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
Sunday, July 23th, 2023 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19, Psalm 86: “Lord, you are good and forgiving”, Romans 8:26-27, Matthew 13: 24-43 MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCISFOR THE THIRD WORLD DAY FOR
Dear brothers and sisters!
“His mercy is from age to age” (Lk 1:50). This is the theme of the Third World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, and it takes us back to the joyful meeting between the young Mary and her elderly relative Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39-56). Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth addressed the Mother of God with words that, millennia later, continue to echo in our daily prayer: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (v. 42). The Holy Spirit, who had earlier descended upon Mary, prompted her to respond with the Magnificat, in which she proclaimed that the Lord’s mercy is from generation to generation. That same Spirit blesses and accompanies every fruitful encounter between different generations: between grandparents and grandchildren, between young and old. God wants young people to bring joy to the hearts of the elderly, as Mary did to Elizabeth, and gain wisdom from their experiences. Yet, above all, the Lord wants us not to abandon the elderly or to push them to the margins of life, as tragically happens all too often in our time.
This year, the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly takes place close to World Youth Day. Both celebrations remind us of the “haste” (cf. v. 39) with which Mary set out to visit Elizabeth. In this way, they invite us to reflect on the bond that unites young and old. The Lord trusts that young people, through their relationships with the elderly, will realize that they are called to cultivate memory and recognize the beauty of being part of a much larger history. Friendship with an older person can help the young to see life not only in terms of the present and realize that not everything depends on them and their abilities. For the elderly, the presence of a young person in their lives can give them hope that their experience will not be lost and that their dreams can find fulfilment. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and their shared awareness that the Lord’s mercy is from generation to generation remind us that, alone, we cannot move forward, much less save ourselves, and that God’s presence and activity are always part of something greater, the history of a people. Mary herself said this in the Magnificat, as she rejoiced in God, who, in fidelity to the promise he had made to Abraham, had worked new and unexpected wonders (cf. vv. 51-55).
To better appreciate God’s way of acting, let us remember that our life is meant to be lived to the full, and that our greatest hopes and dreams are not achieved instantly but through a process of growth and maturation, in dialogue and in relationship with others. Those who focus only on the here and now, on money and possessions, on “having it all now”, are blind to the way God works. His loving plan spans past, present and future; it embraces and connects the generations. It is greater than we are, yet includes each of us and calls us at every moment to keep pressing forward. For the young, this means being ready to break free from the fleeting present in which virtual reality can entrap us, preventing us from doing something productive. For the elderly, it means not dwelling on the loss of physical strength and thinking with regret about missed opportunities. Let us all look ahead! And allow ourselves to be shaped by God’s grace, which from generation to generation frees us from inertia and from dwelling on the past!
In the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth, between young and old, God points us towards the future that he is opening up before us. Indeed, Mary’s visit and Elizabeth’s greeting open our eyes to the dawn of salvation: in their embrace, God’s mercy quietly breaks into human history amid abundant joy. I encourage everyone to reflect on that meeting, to picture, like a snapshot, that embrace between the young Mother of God and the elderly mother of Saint John the Baptist, and to frame it in their minds and hearts as a radiant icon.
Next, I would invite you to make a concrete gesture that would include grandparents and the elderly. Let us not abandon them. Their presence in families and communities is a precious one, for it reminds us that we share the same heritage and are part of a people committed to preserving its roots. From the elderly we received the gift of belonging to God’s holy people. The Church, as well as society, needs them, for they entrust to the present the past that is needed to build the future. Let us honour them, neither depriving ourselves of their company nor depriving them of ours. May we never allow the elderly to be cast aside! The World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is meant to be a small but precious sign of hope for them and for the whole Church. I renew my invitation to everyone – dioceses, parishes, associations and communities – to celebrate this Day and to make it the occasion of a joyful and renewed encounter between young and old. To you, the young who are preparing to meet in Lisbon or to celebrate World Youth Day in your own countries, I would ask: before you set out on your journey, visit your grandparents or an elderly person who lives alone! Their prayers will protect you and you will carry in your heart the blessing of that encounter. I ask you, the elderly among us, to accompany by your prayers the young people about to celebrate World Youth Day. Those young people are God’s answer to your prayers, the fruits of all that you have sown, the sign that God does not abandon his people, but always rejuvenates them with the creativity of the Holy Spirit.
Dear grandparents, dear elderly brothers and sisters, may the blessing of the embrace between Mary and Elizabeth come upon you and fill your hearts with peace.
With great affection, I give you my blessing. And I ask you, please, to pray for me. Rome, Saint John Lateran, 31 May 2023,
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Francis
Sunday, July 16th, 2023 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11, Psalm 65 “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest”, Romans 8:18-23, Matthew 13:1-2
THE WORD OF GOD IS FRUITFUL
The Word of God is like a seed that God plants in the heart of man and bears fruit in the measure that it is received. The grace of salvation is offered to everyone but it is also always conditioned by the each person’s free response. Some hear it, and others don’t; some make it the center of their lives, while others go their way indifferently.
Sisters and Brothers:
1. Why is it that so many of our good deeds remain sterile and fruitless? It is because they are empty of the Word of God. Our consumerist, hedonistic civilization has hardened man’s heart so much that he is no longer able to understand why and how Christ would cure his heart! What are the obstacles that prevent the growing of grace within my soul? Does each day’s “traffic” keep me from thinking about the ultimate meaning of my life? Is it because there is no silent time where I can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit? Or is my soil full of “rocks and thorns” because of my inconstancy in good intentions and my attachment to the things of this world?
2. In a world that is run by criteria of efficiency and power, it is easy for me to fall into the temptation of thinking my worth is based on the appearance I give to others or their apparent acceptance of me. When this happens I begin to do things just to keep my reputation or to get to a higher position; I work in order to stay ahead of everyone else; I live more concerned with having than with being; I think I can achieve anything I want without the help of others, and I fall into a pride filled self-sufficiency. Yes, I need to recognize my talents, but I must always see them as gifts from God and a call to be responsible. Here’s a thought that should strengthen my commitment to those around me: “I am responsible for the world that surrounds me. No one can replace me in my task of orienting my life according to God’s will.” And so I am consoled by Christ’s promise: “Without me you can do nothing.”
3. The most generous almsgiving would be worthless, as would the most beautiful discourses and the most spectacular initiatives, if they are not born from a heart that is truly in love with God. God has sowed his grace in our hearts on the day of our baptism. It grows with our reception of the sacraments and our practice of the virtues; it is made fruitful by our good works and by the testimony of our Christian life. It is up to us whether or not God’s grace will bear fruit, and this is a comforting and motivating thought. The sower told no one “from you I expect thirty, from you seventy…” Rather, he reminds each one of us: “The first commandment applies to everyone” and he tells all of us to “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. Can we not say with St. Augustine, “If this saint and this other saint have reached holiness, why can’t I?” Let’s ask for this grace today.
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD
Sunday, July 2nd, 2023 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 69 “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News”, Romans 5:12- 15, Matthew 10:26-33
My dear brothers and sisters, in the first reading an influential woman assists Elisha with lodging in her home and, in return, Elisha wants to do something for her. I can imagine that nice places to stay were few and far between in the ancient world. It is a very grace-filled scene of hospitality and prophets, like Elisha, bore God’s blessing to any who helped them. As Christ’s disciples today, we must remember the blessing that we can be to others.
As we approach our country’s birthday celebrations on July 4th , it is a good time to reflect on our hospitality, or lack of it, toward immigrants. They are essential to the life of our nation; many fill jobs that more established Americans do not want to do. Yet, so many have faced discrimination as we see, even to this day. But being inhospitable, is not the biblical way and it is certainly not Jesus’ way.
Many of the children of immigrants would become part of the "Greatest Generation" as they willingly Many immigrants are forced to relocate because of dire circumstances in their home country. I often think about the stories I hear of some immigrants making perilous journeys to escape awful circumstances for the opportunity to have better lives. Hospitality should be our priority for those coming to our shores. Fear of "other" subsides when we encounter immigrants and realize they have the same hopes and dreams as we do. Christ’s Spirit is a twofold source of grace, first for the person who bears it and then for any who receive them.
At the Eucharist, we experience God’s hospitality. A banquet is prepared for us and we are welcomed in. We received God’s hospitality. But we also practice it as we, like the Shumenite woman, discern in this gathering a place where we meet God through one another, the Word and the Eucharistic meal. We welcome the Lord today and, as usual, when we are open to an encounter with God – we receive a blessing. In our society people are gracious and hospitable towards other people like them, their friends, family, business associates, etc. But we note today that biblical hospitality is different. What we know from our scripture readings, Sunday after Sunday, is that God comes to us through other human beings, but most especially in the hungry, poor, homeless, sick, prisoner and stranger. We have a ministry here in Eugene called St. Vincent De Paul. Their mission is “a network of friends, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need.” Volunteerism, therefore, is the heart of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and they work in helping neighbors in need. We are all called to play our part in being hospitals to others. Happy July 4th. May the Lord bless us. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD
Sunday, June 11th, 2023 – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ- Cycle A Readings: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a, Psalm 147 “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem ”, 19-20, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, John 6:51-58
We are beings of body and soul, both form us as human beings and both require food. In the reading from the book of Deuteronomy we have Moses' speech to the people of Israel, where he reminds them of what they have been through for the last 40 years, just before entering the promised land. There he reminds them of what they might never forget, that they suffered dangers, afflictions, hunger, and thirst. God answered each of their needs. When serpents attacked the people, He gave them health when they looked up at a bronze serpent raised on a pole. When they were thirsty, God made water flow in the arid desert of the hardest rock. And he satisfied their hunger with manna, not only to teach them that He can provide for their bodily needs, but also to teach them that they also have spiritual needs.
Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. This exhortation is necessary for many of us. As Catholics we have the unfortunate reputation of not reading the Holy Scriptures. Clearly we hear them at Mass, but taking the Bible home every day shouldn't feel strange. A few years ago, Pope Francis even commented that we waste a lot of time on our smartphones, generally on social media and video games. Instead, he advises us to keep a Bible app handy and read it when we have time waiting for the bus or in line. Sure, a printed Bible is certainly a better experience without as many distractions. But what this leads us to reflect on is the constant need for the word of God. It is through it that we know God better.
And because God wants to know us better too, our devotion to the Holy Scriptures is not enough, but God sent the Word itself, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, made flesh. God became a human being. The mystery of the Incarnation is what makes Christianity unique. By taking on flesh and blood like us, God reduced himself to the frailties of being a creature—without giving up being the Creator—in order to show us in a tangible way his love for us. So that, with the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, we do not doubt that creation is really good.
Jesus has left us entirely to Himself. He has left us his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is the Sacrament of God, and Christ gave the Sacrament of his most holy Body and Blood to the Church so that you and I can enter into communion with him and one another and so be his sacrament to the world. You are the body of Christ, I am the body of Christ, and the church is the body of Christ. Amidst all our different experiences and situations we remain part of the body of Christ and each day the Lord strengthens us with his body and blood. Jesus told them, If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you cannot have life in you. May we abide in the Lord and he in us as we eat his body and drink his blood.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD
Sunday, June 4th, 2023 – Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity - Cycle A Readings: Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9, Daniel 3 “Glory and praise for ever!”, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, John 3: 16 -18
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate Trinity Sunday and this Sunday is the perfect time for this celebration, since we have just celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit last week at Pentecost. After which began the preaching and belief, and through baptism faith and confession in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; in the trinity is our sin forgiven. We begin and end prayers by invoking this same God. But what does that mean to have a belief, faith and confession in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? This is one of the central mysteries of our faith. There are three persons in God. Go the Father, God the Son , and God the Holy Spirit. None is greater or less than the other but all are eternal and all three are equal. The father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God but there are not three Gods but one God. The Holy Spirit is all that the Father and the Son are except the father and the Son. The son is all that the Father and the Holy Spirit are except the Father and the Holy Spirit. And the Father is all that the Son and the Holy Spirit are except the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each is God, each is supreme before all others but each is distinct. This is a mystery.
The God who is not limited by space so we call him the immense; or in time, so we call him the eternal; whose power knows no limit and so he is omnipotent. Nothing can be added to make God happier or perfect. When we speak of the Trinity however, we do not only think of the greatness of God. The focus of the celebration is the relationship that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is the essence of this relationship that gives meaning to the Trinity and makes it a message for us Christians. The essence of the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity is love. It is the love of the Father that made him send the Son for the salvation of humanity. It was the love of the Son that made him obedient to the Father even unto death. His love for redeemed humanity made him send the Holy Spirit from the Father so that he may teach us all things and lead us to the Father. The Father and the Holy Spirit love the Son so much that at different moments in his earthly life, they manifested themselves to those who were with him. These moments confirm that Jesus had a privileged relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate this Solemnity, may we feel the love and presence of the Triune God.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD
Sunday, May 28th, 2023 – Pentecost Sunday - Cycle A Readings: Acts 2:1-11, Psalm 104 “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth”, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13, John 20:19-23
We congratulate our thirty one parishioners who will be confirmed this Sunday by Bishop William Wack. Confirmation completes the sacraments of initiation. We are born anew by baptism, strengthened by confirmation, and receive the food of eternal life in the Eucharist. We pray that the Lord , through the power of the Holy Spirit, strengthens the gifts he gave to our brothers and sisters on the day of their baptism and make them his worthy instruments of peace, joy, and renewed hope in the world. Also four of our confirmands will be receiving their first Holy Communion. We are very grateful to all the Catechists and those who have journeyed with them for their love and service in sharing the faith to our dear brothers and sisters. May the almighty God richly bless you.
My dear brothers and sisters, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. The birthday of the church, the day the Lord fulfilled his promise that he will not leave us alone. The first reading and the gospel present the descent of the Holy Spirit differently. The stories of Luke and John compliment each other and teach us that the Spirit is the new law, the power that enables humankind to do good. The Spirit is the source of unity (does away with barriers) and whatever the Holy Spirit is, the power and presence of God is felt. The second reading invites us to see the consequences of the presence of the Spirit in a community.
After Pentecost the Church struggles to live the language of the Spirit. In the second reading we hear Paul reminding the divided community at Corinth that their diverse gifts are for the good of the community. It is the one dynamic Spirit which is the source of the community’s gifts. And the Spirit which fired the apostles and which enthused Paul is the same Spirit which fires and enthuses us. The Spirit does1 that in our own mundane attempts to work at forgiveness and love and understanding. That is the language of the Spirit. Forgiveness, love and understanding form a language which everyone understands and needs to hear. That is the language we are invited to speak and the promise is that when we speak it people will recognize it as their own language. They can truly say that we are speaking their language because it is the language which has no boundaries, and no special dictionaries are needed to understand it. It is the language of the Spirit. It is the language of love: the language that all people understand. As we celebrate this solemnity, may the Lord bless us, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD.
Sunday, May 7th, 2023 – Fifth Sunday - Cycle A Readings: Acts 6:1-7, Psalm 33 “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you”, 1 Peter 2:4-9, John 14:1-12
My dear brothers and sisters, on this weekend many of our children and grandchildren, friends and family are graduating. We share in their joy and accomplishments and we pray for the blessings of God upon them and their heart desires. We say congratulations!
Today’s Gospel presents us with the beautiful words of Jesus at the Last Supper. Jesus begins by speaking of peace: “Do not lose your peace”, knowing that very soon, he is going to go through his own passion. However, he wants the disciples to have faith in him, despite everything that is going to happen. We understand the confusion of the disciples. Jesus is saying that, yes, he is going, but he is going to prepare a place for them. We heard the doubt of Thomas, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?”, and also of Felipe, “Lord, show us the Father and that is enough for us.” They are the feelings we have when life seems difficult. We walk in confusion and look for proof that we are on the right track. Many of us find comfort in the words of Jesus: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one goes to the Father if he is not through me.” The three qualifications: way, truth and life are applied to Jesus to indicate his three functions as mediator, revealer, and Savior. He is the only way to the Father. He is the only way to peace, joy, love, and hope. “Do not lose your peace.” This peace of Jesus is a peace that does not depend on politics. It is a peace that comes from God.
In reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the author tells us that there were certain complaints from the Greek Jews against the Hebrews. It seems that there was discrimination in the attention to the widows of the Greeks. To solve the problem, the Twelve summoned a multitude of disciples and a solution was proposed. It is interesting that they left the decision to choose the helpers to the community. It was a community decision to recognize men filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom for the service of the poor. They fixed the issue with the help of the community. We have hope in the vision that Saint Peter had of the Church when he told the community, “You are a chosen lineage, a royal priesthood, a nation consecrated to God and a people of his property, so that you may proclaim the marvelous works of him who called you from the darkness to his marvelous light.” It is true that we are weak, but if we open our hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit, we can live as witnesses of the wonders that God does through his Church.
We find solace in these readings. We know that the Church has always gone through difficulties, but the power of the Spirit carries it forward. Jesus tells us clearly, “Do not lose your peace.” May he bless us with his presence in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD