WORDS FROM OUR PARISH PRIEST
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2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – 17 January 2021
Dear brothers and sisters.
The theme of the Readings today is that of invitation. In the first Reading from the book of Samuel, we have the invitation given to Samuel by God to be a wonderful judge and prophet. Samuel was born as an answer to prayer. His mother Hannah, who was barren, went to the synagogue to pray. The high priest, Eli, saw her praying but could not hear what she was praying about. When he asked her what she was praying about, Hannah explained how she longed to be a mother. Eli prophesised that she would have a son. Hannah also in her prayers had promised God, that if she had a son she would dedicate him to God. When Samuel was born and Hannah had weaned him of her, she took him to Eli and allowed Eli to raise Samuel. In the Reading we hear the voice of God calling Samuel, but three times, Samuel mistakes the voice to that of Eli. It was only after three times that Eli realizes that it is the Lord that is calling the boy and tells him that the next time that Samuel hears the voice of God, he must respond “Lord I hear”. This Samuel does and when God calls again Samuel responds that he hears the Lord and the Lord speaks to him. As a result, Samuel becomes a wonderful judge and prophet. At the command of the Lord he anoints the first two Kings of Israel. By responding, Samuel had a wonderful encounter with God. This encounter deepened as time went by because Samuel remained open to God’s voice.
In the Gospel we have another invitation. John the Baptist sees Jesus walk by and says to two of his disciples that “there goes the Lamb of God”. The disciples leave John and follow Jesus. When Jesus looks back and sees them he asks “What are they seeking”. When they ask where he lives he does not tell them that he lives in this town or that town but rather extends an invitation to them to “Come and see”. We are not told what Jesus and the two disciples spoke about, but it did have a deep impact on them because one of them, Andrew, goes to call his brother Simon Peter and tells him that they have found the Messiah or the Christ. Again he does not tell Peter all that Jesus had spoken to the two disciples about, but rather takes Peter to Jesus so that Peter can encounter Jesus himself. Through their responding to the invitation the disciples open their hearts to Jesus and they experience a wonderful encounter with him. This encounter would not be a once off experience but something that over time deepens in their lives in order for them to be faithful to their calling of leading others to Christ. We know that the relationship that the apostles developed with Jesus was so profound that when we read farther in the Gospel of John and we read Chapter 6 where Jesus speaks about that he is the “Bread of Life and that the people must eat his flesh and drink his Blood “, many people leave Jesus because they were not open to encountering him in a special way. Jesus then turns to the apostles and asks if they also want to leave. It is Peter who responds “Lord where shall we go. You have the words of eternal life. Peter could only say this because of the deep relationship he had established with the Lord.
Today in the Gospel we have been given the same invitation to be part of God’s kingdom. We ourselves have been introduced to Jesus through our parents, family, friends and even strangers. But sometimes it may even be in the way Samuel was invited, through an inner voice that might be talking to us. This can occur when we are at prayer or reading a bit of scripture or even through an event that happens to us. The question that we must ask is “How do I respond?” Do I ignore the invitation or do I respond in a positive way? By responding in a positive way we open up our hearts to a wonderful encounter with Christ. In this encounter we can deepen our relationship with Christ in order for us in turn, like the apostles, to lead others to Christ and help them to also respond to the Lord’s invitation to be part of his kingdom. Through this response, they themselves open their hearts to have a wonderful encounter with the Lord. Therefore, let us all open our hearts to the Lord and encounter him in his Love for each and every one of us.
Email sent to parishioners on Friday 15th January 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
Further to my last mail sent on the 30th December 2020, I have received an update from the Bishop’s Office, urging us to take note of the State President’s statement on the 11th January 2021 which states inter alia: “ It is necessary that we keep the Alert Level 3 measures in place until we have passed the peak of new infections and we are certain that the rate of transmission has fallen enough to allow us to safely ease the current restrictions”. Bishop Sylvester urges us to maintain the directives previously issued and encourages the behaviour changes needed to minimize infections. Unfortunately, no cut off date for these circumstances has been given, but promises further directives as soon as circumstances change.
In light of the restrictions, we need to move forward and change the way we usually do things. So I urge you to contact the office to register your children for catechism. Catechism lessons could be provided online, or materials sent to you.
If your child turns 14 this year (2021), they need to be registered for confirmation this year in order to be confirmed in their 16th year.
Public Mass is not allowed, but Mass will recorded and uploaded to the YouTube channel every week. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4Aa7yt2jE3qHkPQVXgNe6w Please continue to pray in Spiritual Communion and observe the Sabbath.
Fr Mark’s Sunday message, the Catholic Link and the Parish newsletter is available on our website each week. http://bernardignatius.org.za/
All gatherings are prohibited, apart from funerals. What this means is that there are no baptisms, marriages, confirmations, communion. However, private confession is available. Please contact the office to make an appointment.
Thank you for your continued financial support of the Parish. Thank you for maintaining the protocols and doing your bit to minimize the spread of infections. Thank you for your prayers.
I remember you all in my prayers.
Friday 15 January 2021
Baptism of the Lord - 10 January 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast marks the beginning of the Public Ministry of the Lord.
In life we all have to make certain life changing decisions. A decision that takes our life in a new direction. This is the case with Our Lord Jesus Christ. Over the last few weeks, we have been reflecting of the birth and manifestation of the baby Jesus to the world. Each of these encounters have taken those who witnessed them in a new direction.
As we celebrate the baptism of the Lord, we find him making a life changing decision that was going to take his life in a new direction. Jesus, after 30 years of living a quiet life in the town of Nazareth, now hears an inner call from God to go down into Judea where John the Baptist is baptising, to be baptised by John himself. He now leaves his mother, family, friends and his work of being the village carpenter and makes a decision where his life is to take on a new direction. The call he received was to go through Galilee and Judea and preach the Good News that God had fulfilled his promise of sending a Messiah to make amends for the fall of Adam and Eve and restore the relationship with God that had been broken by sin. When he arrives at the baptism site and encounters John the Baptist, John says to him that it is he who should baptise John instead of John baptising him. Jesus replies ‘Let it be done’. In this answer, Jesus wants to identify with all the people who had come for baptism, because although he was sinless, he was going to take on the sin of all humanity for the salvation of all. This was not only for the people of Israel but for gentiles as well. Jesus’s mission was to go out and preach a gospel of love and peace for all people not just a select few.
When we look at our own baptism we find that for many of us, the decision of being a Catholic is taken by our parents and god parents. They make a promise on our behalf that they will teach us about our faith and Jesus Christ. Like Jesus who in the 30 years quietly learned and reflected about God our Father, we also learn our faith from our parents, friends and our formal catechism we learn at our catechism classes. At some point in our lives we also need to make decisions that will change our lives. We make decisions on our profession in life, if we are going to get married or not. Decisions that also will affect others. In these decisions, we are in need of guidance. This is where we ask the Lord to send the Holy Spirit upon us like the Holy Spirit did at the time of his baptism. But we need to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, not only so that we can make the right decisions that affect us in this world, but also those decisions that we need to make that affect our spiritual lives. These decisions are not just a once off decision but rather daily decisions. We are called daily to live out our Christian life in accordance with the Gospel. Each day we are called to renew our baptism promises where we reject Satan, his empty promises and works. We need to affirm our belief in God the Father, his Son Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Yes, at times these decisions can be difficult and other times easy, but it is in the difficult times that we should experience the Love of God in a wonderful way.
All we need to do is put our trust in the Lord and know that he is with us until the end of time.
The Epiphany - 3rd January 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
I would like to wish you all a Happy and Blessed New Year. May the Lord protect you and may Our Blessed Mother intercede for you in 2021.
Today we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord.
In this feast, we celebrate the manifestation of Our Lord, not only to the people of Israel, but to the whole world, both Jews and Gentiles. The Gentiles are represented by the wise men who we presume were kings. When we look at the Gospel, we find that for the Jews, the recognition of Jesus was through scripture but for the Gentiles it was through nature. We are told that the wise men saw a star, something from nature that became a sign for them that something great had happened. After enquiries, do they realize that a great king had been born and they decide to go and worship him. The star for the wise men was a guide to where the Christ was born. Reading the text carefully, we are not told that the star was there all the time, but rather that they had seen it rise in the East, and then nothing is said about the star until they leave their meeting with King Herod do they see the star again that guides them to the baby Jesus in the manger. During that time of traveling they most likely had to ask questions about where this king was to be born, they would have had to travel through a desert and even at times have to deal with forces of nature like clouds, wind or even rain. The journey certainly wasn’t easy. This called for perseverance on the part of the wise men. It’s through this perseverance that had the joy of meeting the Christ. They were able to worship him. This encounter with Christ had touched them in such a way that their lives would have taken on a new direction. This is symbolized in the Gospel by the evangelist telling us they went back home by a different way. This encounter was a life changing experience for the wise men.
Looking at our own lives, we also are invited to encounter Christ in our lives. He reveals himself to us in different ways in that we encounter him in the scriptures, our prayer life, in nature and our interaction with one another. For us, we have the added advantage that we have the Gospels that reveals Christ to us unlike the Jews of Jesus’s time on earth when all they had was the Old Testament which contained the Law of Moses, the Psalms and the writings of the Prophets. How often, when we are in nature, do we marvel at the creation of God and thank him for what he has created? The question we also need to ask is: do I do what I can to look after the earth, in making sure that I don’t do things that lead to the destruction of nature? Indeed, we certainly do discover God in others, but do we recognize him or do we allow ourselves to be blinded by our emotions about that person? As with the wise men, we also have to persevere in our search for God when times get difficult or we don’t feel close to him. This is the time when we need to take a step in faith and believe that He is with us as the Emmanuel in our lives. This is especially true in this time of crisis of the Covid 19 pandemic. We might feel that God has abandoned us but in fact He is truly with us even though we cannot, due to the lockdown, be able to attend Mass. God is always faithful to His promise that He is with us until the end of time.
Let us therefore stand together in faith and pray that we may overcome this crisis in our lives and soon be reunited in our celebration of Mass as a stronger community of believers in the love of God.
Email sent to parishioners Wednesday 30 December 2020
Dear brothers and sisters,
It is with sadness that due to the country going back into Lockdown 3, the Archbishop, in compliance of the government regulations has had to give the directive that the Churches have to shut down for Public Mass. The Priests of the Parish still have the obligation to celebrate Mass. In the light of this, I will continue to celebrate daily Mass in private. We are only allowed to conduct Funerals under strict conditions. This is in effect until the 16th January 2021 when things will be reviewed.
Further, I am not permitted to celebrate the sacraments of Baptism or Marriage during this time. Confession is still allowed by appointment and the anointing of the sick in emergency. Sunday Mass will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube each weekend.
This brief respite we had to receive Holy Eucharist has given us strength to continue to reflect and pray to Our Lord that soon we will find a cure to the virus and that all who are affected may be restored to health. We also need to pray for our parishioners who have contracted Covid and also for those who have passed away due to the virus. May they Rest in Peace and may our Lord comfort their loved ones during their bereavement. As we celebrate the feast of Christmas, may we always remember that the Lord is the Emmanuel (God with Us) in our lives and that he is walking with us during this pandemic.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your best wishes, gifts and cards that I have received over this Christmas period and take this opportunity to wish you all a Blessed and Wonderful New Year. May 2021 bring you all God’s blessings and may it be a time of healing and building a better future together. It is my prayer that we stand together as a Parish and do what we can to follow the protocols that need to be adhered to in order for us to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. This means we all need to be responsible and wear our masks, social distance and sanitize a number of times a day by either washing our hands for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer to protect ourselves and others.
You are always in my prayers.
A copy of the directives can be found on the Archdiocese website: Directives-Lockdown-Level-Three-29-December-2020pdf
ST BERNARD'S & ST IGNATIUS
Although Mass is not open to the public at this current time, Fr Mark will be celebrating Mass each day.
JANUARY 2021 INTENTIONS
1 F- Parishioners of St Bernard/Ignatius
2 S- Sandra Fawcett RIP
3 S- Pro Populo
5 T- Jean Oliver RIP
6 W- Mortuary List
7 T- Mortuary List
8 F- Manual Arujo Thanksgiving Sacred Heart
9 S- Tony Da Costa Intention
10 S- Pro Populo
12 T- Denise Spriggs RIP
13 W- Mortuary List
14 T- Mortuary List
15 F- Anne Gallagher RIP
16 S- Pro Populo
17 S- Edwin Rosslind RIP
19 T- Raymond & Lily Pothier RIP
20 W- Mortuary List
21 T- Ken Matten RIP
22 F- Mario Bui RIP
23 S- Leonard Pothier RIP
24 S- Pro Populo / Caleb Stellenboom RIP
26 T- Bernard Pothier RIP
27 W- Mortuary List
28 T- Mortuary List
29 F- Stella Gallagher RIP
30 S- Charles & Delores Mc Lachlan RIP
31 S- Pro Populo
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We remember in our prayers those who have gone before us:
18 March 2020 - Marjorie Van Rensburg
13 June 2020 - Yvonne Beckam
13 November 2020 - Edmund Peter Nasson
12 January 2021 - Christopher Shelmerdine
4 March 2020 - Henry Hugo
5 May 2020 - Stephanie Poezyn
May 2020 - Maurizio Allugrecia
19 June 2020 - Cecil Bradley
20 July 2020 - Paul Dobson
8 August 2020 - Jacqueline Petersen
9 August 2020 - John Kellett
1 December 2020 - Patrick Moore