A message from the Pastor ...
May 23, 2020
The Ascension of the Lord: The Holy Gospel According to Matthew (Mt 28:16-20)
The Ascension is a significant moment in the whole journey of Jesus’ life; having been sent by the Father beginning with the Incarnation and now concluding with the return to the Father at the Ascension. In last week’s Gospel, at the Last Supper, Jesus was introducing the Apostles, except for one, to the transition from His being with them to His dwelling in them. This new experience would be an encounter of love greater than any companionship or discipleship. “I am in the Father and you are in Me and I in you.” It’s a relational encounter based on service and sacrifice and rooted in love, the New Commandment: love of God and love of neighbor as yourself.
For this experience, the eleven disciples were sent “to Galilee to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them,” after the resurrection. The next sentence of the Gospel is almost beyond belief. “When they saw Him, they worshiped but they doubted.” They just didn’t get it. They see and hear, but do not understand. However, Jesus proceeds with carrying out His mission and invites them to undergo their own personal transition and be on the way to becoming something new. They may not want to let go of the experience of the Jesus they knew, but this now Risen Jesus challenges them beyond their expectations.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (peoples) baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
The ascension of the Lord is very graphic in today’s Acts of the Apostles written by Luke. Jesus ascends physically into the sky and is taken out of sight by a cloud (Acts 1:9). But our Gospel reading is taken from the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel and there is no mention of the ascension. What’s even more interesting is that Matthew is not clear as to how long after Easter this meeting in Galilee took place because his Gospel has a different purpose in mind. This story is sometimes called the “Commissioning of the Disciples” or “The Great Commission” because Jesus commissions, sends forth, the disciples to proclaim the Good News and build the Kingdom of God. But, it’s not called “The Ascension.” The mission isn’t meant to end with Jesus, but rather it is to be continued by the disciples. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke again is more graphic and direct: “While they were looking at the sky…two men dressed in white garments (possibly the Father and the Holy Spirit) stood beside them. They said ‘Men of Galilee, why are you looking at the sky’.”
As Benedict XVI reflected, it would be a mistake to interpret the Ascension as “the temporary absence of Christ from the world.” Rather, “we go to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into Him.” Heaven is a person: “Jesus himself is what we call ‘heaven’.”
Matthew has not written his own version of the Acts of the Apostles. The appearance of Jesus in Galilee is both the first and final one.
Matthew’s commissioning of the disciples serves the same function. It’s important for Matthew that the Jewish community, forty to sixty years after the time of Jesus, realize that the commission is not only for the House of Israel, but also for the whole of the Gentile world as well. This is the significance of the commissioning. And despite this last appearance, Jesus promises that He is with His disciples then as He is with us now, in a new way. Instead of being with them, He is now dwelling in them and likewise in us today. He who advocated our cause through Cross and Resurrection has promised to send the other Advocate to be with us until the end of time. At this point, in the Gospels, the other Advocate has not yet been sent. When that Advocate comes, He will transform the world forever.
The “Great Commission” challenges us to be people who put faith into action to continue to bring about God’s Kingdom. We are not asked to stay where we are comfortable, but to go forth spreading the Good News, knowing that God remains with us always.
Fr. Joe Glab, CR
May 16, 2020
Sixth Week of Easter: The Holy Gospel According to John (Jn 14:15-21)
Once again, we find ourselves at the Last Supper. Jesus is forever the teacher preparing His disciples for a major transition in their lives. Every minute matters and He is reassuring them that no matter what happens, they will not be orphaned or abandoned when it does. Jesus’ message to them, above all things, is about love: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Love of God and neighbor above all things was what Jesus constantly tried to instill in His disciples by word and action.
Perhaps stated in another way it might help us understand the importance of love in Jesus’ message: “When you keep my commandments, I know you love me.” Love will be the glue that holds the community of Jesus’ disciples together manifested through the sacrifice of service to the needs of each other. Love moves from word to the actions that make that love visible. And how will this take place? Through the “Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth.”
At the Last Supper, Jesus is promising the disciples that after their redemption has been secured, He would be with them in a new way. They would not be orphaned, but would have an Advocate, the Holy Spirit to guide them and all future generation who would follow. At the great meal, Jesus was introducing them to the transition from His being with them to His dwelling in them. This new experience of how we encounter the Lord, is an experience of love greater than any companionship or discipleship. “I am in my Father and you are in Me and I in you.” It is an experience of union and communion.
This concept of indwelling is very important to the spirituality of John’s Gospel. What’s even more significant is Jesus inviting His disciples then, and us today, to share it and actually experience it. It’s not about rules and regulations; do’s and don’ts; programs; structures or the institution itself. It’s the personal relationships of encounter with God and neighbor.
During the past few weeks of stay-at-home and social distancing we have experienced a virtual absence of sacramental participation and reception. We may have even felt a sense of being orphaned or abandoned. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is not limited in the same way we are. The Spirit is a comforter who dwells within the community of believers whose members love one another.
Additionally, in the past several months, there have been countless heroic stories of love: healthcare workers caring for the sick; delivery people ensuring the distribution and arrival of goods; farmers producing foods; people and organizations creating new equipment, domestic masks (like some of our parishioners) and other protective gear; researchers and developers; and all who are cooperating with safe practices no matter how small but are nonetheless essential services. All of these are examples of love.
So in the absence of physical connectedness and sacramental actions, remember and trust that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and sustains all of us who love one another. Right now, our wearing of masks, social distancing and refraining from public gatherings for worship is a physical manifestation of our love for one another. These actions are done to protect others; love compels us to our responsibility for the wellbeing of each to other. Love involves sacrifice and the bending of our wills. It’s just part of how we abide in God’s love, realizing to what else that love may yet be calling us.
Fr. Joe Glab, CR
May 10th , 2020
Fifth Week of Easter: The Holy Gospel According to John (Jn 14:1-12)
The relationship between Jesus and some of His closest friends is very interesting, if not filled with intrigue. While this is an Easter story, it is perhaps best understood by reflecting back on Jesus’ teachings from the point of view of the resurrection and ascension and connecting the dots of the before and after experiences.
Today’s gospel setting takes place at the Last Supper after the washing of the feet and before Jesus and His disciples go to the garden to pray. As always, Jesus continues to teach by word and example. They hear Him, they listen to Him, but it’s not sinking in even on the threshold of the great passion that is to take place. They don’t get it. They don’t really understand. These disciples are a unique bunch. They associate with Him; follow Him; pray with Him; eat with Him; and flee from Him when their safety is threatened, except for John and a few women including His mother. Nonetheless, at all times even when frustrated, Jesus projects a vision of hope for His followers to sustain them on the journey. He doesn’t give up on them.
One powerful example is His response to Thomas’ protest, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus’ response is to identify Himself with the One who sent Him to us and fulfill the ultimate promise of redemption: “I AM the way, the truth, and the life.” Yes, this Jesus is the one who guides us along the path in life we journey; He is the truth that enlightens us in our darkness; He is the life that sustains us through our reception of the Eucharist and lives in and with and through us, transforming our lives and patiently waiting for us to let go of our fears and believe and trust in Him.
We hear many voices today mimicking the voice of the Christ, the Risen Lord. If Christ is not the focus and center of our life, then who or what is?
At the Last Supper in John’s Gospel, Jesus is most interested in building relationships: “Do this in memory of Me.” John’s Jesus doesn’t want to confuse God’s reign among us with any institution or structure. Rather it is like today’s new 5G technology, an ever expanding web of relationships that binds us to each other and with God. We will make mistakes along the way, but God is patient with us. To encounter our God, He asks that we strive to follow this command “Love one another as I have loved you.” It’s at this point that faith and hope are overshadowed by love. This love isn’t a feeling, it is a choice and commitment. Jesus, in love holds nothing back from us including His life, and He asks us to do the same.
This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day. Be as thoughtful as possible in recognizing the important role that mothers, and those who are like mothers to us , play in our lives. Remember Ma Bell, of ancient history, “Reach out and touch someone”? Make a difference. Heal strained relations. When necessary, forgive and be forgiven. Remember love is choice and a commitment. A broken relationship with a mother, or those who are like mothers to us, can be more devastating than even the present pandemic. Jesus taught us “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Happy Mother’s Day to all! On this day, we ask God to bless all mothers and those who have provided motherly care to us.
Fr. Joe Glab, CR
May 2nd, 2020
Fourth Week of Easter, Holy Gospel according to John (10:1-10)
What happens to the Easter encounter that Jesus has with His disciples after the resurrection? What we read in today’s Gospel is about the Shepherd who is “The Gate.”
At the midway point of the Easter season, like in Advent and Lent, we pause to reflect and connect the dots. In today’s readings from
Acts (2: 14, 36-41) and 1 Peter (2:20b-25), Peter is out there proclaiming the message of the Shepherd, who is the Risen Lord.
“If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps…that we might live for righteousness… By His wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”
The Easter story lives. This Shepherd is not one who is well-groomed, staff in hand, sitting peacefully in lush green pastures surrounded by passive sheep. No, He is engaged in the hard and messy life of his flock. The life of a shepherd and flock is more often than not dirty and messy; walking with, guiding and protecting the flock is anything but peaceful.
In the Gospel, not only shepherd but also the flock of sheep must enter through the gate of the sheepfold. A sheepfold was a stone enclosure out in the field with walls high enough that kept the sheep from jumping over it. It’s small enough to keep the flock warm, safe and secure from a thief attempting to steal one of the sheep. Easter, the Risen Lord, is the gate opening the sheepfold to us. As the gate, the Risen Jesus is not restricting us with heavy burdens to carry on our shoulders. Rather the Risen Lord’s way is one of abundance and freedom in the love of God and neighbor. The choice is ours to make.
By our baptism, we are all shepherds of God’s people, in one way or another. We are all called to care for His flock by following in the footsteps of our Shepherd, the living gate. Our flock may include our family, friends, neighbors, parishioners, co-workers and the vulnerable. No matter who is in our flock, we must always remember that the sheep in our flock belong to the Lord, not to us. He treasures each one of them and He wants us to be His instrument to reflect His life, love and self-sacrifice to others. Like the shepherd we open the gate when we reach out to those in need. Jesus said “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” Do you know who is in your flock?
We live in a time when we find ourselves in a sheepfold with restrictions. These restrictions: wearing masks, social distancing, extra handwashing and staying home may be an inconvenience but it is only temporary. We’ve become accustomed to doing our own thing, and we may have little patience listening to others telling us what to do. The Gospel reminds us, however, that we are to be about God’s ways not our own. Under the current circumstances we need to exercise good judgment and make good choices and know we must rely on others for some of the answers. We hope this pandemic will soon be significantly contained, but we all need to do our part to help protect others and ourselves.
In the meantime, be patient and safely reach out to others. We’re all in this together. With faith, hope and love let us pray and look forward to a better tomorrow. The Easter Gate continues to live with us, in us and through us.
One way we can safely reach out to others is to make a donation to the parish on behalf of Zacchaeus House, Catholic Charities, Providence Soup Kitchen, Schaumburg Food Pantry, Catholic Relief services and any other charity. Of course, your support of St. Matthew is very much appreciated. Thank you for your consideration and generosity.
Fr. Joseph Glab, CR
April 25, 2020
Third Week of Easter, Holy Gospel according to Luke 24:13-35
This gospel passage is another Easter story, and more so, a personal encounter of faith with the Risen Lord. It reminds us how we can be distracted, if not blinded by difficult moments. We can actually lose sight of the bigger vision of the presence of the Lord among us as we walk our own Emmaus journey.
The disciples were deeply focused on their personal loss of Jesus, in whom they had great hope for a new day. Their deep sorrow focused on their personal experience to the extent that they were feeling sorry more for themselves than the loss of their close friend Jesus. That
self-pity was so deep that when they walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus; and spoke with Him the whole time; while He explained the whole of the scripture to them, they still didn’t recognize Him.
But, nonetheless, the graciousness of God was with them. Grateful for the conversation along the way going home, they invited Jesus to stay with them and share a meal. Hospitality of food, kindness and compassion is what they learn from Jesus. And when they sat down at the table and encountered Jesus in the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened and they experienced the Paschal Mystery: death to life, despair to joy and an inner focus to mission, to now look and see beyond their own self-interest and put faith into action.
Nourished and empowered by the Word they heard and the bread they shared, they rushed back to Jerusalem to share the joy of the good news of Jesus’ Resurrection. Notice, however, when the moment of recognition takes place, not while Jesus is visibly present, but after He is no longer seen in the way they, the disciples, would have anticipated. If we focus only on the presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine, we too will miss Christ present face to face before us in the people of God gathered around the altar with us and beyond. The change in the lives of the two disciples begins once they make room in the conversation for the stranger they meet along the road. And yes, blessed are those who have not seen the Risen Lord as we would expect, but see Him in the daily struggles of our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we know and still more in the stranger whom we don’t know yet.
Today, we’re experiencing our own Emmaus journey. With state and local government officials extending the stay-at-home policy until the end of May, hopes are diminished and our fears may be heightened that we cannot resume life as we knew it before the middle of March 2020. Interestingly however, even in our disappointment we are not walking this journey alone. Many people are walking with us, explaining how we got to this point and instructing us toward a better tomorrow. The stay-at-home policy has been working to flatten the curve, and ensure our hospitals are not overwhelmed. But, with the population density in the Chicagoland area in particular, it appears we won’t hit the peak of infection until the middle of May. Thus the additional mandatory requirement that we will need to wear a mask covering our nose and mouth, in addition to social distancing of at least six feet; washing our hands frequently; using hand sanitizer when washing is not possible, and not touching our face: mouth, nose and eyes.
God’s graciousness has blessed us with common sense and we see that following these best practices has proven effective in New York, California and Louisiana, as well as in our own area. By inconveniencing ourselves a little for the common good, we are doing our part to ensure not only our own safety, but also the health, safety and well-being of so many around us. When this invisible enemy is brought under control, we too will be able to rush out and thank the Lord that He gave us the courage and strength to fight the good fight out of respect and love for one another.
In the meantime, what more can we do? For example, five of our parishioners are sewing masks and sharing them with family, friends and neighbors; our parishioners; local hospital staff and anyone who needs one. Other ways of helping are through monetary donations to Zacchaeus House, Catholic Charities in Des Plaines, the Schaumburg Food Pantry or Providence Soup Kitchen at St. Stanislaus Kostka in Chicago and the possibilities are endless.
Faith put into practice is about encouraging healthy relationships. We’re all in this together. Jesus taught us well, “What you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did to me.” Now is not the time to ask who is my neighbor, but rather how am I a neighbor in this time of great need.
The next five weeks will not be easy. Remember too, that it took the descent of the Holy Spirit, to give the disciples the courage to leave the upper room. As we journey through this pandemic, listen to and encounter the Risen Lord along your way. Like with the disciples then, so today, He's walking with and speaking to you. All the more reason to “Be kinder than necessary.”
Fr. Joe Glab, CR
April 18, 2020
Second Week of Easter, Holy Gospel according to John (Jn 20:19-31)
The resurrection is a celebration of hope. The Easter season of fifty days prolongs this hope in order to sustain us and confidently encourage us to carry on the good work that God has begun in each and every one of us. The days after the resurrection were sometimes days of doubt and confusion, struggling to figure out what it all meant. But every time that they encountered Jesus, their doubts and fears were turned into joy and peace. The many encounters with the Risen Lord allowed them to have hope, not just wishful thinking of a better future, but more importantly the realization that God is truly with them, walking them through the darkness into light. The presence of the Lord in the Eucharist and in their daily lives gave them courage to go forward in the face of persecution and great uncertainty. They faced their trials then; we need to face ours today.
Today, we too are walking through an unprecedented moment in history. We can let the fear of an invisible virus take us down or we can live in the hope and trust that God has blessed us with greatly talented and courageous women and men full of hope who each day commit to protecting and preserving life. Yes, there is some doubt and confusion in how to solve this pandemic, but hope sustains us that we will find a solution to this crisis. Every day we see a greater growth in wisdom, knowledge and understanding of our situation. Indeed, as you well know, these are great days of darkness and uncertainty. Like the disciples in Jesus’ day, we may begin each day with some doubt and anxiety, but as Jesus spoke to His disciples then, so He speaks to us today: “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.”
Slowly the situation is beginning to improve. Now, more than ever, we need to have the resolve to continue to be a part of the solution and do our part: frequently wash your hands; don’t touch your face: mouth, nose and eyes; wear a mask where appropriate; and seriously practice social distancing. Observing best practices and having a positive attitude give us great hope that we can make a significant difference in our life and the lives of those around us. God has blessed and surrounded us with great people of faith, hope and love. Build on this foundation, and especially at this time: “Be kinder than necessary”. Let the words of Jesus to His disciples in the upper room, “Peace be with you” dispel all doubt and fear and warmly embrace you with an enduring and everlasting hope.
Fr. Joe Glab, CR
April 11, 2020
Holy Saturday is unlike any other Saturday. There’s something different, yet something very special about it. We may ask what are we waiting for; why aren’t we celebrating Easter already? In the secular world, it would normally just be business as usual. For people of faith, we may ask, if we don’t get too absorbed in preparing for Easter Sunday festivities: Where is Jesus? The great drama of the suffering and death of Jesus are about the glory of the resurrection… What are we waiting for? Silence, patience and reflection are not part of our typical busy Saturdays.
So, where’s Jesus? On this second day of the Triduum, the Sabbath, Jesus is at work again. He has descended into hell: the netherworld, the unknown and He brings healing to all who have waited for redemption and prepares them for salvation when He will rise on the third day. And yes, there is food, because when they rise with Him, they will all share in the heavenly banquet, eternal life, where every tear will be wiped away and they will live in peace and joy forever. The Easter basket of blessed foods reminds us of the first meal of Easter.
In the Western world and art, we think of Jesus dead in the tomb, taking a nap or something and getting ready for His big day. In the Eastern world and art, namely iconography, God is on the move, as in the resurrection. God is forever close to His people. Notice how the resurrection is portrayed. In rising from the netherworld, He grasps Adam and Eve by the hand and they too share in His resurrection. This Jesus never makes Himself the object of glory. His glory is our glory. His resurrection is our resurrection. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and He brings us along with Him.
These last few weeks have not been easy. Everyone has been touched by the pandemic in some way. We’ve seen family and friends experience suffering, pain and sorrow. Not being able to properly bury loved ones only adds more grief. Perhaps in some way, today’s experiences of the pandemic help us better understand and appreciate the events of that first Holy Week. Where is Jesus? He’s right here beside you walking with you every day…You see, it was never about HIM. It was always about US. That’s what love is, sacrifice and service without counting the cost. We see it every day in ordinary people doing extraordinary things and going beyond the call of duty, giving of themselves to serve us all. Like that first Holy Week, this too will pass, but the love of God in each of us, through others, will live forever. Easter is a season of hope. Let’s hope and pray for a better tomorrow, sooner than later, and do our small part as well: wash your hands, don’t touch your face: mouth, nose and eyes, and stay at home except when really necessary, and be kinder than necessary. Blessed Easter!
Fr. Joe Glab, CR
April 4, 2020
This weekend, we begin the holiest days of the Church’s liturgical year with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem not with horses, chariots and soldering swords, but on a beast of burden, to the waving of palms, and the shouts of the poor. Jesus enters Jerusalem knowing what awaits Him in a few short days. He knows the shouts of Hosanna will become the cry to Crucify him. Yet Jesus goes forward. Fully human, yet also fully divine, Jesus is not shielded from experiencing the human fear and pain that will accompany these days. In short there is no easy path to glory without enduring hardships. Jesus surrendered Himself, literally inconvenienced himself, to the agony of the passion for our redemption so that we might share in His Glory, the glory of the resurrection. What greater love?
Interestingly, we too are experiencing our own passion not only physically and materially, but also spiritually. We are certainly reminded of our frailty and how little control we have over an invisible virus. On the other hand, we are seeing that in the face of the severe threat to life, humanity is stepping forward. We see this in the dedication of Medical personnel, First Responders & military personnel and government leaders who are walking with us through these dark days. There are the unsung heroes of ordinary people doing an extraordinary job of helping all of us to keep it together: truck drivers delivering goods and services, postal workers, grocery store personnel, funeral directors and cemetery personnel, plumbers and electricians, municipal personnel, bankers and restauranteurs, news media, educators and neighbors reaching out to their neighbors. Yes, we’re all in it together. It’s the goodness and kindness that we share with one another that will lead us through the darkness to a new life and light of hope. In the words of Cynthia Hurd, “be kinder than necessary.”
Jesus walked the path through darkness, and shows us the way today in our moment of darkness as well. This too shall pass. Take courage, pray for all and above all be grateful for the good people who surround us and love us.
In this Holy week, I invite you to reflect on each of these days, participate in the virtual Masses and services in English, Polish and Spanish and other resources we have here on our website and hold in prayer all who suffer that they may personally experience Christ’s presence in their lives through each of you.
Fr. Joseph Glab, CR
P.S. During these uncertain times of the pandemic, like you we still have bills that need to be paid and so your continued offertory giving is very important to the mission of St Matthew Parish. You know what you can do within your means. Yes, we are still providing meals at Catholic Charities on Rand Road in Des Plaines and distributing food cards to families in need through our Needy Family Fund and serving our parishioners within the guidelines of the Archdiocese of Chicago. As St. Paul reminds us, faith without good works is dead.
March 28, 2020
The big question we all have is: when will this virus confinement end? At this time, unfortunately we have no definitive answer. And yet, we could look at the situation as a glass that is half full or half empty. Hopefully, we can see that significant progress is being made to contain the spread of the virus and we each have an important role to play in that. The important thing to remember is that this too shall pass. In the meantime, let us do our best to practice patience and understanding and be thankful for all who are doing their best to help get us through this difficult time: all medical personnel, Federal and State leaders, first responders: police, fire and military personnel and most especially, families and neighbors daily helping each other and keeping in touch with one another.
In times like this, it is easy to feel helpless. We need to feel we are doing something, and for people of faith, we know prayer is that important choice we can all do no matter where we find ourselves. I encourage you to set aside a definite time for prayer each day. Pray the way Jesus taught His disciples and through His word He teaches us. Perhaps as you start your day in the morning, give honor and praise to God (Adoration); around noon time, do an examination of conscience reflecting on your behavior and attitude during the past twenty-four hours and ask for forgiveness (Contrition); later afternoon, thank God for the blessings He has bestowed upon you till this day (Thanksgiving); and before you retire for the day, ask God for what you think you truly need (Supplication). When we place our trust and hope in the Lord, God will surely grant us what is in our best interest. The acronym is ACTS. A few minutes on each reflection daily will certainly keep you close to the Lord.
As Jesus calmed His disciples fears over troubled waters, He calms our fears today if we just remember to keep our eyes set on Christ. Trust in the Lord; the end is in sight. Be patient, trust in the Lord.
Fr. Joseph Glab, CR
March 21, 2020
The most important thing to me right now is that you take care of yourself and your family under these unusual circumstances. The health and well-being of your family is of greatest concern to all of us. All parishioners and friends of St. Matthew Parish are remembered daily in the Mass that I celebrate in church without a congregation. I look forward to the day when we will be able to gather together again as a community of faith. In the meantime let us pray for all people around the world who are also living through these difficult times of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Remember the words our Lord spoke to his disciples and the people of his day: "Fear is useless what is needed is trust." We are not alone, God is walking the journey with us every day of our life. He will never abandon us. He made us, His we are, we belong to Him, He loves us.
Let us continue to walk in faith, with hope and with Love as our guide. Peace be with you!
Fr. Joseph Glab, CR