To the parishioners of St. Philip Neri Parish, sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints –

“Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

If we are afraid to be different, how can we 
make a difference in the world? (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6: 27-28) …. And be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5: 48)

What did Jesus mean when he said, I have come, not to abolish the laws or the prophets, but to bring them to perfection? We know that in Ancient times it was said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Jesus added a whole new dimension for our reaction to violence and abuse. He simply challenges us, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well; and from those to take away your cloak, do not withhold your coat as well.” (Luke 6: 27-29)

Jesus was very much aware of the social climate of the times, the tensions of living in an “occupied territory”, the oppression of Roman soldiers and tax collectors. Consequently, when Jesus invited the people to “love your enemies”, he knew it would sound absurd to them. To love those who exploited them went against every natural inclination. Why would one return love for hate?

The classic example of (Les Miserables) reflects and responds to this moral and spiritual and social dilemma. Jean Valjean had spent 19 years in prison and hard labor – just for stealing food to feed his family. Upon his release, he was again “imprisoned” by rejection and prejudices, because he had a criminal record. His heart was filled with anger and hatred … and revenge. Hopeless and exhausted, he stumbled into the house of a saintly bishop who showed him kindness and hospitality – even a bed and food for the night. In the middle of the night, Jean Valjean slipped away, taking with him the silverware from the bishop’s table. Captured by the police, Jean Valjean was brought back to the bishop’s house, along with all the stolen property. The bishop greeted the thief, and in front of the police declared, “But I gave you the silverware! Why didn’t you take the candlestick as well, along with the plates?” Instead of retribution and condemnation, the bishop blessed Jean Valjean, “My brother, you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw you from the dark thoughts and I give you to God!” The good that came from that transformation offered Jean Valjean a new way of life.

“Perfection” is not without blemish, but rather a call to “completion”. To “do the will of the Father” is to respond to life with mercy and forgiveness, compassion and a “new way to retaliate”. So … what does it mean to “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”? God’s desire for each of us is so intense (and personal) that he chose to inhabit imperfect groups of imperfect people. Then, what gives us the possibility to become holy? Not our own goodness but the Spirit who helps us each day, to be perfect as he is perfect. (Matthew 5: 48) This is the mystery of the mercy and power of God. He fills us with his own presence and makes us a “holy temple”. It comes from God’s presence within us – what a gift! Freely given, freely received!

Let us pray: Father, we praise you for sharing your perfect love for us through Jesus Christ. We thank you for the opportunity to practise humility. May our obedience glorify you. Amen.

Praise be Jesus Christ … and Mary Immaculate

St. Philip Neri … pray for us

St. Eugene de Mazenod … pray for us

St. Kateri Tekakwitha … pray for us

Fr. Mike Dechant OMI

 

Something from the Parish:

REMEMBER:  To bring a plate of cookies for “Cookie Time” (and juice) – after the 5 pm Mass on Saturday, after the 10 am Mass on Sunday. It’s a time to stop and visit with parishioners and visitors. We are hoping to make this ‘Community time” a regular event on the third weekend of each month, after each Mass. (NOTE: The first weekend of each month is with Timbits and juice.)

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

  • February 22 (ASH WEDNESDAY), Eucharist and the Distribution of Ashes is at 7 pm, here in the Parish. Because Ash Wednesday this year falls during the Spring Break, most schools will not have an Ash Wednesday celebration. We very much invite and encourage you and all your family to come and pray with us in the Parish.
  • March 3 is designated as WORLD DAY OF PRAYER. This year, along with other Christians churches in the area, St. Philip Neri Parish will host a gathering for prayer and food and fellowship – to pray for the people of Taiwain, and for our own concerns to gather as children of God. We will gather at 5 pm, at St. Philip Neri Parish.