From the desk of Fr Stephen Mar 21, 2021

From the desk of Fr Stephen

When I lived in Houston, we had about 2,000 Hispanic people at Mass on Sunday and about 1,000 English-speaking people.  We did not have many African Americans; however, one black man did come to church every week.  His name was Jerome.  He was not Catholic but was there every Sunday and many times during the week.  Even though he was not Catholic; he was as faithful, if not more so, than many others.  He would regularly, which I thoroughly enjoyed, shout out “Amen, Amen” whenever he liked something the preacher said.  I enjoyed hearing that, if for no other reason but knowing someone was listening.  That instant feedback from someone is good to hear, and this means a person is listening and agreeing with what you are saying.  I hear this same “Amen” many times in our church at the Rock and want to continue hearing it.

In the Gospel we hear today, Jesus himself says “Amen, Amen”.  It’s as if he is stating this to himself and is reaffirming what he is about to say.  It must be important if Jesus is saying “Amen” to himself.  It focuses our attention on just what Jesus is saying.  Immediately after Jesus shouts “Amen”, he talks about a grain of wheat dying.  “Unless this grain of wheat dies, it will not attain any fruit.”  Jesus is calling attention, in this example, to the reality that he must himself die.  It is only in this dying that his efforts can gain any fruit.  He has come to die so that we might live.

We hear these reminders of dying, especially during the season of Lent.  These six weeks, as we know, are leading to the climax of Holy Week and Jesus’ Passion.  But the story does not end there.  In his reference to the dying and bringing forth fruit, Jesus is also challenging every one of us.  Jesus says we must die to ourselves for the Fruit of the Spirit to come alive in us.  This is not actual physical death but dying to our self-will.  Remember, Jesus calls us to renounce ourselves in order for Jesus to be more fully alive in us.  It is only in this emptying that Jesus can bear fruit; this is a reminder for us especially during Lent.

It seems the worst of the COVID is over.  I cannot predict the future, but it feels good to say that.  In our parish, we priests have tried to be as present to people’s needs as we can.  Of course, we have not been able to see many of the elderly.  I want you to know now that if anyone needs a home visit, please let us know.  There may be some who would like to receive the Eucharist or have an anointing.  Fr. Rodney and I want to do this for you if you are willing.  May God continue to bless us during these trying times with Mercy and Love.