Christians must not be afraid to ask questions of God, as it will bring growth, understanding and lead us to real answers, said Fr Urban Hudlin OP, homilist at last Sunday’s Mass in honour of Santa Rosa de Lima.
The Dominican priest said that human life is lived with questions and “If we never found our self steeped in questioning, then we’re not living our Christian life.”
If we never asked questions about life’s circumstances – the purpose of nature, poverty, injustice, and events both good and bad – then in a sense, he said, we were better than Job, David, and even Christ, who questioned God at the Garden of Gethsemane, and at Calvary. Mary too, he added, asked questions when she was told by the angel Gabriel that she would be the mother of God.
Preaching before a packed Santa Rosa church on the theme Question and Answers, Fr Hudlin reflected on the Sunday Gospel (Mt 16:13-–20) where Peter was faced with a Christological question, ‘Who is Jesus Christ?’, a question each Christian is called to face, he stressed.
Fr Hudlin commented that religious people however “have often been dissuaded from asking questions” but when terrible things happen, “many of us believers seem trapped in a kind of religious sentimentality, a kind of warped piety that says don’t question God” but “we must ask why, we must question”. He continued, “It is questioning that brings us to a new place of understanding… do not therefore shut down questions,” he said.
Returning to the Gospel passage, Fr Hudlin said we are called at times to define who we are even “in the obscurity (dark)….In times like these, we find the answers to who we are”. He reminded the faithful of the Gospel for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time when Christ invited Peter to come out of the boat and walk on water adding that in our uncertainty we can begin sinking, but find the answer in the Lord.
“Faith doesn’t mean we do not ask. Faith means you and I will be able to accept the answer that God gives us,” he said. The answer may not be what we want to hear, but God is always there with us, he emphasised. “We can’t celebrate God’s goodness unless you have wrestled with the ways of God,” he said.
Fr Hudlin hoped that people faced their own personal questions about “faith, justice, peace, love” and not run away from them: “The greatest evil is to be prodigal to our questioning and pretend that it is not what it is”, for this perpetuates ignorance. It is in the darkness of uncertainty that creativity is born, hence it is important not to “shut things down, but open them up and ask new questions,” he said.
Arima parish priest Fr Steve Duncan presided at his first feast day liturgy, welcoming all to the 231st feast-day celebration. Rev Paul Bousignac assisted, proclaiming the Gospel. Member of Parliament and Education Minister Anthony Garcia, Arima Mayor Lisa Morris-Julian, aldermen and councillors of the Arima Borough Council occupied the front pews. The Santa Rosa First Peoples’ community led by Queen Jennifer Cassar and Chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez sat close to the statue of the Peruvian saint.
The First Peoples were involved in various aspects of the liturgy, reading the Psalms and participating in the prayers of intercession which were offered for the Church, country, youth, sick and homeless, shut-ins, vocations and the First Peoples.
Heavy morning showers gave way to cloudy skies at the start of the liturgy. Under police escort, the procession made its way along Church, Prince, Broadway, Farfan and Woodford streets. Along the route the Divine Mercy chaplet, prayers of intercession for the parish, Church and nation were offered, and hymns were sung. The liturgy ended with Benediction after the procession returned to the church. Parishioners and pilgrims were then invited to the nearby park where the First Peoples mounted booths.
Before the start of the procession, Fr Duncan officially launched the parish’s pilgrimage to Peru, birthplace of the saint, in mid-September 2018. He said the experience of pilgrimage will be used for the planning of future Santa Rosa celebrations. – Raymond Syms, Editor