Today the Catholic Church throughout the world celebrates “Latare Sunday” (which means) “Rejoice Sunday”. The opening prayer of today’s Mass speaks of this joy.

The readings chosen for today’s Mass have a common thread of “God’s love and our ingratitude”. The first reading describes the destruction of Jerusalem in 587BC and the “Babylonian Captivity”. God let this catastrophe happen because the people had become unfaithful to Him. Time and time again, God sent prophets to call His people to repentance, but they would not listen to the prophets – they preferred to live in darkness. Because of their attitude, God permitted the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed and the people to be led into Exile in concentration camps in Babylon.

Yet out of the suffering of the concentration camps came unexpected change and joy. Persia’s King Cyrus – a pagan – proclaimed the end of the Jewish exile and promised to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem. Imagine the joy of the people.

In the second reading, we are reminded by St. Paul that God is rich in mercy. Our God lavishes us with His love, and we can’t even begin to know or imagine the riches of His grace.

The Gospel tells the story of Nicodemus. It contains the famous verse 3:16: The passage gives us another reason for joy.

“God so loved the world that He gave us His Only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die but have everlasting life”.

God does not abandon His people; He loves us; He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to us so that we could have new and eternal life.

Jesus of Nazareth came into our world to heal us; to forgive us; to comfort us; to bring us joy; to bring us the Good News of Eternal Life and yet so many reject or ignore His message. Jesus keeps coming to us offering us freedom from anxiety, wholeness of life, the opportunity to be beacons of hope in our families, our community, and our world; and yet we feel threatened because it means change it means letting go of ideas and habits we conform to.

Bishop Fulton Sheen once quoted a commentary on how Jesus is received by people of the modern world. He described what happened when Jesus visited a city – any city – our city:

When Jesus came to Golgatha they hanged Him on a tree, they drove great nails through His hands and feet, and made a Calvary. They crowned him with a Crown of Thorns, red were his wounds and deep. For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Marietta, they simply passed Him by, they never hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die, for men and women had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain, they just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain. Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through. The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see, and Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.

On this “Laetare Sunday”, Jesus comes into our midst Sunday after Sunday to give us light and hope. What is our reaction to Him? Are we filled with joy because He is with us; or do we reject Him by our indifference? Do we simply pass Him bye.

This weekend is “drive weekend” for the 19th annual diocesan parish/share campaign. All households in the diocese are asked to consider the financial needs of our diocese and parish in this annual campaign. As we rejoice in god’s love for us, we must also consider how we show our love and appreciation for him and for the needs of his church. We at St. Mary’s Parish are a loving, caring parish community –

  1. Our St. Vincent de Paul society cares for the needs of the less fortunate.
  2. Parents and parishioners work tirelessly on bingo to help support our school.
  3. Parishioners take pride in the beauty and quality of our parish buildings.

I have been assigned to five other parishes in our diocese, and never have seen a better spirit of cooperation and pride in what has been accomplished here, but we can never be finished – never think that all our work is done either here in the parish or in the diocese as a whole.

The reason for the diocesan/parish share campaign is not to raise money for the sake of having more and more, but rather to continue what we have accomplished and even improve on what we have. Each one of us is a co-worker with our bishop. Because of our baptism, we are called upon to take the work of the church seriously. The bishop is to preach and teach the gospel and take care of the sick, the lonely, and the dying. Be responsible for the religion of children and adults in the diocese, deal with the social needs of the poor, provide counseling for those who need it, address marriage problems and on, and on, and on.

Not one of us can do all this work; but together, we can make it possible. The diocesan/parish share campaign makes it possible. Obviously – it all takes financial backing. I ask each wage earner to participate in the drive this year. The parish and the diocese have obligations that must be funded by you and me. I ask you to please help our parish meet our obligations to the diocese. I assure you that your generosity will be blessed by God. Our DPSC goal for the diocese this year is $71,388.00.

The drive helps our parish because the assessments to the diocese are cut in half, and money over and above the goal is returned to the parish. The money returned will be used for the restoration & cleaning of the paintings here in the church. I ask you to fill out one of the pledge-cards and place it into the basket or take it home and return it to the parish.

Msgr. Foys – now Bishop Foys likened those who do not participate in parish activities or church support as hitchhikers. They want to go along for the ride but they don’t want the expense of buying the car, maintaining the motor, paying the insurance, or supplying the gas. Let the driver do it! Let’s not have any hitchhikers in our parish.

I want to take this time to thank all of you who are supporting the parish financially and by your support of all our activities and efforts. I know that I can count on you to respond to the diocesan drive. For those who cannot help support the parish and the diocese because of present financial difficulties, I assure you that we understand; just make “no gift” on your card and return it to us.

The demands on your money, and on mine, are numerous. Almost every day I get requests for funds. It is up to you where you will put the parish and the diocese on your list of priorities. Remember the blessings god has given to you. The success of the drive is in your hands! May God bless your generosity!