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January 30, 2003 Edition

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Fr. Stillmank -- Word of God, Word of Life
This week's readings
Pope's Prayer Intentions
Third Millennium Prayer

This week's readings
Week of Feb. 2 - Feb. 8

Sunday, Feb. 2, 2003
Reading I: Mal 3:1-4
Reading II: Heb 2:14-18
Gospel: Lk 2:22-40 or 2:22-32

Monday, Feb. 3, 2003
Reading I: Heb 11:32-40
Gospel: Mk 5:1-20

Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2003
Reading I: Heb 12:1-4
Gospel: Mk 5:21-43

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003
Reading I: Heb 12:4-7, 11-15
Gospel: Mk 6:1-6

Thursday, Feb. 6, 2003
Reading I: Heb 12:18-19, 21-24
Gospel: Mk 6:7-13

Friday, Feb. 7, 2003
Reading I: Heb 13:1-8
Gospel: Mk 6:14-29

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003
Reading I: Heb 13:15-17, 20-21
Gospel: Mk 6:30-34

Pope's Prayer Intentions
February General Intention

Bread and water for all the world: That all Christians, sensitive to the people who are still suffering from hunger and thirst, be moved to greater solidarity with their brothers.

February Mission Intention

The Church in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei: That these churches may dialog with other religions while keeping faithful to their exacting evangelizing missions.

Recognize Jesus:
In the most vulnerable

photo of Fr. John G. Stillmank
Word of God 
Word of Life 

Fr. John G. Stillmank 

Writer's note: While I am on vacation, I have chosen the bulk of this column from one published in 1997 on this same feast.

At the same time that Mary and Joseph present Jesus to God, Pope John Paul II reminds us, "Mary and Joseph show their intention of faithfully obeying God's will . . . By divine will, it is the Mother who gives Jesus to mankind."

"This time of year much of our nation's attention is focused on the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, and even more so this year by the 30th anniversary."

Malachi prophesied the scene, "And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire." Just and pious and well acquainted with the scriptures, Simeon was there to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Anna, too, praised God for the child and looked forward to "the deliverance of Jerusalem," our salvation from sin.

Readings for
Fourth Sunday
in Ordinary Time
(Feb. 2, 2003)
Malachi 3:1-4
Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10
Hebrews 2:14-18
Luke 2:22-40 or 2:22-32

This first visit of Jesus to the temple foreshadows his role of "merciful and faithful high priest before God" on our behalf. The letter to the Hebrews teaches that Jesus became a man for this very purpose, to free us from death.

The story of Jesus' presentation in the temple is the story of the role that we, men, women, and children, play in the history of salvation. It is a story of God's family.

This time of year much of our nation's attention is focused on the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, and even more so this year by the 30th anniversary. In some ways we are far from real respect for family and from the peacefulness of the Presentation.

The tiny child presented to God and mankind by his loving mother reminds us of the beauty and dignity of human life. His death on the cross reminds us of the hatred and violence that often encircles our hearts and minds instead.

As Malachi prophesied, Jesus will refine and purify us to be pleasing to the Lord. He will burn out the violence and sin that often distorts our acts. The king of glory, the king of our hearts, came to teach us his way of peace.

Our sacrifices of prayer, our acts of peace, our love in the face of the influences of sin - these will triumph, for their great power comes from the one who became like us in all things but sin: Jesus the Lord of life.

With Mary and Joseph, with Simeon and Anna, with Jesus and all who seek God's kingdom in peace, we are members of God's family. "By rejecting all sin and violence, we show that we are indeed children of the Father, brothers, and sisters of the Son, filled with the Holy Spirit.

As Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to God and to all mankind, so Jesus now presents us to God, by his sacrifice on the cross.

Let us recognize him in one another, especially in those who are the most vulnerable. The unborn, the elderly, the poor, the sick, the homeless - all can be seen in the face of the baby of whom Simeon said, "My eyes have seen your salvation, Lord."

Fr. John G. Stillmank is Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Madison and pastor of St. Andrew Parish, Verona, and St. William Parish, Paoli.

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Third Millennium Prayer

1. Loving and gracious God,
in your providence
you have brought us to a new beginning,
a new millennium ripe for new evangelization.

2. We praise and bless you, Father.
In renewed faith, hope, and love
we give ourselves to you
that you form us in the image of Jesus,
your Son and our savior.

3. As followers of Jesus
help us to have the courage
to push out into the deep water
and lower our nets for a catch.
Teach us to listen to your voice,
to trust in your word,
to leave everything and follow
in the footsteps of Jesus.

4. By the power of your Holy Spirit
help us to work for greater solidarity
with all people throughout the world.
Enrich your Church with lasting measures
of justice, leading us to true peace.

5. May Mary, Mother of the Church,
intercede for us in our desire to say
yes to all that you, Father, ask of us.

This we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

William H. Bullock, Bishop of Madison

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