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“[D]O NOT BE UNBELIEVING, BUT BELIEVE.”

Friday, April 9, 2021

Be sure to see the special GROW + GO message for this Sunday appearing at the end of this Flocknote to help us all grow as disciples and go evangelize!

Dear St. Mary Parishioners, this Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday.  In Sunday’s gospel (Jn 20:19-31), Thomas doubts the appearance of the risen Lord to the rest of the disciples and even challenges, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hand and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  Despite this brusque attitude, Jesus deigns to meet Thomas where he is and arrives once again in the locked room, this time with Thomas present, and invites him, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side.”  All of this is done to change Thomas’s doubt to faith, and indeed, Thomas responds to Jesus’s invitation by proclaiming, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus desires to meet us where we are on our journey of faith, but he does not leave us there.  Instead, he invites us again and again to deeper relationship with him through the mercy of God.

This Sunday’s second reading from the first letter of St. John (1 Jn 5:1-6) also focuses on belief, telling us, “[T]he victory that conquers the world is our faith.”  Indeed, the faith of Christians is a powerful, audacious thing.  We believe in life that is stronger than death, in love that is stronger than evil, in light that is stronger than darkness.  This faith in the redeeming grace of God’s mercy allows us to continue on in hope even in the face of adversity and seeming defeat.  Jesus appears to his closest friends and shows them the nailmarks still present in his hands and the wound where his side was lanced.  In encountering the risen Lord, the disciples finally receive the full revelation of Jesus’s identity.  Before his passion, they had come to believe in Jesus the wonder-worker, the teacher, the Son of God.  Now, they find themselves face-to-face with Jesus, the one who died and rose again, the Lord of life.

Jesus desires to share this life that is stronger than death with all people of all times and places.  When did this good news first come to you, and how have you passed it on to others?

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Whether you are comfortable now in returning to Mass in person or are still attending Mass online from your home, please see Sunday’s parish bulletin for our parish events and activities.  The bulletin is on the parish Website, www.stmarytampa.org .

Our priests and deacons are continuing to pray for you.  Wear your masks, keep social distance, and remain healthy and safe.  Please call us at the parish office if you need anything, (813) 961-1061.

And be sure to see this Sunday’s special GROW + GO message that follows immediately.

Blessings, Fr. Tim Corcoran

______________________________________________________________________________

ONLY ONE LAST TASK REMAINED:  TO BEAR WITNESS THAT THE EMPTY TOMB, THE END OF JESUS’S STORY, WAS JUST THE BEGINNING.

Easter, April 4, 2021

Be sure to see the special GROW + GO message for this Sunday appearing at the end of this Flocknote to help us all grow as disciples and go evangelize!

Dear St. Mary Parishioners, I have delayed the sending of this week’s Flocknote to Saturday night to coincide with the happening of the Easter event, rather than sending it at noon on Friday, as I usually do.  I did not want to step on our Good Friday remembrance of the Lord’s Passion, and I wanted the arrival of this Easter message to sync with our joy in the resurrection.  So, here are some thoughts upon which you can reflect on this glorious day.

At the Easter Vigil liturgy, we focus with particular intensity on the symbol of light.  The paschal candle is lit from the blessed fire, and then this one flame is in turn shared until all of our candles glow.  In the Easter Proclamation, we hear:  “[A] fire into many flames divided, yet never dimmed by sharing of its light.”

Within the lighting of many candles from one flame, we see the abundance of God’s love.  As people of God, we never need to act out of scarcity.  We lose nothing by sharing the light and love of Jesus with others.  Instead, each time it is shared, the flame multiplies, bringing light to what is dark and warmth to what is cold.  On this holiest of nights, we remember and proclaim anew Jesus’s victory over death.  We also pray and long for a time when all will know the light and warmth of his love.

After 40 days of preparation, fasting, prayer, and works of charity, we arrive at the celebration of Easter.  This is our greatest feast of the year, and our joy cannot be contained in only one day.  It spills over to fill up the 50 days leading to Pentecost.  Today’s alleluia verse counsels us, “Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord.”

Christ’s resurrection changed human experience.  Never before in history had someone risen from the dead, never to die again.  It is no wonder that Peter and the beloved disciple stand in the empty tomb amazed and fearful, not understanding what had happened there.  In the season of Easter, we too are invited to live into this mystery that changes everything.

After the resurrection, only one task remains, and that one is for us:  to bear witness that the empty tomb, the end of Jesus’s story, was just the beginning.

Happy Easter!

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Whether you are comfortable now in returning to Mass in person or are still attending Mass online from your home, please see Sunday’s parish bulletin for our parish events and activities.  The bulletin is on the parish Website, www.stmarytampa.org .

Our priests and deacons are continuing to pray for you.  Wear your masks, keep social distance, and remain healthy and safe.  Please call us at the parish office if you need anything, (813) 961-1061.

And be sure to see this Sunday’s special GROW + GO message that follows immediately.

Blessings, Fr. Tim Corcoran

______________________________________________________________________________

“TRULY THIS MAN WAS THE SON OF GOD.”

Friday, March 26, 2021

Be sure to see the special GROW + GO message for this Sunday appearing at the end of this Flocknote to help us all grow as disciples and go evangelize!

Dear St. Mary Parishioners, this Sunday begins Holy Week with Palm Sunday, when we hear the entirety of the Lord’s passion from Mark’s Gospel (Mk 14:1-15:47).  The passion narratives were the first part of each gospel to be written.  They form the beating heart of what we believe about Jesus, the suffering servant of God, who made of his life a gift to God and to others – giving himself in every moment through his healing, preaching, and welcoming the excluded until finally, on the cross, he gave his very life.  Witnessing Jesus’s last breath on the cross was enough for a centurion soldier to proclaim, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”  May our own participation in the paschal mystery lead us to ever stronger faith in Jesus, the Son of the Blessed One.

Paradoxically, in the vulnerability and frailty of Jesus on the cross, we find the power of God displayed.  Passersby, knowing Jesus’s reputation as a wonder-worker, taunted him by saying, “[S]ave yourself by coming down from the cross.”  In this moment, we do not witness Jesus’s power to free himself from the grip of his tormentors, but instead the power to stay on the cross – the resolve to die.  This Sunday’s second reading (Phil 2:6-11) offers us the beautiful Christ hymn, or Carmen Christi, the hymn to Christ’s humility and his glory.  In becoming “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” Jesus is “greatly exalted.”

How do we harness the power of vulnerability in our own lives?  Who are models for us as we seek to walk the path of Christ that leads to the cross and then to the triumph of life over death in the resurrection?

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Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.  Next Sunday is Easter.  On Monday, I will send a special Flocknote with our Holy Week and Easter liturgy schedule and my thoughts about your attendance.  The schedule is also now on the parish Website.

Whether you are comfortable now in returning to Mass in person or are still attending Mass online from your home, please see Sunday’s parish bulletin for our parish events and activities.  The bulletin is on the parish Website, www.stmarytampa.org .

Our priests and deacons are continuing to pray for you.  Wear your masks, keep social distance, and remain healthy and safe.  Please call us at the parish office if you need anything, (813) 961-1061.

And be sure to see this Sunday’s special GROW + GO message that follows immediately.

Blessings, Fr. Tim Corcoran

______________________________________________________________________________

“THE HOUR HAS COME FOR THE SON OF MAN TO BE GLORIFIED.”

Friday, March 19, 2021

Be sure to see the special GROW + GO message for this Sunday appearing at the end of this Flocknote to help us all grow as disciples and go evangelize!

Dear St. Mary Parishioners, as he did in last Sunday’s gospel, this Sunday Jesus once again reveals that he will be “lifted up.”  In speaking with Nicodemus last Sunday, Jesus said, “[T]he Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15).  In this Sunday’s gospel (Jn 12:20-33), Jesus proclaims, “[W]hen I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”  Even though Jesus’s body will eventually be “lifted up” on a cross – a tool of torture and death – in John’s gospel the crucifixion is the moment of Jesus’ complete glorification.  Each day we draw closer to the holiest days of our year when we live in a particular way Jesus’s passion, death, and resurrection.  Let us also prepare ourselves to give glory to our crucified and risen Lord who draws everyone to himself.

This Sunday’s second reading from the letter to the Hebrews (Heb 5:7-9) focuses more on Jesus’s suffering in the crucifixion than on his glory.  That reading ends with the proclamation that Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”  In his obedience to God, Jesus endures death on a cross.  And in his suffering, the epistle writer tells us, “[Jesus] was made perfect.”  Once again, we find the tension of Jesus’s divine and human nature.  In John’s gospel Jesus appears to know everything that will occur to him and has no desire to pray, “Father, save me from this hour.”  Instead, he states, “Father, glorify your name,” a proclamation that is met with divine approval via a thundering voice from heaven.

At different times in our lives, we might be attracted more to the suffering Jesus or to the glorified and authoritative Jesus.  Both are true revelations of who Christ is.  And yet, neither is complete without the other.  At this moment on your journey of faith, are you drawn more to Jesus the crucified or Jesus the victor?

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Our Lenten Penance Service is tomorrow, Saturday, March 20, at 11:00 am.  This is your opportunity to have your confession heard before Easter.

Our last traditional Lenten devotions during the Fridays of Lent will be next Friday, March 26.  Stations of the Cross are in the church at 5:30 pm.  Solemn (Sung) Evening Prayer with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction are at 6:30 pm.

Whether you are comfortable now in returning to Mass in person or are still attending Mass online from your home, please see Sunday’s parish bulletin for our parish events and activities.  The bulletin is on the parish Website, www.stmarytampa.org (just scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click on the blue “Parish Bulletin” button).


“JUST AS MOSES LIFTED UP THE SERPENT IN THE DESERT, SO MUST THE SON OF MAN BE LIFTED UP.”

Friday, March 12, 2021

Be sure to see the special GROW + GO message for this Sunday appearing at the end of this Flocknote to help us all grow as disciples and go evangelize!

Dear St. Mary Parishioners, this Sunday’s gospel (John 3:14-21) refers to an event that occurred as the people of Israel sojourned in the desert after their escape from slavery in Egypt and before entering the Promised Land.  The people, weary from their travel, complain bitterly against God and Moses:  “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness, where there is no food or water?  We are disgusted with this wretched food!” (Num 21:5).  The people are punished for their complaints with serpent bites, and then saved from their punishment when God commands Moses, “Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover” (Num 21:8).  And now, in Sunday’s gospel, Jesus is compared to this “sign of salvation” (Wis 16:6), for when he is lifted up, “everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

In Sunday’s gospel, we find the oft-quoted line, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  Sunday’s first and second readings (2 Chr 36:14-16,19-23; Eph 2:4-10) echo this theme of God’s unfailing mercy.  The narrator from the second book of Chronicles tells us, “Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers” to his wayward people.  Though they had been unfaithful even to the point of “polluting the Lord’s temple” and practicing “abominations,” God still has “compassion on his people and his dwelling place.”  We see God’s grace at work calling the people of Israel who had been exiled from their homeland to return once more to Jerusalem to rebuild his house.  Similarly, St. Paul writes to the Ephesians that they have been saved through no merit of their own but purely through “the gift of God.”

As St. Paul writes, our God is “rich in mercy” and in Jesus we receive the greatest gift of his mercy – that even in our sinfulness, Jesus did not come to condemn but to save.  As we continue our Lenten journeys, we might ask ourselves how God is calling us to accept this mercy in our lives and also to extend it to others?

*          *          *          *          *

Remember our traditional Lenten devotions during the Fridays of Lent.  Stations of the Cross are in the church on Fridays at 5:30 pm.  Solemn (Sung) Evening Prayer with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction are on Fridays at 6:30 pm.  Come for either or both if you feel comfortable in doing so.

Whether you are comfortable now in returning to Mass in person or are still attending Mass online from your home, please see Sunday’s parish bulletin for our parish events and activities.  The bulletin is on the parish Website, www.stmarytampa.org (just scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click on the blue “Parish Bulletin” button).

Our priests and deacons are continuing to pray for you.  Wear your masks, keep social distance, and remain healthy and safe.  Please call us at the parish office if you need anything, (813) 961-1061.

And be sure to see this Sunday’s special GROW + GO message that follows immediately.

Blessings, Fr. Tim Corcoran

______________________________________________________________________________

“ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”

Friday, March 5, 2021

Be sure to see the special GROW + GO message for this Sunday appearing at the end of this Flocknote to help us all grow as disciples and go evangelize!

Dear St. Mary Parishioners, this Sunday’s gospel is John 2:13-25.  In watching Jesus drive the money changers and the merchants from the Temple, his disciples remember the verse from the book of Psalms:  “[Z]eal for your house has consumed me” (Ps 69:10).  In John’s gospel, Jesus’s cleansing of the temple is at the beginning of the gospel instead of the end, where the synoptic gospels place it (Mt 21:12-12; Mk 11:15-19; Lk 19:45-48).  We find within this account another revelation of who Jesus is as the true temple of the Lord – a temple that, even when destroyed, will be raised “in three days.”

As we hear in this Sunday’s first reading, after leading the people out of captivity in Egypt, Moses meets God on Mount Sinai and is given the Ten Commandments (Exod 20:1-17).  The first three of these commandments explore what we are called to in our relationship with God, while the following seven lay out how we are to interact with other humans.  To God, we are called to give fidelity, reverence, and also time.  One day of the week is set apart in particular for worship and repose, the Sabbath day.  In ancient Israel, the Temple was the privileged place of encounter with and worship of God.  In his cleansing of it, Jesus claims it again as a place of fidelity and reverence where commerce, wealth, and greed have no place.

As Christians, we are still called to set aside time for God within our week, to draw near to him in reverence and love.  How are we striving to “keep holy the Sabbath day”?

*          *          *          *          *

Remember our traditional Lenten devotions during the Fridays of Lent.  Stations of the Cross are in the church on Fridays at 5:30 pm.  Solemn (Sung) Evening Prayer with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction are on Fridays at 6:30 pm.  Come for either or both if you feel comfortable in doing so.

Whether you are comfortable now in returning to Mass in person or are still attending Mass online from your home, please see Sunday’s parish bulletin for our parish events and activities.  The bulletin is on the parish Website, www.stmarytampa.org (just scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click on the blue “Parish Bulletin” button).

Our priests and deacons are continuing to pray for you.  Wear your masks, keep social distance, and remain healthy and safe.  Please call us at the parish office if you need anything, (813) 961-1061.

And be sure to see this Sunday’s special GROW + GO message that follows immediately.

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