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May 10, 2015

Every year in May, priests and some of you are anxious to wait for the pastoral moving list of priests in the diocese.  Some priests are happy that their name is on it.  Some don’t want to pack their stuff and go as they have more projects to do for the current parish.

Looking back what I have done in this parish, nothing much to say.  As some parishioners say, “there is a lot of room for improvement.”  I have tried, but maybe, I do not have enough ability or enthusiasm to make the parish better or what I lack is prayer. Here again read the words of St. John of the Cross regarding the daily activities of priests, “Let those who are singularly active, who think they can win the world with their preaching and exterior works, observe that they would profit the Church and please God much more, not to mention the good example they would give, were they to spend at least half of this time with God in prayer…… they would certainly accomplish more, and with less labour, by one work than they otherwise would by a thousand…… without prayer, they will do a great deal of hammering, but accomplish little, and sometimes nothing, and even at times cause harm…… however much they may appear to achieve externally, they will in substance be accomplishing nothing; it is beyond doubt that good works can be performed only by the power of God.”

Maybe friendship is the only thing I have improved in this parish.  The young children come to church anxiously waiting to give a “high five” to the priests.  They enjoy walking up to the altar dropping some coins in the basket for the poor.  Others just want to hug the priests after Mass.  Most adults see the closeness between priests and parishioners.  They find a friendly environment at the office area and consider the priests as friends rather than a pastor.

All three readings this Sunday highlight God's initiative in the world.  In the first reading, it is God who launches the Gentile mission in conferring the Spirit upon a Roman centurion's household.  In the familiar passage of John's Letter on the primacy of love, the second reading reminds us that it is God who first loves us; and the Gospel says the same in referring to our election as disciples and especially as friends of Christ.

It is wonderful to be chosen as a friend.  Friendship is one of life's greatest gifts.  There are many givens in life over which we have no control, but our friends are ours by choice.  To speak of our being Christ's friends says something different than brother, sister, or other family designations.  Why?  Because friends are chosen.  Our acquaintances in life are many; our friends are relatively few.  A friend is always there, always trustworthy, always a support.  A friend is the one to whom we can confide anything and be assured of understanding.  A friend is one in whose presence we don't have to say anything.  That is what Christ is to us.  The other titles of Christ appear with such frequency.  Churches are named “Holy Redeemer,” “Christ the King,” “Christ our Saviour,” but seldom “Christ our Friend.”  After all, Christ is the Friend who stands by us in every trial, the Friend who understands, the Friend who says, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."  We are chosen as his friends - another reason for Easter joy.