In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives 3 more parables to explain what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. This term, “Kingdom of Heaven” in Matthew’s Gospel, or “Kingdom of God” in the other 3 Gospels, has a tremendously rich meaning and a number of different theological interpretations. Throughout the centuries, much ink has been spilled trying to explain it. I favor the interpretation that posits our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Kingdom, the “pearl of great price.” Because Jesus is the Head of His Mystical Body, and the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is His Mystical Body, (also, the Bride of Christ), it is the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven extending through time and space to all parts of the world, permeating, like yeast in a batch of wheat dough. By remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church and continuing the practice of our Faith regardless of the trials and inconveniences, we remain faithful to Jesus, our King and Kingdom.
We need to do more! If we don’t, we Catholics will continually be harassed, denigrated, and always labeled as “non-essential.” I want to assure you that I will fight for your right to worship in person, to worship God in a church and receive the Holy Eucharist, and not be forced to sit on your camping chairs in the middle of a hot parking lot or only seeing the Mass on a screen.
In the 2nd reading from St. Paul, we hear, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” When Paul writes “all things,” he means the good, the bad and the ugly. We are encouraged to see that the present suffering resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the latest shutdown of our indoor Masses, can “work for good” for us who have been called “according to His purpose” through our Baptism, and for us who love God by keeping His Commandments. Our merciful Father wants to bring a greater good from all suffering, from “all things,” we are asked to endure. If we remain faithful through all these inconveniences imposed upon us, we will grow in the gifts of the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and love.
With that said, Jesus in this Gospel, as well as last week’s, sternly warns us of the weeds of the evil forces growing alongside us, the “children of the Kingdom.” He says, “all who cause others to sin” and “all evildoers” are adamantly opposed to the Divine mission of the Church, are enemies of the Church, and would love nothing more than to see her cease to exist. So, as faithful followers of the true King and citizens of His Kingdom, we have to seriously talk about how we can respond to the limits to our public worship, primarily have Masses outdoors only and the 100-person limit. I have emailed our dear Bishop Cotta encouraging a more public and forceful (much more) “push back” against the latest restrictions imposed on us by Governor Newsom. We need to do more! If we don’t, we Catholics will continually be harassed, denigrated, and always labeled as “non-essential.” I want to assure you that I will fight for your right to worship in person, to worship God in a church and receive the Holy Eucharist, and not be forced to sit on your camping chairs in the middle of a hot parking lot or only seeing the Mass on a screen. Pray for our Bishop, and all the Bishops of California, and your priests, that we can courageously stand against the evil forces, human and demonic, hell bent to bring down the Church. In spite of all the evil we see going on, we must remain hopeful and continue to trust Jesus, who Himself established His Church and promised the “gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Our Lord Jesus assures us all the enemies of the Kingdom of Heaven, the enemies of Christ and His Church, “will be at the end of age … thrown into a fiery furnace where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” St. Joseph, Terror of demons, pray for us!
Dear St. Joseph’s Family Member, June 5, 2020
We give thanks to Almighty God for your return to Sunday Masses in person this upcoming weekend of June 13-14, the feast of Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of Christ.) On behalf of our clergy and staff, I joyfully welcome you back to the celebration of the Mass! Most of you have been joining us for our digital ministry these past three months, and continuing with your prayers and support for St. Joseph’s. Due to the ongoing pandemic, there is a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice. For those who are concerned about returning to Mass for health reasons, including age, preexisting conditions, or caring for someone whose health could be seriously threatened, you are encouraged to not attend in person at this time and stay connected through our livestream Masses. You are a beloved member of our parish family, so please be assured of my continued prayers as we serve you while you are at home.
For those of us who can return to Mass in person, each of us will be challenged by the needed changes to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. With the help of a special parish committee, made-up of fellow parishioners who are healthcare professionals, our staff has worked hard to implement the safety guidelines from our Diocese and Public Health officials. I ask for your patience and understanding as we do our best to serve you under these present conditions. Please carefully review the enclosed material with all the changes (different Mass times and locations) and our safety protocols. Our humble and obedient response to these changes will help us to grow closer together as a parish family and even grow in our image of Jesus. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us it is easy to love when things go our way, but the real test of love is to be kind, compassionate, and considerate when we are challenged.
The Mass is the real participation in the one sacrifice our Lord Jesus freely made of Himself on the Cross for our salvation. To grow in our relationship with God, and truly have peace, we need the graces that can only be received in the Sacraments, particularly receiving our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. I invite you to eagerly look forward to receiving Him again as if it is your 1st Communion! Our joy as disciples and friends of Christ can never be taken way any by any virus! Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, pray for us!
Fr. Sam West, Pastor
Blessed Easter to all of you!
In anticipation of the upcoming feast of St. Joseph, the Worker on May 1st, I am encouraging all of us to prepare by praying a novena to invoke our holy Patron’s intercession for all our families, especially for those who work in the many essential services we all need and for those who have lost jobs as result of the COVID pandemic.
Novenas are a beautiful and spiritually fruitful Catholic tradition. Praying or “doing” a novena is the recitation of a set of special prayers each day for nine straight days. It usually does not take too long (less than 10 minutes) and is often done to ask for the intercession of a saint before his or her feast day. Looking at the calendar, the novena to St Joseph should start today, April 22, 2020 to be complete by his next feast day of May 1st! If you cannot start praying the Novena on the 22nd, fear not, you can begin at any time.
On Friday, May 1st, we will livestream a special Holy Hour starting at 6:30pm to consecrate ourselves, our families, our parish, and, especially, all our essential workers and those unemployed to the care of our Patron, St. Joseph under his title the Worker. God entrusted His only-Begotten Son and His Virgin Mother to the care and protection of St. Joseph. So, we also want and even need to commend ourselves to this "just man" knowing he is our spiritual father. We have created a special page on the parish’s website with the instructions for the Novena and the prayers (click here).
For those who have been preparing for the total Consecration to St. Joseph using the 33-day preparation recently written by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, you will have an opportunity to also do your consecration during the May 1st livestream Holy Hour.
Before our world was turned upside down as a result of the pandemic, we were planning on doing a parish-wide Consecration to St. Joseph using Fr. Calloway’s preparation. Since we were not able to get this preparation for the Consecration more widely promoted and get the books to everyone who wanted to participate, we will do another “official” parish-wide consecration on a future feast day of our Patron when it can be done at the Church in-person.
St. Joseph Pray for us!
He has Risen Alleluia, Alleluia!
A most blessed Easter to all of you!
Because of our everyday distractions, not to mention the added attention on getting back to some kind of “normalcy” during our ongoing sheltering in place, it is easy to overlook the significance of Easter. This event is so important, so foundational, for the meaning of our Faith the Church celebrates Easter “day” for 8 full days! The entire Easter Season will continue for 50 days until Pentecost. So, during this Easter week, the one long glorious Easter Day, let us continue to rejoice. Scripture exhorts us - “This is the Day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” (Psalm 118).
To rejoice in the mystery of Easter, we spend time meditating on what the Resurrection means for us. We intentionally pray for the grace to see that the supernatural event of our Lord’s Resurrection changed EVERYTHING! I argue the Resurrection radically altered even our human nature, who we are as human persons. It fundamentally changed our human condition, opening for us a new dimension in our existence so we can now share in Divine life of God, the Most Holy Trinity.
For us to be changed fundamentally, who we are as a person or in our relationship with another, it takes what I am calling a “shock and awe” event. When our mothers gave birth to us this was certainly a “shock and awe” event for them and for us. There was first the shock, for both mother and baby, of the pain of the birth process but then came the awe and wonder of the arrival of the newborn child. Similarly, although most of us don’t remember it, our baptism could be looked at in the same light. There was the shock of being turned our backs, held over a font, looking up at strange person pouring cold, or at best tepid water, on our heads. But then came the awe of being made a ‘new creation,’ an adopted child of God, mystically, yet really, sharing in the “shock” of dying and “awe” of raising with our Lord Jesus Christ, united to Him and having the life of Holy Spirit dwell in us.
We see a fundamental change in the behavior of the Apostles after they went through the “shock and awe” of our Lord’s Crucifixion and Resurrection. At first, as a result of the “shock” of our Lord’s arrest, trial, and death sentence, most of the Apostles flee and go into hiding for “fear of the Jews.” But, then something powerful, life-changing must have happened to them. In a short time, they are boldly, openly proclaiming the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and tell everyone He is the true “Lord and Messiah.” They experienced the “awe” (the major “awe”) in encountering the Risen Lord Jesus, and that experience had really changed them. They came to see and know through the “shock and awe” of the Lord’s death and Resurrection Jesus has opened a whole new dimension, a new infinite horizon for our once mortal and corruptible human nature. Our Lord’s Crucifixion and Resurrection is that ONE “shock and awe” event that completely changes our human condition, breaking open all the limits that previously prevented us from sharing fully in God’s Divine Life. With the Blessed Mother’s prayers, let us experience the AWE of our Risen Lord Jesus and rejoice in His Presence always.
My dear parish family,
Here is a video I did covering generally the same topic I wrote about in a blog post a few days ago. It is an update of where we are at as parish under the continued stay at home order. I thought some people would rather hear & see it than read it! Have a blessed Holy Week and Triduum.
How We Can Grow in our Faith THIS Holy Week
On Sunday, we watched our Lord Jesus enter Jerusalem triumphantly to the elation and praise of the crowds. How quickly the circumstances changes for our Lord, Who goes from the highest position in society to the lowest, from king to criminal, in a matter of just a few days! Shortly, after this scene of jubilation, we now see how Jesus suffers terribly in the Garden. He is then betrayed by one of His own, Judas the Iscariot, abandoned by His closest friends, cruelly arrested, falsely accused and found guilty of blasphemy by the Jewish religious leaders, and then sent to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, to be sentenced to death by crucifixion. Today, Wednesday of Holy Week, is traditionally known as “spy Wednesday” because we hear in the Gospel how Judas tragically betrays his Lord and King for a worthless 30 pieces of silver.
So, unlike His first disciples who fled and abandoned our Lord Jesus in His time of need, let us sincerely desire to stay with Him in these remaining few days of this Holy Week. We desire to see and experience what Jesus endured for us. It was not by His beautiful words of preaching or His amazing miracles Jesus saves us. Those were the “signs” of who He IS, God, and signs that the Kingdom of God is now “at hand.” We were saved only by His Cross, saved only by His total obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lord Jesus freely gave of Himself, suffering and dying for us, to show us that if we desire the joy of the resurrection and share in His eternal peace, we too must remain faithful and follow Him, carrying our cross with and for Him.
So, we continue to unite our present suffering with the horrible pain Jesus endured for each of us. Jesus suffered every possible of form of human suffering. He underwent every kind of suffering we can ever suffer. He knows what it is to be lonely, isolated, hunger and thirst, to be mocked, to be betrayed. Our Lord endured physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual suffering.
I have created a special webpage for Holy Week and the Triduum on Parish Website to give you a guide how to better see God through all that is happening and how, I pray, to fruitfully participate in Holy Week. I know this is a little late, but it is the best I can do. I am still adding to the page, but I thought you could benefit from it what is already there. You access it here.
Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Patron St. Joseph, we pray for the grace to better see God in our present suffering as we now stay with our suffering Lord Jesus and remain with Him to then know the joy and peace of the Resurrection.
My Dear Parish Family,
We are now in Holy Week, a time when we draw closer to our Lord Jesus in His Passion and Death. Because the world is suffering the COVID-19 pandemic, this year God has chosen to give everyone, to give us, an opportunity to experience our Lord’s suffering in an even deeper way.
In this time of great distress and uncertainty, there is so much I want and need to tell you, my dear friends in Christ. For this Blog entry, I want to primarily let you know what I, my brother priests, and our dedicated parish staff are doing to serve you under these most unbelievable circumstances. For more than three weeks, we have been scrambling and working very hard entirely changing the way we carry out our ministry.
What We Do is Supposed be In Person
Up until the stay at home order, all we have done to serve you has been done face to face. Being in-person is how a family best serves one another, how parents best serve and love their children for example.
Just a few months ago, in December, we celebrated the mystery of the Incarnation. God became a human person to have a personal, human relationship with each one of us. He became, one like us in all things except sin, so we can hear Him, touch Him, and, yes, see Him! Our loving God also created the gift of the human family, the gift of friendship, and the gift of fellowship so we can have personal relationship with one another. Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, the Most Holy Trinity, a communion of 3 Divine Person, we are made for and have irreplaceable need of in-person relationships, to be in communion with God and one another. The Church and parish, which is the Church in local a community, is supremely personal – that unique, sacred place where we have this personal encounter, personal relationship, first, with God in the person of our Lord Jesus in the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and, in Christ, a personal relationship with one another. So, there is a great suffering for both you and for us in this forced separation from the Jesus in the Sacraments and from one another.
However, given the extraordinary circumstances, we needed to do what we could, to do “our part” out of Christian charity, to slow the spread of the virus. Our Bishop Cotta decided to suspend all public Masses and then in compliance with the “stay at home” order of the Governor of California and the directives of local government health officials to even close access to the church building.
Like many of you, I am very frustrated and, I must admit, even angry, we cannot serve you in person. The stay-at-home, which we have been under for almost 3 weeks now, severely limits what we can presently do to fulfill the mission our God has entrust to us as a parish. I know you are frustrated and saddened.
After spending time in prayer, offering my frustrations to our Lord, and commiserating with my brother priests, I have come to see that one of the many good things God is doing in all this suffering is to help us better recognize the reality and primacy of the spiritual life. Our Loving Father wants to show us more clearly the vision of our call as His children who share in His Divine life for which Jesus suffered and died. I firmly believe the Good Lord is using this present evil to help us focus more on the only the life that matters, that is Eternal Life, and to live this life of infinite Love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit more fervently, more abundantly, here and now in our earthy pilgrimage.
So, by the gift of Faith, we know there is a life, a real life above and beyond what we are experience in our senses. The spiritual life, into which we have been reborn through our Baptism, transcends the limits of the physical world. This means although we are not physically together, not able to be with each other in person, we still are, by power of the Holy Spirit, bound together. We are united with the suffering Lord Jesus and joined as one in His Mystical Body of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church. Because of this spiritual reality, I urge you to remember that each of your homes (your families) are what St Pope John II called a “domestic Church” that is united to the parish and united to whole the universal Church.
With God’s Grace We Still are Fulfilling Our Mission
Together, even in these most trying and difficult circumstances, we still can do what God is asking of us as a parish, the duty to Sanctify, to Teach, and to Govern, although we now are asked to do it in a very different way.
If we approach our present trial with humility, trust, and submission to God Holy will, we can continue to grow in virtue & holiness. We can if we use this unique opportunity, we will come to see God more clearly in our worship and in our love for one another.
I am so thankful to all of you
I am grateful to our Associate Pastors, Fr. Sekar and Fr. Michael and our entire parish Staff. They have done a wonderful job adapting to the present restrictions, having to completely change in this very short time the way we carry out what God is asking of us. I also thank our parish stewards and lay-leaders of our many ministries for keeping in contact and checking in on the members of your various ministries. I want to sincerely thank each of you, my dear parishioners, for your perseverance in our Faith and trust in God. I thank you for praying in your homes with your families including participating in our livestream Masses and devotions. I am grateful you are spending more time together as a family. I also greatly appreciate you checking in on one another. Finally, I want to express my gratitude for your continued generous financial support by sending your weekly gifts to parish.
Through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, may the Good Lord continue to bless and protect you. We pray by offering our suffering to the Father in union Jesus’ passion and death, He will grant us the grace to grow in love of our Lord Jesus and one another.