August 27, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather this twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Gospel from Matthew invites us to deeply examine the authenticity of our faith. Jesus’s probing question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and its personal follow-up, “But who do you say that I am?” requires introspection. While we, like Peter, declare, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” it’s crucial to ask: do our actions mirror our proclamation?

Christ’s role in our lives is paramount. If He truly stands as our Savior, guiding us to salvation, then every facet of our lives should mirror this profound truth. It is not sufficient to verbally recognize Him; this realization must infiltrate our ambitions, values, financial decisions, familial ties, and even our entertainment choices.

For many, faith finds its foundation in traditions: regular Sunday Mass attendance, religious rituals, and significant religious observances. While undeniably vital to our spiritual journey, true faith extends beyond these practices, demanding a profound engagement that turns our lives into a testament of Christ’s influence.

Our parish life is a litmus test of this engagement. Are we simply passive observers in our parish, or do we play an active, constructive role? Community involvement is not just about physical presence. It is about fully integrating, utilizing our God-given talents for broader communal benefits. Simply attending Mass or seeking the Church in dire times does not suffice. Genuine recognition of Christ as our Savior mandates vibrant parish participation. Whether it’s engaging in parish groups, partaking frequently in the Sacraments, or offering financial support, every gesture holds weight. These acts not only sustain our Church but also extend Christ’s compassion to those in need.

It is noteworthy how a dedicated group within our parish tirelessly gives of their time, talent, and resources. Their constant presence at the forefront paints a vivid picture of what it means to be a disciple of Christ and stands as an inspiring beacon for all of us. However, for a thriving and dynamic community, we need every member to play their part. While some might think, “What difference can my small act make?”, remember that when many small acts come together, they create a movement.

To those of you actively involved, a heartfelt thank you for being the backbone of our community. To others who have been holding back, consider this letter not just as a reminder but as an invitation to step forward. Your parish needs you, not just as attendees but as active participants. As we move forward, let us ensure that our parish is not just a place we visit but a community we actively shape and nurture.

In essence, our faith journey is communal, woven with the tales and efforts of fellow believers. With every act of engagement, we echo an answer to Jesus’s pivotal question. Let us ensure our actions consistently resonate with Peter’s assertion. Every blessing we have received — time, talents, and treasures — should reinforce our commitment to Christ, not merely in words but in tangible deeds.

As we venture into a new week, let us pledge to act, to participate, and to ensure our parish remains a living testament to our shared faith.

With sincere prayers and blessings,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham