It has been 3 months since I updated my message. There have been a lot of things happening in the parish I was hardly able to catch my breath. Sunday Masses and Services have resumed in all zone churches but there are lists of SOPs we still have to follow. Weddings in the Church have also started, again with SOPs to be observed. Some parish committees have started meetings as well. The only restriction we have now is the funeral mass, which is still not allowed in the Church. Of course, Children Liturgy and Sunday School have yet to start too, pending for greenlight from the government.
We are almost back to the normal life we used to have before the COVID19 pandemic to say the least. Facemasks, Sanitizers, ThermoScan and Social Distancing are now elements that we more or less have accepted as the new norms in the society. Somehow, we have adjusted to the “chaotic” situation we experienced and lamented some months ago when COVID19 pandemic just started. Some people even began to question whether the Lord is to be found in the chaos and disorder caused by the pandemic. We found the answer from the Word of God for this 19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.
If we have a close look at the Liturgy of the Word, all the highlighted characters had had some “chaotic” experiences. The fiery prophet Elijah was feeling discouraged when all his efforts did not lead to lasting results (FIRST READING). Paul was very sad that the Jews, the people of the promise, had not accepted Christ. Yet, when the promised Savior came, they didn’t recognise him (SECOND READING). Peter was terrified when he saw a large wave approaching, and he then began to sink (GOSPEL READING).
All of them, however, had a marvellous ending. Elijah marched to the desert, to the mountain of God. There, God came to him as a gentle breeze and gave him fresh courage. In spite of all the sufferings and trouble the Jews had caused him ever since he began his Christian missionaries activity, Paul still loved the Jews and went on mentioning the privileges God had given to the Chosen People down through the ages. When Peter who was beginning to sink cried out “LORD, SAVE ME”, Jesus IMMEDIATELY reached out his hand and caught him.
These experiences of Elijah, Paul and Peter point out to us that God is there, in the storms and difficulties of our lives. He never abandons us yet often it is us who do not recognise him there. God the Father knows that we believe in Him, in His love and care. But He also knows how our faith is often tried by doubts, uncertainties, and fears. Let us pray to God to hear our cries, His people, always, and especially in this challenging time of COVID19 pandemic.
On another note, I would like to highlight a few pastoral matters already posted in the website, just in case you have missed them out:
 We have two seminarians and one Franciscan novice assigned in our parish. Let’s try our best to help them grow in faith to persevere in their vocations.
 Online pre-registration for attending Sunday Masses is now available. We hope that with this new system, attendance for Sunday Masses would be better.
 Mission Office has started using WhatsApp facility. Please bear in mind that you might not receive an immediate reply. Also, texting should be strictly PASTORAL RELATED MATTERS; otherwise you may risk being blocked.
 The Elects of our parish will receive the Sacrament of Initiations on 15 August 2020 (St Michael’s Church, Penampang) and on 28 August 2020 (St. Augustine’s Church, Kinarut). Let us continue to pray for them.
Have a Blessed Sunday!
Fr. Wilfred Atin