(Updated) Parish Bulletin & Pastor's Note - 27 Jan 2019

To view this week's Parish Bulletin, please download the PDF file attached to this post.

Pastor's Note for Sunday, January 27, 2019

By Fr John Sullivan, SJ

Following his baptism, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and began his public ministry.  In the Gospel, we see and hear the Lord announce God’s Kingdom, which has come near to us.  Christ begins this work by reading from the Prophet Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth.  These are his first public words, and, as such, outline what his proclamation and work are all about.  Jesus said that he has come to bring good news to the poor; release of captives and recovery of sight to the blind; and, to set the oppressed free.  These words make definite that the Lord’s announcement of God’s Kingdom is done through the proclamation of mercy.  Saint John Paul II wrote that love and mercy are the same.  When we experience mercy we are experiencing love.  Even though that may be the case, and mercy is something we always need and is faithfully given to us by God, I think it is also something with which we can have an awkward relationship.

In our minds, we can give to God the role of a referee.  We live life and with every step we wait for the sound of the whistle.  God stops the play, identifies the infraction and gives a penalty.  All may be forgiven but we still wait with apprehensive and fearful hearts for the sound of the whistle.  Mercy seems to always be given because we are always messing up, always making mistakes, always sinning.  Mercy, however, is not primarily about our mistakes, about our sins.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not a celebration of our sinfulness, rather it is a celebration of the faithful and merciful love of God.  Mercy is not the consequence of our sinfulness.  It is God absolutely refusing that even one should be lost to Him.  God does not accept that we begin to think of ourselves in any way other than God’s children, as His daughters and sons.  We sometimes think that our words and actions have become insurmountable obstacles between ourselves and God.  But mercy comes with its infinite power and renders powerless those things we think are too big to be forgiven.  The Lord Jesus came for our salvation.  And our salvation is worked through God’s mercy.  Adam and Eve hid from God when they broke God’s command.  Do we do anything different?  Maybe not, but we can begin now.  The next time we hear the whistle blow, our stomachs need not tighten, we need not say “I’ve done it again!”  When we hear the whistle, it isn’t primarily about correction.  Instead, it is God wanting to remind us of His most unquenchable love for his children.  If we have the faith to let God be our Father, all the time, then indeed the words of the Lord will be true and real for us and within us: “Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’.”    

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