Saint Simon Stock is a welcoming Catholic community. Guided by the Holy Spirit and nourished by the Word, Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is the center of parish life. Through our Baptismal call, we generously share our time, talent and treasure. As responsible stewards of the Kingdom of God, we give joyful witness to Jesus Gospel of love.Pastor: Rev. Michael A. J. de Leon, A.M.
Few days ago, I was talking with a parishioner. This parishioner told me that she would not be at Mass on a specific day because she would be going to see Jesus. I was a little bit worried because I thought she was ill. I was about to ask her if she is okay or is something wrong with her health when she added that she would be joining a group of people to see Jesus at the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA. Oh, that Jesus.
For those who are not familiar with the show. JESUS is a musical stage adventure that takes you on a miraculous journey alongside the most famous person ever to walk the earth and the everyday people whose lives he changed forever. I was told the show was amazing and it really can touch your hearts. There were wonderful scenes like when Jesus rescued Peter from drowning in the sea, when Jesus forgave Mary Magdalene, when Jesus rose from the dead, and many more. It was a story of forgiveness, healing, courage, resiliency, faith, and love.
Those who watched the show in Lancaster and came back home a little bit tired from the trip, but it was absolutely worth it. In spite of the hassle of traveling, they came back refreshed, satisfied and energized with faith.
The gospel for today (Oct 6th) is taken from Luke 17:5-10. The gospel began with a request from Jesus’s apostles to Jesus himself: “Increase our faith.” Did the apostles consider their faith to be too weak? (See Luke 8:25; 22:32.) The response of Jesus reminds his apostles that even a little faith, small as a mustard seed, has great power. And this faith can do impossible things like uprooting a mulberry tree, which has extremely deep roots, and planted it in the sea.
I believe this should be our constant prayer to increase our faith. Our faith in Jesus can help us navigate the intricacy and challenges of daily life. There are so many trials and challenges in life. Two of the things our parishioners and non-parishioners struggle with are illness and death of a family. When someone we know is struggling with sickness and even death, we need two essential things: One, we need to renew our trust in God. To have faith in Jesus. Two, we need to know that we are not alone in our struggles and difficulties. We have our family, friends, and even our church community to support us and would never abandon us in good times and in bad.
About a year ago, I went to see an elderly lady at Lions Gate. I had known this woman for a few years. She was constantly in pain from some type of cancer. We talked a little bit. I listened to her soft and fragile voice. I knew she was very sick. Her daughter was present at that time. She asked me if I could hear her confession. I did. I also administered the sacrament of Holy Anointing. Her daughter loved her so much. And she loved her daughter tremendously just the same. They had a strong faith in God, and they had one another. The daughter always made sure that her mom didn’t feel alone. Indeed, she was never alone in her struggles and pain. Right before I was about to leave them and move on to see another patient at the health facility, the elderly lady said this to me: Father Michael, I trust in God and I am ready to go and see Jesus. While she was saying this, I could see in her eyes that she was in pain, but she was also resolved. Tears slowly trickle down her face. She was in tears, so was her daughter and myself. She was a strong and resilient woman. A few days after, the daughter informed the parish that her mom went back home to see Jesus in heaven.
In spite of the pain the daughter was experiencing for losing her mom, she was still grateful for all the many years she spent with her mom. She was also thankful for the sacraments of Reconciliation (Confession) and Anointing her mom received before her passing. She was also grateful for the church. She was grateful to her mother, who gave her the gift faith at her baptism and for teaching her Christian values, faith, courage, forgiveness, resiliency, hope, and love.
The gospel for next Sunday (Oct. 13th) from Luke 17:11-19 resonates her attitude of gratitude. The gospel is about the ten lepers who were healed and cleansed by Jesus. One of the ten, a Samaritan, returned to Jesus, glorifying God and thanking Jesus. This Samaritan was so grateful for the gift of healing, recovery, and peace.
I am always amazed how this particular gospel passage ends. Jesus reminded this new person, a Samaritan, who was healed from his sickness, that it was his faith that saved him.
How do we actively increase our faith in Jesus? What do we do to deepen our faith? Let us look at Jesus. He who befriended the outcasts, healed the hurting, and comforted the sorrowful. He listens to our prayers. He knows our pain, suffering, and challenges in life. Jesus is always there for us. We need to pray, meditate, listen, follow and see Jesus.
Whether we see Jesus in Lancaster, PA or in the next life, we are invited to strengthen our faith in him so that when our time comes, like the elderly woman I anointed, we too can say I trust God and I am ready to go and see Jesus. But, not yet. We still have lots of great works and love to spread.
Let us now call on the intercessions of the patron saints of our parish church:
Saint Edward, the Confessor, pray for us!
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!
Saint Simon Stock pray for us!
With a loving and prayerful heart,
Fr. Michael, AM
We have gluten free hosts available if you need them. They are already consecrated in the tabernacle. Just let one of the Priests, Deacons or Eucharistic Ministers know prior to mass.