Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend we find Jesus returning to his native place. He is amazed at the people’s lack of openness to what he wants to reveal. His family and friends judge him based on what they knew about him. They were closed to the present moment and closed to their encounter with Jesus. As a result, they were not able to grow in their faith.

How often have we done this? Too often we let what we think we know dictate how we interpret the present moment or person in front of us. We close our minds to a new understanding of a family member, friend, or neighbor, closing an opportunity to grow, deepen, or even to reconcile with another.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus encounters many people that he could have easily had a predisposition toward, but out of love and compassion he encounters each person in the present moment. How often does he comment on a person’s faith by that experience? I believe those encounters gave him encouragement to continue on his mission. It is also true, as demonstrated in this weekend’s Gospel, that he openly encounters people that lack faith and even criticize him. He doesn’t get discouraged but continues on to the next village.

This weekend many of us will gather with family, friends, and neighbors to celebrate Independence Day. We’re likely to encounter people we have not seen or even spoken to for some time. Let us open our hearts to the present moment and embrace each encounter as we celebrate life, liberty, and freedom. Let us do our part to promote the principles of this civic holiday by taking the opportunities to grow, deepen, and even reconcile with one another.

I would like to share an update on my health: This week I meet with the surgeon to see how my healing is progressing and hopefully schedule the surgery that returns things to normal. Unfortunately, neuropathy has been a very real and very uncomfortable side effect of the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. It effects the feeling in my hands and feet, and as a result it is difficult at times to do things that are part of my daily life, such as walk, cook, and some aspects of the Mass. Many have noticed that I take slow and deliberate steps during Mass from fear of falling. Also, distribution of Holy Communion is challenging at times. I am concerned about dropping the Blessed Sacrament, so I may not always feel comfortable with distributing communion. I am learning how to deal with this new experience of life and hopeful that the neuropathy will dissipate as time goes on. Thank you for your concerns, support, patience, and prayers. On a related note, my brother Tim has had some setbacks in his cancer treatment. Please remember him in your prayers as well.

May this week be filled with the joy of life and celebration of freedom.

Fr. Workman