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Fr. Josaphat

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Father Hannas Council "Not for self, but for others"

December 2017

Fr. Josaphat, OSBM
Council Chaplain

Jubilee Year of Mercy

Feast of St. Josaphat

The Ukrainian Catholic Church celebrates the feast of bishop martyr and saint, Josaphat Kuntsevych, each year on November 12. St. Josaphat is our great spiritual warrior and champion. In his tropar, we read: "You have shown yourself to be a shining light, 0 Josaphat, Bishop and martyr, for as a good shepherd you gave life to your flock, ... for the sake of the Holy Union. ... Therefore ... Pray to Christ, the Head of all Shepherds to include us among those who stand at the right hand ..., and that our souls will be saved."

The parable of the sower and the seed in Luke chapter 8, reminds us of our Christian life and our involvement in the Church's mission. We sometimes think we need two seeds to do this. The seed of theology and the seed of "real life"; meaning that we need to divide our time between prayer and action. However, the life of St. Josaphat shows us that this is a false distinction.

Throughout his life and even in death St. Josaphat gives us a shining example of love and devotion - to God and our Church; of a being a leader among the people and being an example of willingly giving his life to God. That is why St. Josaphat is the patron saint of Church unity for the whole Catholic Church. The entire church turns to St. Josaphat to intercede before God, to strengthen our faith and the faith of the people of God. Therein is our Lord's Prayer, "Other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."Jn. 10,16. It is God's desire to unite all people and it was St. Josaphat that exemplifies that struggle. The success of Christian unity consists in our profession of faith and our willingness to be strongly united.

There is another Gospel passage that speaks of 'faith and unity in Jesus'. It is the story, in Luke chapter 7, of the centurion who sends his servants to ask Jesus to heal his beloved servant. As Jesus is approaching through the town, the centurion sends other servants to ask Jesus to 'just say the word'; to heal because he values Jesus' authority.

The centurion is a stranger in a strange land. A non-Jew, not under Jewish Law. When you read this passage, you will note that he calls Jesus "Lord." The centurion confesses his faith in Christ by calling upon Him to heal his dying servant. A Roman of his stature would have confessed in Caesar as Lord- yet here the centurion confesses his faith in Jesus as Lord.

The message for us today is that we are to be filled with a trust in the faith of others and perhaps in particular that we celebrate the faith of those whom we perhaps do not expect to confess our faith. This is a call to us to reject any form of exclusivism that would advance the idea that our church is just for certain people, of one ethnic group, or from one background, or from one particular time or place - a ghetto church. The Gospel message of the centurion calls us to welcome the faith of others who are perhaps not in the church but are drawn to our church by our faith, our witness, our love, or our joy in the Lord.

May we always be open to the strangers our Lord is calling. Let us welcome them, marvelling at their faith and what that faith can teach us about how to love God more fully and to inspire confidence in us to ask our Lord to heal us. If we do this, there will be peace and the blessings of the Lord will descend upon us: The God of hope will fill each of us with joy in believing that we will abound in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (Rom. 15, 13.)

Fr. Josaphat Tyrkalo
Council Chaplain

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