Jesus Said, "Rise, Take Up Your Mat, and Walk"

John 5:8

Dear Parishioners,

During the 2018-2019 year, our parish focused on the theme of “Resting in the Healing Heart of Jesus.” That ministry year began with a hard summer of scandal that sadly continued to rock the Catholic Church worldwide. It seemed we felt more keenly the need for healing in our lives, not just with our faith, but also emotionally, mentally, and physically. This healing was needed on a communal level, but surely also on an individual level due to the sin, addictions, and discriminations, as well as physical illness, deaths, and losses that we all suffer. Sin and illness seem inherent in being human.

Our Christian faith, though, does present us with Good News! The Good News that Jesus Christ restores our relationship with God that was broken due to sin and suffering. It is important to focus on that Good News. That is why this new ministry year, we will be looking to the Good News, prompted by our new Parish Theme: “Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your mat, and walk’”—John 5:8.

This Scripture verse is from the story, in chapter 5 of the Gospel of John, of Jesus healing the blind man at the pool of Bethesda and of Jesus proclaiming his authority from God, the Father. The entire passage reminds me of this quote from St. John Paul II: “Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

Is this not the goal of healing, of discipleship itself? To become the image of Christ? Whether we are fully healed or still in the process of reestablishing our relationship with God, we must not identify ourselves with our sin or illnesses. We must, instead, identify ourselves as children of God, who ‘rise’ from our ‘blindness,’ who ‘take up’ the mats we have been resting on, and who ‘walk’ bearing the light of Christ. We do this – rise, take up, and walk – so that others can see this Christ light in us, see the suffering and healing, and be inspired to encounter Christ in their own lives. This action is part of the divine mission of the Body of Christ, the Church: to evangelize! To encounter Christ, grow in Christ, and be sent by Christ.

As your pastor, I look forward, throughout the coming year, to helping you break open this powerful healing moment in the life of Christ and the scriptural commission of Jesus: “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” We will do so in numerous ways. Some of these include:

  • We will pray a parish prayer (seen elsewhere in this newsletter) immediately after weekend Masses and just before our recessional hymns beginning the weekend of September 14/15.
  • We have redubbed what is commonly known as the “donut wall” to be our new Mission Wall. Installed on our Mission Wall are the words from our Parish Mission – Grow. Be Sent. On the Mission Wall, as well as in our hallways, we have posted images and quotes from our holy Saints to inspire you in our mission-oriented Parish Theme.
  • Throughout the year, we will have a Parish Theme Corner in our Bulletin. All these articles will be archived on our web site.
  • Our patron saint couple for our theme will be Gianna Molla and her husband Pietro. St. Gianna was a pediatrician, wife, and mother. She died in 1962 after she and Pietro chose to save the life of their fourth child leading to Gianna’s death. One of Gianna’s famous quotes is that, “One earns Paradise with one’s daily task.” Pietro, after her death and the death of their second oldest child, raised his family as a single dad. He is quoted as saying, “I’ve had to convince myself that sorrow remains a mystery even in the light of faith, and I have experienced that the only way to accept it is the way of the Crucified Jesus.” This holy couple demonstrates that healing does come through Jesus, but often times, complete healing will only come in Heaven. In the midst of suffering and sin, we must not give in. We must instead grasp our identity as children of God. We must rise, take up our mats, and walk while bearing the light of Christ.

St. Gianna Molla and her husband Pietro, pray for us!

In Christ,

Fr. Peck

John Michel Talbot reflects on the Scripture passage of our parish theme.