Pastor's Message

April 8, 2018

Divine Mercy is The Way we Live
(This is an excerpt from my JERSEY JOURNAL column) I am used to hearing Paul proclaimed from the pulpit at Sunday Mass, not larger-than-life on the big screen in a multiplex theater alongside "Black Panther" and "A Wrinkle in Time."  Timed to run in Easter week, the film "Paul, Apostle of Christ" tells the story of the self-claimed 13th apostle, prolific letter writer and greatest Christian missionary. A beautiful movie, it captures the essence of early Christianity some 30 years after Jesus died.
There is no doubt actor Jim Caviezel -- star of the 2004 biblical, though bloody, epic "The Passion of Christ" -- was a driving force behind this film. He also has top billing as Luke, the Evangelist, who collaborated with Paul to write the Acts of the Apostles, chronicling the earliest Christian communities.   The film tells how Emperor Nero was determined to rebuild Rome in his own fashion so he set it on fire then needed a scapegoat. He blamed the Christians, this idealistic sect following "The Way" of Jesus Christ, who was crucified some three decades before 64 AD. To demonstrate their culpability, Nero had his soldiers hunt Christians, imprison them and throw them into the Colosseum circus to be devoured alive by lions for sport or burn them alive on posts to illuminate the streets of Rome (that's why the PG-13 rating). I can still hear the scream of one man engulfed in flames and will never imagine a Roman candle the same way.
As the de facto leader of the Christians, the aging Paul is imprisoned in a dungeon in Mamertine Prison, the most brutal in Rome. (This may be dramatic license as tradition tells us Paul was imprisoned in chains, but most likely under house arrest.)
In spite of pending persecution, the Christians took care of the widows and orphans and made sure others also had enough food and care.  On Divine Mercy Sunday today, we are reminded that mercy is God’s and Pope Francis has made mercy the hallmark of his papacy.  This is why we anoint all those who ask for this Sacrament today.
Recently we buried Thomas Parry, the youngest brother of the late Leo Parry, who worked here since he was 17 until he died in his mid-80’s several years ago.  Once Leo died, we invited our young adults to visit Tom so he would know he is cared for.  And at his funeral, five of them took off from work and accompanied his coffin in and out of the church.  It was a beautiful example of how we live “The Way.”
Fr. Alex Santora

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