February 21th, 2021 – First Sunday of Lent - Cycle B
Readings: Genesis 9: 8-15, Psalm 25 “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant”, 1 Peter 3: 18-22, Mark 1: 12-15
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are at the beginning of Lent, a time of penance and interior renewal to enable us to prepare for Easter. The Church’s liturgy unceasingly invites us to purify our souls and to begin again. It commemorates the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in preparation for his years of preaching, which culminated in the cross and in the triumph of Easter. Forty days of prayer and penance, and at the end of them the temptations of Christ, which this Sunday’s Gospel recalls.
The whole episode is a mystery which humans cannot hope to understand: God is here submitting to temptation, letting the evil one have his way. A mystery indeed. But we can meditate upon it, asking our Lord to help us understand the teaching it contains. Jesus allowed this so as to give us an example of humility, and to teach us to overcome temptations that we are going to have to undergo in the course of our lives. Jesus wanted to teach us by his example that no one should consider himself exempt from any type of trail.
The Lord allows temptation, and uses it providentially to purify you, to make you holy, to detach you more from the things of earth, to lead you where He is and by the route he wants you to take, so as to make you happy, so as to give you maturity, understanding and effectiveness in your apostolic work with souls, and to make you humble. “Blessed is the man who endures trial, says the Apostle St James, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God promised to those who love him. I wish you a fruitful Lenten season.
Fr. Paschal Chester, svd
Sunday, February 14th, 2021
Readings: Leviticus 13: 1-2, 44-46,
Psalm 32 “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation”, Corinthians 10: 31-11:1, Mark 1: 40-45
My dear brothers and sisters, the Gospel of today’s mass present us with the healing of the leper. It must have been an extraordinary scene. He knelt before Jesus and said, “if you wish, you can make me clean”. Perhaps he had prepared a longer speech, explaining how he contracted the disease, or about how he has suffered, or about how he wish to be united with society. But in the end this simple blurted-out aspiration, filled with trust,with sincere sensitivity, was enough. “If you wish, you can make men clean”.
These few words are in a fact a powerful prayer. Jesus took pity on him, and told him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Our Lord always wants to heal us of our weaknesses and our sins. And there is no need for us to wait months or days for him to pass through our city or our town. Every day we can find the same Jesus of Nazareth who healed the leper. He is there in the nearest tabernacle, in the heart of a soul in grace, in the sacrament of penance.
Jesus has taught us that the worst sickness is hypocrisy, the pride that leads us to conceal our sins. We have to be totally sincere with him. We have to tell the whole truth, and like the leper tell him, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Let us remember that our very failings, weaknesses or illnesses can be the opportunity for us to approach Christ as the leper did. And from that moment on he would have been an unconditional disciple of his Lord. Do we go to confession, pray, attend mass with these dispositions of faith and trust?
May the Lord bless us with his presence. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Paschal Chester, svd
Readings: Job 7: 1-4, 6-7, Psalm 147 “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted”, 1 Corinthians 9: 16 -19, 22-23, Mark 1: 29-39
My dear brothers and sisters, when we reflect on the terrible problems some people have, we ask ourselves why it should be like this. In the first reading Job describes in dramatic terms the situation of humanity on earth. The gospel reading is a reply to the problems by Job. Jesus sees the sad reality of suffering and disease. He takes it on and exhorts his disciples to engage in bringing about the new world that he has just begun. In the second reading we have the example of Paul, a man who did not spare himself in his dedication to his mission, giving up his rights so as not to an obstacle to the growth of the kingdom.
We are in the Black history month and as we reflect on the experiences of many people. There has always been a crossroad between the Christian faith and grave moral issues like war, capital punishment, abortion, racial prejudice, poverty and care for the earth. We are reminded to examine each event and news through the eyes of our catholic faith. As Catholics we are reminded never to give up on prayer.
This Sunday, we begin the “Catholic Sharing Appeal” (CSA). The central theme is prayer and gratitude. Even though we have been in a challenging time, you contributed immensely in various activities of the church and we are very grateful. It is our prayer that the Lord bless us with a successful campaign and may the Lord through his gracious will bless you and your good intentions.
Amen Fr. Paschal Chester, svd