Gospel: "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened..."
My name is Fr Phil Bloom. I am your new pastor. I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Seattle as is our new parroquial vicar, Fr Peterson. It is delight to be working w/ Fr Pete; we have been friends for almost thirty years.
Fr Pete & I owe a lot to the priests who served here before us. Fr Dick Gallagher who did so much to strengthen Hispanic Ministry. Fr Ross Fewing who developed our wonderful staff; I might mention especially Doctor Scripko who has done a fantastic job as principal these past two years.
And most recently Fr Jerry Cleneghan. He not only held the parish together since February; he made it flourish! One indication is the tremendous response to the Annual Appeal. Some six hundred families pledged over $51 thousand. That is about twenty thousand over our parish goal. As you know this has already been earmarked for some much needed projects; for example repairing the broken seals on the stain glass windows.
I thank you for rallying around Fr Cleneghan; I ask you to do the same for me, Fr Peterson, Dr Scripko, our deacons and all of our parish staff.
We have a great parish here and I am excited to be your pastor. I have actually been associated w/ Holy Family parish for 15 years; in 1981 Archbishop Hunthausen named me as priest for the Hispanic community here. I did that for six years and when I went down to Peru in 1987, this parish on a number of occasions supported my missionary work there. Last year I was delighted when Archbishop Murphy assigned me as chaplain of the Hispanic Community and doubly delighted now to be the priest administrator of the whole parish.
This year we will be celebrating our 75th anniversary as a parish; there is a notice in the bulletin for those who wish to contribute suggestions for the celebration. Also this year I am celebrating twenty five years as a priest, so together we are a hundred year old. More about that when we get to the actual date in December.
This Sunday Jesus reminds us why we have a parish in the first place: "No one know the Son but the Father and no one know the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him..."
Jesus came to this earth for one reason: to invite us, to enable us to participate in his own eternal relationship with the Father. And he founded the Church, the Catholic Church, as the Way of participating in that life.
Come to me, says jesus. That invitation is for all of us, but especially for our young people. Jesus knows the hurts, the anxiety, the confusion that is in your heart. This parish, like Jesus, is dedicated to young people. Last year we had vocation discernment days to help young Hispanic men face the most important questions: Why am I here? What should I do with my life? What does Jesus want me to do? Over forty guys participated in those Days. As you can imagine the greatest number discerned God is calling them to the vocation of marriage, to be fathers of a family. But two sensed rather clearly that Godís call for them is the priesthood and they are taking steps to enter Archdiocesan formation program. A young person will find only find happiness, inner peace by asking, What does God want me to do with my life? Father Peterson and I, and everyone else working in this parish whether paid staff or volunteer, want to help young people with that most basic question.
We are not going to give an anwswer that is easy, painless, because Jesus didnít. In fact his anwser is pretty demanding. Take my yoke upon your shoulder. Keep the commandments: Do not kill, abortion can never be an option for a Christian (more about that in two Sundays). Do not commit adultery, the gift of sexuality can only be used in marriage and with an openness to children. Do not lie, do not steal. Honor your father and mother. Keep holy the Lordís day; for us that means going to Mass on Sunday.
Jesus yoke can seem difficult but when we accept it on our shoulders we find real freedom, real joy. And there is something even more wonderful about Jesusí yoke. It is a double yoke that fits not only on our shoulders, but his. Consider the wieght Jesus has already taken upon himself.
A few years ago a sister was sick with a rare form of cancer. She agreed to enter an experimental treatment program which involved a daily dose of a strong drug. When the doctor got to her bed, he was carrying a tray of syringes carefully measured and marked for each patient. In a moment of distraction he injected the sister with the syringe meant for the next patient, a man 100 lbs heavier than her. When she saw the expression of horror on the doctorís face, she knew what had happened. She grabbed him by the shoulders and said, "I absolve you of the guilt for what you have done. I want you to continue on with your work." And to the other sisters in the room, "I forbid you from bringing a case against this doctor or the hospital." Within two hours she died.
What the sister did for that young doctor, Jesus has done for each one of us. He has taken our guilt and punishment on his own shoulders. Itís true he places a yoke upon us, but it is a double yoke and he carries almost the whole burden.
As I begin my ministry here as your pastor, it is a joy to recall Jesus words, "Come to me, all you who are heavy burdened, and I will give you true refreshement."