pastor’s corner

Sunday, July 21, 2024

     Hello folks,

     The Lord be with you! 

     In today’s Gospel, Our Lord’s heart is moved with pity for the people who are like sheep without a shepherd. The people’s hunger for truth and for good leadership is admirable; they are flocking to listen to Jesus and the disciples who He had sent out on mission, even if risking a problematic outcome that the disciples have almost no rest and could be facing a sort of burnout! In contrast to some of the bad shepherds referred to in the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah who mislead and scattered the flock of His pasture, Jesus teaches them the truth, heals them, and shows them the path to eternal life. He continues to do the same for us today!

     Last weekend, the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump shocked many people in this nation and even around the world (see below for a response from Cardinal O’Malley to which I also join my prayers and thanks). However, the idea that the nation is deeply and passionately divided around politics is not new. It is an increasingly worsening situation, certainly since I arrived to the United States in the early 2000s. Until last weekend, perhaps strangely, I had thought this election cycle wasn’t as bad as four years ago. At that time (and of course 2020 was a crazy and difficult year with all kinds of suffering), many people were so much more strongly motivated by politics than religious conviction that, for example, many Protestant ministers simply quit trying to minister to their flocks and sought different careers! They couldn’t cope with the anger, vitriol, and bitterness found among their people. Perhaps that arose because the people had not received the shepherding they needed at that time. Why not? Maybe because we have allowed ourselves across society to become way too emotionally driven. Political and ideological divisions in the nation combined with Internet algorithms feeding ever more extreme views to people, to which is added fundraising and media manipulation and competition for “views” and “followers” and donations. All of this led to fear among potential leaders, including us duly appointed shepherds, whose influence was also diminished by the safety-motivated lockdowns that reduced our face-to-face time with parishioners, as well as probably false understandings of the separation of church and state (this is something we will have to address on another occasion). Perhaps we need to witness again the miracles that Jesus and His followers worked among the people. Then, starting to trust Him more than we trust those others who try to influence us, we can flock to Him again seeking the way forward in our lives as members of not only an earthly society and citizens of this nation, but more enduringly as Catholics whose citizenship is in Heaven.

     Last week’s “collect” (the prayer just before the readings) stated, “O God…give all who for the Faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to Christ and to strive after all that does it honor.” If we call ourselves Christian and encounter someone who believes very different things from us, such that they might be perceived as an “enemy,” will our response to them do honor to our baptism into Christ? Will we know in our heart of hearts that loving any earthly enemy is how Christ will be victorious in us over the traps and snares of the devil? If we genuinely think someone is in error in their thinking and acting, will we pray sincerely for them and offer sacrifices (little and great) to God to change their ways, and will we also beg the Lord to change us when we ourselves are in need of correction? Perhaps I have had an undue advantage in this matter because of having heard so many people recognize their faults and seek God’s forgiveness in confession, and even seek to amend their ways. What a privilege it is for us when God helps us change our path from the broad and easy slope to perdition to the narrow path to Heaven.

     I apologize to you for when I have not shown you the leadership that God desires for you. Please pray and offer little (or great) sacrifices for me and for all leaders in our Church, and for all the people in our two parishes to be completely converted to the truth that sets us free, to the life that puts us on the path to Heaven, to union with Christ who holds back nothing of Himself when He offers Himself to God the Father in the Eucharistic sacrifice and gives Himself whole and entire to us in Holy Communion. From this week’s collect, “Show favor, O Lord, to your servants and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace, that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity, they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.”

     God bless,

     Father Maher


+


Cardinal O’Malleys Statement on Shooting at Trump Rally (July 13, 2024) 


      “Our nation has once again witnessed another deadly and tragic shooting today. We join in prayer for the recovery of former President Trump who was injured today. We also pray for the families of those killed and the injured. We give thanks for the secret service and first responders who acted so quickly. As a nation, we must come to grips with the incessant violence that has too often become the norm. It must stop. We must find peaceful ways to resolve our differences and avoid all political violence of any kind. May the Lord bless our country and all who seek a just and peaceful society.”