Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
28 June 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
May the Season of Summer bring rest and rejuvenation to you and your families.
St. Matthew continues in today’s Gospel with Jesus’ teaching to his intimate disciples, calling for them to imitate his self-giving love. As he will witness on the Cross, Jesus desires that all of his disciples live for the sake of the Lord, not for themselves, for wealth, for fame, or for recognition. Every vocation has at its core living the will of God first and foremost. Whether we are living our vocations as priests, as deacons, as religious, as lay ministers, as married couples, as disciples in the midst of the journey, Jesus asks us to lay down our lives.
The challenge for each of us is to move this knowledge from an intellectual understanding and an appreciation of this call for disciples to listening to the Spirit who calls us in our personal life to a particular gift of the self. For each of us, laying down our lives will require different sacrifices. Of course, we share in common the need for prayer and listening to God, the need for the sacraments and reliance upon God’s grace rather than our own strength, the need for intimate relationships with family or friends, and the need for healthy living, including habits of work, eating, exercise, rest, and sleep.
The Lord gives an extraordinarily strong example in the Gospel of this sacrifice, which can be misunderstood. He requires a greater love than our love for family. While easy to accept on an intellectual basis, this is difficult. The easy way is to reduce our love of family. The way the Lord calls us to this extraordinary love is by perfecting our lives. The disciple is not satisfied, but willing to keep examining his or her life.
This week, I will complete my first year as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. As any transition brings challenges, this has been a year that has stretched me, in a positive way. I am blessed to be able to serve our wonderful parishioners and families and to serve our mission alongside you. Our parish has a clear trajectory, with the discipleship pathway of Belong, Believe, Become, and Beyond. A key element of Four is that we consistently evaluate and reassess in the effort of going deeper in each goal. During the month of July, Fr. Rob and I will reflect on each of these pillars, acknowledging the strengths of the parish and suggesting ways of deepening our discipleships. It is our hope that from these reflections you will find opportunities to grow in your spiritual life, in love of God, and in love of neighbor.
▪ Transitions are never easy, even when they present life opportunities. This week we transition yet again as Julia and Brian will formally conclude their ministry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They have a deep passion for our youth and our parish and will be sorely missed by the many parishioners who have grown up with Julia and those who have been formed by Brian and Julia, and their co-workers who have loved and laughed alongside them. Please pray for them as they enter a new venture with their daughter Brigid in New Jersey. Happily, they are planning to join us this summer for our Confirmation celebrations, as they see some of the fruits of their labors. As one high school youth noted as she is entering her senior year, there has been a new youth minister each of her four years. Please pray as we seek a youth minister who will bring stability to this important aspect of the parish. Please pray for our youth who desire a deeper relationship with God and with our community.
▪ Next weekend, we celebrate Independence Day. The founding of our nation required great sacrifice and a willingness to commit to the truths of democracy and the protection of our God-given rights. Let us continue to pray for our nation, that we might be a beacon to the nations of our reliance upon the Lord and our willingness to protect the weak and the vulnerable. As citizens, we still have work to do to ensure protection and rights of all people.
▪ On Friday, July 3, we will gather for our monthly Festival of Praise at 7:30pm via live-stream. As we worship the Lord, we implore his grace and healing. Freedom is a blessed gift from God, but as disciples, we accept Freedom with the offer of Respect and Obedience to God. We are only truly free as we live the responsibilities entrusted to us as citizens of the United States and more so as beloved daughters and sons of God. Our deepest gratitude to so many who give freely of themselves for our nation and to defend our freedoms.
▪ On Sunday, July 5, at our 9am live-streamed Mass, we will celebrate joyously the Rites of Reception into the Church along with Confirmation and Holy Communion with our four candidates: Josh, Alex, Alexandra, and Angela. Please pray for them, as they have been awaiting this joyous day since the Easter Vigil. Please join us in prayer that morning for them and their families.
▪ Throughout the pandemic, our parish has maintained a strong presence and outreach for our neighbors. Our food pantry has remained well-stocked as the community need has increased, and our SALT lunches have brought food directly to the poor and homeless as well as strengthening partnerships and beginning new relationships in Baltimore. This coming week, we renew our collection and distribution of Our Daily Bread Casseroles. You may pick up a casserole pan outside the Parish Center and return those Casseroles next weekend. Thank you for your generosity.
May this week bring needed rest and joy to you and your families. As a reminder, please do “sign up” for Mass on July 4 and 5 here. And be certain to visit our liturgy schedule here as we now are able to offer a set weekly schedule.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett