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Dear Friends,
With so much of our daily news filled with hopelessness, I quote from Pope Francis’ General Audience of January 18th.
"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In Sacred Scripture, among the prophets of Israel, a rather anomalous figure stands out, a prophet who attempted to avoid the Lord’s call by refusing to place himself at the service of the divine plan of salvation. It is the prophet Jonah…

Jonah is a prophet “going out” and also a prophet in flight! He is an “out-going” prophet whom God sends “to the periphery,” to Nineveh, in order to convert the people of that great city. But Nineveh, to an Israelite like Jonah, was a threatening reality, the enemy which placed Jerusalem itself in peril, and therefore was to be destroyed, certainly not saved. Therefore, when God sent Jonah to preach in that city, the prophet, who knows the Lord’s goodness and his desire to forgive, seeks to avoid the task and flees.

During his flight, the prophet enters into contact with pagans, the mariners on the ship that he boarded in order to distance himself from God and from his mission. And it was actually the behavior of these pagan men, as that of the people of Nineveh later on, that today allows us to reflect a bit on the hope which, in the face of danger and death, is expressed in prayer.

Indeed, during the sea voyage, a might tempest breaks out, and Jonah goes down to the ship’s cargo hold and falls asleep. The mariners, however, seeing themselves lost, ‘each cried to his god.’ The captain of the ship wakes Jonah, saying to him: ‘What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call upon your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we do not perish’ (Jonah 1:6).

The reaction of these pagans is the right reaction in the face of death, in the face of danger; because it is then that man fully experiences his frailty and his need for salvation. The instinctive dread of dying reveals the necessity of hope in the God of life. ‘Perhaps God will give a thought to us, that we do not perish’ are the words of hope which become a prayer, that supplication filled with anguish which rises to the lips of mankind in the face of imminent danger of death.

We too easily disdain the turning to God in need as if it were only a prayer of self-interest and, therefore, imperfect. But God knows our weakness. He knows that we remember him in order to ask for help, and with the indulging smile of a father, God responds benevolently.
Hope, which had induced them (the mariners) to pray to be spared from death, is revealed as even more powerful and ushers in a reality that goes beyond that they are hoping: not only do they not perish in the storm, but they become open to recognizing the one true Lord of heaven and earth.
May the Lord help us to understand this link between prayer and hope. Prayer leads you forward in hope, and when things become dark, more prayer is needed. And there will be more hope.” - Pope Francis

If there is darkness about the land, let’s learn the lesson of the mariners, turning to prayer to our loving God who can give us hope.
God Bless,
Fr. Ron

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Sunday
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
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and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
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Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
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