Friday, March 28, 2014

Fourth Sunday of Lent - March 30,2014

The man born blind was healed by the power of Jesus. But the man played his part as well. First, he let Jesus spread the clay on his eyes, which was probably just as strange as it sounds. This wasn't a typical practice for curing blindness! In fact, there was no such practice; as the blind man said, "it is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes a person born blind." Then, still caked in mud, the man followed Jesus' direction to was in the Pool of Siloam. If the man had doubted Jesus, he would not have been cured. But he believed. He took Jesus at his word.
Jesus tells us he came, "so that those who do not see might see." Where do we fall on this spectrum of spiritual vision? Are we like the blind man? Or do we struggle to see Jesus in trials of life? During this season of Lent, let us pray that our eyes be opened to recognize, even amidst struggles, the One who is "the light of the world."
Speaking of light, our church's sanctuary is receiving new lights. New LED lights have replaced the old lights. A generous benefactor donated a nice Christmas present to the parish, also the parish has received its first check of $47,000 from the diocese's Our Campaign for the Church Alive. Part of this money will be used for the school's new Advancement Director - Jennifer Mattarochia. The church windows will be next on the list for being fixed with the Church Alive money. Again thank you for all that you do for the parish. It is you that make this all possible.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Third Sunday of Lent - March 23, 2014

Jesus reveals his true identity to an anonymous woman, and a Samaritan at that. She speaks about the Messiah only to discover that she is speaking with the Messiah! How does this woman, this non-disciple and non-Jew, this perfect stranger earn the right to such a direct revelation? Why does Jesus choose her? For the same reason he choose us. Out of love. The "woman at the well" did nothing to merit this life-changing encounter. In fact, the reading implies she was a sinful woman. Yet Jesus approached her first. He asked her for a drink, and then looked for an opportunity to offer her the "living water" that would quench her deepest thirst. Like the woman, who "left her water jar and went into the town" to testify, we are called to leave behind our old life of sin once we accept our new life in Christ. Indeed, Lent is the season that prepares us for such a dramatic rebirth. We pray and fast and give alms, not to earn the joy of Easter, but to be ready to drink it in.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Second Sunday of Lent - March 16, 2014

This Sunday we welcome Bishop William Waltersheid as he comes to our parish to confirm our 78 young men and women in the Sacrament of Confirmation. We pray for our young people as they are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to be true followers of Jesus Christ. We know it is not easy today to be a Catholic. It is not easy to listen to the voice of God in our lives.
In our Gospel today we hear how Jesus was transfigured before his apostles. But it was the voice of God who announced: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." This clear voice of God struck fear in the apostles. Perhaps part of the fear was the realization that Christ's divinity demands more than our respect. It demands our response. Knowing that Jesus is God is only part one. We are also called to follow him, by heeding his teachings and imitating his example. May our young people begin confirmed also learn this valuable lesson.
Lent is a special time to examine just how well we are "listening" to Jesus. May we respond wholeheartedly to God's command to listen to his Son!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Sunday of Lent - March 9, 2014

As by now you have heard the news of my transfer to Corpus Christi Parish in McKeesport. I begin my new assignment on Monday, April 28. My nine years here at St. Malachy Parish have been truly blessed. Naturally when you spend much time with someone you become very close. And I have become very close to you. I thank you for all you have done for the parish; please continue all the good you do.
As we begin this holy season of Lent we hear of the spiritual battle that Jesus has with the devil in the desert. Jesus stands his ground and fights back with the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. During this season of Lent, we have the opportunity to fortify ourselves for this serious combat. Just as Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days before that diabolical encounter, we fast to strengthen our self control, we give alms to strengthen our generosity, and we pray to strengthen our faith in God's providence.
As I make my last Lent here at St. Malachy Parish, be assured of my prayers for you. This will be a special time besides a busy one as I reflect on all that I have learned from you. I know you will receive Fr. John Hissrich with a warm welcome. Let's make this Lent a holy one together!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - March 2, 2014

On Ash Wednesday we begin the season of Lent by receiving ashes on our forehead. Receiving ashes in the shape of a cross identifies us as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The ashes also serve as a reminder of our mortality and the need for repentance and change in our lives. We begin the forty-day season of Lent by keeping our sights on Jesus' victory over death on Easter. Lent is a time for change - changing our lives to be more Christ-like. Lent is a time when we make space in our lives to think about our relationship with our heavenly Father and the ways in which we are responding or failing to respond to his love and care for us. This desire to change our lives toward God and away from sin finds outward expression in various ways: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, reading the Bible, praying the Rosary, following the Stations of the Cross, going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This Lent, when we receive ashes, keep in mind that it is an invitation to repent, a challenge to grow closer to the Lord, and a gentle reminder that our time on earth is limited.