ON THIS SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Jesus teaches us an overarching theme in the parables He uses.  Jesus describes that we, although very small in number, are meant to go out into the world and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the help of God’s grace, transform it into the kingdom of God. Take a look at the first “yeast” in today’s Gospel if you will. Jesus chose twelve simple fishermen, tax-collectors and other so-called “nobodies” in the eyes of the world, and they were the yeast that brought the faith into the entire known world at the time. To give you a comparison of what this would be like today, it would be as if Jesus went somewhere into our Diocese of Columbus (approximately the size of ancient Palestine) and chose 12 ordinary people and told them to go out into the whole world and proclaim the Good News — and they succeeded! Jesus uses the image of yeast to describe His true disciple’s mission in the world, because just as it doesn’t take much yeast to leaven a whole loaf, so one disciple of Christ – or a few – can bring immeasurable good in the world. Folks, each of us are called to be that yeast at work. To be yeast on the athletic fields. To be yeast in the supermarket and shopping centers. To be yeast in the bars or restaurants. To be yeast at home, at school, at work. To be yeast everywhere! When others might be tempted to hate, we can love. When others would lie, we can tell the truth. When others might be tempted to seek revenge, we can forgive. When others might see in other people means to their end, we can see children of God whom God loved enough to die for. When others might sow dissension we can sow peace and bring the faith, hope and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This, folks, is the yeast that Jesus Christ is calling us to be. There are some 1.2 billion Catholics in the world today; there are some 260,000 here in the Diocese of Columbus. In our Cathedral parish there are 800 Catholic families, and right now during this Sunday Mass there hundreds in our church. Now, imagine what would happen in Columbus and surrounding cities and counties, in our Diocese, in the United States and the world, if each and every one of us took our faith as seriously as Jesus’ first disciples and became yeast in our own surroundings. Imagine what would happen in our families, in the workplace, in our schools, and in our society. FOLKS, IT CAN HAPPEN! May God bless us and strengthen us for such a vocation!

TODAY BEGINS NFP AWARENESS WEEK: Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a general term for methods of achieving or postponing pregnancy based upon observation of naturally occurring indicators of fertile and infertile times in a woman’s menstrual cycle. NFP is a holistic approach to reproductive health and responsible parenthood. NFP is healthy and organic. No drugs, devices or surgical procedures are used to achieve or postpone pregnancy. NFP is safe for a woman, her unborn or nursing child, and her future fertility. NFP is also harmless to the natural environment. NFP’s mutual responsibility for family planning encourages communication and fosters mutual respect, maturity, and generosity – qualities conducive to a long and healthy marriage. NFP respects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. NFP is as effective in postponing pregnancy as hormonal contraceptives; unlike contraceptives, NFP can also assist a couple in conceiving a child. NFP empowers women with knowledge of their bodies. Couples gain awareness of their mutual fertility.  I have included information about NFP in this bulletin – please read it over, think about it, pray about it, check out the resources, ask questions, learn what NFP is all about.

PLEASE WELCOME THE KNIGHTS OF SAINT JOHN who are in Columbus July 20-26 for their 2014 Supreme Convention; 79th International–53rd Biennial Convention, and Ladies Auxiliary 58th International Convention. We pray that convention-goers will have wonderful time here, along with a spiritual renewal for their mission. Who are the Knights of Saint John? During the late 1800’s European immigrants, who had left their homelands to find religious freedom in the United States, formed many benevolent societies within their parish churches often named after patron Saints and inspired by the zeal of the medieval knights of old. Following the end of the Civil War, there existed a real need for physical and spiritual healing. In 1879, these many organizations, including the Knights of St. George, the Knights of St. Paul, the Knights of St. Louis, and the Knights of St. John met to form a greater society of Knights. They met in Baltimore, Maryland and formed themselves into the Roman Catholic Union of the Knights of St. John, later shortened to the Knights of St. John. The Order was officially incorporated in the State of New York on May 6, 1886. They sought to care for spiritual, social and physical needs of their members and neighbors.  In the pattern of the Knights of the Crusade, they cared for the victims of the war by forming a Widows and Orphan Fund. The Order continued to grow and expanded into Canada, Panama, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago and recently into England and Germany.  In 1992, the name of the Order was officially changed to the Knights of St. John International to reflect the global structure of the Order.  The Order took for itself a model and patron, St. John the Baptist.  The fact that St. John was a testament and open witness of faith in an unbelieving world is appropriate for Knights in today’s selfish times.

HEALTH UPDATE: I met with my oncologist at OSU-The James this past week to map out the next phase of my post-surgical cancer treatment – chemotherapy. Beginning August 4 I am scheduled to have 24 weeks of alternating chemotherapy (one week of a three-day chemo infusion, one week off). We are working to schedule each of these to begin on Mondays, so that I will be ready for Saturdays and Sundays during the chemo weeks.  Obviously a lot of this depends on my reaction to and recovery from the actual chemotherapy, so please pray that all goes well. My continued thanks for your cards and notes of support, along with your prayers – they are very much appreciated!

-Fr. Mike