Sunday, March 21 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
As we prepare to celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Lent, I would like to invite you to spend a few moments of your time with the Gospel reading for this Sunday.
“The gospel of this Sunday proclaims the paradoxical wisdom of emptying in order to become full, of dying so that we may be raised to new life. This is the “hour” of radical obedience and exaltation for which, from Cana, through controversies, festivals, and miraculous signs, Jesus has been waiting: an hour that in today’s gospel sees Jesus sought by new “first disciples,” those beyond Israel, to whom the evangelist refers as “some Greeks.” They were probably Greek-speaking Jews who had come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They approach Andrew and Philip, two of Jesus’s original disciples who are apparently approachable and good at bringing others to Jesus. (Remember Peter, Nathanael, and the boy with five barley loaves and two fish.) Although these seekers may have been Jews from far-flung places, John uses this episode on the threshold of Jesus’s “hour” to suggest the call of the Gentiles. Many nations who eagerly seek Jesus will be drawn into his mystery when he is lifted up from the earth on a cross; all those who will belong to the church that is meant to be multiracial and multicultural.
To explain the meaning of his “hour,” Jesus tells the parable of a grain of wheat. When it is dropped into the earth, the seed shrinks, empties itself, and dies. But in the warmth and moisture of the earth new life breaks out of the husk and bears much fruit. “Fruit” in John’s gospel means “life,” and the hour is at hand when Jesus will be buried in the heart of the earth and rise from there to transformed and transforming life.
The larger world beyond Israel now includes us. If we wish not only to see but also to follow Jesus, we must choose to empty ourselves of self-centeredness, of the instinct for self-preservation at the expense of our sisters and brothers. Those insulated from others’ suffering, eager for good connections, popularity, and status, rather than finding and following Jesus, will lose their lives. From seeds buried in the warm love and service of others, and watered by fidelity to our baptismal commitment, the Christian community grows into the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is not easy; it was painful for Jesus, and it is painful for us. Jesus’s soul was troubled, we hear, but he embraces his hour of his own free will. He has already told the crowds, “No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father” (John 10:18). What Jesus has done, he proclaims, has always been for the glory of his Father, and he will die because of the way he lived. The Father’s voice affirms Jesus’s proclamation, declaring that Jesus is giving glory to God, and will be glorified because of this. It is a voice, says Jesus, that speaks not so much to reassure Jesus himself, but to bring faith and encouragement to the bystanders.
We are now the crowd assembled around Jesus. Do we understand his words or the Father’s voice? Can we recognize his saving cross at the epicenter of the tragedies that are born of sin, planted on the seismic fault lines that threaten to open and crack our world apart: the divides between rich and poor, peace and violence, north and south, east and west? Even more important, can we allow ourselves to be drawn to the exalted cross of Christ so that we ourselves may offer from the “right place” of the cross the fruit of healing reconciliation for the glory of God?” (Living Liturgy 2021)
As I mentioned in my weekly message last Friday, we have provided numerous opportunities for Masses and Liturgies for Holy Week and Easter. Some of them are very busy already and some have a very small number of bookings. Please reserve your Mass or Liturgy as soon as possible to help us determine the number of ushers and lectors that will be needed.
This week our Confirmation candidates from St. Francis Xavier School (on Tuesday), St. Clare of Assisi School (on Wednesday) and St. Agnes School (on Thursday) will celebrate the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation. Please keep them in your prayers, that they may be courageous witnesses for Christ and his Church in the world.
Last weekend at all Lord’s Day Masses I informed our congregation about the serious problems with our two candle rooms. What’s the story? A few weeks ago, one of our long-time parishioners expressed an interest in providing financial assistance to renovate one of the rooms. To obtain the proper information about how much it would cost, we contacted the Diocese about sending a construction company to take a look at the project. During the assessment it was discovered that all of the pillars supporting the candle rooms are rotten and have been almost entirely eaten away by termites over the years, and they cannot support the windows which constitute the main portion of the walls. The recommendations from the construction company and the engineer that did the assessment are that:
– no one should be entering the candle rooms from now on because they could collapse
– the rooms cannot be simply restored – they would have to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Therefore, I wish to inform you that the candle rooms are now closed to the public and cannot be used for unforeseen future. The Diocese will provide further assessment on the situation as we go forward.
The Bishop Farrell Library and Development and Peace are partnering to offer the Reel Justice Film Festival, a series of online viewings of justice-themed films followed by opportunities for discussion. This month, on Thursday, March 25 at 6:30pm, they will be featuring the film To the Arctic. This 40 minute documentary is suitable for the whole family! An extraordinary journey to the top of the world, the documentary adventure reveals a compelling tale of survival. Narrated by Oscar winner Meryl Streep, the film takes audiences into the lives of a mother polar bear and her twin seven-month old cubs as never before captured on film, as they navigate the changing Arctic wilderness they call home. To sign up, please visit this link. There are so many issues of injustice all over our world, it is hard to know where to begin. This is a great place to start!
This weekend is Solidarity Sunday. Share Lent has been a tradition in Canadian parishes since 1968. It was established to embody the two pillars of social action – charity and justice – that Pope Benedict XVI described as “not only social, but also spiritual actions, accomplished in the light of the Holy Spirit”. Each year, the campaign tells the stories of our sisters and brothers in the Global South. Not stories of poverty and misery, but of incredible strength, resourcefulness and courage. Development and Peace and its partners can accompany and support them in their quest for justice because thousands of Canadians donate to Share Lent every year. This year, our campaign theme is Share Love, Share Lent. It is inspired by the message of social fraternity conveyed by our Pope in his latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. The Solidarity Sunday collection is an opportunity to honour the Holy Father’s message as a global community and to find inspiration from the parable of the Good Samaritan which is at the centre of his encyclical. Please give generously! Your donations make a big difference in the world. You can visit the parish YouTube channel starting tomorrow to view a video from our parish Development & Peace team to learn more about Solidarity Sunday and how you can contribute.
Our Lenten Retreat for Youth and Families continues this Sunday evening from 7-8pm on Zoom, and all are welcome to attend! This week’s theme is Repentance. If you would like to participate and are not on the contact list, please email Wes at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the Zoom invite.
You’re invited to join us for Sunday Mass in person as we gather as a believing community. For parishioners who are prevented from attending at this time we provide the livestreamed 9am Sunday Mass on our YouTube channel.