Father’s Weekly Message

Easter Sunday Message from Fr. Bob

The Easter celebrations are a trifle muffled this year.  What should be an exultant cry of praise as we emerge from the desert of Lent into the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem is now replaced with an uncertain stuttering.  We are not truly at the place where we can celebrate victory and triumph over the forces of evil.  The thanksgiving psalm for this Sunday, psalm 118, speaks about the deliverance of his people by the mighty hand of God, yet we are still labouring under the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.  How can we speak of resurrection on this Sunday, Easter Sunday, when so much of our world is still under bondage to fear, and suffering, dying and death?

Yet we can, we must, look beyond the inconvenience and disruption of the present crisis to the underlying reality that Easter proclaims.  From the first Easter until now, the Church has experienced many times of disturbance and trial, of uncertainty and stress.  And she has still continued to declare that Christ has put all things under his feet, including suffering and death.   He is “seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:2) from which position he will conquer every force, every principality and power that has intimidated and dominated humanity. 

This Easter celebration transcends every trial, every distress, every force of evil, in its declaration that “the right hand of God is exalted, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly” (psalm 118).  This current crisis, like every other tribulation that has afflicted God’s people, will pass, and we too will pass, from death to resurrection.  Death is not the end, it issues forth into resurrection. “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.” (psalm 118).  Time and again, the Scriptures proclaim that God has brought Israel back from the edge of defeat and destruction to live again in his presence. … Read more...

Fr. Bob Writes – April 5, 2020 – Palm Sunday

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Psalm 22:1)

This poignant, excruciating cry from the responsorial psalm for this Sunday, Palm/Passion Sunday is echoed by Jesus from the cross during the narration of the Passion during the same liturgy.

Perhaps there are some amongst us, faithful believers, who are nonetheless seeing this present coronavirus, as a sign that God has indeed “forsaken” or abandoned us.  Are we being punished for our sins, and the sins of all the world?  Such thoughts can plague us as we hear, day by day of an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, and deaths, including priests, doctors and nurses. 

We need to remember that, in Jewish liturgy, to proclaim the first line of a psalm, meant to proclaim the whole psalm.  Psalm 2 does begin with a sobering declaration: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  It does go on to speak of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual agonies undergone by the psalmist: “My hands and feet have shriveled /I can count all my bones” and “all who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they shake their heads’ and “they divide my clothes among themselves and for my clothing they cast lots.”  But the psalm itself concludes with a mighty declaration of trust and faith in God: “In the midst of the congregation I will praise you /glorify him, stand in awe of him!”

All the readings during this Sunday’s liturgy, which is Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday, speak of how suffering and death lead to resurrection and triumph.  This is the God-intended, Scripture-ordained, path for God’s Anointed One, His Messiah, Jesus Christ.  We cannot hope to emulate Christ and be His faithful disciple, if we are unwilling to take up our own cross, which may be the fear and uncertainty we are feeling right now in the midst of the coronavirus, or even suffering the symptoms of the virus ourselves.… Read more...

Fr. Bob Writes – March 29, 2020

‘And Jesus wept’ This verse, the shortest in all the gospels, is found in our gospel passage from John 11 this weekend, Jesus weeps as he sees all the mourners around the tomb of his good friend, Lazarus, who had died four days ago.  Jesus deliberately kept away from visiting Lazarus as he was dying, even though Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, had pleaded with him to come and save their brother from dying.  This was in part due to the political situation, with many of the authorities on the look-out for Jesus, to arrest him.  But it was also due to the fact that Jesus wanted to prove to everyone that nothing, not even death, was stronger than He.  He knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he was confident in his power to save, yet he also wept at the tomb of his good friend, to show us that death is a part of life, and must be accepted, but it also is not the end of life.  As the first Preface for the Dead in our Eucharistic Prayers for Mass declares: “Lord, for your faithful, life is changed, not ended.”|

Changed, not ended.  Jesus is greater than death, greater than sickness, and, yes, greater than the coronavirus.  This is a time for us, not to run away through fear from the virus, but to stand up to it, and pray to the Lord, for him to overcome this epidemic, believing that he can even raise people from the dead.  Even though we are in lock-down mode right now, there is nothing stopping us going into prayers of intercession and spiritual warfare, agreeing to pray together at a certain time and day the rosary, or the Divine Mercy, or whatever, even if we have to be in our own homes while we are doing it.… Read more...