Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Before I get started I just want to tell all of you how edified I am by your generosity, your visible kindness to one another and the way you go out of your way to do good for others during this season of preparation. Every moment, your kindnesses are giving glory to God as you donate food, wrap giving tree gifts, drop off blankets and coats. There sure is a lot of need in the world today; there are also your many generous hearts who give in ways that may never be accounted for. Thank you.
As Bugs Bunny used to say, “Tempus fugits.” We find ourselves going forward ever faster into the year. 18 weeks until Easter. I invite all of you to take this special time particularly and treat it like you might a course. Most courses run about 23 classes during the Church year: count each Sunday as an installment as we live again the unfolding of God’s mercy and love in the story of his revelation, the incarnation of his Word, Jesus, his gracious love in giving over the mission of Jesus to his Church, ultimately his institution of Eucharist, passion, death, and resurrection. Do your homework each week and read the next Sunday’s reading thoughtfully and prayerfully. If you can, join a small group to gather and share the reflection of the next Sunday’s Scriptures. Imagine yourself actively involved in the scene, as if listening to the words for the first time.
Ask yourself two questions:
1. Where does this Word have a particular message for me at this time in my life?
2. In what ways is God inviting me to draw closer to him in my life today?
Ultimately it is a matter of attention, I believe. As long as we are paying attention, the time will not fly quickly past in vain leaving us unchanged.
To help chart the days as they pass, you will be receiving our annual Parish Calendar in the mail soon, our gift to you. Please put it in a handy place, and keep track of all the feasts, celebrations and parish events in the upcoming year.
Of course, this coming year 2016 is the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy as proclaimed by Pope Francis, a time that we will concentrate on the depths of the love and mercy of God. Bishop Loverde’s letter about it is in today’s bulletin.
As with most of Pope Francis’ writings, this proclamation is based on a simple foundation of relationship. For mercy to matter, there must be one who is merciful, and there must be one who needs it. People who need mercy are aware of some wrong they have done that needs to be set right, it is never a need taken lightly because it is something we can’t do for themselves. For one who is truly merciful, he or she must be freely able to choose to give it, or not. It is a tension between one’s large-heartedness and another’s heartfelt remorse and helplessness. It is a sacred exchange. There is also an interdependence in the relationship: a truly merciful person must have persons who can receive their mercy in order to know his or her own fulfillment, as well as the need for the seeker of mercy to be forgiven, delivered, redeemed.
What makes this most beautiful in the relationship between God and us is that God has no need of fulfillment in this way, yet he still freely chooses to pour out his mercy upon us.
The parable of the prodigal son in the Bible might better be described as the parable of the prodigal Father.
The result of this relationship is pure joy. Pope Francis sees this as one of the greatest needs in our world today—not only mercy, but the utter joy that is the product of its work. Real, authentic, abiding and unshakable joy. It is what lies at the heart of the Good News, a kind of news that the world is waiting to hear. We proclaim it by our actions, becoming people of mercy, as our heavenly Father is merciful. Having received it ourselves, we know how to share the gift of joy.
God bless you,