My dear Parishioners,
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you who offered prayers for my sister during her bouts with cancer for over a year up to the time she was put in hospice care. Because of those prayers I know that my sister was filled with hope and was very ready to welcome the call of the Lord which took place last March 29. It is has been hard for her family as well as for us, her three surviving siblings. It was even harder for us because this all happened during this crisis time of the coronavirus pandemic. We even have to wait for over two weeks before we could lay my sister to rest last April 18. I also would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of your love and sympathy to me and my family and for the generous gift of some of you to assist us for our funeral expenses. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
As we wait for the 15th of May when the CDC stay home mandate will be lifted, I invite us to take this Fourth Sunday of Easter message as an encouragement for all of us to be bearers of Good News in the midst of trials and sufferings. God assures us that He is the Good Shepherd who will never abandon us. He is here to lead us and guide us throughout our lives. He who has risen from the dead is alive and is with us!
We know and I believe that God has always been with us throughout this pandemic. He is very much involved in all the things that were going on around the world during this unprecedented time in our history. Together, we witnessed the last Holy Week how it was so different from any Holy Week that we observed before. It was so strange and unique that I myself will remember it for a long, long time. It was a memorable event that left many of us amazed that God could use that Holy Week’s experience to change people’s lives for the better by the mere fact that God has been truly present in all of the services.
For me, as a priests I realized how important the personal presence of the community in celebrating the mass. I shed tears after having celebrated Palm Sunday, the Triduum and Easter Sunday for missing your real presence, and the warmth of the greetings we share with each other. But there is joy in knowing that God’s grace and blessing have reached most if not all, the domestic churches or your homes by way of live stream media. Thanks to the two ladies: Mariala Malyszek and May Monesi, who continue to provide the technical assistance for us in live streaming all our masses and other prayer services. They too are bearers of Good News.
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is designated as Good Shepherd Sunday and also Vocation Sunday. The selected readings for this fourth Sunday of Easter tell us that we are all God's messengers.
We have all received the Holy Spirit, first at baptism, and then more abundantly at confirmation. This gift is meant both to help us in our personal relationship with God - the most important relationship of our life - but also to help us become better messengers, better ambassadors for Christ in this fallen, suffering world. Even so, God does call some of his children to be messengers in an even fuller sense.
Every Christian is a soldier to use an analogy, but God sets some Christians apart to be officers and special agents. These are the vocations to the priesthood, religious and consecrated life, and full-time missionary life. Without these vocations, the supply lines for the rest of the army break down, and the soldiers on the battlefield can't fulfill their mission.
Not all of us are called to be priests and religious, but all of us are called to encourage vocations. We can do that in three ways:
- First, we can pray for God to call many more young men and women to these special vocations. Jesus actually commanded us to do this.
- Second, we can pray for those whom God is calling to be given the courage to accept the invitation. This is especially important in today's world, which laughs so loudly at lives dedicated entirely to God and neighbor.
- Thirdly, we can encourage young people to give God the first shot at their hearts. Let us ask them if they have ever considered a vocation and then suggest that they go on a retreat at a seminary or a religious house to give God a chance to speak to them.
God works through messengers. If He is calling you to be a special messenger, please do not be afraid!
Let us join our prayers to those of the whole Church, asking Him to send out more messengers through whom He can work. Currently, we have a seminarian studying at St. John Theology Seminary, his name is John Coronel and please let us pray for him in a special way and pray also for those eight men to be ordained to the priesthood this year for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.