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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

You're probably saying to yourself, 'here he goes again. He said he wasn't going to do another column but he is.'

Sorry, but I will try to make this the last until September. This column is basically a written version of my homily for last Sunday. You will remember that the gospel was the narration of the multiplication of the loaves. I have expanded it a little from the "preached" version.

If you goggle the front page of the New York Times for Sunday, May 24th, you will find a strange sight. No articles, no photographs, no graphics. Just a listing of names. Names, with  their  ages   and hometowns. Some with  brief descriptions. "Put himself through college." "Enjoyed long drives, late nights and huge meals." "Talented painter, well known for his landscapes." 1,000 names in all. 1,000 people taken by Covid 19. 1,000 deaths, but only 1% of the total the United States was reaching on that Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend.

On Friday, I had a funeral in the morning, a baptism in the early afternoon and a wedding later in the day. Yesterday (remember, this was from my homily last Sunday) we celebrated two confirmation ceremonies. If I closed my eyes I could think the parish was back to normal. Just the way any two days might be in the life of Mount Carmel. But deep down, we know better. As we read headlines about what's happening around the country, or even down the Jersey shore, as we see the stalemates in our national government and the continued economic crisis that so many face, we know it's anything but normal. Even when we try to dismiss it from our thoughts and plans, we know it's always with us.

What will separate us from the love of Christ is the question Paul asks in today's second reading. Anguish or distress? Covid? Loneliness? Grief? Personal failures? Whatever we face in these days of distress, it cannot separate us from the love Christ has for us. Not death, nor life, not the present state of affairs nor the future fears we carry, not angels or all the worldly powers, worldly governments, failed churches, human law or public opinion - none of these things can separate us from the love Christ has for us, according to St. Paul.

And where do we find this love? In the Eucharist, right here, right now. In this bread Jesus blesses and breaks for us and gives to us. In today's gospel, Jesus wanted to be alone. His cousin, John the Baptist, had just been beheaded. Jesus mourned, but he must have also felt the danger hanging over his own head and so he goes off to be alone. But the crowd followed him and we are told Jesus was moved with pity for them. In Aramaic, the word connotes a gut-wrenching response of compassion. That's what Jesus was moved to. And so he fed them. It is one of the few miracles attested to by all four evangelists. And in each case the  scenario includes Eucharistic wording and images, he gave thanks, he blessed and he broke. This wording prefigures Jesus' actions at the Last Supper. Out of compassion for us, Jesus gives us himself.

And he feeds us here, at his table. And when he has fed us, with his very self, his REAL PRESENCE, then we can find the strength to answer Paul's question - what will separate us from the love of Christ, Covid, the past, the present, the future?

AND THE ANSWER FROM US WILL BE - NOTHING! NOTHING!

This is where the homily stopped. But I want to continue with a word. A word of invitation. I invite you, everyone, to really be fed. To be fed with the REAL PRESENCE of Christ in your lives. To be fed by the Christ who can strengthen you to face the present and the future without anxiety, without fear. With confidence that the Lord is with you in every step.

A number of people who have just recently returned to physically celebrating have commented that once they were in the church, and saw the precautions we've taken, how safe they feel. While  the restrictions remain at  100, something we take seriously, there will always be limits to the numbers we can accommodate, but if you should one day check the website and see openings,  I invite you to come and allow the Eucharistic Lord to feed you for the journey ahead and to know his compassion for you, for all of us.

Be well, be safe and God Bless,
Fr. Ron

PS.  I'm not sure we've told you this but reluctantly, but realistically, we have made the decision to cancel this year's Block Party.

Be well, be safe and God bless,
Fr. Ron

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