From Our Pastor's Desk
From Our Pastor's Desk
Second Sunday of Lent - Cycle B
Readings: Genesis 22: 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18, Psalm 116 “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living”, Romans 8: 31b-34, Mark 9: 2-10
My dear brother and sisters,
February 28th marks, this year's last day of Black History Month but the call to live in solidarity, faith, hope and joy has not ended. The first stanza of the Black National Anthem goes “Lift every voice and sing. Till earth and heaven ring. Ring with the harmonies of Liberty. Let our rejoicing rise. High as the listening skies. Let it resound as loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us. Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us. Facing the rising sun of our new day began. Let us march on till victory is won”.
Recalling our history inspires us to appreciate the present and fills us with renewed hope and zeal in building a better future. A life full of hope and love founded on the Word of God, which faith produces. Harriett Tubman said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” It is faith that inspires our dream.
This Sunday’s first reading recounts how Abraham was tested by God. He was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Lord and Abraham agreed. He took the road to Moriah and upon arrival. The Lord provided the ram for the sacrifice. The Lord we serve is not pleased with human abuse. One lesson for us this day is the faithfulness of Abraham, who believed in God totally. He had left his land and country, had given up the security of his home and the protection that came from his family and tribe. He was sure that God would keep his promise and give him numerous descendants. But why should God ask him to sacrifice Isaac? Abraham might have had some questions, but he kept his faith in love and fidelity of his Lord. Such faith is worthy of imitation by us. God has promised us love, joy, serenity, peace. But disappointments occur, difficult and painful moments and we could have the impression that God has not kept his promises. The Lord keeps his promise. We are called to trust in him as “we lift every voice and sing till earth and heaven ring. Ring with the harmonious liberty. I wish you a happy last day of the Black History Month.
Fr. Paschal Chester, svd
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