Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we gather for the Holy Eucharist on this 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, our Scripture readings shine a light on our roles and responsibilities within our faith community.
The Prophet Ezekiel paints a picture of our duty as the “watchmen” of our community (Ez 33:7-9). This role compels us to be more than passive recipients of God’s grace. Instead, we are to actively become stewards of His love, consistently guiding, supporting, and nurturing one another. In the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul underscores this sentiment, stating that our only debt to one another should be love, for “love fulfills the law” (Rom 13:8-10).
Today’s passage from the Gospel of Matthew deepens our understanding of our communal obligations, highlighting the essence of fraternal correction and the power of communal prayer (Mt 18:15-20). This reinforces the spirit of our Church community, where each day brings an opportunity to watch over one another through acts of love and prayer. In our parish, every individual’s spiritual journey adds to our collective story. We must remember that our individual paths, regardless of how personal they may seem, contribute to the broader tapestry of our ecclesial community.
With this sense of shared journey in mind, I reflect on the closing of the summer season and its transitions. As our younger members head back to school, I hope their hearts are brimming with memories of a rejuvenating summer, characterized by deepening relationships with family, friends, and, most importantly, God. I extend a special blessing to our children and youth who embark on a new chapter in our Religious Education Program and Youth Ministry. These vital endeavors are not just about preparing them for the Sacraments but guiding them towards a life of maturity rooted in Christ. Our Religious Education Coordinator Nelly Gutierrez and our team of dedicated catechists and volunteers, together with our Youth Ministers Dayonel Mejina and Yolanda Lazo, truly embody the spirit of the watchmen, shepherding our youth with unwavering love.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm strikes a chord within our hearts: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 95:1-2). This sentiment comes to mind when I reflect upon the seminarians closely linked to our parish community, who are now standing at pivotal junctures in their spiritual journey: newly ordained Deacon Randy Nguyen, native son of our parish; John Ngo, Peter Nguyen, and Joseph Tran, who, though not originally from our parish, have been embraced by us and hold a special place in our community. Deacon Randy is now back at St. Vincent’s Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for his last year of priestly formation. John is now assigned to his Pastoral Year at Most Precious Blood Parish in Brooklyn, while Peter and Joseph are undertaking theological studies at St. Andrew’s Seminary in Seton Hall University, New Jersey. The commitment of these young men shows the depth of their faith and underscores the significance of community support. As they move forward in their spiritual paths, it’s vital for us to continually stand by them, because they are not just embarking on this journey for themselves, but for the entire Church community who will benefit from their ministry. Rest assured, we will periodically see them during their breaks, bearing witness to their growth and allowing us to participate in their vocation journey firsthand.
With summer now behind us, I urge each of you to embrace the upcoming season as a fresh opportunity to deepen our bond with the Lord. This is an opportunity for active participation in the life of our parish, to be a part of the “two or three” where Christ promises His presence.
Assuring you of my constant remembrance at the Altar, I remain
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham