. Gerard will be January 20-21.

Today we celebrate the epiphany of Christ. It is known as the first epiphany or manifestation. Early Christians celebrated three epiphanies. The first was the visit of the Magi at Bethlehem. The second was the baptism of Christ. The third was the wedding feast of Cana when Christ worked his first miracle.  In each of these three events, Christ was manifested amongst the people.

The feast of the Epiphany is a feast of welcoming strangers who come to us. Matthew’s gospel presents foreigners who were bringing gifts to the Christ Child in Bethlehem. We know nothing of their origins other than they came from far off lands carrying the best gift they had. How different the world would be if everyone received the foreigner as “gift” rather than as a “threat.”

This week, January 7 – 13, 2018, we celebrate ‘National Migration Week.’ We are reminded of the many people who are immigrants, migrants, foreigners or refugees. Our theme this year is ‘Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.’

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2018, “Many Journeys, One Family,” draws attention to the fact that each of our families have a migration story, some recent and others in the distant past. Regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.

If Christ manifested himself today He’d probably be arrested. For he would be wanted by the FDA for turning water into wine without a license; by the EPA for killing fig trees; by the AMA for practicing medicine without a license; by the Department of Health for asking people to open graves; then for raising the dead; for feeding 5,000 people in the wilderness; by the NEA for teaching without a certificate; by OSHA for walking on water without a life-jacket and for flying without an airplane; by SPCA for driving hogs into the sea; by the National Board of Psychiatrists for giving advice on how to live a guilt-free life; by NOW for not choosing a woman apostle; by the ABORTION RIGHTS LEAGUE for saying that whoever harms children, it is better that they had never been born; by the INTER-FAITH MOVEMENT for condemning all other religions; and by the ZONING DEPARTMENT for building mansions without a permit.

We thank God that Christ came amongst us two thousand years ago. He barely survived the laws of His day. Today, our laws would have imprisoned him before he launched His ministry.

Remember the mission!!! Frank Runyeon will talk about our journey of faith. All reports tell us that he is not only a great speaker who holds an audience spellbound but he is also a deeply faith filled person.

In the Redeeming Christ,

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.