January 24, 2021 - Pastor Message05/18/2021
“Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but you do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions...So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds...Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you” (James 4:13, 710).
Throughout the Church’s long history, Christians have never been strangers to conflict, from within and without. Whether over issues of doctrine or practice, with other Christians or with non-Christians, over possessions or politics, Christians have always been involved in the world’s divisions. That is no different now as we Christians find ourselves thoroughly entangled in the divisions and conflicts tearing away at the fabric of our country.
That this should be so is really not surprising. While we are not of this world, our eyes fixed on the new heaven and earth that are to come, we are in this world, and its cares and concerns are our cares and concerns as we seek to work out our salvation and that of the whole world. What is surprising, and deeply disappointing, is that, like so many others, we have let our passions overtake us and have forgotten what our gift and goal are as Christians in these conflicts. The gift we bring is the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and our goal is to shine that light brightly for others, driving away the darkness of hatred and showing the way to wholeness and peace.
As Christians, we are called to be the light of the world, not to contribute more darkness; to lead our country and our world on the path to peace, not the road to destruction. To do that, we need to get ourselves on the right track, and we do that by following the advice of St. James above to “resist the devil” and to “draw near to God” penance and prayer. Toward that end, we will dedicate our parish holy hour this month (Thursday, January 28, 2021, 6:00 7:00 PM) to pray for peace in our country and to repent of any ways we may have contributed to the conflicts and divisions driving us apart by combining our Eucharistic adoration with a communal penance service. While the focus will be communal, drawing near to God as a community of believers and resisting the devil as a community by rejecting any acts of hatred or violence, the opportunity for individual confessions will also be provided.
It is easy to lament the sad state of affairs in our country today and to start pointing fingers at everyone and anyone else to blame for how we got here. It is hard to actually do something for the better, to accept our responsibility as Christian citizens to lead our nation forward to a new day. Let that hard work begin this Thursday by spending some time with the Prince of Peace in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, humbling ourselves before God that our entire nation may be exalted.
Fr. Marc Stockton