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Fr. Ron's Blog


Dear Friends,

I am continuing these extended reflections on the Sunday's readings.

For the past two Sundays, the Scripture readings have focused on sin, repentance and change of heart. On the 1 Sunday of Lent we were challenged to come to grips with our personal sins, to understand life as a battle between the power of God in our lives and the power of the Evil One, marked by sin, doubts about God's love and care for us and His presence in our lives. Following Jesus' example in the desert, we were called to take on this war against that power in our lives, knowing that God is there to walk with us.

Last week, Scripture assured us that the victory could be ours and strengthened us with the image of the Transfigured Lord, beloved of the Father to Whom we should listen so as to find our way through the distractions and temptations of life. For those who are transformed by faith, a final and complete transformation awaits them in the Kingdom.

So, thus far, the clear focus of the Lenten season has been on transformation and the change of heart that is necessary to achieve salvation. But with today's readings, a shift begins to occur, one that will be even clearer in next week's readings.

The 1st Reading today makes even more specific the change of heart we need by presenting us with the standard by which we are to measure our lives. To confront who we really are is to carefully look at our lives in the light of the commandments, the very specific actions that God has told us we are either to do (honor your father and your mother) or not to do (thou shalt have no strange gods before me). The commandments stand as the terms of the covenant between God and ourselves, the agreements by which we come to be as either faithful or unfaithful. When we judge ourselves by looking at these commandments we discover whether we are really putting the Adversary to flight, or falling in behind him. How well are you doing?

But as we move on to the 2nd Reading, and especially the Gospel, we can see the shift. The focus in the Gospel is on Jesus as the replacement of the Temple, as the new covenant in which we will find that salvation we were looking for through the commandments. It is now about faith in the person of Jesus, about the strength of that faith in the face of a world that tells us faith is out-dated and unimportant. It is about the way He lived and what He taught and how He offered Himself for us and our need to live in that image, offering ourselves for others. It is about knowing that because we are His brothers and sisters (through baptism); we are never abandoned, never alone, never without the Divine consolation which accompanies us as we walk our journey through life, even, and perhaps especially, in days (months) like these, days of a pandemic that has so altered our lives. All of these are the implications of that simple sentence, "destroy this temple and I will build it up in three days," referring, of course, to His death and resurrection.

Beginning today, it should be Jesus Who becomes the focus of our Lenten attention. Because He is the wisdom and the power of God, we need to ask ourselves whether He truly is that for us. Where do we look for wisdom, the wisdom that guides our daily lives? How is He power for us in a world that uses manipulation, distortion, carefully crafted "public opinion" to set a course for the world that leaves us wondering what kind of future will it be for our children and grandchildren?

As we begin to reflect in the next few weeks on who Jesus really is, the implications of our answer are no academic exercise. They really do touch on our daily living. Think about it. On another note, I share with you some information about myself. You know that my term as pastor of Mount Carmel officially ends June 30, 2021. In February, priests usually write to the Cardinal asking for a change of assignment or retirement or an extension of their present assignment. February may be the shortest month on the calendar but, for me, it was a long month of prayer, seeking to know God's will for me at this time. I cannot say that I was struck by a lightning bolt in answer to those prayers, nor did I have a vision or a dream. Nor did I hear a voice speaking out of the clouds. But I do believe the strong feelings I have are an indication from the Lord in which direction I should go. I have asked the Cardinal, and he has agreed, to extend my term as pastor for one more year, officially to June 30, 2022. Hopefully and prayerfully, the Corona virus will be in check by then and life, including parish life, will begin to take whatever shape our post-pandemic world will look like. Notice, I did not refer to "back to normal," because I'm not sure any of us can predict what that normal will look like. But I would hope to be able to share it with you, as we have shared so many moments over these years.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron

PS. Another plug for participation in the Annual Appeal. Brochures are at the doors and the campaign icon is on the homepage of the website.


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