This has certainly been an interesting year. First, there is the pandemic that kept many of us home for a while,with some people still remaining at home. Then there was Tropical Storm Isaias, which wreaked havoc in NewJersey and other states. Half the Town of Springfield had no power for a few days, including the rectory andchurch. A large branch of the tree in front of the school broke off from the tree and landed on the telephonepole, bringing down wires with it. Power was restored on Saturday, around 8:30AM. What else could happen tomake this year even more unforgettable?  Somehow, we have tried to maintain our sanity through it all. While it may have been difficult at times, we havemanaged to survive. There are some, though, who have difficulty leaving the house for fear that something worsewill happen to them, namely catching COVID-19. We have to be able to comfort and reassure them that all iswell. Some may even need professional care to help them through all of this. These times are particularly difficultfor the elderly, who are most susceptible, and to the children who thrive on social contact with family and friends.Of course, I am always available to help anyone who wants help.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus is confronted by a woman whose daughter is possessed by a demon. She is looking forsome type of help and consolation, like we do at times. While the disciples want to send her away, Jesus assuresher that her daughter will be healed. His gentle presence and demeanor help the woman through this difficulty.Jesus offers us that same presence and assurance, especially during this pandemic. As much as we try to makesense of it, and that can frustrate us, it is Jesus who offers us his gentle touch, reminding us that he is the presenceof the Father’s love and care for us. What he asks of us is to be open and receptive to him and all he offersus. While this may not solve all our problems, it is a comforting experience, knowing that we are not alone inthis, and that he does not abandon us.  We can bring Jesus’s comforting presence to each other and to all we meet, reassuring them of the same care andconcern that he has offered us. Sometimes we wonder about the reasons all this happens at any given time, andwe never find an answer. We can rely on the presence of Jesus to reassure us and our own abilities to help us dealwith any situation presented to us. Jesus also offers us the hope of being God’s children, and this can give us adifferent perspective on the difficulties we face in life. This is what helps us deal with difficulties, so that we canstill manage to live our lives in the best way possible.  Jesus was not just a miracle worker, although some saw him only from that perspective. Jesus also offered all whoapproached him healing and wholeness and an encounter with God. He offers us the same thing. But we have totrust that he will be true to what he says so that we can experience an inner peace that comes from him. While thesituation in which we find ourselves may be unique, he offers us the hope that all will be better because we cantrust that he will always be with us, whether we are aware of his presence or not.  HAPPY AUGUST!!   Fr. Joe 

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