August 12, 2018 – Reflections by Deacon Al

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Deacon Al

Eating and drinking is not just with the mouth and the digestive organs of our bodies, but the reception of God’s grace by believing in Christ, as He makes abundantly clear by repeating the same truths both in metaphoric and plain language these past few weeks.
Seeing and believing in Christ is equivalent to eating and drinking His flesh and blood, for the result is the same: possession of eternal life and resurrection at the last day. Jesus’ discourse is not primarily a reference to the Eucharist, but to His sacrifice on the cross.
He says, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” This expression is similar to others in John’s gospel all of which undoubtedly refer to His death on the cross, and explains the resemblance between Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life and the Eucharist, which is a proclamation of His death. Both of them are pointing to the one momentous event of our redemption, the sacrifice of the cross.
John states, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are writ-ten that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name”. The feeding of the five thousand, along with the other signs, was recorded so that we may believe that Jesus is the divine Messiah, and that through this faith we might have eternal life.
This relates and/or corresponds to the former homily I had given a few weeks ago concerning doubt vs. faith, hunger vs. being filled. We do not minimize the importance of the Eucharist in the Christian experience, yet we must assert the primary importance of faith in Christ for eternal life. That is the biblical emphasis, and this is the lesson we are to believe in Jesus’ “Bread of Life discourse.”
Blessings, D/A

August 5, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Did it ever strike you that freedom can be frightening? In our first reading from Exodus, the Israelites moaned and groaned against Moses and Aaron who were leading them out of oppression. Leaving Egypt meant freedom. But, once free, they would now have to be responsible for themselves. Even if this freedom was God’s gift to them, they didn’t want it. They wanted to go back to what they had in the past.
Paul warns the Ephesians about holding on to the past, for they have entered into new lives in Christ Jesus. In the gospel of John, we hear how Jesus had just fed the crowd of followers by multiplying the loaves and the fish. Having, however, a good idea of what the people following him really wanted, Jesus reproaches them, telling them to look not for food that perishes but rather for food that endures unto eternal life.
Back in the desert the Israelites were frightened by their newfound freedom and yearned for the security they had back in Egypt. It may have been a very mediocre existence, but it was familiar and consistent, and comforting to them. Too often we are tempted beyond the freedom we have. Too often we fear to enter that freedom, to leave our comfort zones in order to go where God might be calling us. But we must remember what Jesus said to his disciples “Do not be afraid.” He says the same to us today.
When we do the works of God in our world to-day, when we share Jesus’ tenderness and mercy, we need to remember that we are not alone. Jesus is always with us, walking by our side, even if we cannot feel or see him. When you face difficulties of any kind, remember, Jesus is with you. Do the works for others that Jesus points out to you or permits you to see. This might be within your family, at work, in your neighborhood or parish community, or even around the world. Being there for others is what Jesus asks of us. Let us together be those works of God.

July 29, 2018 – Reflections by Deacon Al

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Deacon Al

Doubt an emotional level of indecision between belief and disbelief.
This is what the Apostle Phillip experienced when Christ set out to test his faith in feeding the 5000. Although Phillip had seen the works of Jesus, he still remained indecisive on whether to believe or remain in disbelief. It takes Andrew to put his hand to the task believing against all odds that Jesus would complete yet another miracle.
Last week in Father Bill’s homily at the Summerfest, his words hit a homerun when he spoke about others not seeing what we go through especially on the inside, especially on the topic of change.
We all have circumstances in our lives that people can’t see, feel or understand. That being the case, as our Lord has patience and understanding with Phillip today, He is giving us a living example that we must also have patience and understanding with one another.
Think of it this way; the Lord lets one of his twelve be tested; God lets his servant Job be tested. What right do we have in just these two examples of Holy men, to think we’re beyond trials and or challenges that may work their ways into our lives?
Typically in our time of trials where doubt may be involved, we have this notion that leads us to become defensive, aggressive, angry or even disturbed to the point of bringing on the emotions of sadness, depression or the Big One the “WHY ME” question.
Paul gives an awesome answer to this entire experience this weekend in the second reading:
Live in a manner worthy of your call: In humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another through Love, striving to preserve unity of the Spirit, through the bond of Peace.
I needed to be reminded of this by a friend who used similar words this past week, and by Jesus’ example and Paul’s words we have awesome examples and or teachings to live out this coming week.
God Bless

July 22, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

In almost poetic language, St. Paul invites the Ephesians to marvel at the unity they are experiencing. Many of them were Gentiles, people who looked down on the Jews almost as the Jews looked down on them. And yet here they were worshipping Jesus—alongside of Jewish brothers and sisters! Through Christ, the centuries-old wall dividing them had been broken down, leaving only a bond of love.
But this wasn’t the only time when Jesus brought Jews and Gentiles together. Probably the most important one happened about thirty years earlier, on the first Good Friday. That’s when “Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,” over-came their differences . . . so that they could put Jesus to death (Acts 4:27). Of course, not everyone was in on the plot, but many were united in their hatred of Jesus.
Isn’t it amazing how Jesus can take some-thing horrible and make it a source of blessing? The devil had created a false and feeble unity in order to eliminate Jesus, but his plan backfired. This mock unity brought about the true unity that the Ephesians—and Christians everywhere else—were now enjoying. Where once there was Gentile versus Jew, slave versus free, and woman versus man, now there are only brothers and sisters witnessing to the Spirit’s power to heal ancient divisions.
If Jesus can overcome centuries of division between Jews and Gentiles, surely he can heal the divisions in our lives. It may not happen overnight or in the way we expect, but it can happen—especially if we work toward it ourselves. So, take one relationship today, whether you need to offer forgiveness, let go of resentment, or ask for forgiveness, and see what you can do to break down the walls. It won’t happen overnight—just as it took time for the early Church. But if you persevere, it will happen.

July 15, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Today’s readings challenge us to answer God’s call. Amos was a shepherd, a dresser of sycamores, who did not want his job as a prophet. He felt inadequate for such a ministry. Yet God said to him, “Go, prophesy to my people.” Amos did what he was asked to do. He went to the northern kingdom of Israel and pronounced God’s message that the people needed to reform their lives.
In the gospel we hear another famous story of answering God’s call. The apostles were ordinary men, at least on the surface. As fishermen, they were not the leading scholars of the day; they were not recognized as spiritual “holy men” within the Jewish community. Nevertheless, Jesus chose these simple men to do his work. Initially the call was passive; the apostles were simply required to walk with the Lord and listen to his words. But today we hear how the call has gone active. Jesus sends them forth, two by two, to do the work that is needed to make the kingdom of God come alive. Jesus sends these men forth in faith. They are to preach the Good News; they are not to worry about lodging, food, or clothes. God will provide all that is necessary for the mission they undertake.
We have all been called individually by name and collectively by community to answer God’s call. The initial call came at baptism. Our name was announced to the community; we became members of the church. We were called that day to service. to ministry; to an active pursuit of God. We live that call as a community, which needs our input. If we sit around and do nothing, allowing everyone else to do what is necessary, then we have missed the call. In the process we have missed the opportunity of a lifetime to show the face of Christ to others.
Each person must determine how to answer the call. Whatever the response, it must be active participation! Like Amos and the apostles, we may not think ourselves qualified; we may not want the job. But we must answer God’s call, for our benefit now and for the needs of our world.

July 8, 2018 – Reflections by Deacon Al

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Deacon Al

Today’s readings reminded me of a saying we’ve all heard in the past “What doesn’t kill us is making us stronger” the theme song to the former 80’s TV show “Roseann”.
In researching to find out if this was or was not a Biblical statement, (I’d discovered it wasn’t), but the original quote attributed to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche which actually read, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” For those unfamiliar with Nietzsche, he was a philosopher who was very critical toward people of faith who proclaimed in 1882 that G-d was dead.
I’d noticed in this article written of Nietzsche, each time the article made reference to God, the word God, was being spelled without the “o” G-D. Enforcing the fact that the German philosopher beliefs were still being made known from his grave.
The statement I’d found in the middle of a faith-filled motivational message intended to inspire a large group of people with wounded souls. Yet, his quote, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” has many times been quoted by the very people who profess the absolute opposite of what Nie-tzsche promoted and believed.
Through our first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel is being sent forth to Israel. To rebels who stand against the Father. God describes those who are “Hard of face and obstinate of Heart” to the Prophet. Whether they heed or resist, they’ll know a Prophet has been among them.
Similarly, in the second reading, Paul speaks of a “thorn in his side”, an angel of Satan. He asks the Lord to free him of this. The Lord replies “My Grace is sufficient for you” and explains to Paul “power is made perfect in weakness” A similar statement of the philosopher Nietzsche gives a hint that Nietzsche has indeed read the Bible, but has a personal gripe with God in which he is trying to turn others against the Father.
Lastly, in the Gospel this week we hear of Jesus being treated unfairly in His native land. To this He replies: A Prophet is not without Honor except in his native place, among his own kin, and in his own house. Giving the notion that those who become accustomed to us, those of us who truly know and have chosen to follow God, cannot, or will not accept the change in the new people, God’s people of which we have become.
Although, on the surface, the statement about survival making us stronger sounds good and even encouraging to those who travelled the path of struggle and personal warfare, the Bible teaches us a very different understanding. If we truly desire to overcome and be stronger as a result of surviving our circumstances, the only way we will be able to do so is by looking not to an anti-faith atheist, but by looking to the words of life provided by our “GOD”.
God’s Blessings, Deacon Al

July 1, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

If you could only use one word to describe today’s story of the woman’s healing, what would it be? Faith? Touch? Power? These are all very good ways to encapsulate what happened to this woman, but let’s look at the story from another angle. Let’s say that one word should be “striving”. This woman had her mind made up. She was going to push her way through the crowd because she believed that Jesus could heal her. So she strove to get to Jesus, and she was healed! And to the woman Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.”
In many of his healings Jesus tells the people that their trust in him played a vital role in their healing. We know, of course, that it was Jesus who did the healing, but we also see that his power flowed because of the way the people pressed forward despite obstacles. If they didn’t continue to strive in faith, it’s likely that they would not have been healed. Let’s imitate these people of history. Let’s put our confidence in the Lord. Let’s strive in prayer, both for ourselves and for our loved ones. Let’s reach out and touch his cloak.
My friends, God didn’t stop being God two thousand years ago. He continues to heal and forgive and guide and comfort and even perform miracles. And he asks of us that we do what we can to make this world a better place, and at the same time turn to him for help every step of the way. May we, at the end of each and every day. Be able to look back and see all the wonderful things God has done. It’s there. He’s there. We just have to strive in faith.

 

 

 

June 24, 2018 – Reflections by Deacon Al

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Deacon Al

We hear in the first reading on the eve, then the day of “The Nativity of John the Baptist” Before I formed you in the Womb I knew you, thus giving us the notion that God had a Plan for our lives before we even came about from our earthly parents loins.
A lot of the times in stating this, we might hear disagreements on the words of “Gods Free Will” questioning: If free will is “My will” how then, can God already have planned out a life before it was formed? Well, my friends we have to look at the answer as Catholic Christians, with logic, being open and mindful to the options that come with bringing forth life.
In 1973 there were 1.36 Million choices to voluntarily end pregnancies verses 926,240 choices in 2014. We’re improving, but overall the choice of “God’s Free will” had been used a staggering 53 Million times from 1973-2014. Thus resulting in a “Free Will choice” of women ranging in age from 20-34 stating the reasons in making their choices were:
Not wanting any more children, Can’t afford, or Not ready for children in their lives. These three reasons alone attributed to 67% of reasons given, for end of life decisions – in using our own free will…
Not just pointing out woman in using their free will, but with men as well. The best example coming to mind is “Judas Iscariot” Some use the logic that Judas was possessed by the devil, therefore he couldn’t have made the choice to betray our Lord on his own… I kind of have to negate this! Again, we are all given the choice by God to sin, or walk away from sin. To turn our back towards God, or to turn our backs to the evil one. Judas was created as a Child of the most High God, it was in his weakness, and the evil temptation of money, that he chose to betray our Lord.
Thus comes the question: Could he have repented on the last day of his life, being truly sorry for his sin? Sure, but in the taking of his own life, Judas admits to his guilt in choosing sin over God, thus admitting he chose evil over good.
A few other words, or lines from Scripture that stood out in preparing this week’s Homily are:
*Fear, *Although you have not seen Him, You Love Him *My reward is with the Lord *I will make you a light to the Nations.
These are some additional thoughts we’ll dialogue on this weekend as we try to work in a back and forth discussion for all to be involved with the Homily, letting those who want to, be involved with what we take home from Holy Mass for the week.
Peace, Gods Blessings and Love, Deacon Al

June 17, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Fr. Bill Terza

Fr. Bill Terza

The reading from Ezekiel offers an attractive description of God’s kingdom. It can be compared to the growth process found in a gigantic and magnificent cedar of Lebanon. The comparison Jesus uses to describe the kingdom of God moves in the opposite direction to that of Ezekiel. He begins with a tiny mustard seed that will eventually grow into quite an underwhelming shrub, usually no taller than seven feet, not particularly attractive, not having strong branches, totally ordinary.
The point Jesus wants to make by using these seed parables is that the reality of God’s presence (God’s kingdom) is not found in things powerful, great, and grandiose. The reality of the kingdom of God is first and foremost to be found in the ordinary, humdrum experiences and things of daily life. Many people are convinced that the reality of God’s kingdom can only be found in places other than the one they are in. They chase all over the world after every strange vision or so-called apparition. To get there they walk by the homeless, the struggling single parents, the immigrants, and the many other “mustard shrubs” along the way.
Today’s message in the liturgy is for everyone to reexamine what she or he is really seeking in life. The reality of God’s kingdom can be found and experienced in the things of ordinary daily life. There is no need to chase after the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God dwells within you and wherever you are. Jesus came preaching a countercultural reality. He presented a vision of God and the kingdom of God that is rooted in everyday human life and experience.

June 10, 2018 – Reflections by Deacon Al

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Deacon Al

This week we experience the word “Blame” The word “Blame” is to hold responsible; find fault with; to place the responsibility for (a fault, error, etc.) on someone other than oneself.
Adam Blamed Eve for trickery. As well, Eve blamed the serpent. Jesus’ own family “Blamed” him of being out of His mind, and blamed /or accused Him of being possessed by the devil.
But Jesus gives us the example of not being defensive against those in our lives who don’t see things as we do, but teaches us to look at life from a different point of view, the view of the other person and rationalization.
Just yesterday, I had two experiences with two different people. The first was with someone very close to me, my sister. We were talking about friendships, and how her daughter reconnected with a former friend that she no longer associates with. She was kind of upset with her daughter for talking with this former friend, and went on to say the former friend was angry with my sister for not calling her first. My sister came back with what many of us say: “The phone rings both ways, why should I have to be the one who calls first”???
The second person approached things in a different way. He had told me that a co-worker had found a mistake in the work he was doing. My friend openly admitted he had made the mistake, and with that his co-worker said “You’re” admitting to this? Why would you do such a thing? My friends reply basically was: I made the mistake and I’m not going to lie about it. It’s easier to admit my own fault, than to try and tell lies to cover things up. Let’s just fix what I did wrong and move on.
Place yourself in these scenario’s, which one can you relate to in your own life? Being the one who throws away something as valuable as a long term friendship over stubbornness or being the one to admit your faults and fix things, giving a living example to others?
Or approaching it like Christ, thinking about things from the other person’s point of view and coming up with a solution that can make things better?
You decide, as Jesus states in the Gospel, we’re all given the gift of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom through Baptism and Confirmation.