Fr. Mike’s Communication for the Mar. 7, 2021

7 March 2021 – 3rd Sunday of Lent


Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.

John 2:22

Brothers and Sisters,

“Do whatever he tells you.”

Anyone who has had to wait to enjoy their dessert until after they finished their lima beans understands that obedience is never easy. In all seriousness, suppressing our own preferences can be difficult. Not to mention, when we lack understanding as to why obedience is required, yielding to an authority-figure becomes even harder. While it is always prudent to follow God’s will for us regardless of our appreciation of his plan, a greater understanding is important.

The story of the wedding at Cana offers us a great example of obedience regardless of contextual knowledge. When Mary asks the servants to listen to her son, Jesus, their understanding of the situation at hand is absent. How on earth will Jesus resolve this dilemma as the last drops of wine are consumed at a wedding feast? Regardless, those asked obey Mary’s command, and through their cooperation, Jesus’ first “sign” is made visible. And what does this sign, a miracle, reveal? It clearly points to the cross and the hour divinely scheduled and accepted by Jesus. Christ’s obedience to the will of his Father coincides with his obedience to his mother.
In today’s proclamation, Jesus has just left the aforementioned wedding feast and is heading to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover with his recently recruited apostles. On arrival, Jesus begins to “clean house” after recognizing the distortion of God’s will in the money changers, who have shifted the intended sacrifice to the Lord to a means to personal gain.
This is a hard question to ask ourselves, but how have we acted similarly, seeking personal gain, veiled in the worship of the Lord or service to others?

As we seek to grow in belief, I encourage you to take a leap of faith and simply trust in God’s will (and at times, after discernment in prayer and confirmation from spiritual friends and mentors, trust that we have correctly identified God’s will). Our childlike trust will lead to joyful obedience, and as we work on building God’s kingdom, our understanding of God’s plan will continue to unfold.

At the same time, we should be cultivating our relationship with God through prayer, which will enlighten our understanding of his plans for us and will inversely increase our willingness to cooperate with God’s plan. As both obedience and understanding increase, our faith will naturally strengthen, and our eyes of belief will more readily see the signs of God’s glory on our path. And we’ll have the courage to boldly accept the invitation of Jesus to accompany him to Jerusalem, to share in his passion and death, that we might share in eternal life.
In Light Brightly Visible 2.0, Archbishop Lori acknowledges this important process of discerning God’s ways and following with our whole heart, mind, and soul. Conversion, and by that ongoing conversion, is necessary for true disciples. We cannot be stagnant. His invitation in this pastoral letter is to continue building the Kingdom Jesus desires. In Section VII, the Archbishop acknowledges the “shadows” that we face: the clear disruption that our current COVID-19 crisis has caused; the scandal that eroded trust and that has shown the devastation that abuse has taken on many of God’s beloved daughters and sons; the struggle to diminish clericalism, while increasing accountability and involvement of the laity in leadership; the secular culture that is at times indifferent and in others truly hostile to  authentic practice of religious faith; and the polarized society that leads to dysfunction, mistrust, and discord.

Invoking the image of the Church as a ship, the Archbishop encourages confidence in the light of Christ conquering any darkness:
The barque of Peter will always experience the turbulence of the seas of culture and history, and there will always be a provisional quality to our efforts of reform and renewal. As a result, we cannot wait until conditions are ideal before we put our shoulder to the wheel and give ourselves wholeheartedly to the mission of evangelization. Let me re-emphasize that none of these “shadows,” nor all of them taken together, constitute a good reason for us to delay or postpone the Church’s mission of evangelization. The mission is Christ’s and it remains valid and urgent. (Light Brightly Visible 2.0)
It comes back to Mary’s guidance, “Do whatever he tells you.” Let us put aside the obstacles or excuses, to embrace the call to discipleship and be bearers of the Gospel – the good news for all.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.

Rev. Michael S. Triplett

Some of the key considerations for this week.

Reserve your seat for Mass on the 4th Sunday of Lent, March 13-14 here.

▪ On the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent, the parish celebrates the three Scrutinies with our RCIA Elect and Candidates. “Scrutiny” often has negative connotations. These rites may incorrectly be labeled as inspection of our lives, searching for and identifying sin. Sin is often evident in those who encounter Jesus – but Jesus’ message is not one of judgment. Jesus heals, forgives, and invites them into renewed holiness. Please continue to keep our Elect, candidates, their godparents, sponsors, family, and our RCIA team in your prayers. Ask Jesus that his encounter with them, as with us, may lead to lasting conversion and a renewal of hope.

▪ This coming Friday, March 12th at 7:30 pm, an hour of adoration and prayer will be dedicated to “Brothers in the Lord.” Let us come together in prayer and support one another in this season of Lent. Accept the Lord’s invitation, to receive from his healing and hope – as he sends us forth as his disciples into the world.

▪ “Tell Your Story” Workshop will be held on Friday, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. We are easily tempted to shy away from sharing the Gospel, being true evangelists. I personally think we are often mistaken that we need advanced degrees or extensive preparations – and without those courses, under our belt, we struggle where to begin the conversation. But effective evangelization often begins with sharing one’s own story as a means for others to know God’s relevance in our lives. Our evening will follow the Ablaze Family Ministry model for Tell Your Story, which requires attendees, both in-person and virtually, to register  here prior to the evening.

▪ Our Women’s Ministry is sponsoring a half-day retreat on Saturday, March 20th from 9 am to 12 Noon in the church. This special time will include worship, music, testimony, prayer and reflection before the Blessed Sacrament. Let us know you will be with us by reserving your spot HERE. If you are not able to join us in person, this event will also be offered livestream

▪ In solidarity with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, next Sunday will be Safe Haven Sunday. I am impressed by the dedication and passion of our many parishioners who work hard to live a marriage that reflects the love of God and supports healthy family life. I encourage parents to prepare, by reviewing some of these wonderful resources as well as praying, asking the Lord for guidance as you seek to create a safe environment in your home, helping to protect your children from this grave danger. To participate in this challenge, begin by texting “SECURE” to 66866, and receive 7 days of messages to help you.

In 2015, the U.S. Bishops published Create in Me A Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography. This 20-page document begins with a clear indication of the beauty of our humanity and the gift of our sexuality. In releasing this document, our shepherds hoped to 1) offer healing and hope to those wounded by pornography; 2) articulate our response as a Church to this pastoral crisis by the growing production and use of pornography, and 3) raise awareness of pornography’s pervasiveness and harms.

Safe Haven Sunday is an extension of these goals of our caring shepherds, desiring to help, bringing healing and restoration to the wounded. What do I ask of our parents and parishioners? Help raise awareness of the negative impacts of pornography and the sexualized culture. Begin by participating in a 7-day challenge (text “SECURE” to 66866). This is a multi-year effort, with this year focusing on the theme, “Equipping the Family, Safeguarding Children.” Statistics are alarming: 1 in 4 marriages that break up are related to pornography; the average age of first exposure to hardcore pornography is between 8 and 11 years old; by the end of high school, 80-90% of boys and 60% of girls have been exposed to hardcore pornography. The impact on our children and youth is staggering. While statistics can be manipulated, the purpose of sharing is not to convince – I think most people have experienced the damaging effects of this sexualized culture, even if they are not aware of the correlation and often causation of pornography. Listen intently before you dismiss this concern.

▪ The feedback has been consistent – Bishop Bruce Lewandowski gave a wonderful gift to our parish, starting Lent with a grace-filled Mission. If you missed it (or missed segments) or if you would like to revisit his beautiful message offered in homily and prayer service, please visit our special page dedicated to this Mission.