And so we begin…a new chapter in my life and in the life of this great community of Saint James the Apostle! As I eagerly and joyfully begin my service here at Saint James, please know how delighted I am to be with you.
Several years ago, a priest whom I know was sharing a story of his experience of being named Pastor for the first time. He approached a priest friend of his who was a successful pastor. This young, nervous priest asked his friend, “what’s the most important thing I need to do as a Pastor?” After a brief pause, his friend said clearly and confidently – “Love your people! ”
Friends, please know that I will do my best to love you with a pastor’s heart. As we begin this journey together, I ask for your patience and for your prayers. Be assured of my prayers for you and your intentions each time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus visits His hometown of Nazareth and arrives at the synagogue to teach. At first, the people are “astonished” at the wisdom of His words and the tales of mighty deeds that Jesus has performed around Galilee. Quickly though their astonishment turns to suspicion and even anger. The crowd cannot handle the contrast they perceive between the ordinary and the extraordinary. It’s hard for them to believe that the boy they saw grow up is the same man who now is said to be able to calm the stormy sea with a word and to heal illness with the touch of his hand. We know that Jesus is fully God and fully human, but for His neighbors in Nazareth, they were unable to look past His humanity to be open to the divinity also present to them.
Friends, do we challenge our own perceptions and find God within the ordinary events, people, and things in our everyday lives? The Good News is that despite our failure as human beings to consistently respond to God’s call with joyful trust, God continues to send messengers bearing His word and calling us to repentance.
As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, we pray that the United States may always stand as a beacon of hope in a darkened world, offering solace and refuge to those who seek a better life.
God Bless America