"Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light." (Matt. 11:28-30)
"Sing to him, yea sing praises to him: relate all his wondrous works." (Psalm 105:2)
God is Alive! and So is the Church, through Love and Forgiveness
Today we celebrate in the Church the Feast of the holy Epiphany, wherein the Wise Men came from the East to visit the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Unfortunately, do to government restrictions of lockdown in Ontario, as well as other places around the world, many of us are unable to visit our families. We are thankful to God for the Internet, as a way of reaching out and connecting with people, especially those overseas whom we would not otherwise be able to see. (connect with us on Facebook and YouTube!)
However, the Bible says "Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb. 10:25) The empires and governments of man always seek to control (whatever the reason may be), and limit the freedom of people. We pray and seek the Lord for the day where we can gather to worship and pray again...
But, God is not a dictator. He does not seek to control us; this is why He gave us free will. Then, He sent His only Son to die in our place, so that those who receive Him become sons of God. (John 1:12) He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Cor. 3:17)
He does not force us to pray; He invites us into relationship with Him. In the following video, Fr. Fernando Suarez gave a beautiful homily concerning this. He always had a way of simplifying everything to make sense for us. In it, he also describes how he was persecuted so much by people in the Church 'who,' he says, 'should be the ones to defend you.' That is why it is so devastating! Yet, God always vindicates His chosen people: Fr. Fernando shares how he was vindicated by a special meeting with the Pope.
But, so many of us have also been persecuted, abandoned and rejected, misunderstood by men. Perhaps you don't feel you "fit into the club." Fr. Fernando said in the video, "this is not an exclusive Church, but an inclusive Church."
In this Year of St. Joseph, we reflect on the importance of love in the family. Let us not forget that the Church is God's family: and that we are commanded by Jesus to love
one another- first and foremost, we are to
love "those who are of the household of
faith." (Gal. 6:10)
It is said that St. John the Apostle, "toward the end of his life... at every celebration of the Eucharist, this last of the Apostles would deliver the same homily again and again. They say that this wizened man would stand up and look at his congregation and simply say: 'My dear little children, let us love one another.'" (link)
The Beloved Disciple had learned through persecution, exile, and misunderstanding, that this is truly the most important thing on earth. He was relaying the Heart of Jesus, the heart he heard beating when he laid his head upon His chest.
Today, we can see the importance of love like no other time in history. Jesus said that in the last days, "the love of many hearts will grow cold." (Matt. 24:12) Whether or not we learned to love on earth, will determine whether or not we enter into Heaven after death.
As a part of our Novena for Families, in each video we are included a story of love and forgiveness. (There is still time to join in!) Please like and share the videos, as you never know who might be blessed by this simple message of the Gospel. As St. Therese of the Little Flower said, "help me always to believe, as You did, in God's great love for me, so that I might imitate Your little way each day."
We have seen the love of God for people manifested in the life and ministry of our dearly beloved friend, Indian priest Fr. Prasanth. During 2020, a very generous donor payed for Fr. Prasanth to purchase a motorbike; because of this, hundreds of the faithful have been able to receive the Eucharist, have their marriages blessed, etc.
Fr. Prasanth, however, does not seek simply to meet the spiritual needs of the people, but also their hunger, thirst, and need for clothing. He is a light in his family and community. This is thrust of our ministry- the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, to help the hopeless in any way God allows.
He shared a most beautiful story of how, one day he was able to celebrate Mass at a local chapel. The pastor (himself a beautiful man of God) gave him some money, in order that he would offer Mass for him there. Fr. Prasanth receives a very small allowance from the Diocese each month ($80). Yet, instead of keeping this donation for himself, he immediately felt called to buy bread and distribute it to the poor. He feels he is continuing the ministry of Jesus, and Fr. Fernando. He said the following:
We feel this is what the Gospel is all about, and what Heart Two Heart Ministries Inc. is all about: helping the most hopeless of cases. It brings tears to our eyes as well... the way the young man is standing...looking as they show him the clothes...it's as if he is in total shock that someone cared, and a priest at that! Isn't that as it should be? A priest is to walk like Jesus- in the power of the Spirit, and in loving the poor. This is what Fr. Fernando showed the world. While there are many priests and people in leadership in the Church that may have let us down, surely there are holy and caring priests out there, who are full of the love of Jesus for His people.
Today, Fr. Prasanth and his pastor made the 6 hour long car ride from the village parish to Hyderabad, where a new Bishop Poola Anthony is being consecrated Metropolitan Archbishop. In these encouraging pictures, you can truly see that the Church is alive and well!
All in all, we wish to pray and say, that during this Year of St. Joseph, do not forget to love Jesus and one another! (Deut. 6:4-9; John 13:34)
Love and forgiveness no matter what! Trust and obey, there's no other way!