Like last Sunday’s Gospel reading about the woman at the well, this story about the blind man contains four distinct elements: a person is touched by Jesus; the person accepts Jesus; the person witnesses about Jesus; and other people react to the person’s witness.
The experiences of the blind man and the woman are especially similar when we look at the first three points. Both the woman and the blind man encounter Jesus and are healed by him. She was healed from her past sins, and he from physical blindness. Both came to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. And both began to witness about him.
The main difference in these two stories lies in the way that the other people responded. The people of Samaria were moved by the woman’s witness and came to believe in Jesus. But many of the people surrounding the blind man closed their hearts and rejected him.
Both stories tell us that Jesus wants to enliven our faith. Although we can’t touch Jesus physically, we can still experience his presence. Jesus is always reaching out to us. Each day, he is with us, urging us to look to him for help and inspiration. What’s more, his Holy Spirit is in us, convincing us that we are God’s beloved children.
Without Jesus’ healing, it’s unlikely that the woman at the well or the blind man would ever have changed. She was stuck in a fruitless search for love and belonging. He was trapped in the indifference of the people around him. But Jesus lifted them out of their prisons and set them on a new path.
We are all stuck in one way or another. Sometimes it’s because of our poor decisions, and sometimes it’s just part of living. But regardless of how you got stuck, Jesus is still reaching out to you. So, let him put his arms around you today and lift you up.
A Fabulous Feast!
Our St. Joseph Table celebration was truly fantastic! The food was wonderful and we had a great gathering of parishioners and guests. It was a great moment for our parish as we strive to be a “Family of Families.” I snarfed down a tasty parmesan and garlic chicken breast. There are more pictures in today’s bulletin that capture the fun and fellowship.
Thank you to all who worked behind the scenes to make it such a nice event. I am grateful for those who set-up the tables and chairs: decorated the gym, ordered and served the food, and helped to clean-up afterwards. It all went smoothly. I know St. Joseph is proud of us.
Preparing for Holy Week
We are quickly moving through the season of Lent and making our way toward Holy Week. Included in today’s bulletin — and on our website — is our Holy Week Schedule of services. I hope that you will be able to pray and worship at Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish as we trace the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These liturgies are packed with the great symbols, traditions and rituals of our Catholic Church. It’s the most important week of the whole year for Catholics.
I plan on being at O’Hare airport on Wednesday afternoon to welcome our refugee family to Chicago. As we mentioned last weekend at our Masses, our parish is working with Catholic Charities to sponsor a family that is making this transition to the United States.
The family that we are sponsoring is from Afghanistan. The father and mother are both in their 30’s. The father served as an interpreter to the US Military. He speaks English, and we are hoping he has passed this down to his four children; three boys age 10, 8, and 3 and a daughter who is 6.
Part of the co-sponsoring of the family with Catholic Charities, Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parish is asked to raise $8,000 to help pay for the first three months of rent, the security deposit, and the cost of furnishing the family’s apartment. Special collection envelopes have been printed for the “ICSJ Refugee Resettlement Program.” You can also make a donation on-line at our parish website.
The generous response of our parish to this project has been overwhelming. Parishioners have offered to contribute both financially and also personally. For example, current and ex-teachers and ESL specialists have offered to help the children with their English. Others have expressed a desire to donate clothes and furniture as well.
Welcoming the stranger is one of the corporal works of mercy. This Lent, we have a great opportunity, right before us, to show that mercy, compassion and welcome.
I am sure our patron saints, St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother are proud of our efforts. I know I am! Thank you for your kindness and support.