From Our Pastor: Navigating Uncertainty
I am struggling. A lot! I know you are too. Navigating this year has been insane, and the hope of the uncertainties ending has faded for now. Hope is not lost. Hope is never lost when we have Christ, as He has won the victory. How do we deal with uncertainty and insanity? We run to God. We pray. We offer our sufferings and struggles to the Cross. We lay down our differences and gather as a family and parish. We overcome our frustrations with one another and love each other anyway.
The scripture today is the end of the bread of life discourse, and sadly this is the part where some of them “followed Him no more.” Some left Jesus because the real presence of the Eucharist was too hard of a teaching. Sadly, some have left us as we didn’t respond stronger, and some have left us as we responded too strong.
They do not teach you COVID-101 in seminary, I assure you. It is heart breaking when people make decisions on their faith based on political or even opinion, instead of the faith being how they make their political or personal opinions. Walking into a parish this size is challenging enough, but walking in during COVID is unreal. Tensions are high. People are on edge. People are searching for answers and stability.
Jesus Christ is the only answer to all these questions, frustrations, uncertainties, fears, worries, concerns, and struggles. The only way we will survive what is ahead is together in Christ. It breaks my heart when some walk away, as it does Christ’s heart, but we see today in the gospel they walk away. Jesus then says to the apostles and disciples, “Do you also want to leave?” I believe He is asking us this question in the chaos of our lives. Our answer must be today and every day the very words of Simon Peter, “Master, to whom shall we go?” Do we go to the world or to politics or to what I want or what I believe? No, we turn to Him and continue Peter’s words, “You have the words of eternal life.”
Brothers and sisters, we turn to Christ WITH Peter, united in Him and in the Church Christ founded upon him as the rock. Peter then continues to remind us now that he speaks for us as a community and family, “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” That is why we are here! In these times when yes, we are struggling... We turn to Jesus and stay with Him who is the presence of God, then in the Gospel, and now in the Eucharist which unites us, no matter our differences.
Let us struggle together and forgive each other (yes, even your priests need forgiveness quite often), and pray for one another now and always. We will not only survive, but thrive when the Eucharistic Lord is in who we remain united.
On a side note, we will be covering Pittsfield and Winchester again this weekend, as we did last weekend as Fr. Mark Schulte is sick. Please keep him in your prayers for his recovery. He grew up in St. John the Baptist parish, and has family in our parish.
We must also pray for the situation in Afghanistan, most especially for the Christians there. St. Thomas the Apostle founded Christian churches on his way east from Jerusalem and down into India. After years of underground Churches and hiding, Christianity had been thriving in Afghanistan. They have been warned and threatened. May we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ there.
We must also pray for all those affected by the earthquake in Haiti, followed by a Tropical Storm. The USCCB has asked us to take an Emergency Disaster fund collection as soon as possible, so we will do that second collection this weekend. If you still desire to give to that collection and weren’t able to today, you may drop your donation off at the office. As of writing this letter, almost 2,000 people have died this week in these natural disasters. So much destruction has taken place of essential buildings, including hospitals, churches, schools and many homes. Let us prayerfully consider how we can give to help them. Thank you for your generosity and kindness.
- Rev. Steven Arisman