The Ascension of the Lord

Dear Friends,

We kicked off our 60th Anniversary two weeks ago. The reception after each Mass was well appreciated. The 5 pm Mass saw the cafeteria filled with parishioners having a wonderful fellowship. Thanks again to the Martin de Porres Society and other parishioners who hosted all the receptions. Thanks to the Anniversary Committee who have lined up more events in the coming months, earliest of which is the St. Matthias 60th Anniversary Cook Book. In this context, there are two initiatives that I like to invite us all to consider.

The first is SPIRITUAL DIRECTION. Many will remember Pat Leposa who did the ministry of spiritual direction (SD) here at St. Matthias for a number of years until she moved out of state two years ago. In her parting message to our community, Pat wrote: “If you are moved to draw closer to the God who loves you, and to seek out a new perspective in your life, then I urge you to consider Spiritual Direction.” She had recommended Mr. Bill Isele as a good spiritual director who could continue this ministry for our parish. With the pandemic, we could not follow up with this possibility. Recently I met with Mr. Isele and he was open to be available to those who wish to have spiritual direction with him. He was trained at the Quellen Spiritual Center in Mendham, NJ. Last week he wrote in our bulletin: “Have you heard of Spiritual Direction (SD)?” Be on the lookout for more details from him in the coming bulletins.

The second is RETROUVAILLE, a proven program for married couples who struggle in their marriage to put the pieces of their marriage back together and rebuild loving relationships. When I was the Director of the Family Life Office of our Diocese, this was a program that I supervised with a wonderful team of couples coordinated by Rich and Annette Colasuonno. The presenters are ordinary couples who share personal stories of their marital struggles and the tools they utilized to rediscover their love. (The word Retrouvaille means rediscover). This weekend program is all about improving communication, building a stronger marriage, and helping couples rediscover the love they had for each other.

We may know many couples having difficulties in their marriage. Some may have tried interventions and counselling. What I have seen with the couples who attended Retrouvaille is an amazing rediscovery of their original love and they returned home happily with a renewed hope. It made me see for myself that no marriage is beyond hope as long as there is openness.

During this 60th Anniversary of our parish, it will be wonderful if many of our parish couples who are experiencing marital problems can rediscover their original love and feel new life. The next Retrouvaille session will be on August 19-21, 2022. If interested, call Rich at 732-236-0671. Take a flyer from the church and give to someone you may know will benefit. Also check out their website:

On this Ascension Sunday, let us be upbeat and hopeful about living happily by strengthening our family life. Remember the promise of Jesus: “I will be with you always, even to the end of times” (Matthew 28:20)

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Sixth Sunday of Easter


Dear Friends,

Biblically, Ascension took place 40 days after the Resurrection and so the actual Ascension Day falls on a Thursday – which is what we used to celebrate every year. Recently the bishops of New Jersey met and after discussing the pros and cons of this practice have discerned that the Solemnity of the Ascension be permanently transferred from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the following Sunday. The bishops’ discernment included a great desire for more of the faithful to participate in this integral dimension of the completion of Our Lord’s paschal mystery by the Ascension observed on a Sunday – which will be next Sunday.

This year, Thursday, May 26 will be observed as Thursday of the Sixth week of Easter and the Memorial of St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) who is known as the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory. We have Oratorian priests and brothers in our diocese and so it is their feast in a special way. As a layman, Philip spent several years in Rome performing all kinds of good works – especially in ministering to the sick, in catechizing the youth, and in providing for pilgrims. Under constant advice and persuasion from his spiritual director, he decided to be a priest and was ordained in 1551. He was almost 36 years old, a “delayed vocation” in the extreme by the standards of the day, but without the least difference in priestly zeal and vigor.

St. Philip Neri is commonly known as the “patron saint of joy,” and the “humorous saint.” He wasn’t exactly a comedian, but he did enjoy poking fun at himself, using humor to maintain his humility. For example, according to author Shaun McAfee, “Neri was known to show up to important events with half his beard shaved, give incorrect walking directions to his disciples, read a book of jokes … When he did each of these things he caused a mix of emotions in others, but it always ended up producing the same end state: increased humility, and increased patience.” St. Philip Neri hung this sign on his door: “The House of Christian Mirth.” He used to say: “A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is sad.”

Holiness is related to humor. That is why many saints laughed at themselves; they knew that this earthly life is only a stop on our journey to heaven and so to take this world seriously is utter foolishness. Bishop Sheen once said, “A divine sense of humor belongs to poets and saints because they have been richly endowed with a sense of the invisible, and can look out upon the same phenomena that other mortals take seriously and see in them something of the divine.”

This is what Pope Francis has been reminding us when he said, to be a Christian doesn’t mean being “gloomy-faced,” but being filled with a levity of heart that recognizes the beauty and joy of Christian life. Humor in the right context can be a good thing, and even a pathway to holiness. St. Philip Neri practiced it. His joyful spirit was one of the reasons why many were attracted to him. They saw the joy he had and wanted to know the source of that joy. They realized that the source was Jesus who said: “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Dear Friends,

This is our 60th Anniversary kick off weekend! We are entering into the celebration-phase of the 60 years of our existence as the Catholic Community of St. Matthias: 1962 – 2022. We are very privileged to have Msgr. Joseph Celano, a St. Matthias alumnus, as our Presider for the 5 pm Kick-off Mass. A special thanks to the St. Martin de Porres Society which is organizing and taking care of the reception after each Mass this weekend. Our Anniversary Celebration Committee, co-chaired by Anne Marie Francis and Jeff Hentz, has already announced many activities that will take place in the coming months. Responding to the Committee’s invitation to come up with an Anniversary Logo, Carolyn Merrill designed a beautiful logo that you can see from now on. Thank you to Carolyn who, with her husband Dave and two adult children, is a long time parishioner of St. Matthias. Being an experienced Graphic Designer, she has helped with our GIFT program brochures and also created the GIFT logo some years ago.

While appreciating the importance of visible celebrations, it is equally or even more important that our anniversary should help us grow more spiritually. We have prepared a special anniversary prayer card to pray together in the church. You can take a card and use it for your family as well as for individual prayer. The Committee is also looking into arranging a Parish Mission/Retreat later this year.

Kicking off the celebration on the feast of our patron saint has special significance. The name ‘Matthias,’ similar to Matthew, means “gift of God.” The Acts of the Apostles describes the process of choosing Matthias to replace Judas: “it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22) Since there were two candidates fitting these conditions, the Apostles “cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:26)

It is believed that Matthias was also one of the 72 disciples that the Lord Jesus sent out to preach the good news (Luke 10:1). The Apostles were convinced of the credibility of choosing Matthias to join them. He remained with Jesus until His Ascension. According to various traditions, Matthias preached in Cappadocia, Jerusalem, the shores of the Caspian Sea (in modern day Turkey) and Ethiopia. He is said to have met his death by crucifixion in Colchis or by stoning in Jerusalem. There is evidence cited in some of the early Church fathers that there was a “Gospel according to Matthias” in circulation, but it has since been lost, and was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius.

As we celebrate the feast of our patron saint, we honor him as someone who knew Jesus personally, and was a witness to the resurrection – that Jesus wasn’t dead, but is very much alive. This is where we can imitate him. May all our celebrations help us to increase our intimacy of friendship with Jesus. May we give witness to his risen life by our joyful attitude and the invitation we can give others about our experience here at St. Matthias Community in worship as well as service.

Happy Feast of St. Matthias!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Dear Friends,

Today we thank our mothers and honor them by celebrating Mother’s Day and by offering our mothers on the altar of God as we pray for them. This is a day to admit gratefully the fact that none of us is able to return, in the same measure, all the love that our mothers have given us. Their influence on us, their children, is so great that it affects us throughout our lives. Our mothers not only gave us birth but nursed us, nurtured us, trained us in our religious beliefs and practices, taught us good manners and ideal behavior, disciplined us as best as they could and made us good citizens of our country, our Church and our society.

Thomas Edison once said, “I did not have my mother long, but she cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never likely have become an inventor. I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of different mental caliber, I should have turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness were potent powers to keep me in the right path. My mother was the making of me. The memory of her will always be a blessing to me.”

I think we all can relate to such sentiments. Hence, it is only right and proper for us to express our love and gratitude to our mothers by our presence, gifts and prayers on Mother’s Day. The Mother’s Day intentions and offerings remind us of our prayers of thanksgiving for all the mothers in our congregation, whether they are alive or have gone for their eternal reward. The word “mom” is synonymous with sacrificial, agápe love in its purest form, as given by Jesus in his farewell speech: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Hence, let us lavish our love on our mothers and express our gratitude for them in the form of fervent prayers offered for them, before God – not just for one day, but every day! God bless you dear mothers!

The Catholic Church proclaims the great nobility of the Mother of Jesus, and presents her as the supreme model for all mothers. What a good feeling we get each time we sing that beautiful song, “Gentle woman, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom, teach us love.” Let us show our love and appreciation for both of our mothers, and let us ask our Heavenly Mother to take care of our earthly mothers. We need to be persons for others, sacrificing our time, talents and lives for them, as our mothers are.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Dear Friends,

We enter the month of May, the month of Mary, with the feast of “St Joseph, the Worker.” This year it falls on a Sunday and so the “Day of the Lord” takes precedence over this feast. But it is good to recall that it was Pope Pius XII who instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955, in order to foster deep devotion to St. Joseph among Catholics, and in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists. This feast extends the long relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers in both Catholic faith and devotion. The dignity of human work has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative work of God. By work, humankind both fulfills the command found in Genesis to care for the earth (Gen 2:15) and to be productive in their labors. Saint Joseph, the carpenter and foster father of Jesus, is but one example of the holiness of human labor.

I wish to highlight a special milestone in the life of someone who has been laboring in the vineyard of the Lord for fifty years. Msgr. Seamus Brennan is celebrating his golden jubilee as a priest. He was ordained on June 4, 1972. He has served the people of God in many different parishes of our diocese in various capacities. Pope St. John Paul II elevated him to the rank of Papal Chamberlain, with the title Monsignor, in 1991. We are very fortunate to have his priestly ministry with us here at St. Matthias. We will celebrate his golden jubilee on June 4 at the 5 pm Mass with him as the presider. But Msgr. Brennan asks that we respect his wish not to have any other celebration here. Instead, he is inviting us to join him for the Jubilee Mass he will celebrate at 3:30 pm on Sunday June 5th at his former parish of Immaculate Conception, 35 Mountain Ave, Somerville. Light refreshments will be served in the Immaculate Conception School cafeteria after the Mass. All are welcome.

May is Marian month, and our St. Matthias School students will have the ‘May Crowning’ on this Friday, as we help them have a filial devotion to Mary. Though our devotion to Mary is often misunderstood by many Protestant churches, an increasing number of Protestants are now more open-minded about the role of Mary. In an article titled: “Protestants and Marian Devotion – What about Mary?” Pastor Jason Byassee (Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Providence, NC) wrote:

“Recently there has been a flurry of publications by Protestants on Mary, works that suggest she could be an ecumenical bridge — or at least that the Protestant aversion to Marian devotion is eroding. Beverly Roberts Gaventa, a biblical scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary, has led the charge with Mary; Glimpses of the Mother of Jesus (1995) and with a collection of essays she coedited called Blessed One; Protestant Perspectives on Mary (2002). Meanwhile, Robert Jenson’s monumental two-volume Systematic Theology (1997 and 1999) and another collection of coedited essays, Mary; Mother of God (2004), has given a certain pride of place to the Mother of God. Church historians of all stripes have long granted that Marian teaching and devotion dates from the earliest days of the church. And they grant that devotion to Mary was not discarded even by the leading Reformation figures Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. The fruit of ecumenical labor on this topic can be seen in such balanced and helpful resources as Mary in the Plan of God and in the Communion of the Saints (1999), a product of years of dialogue between French Catholics and Protestants that calls for both Catholic and Protestant “conversions” on the subject.”

Isn’t it interesting? You can read this article at: Let us continue our devotion to Mary because her only desire for us is what she told the servants at the Marriage feast of Cana: “Do what He tells you” (John 2:5).

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Sunday of Divine Mercy

Dear Friends,

It was very gratifying to see so many of our people returning to join the Church services in person. The Easter Masses saw the biggest crowds since the pandemic began. Thanks be to God for the greater sense of a return to normalcy. We continue to pray that the new life and new hope from the Risen Christ will bring more blessings and a total freedom from the pandemic even as we are conscious of the need to take reasonable precautions.

Do you know why Sundays after Easter are named 2nd Sunday of Easter, 3rd Sunday of Easter, etc.? Easter is such a foundational feast of our faith, which the Church continues to celebrate it for about seven weeks. The power of Easter has transformed the face of the earth as believers began to increase and Christianity began to spread all over the world. It is unbelievable but true that after the preaching of Peter: “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.” (Acts 2:41). Besides the preaching of the apostles, the early Christians themselves were the best missionaries to their own neighbors and friends, sharing the power of the Resurrected Jesus to bring about change in hearts. It still continues to happen in our own times.

We have a wonderful opportunity to refocus our call to be missionaries to our own people. Next month we will kick off the 60th anniversary celebrations of our parish with the 5 pm Mass on May 14, on the feast of St. Matthias, our patron. The Celebration Committee has been working hard to focus on some practical events to make this anniversary year fruitful in many ways, especially spiritually and socially. But I like to ask each one of us to consider how we can imitate the early Christians who were so enthusiastic about bringing others to Jesus.

How do we do that? We can follow the advice of Pope Francis, whose approach to mission might be characterized as a “missiology of attraction.” He wants us to draw people to Jesus by way of attraction, not by proselytizing, or imposing our faith. And he reminds us that the attractive message is contained in the merciful love of God. When the church makes the mercy of God real by becoming an inclusive church, a church where saints and sinners are welcome, then more people will be drawn to Jesus.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday – a feast instituted by St. John Paul II, in order to realize the depth of the mercy of God for each one of us personally. Sister Faustina who had revelations about this desire from Jesus wrote the words of Jesus in her diary entry # 206: “On the day of My feast, the Feast of Mercy, you will go through the whole world and bring fainting souls to the spring of My mercy. I shall heal and strengthen them”.

May the Risen Lord help us experience God’s mercy in ourselves and may He help us to offer the same mercy to others, thereby becoming true witnesses who will attract others to our church and our faith in Jesus Christ.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Easter Sunday

Dear Friends,

Easter Blessings to you and your dear ones!

This is our third Easter since the pandemic began. Each time of anxious waiting was replaced by another. But, thanks be to God, we are now experiencing a greater sense of normalcy all around us. More than the beautiful tulips and cherry blossoms in lovely colors beckoning us to new life, the Resurrection of Christ offers us hope and confidence to start all over again.

We are constantly reminded of the unjust Russian aggression of Ukraine that has created unimaginable horror and damage to life and property. We pray for an Easter experience for the Ukrainians and for millions of other people in different parts of the world where conflicts still exist.

I am fully aware that some of our parishioners are still hesitant to return to church in person. I respect that. I believe they are joining us in prayer online. Our homebound parishioners are so very pleased to connect with our livestreamed parish Mass. Many of them have thanked me for continuing the live-streaming as they love to see their own church sanctuary and their own priests celebrating the Mass. Parishioners who have moved away and webvisitors who chanced upon our site are all part of this wider parish community. Easter Blessings to all.

One of the greatest blessings is our ability to gather again with family and friends – be it in church or home, restaurant, gym, club or wherever we used to gather. This is integral to being human. Jesus himself did that during his life on earth. But we seem to forget that Jesus did the same even after his death and resurrection. The Risen Lord had at least three meals with his disciples: breakfast by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-17); an evening meal in a village near Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35); and an impromptu snack of broiled fish with his apostles (Luke 24:36-43). Even though each of these appearances was to convince the doubting disciples about the reality of the resurrection, gathering around the meal table was very significant then and now.

The Risen Christ invites us to experience His presence at our dinner table as we gather as a family in unity and love. Esteemed study after study shows the nutritional, social, emotional, and spiritual benefits of the family having dinner together. But recent research suggests that between 10 and 40 percent of children never or seldom eat together with their family! Let us take it as a challenge and change it in our families.

There is another meal table the Risen Christ invites us to experience His presence. That is the Eucharistic table as we gather for worship especially on Sundays. In this holy meal, Christ takes us all in as we are, with all our uniqueness and diversity, our weaknesses and shortcomings, and strengthens us to create that family of God here on earth. Let us participate more fully in Sunday worship as the family of St. Matthias.

Happy Easter!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Holy Week – April 10-17, 2022

Holy Week is the holiest week of the year and a time when all Catholics should try to alter their schedule to participate in the liturgy of the church. The week begins with Palm Sunday, April 10 and the blessing and distribution of Palms. The celebration of Palm Sunday has two jarringly different moods. The Mass begins with the blessing and in many cases procession with palms while singing jubilant hymns of triumph and praise. But the gospel of the day, this year from
Saint Luke, is somber and reminds us of the rejected Suffering Servant who will be beaten, mocked, scourged and led to crucifixion. Palm Sunday sets the
stage for a very dramatic week as we recall and represent the events of our redemption in Christ.

On Thursday, April 12, Bishop Checchio will gather with all the priests of our diocese to bless the Holy Oils of Catechumens, Chrism and Oil of the Sick. This
mass will be at 4pm in Saint Francis Cathedral, Metuchen, and the faithful are invited to participate in person or to watch the live-stream from their homes.

Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, known as the Triduum, is the most solemn celebration of the entire liturgical year. The Triduum is really one
long celebration of the Last Supper, the Passion and Crucifixion and the death and Resurrection of Christ. Even though these are not holy days of obligation,
Catholics who can do so should rearrange their schedule and participate in all or at least some of these special events.

Holy Thursday offers us an opportunity to participate in the sacred moment when Christ gave us the gift of the Eucharist and the ordained priesthood. A
highlight of this celebration is the washing of feet and the Lords command to “love one another”. This Mass is at 7:30pm, Thursday, April 14.

Good Friday celebration of the Lord’s Passion is a solemn celebration in three parts, the proclamation of the Passion from Saint John’s gospel, the veneration of the cross and the reception of Holy Communion from the hosts consecrated at the Mass of the Lords Supper the previous day. This celebration is at 7:30pm on Friday, April 15. In addition to this we have an outdoor celebration of the Stations of the Cross at 2pm.

Our Lenten weeks of fasting and prayer are directed to the great celebration of the Resurrection which begins with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, April
16, at 8pm. This celebration has four parts, the blessing of the new Easter Fire and the preparation of the Paschal Candle and singing of the Easter Proclamation;
an elongated celebration of the Liturgy of the Word; the blessing of the Baptismal Font and baptism of the Elect, and finally the celebration of the Eucharist.
On Easter Sunday we continue to celebrate and rejoice in the good news of the Resurrection.

I hope that you will try to make time in your schedule this week to join your brothers and sisters as we celebrate with great solemnity the key events of our
Salvation in Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Happy Holy Week and Easter,

Msgr. Brennan

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends,

Was Jesus “soft” on sin? Today’s gospel from John 8:1-11 about the way Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery could make some wonder if that is true. Bible scholars have some interesting takes as to why this passage is omitted by many ancient manuscripts of the gospel. This powerful narrative of Jesus and the accused woman is not found in the earliest and best manuscripts of John and appears in other important manuscripts after Lk. 21:38. Still, early Church authors, such as Papias (ca. A.D. 120) and the author of the Syriac “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” (3rd cent.), knew of such an incident, and Jerome included it in his translation. For these reasons the story is judged canonical by Catholics.

It might have been omitted in some early rigorist traditions because the early Church, in its struggle to maintain strict penitential discipline, perhaps could not deal with the ease with which Jesus forgave the woman. In this episode Jesus seemed too “soft” on sin. Perhaps for this reason, the story was temporarily set aside by the early Church and was only later granted canonical approbation. This precisely is the reason why we need to emphasize this forgiving nature of God all the more. During these Lenten Sundays, we have been reflecting on this merciful love and unconditional acceptance of the sinner as the very nature of God. Pope Francis says:

“Jesus’ attitude is striking: we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God’s face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us, He does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to Him with a contrite heart. “Great is God’s mercy,” says the Psalm.”

We experience this in a very special way in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or ‘Confession’ – the name that we are more used to. Here’s what a blogger has written about this Sacrament so beautifully:

“Penance, aka confession, is the sacrament of the forgiveness of sin. You can’t beat it for convenience. It’s available practically whenever. Tell a priest you want to go to confession and you’ll get his attention. One bishop I know was cornered on an airplane. Another passenger figured out what was going on and asked if he could confess too. It must have been an interesting game of musical seats. An interesting question for priests might be: Where was the strangest place you ever administered the sacrament of penance? The answers I’ve gathered include “in a sports bar, at a graduation party” and “on the golf course, walking up the fairway.”

As already announced, Msgr. Brennan and I have been available for Confessions on Mondays and Fridays after the 8 am Mass, besides the expanded time on Saturdays from 3 to 4:30 pm. This will continue for the remainder of Lent. Both of us have been noticing our parishioners utilizing these opportunities for “housekeeping for the soul” and also to feel a sense of inner freedom to experience a better relationship with God, self and one another. Next week as we enter Holy Week, we will be better prepared to commemorate and live the mysteries of our salvation that Jesus Christ brought us.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal


Fourth Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends,

A couple, very dedicated members of our parish, asked me this question over a month ago: “Father, do you have a rose-colored vestment?” I was not sure though I knew we had chasubles in pink, purple or violet, and even one that might pass for rose. So I told them to come and see our chasubles in the sacristy. They did. They decided that we really did not have a rose-colored vestment and so they ordered and donated a beautiful rose chasuble which is what you see us priests wearing today for this Sunday which is traditionally known as “Laetare” Sunday or “Rejoice” Sunday. Thank you to this wonderful couple for their thoughtfulness. I have seen such demonstrations of commitment, donations of church and liturgical articles, by other parishioners too – many of whom wish to remain anonymous. May God bless their goodness.

“Rejoice” Sunday? Isn’t it strange that the church focuses on joyful celebration today, half way through this penitential season of Lent? Not really. The Church wants us to remember that a Christian’s joy of living, as promised by Jesus, is not to be lost even in the midst of penance and austerity. In fact, the entrance antiphon of today’s liturgy, “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her…” is meant to affirm that there is much to rejoice about. That is all the more clear from the Scripture passages of today: The first reading is about the Israelites passing into the Promised Land. One can taste the goodness of God in the responsorial psalm. And in the Gospel, the prodigal son returns home. All these are indicative of an atmosphere of warmth and excitement and celebration.

As a parish community, we need to experience as well as radiate this joyful attitude. St. Matthias is a parish community where all are welcome – an important factor that already helps us to be a joyful people. We celebrate with gusto. Today’s readings invite us to examine how convinced we are of this Scriptural truth of the cause of our joy. Many Biblical scholars say that the parable of the prodigal son should have been named the parable of the ‘prodigal father,’ because it is the father who is literally ‘prodigal’ with his joyful welcome and loving mercy to the younger son. It is the father who is lavish in accepting his wayward son without any pre-condition or even a question. And Jesus insists that what he showed is the quintessential characteristic of our heavenly Father.

Such a truth is hard to believe, simply because it goes contrary to all our human experiences. Is there any parent who will reinstate their rebellious son or daughter without any condition? Even when the older son refused to enter the house in protest of his father’s handling of his younger brother, how did the father react? A parishioner, reflecting on this passage in the LIVE LENT group, rightly commented that it was not, “come on now, grow up!” but a gentle and understanding response. Such is the nature of our God.

May we reaffirm our faith in the unconditional acceptance and loving forgiveness of our God as taught by Jesus Christ. Isn’t this enough reason for us to be joyful – no matter what happens in and around us?

Happy Lent!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal