Feast of the Epiphany, January 7, 2024 Parish Vision and Statement

Father Rick’s Two-Minute Homily For the Feast of the Epiphany

January 7, 2024, Matthew 2:1-12
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/010724.cfm

Henry Van Dyke, in 1902 wrote about another wise man, Artaban. He bought three jewels for the new infant King: a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl.

On his way to meet the other three Maji, he stopped and helped an injured child. They left without him. Artaban sold his sapphire to pay for his journey.

Again, he couldn’t help himself. He notices that one of the holy innocents is about to be murdered, so he bribes the soldier with his ruby.

Thirty years passed, and he was still searching for the Messiah King. On his way to Jerusalem, he heard that Pontius Pilate had condemned to death a man who claimed to be the Messiah King.

He wanted to use his pearl to ransom this condemned man from death but saw a girl being sold into slavery. So, he used the pearl to set her free.

He had nothing left to give the King. And out of nowhere, the sky darkened, and there was an earthquake. A falling rock crushed Artaban to his death. Just before he died, the clouds parted, and he heard a voice, “Whatever you have done to the least of my children, you have done to me.”

Isn’t that the way it is? Without knowing it, Artaban found his Messiah King many times and consoled the heart of Jesus, who loved these little ones so much. Without knowing it, Artaban had the heart of Jesus.

We have a lot to offer and meet Jesus every day in other people, but like Artaban, we don’t always recognize Him. Some of the folks we see are on our periphery. They are there, and we might even have a chat with them. But if we had a heart like Artaban, a whole new world would open up to us, the world of Jesus.

Think of how Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist – unconditionally, with no barriers that would keep Him away. He takes care of those at the beginning of Mass through our sorrow for sinning against Him and others.

It’s like our new Parish Vision Statement Brent spoke about in the video, composed by our Parish Leadership Team. “To spread Jesus’ Eucharistic Love throughout the greater Seminole area by bringing lifelong disciples into his Church through acts of charity, fellowship, and prayer.”

Thank the Lord, we are already experiencing this new vision. Eighty-five people came to Alpha Thursday night seeking a better way to live. It was amazing to witness strangers taking time to listen and begin to care for each other. I saw so many smiles and met some really neat people.

St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote:
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”(A Simple Path: Mother Teresa by Mother Teresa)

We are blessed to have a parish vision that embraces the Universal call to Charity. Fr. Marco Tanghetti, Superior General of our religious order, the Institute of Charity, recently wrote, “Some homeless people living near St. Peter’s Square in Rome were asked during the Synod what they expect from the Church. They replied: “Love!” (Synodality, like this! From your Baptism Church in Mission.)

The need for acts of charity, fellowship, and prayer is all around us: our local community, families, and parish. We need to bond in prayer, making use of our chapel, which is open daily until 7 pm. Come and experience the difference Jesus can make when you see Him present in the Tabernacle, waiting to bless, heal, and guide you in His wonderful way.

We need to bond together in fellowship, going out of our way to socialize at events that create opportunities to have fun and get to know each other. Jesus will ignite the fire of his love in us that will make Blessed Sacrament a Church without borders – open and welcome to everyone.

We opened the border of our school, and since August, we have baptized 21 of our school children, and 15 families from the school have joined our parish.

When we get out of our little world and into the wide-open world of Jesus, God gives us the increase. We will meet Lazarus at the gate of the rich man, the Samaritan woman at the well shunned by her townspeople, but whom Jesus asked for a drink. We will see in our local community the woman who bled for 18 years and whom Jesus healed when she touched the hem of his garment.

“The merciful man,” said John Chrysostom, “is as a harbor to those who are in need; and the harbor receives all who are escaping shipwreck, and frees them from danger, whether they be evil or good; whatsoever kind of men they are (…), it receives them into its shelter. When you see a man suffering shipwreck on land through poverty, you do not sit in judgment on him, nor require explanations, but relieve his distress.” (In pauperem Lazarum, II, 5). (…)

Fr. Marcus Tanghetti complimented St. John Chrysostom, ”This, brothers and sisters, is the Church we are called to “dream”: a Church that is the servant of all, the servant of the least of our brothers and sisters. A Church that never demands proof of “good behavior” but welcomes, serves, loves, and forgives. A Church with open doors that is a haven of mercy. (Synodality, like this! (From your Baptism Church in Mission.)

Our Rosminian Order, the Institute of Charity, is growing in this same mission of no borders. We have their support in tangible ways through our Ascribed Members. We are on the same mission.

To conclude, let us all find creative ways to support our new Parish Mission Statement: The Family of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church trusts in God’s Divine Love under the guidance of the Rosminian Tradition of Universal Charity.

We can do this, but we need everyone to help heal our society and be a light shining in the darkness. Each of you is the Light of the World. None of us needs 30 years to find our King.

I invite you to embrace a beautiful opportunity today by sharing prayer in our Eucharistic procession after the 11:39 Mass, followed by fellowship at our parish picnic.

Love Your Neighbor:
Please join me in praying for all baptized Catholics to be faithful to Jesus in the Holy Mass every weekend. Hail Mary, full of grace…

Mother Mary, “I am yours now and forever. Through you and with you, I always want to belong completely to Jesus.” The Surrender Novena – InHeartland. https://inheartland.com/pages/the-surrender-novena

Peace be with you.

Fr. Rick Pilger, I.C.
pastor

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