Incarnation is blessed! Our parish is vibrant, faith-filled, and active. Many people have returned to in-person Mass after the pandemic. New ministries have sprung up; old ministries have blossomed. Our liturgies inspire us, and the school ministry thrives with new students.
We have exciting plans to evangelize our children, youth, and young adults, thanks to the leadership and initiative of our priests, staff, volunteers, and the generous support of parishioners.
Our church’s doors and hearts are open to all people of different cultures, languages, races, and backgrounds. This is because our earnest aspiration is to make everyone feel welcomed, loved, and cared for in our parish and beyond.
Indeed, we’ve had our share of challenges, but we’ve always kept and taken a positive outlook. We never succumb to pessimism and hopelessness. We believe in the potential that God has given us and the power of working together towards a shared vision and goal.
As the famous lines in the movie Field of Dreams say, “If you build it, they will come.” Yes, we’ll keep rebuilding our church and faith community and not be discouraged by negative pew surveys, for we have the power of WE and not of ONE. We have God with us and one another.
Crises and challenges are always part of life, but as they tell us in leadership seminars, we take them as growth opportunities, not obstacles. We believe that there are times when God allows problems to arise to test our faith and strength. It’s what he conveys in the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds in the Gospel this Sumday (July 23):
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who was asleep in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, “Master, did you not sow good seed in the field? Where have the weeds come from? He answered, “An enemy has done this.” His slaves said, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?” He replied, “No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until the harvest time; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters. “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; and gather the wheat into my barn.”
Yes, my friends, various forms of evil and sinful tendencies within and around us grow like weeds. As we become aware of them, we put on the attitudes of patience, resiliency, self-kindness, compassion, empathy, and courage. We don’t let them dishearten us; we believe in God’s patience and forgiveness.
Hope in God is what keeps us strong and going. Without hope and vision, we will perish. We commit to sharing this narrative and legacy with our children and youth. As St. Paul tells us in Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.