July 23, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Today we focus on the parable of the Weeds and the Wheat, as it is sometimes called. These are some tough words from the mouth of Jesus. He doesn’t paint a rosy picture—describing angels harvesting the weeds and tossing them into the fire. And even though that statement is dramatic and attention-getting, it really isn’t the main point he seems to be making. At the heart of the story is the idea that we need to refrain from doing what we often do—judging others. In the story, Jesus describes the Master telling his servants “No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.”

Not judging others is a tough thing to do. And make no mistake about it—at some level we must make some judgments about behavior. It’s part and parcel of trying our best to live peacefully and justly with others. But what Jesus seems to be cautioning us against is the temptation to presume that we can see what God sees or know what God knows.

There is one situation in which we must attempt to distinguish the weeds from the wheat, must try to know the good from the bad, what should be and what must not be. The reality is that people aren’t simply one thing or another. Life is more complicated than that. Motives are more mixed than that. Human freedom and culpability are not black and white. They involve many factors. And that means that each of us have weeds and wheat growing side by side within each of us. And knowing the difference is not just something we can know, but is something we must know if we truly want to live a good life, a holy life, a life that makes a difference in this world, a life in, with, and for God.

 

July 16, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

To develop hope is to cultivate mystery. All too often, we are fooled into thinking that only the present counts. We are encouraged to believe that nothing can really be changed. We are constantly exhorted to hold that there is only one way to go—namely, the party line. We thereby become victims of despair. In such a debacle only hope can save us. But to develop hope is to cultivate mystery.

In the first reading the exiles in Babylon had written off the Lord. They accepted what they believed to be their fate. For them the Lord could not do anything and, if he could, he was not interested. In the second reading Paul refers to material creation that shares a certain solidarity with Christians. Because of Adam’s sin and all subsequent sin, creation has been frustrated.

In the Gospel the disciples had begun to write Jesus off. Some were no longer walking with him. Jesus, however, responded to this situation by noting the natural agricul-tural process of failure and success. To hope is to let God work in his own mysterious fashion and not impose human restraints.

There are countless ways in which we may develop hope and thereby cultivate mystery. The Eucharist communicates this as well, reflecting Jesus’ anxiety before his death and communicating Jesus’ acceptance of the Father’s mysterious plan for him. All who share in the Eucharist confess that the paths, rocks, and thorns of Jesus’ passion and death are transformed into the abundant harvest of the resurrection. The Eucharist articulates a hope, but a hope based on God’s freedom to act. The Eucharist asserts that to develop hope is to cultivate mystery.

 

July 9, 2017 – Reflections by Deacon Al

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Deacon Al

The words of the Gospel this Sunday, are wonderfully comforting; they express the compassion of Christ not only for those who suffer or are crushed by the heavy loads of life, but also to the childlike, the innocent and the trusting.

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart;

and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

Who of us cannot be moved in some way by the consolation that Jesus offers in these words. Brief but exceedingly rich in meaning, these are after all some of the most wellknown and most popular words from all of the Christian Scriptures. How beautiful these words from Jesus are. Jesus reminds us that accepting his wisdom of loving service will indeed mean submitting to the yoke of discipline and sacrifice. But it will be a sweet yoke, because we bear it with Jesus.

His Yoke is Easy and His Burden is Light

Jesus appeals to those who experience life as one unending chore. Jesus, the great comforter, is the one who opens his arms in welcome to those beaten down by their experience, those who find themselves ostracized and rejected, overburdened and crushed. He offers rest and refreshment. His yoke is easy, he says. His burden is light, His yoke is easy and His burden is light because Jesus is carrying them.

God’s Will or Ours?

The problems we face will either defeat us or develop us—it makes us better or bitter depending on how we respond to them. How can we know the will of God in our lives? Fr. John Bartunek discusses the two ways God manifests his will: Indicative Will and Permissive Will. He also addresses the question of why God permits evil.

 

July 2, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

In a farewell speech at the end of his September 2015 trip to the United States, Pope Francis told the people gathered at the Philadelphia International Airport, “Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to him.” That sounds like something Elisha the prophet would have said to the woman we meet in today’s first reading. She and her husband extended to Elisha an open invitation to come and stay with them whenever he was in town. They even went so far as to offer him a furnished room free of charge whenever he needed a place to stay.

Generous giving without expecting a reward seemed to be his family’s motto. And yet, even if they didn’t expect it, this elderly couple did receive a reward. Grateful for their hospitality, Elisha prayed, and God gave them a child.

Now, Scripture is clear that we are saved by Jesus alone, not by our actions. But it’s also clear that God rejoices when we give our time, our treasure, and our talents in service to his people. Our acts of generosity move his heart, and he responds by pouring out his grace. Does this mean that we should try to be generous so that God will reward us? Not exactly. Our generosity is a response, a reflection of the good he has done for us. We give generously so that we can show the world what God’s generosity looks like. We go out of our way for people because we want to bring his love to them. This is why Pope Francis keeps urging us to give, to reach out, and to show God’s love.

So sit down today, and try to come up with some ways you can give more to the poor, serve more in your parish or community. Or be a more loving witness to the people around you.

 

June 25, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

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Deacon Al

 

Today our Lord reassures us three times thru the Gospel, do not be afraid!

There are many who walk around day after day, fearful of many things: Losing a job or a loved one who is sick, financial matters or providing for one’s family, or a big one “Acceptance by Others”

Many of us, whether we admit to it or not, try to internalize our fears and pretend they don’t exist. In doing so, they’ll never go away unless we confront and speak them aloud. Fear can be nasty, a thing that eats away at our happiness, shatters our dreams and can make us emotionally ill.

Our Lord tells us: “Do not be afraid of those that can kill the body but not the soul, but be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell!” He is referring to the evil one, and the evil that exist in the world to-day.

The picture I added to this reflection states these words are in the Bible 365 times, once for every day of the year… Cut the picture out, Tape it to your fridge or bathroom mirror – believe in what He’s telling us by starting your day reading this part of Scripture. Believe what you read, “Fear no One, But Trust in only Him”

(*The picture referred to can be found in the bulletin for June 25th.)

 

June 18, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

What does the word “communion” mean? Webster’s dictionary states for its first definition, “an act or instance of sharing.” Communion, then, involves sharing. This means that we must make the effort to share in all things. We are asked to share our lives—who we are and what we do. We are asked to share our talents and abilities. How is the concept of communion lived out? This happens by our participation in community—people living, working, and sharing together. What are the characteristics of a good community? People in community must be able to communicate. If we cannot speak with one another then little progress can be made; we will never be able to share fully. Presence in the community is critical as well. Community requires us to share with and to trust others. Such trust forces us to take the chance of being vulnerable before another person.

Webster’s dictionary has another definition of communion, one with which we are quite familiar: “A Christian sacrament in which bread and wine are partaken of as a commemoration of the death of Christ.” As Catholics we see it as the actual Body and Blood of Christ, not a commemoration.

The feast of Corpus Christi expresses a twofold love, a twofold communion, and a twofold reality: God’s love and communion with us and our need, in return, to demonstrate love and communion with one another. We have from Jesus his own Body and Blood—truly, sacramentally present with us. When we receive communion we are given life and sustenance for our journey. But we not only receive communion; we must be in communion. We must be in communion with God in our efforts to share what God has given us and return just a little to God by a life of service. We also must be in communion with God’s people. As the Lord unceasingly and unhesitatingly shows himself to us, so are we asked to be communion, Eucharist to others, by our ability to share. When God (or one of God’s people) asks something of us—to go somewhere, to do something, to give of our time, talent, or treasure—do we run and hide? Or do we respond and share our lives with others? As we continue this cele-bration of life, as we gather around the table of the Lord, let us realize that what we celebrate on this feast of Corpus Chrisit is not only our reception of com-munion, but our being in communion, sharing our lives with God and all God’s people, today and each day of our lives.

 

June 11, 2017 – Reflections by Deacon Al

                                

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FoDeacon Al

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son: John 3:16.

We have become a people so possessive of things, things in our lives. Our homes, cars, furnishings and just things in general… But this verse from Holy Scripture has to bring us back to reality!

God gave His Son, a human being… Not some-thing of monetary value, but a divine life made human because of the love he has for us. A love that we’ll never understand, until we stand before Him face to face. A Love to pay a penalty for us in those times we have chosen our own ways and feelings over His.

If any of us as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.… were asked to sacrifice someone we cared for to save another, would we be able to? It’s a sacrifice that God alone knows and has done. A sacrifice of a love that St Paul speaks of today that would fix our World!

St Paul explains to us through the second reading, how we’re to live. I myself am guilty of “going against the grain” on the guidance he’s giving us, and If you ask yourself these questions, you might admit to it as well.

1. Do I rejoice in God my Savior daily, or only when I need Him?

2. Do I mend my ways, do I encourage or discour-age others and do I agree or am I argumentative to disagree?

3. Do I live in peace, or do I seek revenge?

4. Do I greet those I care for with a hug or a kiss, or do I back away because I’m just not that type of person?

These are things we need to think about, these are the ways we need to amend our lives and begin to live. But I think Paul’s most important words, are the words his passage ends with today: May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you! We need to bless those God places in our lives and rejoice with them verses the dreadful sins that can destroy us.

A Most Holy and Blessed Trinity Sunday to all this day! Deacon Al

June 4, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

HOLY SPIRIT: BREATH OF LIFE FOR THE SOUL

As Jesus is united to the Father and the Spirit, He prays that His Disciples and all people would be true to their Christian identity, living God-like lives and spreading His message of love, peace, and unity throughout the world. As the APOSTLES WERE FILLED WITH THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, their confusion, cowardliness and doubt gave way to clarity, courage, confidence and conviction. As Christians, we must be docile, pliable and supple to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and open to the inevitable transformation; not willful, inflexible, stubborn and unyielding. When the Spirit came upon the apostles their lives were changed forever; all was made clear to them and they became convinced and certain of the future.

By acknowledging the presence of the Triune God in our own lives, we all have the blessed assurance that Jesus is always with us; and not only with us, but within us, for the center of the mystery of God is “oneness” a profound unity of Father, Son and Spirit.

The Spirit is given to us so that we can live out our own vocations, breathing life and grace into every inch of our hearts and souls, calling us to witness in courage, to worship in holiness, to share our gifts with generosity and to live in the bliss of His Trinitarian life. We are all commissioned to spread His message to each and every person and place we enter – to transform society and the world. We are challenged not to be afraid, but to call out “Come Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!”

 

May 28, 2017 – Reflections by Deacon Al

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Deacon Al

As we review the readings and Gospel for this weekend, we hear through the first reading the names of the Apostles, “Those chosen by Jesus, being sent on a mission to act with authority”. We hear how they returned to Jerusalem after the Assumption, to the upper room with Mary, Jesus’ Mother, possibly the room where the last supper was held – forming a community.

We know from Scripture, they were fearful and anxious; possibly unsure of what they were supposed to do, although they had the perfect teacher…

The second reading ties in well to the Apostles emotions. “Rejoice, Rejoice that we share in the sufferings of Christ!” Kind of paradoxical using the words rejoice and suffering in the same sentence, but isn’t this what Jesus has taught us in His own words thru one of his best known teachings “The Beatitudes?”

We’re being taught not to “Fear for our Faith!” That is, if we are insulted for the Faith we have and practice, we are blessed. We’re not to be ashamed of it whether we’re out to eat, beginning our workday or even driving in the car. Our Lord gives example of this through the Gospel this weekend, when Jesus prays!

Our Lord is with His Apostles at the Last Supper, the room from the first reading where they were gathered without him, and Jesus prays. He prays aloud and states: “The Hour has come” now ending what he had told His Blessed Mother when he started his public ministry in Cana. If you remember His words then at the wedding feast: “My hour has not yet come”, but the hour was now here.

In His praying aloud, we, along with His dis-ciples learn that Jesus’ hour is the departure from this world to the Father who had sent him. In his departure, Jesus’ work has been completed, but our work was just beginning…

May 21, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

The church’s liturgy this week is looking forward to the feast of Pentecost. Soon we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit that comes to us in the sacrament of confirmation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the effects of this sacrament as a special outpouring of that Spirit. Furthermore, it brings “an increase and deepening” of the grace bestowed at baptism.

Living in the Spirit may bring hardship and downright suffering for those who follow Christ. Our selection from the First Letter of Peter encourages the early Christians (and us) to proclaim the faith with gentleness and reverence. We are to be ready to suffer persecution for our faith but we follow the example of Christ whose life, death, and resurrection brought salvation for all. Preparing for Pentecost we are reminded how we, in the gift of faith, are brought to life in the Spirit. With joy and strength of the Spirit we can live out our lives in fidelity and peace.

In the gospel of John we have Jesus’ last discourse with the apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, the Spirit of Truth.”

Reflecting on our readings today as we move toward the great feast of Pentecost, we are filled with profound gratitude. We give thanks for our lives, our faith, our families, and our friends. We are deeply grateful for all the gifts God has showered upon us. We rejoice in the realization that God is with us. We hear the words of Jesus, “I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” God’s loving care gives us the courage to face the challenges that the days bring—and we are grateful. Let us celebrate Pentecost remembering the graces we received in the sacrament of confirmation.