Fr. James' Letters

January 8, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

“The mystery was made known to me by revelation,” says Saint Paul, “that the Gentiles are coheirs.”

We read this, yawn, and turn the page. But this statement from Paul would have been absolutely shocking to the first century Jews. In fact, this is one of the reasons Paul was thrown out of synagogues, stoned, imprisoned, and eventually sent to Rome to be tried and killed. It was also what led to divisions within the nascent Christian community, and eventually the First Council of Jerusalem.

The Jews considered themselves a privileged nation, a people set apart from the other nations. They were not to mingle with the Gentiles.

To show how seriously they believed this separation, there was a law that stated if a Gentile should enter into the inner court of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Gentile was to be killed instantly. No trial. There was a large sign emblazoned with this law outside the inner courtyard, called “the warning stone.” It read: “No foreigner may enter within the balustrade around the sanctuary and the enclosure. Whoever is caught, on himself shall he put blame for the death which will ensue.” Any Jew complicit in the Gentile’s trespassing was to be killed as well.

For Paul to promote the Gentiles and claim that they were equal to the Jews would have been scandalous. But Paul was adamant about this truth. He received this truth by revelation. That is, the Holy Spirit instructed Paul in prayer that this new nation, Body, ekklesia was to consist of both Jews and Gentiles. It was later revealed to Peter as well.

But the origins of this truth exist prior to Paul’s revelation. It is the event we celebrate today on the Feast of the Epiphany: the event of the three magi traveling from the east to adore Jesus in Bethlehem. The magi, of course, were Gentiles.

The magi went first to Jerusalem. They did not enter the Temple, but instead went to Herod’s palace. They were obedient to the Jewish law… to an extent. They next traveled south to Bethlehem and entered that temporary temple-dwelling in the cave of Bethlehem where God himself lay: the true Holy of Holies. There they worshiped the one, true God.

The story of the magi is more than a nice fairy-tale of three kings giving cute gifts to the baby Jesus. This is a story about the nature of the church. The church is bigger than a particular race, a location, a precise set of rules.

The Feast of the Epiphany today is the chord being struck on the truth that the Gentiles belong in the body. The sound from that chord would resonate decades later and resolve with Saint Paul. Had Paul not the courage to continue preaching this truth, had he backed down in the face of all the threats and the calumny, the Church wouldn’t be what it is today. The efforts of the magi would have been in vain.

The chord still resonates. Who would be the “Gentiles” today? Who do we need to allow into the church, the foreigners who are separated? May this feast inspire us to think outside of our confines and be bold, like the magi and Saint Paul.

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This Sunday is New Parishioner Sign-Up and Donut Sunday. We hope you can join us in the gym in between Masses following the 7:30am Mass and until noon.

As you can see from the Stewardship Report on page 2, our Christmas collection this year was once again very strong. *We surpassed our budget.* Thank you very much for your generous contributions. This will go a long way in helping our parish continue to fulfill God’s work. A special thanks goes out to all the collection counters who tallied up the Christmas and New Years collections.

Once again, happy new year to all of you. I hope you had a restful break. Welcome back to school, SPC and Catechesis students and teachers.

Finally, continue to pray for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who passed away on December 31st. He was a great gift to the Church and a wonderful servant. Also continue to keep Pope Francis and our entire church in your prayers.

Your servant in Christ,

Who is Fr. James?

Father James Wallace grew up in Winnetka, Illinois and attended Sts. Faith Hope and Charity grammar school, New Trier High School, and then The George Washington University in Washington DC, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science in 2007. He attended seminary at The Pontifical North American College in Rome and was ordained a priest in 2012 for the Archdiocese of Chicago. In addition to being the pastor of Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, he serves as a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese, a dean in Vicariate II, and a professor of canon law and spiritual director at Mundelein Seminary. He is also one of the featured Mercy Home Sunday Mass celebrants, airing Sundays at 9:30am on WGN.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

UC = Upper Church

HFC = Holy Family Chapel

Monday - Friday

6:25 am (UC)

8:30 am (UC)

Saturday

8:30 am (UC) - weekday Mass

4:30 pm (UC) - vigil

Sunday

7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC)

10:30 am (UC)

12:00 pm (UC)