This Sunday we once again hear the love letters of St. Paul as he writes to the Romans. As always, he opens with “brothers and sisters,” his beloved. Then he makes the bold statement “If God is for us, who can be against us?” As I always say, all Scripture is the living word of God, and Paul writes as if he is speaking to us in 2021. So, what does this mean for us today?
This is the beauty of Paul’s writings and this is what I believe we need to hear today. No matter what we face, whether that be financial difficulties, health challenges, family concerns, or even a pandemic, God takes each situation and somehow, beyond our understanding and comprehension, uses it for our benefit, in the here and now, and ultimately for our eternal benefit. This is indeed something to wrap our minds around.
God is with us always, in all our times of need, on this our earthly journey. God pours out His love and mercy upon us. Many times, in the present moment, this is not clear to us. It is only when we look to the past, to see how God brought something good out of a past challenge, that we can say to ourselves that we are not alone, and we trust that God will see us through this moment in time as well. This requires faith and trust in God.
We are God’s chosen ones. God is with us. It is no wonder Paul proclaims, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" The answer quite simply is NO ONE!
As we continue our Lenten journey together as a community of believers here at St. Julia, may we hold and keep one another in prayer. God is with us – and we, as His daughters and sons are loved. We must never forget that. May we unite any cross that we are carrying at this time with that of His son, Jesus Christ.
Please know of my continued prayers and I look forward to welcoming everyone home, that is to your spiritual home, very soon.
In our Gospel this Sunday from Mark 1:12-15, the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. This past year, we too have found ourselves in a desert, in what feels like at times forty times forty days. Yet in other respects, it is hard to believe that it has been almost a year. Mark writes, “He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” Angels.
The ministry of angels can be found throughout the life of Christ. It was an angel who announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Baby Jesus. Angels were present at Jesus’ birth. They warned Joseph. An angel was with Jesus when he was praying at the Garden of Gethsemane. Angels were ready to help when Jesus was betrayed. An angel rolled back the stone from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. An angel announced the resurrection of Christ. Christ ascended into heaven with angels present. The list goes on of how angels played an important role in the ministry of Christ.
Just as angels surround the throne of God the Father and serve Him, they also were around Jesus - attending to God the Son. The angels observed Jesus dying a humiliating death between two robbers. They observed the great love that Jesus showed toward humanity.
As a parish family, the angels have been with us and our community here at St. Julia, watching over us.
May we embrace this season of Lent with an open heart, and allow the Holy Spirit, and the angels too, to minister to us as we seek a renewal of mind, body, and spirit.
Please know of my prayers for all of your intentions, and may God continue to bless each of you and those that you love.
What is Lent?
Lent is the 40-day season of preparation for Easter that ends on Holy Thursday, three days before Easter Sunday. During Lent, Catholics recall their baptism and do penance – fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as they commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ.
What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent. Palms from the previous Palm Sunday are burned – ashes from these palms are distributed on Ash Wednesday as a sign of penitence.
Why do Catholics traditionally give something up during Lent?
To do penance in preparation for the greatest feast in the Christian calendar.
What is fasting and abstinence?
The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.
Abstinence from eating meat or some other food according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops is to be observed on every Friday of the year unless a Friday occurs on a day listed as a solemnity. The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat.
Abstinence and fasting, however, are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting in the Latin Church is the limitation of food and drink – typically to one main meal and two smaller meals, with no solid foods in between.
The law of abstinence binds those who are fourteen years of age and older. The law of fasting, however, binds all those who are eighteen to fifty-nine years of age (so until the beginning of their sixtieth year). Nevertheless, pastors of souls and parents are to take care that minors not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are also educated in a genuine sense of penance.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops decrees that the days of fast and abstinence in Canada are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fridays are days of abstinence but Catholics may substitute special acts of charity or piety on this day.
From Our Pastor