I share with you this reflection: In the first reading from Genesis today, we hear one of the most protracted deal-making scenes between a human and God in all of the Bible. It was this sort of courageous standing toe-to-toe with the Almighty that helped earn Abraham the reputation of being a fearlessly faithful man, one who lived his end of the covenant and, in deep, trusting faith, would call upon the Lord to live up to the other end. Other ancient religions had accounts of mortals bartering with the divine, but for a mere man to whittle down the divinity’s requirements, to stay the wrathful hand of the heavens for the sake of a handful of the innocent, was new and remarkable. Abraham began the trajectory that would find a pinnacle in Christ on the cross, where his own “faith in the power of God” (Colossians 2:12) would lead him not to care how many innocent there were, but to offer himself as a sacrifice so that all might be forgiven their transgressions and allowed to live in life eternal.
In teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus gives them the benefit of the doubt: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us” (Luke 11:4). It is not too difficult to imagine Jesus looking around at his followers rather pointedly as he says this, eyebrows arched, perhaps emphasizing the word “everyone” as he spoke. This, when truly prayed, is a scary invitation (or challenge) to God: forgive us in the same way and to the same degree that we forgive others. Perhaps we count on the Almighty to live up to the forgiveness end of the bargain even when we fail to; we, therefore, don’t really seem to believe the fact that God can reserve the right to say “OK” to this invitation at any time, and make us bear the consequences. A good barometer of whether or not we’re truly sincere in our invitation might be whether or not we break out in a cold sweat when we pray it. Can we always count on God to be merciful and forgiving? Yes. Can we always count on God to honor every agreement God enters into? Again, yes.
Blessings, Fr. Sergio Lopez
My name is Father Thi Hoang. I would like to express my deep gratitude and thanks to all of you for your hospitality to warmly welcome me to St. John’s. I feel blessed to be here in such a warm parish. I am looking forward to serving you as your associate pastor for the glory of God. If you are interested in knowing more about me, here is my brief biography:
I was born in Hai Duong, North of Vietnam, on January 02, 1977. I have two brothers and three sisters. My parents and siblings are farmers. They are all Catholics and very active in the local parish. I was also quite active in my home parish. I was an altar boy for several years where my seed of priestly vocation was initiated. After high school graduation in 1996, I applied to become a priest for my home Diocese of Haiphong. I was accepted and was sent to Saigon (South of Vietnam) to continue my college studies. I lived in Saigon from 1996 to 2003.
After my college graduation, I felt I didn’t want to continue my priestly vocation. I was looking for a job and I found one at the Vietnam News Agency. I was working there as a reporter for more than a year. Then I quit my job, for I didn’t feel motivated in what I did. So I came back to my home Diocese and continued vocation to priesthood until August 2006, I came to this country to study for the Diocese of Oakland. I studied two years of philosophy at Mount Angel Seminary, Oregon. Then August 2008 I was transferred to St. Patrick's Seminary and University, Menlo Park, CA to study theology. After five years of formation at St. Patrick's Seminary, I was ordained to the Order of Priesthood on May 18, 2013 by Archbishop Alexander Brunette at the Cathedral of Christ the Light. Then I was sent to St. Joseph Basilica Parish in Alameda as my first assignment. I was there for three years until I take on my new assignment at. John’s July 1st, 2016.
I am looking forward to serving you. Together we know Christ and make him better known.
Love you dearly in Christ,
Fr. Thi Hoang