Pastors Corner

A message from Fr. Jim

June 25, 2017

After a rather long and rainy spring we finally move into the summer months. I always enjoy hearing of your upcoming trips. If they have anything to do with visiting anywhere in the National Park system chances are that I have been there. May you have a refreshing and blessed summer. I look forward to a three week vacation in August highlighted by a reunion of my first cousins (on my Mom’s side) at Cannon Beach in Oregon at my brother and sister-in-law’s getaway place on the second weekend of August. Otherwise I may get away to visit friends in Everett and Bellingham more of a stay-cation. I am always open to an invitation to a meal whether lunch or dinner either at your home or a restaurant. God bless you all!

June 18, 2017

Congratulations to all of our graduates whether from eighth grade, high school, or college. This transition time gives one an opportunity to take a breath and reflect where one is in life and where one wishes to go. Please bring God into your discernment. If you are but willing to listen God will provide you with the help you need to become the best version of yourself. Know as well that you come from a parish community that deeply loves you. God bless you on the journey ahead.

This week I will be attending the annual Priest Days at Ocean Shores. Our main presenter is Fr. William Byrne of Washington, D.C. who will speak on “Preaching and Joy of the Priesthood.” I will return on Thursday afternoon. Please pray for me as I will for you.

June 11, 2017

Often times when we speak of the Holy Trinity we throw up our hands and say “what’s the use?” because it is all such a mystery. And yet the three-in-one is not a static, unknowable entity. The Trinity has to do with relationship. In fact, we are constituted by the same relationship that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We cannot create our union with God; it is objectively already given to us. The only difference between people are those who are consciously drawing upon this union and those who are not. The life of the Trinity is within us waiting to be acted on. As Fr. Richard Rohr puts it. “God for us, we call you Father; God alongside us we call you Jesus; God within us we call you Holy Spirit.” May we join in the cosmic dance of the Trinity allowing our God to take the lead.

June 4, 2017

Often times when we speak of the Holy Trinity we throw up our hands and say “what’s the use?” because it is all such a mystery. And yet the three-in-one is not a static, unknowable entity. The Trinity has to do with relationship. In fact, we are constituted by the same relationship that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We cannot create our union with God; it is objectively already given to us. The only difference between people are those who are consciously drawing upon this union and those who are not. The life of the Trinity is within us waiting to be acted on. As Fr. Richard Rohr puts it. “God for us, we call you Father; God alongside us we call you Jesus; God within us we call you Holy Spirit.” May we join in the cosmic dance of the Trinity allowing our God to take the lead.

June 4, 2017

On Pentecost Sunday I have always looked forward to the reading of the Sequence. It’s melodic flow speaks of the freedom of the Holy Spirit which is invoked in its first line- “Come, Holy Spirit, come!” Later we hear “Bend the stubborn heart and will, melt the frozen, warm the chill.” There are those times when we experience a hardness of heart toward someone who has hurt us in someway. As long as we hold on to that hurt we impede the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How important it is to allow that same Spirit to thaw our stubborn, unforgiving hearts so that a healthy relationship with the other might be restored. May the Spirit enliven our hearts so that we might freely and joyfully give praise to our eternal, triune God.

 

May 28, 2017

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord reminds me of the importance of handing off the baton to another. Jesus had completed what he had set out to accomplish. He had preached and taught that the Kingdom of God was at hand. He showed the mighty power of God through healing and miracles. He had suffered the ignominy of the crucifixion and died for us. He had been raised from the dead. And during his earthly ministry he had prepared a small diverse group of people to carry on in his stead. His spirit empowered them to do just that. His commission to baptize and teach in his name continues with us today. How are we doing? You are going to touch people I will never touch and the same goes for me. In other words, we’re all in this together. May we truly be blessed as disciples of the Risen Christ.

There will be a 9 AM Mass on Monday May 29, as we celebrate Memorial Day.

May 21, 2017

As I celebrate my 42nd anniversary of priesthood this coming Wednesday I can’t help but give praise and thanks to God for a full and happy life. I wince when I think back to my early years when I believed that I was God’s gift to humanity. Fortunately wise people along the line set me in my place. Hopefully I am more humble today. If there is one thing I have learned over the years is the importance of listening to my people, and even more so, loving them. The parish of St. John’s has stretched me in my understanding of stewardship and evangelization. I have been blessed with a devoted staff of Christian disciples who continually work for the good of those they serve. They are truly servant leaders. These past fifteen years as your pastor have been a fruitful time for me personally. Thank you for your prayers and support. It has been a privilege to serve you and learn from you.

May 14, 2017

Happy Mothers day to all who bear this special ministry to serve and nourish their children. Although my mother Carol has been gone now for eighteen years, I think of her often and ask God to give her a special embrace today. May we thank all our mothers, godmothers, foster mothers, and guardians who are signs of God’s protective and loving care. May you be rewarded for your goodness.

Congratulations to all our children who celebrated First Eucharist yesterday (Saturday). May they continually be nourished with Christ’s body and blood so that they may nourish others.

May 7, 2017

May is Mary’s month. Gerard Manley Hopkins wondered about this in a lovely                     poem called  “The May Magnificat.”

“May is Mary’s month, and I Muse at that and wonder why…
The Lady Month, May Why fasten that upon her With a feasting in her honor? “he asked. Hopkins speculates that it is the springtime explosion of new life, in birds and flowers, that make May the right month for Mary. “This ecstasy all through mothering earth Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth.”

Whatever the reason, May is a special time of prayer to the blessed Virgin Mary. This is also Easter Time, so we join with Mary in rejoicing in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Next Saturday, May 13th we celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima to three peasant children in Portugal. We also honor Mary in the Filipino tradition with Flores de Mayo at the 11:30 am Mass on Sunday, May 21st. Mary, pray for us.

 

April 16, 2017

He is risen even as he said! Alleluia!” Forty days of fast yield to fifty days of feast. Through Jesus, death no longer has a hold over us. We are called to let go of the fears which often entomb us and know the joy that only the Risen One can bestow. May we walk always as children of the light bringing hope to a world that is sorely divided. God has the last word. The resurrection of Jesus is that last word. May we leave behind us a string of empty tombs. On behalf of our parish staff may you and your family deeply experience the love of Jesus Christ and share it with others. Happy Easter!!

April 9, 2017

We begin Holy Week with Jesus’ triumphal procession into Jerusalem. Branches of palm are ancient symbols of victory and hope, as well as of new life. Yet, in a few day, they will cry “Crucify him!” The crowd’s change of heart illustrates the problem, of holding God to our expectations. The crowd expected a liberating leader, the Messiah, to free them from Roman oppression. Jesus instead takes up his Cross and invites us to do the same. Through his Death and Resurrection he is indeed a liberator, but from death and since, not from Rome.. This week you are invited to take part in a special way in letting God be God, and to trust in God’s wisdom not only to meet but shatter and exceed our expectations.

April 2, 2017

I hope you’ve been keeping up with the Rice Bowl calendar which each week highlights a person from a different country. This week we  focus on Dita from Ethiopia. She, her husband, and their seven children depended on the money they earned selling crops from their small farm. When frequent droughts meant they had no crops to sell their family went hungry. But thanks to a Catholic Relief  program that prepares families for droughts, Dita was able to open a small store. Instead of relying solely on her farm, she now earns an income selling items like pasta, shampoo and bananas. Please support Operation Rice Bowl which offers grants to help sustain start-up organizations that support those in need throughout the United States and well beyond.

March 26, 2017

We are in the midst of some powerful Gospel readings at our Lenten Sunday liturgies. Last week we were introduced to the Samaritan woman. This weekend the blind man is cured by Jesus which causes quite a stir. Next week Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. These readings are used every year for the three scrutinies which our elect celebrate. They are journeying to the Easter sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist. With the help of the symbols of water, light, and new life they are invited to examine their lives and give them over to Jesus Christ. We are called to do the same. May we pray for them and the candidates for full reception into the Catholic Church.

Our Lenten reconciliation service will beheld Saturday, April 1st at 2 pm. We will be focusing on the stations of the cross for our examination of conscience.

 

March 19, 2017

I would like to thank a few of our staff members for their years of service with us as they transition from their ministries this summer. Terri Rains has served as pastoral assistant for Pre-School/Elementary Faith Formation for the past two years. She hopes to remain in contact through volunteering where needed. Kelly Ramsdell steps down as pastoral assistant for Youth (5th through 8th grade) for the past 2 1/2 years. Tina Reeves plans to pass on the torch as pastoral assistant for High School/Life Teen Ministry which she has been involved in for 12 years. She will work part time with our young adults. Finally Pat Frost is retiring from her position as pastoral assistant for Liturgy and Pastoral Care the past 11 years. We hope to combine the youth position (5th to 8th grade) with Life Teen/High School and make it a full time position. The pre-school/elementary position would remain part time. The liturgy/pastoral care position is also full time. We will miss the wonderful gifts these women have brought to these ministries. Fortunately they will continue as St. John’s parishioners. May the Lord bless them in every way. 

March 12, 2017

Each year on the Second Sunday of Lent, the Church presents a narrative of Jesus’ transfiguration. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include this account, though with subtle differences, because each addresses a particular community in specific circumstances. Matthew, most likely a Jew who came to faith in Jesus as Messiah, writes for a Christian community with similar background, though it probably had begun to include various questions about the continuity or discontinuity between Jesus and the Judaism of their birth. Matthew depicts Jesus as the one who fulfills the Law and the Prophets, symbolized by the figure of Moses, the Lawgiver, and Elijah, prominent among the great prophets of Israel. These figures appear with Jesus, but fade into the background after the revelation of divine presence in Jesus. We do not need to be on the mountain with Peter, James, and John to bask in Jesus’ glory. If we but have faith in Christ’s presence in our daily lives, we can’t help but experience traces of his glory.

Archbishop Sartain has dispensed us from the obligation of abstinence from meat this Friday, St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy your corned beef and cabbage.

February 26, 2017

Lent is upon us beginning this coming Wednesday. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are at the heart of this holy season. Lenten discipleship us about returning, about making our way back to the Lord. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us on this journey. Just as Jesus’ disciples were not free from sin, neither are we. We need the Lord to call us back. We need the Lord to remind us of his everlasting mercy, of his covenant with us, of his forgiveness. Without these five Sundays of Lent and their accompanying weekdays, along with Palm Sunday and Holy Week to recalibrate our faith journey, we might fail to recognize those areas in our own lives where we need to be reconciled with our brothers and with God. The forty days of Lent give us the opportunity to accept God’s forgiveness, to humble ourselves, to renew our commitment to living the commandments, to have God transfigure us. Have a happy Lent!

February 19, 2017

 I had the good fortune of meeting Don Samuel Ruiz when I was the pastor of St. Mary’s parish in the central District of Seattle. This was about 1985. He was the bishop of the Diocese of San Cristobal de las casas in southern Mexico from 1960-2000. He empowered the indigenous people of his diocese and was a mediator in the conflict between the Zapatista rebels and the Mexican governments in the 1990’s. For this, he received many death threats. When asked how he had come to live so completely the command to love one’s enemies, when he had so many, he had a puzzled look. “I have no enemies,” he said. “There are some who want to make themselves enemy to me, but I have no enemies.” I can only hope to say that for myself some day. Disciples are to set no bounds on their love, just as God sets no bounds on the divine love. 

February 12, 2017

I was surprised as I woke last Monday morning that the power was out and a blanket of snow lay on the ground. I had planned to visit a friend in Everett that day. It’s funny how plans can change in a moment. Instead I piled on the sweaters and even a snuggy and did a lot of reading and some praying. When the power returned about 3 p.m. I did my proper share of rejoicing. I guess I’ve matured enough over the years to realize that there are some things (actually many) that we can’t control. How do we choose to react to those times? With frustration or patience? At least there is a solid base of snow in the mountains.

February 5, 2017

I am writing this just after preparing last weekend’s homily on the Beatitudes. This plan for happy and blessed living that Jesus presented is at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew envisions Jesus as the new Moses, speaking to Christian Jews from the mountain reminiscent of Mount Sinai. His purpose in giving an alternative outlook on the Law was not to abolish it but to fulfill. In other words, he wished to move it from a rigid set of rules that treated persons as cases and objects to a living document which had love running through its course. Enemies are to be looked on with love and those who have offended us are to be treated with mercy. If anything, Jesus has given the Law a greater spine, a worthy ideal to work for.

 May this next month before Lent begins (March 1) find us reflecting on and living out Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in such a way that we grow in a healthy understanding of who we are so that we can ultimately say “I am enough”.

January 29, 2017

For many years now I get away on a personal retreat the last week of January. Seaside, Oregon is my destination. I wish I could say that I go to a monastery. No, it’s the Shilo Inn. I usually get a discount because I am a Shilo Rewards member. This week I will bring with me Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly (the book we recently handed out to every family.) I am also bringing the latest book of Fr. Richard Rohr. Besides reading I like to spend some quiet time in prayer, do some walking, and enjoy some good meals in town. Please keep me in your prayers as I will for you. I will be back on Friday.

January 15, 2017

“Working for the common good” is a phrase we don’t often hear in this “me first” generation. The word “sacrifice” has also fallen out of favor in our day and age. It seems that everything is relative and the truth depends on how we interpret it. And yet Jesus identifies himself as the “way, the truth, and the life.” These musing’s take place as I reflect on the inauguration of a new president at the end of this week, I must admit that I have some anxiety. I pray that President-elect Trump and his cabinet look to the long view on issues such as health care, immigration, trade, gun control, and global warming. The common good should be at the center of each of these issues and more to come. May we pray that our government officials allow the Holy Spirit to lead them to make wise decisions that will benefit all of our country’s citizens.

January 8, 2017

On this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord we celebrate that the child born in the darkness of night in a lowly manger is revealed as the manifestation (the meaning of epiphany) of God. Christ is revealed in many ways: as Lord, as King, as the one in whom God is present and acts. All of these manifestations are “lights” that shine on Christ, revealing a deeper understanding of who he is. As our parish celebrates it’s twenty-sixth anniversary this weekend may we too manifest Christ’s loving presence in Covington, Kent, Maple Valley;, and beyond.

Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Mass will be celebrated at 9 AM.

Thank you for your generous Christmas gifts. I appreciate your kindness.

December 25, 2016

I have always found it interesting that just as the secular world brings Christmas to a close we churchgoers are just warming up. In other words Christmas in the liturgical year is more than a day. In fact the liturgical year gives us the opportunity to celebrate Christmas joy for sixteen days this year. The child Jesus, descendant of David, Son of God and Son of Mary, is born for us. In Him, the grace of God appears, saving all. He is the Word made flesh. He is King! This wondrous news calls us to respond  in worship, in joy, and in love for God and one another. The angels and shepherds show us how to respond: worship and praise we must offer to the glory of God. The posture of adoration is the first posture for every disciple.

 On behalf of our parish staff, I wish you and your family a most blessed Christmas season. May we make room for our new born Savior so that we can bring His light and peace to the world today.

 

 

 

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