We began Sunday liturgies last week, and all went well. Some folks who had not been in the church previouslywere surprised to see how the church was configured. I spoke to the congregation before each Mass, except the12:00 Noon Mass because there were few parishioners there, and I asked everyone to leave the church andsocialize outside, so the church could be sanitized. We must do this after each mass. I am very grateful thateveryone was very cooperative, which I expected. We all know these are different times, and we must follow thedirectives given to us.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus is reminding us that our primary focus should be our relationship with God, as expressedin the love that Jesus has for us. This does not mean that we must give up everyone in our lives and everything wedo, but that they should be kept in perspective. In other words, we cannot be so consumed by our relationships orour work and activities that they prevent us from living as a faithful follower of the Lord. Most of us are prettygood at living as a faithful follower. However, sometimes we forget that we are the visible sign of Jesus for eachother.  During this pandemic, it is very easy to give up and isolate ourselves from each other and God. Yet, we can offereach other, the church, and society something that is different, and that is the presence of Jesus within and amongus. It is easy to become frustrated because our world has changed, our children have been at home trying to learn,and we wonder what will happen next. If we maintain our integrity, our balance, and use common sense, then weshould be okay. We still have lives to live, families to support, work that must get done, and children to be caredfor. We are aware of the stresses facing many of you because of the pandemic, and it is my hope that you willreach out to those of us who can help you. Whatever we do here at Saint James is done with your care and concern in mind. We try to cover all bases, so that your needs and care are paramount for us. There is no questionthat this is the most difficult situation that we have ever experienced. Every happy event has taken on a new dimension that we never thought possible.  Saturday is July 4, our Independence Day. Even this has taken on a new dimension. But never let us forget thatthis day celebrates our freedom from England, and our formation as a new nation. Is it perfect? As the events ofthe last few weeks have shown, it is not. But this all reminds us that we are a work in progress, as we continue tohelp make this nation a place of freedom for all, regardless of ethnic heritage, skin color, language spoken, sexualorientation, or religious beliefs. Obviously, we need to improve so that all feel welcome and accepted in America.We can help in the way we accept each other as brother and sister as we attempt to bring the Kingdom of Godcloser to each other. It’s all about what we can do and be for one another as brothers and sisters to each other andto Jesus.  HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!~ Fr. Joe 

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