2609 Park Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32204

(904) 387-2554

Email: parishoffice@spsjax.org

2609 Park Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32204

(904) 387-2554

Email: parishoffice@spsjax.org

Come and rest for a while.

Jesus said to His disciples, “Come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.”  They were tired by traveling every day, preaching, teaching, and healing.  They worked with such diligence and zeal that they often didn’t get time to rest, eat or sleep.  They continued carrying out their mission, in spite of their fatigue.  When Jesus saw how tired they had become, he said to them, “Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest.” You see, Jesus himself found the demands of his public ministry to be physically, Spiritually and emotionally exhausting and he felt the need for rest.  So he went with his disciples to a quiet place to rest for a while.  The Bible says, “… they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”

 In our modern terms, we can say that Jesus and the disciples took a little vacation. They put their daily routines on hold and found a quiet place of serenity and peace to relax, restore and renew. Florida is blessed from the sandy beaches, and serene forests, to the Disney Land roller coasters. That is why people all over the world come to Florida to rest and relax.

Taking inspiration from today’s Gospel let us think of the importance to taking care of ourselves. Our physical, spiritual, and emotional health are all connected.

I will share our recent Camino experience and how the 10 pilgrims found unity, peace and happiness in the group and by themselves. Travelling as a group is always challenging. Because people have their own way of doing things, have attitudes which others may not like and so on. We had all those initial difficulties in the beginning to understand and appreciate each other. Our first goal was not to judge anybody but to try to understand and appreciate the other person. By listening to the stories of the other people, their traumas in life, the loss of their loved ones, hearing the struggles in their lives made us pray for them rather than making judgments against anyone. Everyone had a special intention for their pilgrimage. My prayer intention was for my sister Anna who has cancer. She lost her hair because of the chemo. The whole family shaved their heads to feel her pain. So I also shaved my head and did the pilgrimage. So too each pilgrim had prayer intentions and they were all praying for others during the walk.

We walked together and alone, laughed, we prayed, we offered mass together and in a few days we all felt the unity and peace among the pilgrims and slowly we started finding peace in ourselves. Our Camino experiences give us an insight into the reason for our stress and anxieties and felt the need of inner peace and happiness in ourselves.

What are the reasons for our worries, stress, and anxieties? For the last one year we are all going through difficulties of the Pandemic. Then our personal struggles, family problems, financial crisis, employment issues and so many other things make our life difficult.

How do we find peace and happiness in our lives? In this context Jesus’ invitation to take care of ourselves and to find peace in ourselves is very important. It is very important to take care of ourselves to better serve others. A healthy and pleasant Doctor can better serve the patients. The happy parents are a blessing for the family. Joyful children are the blessing to the family.

Jesus is extending the same invitation to us “Come with me.” He is inspiring us to take care of ourselves with Him. Let us learn from Him and invite Him to “come with us” to enjoy the beauty of His creation and the gift of our lives and be refreshed in mind and spirit. Let us be happy people and give happiness and joy to the world around us.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank you for inviting us to rest and renew our strength. Help us to remember to include YOU in everything we do. Amen

 

–Father George Vaniyapurackal

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Be Quiet, Be Still”

Today’s Gospel message is about “Jesus calming the stormy sea”.

The disciples were panicking and cried out for help. Jesus rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!” The storm ceased and there was great calm. This is the great spiritual lesson we can take from today’s Gospel:  There will be storms in our spiritual lives. The way to manage is to listen to Him – be quiet, be still. Jesus is with me to take care of it. I will share three quotes to help us to reflect.

St. Francis De Sales said “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your INNER peace for ANYTHING whatsoever. Even if your whole world seems upset.”

God’s plan is greater than mine: God’s plan is always the best. Sometimes the process is painful and hard. But don’t forget that when God is silent, He is doing something good for us.

God is silent: I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining. I believe in love even when not feeling it. I believe in God even when he is silent…”

Fathers’ Day: Five weeks ago, we observed Mother’s Day and offered Mass for our mothers. Today, on this Father’s Day, we are doing the same – offering this Mass for our dads, invoking God’s blessings upon them.

Let us pray for our fathers, for their love and support.

Let us pray for those fathers who have been wounded by the neglect and hostility of their children.

Let us pray for those fathers who are divorced and remain in their children’s lives.

Let us pray for those fathers whose children are adopted and let their love and support offer healing to their children.

Let us pray for the stepfathers who freely choose the obligation of fatherhood and earn their stepchildren’s love and respect.

Let us pray for the fathers who lost a child to death and continue to hold the child in their heart.

Let us pray for those men who have no children but cherish the next generation as if they were their own.

Let us pray for those men who have “fathered” us in their role as mentors and guides.

Let us pray for those men who are about to become fathers; may they openly delight in their children.

And let us pray for those fathers who have died but live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us.

 

George Vaniyapurackal

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The parable of the mustard seed – Reflection

We are familiar with the slogans, ‘might makes right”, “money is power” and “bigger is better.’ Jesus always gives us different perspectives in our lives. In His eyes, the poor, the small and weak, the meek and humble, are the truly great ones.

It is in this perspective Jesus tells the parable of the mustard seed. Insignificant beginnings can lead to a wonderful result. God’s Grace starts working for us in a small and seemingly insignificant way. Our faith can appear as small as a mustard seed; but such hope is enough for the Lord to work with. Our various efforts can seem to bear very insignificant results. The parable assures us that the final harvest from those efforts will be abundant.

Mother Theresa had this realization. She said “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” That is the key to our success in spiritual life. Little things are a better test of character than great things. They come every day; great things do not. Little things deal with reality, without any show; and what we call “little things” are often much greater than what we call the great ones, and therefore have much larger consequences. Attend to the little things, and we need not be anxious about the greater ones.

In today’s first part of the Gospel Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how the kingdom of God grows: It is as if a man scatter seeds on the land and sleep and rise night and day, and the seed will sprout and grow, even without him knowing. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. At the end the harvest has come.”

I compare this to our human life.  How does our human life begin? Little by little in a mother’s womb. Nine months of little-by-little growth is our beginning. Think of us after birth. We grow by small and constant repetitive actions. A little sleep, a little food, a little exercise. Over again, a little sleep, a little food, a little exercise. And again, a little sleep, and so on. A breath. A word. Life consists of small things.

The kingdom of God, our faith, our spiritual life is based on small things. Jesus told us this great truth. The last will be the first, the humble will enter the kingdom of God. A small child, the least in our eyes are all important in Jesus’ eyes.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, help us understand the deeper meaning of the parable of the mustard seed.  Help us do small things with great love and expand your Kingdom of love. We ask this Grace through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Fr. George Vaniyapurackal

11th Sunday in Ordinary time

 

Join us every Sunday at 11:00 am forlivestreamed Mass