From Our Pastor's Desk
From Our Pastor's Desk
Sunday, August 27th, 2023 – Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Isaiah 22:19-23, Psalm 138 “Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands”, Romans 11:33-36, Matthew 16:13-20
THE FIRST AMONG HIS BROTHERS
Today’s texts emphasize the place that Peter holds within the Church. He is the first among his brothers. He professes his faith in Christ on their behalf, but he also has the responsibility of building the Church on solid foundations and defending the patrimony of the faith.
Sisters and Brothers:
1. Peter is the protagonist of today’s Gospel, and so we must reflect on the mission entrusted to the Holy Father: governing the Church and sanctifying the people of God. We live in difficult times, where materialism and relativism are threatening the Church from all sides. In some countries persecution is intensifying and the number of martyrs is growing. This could easily cause general confusion and discouragement.
2. When the words of a wise man are backed up by the witness of a holy man, it becomes for us a Grace of God and sure reference in doctrine and customs. The Pope invites us to not be afraid: in the words of Pope Saint John Paul II, “Open wide the doors of your heart to Christ!” Each and every Christian should respond with fidelity to his teachings and with childlike love for his person.
3. The responsibilities and attributes entrusted to Peter are represented by three symbols: “rock”, “keys”, and “to bind and to loose”
Rock: Peter is the rock that guarantees the stability of the Church. “You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church.” Peter and his successors were entrusted with this mission for the sake of the Christian community.
Keys: He who holds the keys of a house or city has the responsibility of protecting it. With regard to the Pope, these are powers of administration and government in the spiritual realm. Peter is the guardian of the faith and customs of the Church. The keys symbolize the authority of “opening and shutting” that Peter has been given.
To bind and to loose: this metaphor uses legal language that ordinarily designates what is permitted or prohibited. In gospel language, however, it means the capacity of discerning in order to distinguish what is the will of God from what is not. It is not a power of domination but of service to the community.
The Pope is the reference point and the guarantee of doctrinal and moral orthodoxy, because Christ Himself confirmed his primacy in Peter: “The Pope is he who presides through Charity”
4. In today’s Gospel Christ asks us once again: “And you, who do you say that I am?” We know we cannot answer this question with human reason alone. Rather, it is a challenge that each one must respond to by learning to live in harmony with God and abandonment to his interior workings of hope and love. It is an act of freedom, a decision of faith. Only when the grace of Christ unmasks our egotism are we prepared to give the answer He most desires to hear: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And so we are born into new light..
Source: ePriest.com / Best Practices and Homily Resources for Catholic Priests Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD
Sunday, August 20th, 2023 – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7, Psalm 67”O God, let all the nations praise you!”, Romans 11:13-15, 29-32, Matthew 15:21-28
A MISSIONARY HEART
Today’s liturgy questions the comfortable position of Christians who think that it’s enough to just be good without trying to be better, Christians who do not lift a finger to make the world a better place. Being missionaries is part of the essence of our calling, just like the simple friars who evangelized the new world five centuries ago, or the missionary youth and families of our own time who go from door to door reaching out to those whose faith has faded. Christ died to ransom each and every person. At the end of the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus reminds us that salvation is for all people: “It is the Father’s will that not one of these little ones be lost.”
Sisters and Brothers
1. To whom shall we be missionaries? To those who are farthest away. “The farthest away” are the nonbelievers, the inconstant Christians, and the indifferent. They are all who live in a state of existential disgust. Deep down they are waiting for someone to tell them about the Lord and bring them closer to Him. All men, whether they know it or not, are seeking God, and even as they stumble onward, they hope to find Him.
A Christian’s attitude must be one of openly looking for God in these brethren who are far from God, and of accompanying them on the path of salvation. To discover the face of Christ en every human being, regardless of their situation, their past, or their state of life.
2. Our missionary outreach to our distanced brethren must be marked by open and respectful dialogue, carried out with gradually, with intelligence and patience. We must not be rigid. Faith is proposed, not imposed. We must be open to all men, without any discrimination based on race, culture, or religion. Nevertheless, this does not mean we turn our missionary zeal into “indifferent syncretism”. This would lead us to accept all sorts of things against the faith and deny or diminish the values of salvation that Jesus Christ brought to us.
3. Not all of us have the chance to travel to far-off lands, cultures, or religions, but yes, we can still live out our missionary calling in the most familiar circumstances. We can be missionaries in our family, our work, our social life, and any place where we can promote what unites us and fight against division and alienation.
This attitude of communion becomes visible when we are able to see the positive in others, when we embrace them and value them as a gift from God in our life. It means knowing how to give our brothers and sisters space and help them carry their burdens. It means rejecting the selfish temptations that constantly beset us, engendering competition, mistrust, and envy.
Sisters and Brothers: May the Word of God commit us to be better Christians in our daily life by being open with sympathy and trust to all our brothers and sisters, believers and non-believers, leaving aside any kind of aggressive attitude. The world needs coherent and attractive witnesses of Christian life: The Lord tells us, “Do this and you will live.” Source: ePriest.com / Best Practices and Homily Resources for Catholic Priests
Sunday, July 30th, 2023 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, Psalm 97 “The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth”, 2 Peter 1:16-19, Matthew 17:1-9
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, retreat is very important in our Christian life. It can be defined as a definite time spent away from one’s normal life for the purpose of reconnecting, usually in prayer, with God. In today’s gospel account, Jesus retreats. ‘Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves,’ we hear. It seems that Jesus needs to get away from it all, and what better place to get away from it all than a mountaintop? This retreat comes at a turning point in Jesus’ ministry – and, coincidentally or not, this happens about half way through the gospel according to Matthew. For months, Jesus has been traveling the Galilean countryside, and occasionally beyond its borders; preaching, healing, performing miracles, proclaiming and the good news of kingdom of God. But then the focus and the mood shifts. It all starts when some Pharisees and Saddcuees ask Jesus for a sign from heaven, basically questioning his authority. Who are you, Jesus?
This must have led to some self-reflection on the part of Jesus, for shortly thereafter, Jesus asks his disciples. ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And then, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ He made the first prediction of his passion, death and resurrection and has told his disciples the need for them to deny themselves, carry their cross and follow him. Jesus needed to strengthen them to face what was to happen to him in Jerusalem. The disciples needed a confirmation that Jesus’ evaluation of the will of God is correct. He took Peter, James and John from their ordinary day life up the mountain to have a deeper revelation of the person and mission of Jesus. They climbed the mountain of prayer. On that mountain, they experienced another side of Jesus that they have never seen. “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.”
And they got the confirmation from the voice in the cloud that said “listen to him”. Our spiritual exercise are meant to help us to listen to Jesus who speaks to us about God’s plan for us. When we learn to listen to God, we grow in faith because the Word of God enlightens us and nourishes our faith. My dear friends, retreat is a time when the Lord calls us from our ordinary day life, from our experiences and situation, joy, anxiety, fears, securities, to be with him on the mountain. To experience the Lord who is committed in forming his character in us. We all get tired and need time to think afresh about our image of God, our commitment to him and our mission in the service of the Kingdom which Jesus entrusted to us. There are moments that what we need most is to find a new enthusiasm and a new affirmation from the Lord. who wants to say to speak to you. May the grace of God lead and direct us. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD