YESTERDAY, I PRESIDED AT THE PATRONAL FEAST OF OUR PORTUGUESE PARISH. THE NEW AMBASSADOR FROM PORTUGAL, MR PEDRO MOITINHO DE ALMEIDA, WAS PRESENT. A PAPAL BLESSING WAS PRESENTED AT THE CLOSE OF THE MASS, WHICH WAS FOLLOWED BY A PROCESSION IN THE STREETS SURROUNDING THE CHURCH, A TELEVISION INTERVIEW (EN FRANÇAIS) AND A FEAST UNDER A BIG TENT ON THE PARISH GROUNDS BEHIND THE CHURCH. HERE ARE THE REMARKS AND MY HOMILY, ALONG WITH PHOTOS TAKEN BY JOSE PEREIRA OF THE PARISH.
Bom Dia. Meus Caros irmaos e irmas, Sou feliz de estar com vosco para celebrar o aniversario do jubileo de prata da bencao da igreja do Senhor Santo Cristo, na Arcidiocese de Ottawa.
E' neste ano dedicado ao "Ano da Fe'" que a comunidade deve olhar para o futuro com renovado vigor para melhor testemunhar Cristo Jesus. A imagem do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres deve nos levar a meditar no perdao, na misericordia, na reconciliacao, e na salvacao de Jesus Cristo.
CELEBRATION OF SENHOR SANTO CRISTO
Portuguese Parish, Senhor Santo Cristo—Ottawa, ON
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C") - July 14, 2013
“THE LORD, HOLY CHRIST IS THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD”
[Texts: Deuteronomy 30.10-14; [Psalm 69 or 19]; Colossians 1.15-20; Luke 10.25-37]
Today, I am pleased to be with you for your annual festival, devoted to your parish’s patron the Lord Holy Christ, SENHOR SANTO CRISTO, whose image is venerated in the Azores, the land of origin of many of you who came here from Portugal. We also give thanks for the 25th anniversary of the construction of your church and its blessing in 1988. May you have many more happy years in your faith!
Your procession is in thanksgiving for the many graces, blessings and even miracles received by those who venerate the image of the bruised figure of Christ as preserved in the convent of Our Lady of Hope (Nossa Senhora da Esperança).
The procession in Ponta Delgada, which dates from several centuries ago, even nowadays follows the same itinerary. As the procession there counts some tens of thousands of the faithful who come from every island in the Azores, your community with its roots in the Azores and from elsewhere—like others spread around the globe—celebrates when good weather may be anticipated. And God has blessed us with wonderful sunny weather today.
I am pleased to be accompanied by Msgr. Jose Bettencourt, a son of this parish ordained for the Archdiocese of Ottawa in 1993 and who, having been released by my predecessor to serve the Vatican, has been in the Holy See’s diplomatic service in recent years. Currently he is Head of Protocol, a nomination he received from Pope Benedict XVI just before Christmas.
The question put to Jesus today by the lawyer—“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”—prepares us for the wisdom that Jesus reveals when He speaks of the two commandments to love God totally and the neighbour as oneself.
The “lawyer” who spoke with Jesus was an expert in the Law of Moses and a wise one. He was able to synthesize God's revelation as the love of God with all one's capacities (“with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind”) and love of neighbour 'as yourself'.
Like Moses, who told God's chosen people that putting the commandment into practice “is not too hard for you”, Jesus challenged the lawyer, “do this, and you will live”. The lawyer pressed the issue by asking “and who is my neighbour?”
Jesus asked His listeners to identify with a wounded traveller who, half-dead, watched people pass him by. The priest and Levite shocked the hearers (and those who read the gospel today) when they passed by on the other side of the road. Perhaps they were expecting the anticlerical rhetoric to culminate in a layperson ministering to the victim. But Jesus went further--outside Orthodox Judaism--to the vilified Samaritan who, unexpectedly, showed compassion.
At the end of the story Jesus reversed the issue from “who is my neighbour?” to “which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The issue was not who deserves my attention and care? But how do I become the kind of person who can “be a neighbour”?
Being a neighbour means showing compassion to everyone encountered—even if that person frightens me or appears to be too strange for me. Jesus invited His hearers to risk life and possessions, as the Good Samaritan did.
The wisdom of Jesus' teaching opened Christians of the early Church to reflections on His identity. Among the many titles attributed to Jesus was that He is, in St. Paul’s words, “the wisdom of God” (cf. 1 Corinthians 1.24, 30). This vision of Christ Jesus as the fullness of God's wisdom was particularly attractive to the recipients of Paul's letter to the Colossians.
Colossae was a small city in the southwestern section of modern Turkey. It seems that this small church seemingly struggled with false philosophies, showed too much interest in ascetical practices and was preoccupied with angelology.
Paul urged them to look to the Lord as the source of all their wisdom, since all else exists “through Him and for Him”. Indeed, he declared, “in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”.
So the one you are celebrating today—Senhor Santo Cristo—is the one who was scourged and crucified for our sakes. But he is also the Risen Christ who is hidden in the poor and needy, the stranger and the person in any need. His teaching is the wisdom of God which we need to ask God to help us understand.
What the Good Samaritan did for the man left half-dead by the side of the road, Jesus has done for all humanity by rescuing the world from sin and death. And he asks us to go to those in need “and do likewise”.
Happy Feast Day!