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The 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 10, 2019

 

     Full disclosure.  My heart sank when I read over the readings for today’s Mass!  I knew this was the second Sacrificial Giving weekend and I was hoping I’d get a little help from the readings.  Maybe, if I was lucky, the story of the widow’s mite, or of the rich young man, or of the camel and the eye of the needle.  But no, instead, we get readings from the Book of Maccabees and Luke’s Gospel that, at first blush at least, aren’t very helpful. They’re enough to make a preacher run for cover!  How are those brave Maccabees brothers who held fast to their religious convictions - refusing to break God’s Law and defile themselves by eating pork - ever going to help you think about your Sunday giving and your involvement in the parish! And the same goes for those testy Sadducees in the gospel who tried to trap Jesus on a contentious point of religious doctrine.

          But the light came on for me when I realized that both those readings have to do with resurrection - belief or unbelief in the resurrection of the dead, belief or unbelief in a life after this one – which, of course, raises questions about how we are to view and value this life. In a word, does the fact that there is a life after this one significantly affect the way I live my life now? And, if so, how?

          Our Christian faith rises or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Simple as that. His resurrection - and our baptism into his death and resurrection – literally charge our lives with grace and glory. And in the end we, along with Christ, will be totally transformed from glory into glory, to use St. Paul’s beautiful words.  We affirm this every time we say the Creed, professing our belief in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. But the question is, do we live our lives in light of this?

     I don’t find it easy to do this.  Do you?  We can live our lives with very little awareness of how God has graced and blessed us and with very little awareness of the fullness of grace and glory that God has in store for us. And yet, those are the realities that should be front and center in our daily awareness: they should color the way we live, the way we look at everything. In a word, they should help us to put God and faith first in our lives which, of course changes everything.

     At this time, I would like to invite to the pulpit one of your fellow parishioners whose faith is clearly front and center in her life and in the life of her family. She has an important message for all of us. Will you please join me in welcoming a long-time, super-involved parishioner, mother of three beautiful little girls, and the principal of Holy Rosary School in West Seattle, Anna Horton?

Father Michael G. Ryan

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     I am honored to speak with you today.  There’s a good chance you have seen me around over the years with my husband David, trying to keep our three girls attentive and quiet during Mass!  Any of you parents of young children know what I’m talking about!  But while we’re busy during Mass trying to keep our kids focused, my husband  and I are also focusing on how we help our children grow into people who give of themselves--to minister to those in need and to understand the importance of financially supporting our parish community.  I wanted to share with you a bit today about my own faith journey, why we are committed to raising our children in the Church, and why we make it a priority to financially support St. James Cathedral through Sacrificial Giving.

     My understanding of what it means to minister has changed over the years.  I joined this community almost 20 years ago when I was baptized at the Great Easter Vigil. I was in a different time in my life- in graduate school with no husband or children, and I was focused on trying to live my new life as a new Catholic as best I could.  I got myself involved in a lot of ministries--ushering, winter shelter, young adults, operation nightwatch, the parish picnic. Sister Anne Herkenrath, who we will have a chance to celebrate today, was an integral part of my early time ushering.  I will forever be grateful for that!  Like many of you who are involved in parish ministries, that’s where I found my community at St. James. In fact, that’s eventually where I met my husband David, when we both volunteered at the Winter Shelter!

     As a new Catholic, I also made it a priority to support the parish financially, and it wasn’t easy. I was a young teacher living on my own barely making enough to pay my bills.  But it seemed like the right thing to do, and I thought- it was what everyone did, and so I did it too.  To be honest, I didn’t have the understanding of any of this that I have today, but I was going through the motions, and you have to start somewhere!
Fast forward to today. I am still involved in some of the ministries I started with nearly twenty years ago--but I have also grown into a mother, a teacher, a school administrator, and now I am a principal at one of the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese.  Now, I am not only responsible for helping my own children grow in their faith, but I am trusted to help the 500 children who attend our school also grow as disciples.  Being a mother and a Catholic school principal has changed my view of ministry and giving from something that we just “do” to something that is at the heart of our faith. 

     As members of the baptized, as God’s chosen people, we are not just members of the church- and we have heard Father Ryan say this before- We are the church!  We are supposed to be the living, breathing embodiment of Christ’s ministry. 

     And what was Christ’s ministry like?  His model of ministry wasn’t one of squeezing in time or giving what we had left over. It was one of making ministry the priority, and then making time for everything else.  What I’ve come to understand, is that if I fail to do this, then I am failing myself in growing as a disciple of Christ and in growing in my personal relationship with Him. 

     And if you’re wondering right now, how could I possibly make it work, how could I give more, how could I find more time--you’re not alone!  Trust me--as a family with two parents working full time and three busy young children, I get that.  But I guess what I’d ask, as a fellow parishioner, is for you to prayerfully consider where you are on your own journey as a disciple of Christ and whether ministry and giving is an afterthought or a forethought in your daily life. 

     This will look different for each of us.  Maybe it is time to re-examine your giving; because without our giving, none of the ministries in this parish would exist.  Maybe it’s time to try out a new ministry--and you will have the opportunity to hear about a number of ministries this morning at the ministries fair.  Or maybe it’s time to be more intentional in your own prayer life, and pray that Christ will help you discern the next steps for you and your family.  Rest assured--no one expects any of us to have it all figured out.  Even Christ’s model of ministry was a bit messy at times, like our lives can be. But Saint John Paul II once said that “man finds himself only when he makes himself a gift to others.”
This year my family and I are taking a fresh look at how we share our gifts with our parish community.  I know you care deeply about St. James and this community--will you join me in doing the same?

Anna Horton


 

 

 

 

 

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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303