Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Parish Feast Day
September 13, 2015 – Year B
Readings: Is 50:5-9A / Psalm 116 / Jas 2:14-18 / Mk 8:27-35
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
It’s encouraging to know that someone of St. Peter’s stature and importance in the early Church could walk the walk so well – with his foot in his mouth. But what we have to remember is that, just like all of us, St. Peter was human. Even the greatest of humans makes mistakes.
It is common knowledge, for instance, that Henry Ford changed the world. He changed how things are assembled, marketed, and how we travel. But his life story will tell us that he also made mistakes, just like everyone else. For instance, he forgot to put a reverse gear in the first car he invented. Not only that: He also didn’t build a door wide enough to get the car out of the building he built it in. If you go to Greenfield Village, you can still see where he cut a hole in the wall to get the car out. But history will tell us that he didn’t give up.
In the spiritual world, St. Peter and all the saints in our Church give us a great example and inspiration: that, in spite of their human weakness, frailties, and imperfections, they didn’t give up. They continued to move on, trusting in God’s mercy and love.
Today, my dear brothers and sisters, is a very special day for all of us, because we are celebrating the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Mary’s name in Hebrew means “the star of the sea.” Before GPS was invented, sailors used the stars as a guide, to keep their course when they were caught in a storm. And all of us must have experienced storms of problems in our lives, and sometimes they throw us off balance.
When this happens, Our Holy Mother Church is asking us to look to Mary as our star, who will keep us on the right path. If we get off track in our life, we can always look to Mary, and she will guide us back to her son, Jesus.
The past few days have been one of the most challenging parts of the pastoral care ministry side of my priesthood. I was facing a situation where I didn’t know what to say or what to do. For days I was praying with one of our parishioners who was watching her only daughter actively dying. She has three sons and only one daughter. Not too long ago, this same woman was at the bedside of her mother. When she was about to be born into life eternal, I was there, giving her mother the last rites. I could hardly imagine the pain she was going through when she was there at the bedside of her daughter who would soon leave this world to meet her Creator.
Just three days ago, while I was there, sitting next to her, praying in silence, because I really didn’t know what to say, she broke the silence and said to me: “You know, Father, I have been asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to be with me while I am here sitting at the deathbed of my daughter, Nan. I know she was in this same situation when she was at the foot of the cross of her son, Jesus, watching him about to give his last breath. I could feel the Blessed Mother’s presence, and she has been with me, and this is what is giving me strength during this difficult moment.”
While she was saying this, the words of St. Bernard came into my mind, when the saint said: “As you struggle through the stormy sea of life, do not turn away from Mary, the star of the sea. If the winds of temptation blow your little boat, or if you are headed toward the rocks of suffering, look at the star called Mary. If you are tossed by waves of ambition or envy, look at the star called Mary. If anger or greed rocks the little boat of your heart, look at Mary. If you are getting discouraged because of your sins, think of Mary. In dangers and difficulties, remember Mary. Call Mary. Do not let her name be far from your lips. Keep the thought of her fixed in your heart. She will keep you from losing your way. She will protect you, so you have nothing to fear. And she will guide you to her son, Jesus.”