August 20, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Warm greetings to you all during these sweltering summer days. I trust that each of you is keeping well and finding solace in close friendship with the Lord.

On this XX Sunday of Ordinary Time, our Scripture readings resonate with themes of universality and God’s boundless love. The prophet Isaiah proclaims a message of inclusivity, suggesting that all, even foreigners, are welcome in God’s kingdom (Is 56:1, 6-7). St. Paul echoes this by emphasizing the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan (Rom 11:13-15, 29-32). In the Gospel, the unwavering faith of the Canaanite woman becomes a beacon, illustrating that God’s love and mercy know no bounds (Mt 15:21-28).

Pope Francis, with his visionary leadership, often calls us to break the barriers that segregate us, to recognize the face of God in every individual. As he often says, “God’s love is unbounded: it has no limits!” In a globalized world that draws humanity ever closer together, this is a call to action for us as Christians, imploring us to show God’s love universally, regardless of worldly divisions.

In recent months, our nation bore witness to the heartrending journeys of countless migrants, seeking hope and shelter upon our shores. Among them were young and old, individuals and families, hailing from various nations, and some even sought refuge within our very parish. Their stories of desperation and hope deeply moved us, echoing the universality of human struggle and resilience.

Yet, just as we begin to grasp the gravity of the migrants’ sufferings, sad news from Maui reaches us. Our hearts weigh heavy with the tragic wildfire there that has led to immense loss and destruction, reminding us of life’s fragility and the interconnectedness of our global family. During such times, the Gospel message of charity and solidarity shines ever more brightly. As the Church prepares to offer aid, let us be at the forefront, extending our hands and hearts in prayerful support to our brothers and sisters in Hawaii. I will keep you informed about how we can help.

Life presents manifold challenges, yet the unwavering faith of individuals like the Canaanite woman in the Gospel story this Sunday inspires resilience and hope. Though she faced obstacles, her trust in the Lord remained steadfast. As we confront the challenges of our time, may we too harness such unwavering faith, knowing that God’s love and power will bring restoration and hope, and that persistent prayer will result in miracles beyond our imagination.

On a personal note, I was recently blessed to address a National Convocation of Permanent Deacons and their wives in Jacksonville, Florida. Their stories unveiled the tangible challenges of suffering, both material and spiritual, faced by many. Yet, it was evident how God’s grace works miracles through such dedicated individuals. Their commitment, even in adversity, reinforced the universality of our mission and the power of perseverance and faith. Their tales of service rekindled my own passion to serve you better and deepened my understanding of the struggles that many in our parish community face daily.

As we reflect on the universality and boundless nature of God’s love, let us embody this love, whether by being more accepting, by lending a helping hand, or by just keeping someone in our prayers. Let us seek the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother, to guide and sustain our hearts.

With my personal blessing and prayers,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham