Fr Bob Writes – August 1, 2015

Fr Bob writes: We have just come back from our mission trip to Peru. We brought with us many suitcases full of shoes, clothing, toys and toiletries to distribute amongst the very poor. However, we also brought with us the gospel of Christ, which could be summed up in these words from the gospel for this Sunday, in Jesus’ own words “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” 

It is very easy to focus on the immediate needs of the poor people we were ministering to. They face a daily task of finding food for themselves, and their families, housing, clothing, etc. But a deeper need is to find a moral basis for their lives, so they do not surrender to a culture around them that would enslave them in drugs, crime and prostitution. The moral basis that we provide are the words of Jesus himself from this Sunday’s gospel: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Throughout our mission, we were encouraging the people we were ministering to, to fix their eyes on Jesus, as the one alone who could meet their immediate material, but also their deeper, spiritual, needs.

Our society is very much one which teaches us to focus on the immediate satisfaction of our physical, material needs. This is short-sighted morally and spiritually, because our deepest hunger lies in our need to find a reason to live. That is why many young people in our Western society, provided with every thing they could possibly hope for, in material terms, still end up taking their own lives, because they have not found a reason to believe, a reason to live.

Jesus offers himself to us this Sunday, as “the bread of life,” in other words, as the only one who can satisfy all our needs, physical and spiritual. “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,” He says. Are we ready to make our all-out commitment to Jesus?

Fr Bob Writes – July 2015

Last Sunday, we had the joy at St Philip’s of celebrating the 68th wedding anniversary of a couple from the parish. Intriguingly enough, this celebration came in the same week as the Supreme Court of the United States of America released a landmark ruling that said that same -sex marriage would be constitutional nationwide.

In so doing, the Supreme Court changed the legal meaning of marriage, rejecting the universal meaning of marriage that has prevailed for millennia in favour of the novel idea that two men or two women can marry each other. Said Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Catholic, for the 5-4 majority: “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation>’

Although the Supreme Court emphasized that “religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned,” the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the decision “a tragic error,” going on to say that “it is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage” while Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, N.Y. wrote “Marriage is the lifelong exclusive union of one man and one woman, a font of unitive life and love as well as the foundation of a stable family and society.”

Our readings for this Sunday’s Mass remind us of the reality that, for those who are striving to remain faithful to God and His commandments, persecution and rejection will inevitably follow.  The prophet Ezekiel is told in our first reading that the people he will be preaching to are “impudent and stubborn…a rebellious people.” The psalmist laments that he has received his fill of “the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.”  And Jesus remarks in our gospel that “a prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”

Our society is gradually taking leave of the Judea-Christian foundation which formed its ethical backbone and opting for a neo-pagan lifestyle which advocates an anarchist approach to moral principles. Inevitably, we, as faithful Christians, will find ourselves subject to more and more criticism and attack for holding to a biblical moral stance. The readings for this Sunday remind us that this is nothing new, and that at these times, God tells us that “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.

I wish you a joyful and re-creating Summertime!!