We are moving closer to Lent, which occurs in 10 days. In the meantime, it is always good for us to consider whether we have taken seriously the message of the Gospels in their call for conversion. We sometimes forget that the Lord’s call to conversion is an ongoing experience, and not just    during Lent, when we make a concerted effort to pay more attention to what we do. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is reminding us of the seriousness of our actions, bad or good. They always affect others and we are supposed to be aware of what we say and do, and how that affects others either positively or negatively. Jesus reminds us that we are not just believers but also teachers. We show others by our faith and example that we are serious followers of the Lord. Our example will either help others experience the wonder of Christ or turn them away. It is easy to forget this      because we may think that this is the role of the clergy or religious. The truth is, though, it is the role and responsibility of each of us. Since we all claim to be believers in and followers of Jesus, our lives are supposed to radiate the love of Jesus in who we are and how we live. The admonition of Jesus in the Gospel of being reconciled with each other before we approach the altar, even if the other person has a grievance against us, is not only serious but a step in his call to conversion. Too often we don’t give this any thought or consideration, but continue our lives as if nothing has happened between us. Sometimes there are individuals who haven’t talked to each for a long period of time, and worship together at the same church but make no attempt to reconcile.  Jesus always offers us an extended hand in friendship and his abiding presence and love. The challenge for us is always to accept his invitation to come and experience his presence and love in our lives, and to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters to each other. Too often there are too many of us who hold grudges against others and refuse to express any kind of healing until the    other person takes the first step.  Jesus reminds us that it our responsibility as his follower to take that first step, and begin the healing process. The issue is, do we really believe that and are we     willing to take that first step? The final total for our Christmas collection is $51,473, which is $6,473 over our budget of $45,000! Thank you for your continued generosity and support of our parish, and all we do to help bring the Gospel of Jesus to all of you in Springfield and the surrounding areas. I am always very proud and privileged not just to serve you as your pastor, but to let others know what a great parish we are   because of all of you. GOD BLESS YOU ALL!  HAPPY ORDINARY TIME!! ~ FR. JOE

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