A Letter from the Pastor

‘Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…”’ In today’s gospel of Matthew, Jesus recognized that the Father is in communication with Simon Peter. He is a channel for revealing who Jesus is. And Jesus gave Peter the authority to lead the Church. Was it enough for Peter not to fail? Of course not! Ten chapters later in the gospel of Matthew, we are told that the same Peter denied knowing Jesus at the high priest’s house. Jesus knew that Peter was going to fail, but it did not stop Him from giving Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

As we proclaim every Sunday when we profess our faith in the Creed, we believe that our Church is holy. Why do we say our church is holy, if all members are sinners? Because our founder and head, Jesus Christ, is holy. We are in the path of holiness, but we are still sinners as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.” (CCC 827). This is not an excuse to sin, but we must recognize our sinful nature. We need to behave always as disciples of Jesus, but we will fail, we will make mistakes, as Peter did.

All the saints recognized their sinful nature, and that was their first step to becoming holy. They did not rely solely in their own abilities or gifts, but in the grace of God, in order to walk in their way of holiness. As Saint Paul says: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cor. 12:10). The grace of God will give us what we need to always walk blameless in His path, but when we fail, he welcomes us back because His love for us is greater that our failures.

All members of the Church are humans, even the bishops, priests and deacons. Unfortunately, as leaders of the Church, when we make mistakes, we may harm some other members of the Church. Do not put all your faith and trust in any human being, no matter how good they are. Otherwise you would be disappointed.

I always try to walk in the path of holiness. Through my personal prayer and the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist, I ask the Lord to give me wisdom and strength to always do the right thing, in my personal life and in my responsibilities as pastor of Blessed Sacrament. But sometimes my weakness, my imperfections get in the way. I am far, too far from being holy and perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, but even though I have a lot of friends, family members and parishioners who always pray for me, sometimes it is hard to make the right decision. Anyway, I do not get discouraged because if Simon Peter made mistakes, and still has the keys of the kingdom of heaven, there is hope for all of us, if we put our trust in the Lord.

My brothers and sisters, do not give up, even if you are not able to remain in the Lord’s path for too long. The Lord is always expecting us, does not matter how many times we fail, to keep trying. That is what He wants from us, to try.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Ismael

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