Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Throughout these past weeks we were looking into the different aspects of being Pro-Life. We saw that it is not another activist movement such as those around us nowadays. We also saw that it is not a matter of judging people or being anti something. We are called to pray and to serve the defenseless, especially the unborn babies, those in need, whether it’s a single mother, an elder, or a homeless person, but also those who are in need of spiritual help. But really, if we could summarize what is at the core of being Pro-Life, one can say that is to be PRO-CHRIST.
This weekend’s Gospel we will hear, we are first called to LOVE GOD. However, unfortunately, the word “Love” gets used more and more over anything. It is almost a cliché or just something that we should say for others to feel better. We can love anything and anyone, but without truly loving. We say that we love the Patriots, Red Sox…we love dogs, cats, parrots…we love summer, snow, fall, spring…we love travelling, staying at home, going on vacation, visiting family…we love running, knitting, watching TV, fishing….and we love God. We simply cannot place God in the “same category as everything before.” However, when we use our language like that, we can love God as we love other things that are limited/temporal. When we look at how Jesus loved the Father and has loved us, there we can see a self-giving-love, one who abandons himself completely into the hands of another. Ultimately, Jesus has loved with “all his heart” by being pierced on his side where water and blood was poured out. He has loved with “all his soul” by giving up his life completely on the cross. He has loved with all his mind by crucifying his reason and entering in the will of his Father. He has loved with “all his strength” by carrying all our sins represented on him carrying the cross up to Calvary. Lastly, he has loved “his neighbor” by redeeming us from our sins and offering us a way to salvation. THAT’S LOVE!!!
Therefore, by having (the love of) Christ at the center of our lives means all of the above. We will not judge the others as he did not judge the woman caught in adultery. We will forgive others as Christ forgave his apostles when they all abandoned him on his passion. We will help others as he has helped many who came up to him. We will be compassionate as Christ was compassionate for the people who followed him before the multiplication of bread. We will break bread with strangers as Jesus broke the bread with the disciples of Emmaus. By being Pro-Christ, we will have the good of others always in front of our own.
Lastly, by loving others as God has loved us, we fulfill all the vocations that we have. As we are called to be holy, to be the good Samaritan, to be a parent, religious, priest, single person, WE ARE CALLED TO LOVE, and love without limits. Sometimes we feel that the Church is a church of “we can’t do this or that.” The truth is quite the opposite! St. Augustine says that “if we love, we can do anything.” That’s because if we love, we will only seek the good of others.
This is the “last week” of Pro-Life Month. As we continue through the year, there will be other opportunities to advance this cause, such as Holy Hour for Life and hopefully we will be able to bring a group down to Washington for the March for Life. So please stay tuned!!!
I would like to say a quick word about the upcoming Feast of All Saints and All Souls. On November 1st the Church celebrates all the brothers and sisters who have persevered in the path of God and have accepted the salvation from God and are in heaven. From there they intercede before God for all of us. It is like having a bunch of friends “buddies” with God who are all rooting for us and hoping that we one day we will join them. That’s why it is so important to ask for their intercession. On November 2nd we pray for all the souls of the faithful departed. We pray that their sins will be forgiven or their faults purified (those in purgatory) so that they purifying suffering can be transformed into the joy of heaven. I invite you all to attend both masses. ON BOTH DAYS WE WILL HAVE MASSES AT 7:30am; 12:10pm; 6pm in English; 7:30pm Upper Church in Portuguese, and 7:30pm in the Chapel in Spanish. Also, on Saint Joseph’s altar, we have a book to write the name(s) of our loved ones who have been called by God so that we can pray for all of them throughout this month.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
We learn from the Gospels that there are two meanings for “blindness”, one physical and the other spiritual. As we continue in the Respect-Life month, I would like to reflect on these two types of blindness in our society.
There are two stories that we hear in the Gospels about blindness. One of them we hear in this weekend’s passage. Jesus is in Jericho, and there is a blind man who asks Jesus to be healed. We know from Mark that his name was Bartimaeus. He was sitting on the side of the road, when he heard a large crowd approaching. When he heard that it was Jesus who was coming, he began screaming for help. At first the disciples, and those who were accompanying Jesus ignored him. Then as he continued to shout all the more, they rebuked him and told him to be quiet. Even though it is remarkable the insistence and the perseverance of Bartimaeus, it is also quite significant that the followers of Jesus would treat a person like that. Being an eyewitness of how Jesus stops to cure the sick, and help those in need, we would imagine that they would behave differently. Even more after Jesus tells them (in the same chapter) to not prevent others (children in the case) to come to him. This leads us to think if we treat those around us like Jesus or like those disciples. Very easily today people can be dismissed or pushed away because of their physical, financial, psychological condition even when they are asking for help. Even when there is no condition, people in need can be left unaided, such as the woman in the news last week who was attacked in the subway and no one helped her. A blind person above all, represents a great vulnerability due to the lack of sight. They are susceptible to so many things, that often they require great assistance. And the question for us to reflect is, do we offer help to those who are vulnerable and in need of our help? Being Pro-Life also includes helping those in need due to whatever physical limitation that one might have or not. The Church teaches (Catechism #2447) about the Corporal Works of Mercy, as a way in which “we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.” The Corporal works are: Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Clothe the Naked, Shelter the Homeless, Visit the Sick, Visit the Imprisoned, Bury the Dead.
Regarding the spiritual blindness, there are two elements that we will need to address, ours and other people’s. From the Gospel of John we hear the other blind man, one who was born blind and was asking for alms at the gate. Although this man could not see, the spiritual blindness will be referred to regards to the Pharisees who were questioning his cure. The Pharisees knew the Law and the Word of God very well, but unfortunately, they failed to “see” Jesus as the Messiah. They did not see the miracle as a sign from God, but rather a defiance to the law. On one hand, applying that to ourselves, we need to reflect if there are things of God that we fail to see as His intervention, or people that God sends our way that we don’t see them God-sent. On the other hand, we also need to reflect upon other people’s blindness to see God and his love toward us. The first two Spiritual Works of Mercy (Admonish the Sinner and Instruct the Ignorant) are directed towards them. We are also called to help people who have drifted away from church or from the right teachings. In the Era of Fake News and unlimited access to information, it is very easy to be deceived or swayed towards lies. We are called to be living witness of the Truth of the Gospel. There is a Latin saying “in vino veritas”, which translated means the “truth is in the wine” (under the influence of alcohol, a person tells the truth). But we know that Truth is in God and him alone. So another element about being Pro-Life, it is also to help lead people back to God. Even in this time that folks can be reluctant or uncomfortable coming into church or engaging a debate that is not about politics or Covid, we still need to help them. God sends us as his modern day prophets to announce people His love and mercy, how He does not judge or exclude no one, but He does desire the sinner to turn back and live. (Ez 18:23)
I’m sure that many of us have beautiful life stories, and different ways in which God has helped us in our lives. Let’s pray to God that He may allow us see all of them and to share them with others. By realizing how much God has loved us, we will be propelled to love those in need, and bring others to this love. There is a great new to evangelize out there, where people are hungry and thirsty for God. The word of the Psalmist reflects the need of every person, “like a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.” (Ps 42:1)
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
When we are ordained priests, we always make a card as a memorial of such an important day. On one side there is an icon and at the back, a scriptural passage and the information of the ordination. One of the passages that I almost chose was the last sentence of today’s gospel, For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." The reason I liked this passage is because I feel that the call of each Christian is to serve. Whether as a priest, a married person, widow or single, we are all called to serve one another. As we continue to celebrate the “Respect Life” month, today we will look into how we can serve/help others.
First of all, the service of others does not mean that we do something waiting for something else in return. Nor do we do something for an agenda or a goal that we want to achieve. We serve others because we were served by others first. I’m sorry to quote the famous saying, but it does apply to this situation as well, “everything that goes around, comes around.” Although this is often referred to something bad that is done to others comes back to oneself, so should doing something good as well. In this case, God has loved and served us before we were born.
Secondly, it is important to serve all those around us, regardless of who they are. In a passage from the Gospels (Mt 5:46/Lk 6:32) Jesus says, “If you love those who love, what credit is there, even sinners love those who love them.” In a sense, if we serve those who serve us, what credit is there? This is the least we should do. (It is true that at times we don’t serve those closest to us). We need to serve those in need. Whether it is a person begging on the streets, someone with a disabled car, giving preference for someone else to go ahead in front of you entering in a place or at the intersection. There are many ways we can serve others. We need to be attentive to the needs of others and show acts of kindness to one another so that when the occasion arises, we are there.
Thirdly, we don’t judge the other. If we see a person begging for alms, it’s very tempting to judge that person as lazy, someone who does not work by choice, or someone who will use the money for their vices. Once I heard a priest saying this and it stuck in my mind that what the other person does with the money or the help we give them, it’s something between them and God. However, whether we help that person or not, that will be between God and us! We respond only to our actions. Jesus tells us that every time we serve the least of his brothers, we serve Jesus. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me." (My 25:35-36). Therefore if we can help a person in need, we can do it out of love for God and our neighbor.
Lastly, we need serve the way we can. Some are called to be leaders on the frontlines helping others. Some are called to contribute with their goods so that people can be helped. Still others are called to support them even in little ways. There is a famous line from Mother Theresa of Calcutta, we cannot do great things, but small things with great love. Whether we can give a quarter, or more, it’s imperative to help the person with love. Even when we can’t help others, at least we can ask their names and pray for them, or wish them a blessed day. Maybe it’s a matter of being prepared to help others, so planning ahead and keep some change in the car. You may have heard the time that I didn’t have any money with me when a person asked for help. However at the time I kept a small package of Oreos in the glove compartment in case I could not have lunch. The moment gave the Oreos to this person, he was so happy and it was worth more than anything to him. Although that was my lunch for the day, his joy was my joy!
Brothers & Sisters, today at the end of mass we have another opportunity to help those in need. The Knights of Columbus will be doing their annual Tootsie-Roll drive to help children with disabilities. It’s actually known as the “Fund Drive for Children with Intellectual Disabilities” and all funds raised are distributed to agencies who provide day care, respite care, and other support services to families with children with intellectual disabilities. In 2019, the Knights in Massachusetts raised and distributed more than a quarter million dollars to more than 25 agencies in eastern Massachusetts. Our local Council #81 came in 11thamong all councils in eastern Massachusetts, and we are hoping to break into the top 10 this year.
I pray we can be generous to others as God has been generous to us! Remember, if God is good all the time and all the time God is good, let’s imitate our Heavenly Father by helping those in need around us.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
In this weekend’s Gospel, there is a young man who asks Jesus what is necessary to inherit eternal life. Immediately Jesus replies that it is necessary first to love our neighbor. So, this weekend I would like to call your attention to a group of people that need our help. As we continue the Respect Life Month, this weekend we will be focusing on the unborn children.
Recalling this weekend’s Gospel, one may think that Jesus should have begun asking the young man if he loves God above everything else. We know it’s the first commandment. The second and the third are also in reference to the love of God. Instead Jesus skips to the second grouping of the commandments, which are all focused on the love of the neighbor. One may argue that if we don’t love our neighbor first, we can’t love God. We read in the first letter of John, “If someone says, ‘I love God’, and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother and sister whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20) So now the question becomes, who is my neighbor? Jesus himself in the parable of the good Samaritan tells us that our neighbor is those in need close to us. In our society we do have a lot of people in need. So, WHO SHOULD WE HELP? EVERYONE!!!! The poor, the needy, the stranger…everyone that God puts in our path. Surely there might be times in which our help may be limited, but there is always, at least something small, that we can do. However, there is a group of people that REALLY NEED OUR HELP, who are COMPLETELY DEFENSELESS, that don’t have anyone to defend them, and they are the UNBORN.
We believe in the Church that life begins at the moment of conception. We know from science, that the child begins his development from that moment. Week by week we can observe the formation of the heart, brain, and all the other organs. However, at that stage in life, they are completely vulnerable to all sorts of things, including the hardships of the mother. In my short time as a priest, many people who had an abortion say that they did not see any other feasible solution other than abortion. Today, with much regret, they understand it was the wrong decision. They see that there were indeed other ways to deal with the pregnancy. That’s why when we raise our voices against abortion, it’s not about the mother or the unwanted pregnancy. The main problem is that abortion is not and never will be a way to deal with pregnancy. Whether the federal government grants legal rights to the unborn child or not, we understand that there is a divine mandate to love and respect every single person, including those in the womb. That child has an innate right to live. So, when facing a situation in which the mother cannot raise the child, the annihilation of her baby is not the solution. Unfortunately, we also see how there is an industry that came about exploiting this vulnerable moment for the women. Allow me to make a very important note here. More often than not, the burden of the pregnancy falls on the woman, because the man does not take responsibility. For them it is very easy to run away or abandon their partner, which is very worrisome. If the father of the child were to stand with his partner, I believe that a number of them would not search for an abortion.
In light of this situation, WHAT CAN WE DO? We, as the Church, always pray for the mothers, the fathers, and the unborn. We have dedicated holy hours for the unborn and for the healing of anyone who had an abortion. Here in the Archdiocese we have the Project Rachel, which is a healing ministry for women. There are pregnancy help centers (we have two in Marlboro), and much more. This weekend there is one more way in which we can help the babies. Back in December, here in Massachusetts, the State Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing a legislation expanding the abortion laws, overriding the veto from Gov. Baker. Besides lowering the age of abortion, and removing the consent of parents for minors, the law also allows children who were born alive from an abortion to die. After a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court intervention, we were allowed to collect signatures to place a petition for next year ballots to protect these babies who survive an abortion. At the end of the masses this weekend, those would like to support this cause, we ask you to sign the petition. The petition forms are town specific, so please sign only the town in which you are registered to vote. This is a voluntary signature drive.
Regarding last week’s bulletin, in which we were also asked to help the elderly against the physician assisted suicide bill, below is the contact information of our State Senator and Representative.
James Eldridge State Senator - 617-722-1120 and Danielle Gregoire, Representative - 617-722-2140.
Father Steven Clemence