St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

5th Sunday of Lent, Year A

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) is the shortest verse in the entire New Testament. It stands there all alone, stark, out there. It’s meant to make one think: “Why?” Why did Jesus weep?

He’s already determined to bring Lazarus back to life. That wouldn’t be the reason for his tears. Maybe he was overcome with emotion, seeing Mary and the people accompanying her weeping. We all had that experience: tears beget tears just as laughter is contagious.

Why did Jesus weep? I think it was frustration and anger on Jesus’ part. He’s getting ready to perform the sign that would culminate his miracles in John’s Gospel, a sign that brings life to Lazarus but would be a death sentence for him. He’s become a threat to the leadership and the fragile peace they had made with the occupying Romans. He had to go! He had to die!

Furthermore, he perhaps recognized the fickleness of the crowds and his own chosen 12 and the rest of his disciples. His hour was fast approaching, And, he would be all alone.

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35).

What do we do that causes Jesus to weep today?

As you know already, all Masses have cancelled until April 3rd. The Archdiocese hopefully will allow Masses on Palm Sunday weekend. A decision will be made at some future date. In the meantime, I am saying private Masses with the intention that those suffering from the virus will soon be healed and for the intention of those who have died from it will rest in God’s peace and their families turn to the Lord for healing. Also in my intentions at Mass, I’m praying for all individuals and families of our parish in particular.

Because I am of certain age and because of my own health concerns and the guidelines of the Archdiocese, I am limited in what I can do. I will certainly be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Saturday afternoons from 3:00 to 3:30 pm and on Monday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. At the direction of the Archdiocese, the Sacrament will only be celebrated behind a screen (no face-to-face allowed). I won’t be available for the Sacrament of the Sick in hospitals, nursing homes, or in private homes because of age and health concerns as long as guidelines are in place. This is at the suggestion of the Archdiocesan memo to priests. I invite you to pray with me for a quick end of the spread of this virus and a return to normalcy, whatever that might mean for each of us.

Helpful Links for Information and Prayer
St. John Fisher Facebook Page
Archdiocese of Hartford Website
Marlborough Food Bank
ORTV Daily Televised Mass
EWTN Daily TV Schedule

3rd Sunday of Lent A20

As a result of the Corona Virus all sorts of things have been cancelled, postponed or put on hiatus. Panic buying is in full swing. Do you know what is the most cherished commodity after hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and toilet paper? It’s bottled water.

Thirst can be deadly. The human body can live longer without food than water. And thirst can do strange things to us. I can remember a time on a bike ride when I didn’t drink enough water and became a little disorientated, weak, and scared until someone saw me and gave a drink. Sometimes medical intervention is needed as many of us have experienced. That’s why thirst is an excellent symbol of our greatest needs and deepest desires.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time A20

We are called to discipleship and from our way of living and acting. What does this mean?

1st of all it means that discipleship is not something we take upon ourselves. We are called to it, primarily by God and sometimes helped by the example of somebody’s life. Some people are very aware of that call because it speaks to their dreams and hopes or because they recognize it in the events of their lives. They hear the call as clearly as Peter, Andrew, James, and John heard the voice of Jesus. For others, it is not quite as clear. It may be a nagging feeling of restlessness or dissatisfaction in their lives despite all indications to everybody else that they are doing just fine, like the four in the Gospel today. They had a stable and somewhat lucrative profession as fishermen. But it wasn’t enough. And so, they left everything to follow Jesus.

But to be a disciple, not everyone is required to leave everything behind. Someone with a family isn’t asked to leave them high and dry by entering a cloister[1]. For most people discipleship is lived out in the ordinary rhythms of everyday life. Despite that, all disciples of Jesus are called to leave behind certain ways of living as they follow him.

“They are called away from lives of pettiness and division. They are called away from the kind of factionalism that threatened the unity of the Corinthian community. They called away from narrow-mindedness and mean-spirited competition” (which leads to the feeling that some are better Christians than others because they follow one way than another). They are called away from absolutizing their interpretation of the Gospel message. It is true that “it is often much easier to leave behind one’s nets than to leave the web of one’s prejudices.” [2]

What would Paul say to us today when the Church seems so divided and people are inclined to take sides, pitting one religious position against another, to dismiss as disloyal to the faith those who understand our common faith differently than we do? When people say: “I am a Pope St. John Paul II follower”; or “I really like what Pope Francis is doing”; or, “I would like it better if we followed the rules of the Council of Trent, or Vatican I; or I’m a firm believer in Vatican II, with its open windows letting the breezes of fresh air into the Church”; or “All theological study ended with Thomas Aquinas”; Or, “Karl Rahner is my hero.”

What would Paul say to us? More importantly, what would Jesus say to us; Jesus who said: “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old”[3] and also prayed at the Last Supper in John’s Gospel “that they may all be one”[4]?

What would Jesus say?

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[1] Based on what St. Francis de Sales wrote on seeking perfection.

[2] Quoted from Preaching the New Lectionary Year A, Diane Bergant, C.S.A. with Richard Fragomeni, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, ©2001, p. 221. I used her words liberally in the section above this quote as well, sometimes just as they were written.

[3] Matt.13:52

[4] Cf. John 17:21-23

Baptism of the Lord 20A

“Allow it now, for thus it fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”[1]

What does that mean? Jesus, the Son of the Father, Word made flesh, is the sinless one. Why did he seek the baptism for repentance from John?  From what did he have to repent?

Righteousness is usually thought of as being in a right relationship with God, with others, with the natural world, and with oneself. But in this case it means being in the right relationship with God’s plan of salvation. By being baptized by John, Jesus identified himself with sinful humanity though sinless himself.

I think that Jesus, by the example of his own life, wanted to change that which causes us to sin to its opposite: hatred to love; pride to humility; egotism to altruism; fear to trust; prejudice to acceptance; helplessness to perseverance; anxiety to courage; suspicion of others to confidence in them; and anything else we think of as a negative into a positive response.

At our baptism we received the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen, and be with us. In our Baptism we also became God’s beloved daughters and sons with whom he is well pleased. (As an aside: how many know the date of your baptism? [A show of hands. Not many.] Find it out because that was the day you were welcomed into God’s spiritual home.)

What an honor is bestowed on us through Baptism! What dreams God has for us!

Although growing to be more Christ like is a lifetime process, it’s attainable with God’s graces which God dearly desires to bestow on us if we but ask because “… it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

 

[1] Mt.3:15

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LENT: Fasting and Abstinence

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence.
FASTING means to refrain from eating food between meals and to eat only one full meal with the other two being lighter meals. It is required of those who are age 18 to 59. Liquids are permitted between meals.
ABSTINENCE means to refrain from eating meat. It is required of those 14 years of age and older.

DO YOU PLAN TO FAST THIS LENTEN SEASON?

When pondering what to give up this year, consider Pope Francis’ suggestions to observe this Lent:

  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

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