Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have heard in the past, “desperate times require desperate measures.” That might be true on many different levels. In the life of the Church, I prefer to use that desperate times need HOLINESS! We live in a world that has changed, almost reversed, the common values that build our society. In every way we are challenged to believe what the world wants us to believe. At times this message is so subtle that we don’t even perceive it. Pope Saint John Paul II once cried out saying that “what in the past was a crime, today is a right.” In front of all these challenges, it is a temptation for us to go with the flow, or to remain silent with our values quietly remaining in our hearts. However, God calls us to be prophets in this generation, bearing the truth to the people around us. By our baptism we were anointed Priest, Prophet, and King. So God already equipped us with the graces and the strength to be his mouthpiece in the world. Surely there will be criticisms, but the same thing happened to the prophets of the Old Testament.
Today’s reading enlightens us with the fundamental problem of mankind, namely, original sin. Once I heard someone explaining it as “a distorted desire for something that we don’t need.” Even though it’s very simple, and not theologically deep, it is very revealing. What makes us suffer today are the things that we would like to have (better house, job, car, etc.) or what we should have had (better childhood, parents, education etc.). The inclination to such desires conveys a subtle lie that God did not do things right, there is something missing in creation. In Genesis we hear that God said that everything was good, all of his creation. We might beg to differ. This is the dialogue between the serpent and Eve. The serpent plants a seed of doubt, questioning that if God limits us, he does not really love us. That’s only a premise to the final conclusion that we really don’t need God, that we can give life to ourselves. Therefore, Eve is convinced of eating of the fruit and disrespecting God. That seed of doubt is planted in each one of us. Christ has come to tell us (and prove) that God does love us. “God so loved the world, that He gave us His only begotten Son (Jn 3:16). Christ is the antidote to the doubts that are planted by the devil, and an answer to all of our problems. This truth has helped me personally many times in my life. In the dialogue between Peter and Jesus, Peter rebukes Jesus for wanting to die in Jerusalem. He replies to that saying, Peter, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mt 16:23) It’s true, sometimes we have difficulties understanding why God allows an event in our lives, or why He does not give us what we ask.
In front of all of this, we need help understanding God’s ways, to have our lives enlightened, so we can become this beacon of light that God calls us to be (“You are the light of the World”, Mt 5:14). We need encouragement to become today’s prophets in the world. We need assistance to become HOLY! This is what the world truly needs. Last week, the Church recognized a miracle attributed to a young man who died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15. He will be beatified very soon. What did he do different? He welcomed the Good News of the Gospel, that God is love!
For this reason, after more than a year learning about our parish, we have decided to start a series of talks from the Neocatechumenal Way, as well as implementing the program of the Disciples in Mission from the Archdiocese. While the former is approved by the Vatican, both of them are supported by the Cardinal. As our bishop, he has seen the need to implement ways to help our people. We will also be having adoration and confession on Wednesday’s and stations of the cross on Friday’s during Lent, as well as daily mass at 7:30am. This is something that can be offered to people of all backgrounds, no requirements are needed! And as is very seldom nowadays, both of them are gratis! Gratis means not only free, but a GRACE from God!
Therefore, I encourage you and urge you to participate and spread the word about these initiatives. All the Popes always speak of the New Evangelization, of a “radical” choice of the Gospel. We have a prime opportunity to listen to this call. We are living in desperate times, and the response is not desperate measures, but HOLINESS.
Father Steven Clemence