In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus again predict his passion, death, and Resurrection to his disciples while journey through Galilee. In predicting his passion, Jesus is acknowledging the danger they will face and is trying to prepare his disciples for it. The disciples listen, but they do not understand. Yet they do not ask for explanations.
Aren’t we the same? When Jesus explains his work for us we silently wait and think we understood it all. But we don’t get it. When he requests our eyes for his mission we use our eyes for window shopping, television, video games, lustful images etc. When he requests our hands for his mission we are busy using our hands to collect whatever we can collect for our own selves. Our minds are busy about thinking only ourselves, etc. But we have crosses around our necks, in our vehicles, our homes, work places etc. Do we venerate it? At least do we think about it?  Aren’t we always thinking my position, wealth, power etc. (simply “who was the greatest”) as they did in today’s gospel?

Jesus gave us the answer.  “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” He stressed one main point.  The use of power is not to ascend or rule, but to descend and serve.  There is no doubt that many of us have difficulties in accepting this view.  In the family whom do we regard as first? Who is the one who serves the family? Parents? Children? Will parents dominate or manipulate children or treat them with love? Same question can ask from children. Will children treat parents with love or treat them as “old school folks”? Where do we stand? Same theory will apply to work place, parish etc.

Jesus then calls forward a child and teaches the Twelve that to receive a child in Jesus’ name is to receive both Jesus and the One who sent him. We might easily fail to understand the significance of this action. In first-century Palestine, children were without status or power, possessing no legal rights (not like 21st century North American Child) . In this action, Jesus is teaching his disciples and us that when we serve the least ones among us, we serve Jesus himself. Who are the people without power or status in our society that Jesus is calling us to serve?
This would be all those in our society who are powerless and easily manipulated, who are easily abused, neglected and marginalized. The poor, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, the immigrant…
Can we accept them so willingly? Then we can accept Jesus.


>>click on image above to view the Parish Assessment Survey

My Dear Parishioners,
Two months have passed since I joined here at St. Francis as your pastor. These two months have been extremely exciting since everything was new. I feel so blessed working with you, due to your devotion, commitment and lively faith. Thanks to my predecessors, associates, administrative staff, volunteers and organizations.
You might have noticed that I have gained some weight in the last two months, due to the invitations. These gatherings have helped me a lot to understand the history, struggles and joyful moments of the parish formation as well as of your families. Appreciate your welcome and looking forward for more get-togethers. 
Some of you have asked: Father, what are your plans for our parish? Can you organize this program, group, or ministry etc...?  Would you consider changing this or that? My consistent response to all that, is, “I am new, need time to understand the parish and its priorities”. In addition to my family meetings to know the parish, this weekend I am seeking your help by filling up the Need Assessment Survey.  It is very important to hear from you and your thoughts, so that together we can work for the greater glory of God and the good of the parish.
You may fill up the hard copy which is inserted in the bulletin and deposit in the box placed near the baptismal font or you can complete the survey by visiting our parish website.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours’s in Christ,

Fr. James Cherickal,    Pastor.


Today’s first reading we read: He comes to save you.  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared;   We see this is fulfilled in the Gospel.  We might ask so what is the big deal?  But if we look deeply there’s an important message there. Jesus heals the deaf/mute man by putting fingers in the man’s ear and spittle on his tongue. (Spittle was believed to have healing properties and today we know this is actually true). At the same time Jesus looks heavenward – to his Father – and says, in Aramaic, "EPhPhatha” (Be opened").  Immediately the man was healed: This healing reminds us of the Sacrament of Baptism, through the gift of faith which precedes adult Baptism, our ears are opened to hear the Word of God and our tongues are loosened to speak about Christ to others.  Baptism is a sign of our full incorporation into the Body of Christ- the Church. Incorporation means total commitment to follow Jesus and to become open to hear what he says so we can share our faith with others.  Are we doing this?

If we are honest, many of us are not very good at either listening or speaking, where God is concerned. Some have even stopped hearing. Most of us not realize that we have become deaf! And, being deaf, we cannot speak either. We have nothing to say & nothing to share. Others, though, who are good at listening, they want to know more about Jesus and his Gospel.  But they, too, though good at hearing may do very little speaking, very little sharing. That is contradictory to what the Gospel says. In the Gospel, really to hear the Word of God is to carry it out. "Hearing" implies: listening, understanding, making the message one’s own and living it out in word and action.

Part of the problem is that for a long time we see our religion as something personal between ourselves and God: being morally good, keeping in the state of grace, going to Church at fixed times and receiving the Sacraments. Society fully supports this concept.  Then what should we do? Remember the rich man in the gospel who told Jesus that he had kept all the commandments. Do I need to do more? He was told, let go of everything you have, share it with the poor and needy, and then come and follow me. What is the message here? Emptiness and share.

Have we heard that message yet? Have we, for instance, heard today’s Second Reading? How do we treat different kinds of people in our society?

What are our attitudes to wealth and poverty? Which people do we regard as really rich and enriching? What kind of wealth are we in pursuit of? Are we totally free of discrimination in areas of sex, race, religion, class, occupation…?  This will tell us if we have really heard the word of God? We speak of an open mind, open enrollment, open arteries, the open man, open bowling, open bar, etc. The word "open" is at the entrances of hundreds of thousands of businesses. Yet all these openings mean nothing unless we have hearts open to the Lord. If you open your heart when Jesus says "Ephphatha!", He will open the gates of heaven when you say: "Ephphatha!"