On Ash Wednesday we, along with Catholics around the world, gathered to mark the beginning of the sacred season of Lent. As we received the ashes on our forehead we were invited to repent and to believe in the Gospel. I was  truly amazed and touched by the huge number of people who took the time to attend our Masses on that day. My prayer for all our parishioners is that we each accept the gift of this season of Lent as a time of repentance of heart and a time of prayer that we might believe ever more deeply in the truth of the  Gospel.

As we celebrate the first Sunday of Lent I would like to continue to reflect on Pope Francis’ inspiring and challenging Lenten Letter for 2015. Against the background of a global indifference to the sufferings of so many people throughout the world, he asks us to reflect on two key biblical texts. The first is that “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor. 12:26). The other text is “Where is your brother?” (Genesis 4:9)  Pope Francis wants us to     reflect on these texts as parish communities and to ask ourselves if we are truly doing all that we can to care for the weakest, the poorest and the most vulnerable members of our parish. The indifference of the world to the      suffering of humanity can only be conquered by a love which is both practical and active. It surely cannot be enough to love at a distance.

We are remarkably blessed that we have within our parish many groups who show great concern and care for the weak and the needy. Amongst these groups are our counsellors, the co-workers of Mother Teresa, the Family  Support Group and the Legion of Mary. I commend them all for their service to the parish.

I would like to conclude by highlighting the important role of one particular group in our midst, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. This group, which is   wonderfully supported by Fr. Sean Lunney, has for many years visited the   poorest and most abandoned people in the area and provided spiritual and    material assistance. It was once a very vibrant group. But sadly the number of active members has dwindled to 7 active members. I would like to think that this Lent offers us an ideal opportunity to invite new people to step forward and to once again make this a flourishing sign of God’s love for the weakest and abandoned. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me at parishpriest@holyredeemer.co.za

Fr Gerard, CSsR

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