Message From The Parish Priest
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT C. + YEAR OF THE PRIESTS + MOTHERING SUNDAY.
MESSAGE FROM THE PARISH PRIEST.
My Dear People,
This is "Laetare Sunday", the day when we realise that Lent is half way through and we can lay aside the Lenten Penitential Purple or Violet colour and have a little relief and wear the Rose coloured vestments after the first words of the Mass "Rejoice Jerusalem! Be glad for her, all you who love her..." her salvation is near at hand.
Our Lord loved the Holy City of Jerusalem and he wept over it a few days before his Passion. He expressed his profound sadness by comparing his feelings for the people to that of a mother hen, gathering her chicks under her wings. That is how our Lord looked upon the citizens who were about to welcome him on Palm Sunday and then the political and religious leaders who were to rent a mob to shout "crucify him".
Our Lord wept for he could see the fate of the holy City. In the year 70AD, the Roman armies would surround it and lay siege to it and it would be sacked without mercy. It is a tragic story and the women who wept over our Lord's sufferings as he came out of the gate to Calvary were told by Jesus NOT to weep for Him but to weep for themselves and for their children who would be grown up by the time the siege began. Poor Jerusalem and the whole of the Holy land are still undergoing siege and sufferings. The Arabs are suffering and so are the Jewish people AND SO ARE THE Catholic Arabs who are being driven out by both sides.
The story of the Prodigal Son should be the story of the father who was prodigal with his love and mercy for his wayward son. This is what Christ wanted - for us all to come to Him and be gathered into the father's loving arms through the Son's gift of himself for our redemption. How hard the son was in his unloving attitude to his father. Give me now what is my due when you will be dead and gone - basically - that is what he was saying. Our Lord painted the picture really well. Such an attidutude would be the ultimate in rebellion and cheek for a son of that culture and era and religion. Even nowadays it would be seen in a bad light eh?
Well - that is how it was and the boy did not come back home for very good of reasons. He was down and out and reduced through his own sinful life style and life choices and he knew he had forfeited any rights at home to family life for he had cut loose. However - the Father never stopped looking for him and searches the horizon - each day - such is the nature of the Father's love for sinners. When he appears the Father does not wait for the boy to crawl - he pre-empts him and rushes out to greet him and embrace him and kiss him even though his clothes smell of the pig sty and restores his dignity - new robe, shoes, and ring - party!
No wonder the dutiful son was mad. He did not want his brother welcomed back. He wanted him to stay outside and be punished. That is how it is. St John Vianney - patron of Parish priests used to be able to tell what was in a penitent's conscience. Sometimes he would give a very light penance for very grave sins. When asked by the penitent why is was so light, the saint would reply "I have done your penance."
Well our Lord is the generous and loving father in the parable. He comes out to sinful and wretched humanity and embraces us and hugs us and lays down his life for us so that we can have our dignity back. He does this again and again in the Sacrament of Confession. That is like the generosity of God whose mercy is without end.
Take the opportunity to make a good confession during Lent and before Easter. Confessions are every day at the Holy Name from 12.45 and at 4.45pm and many hours on Saturday morning and afternoon as well as the Hidden Gem in Mulberry Street. I particularly want those who have not been for a long time to have the courage to go now. The priest will always help you and treat you with kindness for he himself is sinner, in need. Don't forget that great truth. So may the Father's Prodigal love embrace us all.
Fr Tom Connolly
Mother's day today and we bless flowers at every Mass in honour of our mothers - God bless them for all they do and are.
RED MISSION BOXES A.P.F. The Spring collectors are on their way round to open your boxes. All monies to be in by Wednesday 20th March. Thank you. Mrs C. Booth.
ST JOSEPH'S RC SCHOOL.VICTORIA PARK PAST PUPILS ASSOCIATION ARE HOLDING A MEETING AT 3PM AT ST MARGARET MARY'S CHURCH, NEW MOSTON ON SATURDAY 20TH OF MARCH. ALL PAST PUPILS WELCOME.
Covering of the holy images takes place next weekend.
CAFOD: all donations to be in finally this week. Thank you.
MASS OF THE SACRED CHRISM. SALFORD CATHEDRAL - MAUNDY THURSDAY 10.30AM. The Bishop has sent three tickets for parishioners. If you would like to be one of those 3 - first come first served.