Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends and Parishioners of Saint Jerome,

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with you!

I am certain that you have heard in the news about the challenging situation of the people of Afghanistan. The change of political leadership of the country initiated a tremendous difficulty into the life of the citizens. We might be geographically far from them and yet the humanity that is common to all of us keeps us connected with each other. The suffering of so many people in other parts of the world is calling us to a sense of compassion and empathy that requires our radical response of charity. Pray for them, and if we happen to encounter them along the course of life, make them the object of our good works. Saint James reiterated the same thought in the second reading today.

Our Christian discipleship configures us to the mission of Jesus Christ. The Gospel reading this weekend suggests that our encounter with God gives meaning to the mission that He entrusted to us. Our participation in the work of God among us is initiated by our encounter with the One who inspires. As we go back to the Gospel story, the Apostle’s response to Jesus’ question of His identity was a result of a revealed truth from spending time with Jesus during His public ministry. It is obvious that Saint Mark insinuates that we could only know Jesus by spending our time with Him. Time is a key factor in allowing us to be formed into the character of Jesus Christ. In addition, our recognition of our need for salvation determines our Christian character so that, like Peter, we too can make an affirmation that Jesus is the Christ of the Father. Our spiritual state of being is the voice within that defines our encounter with God. Who is Jesus for us? It is a very challenging question that ushers us to the question of who we are as Jesus’ disciples. What kind of followers are we?

So, the last section of the Gospel reading sets the tone for the character of those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, they are the ones who are willing to embrace a meaningful suffering, the ones who take the heavy cross of self-sacrifice, and the ones who can follow in the footsteps of the Lord unreservedly. Can we identify ourselves as such?

I mentioned in the beginning of this communication how the world is affected by the challenging results of injustices, violence, and human sufferings in general that may pull down our morale as human beings but also as followers of Jesus Christ. Yes, to lose our focus along the way of Christian discipleship is possible. Yet, our encounter with Jesus is that which can sustain us to keep ourselves focused on the mission that He has entrusted to us. It is significantly important that this encounter with Him is continuous in prayer, in our encounter with the poor and the needy through corporal works of mercy, and in our fellowship when we are gathered as the church of Jesus Christ.

Finally, on another topic, we are preparing for the upcoming Novena in Honor of Saint Jerome. Please anticipate on coming to the Novena Prayer on designated dates as we thank Saint Jerome for being our protector during the past several challenging months of the pandemic. As the bulletin issue this weekend has the schedule of our upcoming Novena, I ask that our parish ministry leaders communicate to their members the assigned day for their groups which the Parish Office will share  next week.

I thank you once again for worshiping God with us this weekend.

Sincerely in Christ and Mary,