From Our Pastor's Desk
From Our Pastor's Desk
Sunday, February 26, 2023 – First Sunday of Lent - Cycle AReadings: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7, Psalm 51 “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned”, Romans 5:12-19,Matthew 4:1-11
My dear brothers and sisters this Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent and I would like to invite you to reflect on what tempts you the most? How does God help you overcome temptation? From the gospel we realize that just after the glory of the hour of baptism, Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan. Our life is a journey with the Lord. Let us not doubt that the devil tempts us every day as he tempts Jesus here.
The devil never offers us sin as something destructive. Rather, he always presents us with something bad in a good likeness. In the first reading, the serpent offers the woman the forbidden fruit, emphasizing that by eating it she would become wise. Jesus is very hungry when the devil dares him to change the stones into bread. In the same way he entices us to satisfy our inordinate cravings for food, drink, and sexual pleasure. Jesus rejects the devil's offer because he gives more importance to attending to the word of God the Father than eating. Following him, we must remember the need for moderation in matters of appetite.
The devil not only tempts our physical needs but also our deepest anxieties. Every human person wants to make sure that God is there to save them when they feel hopeless. In situations that demand extreme personal sacrifice, we Christians expect Him to protect us. A woman remembers how she felt empty and lost when
she received news that her two brothers had been in a car accident. The crash killed one and seriously injured the other. She had no inner peace until she received the consolation that God allows these upheavals to produce something better. In the second temptation the devil tempts Jesus to kill himself to assure himself of the love of God the Father. But Jesus knows that the Father's love is infinite and that the Father always cares for him.
Finally, the demon tempts Jesus with power. He says that he will grant him sovereignty over the world in exchange for a simple act of worship. But Jesus knows that power sought for its own sake only corrupts. We must resolve that whatever power we have will be used for the betterment of others, never to harm them.
During times of temptation, we should know that we are not alone. The spirit of God is with us, we have the holy scriptures at our disposal. May the Holy Spirit give us strength. May God bless our desire to do his will. Let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God in every temptation and tribulation as we seek
for strength and grace in prayer. In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD.
Sunday, February 19, 2023 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18, Psalm 103 “The Lord is kind and merciful”, 1 Corinthians 3:16-23, Matthew 5:38-48
My dear brothers and sisters, this Wednesday we will begin the graceful season of lent that will lead us to Easter. We make this forty days Lenten season with the whole Church because God has called us to form his people reconstituted from him. We will be likening the Israelites in the first reading. They traveled through the desert for forty years so that God can form them as his special people. They have to learn how to be holy like him. The reason for this formation is more than the edification of individuals. Rather, God wants to use them, and now us, to instruct the world in his ways.
It is quite a difficult mission to fulfill, particularly when considering the human tendency to sin. We need God's help without which we cannot fulfill the mission. Help will come to us precisely as a result of the Lenten journey. As Paul says in the second reading, God forms us as the "temple of the Holy Spirit.” This title involves tasks both inside and outside the community.
First, outside, it is specifically left to the laity to transform the world according to the gospel by sowing the seed of the kingdom of God. They do it by living their lives in demonstrative ways of the Holy Spirit. Although not required, many lay people have ministries within the church. Teaching the catechism, which they have done for centuries, as well as reading the Word of God and distributing Holy Communion at Mass count as ministries.
Christ puts us on the Lenten journey with the part of the Sermon on the Mount that most anticipated our destiny. In the Kingdom of God we will not experience enmity. Rather we will all treat each other with love. As disciples of Jesus we are to practice this universal love in our daily lives. Lent serves us as training. First, we must condition ourselves not to react defensively when other people mistreat us. This is not a matter of allowing a bully to beat us up but of not caring how we appear to other people. Instead of returning insult for insult and blow for blow, we leave the other person marveling at how the Holy Spirit has rendered us peaceful and kind in the midst of threats and insults.
It seems that many Catholics think that it is enough to go to church on Ash Wednesday to fulfill their Lenten obligation. But the ashes serve as a reminder that we have been marked by God as his sons and daughters and the need to repent from sin and live the Kingdom virtues. On the route we will face various types of challenges. With our eyes fixed on Christ crucified we will not give up before them. Rather, we will end up more conformed to him. What sacrifice am I going to make this Lent? It is my prayer that the Lord bless you with a fruitful Lenten season. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD.
Sunday, February 12, 2023 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Sirach 15:15-20, Psalm 119 “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!”, 1 Corinthians 2:6-10, Matthew 5:17-37
My dear brothers and sisters, last week Jesus told us that “you are the light of the world”. Light illuminates, it reveals what is there and shows the way. Light is opposite to darkness and it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. You are the light of the world. Jesus is telling his disciples that they are the light of truth that reveals the reality of God’s goodness and contrast with man’s wickedness. We are to be LIGHT, witnessing boldly to the Word of the Lord. Now he shows us that bringing light to others doesn’t just happen. It happens only when his light fills our minds and hearts so that it can shine out from us.
Darkness is a metaphor for ignorance or evil. When we light a candle darkness is overcome. This symbolism of a lit candle overcoming darkness, ignorance and evil was a powerful sign at the feast of presentation and Easter vigil. Tonight a candle is a symbol of hope. In this Black History Month, we are reminded to light candles of hope, love, unity and reconciliation. To light a candle is to say to yourself and others that, despite anything that might be happening in the world, you are still spreading a message of peace and unity based upon something beyond the present state of things and this hope is based upon deeper realities and powers than the world admits.
Each person has a God-given mission to fulfill, a particular job to do that has been given to no one else. The first reading tells us that human beings are free and we are accountable for our actions. The second reading speaks of the wisdom of God, so different from human wisdom, the gospel gives some examples of this. The disciples do not ask Jesus to explain what he says. They believe in the love of the Father and know that the way he shows them is the way of life.
The doctrine of Jesus is of eternal value to people of all times. To keep the truths of faith in their fullness is essential to the salvation of mankind. May he grant us the grace to light our candle wherever we are. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD.
Sunday, February 5, 2023 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Isaiah 58:7-10, Psalm 112 “ The just man is a light in darkness to the upright”, 1 Corint
My dear brothers and sisters, Black History Month is a month-long recognition of African Americans and the critical role they played in the founding and shaping of the United States of America.This year's theme is "Black Resistance”, which takes a look at how African-Americans have fought repression from America's
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. The Lord reminds us on this first Sunday of the Black History Month that salt flavors food, as salt preserves food and brings healing, so we are called to transform the world into an expression of beauty and goodness. We have the mission to change what exists in the shadow to what shines with the light. We have the power to go where there is evil and sow seeds of generosity and compassion. We are the force of the Spirit that blows with energy and joy”. Each of us have been chosen by God to bring the gospel to our homes, workplaces, to pass our faith to our children and grandchildren and share our gifts and talents with the world. The light we reflect is not our own but by God. Awe are the salt of the world because of Christ.
This Sunday, we begin the “Catholic Sharing Appeal” (CSA). We wish to express our sincere gratitude to you for your contributions and support to our mission and the Catholic Sharing appeal. Our annual Catholic Sharing Appeal allows the diocese to evangelize and serve in many ways Catholic charities- bringing the light of Christ to the less fortunate, Catholic education- preparing students to be a light to the world, faith formation (adults, youth and marriage and family life)- proclaiming the light of Christ, fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life- “yes” to the call, continuing clergy and religious formation- Amy their light shine before others, advocacy and justice-catholic social teaching, diaconate formation among many others.
Thank you very much for your continuous contributions and support. It is our prayer that the Lord bless us with a successful campaign. And may He bless you and your good intentions in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD