April 08th, 2020
Aloha and Hello Brothers and Sisters,
We are almost to the end of this Lenten Season. Holy Week is before us and we are physically distance from one another, because of the virus but I do believe we are all united in Spirit. For that, I have to say Thank You very much for continuing the journey of faith that we are on now besides the many challenges and hardships ahead of us. Please keep the faith, be healthy and be safe from the COVID-19. Beyond the distancing of who we are from one another for a short period of time, we will be together with joy and gratitude when the black cloud of COVID-19 goes away. This is really one meaning of Lent … ‘self-sacrifice’. Sacrificing of ‘our been together’ for safety reasons for a short time, enable us to be together tomorrow with gratitude and with a healthy self.
God gave us so many opportunities. Moving towards the end of this Lenten Season and experiencing what is happening in the world nowadays, enables us to see another opportunity to have back to ourselves the gift of Gods Holiness that was with us, we lost it, because of sin. We were given three tools or three elements that we must work on so that this gift (Holiness) of God can be within us again. And this is one of the reasons that I see why things happen in this world. Way to Holiness is not easy. The way of the Cross leading to triumphant was with pain and sufferings. Ways to gain back to our self the holiness of God in this time of great hopelessness and fear - is through Fasting, Self-Sacrifice and Prayer.
For the last two weeks, I had plenty time to spend on prayers not only for my own relationship with God but for Gods protection to all members of our Community. Sacrificing our desire to be physically with our brothers and sisters in our community services or worshipping together enable to how Gods way are not ours most of the time. I see it as a great opportunity of deepening my relationship with the God of Hope, with Jesus the Healer and with Holy Spirit who always care, protect and guide to the right path.
What is happening in the world nowadays remind me of how God reveals to human beings in this world. We hardly accept the way how he reveals to us. Like the Jesus who is the ‘Emanuel’ of God to man, unaccepted by many even now. Even before Christ, the chosen family of God. He revealed to them in wind, thunder, storm, water and many others especially natural disasters which we hardly accept by many. To Our Lady of Sorrow too. The way She revealed Herself to the world was always through simple things or in a very low-profile or humble way. Mostly to Children which sometimes we say, ‘oh boy, who believe in what that kid is saying’. Stories of Lourdes and Fatima can be very much a clear picture of Our Mother and the kids. So, to gain heaven or to have back to our self the Holiness of God is through pain and sufferings – yes, it’s hard but beyond pain and sufferings victory and newness of life will be granted.
Let us enter with Christ entered triumphantly to Jerusalem to accept sorrow so that ne life will be granted when we celebrated with joy the Risen Christ. Let us be open and prepare to receive back to our beings the new life or the Holiness of God. Beyond the Cross there is Resurrection. See you next week again Stay Healthy and be safe.
Fr. Niko Atonio
He is Risen, Alleluia!
Empty Tomb is the visible proof of Jesus Resurrection. Empirical knowledge of Empty Tomb leads us to listen to the words of the Angel that "Why do you seek the Living among the Dead?" This question helps us to introspect ourselves.., where do I look for real Happiness? If we know and look in right place for right things then we can say we are fully transformed Christians.
As Jesus transformed the symbol of Shame into Symbol of Glory: the Cross. Jesus can also transform us.
Fr. AJITH KUMAR,SS.CC.
Third Sunday of the Lent
The theme for the third Sunday of the Lent is REPENTANCE.
First Sunday of Lent we reflected on the Temptation of Jesus, Second was about Transfiguration.
Reflection on the theme of Repentance this week, we need to remember how worst sinner could I be God never gives up on me.
God never gave up: God has promised never to give up on us. All of the Scriptures Old and New Testaments together are a record of how God never, never, never, never, never gives up.
- Adam and Eve disobeyed the very First Rule. But God never gave up.
- Abraham wandered, and Sarah laughed. But God never gave up.
- Moses hid and shook with fear. But God never gave up.
- Saul went insane. But God never gave up.
- David plotted against Uriah. But God never gave up.
- Ahaz sold out to Assyria. But God never gave up.
- Israel fell into pieces. But God never gave up.
- The Jewish people became exiles. But God never gave up.
- John the Baptist was beheaded. But God never gave up.
- Peter denied he even knew Jesus, and Judas betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. But God never gave up.
- The disciples all ran away. But God never gave up.
Let Trust in the mercy of God, who heals all our wounds.
First Sunday of the Lent
Temptation of Jesus in the desert.
Jesus prepared himself for his ministry by a period of fasting, praying, and strengthening himself against temptation. How will we use the time of Lent for our spiritual training camp? Lent is a time to practice the use of God’s word as our defensive weapon against temptation.
What spiritual training plans will we put into practice during Lent? Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are traditional. Today’s passage from the Gospel might suggest that we spend a few minutes each day in reading Scripture. Are we trying to live by "bread alone?" We might write a plan for each week of Lent. Here are some suggestions to get us started:
First Week I will . . . spend some time reading the Gospels or the Psalms.
Second Week I will . . . fast from foods, unhealthy for body and soul.
Third Week I will . . . volunteer at a soup kitchen, thrift shop, or day care center.
Fourth Week I will . . . learn a few lines of Scripture by heart.
Fifth Week I will . . . give clothes, money, or possessions to the poor.
Sixth Week I will . . . participate in Holy Week liturgies.
Once it so happened that two worn out currency bills of a hundred dollar and a one dollar met each other at the end of their tenure. They shared among themselves the places they happened to go. Hundred dollar bill very proudly said, “Soon after was I printed, I went into the hands of the richest man, then into the hands of CEO of Google. From his hands, I went to the hands of a chief of CIA, from whose hands I went to a five star hotel. By then I was soiled and I am here.” The one dollar bill said, “As soon as I was printed, I was placed in the offertory box of immaculate conception shrine. From there, I went to Episcopalian church. Then I happened to reach a poor person who put me in a dilapidated church in a remote village. I was there for quite sometime. By the time, I was dirty and I am here.” The hundred dollar bill asked, “All the time you were mentioning ‘Church’. What is it? I have never heard about it.”
This anecdote points out how people, in general, are stingy when it comes to give to the causes of religion. In general, when it comes to the matter of God, we are more interested in receiving than giving. Today’s readings invite us to be the persons of selfless giving. The first reading talks about the generous giving of the widow of Zarephath. Even though she knew that death, caused by hunger, was imminent, yet she dared to share with Elijah the meager amount of flour she had. It shows, how in the midst of utter poverty, she upheld the love of others. The gospel speaks of the contribution of a widow – the contribution which manifested her total and complete dependence on God. It shows, how in the midst of utter poverty, she upheld the love of God. And in the second reading, the author of the book of Hebrews talks about the total self-sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It shows, how in the midst of excruciating pain on the cross, he upheld the love of God and of others.
In the Bible, the words ‘giving,’ ‘offering’ and ‘sacrifice’ etc., denote surrender. When it is said that the widow gave whatever she had, it simply means that she totally surrendered herself unto God. Here we need to understand that giving or surrendering ourselves unto God is not going to increase anything on the part of God. God is never less by our non-giving. Nor is he anything more by our giving. Instead surrender is very much necessary for us, the human. Surrender helps us in two ways. Firstly, it helps us reduce our suffering, and secondly it begets God’s blessing.
a). Surrender & Suffering:
Most of our sufferings have their roots in attachment. Buddha said, “Attachment is the root cause of all sufferings.” (Quite often we erroneously say that desire is the root cause of suffering. Buddha, in Pali language, used the word tanha, whose right translation is attachment/aversion, and not desire.) When a person is attached to something, one begins to say, “This belongs to me” or “That belongs to me.” Whenever something unwanted takes place in the thing/person to which one is attached, naturally it affects the person too. The more a person is attached, the more sorrowful one is. In surrender, we tell God that everything belongs to Him and nothing belongs to us. Surrender is nothing but detachement. When this spirit of detachment prevails in a person, one will not be affected by what happens outside of oneself. In other words, one begins to be equanimous and the level of suffering will go down drastically.
There was a king who spent sleepless nights because of various problems in his kingdom. A well-known intelligent sage once came to meet the king. The king told the sage of his problem and said, “I would be happy to give up the kingdom to any capable person and retire into an unknown place in order to regain my happiness.” The sage said, “Why don’t you give it to your son?” “Well! he is too young!” was the answer. “Why don’t you give it to your wife?” the sage asked. “Well! She is like me. She too would suffer” came the answer. Then the sage asked, “If that is the case, Why don’t you give it to me?” The king happily accepted the proposal since he knew the caliber of that sage. Then the sage asked, “Now you are not the king. Where do you want to go?” He said, “I don’t have any specific plan.” The sage said, “If so, why don’t you do the job which you know already. You just be my servant and rule the kingdom. Don’t worry about the problems and the troubles. Just give your best in ruling the kingdom. The rest I will take care.” The king accepted it. He ruled the kingdom without worrying about the results. He just did everything to the best of his abilities. The results were remarkable. The kingdom improved a lot and at the same time the king never lost his sleep.
This is the power of surrender. When a person thinks that s/he is the master of everything, all the vagaries of life begin to affect one and it leads to anxiety and restlessness. Instead, when a person surrenders oneself into the hands of God and does one’s best, life turns out for the best.
b). Surrender & God’s Blessings:
The second important thing that we need to understand while we speak about surrender is that surrender can beget the choicest blessings of God. When a person surrenders oneself into God’s hand, it can be said that the person is creating space for God. Contrastingly, when a person is full of oneself, then there is no place for God in one’s life. Through surrender, when a person creates space for God in oneself, then naturally God fills that person with choicest blessings and graces. This is what we see in the case of the widow of Zarephath. By giving she received more. The well-known words of St. Francis of Assisi are: ‘In giving we receive.’
Creating space for God in our lives involves a continuous self-emptying and self-giving. Quite often we are full of ourselves – our desires, our egoism, our pride, our attachments etc. When we are full of ourselves, we keep God out of our lives. It is only when we develop the courage and guts to throw away the ego with all its various manifestations, it can be said that we create space for God in our lives.
Let us rejoice and thank God for 90 years of guidance and protection to our community. This year our Lady of Sorrows celebrates 90th anniversary of its foundation (1928). Fr. Charles Windels, ss.cc. decided to build a new church at Ewa and the old wooden church was transported to Wahiawa and dedicated to our Lady of Sorrows. Today we stand on a high ground proclaiming Christ to Wahiawa and beyond. As we look back the road we trod, we are grateful for all the missionaries, priests, religious men and women who have served and gave their lives for this God’s work.
When the first Mass was celebrated in the present Church on December 13, 1959, Bishop Sweeney said, “ In this church may your faith be renewed week after week by the greatest gift God has given to his people – the Mass”. We are nourished and strengthen by the same Eucharist even today.
This year August 4, we had our Wahiawa family fair at Wahiawa District Park, participated by different churches in Wahiawa area. As I was at our Lady of Sorrows booth, a elderly person asked me “How come it is Our Lady of Sorrows, When we read in Scriptures, Mary sings that her soul rejoice in the Lord”? A Perfect question from a evangelical church member to a Catholic priest.
Our Mother rejoices always in God even when she had to suffer. Her sorrows are about Jesus. Her sorrows are means to participate in the suffering of Jesus. But she is not our Lady of Sadness. She had to face trials and challenges in her life. She accepted it all as the will of God which made her not to be sad rather joyfully doing His will. She is our Lady of Sorrow because she shared in Her Son’s suffering. She felt the pain but bore it all for the redemption of the human race with her Son. Today she inspires us with her example to bear all the challenges of life with a hope one day we shall overcome.
During these days of novena, I am praying for all of you parishioners especially for all our sick and suffering. I pray for the grace of perseverance and strength to face the challenges of life like Mary did, so that we may all win His Kingdom. AMEN.
Dear Sisters and Brothers.
Fr. Falaniko Atonio is the pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows.