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From the Desk of the Pastor 

March 16, 2024

Good morning.


Pope Francis, as an archbishop in Argentina and for the last eleven years as Pope, has often reflected on Jesus' entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey, and delved into the profound spiritual and theological significance of this moment, which heralds the beginning of Holy Week. For him, this event is not merely a historical occurrence but a deeply symbolic act that encapsulates the essence of Jesus mission and the nature of His kingdom.


The narrative of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey which we find in the Gospels, is rich in symbolism and prophetic fulfillment. It references the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9, which depicts a king coming to Jerusalem "righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey." This imagery starkly contrasts with the expectations in Jesus day of a Messiah who would lead a military revolt against Roman occupation. Instead, Jesus chooses a path of humility and peace, emphasizing His rejection of worldly power and violence.


Pope Francis often highlights the humility of Jesus' entry to underscore a fundamental Christian value: the call to serve others with love and humility. He points out that Jesus' choice of a donkey, a common and unassuming animal, over a horse, which was typically associated with war and conquest, sends a powerful message about the nature of God's kingdom. It is a kingdom not of domination and coercion, but of gentleness, compassion, and peace. This act invites followers of Christ to reflect on their own lives, questioning the ways they seek power, prestige, or validation through worldly means.


In his homily for Palm Sunday each year, Pope Francis draws attention to the crowd's response to Jesus' entry. The people of Jerusalem spread their cloaks on the road and waved palm branches, welcoming Him as a king, yet their expectations were often misplaced. This enthusiastic yet fleeting welcome serves as a cautionary tale about the fickle nature of human support and the challenge of true discipleship. It prompts believers to ask themselves how they welcome Jesus into their own lives: is it with genuine commitment to His teachings, or with superficial acclaim that fades when faced with difficulty?


Jesus' entry into Jerusalem marks the beginning of His journey towards the ultimate act of love and humility: His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. This journey is a stark embodiment of God's love for humanity, a love that is willing to embrace suffering and death for the sake of others. By riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus demonstrates His readiness to confront the powers of sin and death, armed only with love and self-sacrifice.


Pope Francis calls on the faithful to see in Jesus' humble entry a model for their own lives. Christians are encouraged to embrace humility, service, and peace, to seek not to be served but to serve. This perspective challenges believers to live out their faith in actions that reflect Jesus' love and compassion, especially towards the poor, the marginalized, and those in need.


For 2024 the season of Lent comes quickly to a conclusion in Holy Week with the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and for the following three days, the church celebrates the Triduum, moving from one full liturgy to another, culminating in the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening.  This is the high point of the liturgical year and for the fifty days that follow, the church will focus on “what this rising from the dead means”.  If the season of Lent was about looking inward and putting our lives in order, the Easter Season is about looking outward and embracing the work that is entrusted to us as the new disciples of Christ in the modern world. 


On Holy Thursday we have Mass in the evening only at 7.30 pm. followed by a time of vigil until night prayer at 10.00 pm.  On Good Friday, the morning begins at 9.00 am. with a celebration in our church that ends with a procession, praying the Way of the Cross to St. James Church and St. Dominic’s Church.  Along the way, a stop Is made to pray one of the fourteen stations and for a simple meal.  This is a perfect activity for families and for those who like a challenging walk.  In the parish church, Good Friday continues with two traditional celebrations at 12 Noon and 3.00 pm.  In the evening at 7.00 pm. the children’s choir and youth of the parish present a dramatized Way of the Cross to bring the day to a close. 


On Saturday, the church remains quiet as it prepares for the great Vigil at 8.00 pm. that proclaims the resurrection of Christ.  The highlights are the proclamation of the Easter Vigil, the readings leading us through the timeline of salvation history and the solemn Alleluia that anticipates the gospel passage announcing the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.   The Easter Vigil is the “high Point” of the liturgical year and is filled with language and symbols of our faith that sustain us for another year.  On Easter Sunday, the baptism font is prominent at the front of the church, reminding us that it is from the water of the font that our journey with Christ begins.   Mass for Easter Sunday is celebrated at 8.30, 9.30 and 11.30 am. 


During Holy Week, services at St. Andrew’s are live streamed online through our website on Holy Thursday at 7.30 pm., Good Friday at 3.00 pm., and Easter Sunday at 9.30 and 11.30 pm.


The Sacrament of Reconciliation has always enjoyed a special place as we prepare for Easter.  This year at St. Andrew’s we have set aside a day with special times for parishioners to celebrate the sacrament.  On Tuesday, March 26th Fr. Felix and I will be available in the church from 11.00 am to 12 noon, 12.20 to 1.30 pm. and 7.00 to 8.30 pm.



On Saturday, April 26th, the Pastoral Advisory Committee and I have invited a wide representation of parishioners to a mini synod experience to help us tease out three questions that we hope will shape our pastoral plan for the next ten years.  This gathering has been influenced by the synodal meetings that took place in Rome last October (and will continue this October) and a similar process that took place in the diocese during the last half of 2023 (and in which ten of us participated in last November).  In May, parishioners will have an opportunity hear about what happened and offer their input. 


In anticipation of the season of spring, we have been busy with inspecting the properties and anticipating immediate and future needs.  Plans are being finalised for some much-needed landscaping and roof repairs for the parish centre.  The main front door of the parish centre is considered a part of the heritage character of the building and will receive some much-needed repair now that we have received the opinion of an expert in the area of conservation.  A problem with water damage on the ceiling over the main body of the church continues to be investigated (and is proving to be frustrating) as we cannot seem to land on the location where water is coming from.  The Financial Report was published two weeks ago and copies are still available in the church.  The One Heart, One Soul Campaign for St. Andrew’s concludes at the end of April, and I look forward to sharing more about it with you next month.


Finally, two weeks ago I was asked to participate on a multi-faith panel at St. Thomas Aquinas High School with members of Interfaith Halton and the grade eleven students.  A Jewish Rabbi, Muslim Imam, and I were joined by members of the Hindu and Bahi faiths.  Each of us were asked to speak briefly about “peace” as we understand it in our faith traditions.  For an hour I continued to be amazed by the maturity, curiosity and sincerity of the questions by the students.  Afterwards, many of the students continued to be in conversation with members of the panel for a significant period of time.  The members of the panel were effusive in their appreciation for the opportunity to be in conversation with the students and we look forward to doing it again.  Congratulations and kudos to the principal and chaplain who organised and facilitated this initiative. 


May these last days of Lent be fruitful and may the joy of Easter fill your mind and heart.  If you are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit”.  Don’t forget that Tuesday is another feast day for Canadians as we honor St. Joseph.


Be well. 

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