Fr. James' Letters

May 21, 2023

I find curious the little dialogue that occurred at the moment of Christ’s ascension. “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?,” the apostles ask Jesus as he’s on the mountain about to take off. Jesus’ response: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.”

The question seems foolish. Have the disciples still not figured out that Jesus isn’t interested in restoring the kingdom of Israel? He didn’t do it when he had thousands of believers convinced he was the Messiah when he multiplied the loaves and fishes. He didn’t do it when he raised Lazarus and likewise had the whole area mesmerized. He didn’t restore the kingdom when he entered Jerusalem on the donkey on Palm Sunday. And so on.

Jesus wasn’t going to remove the Romans from Israel. He wasn’t going to eradicate the high priests and elders and make himself the new King David. He wasn’t going to conquer other nations with an army under the banner of Israel. That’s what everyone thought the Messiah would do, but that’s not what the Messiah was about.

And yet, Jesus doesn’t simply respond “no” to the apostles’ inquiry at the Ascension. He just says, “it’s not for you to know the times or seasons…” It’s almost as if Jesus is leaving open the possibility that he will restore the kingdom of Israel; it just won’t be right now and he won’t say when.

The answer to our prayers sometimes seems so obvious. And yet Jesus doesn’t give us the obvious answer. There’s a scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber (my funniest movie) when Mary tells Lloyd there’s a “one in a million chance” she’ll date him. Lloyd responds, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.”

Jesus doesn’t even shut us down. He keeps it open for us. Perhaps he wants us to keep asking him.

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Congratulations to Father Kevin Gregus who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago this past Saturday, May 20 at Holy Name Cathedral. It was great to see Father Kevin’s beaming face, and we’re blessed to now have him as a priest in the church. Father Kevin will celebrate his First Mass at his home parish in Crystal Lake this Sunday. You’ll see Father Kevin celebrating some daily Masses here at Saint Paul over the next few weeks before he begins his assignment as an associate pastor at a parish on the southside.

You’ll also see Deacon Martin Nyberg on the schedule to preach for a few daily Masses before he leaves for the summer to learn Spanish in Guatemala. Deacon Martin will be back with us in the fall. Congratulations, once again, to Deacon Martin on his ordination back on May 13th. I’m encouraging our Deacon Martin to grow a mustache so he fits in properly with our deacon corps.

This Tuesday at 10am is the Ribbon Mass for the SPC School 8th Grade students. The school year is quickly winding down. We wish our 8th graders all the best as they prepare for graduation and beyond.

A special thanks to all who organized and took part in the Family Mass in the HFC last Sunday. It was a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day. Once again, if you’re interested in helping and be part of the next Family Mass on June 11th, please reach out to Jennifer Waters (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

The Daily Reflections on Mary continue for the month of May. I hope these weeks with Mary have been fruitful for you.

A reminder to please be aware of scam emails or texts from “me.” This is happening to many priests and pastors across the country. If it seems you are contacted by me asking generically to talk or for a favor or for gift cards, do not respond. It is a hacker. You can always check the email address to be sure. If it’s not from the email address in the bulletin, then it’s not from me. 

Please see on page 7 a note from our music director Ed Eicker about the unexpected passing of Steve Arvanites, one of our cantors. We are so sorry to lose Steve at such a young age. Please keep Steve and his wife Sue 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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