Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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Fr. Paul Ward


Sat. & Sun., Mar. 10 & 11, 2018
4th Sunday of Lent, Cycle B


Rich in Mercy


   Our Lent is flying by. I should begin with a point not related to the readings, and then turn to the readings for our spiritual growth this week.

   The first point is this, that a successor has been named. Fr. Noel Cornelio, currently Associate Pastor at St. Isidore’s in Macomb, has been named the future pastor of Sacred Heart here in Imlay City and of St. Nicholas in Capac, as of July 1. This news should have been told me, and then, with some thought and preparation, some edifying way of delivering this news provided, but unfortunately, the AoD Central Offices put the news out without me knowing for quite some time. I was informed that someone simply forgot. The result was that many of you heard, as if by gossip, this news, and it caused some consternation; I too heard it by the grape vine, as the expression goes, and wondered whether it was true until I could get the information verified. I’m sorry that you had to go through that.

   I personally don’t know him; only that he was born on Christmas, which explains his name, he is of Filipino descent, and that some have told me that they know him and that he is about as friendly as they get. I hope you provide Fr. Noel a reception full of the charity expected of the followers of Christ; make friends with him, get to know him and welcome him to our beautiful parish.

   Now I wish to turn to our readings, to provide some spiritual reflections through Lent. Our first reading summarizes a very important period in the life of Israel – the Babylonian Exile. It so happened that, to punish Israel for her sins – so the Scriptures themselves declare – God submitted his people to being conquered and enslaved for about seventy years. The Babylonians were conquered in turn, and the Persians sent them back to Judea and Jerusalem. The years were approximately 587-527 b.c. Judea never managed to recover its glory as under King David and his son Solomon five centuries earlier. The northern kingdom, called Israel, had been destroyed only decades previous to all of this, and they were never restored; this area became called Samaria by the time of our Lord.

   The sins mentioned are, that the “Princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD’s temple… they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets.”

   Often in the history of Israel God treated his people with severe punishments; they were events of nature or of foreign nations which God Providentially governed, but the Holy People could see, with the eyes of faith, that the natural explanation was not the only one. We in our times don’t seem to experience this. Are we any less sinners than Israel? I doubt it. Have Catholics been impeccably faithful for the last two thousand years? The evidence says no. But the consequences of our sins have not been like what Israel experienced. There are often consequences of sin, but not in this Old Testament form. Why is this so?

   St. Paul, in the second reading, provides some important light, and there he writes some of the most beautiful words in the Bible: “God.. is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us” (Eph 2). Does this mean that we should plow full speed ahead embracing our sins? Obviously not – not only because it turns us away from the Creator and towards creatures, not only because it trains us in the dark arts of selfishness, not only because sin habituates us to forget about God and then use and abandon our neighbor. But also because justice for sin is still always paid.

   No, you will probably never feel the demolition by the Assyrians which the northern kingdom of Israel experienced. You will probably never be deported into slavery by the Babylonians. The payment of sin is all levied against Jesus Christ the Son of God. So writes Isaiah (53:4-6),

“Surely he has borne our griefs,

    and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

    smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

    he was bruised for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,

    and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

    we have turned every one to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.


    As Holy Week approaches – it will be on us before we know it (let’s hope the snow melts first!) – we should be full of love, compassion and gratitude towards Jesus our Suffering Lord, always in the company of Mary his Mother, and our love should be our greatest motive for resolving to fight against sin in our own lives, and helping others to escape from the slavery of sin as well. May the Merciful Lord, by Mary’s intercession and the angels’, provide us this grace. Amen.














Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Librevia Editrice Vaticana




Vatican Website






Archives of Homilies on Elijah during Lent 2016

Online FlipBook






Archives of Homilies on the New English Translation