by Fr Francis Anthony
1 Corinthians 15:54-58
Theme: God’s providence protects and saves
The theme today is taken from the readings itself. It is coincidence that we have this theme ‘God’s providence protects and saves’. Yes, God’s providence protects and saves.
When God created, he wanted all his creatures, not just human beings, to be able to grow to the fullness of its purpose. And this is seen by cooperation. One blind man cannot lead another blind. So it is already speaking of, on the human level, how we reach out to one another. And through this reaching out to one another, we are making God present in us and in the person that is being helped.
You take nature, and twice it is being mentioned in the First Reading and the Gospel text, a tree planted by the waterside is able to grow. It draws its strength from the water which is close by. And here we’ll see how God in His own way has made sure that nature is safeguarded. All the things that is required for nature, He is there making sure that which is required by nature is present.
And all of us have got the responsibility to safeguard nature. And today, the big thing is climate change. In the climate change it is not God has changed His way of dealing with nature. We, under the guise of development, have put development first, and at the expense of the well-being of nature which in turn it is for the well-being of people. God created and everything was good. And in a very lob-sided way, we have abused that under the guise of development.
Today, we are having, at 2 – 5 o’clock, the Parish Pastoral Assembly. The church growing is not just because the Parish Priest is there and he does what he wants. Or the Pope is there in Vatican and he from there tried to shake his magic wand and everything takes place. No.
After the Prayer of the Faithful ,we will have this special prayer for The Synod. The word comes in combination of two foreign words – together, on the way. Yes. So the Church leadership is seeing how all of us are responsible for the well-being of the whole of the church. And when we speak of church, it is not just the Roman Catholic Church, the well-being of humanity.
And this is being emphasized today and we will have the kind of understanding. Most of the people have responded and in this, the Pope wants us to recall what was our experience in the church. And in that, it will be localised. What was my experience in the church where I am present. At times, could be in a different Parish. Here the church is the parish. And it is there can I recall all the local experiences walking together with others.
Then we go the second step, recalling and reviewed these experiences. We do not grow on our own in relationship with others as I said earlier. We reviewed these experiences which brought about joy, difficulties or obstacles that were encountered and how did I move. Yes, face the reality.
And we’ll come to the third part of it – respond to these. So these were the joys, how I’m responding to it. These were the sorrows, the difficulties, the hurdles. How did I experience.
So you’ll see in the church all of us are being one to bring about the reality. And we’re doing it in the Parish. All the parishes are doing it. And it will be collated into one single experience of the Diocese. And this will be sent to Rome for them to review in this corner of the world, the Diocese of Penang, how did they walk the faith. And this big Synod that is going to take place under the leadership of Pope Francis is in October of next year, 2023.
So, our voices are recorded. And the document that comes will reflect not just the ideas of the Bishops and the Cardinals. The ideas of the people from the whole world. And that is where we can see how, we can be divided from East to West, North to South, we are together.
Dear friends, another beautiful thing is happening today. Our catechumens who are preparing for their baptism on Easter Vigil, the parish priest will send them off for this ceremony of wanting to elect them as the future candidates for baptism. They are catechumens and they are going to be elected and they have already come to the last period of their formation for their preparation and purification and so the church leadership, through the facilitators and the priest in charge, are recognising they have established themselves in a fairly sure way. It was not a blind leading the blind but the whole community, through the facilitators and the sponsors have helped these 14 candidates to come forward to say ‘Yes, I want Christ’.
And this is important. Many of you, including myself, I do not know them personally. But all of us, yes, whether we are facilitators or sponsors, all of us have got the responsibility to be one with them, to help them, to acknowledge them, to make them to be comfortable in the parish because they are here and it is the community’s role. It is not something ‘Oh the RCIA. Oh that is a group of people who are preparing and they are doing it’. No. It is our role. We have to be one with them. They will be able to recognise and to grow their faith in this community.
So my dear friends, let us not take RCIA as one of the various ministries of the church. No. In this particular ministry, all of us should be as a source of inspiration for them. The responsibility of the whole community.
And today, after Father will send them off officially, they will be going to Bukit Mertajam this Saturday and that is where the Bishop will invite them officially. Not only all the catechumens from the Island of Penang, also the Northern part of our Diocese that is Seberang Perai, Kedah and Perlis and Kelantan included. They will be gathered there and the Bishop will elect them and on the strength of not only the facilitators and the godparents, on the strength of the assurance that we give them.
My dear friends, let us always remember today is coincidence. The 8th Sunday where we have the theme of ‘God’s providence protects and saves’. Let us ask God in our prayer to help them through. Our prayer that the protection of God and the celebration of God reaches not only to them, to all of us.
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