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Mark Jacks

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:12

"There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved"

Fourth Sunday of Easter Readings: Acts, 1 John, John


There is something scandalous in the readings of today’s Mass – Skandalon (from the Greek σκανδαλον) meaning a stumbling block or an offense. Particularly in today’s climate of “tolerance” and indifferentism, to make such a bold claim as Peter made when he said, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved,” is seen as arrogant and exclusive. It is exclusive – a claim that Jesus has something precious and unique to offer. Jesus Himself told His Apostles, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

Other world religions do not have the understanding of salvation that Christ revealed to us. They reject the notion of “divine filiation,” or becoming sons and daughters of God. That is also a scandal to other world religions.

In 1 John 3:1, we hear these words, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.”

These passages of Sacred Scripture reveal to us God’s desire for a communion of life and love with His creatures. Our God Jesus went to His death to make this happen. His Resurrection, which we celebrate in a glorious way during these fifty days of the Easter season, conquered death and gives us hope – hope that we will share His life eternally if we live for Him, and receive Baptism and the Holy Spirit. After that, we must go into the world and proclaim this Truth to everyone.

Reflection Questions

  • Reflect on the concept of “divine filiation” and how it shapes our identity as children of God. How does this belief influence your relationship with God and others?
  • How does the Resurrection of Jesus Christ give us hope for eternal life? How can we share this hope with others in our daily lives?

Third Sunday of Easter

Luke 24:48

"You are witnesses of these things."

Third Sunday of Easter Readings: Acts, 1 John, Luke


“You are witnesses of these things,says Jesus to the Apostles after His resurrection. What things is Jesus referring to? “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-48

In these verses Jesus is speaking to the whole Church as well. He is speaking to us today. Witnessing our Catholic faith to the world is the urgent task of every baptized and confirmed Catholic.

Recently Cardinal Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, rightly spoke quite clearly about the unacceptable practice of choosing which Catholic teachings one will accept, while rejecting others. He was speaking particularly about those who publicly proclaim their Catholicism while rejecting and even attacking defined Church teaching. 

It can be a real temptation to downplay, ignore or even reject those challenging teachings of our Church. We are witnesses of these things. Let’s pray that the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit will strengthen us to be true witnesses.

Reflection Question

  • How can you better witness to your Catholic faith in your daily life, especially when faced with opposition or temptation to compromise on Church teachings?

Divine Mercy Sunday

Excerpt from St. Faustina's Diary

"I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon the souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet..."

Divine Mercy Sunday Readings: Acts, 1 John, John


Reflecting on St. Faustina’s life and the Divine Mercy message, we are drawn to the heart of God’s love and forgiveness. Just as Jesus appeared to His apostles in today’s Gospel passage from John, offering them peace and showing His wounds as a sign of His mercy, so too does He offer us the same mercy and peace.


In a world often focused on success and self-fulfillment, the idea of Divine Mercy can feel foreign. Yet, as we contemplate our own lives, we are confronted with our humanity, our flaws, and our sins. It is precisely in acknowledging these shortcomings that we open ourselves to receive God’s mercy and love.

Through the sacrament of reconciliation, we experience this love and mercy tangibly, feeling the cleansing power of forgiveness. As we journey, let’s remember our constant need for God’s mercy. Let’s approach Him with confidence, knowing that no sin is too great for His abundant grace. As St. Faustina recorded Jesus saying, “I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon the souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet…” (Diary 699).

Reflection Questions

  • How does the story of Jesus appearing to His apostles and offering them peace resonate with your own need for peace and mercy in your life?
  • In what ways do you struggle to acknowledge your flaws and sins, and how can reflecting on God’s mercy help you in this process?
  • How long has it been since you’ve approached God’s mercy in the sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession?

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday Readings: Acts, Colossians, John


Easter greetings to all on this happy and blessed day! We rejoice with the Church at our liberation from the bondage of sin. Jesus has won the victory for us.

One of the most dramatic and awesome moments in the reading of the Passion happens at the moment of Jesus’ death: Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed His last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51-53).

In this powerful symbolic event the separation between God (whose holiness dwelt behind the veil in the Jerusalem temple) and His people was breached and healed. God and His people are now restored to communion through the saving death of Jesus which repaired the fracture caused by original sin. Within days, Jesus is raised from the tomb in the final conquest of Satan, sin and death. May we joyfully embrace the salvation He has won for us!

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

- Fr. Ed

Palm Sunday

Philippians 2:7-8

He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Full Palm Sunday Readings: Isaiah, Philippians, Mark


Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:6-7

St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, presents the “Philippians Hymn.” This scripture is a moving description of Jesus’ humility in willingly sacrificing his own life out of great love. The concept of “emptying” (in Greek: kenosis) is understood as Jesus willingly laying aside his divine power. Dr. David Campbell wrote, “Jesus, the god-man, was fully divine, but veiled his glory to accomplish his mission – and prove humans could fulfill the Law of God with the help of the Holy Spirit and a commitment to faithfulness.”

This is the mystery we walk through this Holy Week, beginning with the reading of the Passion today.

Meditating on the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary – the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion – can help us to be united with Jesus as he endures his Passion. But his seemingly humiliating death is not the end.

The Philippians Hymn concludes with: Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:8-11

The one who was brutally executed has conquered death itself in his glorious Resurrection. God bless you this Holy Week.

- Fr. Ed


  • How does Jesus’ willingness to undergo suffering and death out of love for you deepen your understanding of God’s love?
  • In what areas of your life do you struggle to “empty yourself” and let go of control, trusting in God’s plan for you?
  • As we enter Holy Week, how can you make more time for prayer and reflection to be united with Jesus in his Passion?

Director of Evangelization and Formation


Position Type: Full Time

Department: Formation + Evangelization

Under the direction of the pastor, the Director of Evangelization and Formation provides leadership and oversight for Religious Education, Youth Discipleship and Evangelization, FOCUS Parish Outreach, and other efforts associated with evangelization and faith formation. This includes pastoral planning and needs assessment regarding evangelization and faith formation for the parish and school. The Director supports, accompanies, and equips the leaders in parish ministerial areas to focus their attention beyond parishioners and into the community at large.


  • Collaborates with the Pastor and other Pastoral Team members on discerning the vision that best enables the parish to offer ways for all parishioners to practice missionary discipleship.
  • Develops strategies and methods to help integrate new members into parish ministries and parish life overall.
  • Provides direct management and leadership for staff who direct Religious Education, Youth Discipleship and Evangelization, FOCUS Parish Outreach, as well as lay leaders who coordinate faith formation programs, such as RCIA.
  • Assists those who coordinate the parish ministries to help them align the vision of their specific ministries to the parish vision and develop teamwork that will support these efforts.
  • Develops an annual budget for the pastoral ministries that provide for parish vitality and evangelization in collaboration with the Controller.


  • Seven to ten years of experience in evangelization and/or faith formation working within a parish or religious organization.
  • Bachelors or Masters’ degree in Theology; religious education or related field and/or experience in parish catechetical ministry; Archdiocesan Catechist Certification; Protecting God’s Children trained.
  • Demonstrated success in leading and managing teams with a strong commitment to collaboration and teamwork among the clergy, staff, volunteers, groupings, and the Archdiocese of Chicago.
  • Technology, social media, and computer literacy.
  • Practicing Catholic with a solid grounding in Catholic identity and the faith tradition.
  • An evangelizer, yourself, who can share experiences of “being a disciple, and making disciples” in line with our parish mission statement.
  • Able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a reasonable balance among the legitimate claims of family, community, personal relationships, and ministry, and possess the ability to be sensitive to the realities of parish life as it is lived in our community.
  • A change maker, who can ascertain the future needs of ministries, develop plans, match resources to the needs, and implement.
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    Administrative Assistant for Evangelization and Formation


    Position Type: Full Time 35-40 hours/week

    Department: Formation + Evangelization (Director of Evangelization and Formation)

    The Administrative Assistant acts as the primary contact at St. James for all ministries related to evangelization and formation offerings and is responsible for a variety of administrative tasks. This is a dynamic position that St. James believes will play a crucial role in helping our members to be disciples of Christ and make disciples of Christ.


    • Act as primary contact for Evangelization and Formation, which includes: interfacing with parents, catechists and parish/school staff by email and over the phone and in-person; answering questions and concerns, specifically to be the key contact regarding sacramental/paperwork questions; handling sensitive information in a confidential manner.
    • Attend weekly religious education classes. (Currently Tuesday evenings 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
    • Working closely with the Evangelization and Formation team, coordinate registration for all formation including religious education, Life Teen, EDGE, and Adult Formation
    • Responsible for all data and paperwork for formation including data entry of sacraments and registration into PDS, Virtus compliance for all catechists, and sacramental verification for all students.
    • Coordinate, participate in, and send meeting notes for weekly Evangelization and Formation team meetings.
    • Manage inventories of supplies and materials.
    • Other tasks as assigned.


    • Education Required: High School Diploma or equivalent. Preferred: BS or BA relevant to the position.
    • Previous work in the field of education, administration, or management; volunteer management a plus.
    • Superior organizational skills, ability to self-start tasks and complete projects in a timely manner.
    • Exceptional communication skills, both written and oral.
    • Demonstrated ability to handle confidential and sensitive information.
    • Comfortable working in a fast-paced office environment within a team.
    • Proficient in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, web content management, and social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram); ability to create graphic communications is a plus.
    • Ability to analyze and revise operating practices to improve efficiency is a plus.
    • Practicing Catholic who fully adheres to and models the Church’s teachings in faith and morals (Cf., “Code of Ethics for Catechetical Leaders,” National Certification Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministers. 2003. p. xxv.)
    • Registered with the Protecting God’s Children/Virtus
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      4th Sunday of Advent & Christmas

      John 1:23

      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

      Full Gospel Passage: John 1:1-18

      For Christmas Day

      Isn’t it a little crazy: Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and yet we are busy giving gifts to everyone else but the birthday boy. Did you ever wonder what Jesus wants for his birthday? I think he may want Time. It is a special gift that, in a way, can only be given once. At the same time – no pun intended – that is the gift he has already given to us.

      In the Gospel reading for Christmas day, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.”

      Not only did God create time itself, but God gave us his own personal time. When God the Son took on our human nature and was born in Bethlehem, he was giving us 33 years of his presence on earth. Are we willing to give to Jesus our time? Are we willing to volunteer, pray, worship, and spend time at St. James? Are willing to give Jesus a unique gift of Time for his birthday?

      - Fr. Paul Stein


      • What does Jesus truly desire for His birthday? Consider if you’re ready to present Him with the precious gift of your time.
      • Besides time, what is Jesus’ silent wish for you to give for His birthday? Sit with Him and contemplate how you can gift Him more through prayer, worship, and service.


      We get to go to mass twice this Sunday! About every six or seven years (a leap year might extend the interval) the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve fall on the same day. As Catholics, we are obligated to attend and participate in the mass on Sundays and other days designated as holy days of obligation, like Christmas. So this Sunday, like our regular obligations, we must attend mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve. A lot is happening but lets make sure to remember why we prepare, gather, and celebrate: the birth of our lord Jesus Christ.

      Third Sunday of Advent

      John 1:23

      I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
      ‘make straight the way of the Lord

      Full Gospel Passage: John 1:6-8, 19-28

      In today’s gospel reading, the “Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites” to ask John the Baptist, “Who are you?” Didn’t they know he was John the Baptist?

      They knew his name but wanted to know if he was one of the three persons whose arrival they were anticipating. In the first century AD, the Jewish people expected:

      • A Davidic messiah figure, the Christos, to fulfill God’s promise to King David that one of his descendants would always sit on the throne (2 Sam 7:11-13): (2 Sam 7:11-13): “Moreover, the LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you: when your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom. He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever.”
      • That Elijah (who never died but was taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire – 2 Kings 2:11) would come back and prepare the way for the Messiah (Malakai 4:5): “See, I am sending you Elijah the prophet before the day of the Lord comes, that great day, greatly to be feared.”
      • There will be a prophet like Moses who will explain and clarify the law (Deuteronomy 18:15-18): “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kindred; that is the one to whom you shall listen… I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kindred, and will put my words into the mouth of the prophet; the prophet shall tell them all that I command.”

      While John was not the messiah/Christ, Elijah, or the prophet, Jesus identified him as a figure like Elijah (Matt 11:14), preparing the way of the Lord.

      - Fr. Paul Stein


      • Amidst Advent’s anticipation, do you approach prayer with openness to the unexpected ways God acts? How can this expectancy deepen your connection with Him?
      • Reflecting on John’s preparation, how might your Advent prayer create space for Christ’s presence, shaping a welcoming heart for His arrival?

      Second Sunday of Advent

      2 PETER 3:9

      The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance

      Full Gospel Passage: Mark 1:1-8

      “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

      Peter reminds us of the important meaning of this time of repentance and preparation, the season of Advent; firstly, the Lord’s desire for us, and secondly, our interior disposition as we prepare.

      The Prophet Isaiah uses very earthy language which can be applied to our hearts: “In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.”  (Isaiah 40:3).

      Confession is a fruitful way to prepare for both Christmas and the Second Coming of the Lord. There is a necessary humility in confessing our sins in the sacrament, but a powerful grace comes in a good confession. It is the opportunity to make a fresh start and receive the Lord’s abundant forgiveness. There’s a scene in John Powers’ delightful novel about growing up Catholic in the 1950s Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect up? in which the author leaves church and returns home after going to confession. In his head, he hears these joyful words – Free from sin! Free from sin! Free from sin!

      - Fr. Ed Pelrine


      • How will you actively align your Advent with the Lord’s patience and desire for repentance (2 Peter 3:9)? Take a specific step, like praying in adoration, today to foster repentance and preparation recognizing it as a key aspect of this season.
      • What concrete action can you commit to experiencing the grace of confession? Consider going to confession at St. James on Thursdays and Saturdays, or scheduling a confession as a tangible step towards a renewed spiritual journey this Advent.
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