Sometimes the Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time can get a bad rap, but I’m here to remind you that there is nothing ordinary in following the life of Christ through Scripture. This phase in the church calendar allows us time to reflect on how Jesus lived so we can try to live more like Him, transforming our everyday lives into the extraordinary. Today, we hear Jesus continue His Sermon on the Mount, making it straightforward for those listening; He has no intention of eliminating the Law (or the Pentateuch) or the teaching of the Prophets. Jesus is demonstrating and teaching obedience. He is fulfilling the covenant established in the Old Testament and asking his followers (including us) to not only adhere to the literal rules of the law but to align them to their exterior and interior lives with them.
As kids, many of us couldn’t wait to grow up, so we could follow our own rules, thinking it would be great fun to stay up all night or eat endless amounts of candy. Then when we finally get the chance to do as we please, we experience the aftermath of ignoring the rules our parents set for us as children, like being so tired you can’t see straight or having a stomach ache so bad you’ll never forget it. Still, as adults, even when we know the sensible way is usually the best way, many of us struggle with keeping good habits that help us live better lives.
As we leave Ordinary Time and welcome the season of Lent beginning Ash Wednesday, February 22 (https://olphparish.org/lent-2023/), let’s look to this Penitential Time as an opportunity to ground our lives in the ways of the Lord and his Law for our best interests.
Following God’s ways is not meant to limit us, but when embraced willingly, it will put us on the path to living out our true purpose and set us free. A personal relationship with Jesus is God’s gift of freedom to us (look up my father’s favorite scripture passage – John 8:32!)
Embracing God’s Law is also a means to create a just and good society. Many of you have already received communications regarding the 2023 Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries (https://www.archbalt.org/aacm/). I thank you for your generous past response, which is an act of confidence in the charitable works of the Church of Baltimore, which help the light of Christ shine brightly. As part of the Appeal, the funds rebated to OLPH continue to illuminate our Sister Parishes, with 80% assisting St. Veronica’s in Baltimore’s Cherry Hill and Our Lady of the Nativity in Haiti. We continued evangelization investment by providing 10% of our reimbursement to ChristLife, which has enriched our parish and others through their Discovering Christ and other programs. The remaining 10% supported those who could not afford a Catholic education to attend Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. The parish can robustly support our parish school’s tuition assistance program because of your generous support. Thank you for your gifts and pledges – my goal this year is to expand the number of parishioners who give (for reference, we were about 20% of our total members last year).
Finally, I’d like to highlight another great need that benefits from the Appeal: the O’Dwyer Retreat House, msgrodwyer.org. For transparency, I’ve been on the board of the retreat house, which serves many parish and school retreats for youth and young adults each year. Sadly, many retreat houses around the county have been closing as costs rise and fundraising drops, but because of donor support, the O’Dwyer house remains vibrant. To that point, a high ropes course focused on scriptural themes of the Church was recently installed. The O’Dwyer team is also developing a forward-thinking missionary program to provide community and formation for youth adults. May the Lord bless these efforts and the sacred space at the O’Dwyer Retreat House so many can “come apart and rest awhile.”