Sunday, December 1, 2019
I feel like I wait all year for Christmas. It’s always been my favorite season. If I had to explain why I think I would say it just seems so filled with joy. Christmas parties, gift giving, good food, friends and family… all things that I love. It’s also filled with anticipation; each week lighting yet another candle at Mass until all four are finally lit and Christmas day is upon us. There is another kind of anticipation during Advent; the coming of Christ. When I read this week’s homily my immediate response was, “its Advent, I want to be joyful, not think about the end of the world”. After further reflection and reading, it makes a whole lot of sense. The readings at the beginning of Advent are about the second coming of Christ and the readings at the end of Advent are about his first coming, his birth in Bethlehem. What a better way to start our Advent season than to ponder Christ’s second coming and whether or not we would be prepared for it. Will we be ready to stand in front of our Lord and feel good about our lives and how we’ve lived them? What a better time to consider this? What a better time to make a change, even a small change to prepare ourselves for this inevitable day?
Advent means “coming”. Preparing for Jesus’s coming into our hearts and lives daily is what we can focus on this Advent and ultimately work toward being ready for Jesus’s second coming. One way I like to do this during Advent is to increase my prayer time. Dynamic Catholic’s “Best Advent Ever” is one simple and quick start to my day as I’m getting ready for work in the morning. An email is sent to you each morning with a two minute video that include some interesting stories and reflections. This brief prayer time in the morning starts me off on the right foot during what inevitably ends up being the busiest month of my year. Another idea is a daily rosary. Relevant radio app has a 16 minute rosary I say on my commute to work. Any habit takes 30 days to form, and in my opinion there is no better habit than the rosary.
Another way to prepare for Advent is to do something for someone in need. Part of the joy of the holidays is giving. There is nothing better than to see the look on your loved one’s face when they open that gift you know they really wanted or needed. The only thing that tops that for me is on Christmas morning, thinking of our family we adopt through my brother’s keeper each year. When we receive our list of family members and what their needs are for the holidays, naturally we shop for them and provide them with Christmas gifts. What’s more important is we pray for them each day leading up to Christmas and on Christmas morning. Holy Family has opportunities to help others each week, whether it be pulling a Christmas tag from the tree, adopting a family through MBK, or contributing to Christmas baskets with baked goods, etc.. Opportunities are easy to find.
My last suggestion for preparing for Advent is the easiest of all. Forgiveness. Is there someone you are holding a grudge against? Someone who’s hurt you and you can’t get over it? What relief you’ll feel once you decide to forgive and let go of hurt feelings, resentment or betrayal. For some, I know this seems the most difficult of all, but in the end you’ll realize the one harmed most by holding the grudge is you.
Christ’s first coming to us at Christmas as a baby in Bethlehem is upon us. We cannot control Christ’s second coming, but it will happen. What we can control is Christ’s daily coming into our lives and hearts through prayer and the sacraments. A wake up call is upon us and it’s time to prepare, will we be ready?
Reflection by Joanna Bishop
Sunday, November 24, 2019
I’ve always loved the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never related very well to the Feast of Christ the King that we celebrate the last Sunday of Ordinary Time before we enter the season of Advent. So as I began this reflection, I found myself thinking about what I know about kings and about what kind of king Jesus is.
Having grown up in a democracy, I soon realized I know very little about kings except for superficial stereotypes gleaned from films and books in which they wear sumptuous attire, feast on rich foods, and rule their kingdoms with an iron hand. None of this could I relate to Jesus.
Luckily, however, recently I happened to watch the remake of the classic Disney film, The Lion King, interested in how the original animated characters would be technologically transformed into realistic looking animals. Besides affirming “the circle of life” as Simba eventually becomes king after the death of Mufasa, the story had a great deal to say about the nature of a true king as taught to Simba by his father. Three qualities especially struck me: a noble king gives more than he takes, protects his subjects, and is compassionate rather than self-serving.
In thinking about giving more than taking, Jesus’ third temptation in the desert came to mind. The Devil attempts to seduce Jesus by taking him to a high mountain to show him “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’” (Mt. 4:8-9) But Jesus cannot be tempted to take command of earthly kingdoms for as he later tells his disciples, “…what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” (Mt. 16:26) Rather than grasping power, Jesus seeks to give through his ministry of teaching, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (Jn. 15:11)
Besides giving of himself to all whom Jesus encounters, he also seeks to protect them. Nothing could be further from the actions of Simba’s treacherous uncle, Scar, who unlawfully becomes king by killing Mufasa, ravaging the Pride Lands, and dominating his subjects through fear. Jesus, unlike the Pharisees who “…bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Mt. 23:4), only wanted to help and protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Israel, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Mt. 23:37)
Lastly, Jesus, as a true king, is compassionate rather than self-serving. The characters in Scripture whom Jesus treats with mercy and compassion are innumerable, but some come readily to mind: the woman taken in adultery, the ten lepers, the woman with a hemorrhage, the centurion’s servant, Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son, and, in the gospel on the Feast of Christ the King, the good thief who asks, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power” to which Jesus replies, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Lk. 23:42-43)
By the end of this reflection, I found I had learned more about the nature of a true and noble king. But, more happily, I came to realize that whether as the Good Shepherd or as Christ the King, Jesus continues to draw me to him in admiration and deeper love as the most giving, protective, and tenderly compassionate Lord of my life.
Reflection by Evelyn Pezzulich
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
When Matthew Bensman, Holy Family’s Youth Faith Formation Minister, asked me to write about this week’s readings and to provide my own interpretation and reflection for other parishioners to read, I thought to myself, what an honor, I’d love to, I enjoy writing, this ought to be easy. Looking back at my initial thoughts, it’s not such an easy a task that I thought it would be.
That being said, I marvel at the amazing job that our parish priests and deacon provide for us each week by sharing with us their interpretations of the gospel and readings, they each make it look and sound so easy. Their message about God’s word comes across so eloquently and they’re able to apply it to the modern times we live in.
I don’t profess to be an expert in the bible and its interpretations, so I did need some help in interpreting the Lord’s message. Naturally we turn to the internet, and so that is just what I did. Having done so, I stumbled across a website called workingpreacher.org. After typing in Luke 21:5-19, I got many sites that popped up, but this one drew me in and appealed to me the most.
In the commentary regarding Luke 21 written by David Tiede an Emeritus Professor of the New Testament he sums it up in a nutshell in just one sentence, Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow him. In the Gospel Reading it speaks of Jesus traveling to Jerusalem and on His travels He is alerting His followers to hardships ahead, beyond the time of His journey.
We all can relate to hardships in our lives, like those brought about by nature such as earthquakes, fires, hurricanes that we ourselves or family members may have suffered. Or, we might be able to relate to the hardships that may be accidental or intentional, such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce or those having to do with medical issues. Whatever the hardship, Jesus reassures His followers that through it all He will be with us. Professor Tiede reminds us that even the harsh prophecies of Luke 21 are filled with the confidence of Jesus' enduring presence.
Having faith in Jesus’ enduring presence isn’t always easy. I recall an image of a photograph taken after 9/11 that has stuck with me for years. The image is of steel beams in the shape of the crucifix standing in the rubble left behind after this devastating disaster. If you have ever visited the 9/11 Memorial the crucifix was retrieved, and is now a part of the display in the memorial museum.
It struck me that people who survived or family members who lost loved ones, probably felt abandoned and wondered why God let this terrible tragedy happen. How could He have abandoned them during this desperate time of need? But God did not and still has not abandoned them. He has sustained them all for He had sent a sign in the form of a steel crucifix that His presence was there with them, and always will be.
You are immediately reminded of the time Jesus Himself was crucified on the cross to save sinners, and yet at His most desperate time of need, He calls out to His Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46. In His humanity, Jesus teaches us that God will always be with us because He loves us. God never forsake His only Son, in fact in death He called His Spirit to return to be with His Father.
Professor Teide continues by referencing David Livingstone, the legendary missionary to Africa, who once prayed, "Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me." And He testified, "What has sustained me is the promise, 'Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."
Although at times it might not always be easy to follow the Lord, we must remember these powerful words during the most difficult of hardships that God loves us, He will be with us always, and He will sustain us, even to the end of the world.
Reflection by Maria Dyson
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
A strong faith in the afterlife gives us strength to endure the difficulties and pain in the here and now.
Human existence is a combination of joy and sorrow, of happiness and struggle. We sing and dance at the birth of a baby. We cry and mourn at the passing of a loved one.
Knowing that Jesus walks beside us during our hours of hardship, and having faith that life everlasting awaits us, is what enables us to endure life’s most difficult times.
In this week’s Gospel reading according to Luke, some Sadducees set a trap for Jesus attempting to challenge his affirmation of an afterlife, as the Sadducees did not believe there was life after death. They posed a riddle for Jesus regarding whom a woman would be married to in heaven, if she had married a succession of seven brothers who had died one after another.
As always, Jesus thwarted His opponents with His wisdom and poise, proclaiming to them that those in heaven do not marry. Jesus informs them that in the coming age after the Resurrection of the dead, people no longer die for they are like angels and are children of God. Jesus strongly affirms that the dead will rise.
In the first reading from the Old Testament in the second book of Maccabees, seven faith filled Jewish brothers and their mother are arrested by the king, tortured and threaten with death, to force them eat pork in violation of God’s law. To the king’s amazement, each of the brothers were willing to accept torture rather than violate The Law, as they were put to death one by one.
As one brother attested, “you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.”
These brothers were good and faith filled men, and they were being punished unjustly. They didn’t deserve this agony. They didn’t deserve death. Yet it came to them anyway.
It was their faith in God and in the promise of life after death that gave them the strength and courage to endure the terrible punishment delivered to them.
And such it is with each of us. In life we all experience life’s joys and sorrows, and bad things happen to good people. Our faith in God will not prevent illness, accidents, and misfortune as we are all mortal men and women.
But it is that same faith and belief in the resurrection of our loved ones and ourselves, as promised by Jesus, that will give us the strength to endure life’s most difficult challenges. We are not alone. Jesus and the Holy Spirit walk beside us to support and guide us when we need it most, until that day when the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.
Reflection by Don Larose
Thursday, October 31, 2019
“Mom, do you know everything about God?”
Today my eight year old and I sang in the church choir, while my husband sat with our five year old on the other side of church during mass. When we came home it was time to paint and carve pumpkins, fold laundry, clean dishes, get our workouts in, run errands and get dinner on the table. Finally, the boys were freshly bathed, in pajamas and their teeth were brushed. I had just finished reading a bedtime story on the oversized bean bag chair in their room. My eight year old takes a running jump onto the back of the bean bag. He rests his chin on my shoulder and says, “Mom, do you know everything about God?” Before that moment I had no clue what I was going to include in the blog that I promised to write. All I knew was that I had to get it done Sunday night, or it would NEVER get written.
Being a Mom raising a family in today’s church, that was what I would write about. Do I have all the answers… Of course not! All I know is that I do the best that I can. I grew up Catholic, with a Jewish family on my mom’s side and a Catholic family on my father’s side. My mom or dad would drop me off at Sunday School every week; and when I was old enough, I walked from down the hill after Sunday School every Sunday to sit in church with my grandmother, Nanny. Nanny was the only member of the family that attended 10:15 Mass every week. Afterwards, we often went to breakfast then she took me home. Once I received my Confirmation, I was a teacher’s helper at Sunday School until I graduated. St. Peter’s in Liberty, NY was my home church and Father Ed was the only Priest I knew.
I went off to college in 1999. I quickly found Music Ministry at the College Masses and the Newman Club which was the Catholic club for college students. The church at college got me through a lot of the struggles that college students have. However, once I left college, I had a hard time finding a Catholic Church that was a good fit for our family. I often would travel back to Liberty to take Nanny who was now in her late 80’s to church on Sunday. I decided to have our local church in Monroe, New York baptize both of our children. When I went to the church to register my second child to be Baptized, Sister Rose commented on how she has never seen me at a Mass before. Of course, my heart began to race. Oh no, I have sinned! I have been neglecting to go to church. I had a newborn and a very active 3 year old that can’t sit still more than 5 seconds. I felt SHAME. Our oldest began to take CCD classes that were an hour and a half long EVERY SINGLE week. He fought me tooth and nail every single Saturday morning because he did not want to go. I would attempt to take my children to church but it was always more than a handful.
My husband moved to Duxbury about a year ahead of the rest of us. When we would come up to see him once a month, we started to attend Mass at Holy Family. I loved the music at the Children’s Mass. There were children everywhere and no one seemed to mind when my younger child was louder than I would have liked him to be. I had found my “home.” I had found Him again!
I’m not going to try to hide it. If you have been to the 9AM Mass on Sundays, you have most likely either heard my 5 year old screaming at the top of his lungs, just to hear his voice echo in the Church or seen the little blond kid tackling his brother when the priest calls the kids up to listen to the Homily! Yup! Those are mine! Needless to say, I have my hands full. When we go out to dinner or lunch, my children are absolute ANGELS. Parent teacher conferences? Again ANGELS. Home? Church? You would expect to see little horns appearing out of their heads.
Being a Mom does not come with a manual. I thought I had this parent thing covered when I decided to have kids. I can control a music class of 26 children and hold a choir rehearsal for 85 all by myself. Class management was my thing. So it came to a HUGE surprise to me when my own children wouldn’t listen to me. My judgmental family would make comments such as “You need to get those boys under control” or “Your children need you to be firmer.” Those comments hurt, but I ignored them the best I can.
There was one extremely challenging Mass for both my children about a year ago. I left the Mass in tears because I was so embarrassed by the way my children were acting. I was new to the church then, I knew very few people in the town, let alone the church. I remember Father Tom stopping me as I was leaving. I sobbingly apologized for the display of HORRENDOUS behavior from my sons. He looked at me and said that “There is no need to apologize. This is the Children’s Mass. We are very tolerant of young children in the Church. You are welcome at any Mass. God Bless you and your family.” All of a sudden, my tears turned to tears of relief and thankfulness towards my new church.
I am blessed; Blessed with two beautiful yet active young boys. Today a woman came up to me after Mass to tell me how adorable my younger son was today. My response was “Adorable? Yes. But very active.” She then told me that she knows a young child that has special needs and that cannot be active. I once again was reminded how blessed I was amidst the struggles.
Getting back to my son’s question… Do I know everything about God? Of course, I don’t. But I want to learn more. That is why I go to church. I am not perfect. I make many mistakes being a mom, being a person. But I ask forgiveness and I pray to be better. Wasn’t that what the homily was about this week? The two men who came in to pray. One man took his position in the pew and prayed because he did everything the right way, giving God thanks, while the Tax Collector went to the back of the church to ask for forgiveness from God because he knowingly cheated people. Of course, I do not cheat people, but as a Mom, with so many things to get done I feel that my children get cheated at times, that they may not get the best of me. I pray for more balance in my life, so I can be a better mom. But God knows that I am doing the best that I can.
I don’t know everything about God, but God knows everything about me!
Reflection by: Megahn Hughes
Thursday, October 24, 2019
In this week’s Gospel (Luke 18:9-14), Jesus addresses his parable to all who consider themselves righteous and superior to those they consider morally deficient compared to themselves. Having recently completed Faith Formation’s series on the Parables, I appreciate that while the parables teach a universal truth, how this truth is perceived can be seen from various perspectives, e.g. from the perspective of a first century Jew and from a modern day Catholic. Additionally, upon further reflection, Parables often offer a deeper meaning.
In the Parable, in order to demonstrate how self-righteousness and feelings of superiority are contrary to God’s wishes, Jesus uses an extreme comparison. The Pharisee who is self-righteous and considers himself superior to the tax collector would probably be also considered by virtue of his position in the religious hierarchy superior by the general Jewish population. The tax collector, on the other hand, would have been reviled and probably considered morally inferior by Jesus’ audience. The Pharisee thanks Jesus for making him superior and lists his positive attributes which may exceed the minimum strictures. In fact he may be speaking to himself when comparing his life to the tax collector. He does not request mercy nor asks God for anything. This indicates that he feels in control and does not need God. It also shows that he has no understanding of the reality of humility.
In contrast, the tax collector recognizes that he is a sinner and places himself at the mercy of God. Jesus teaches that this prayer is acceptable to God. Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector understands that he is dependent on God’s mercy. While the Pharisee’s conduct was laudable (fasting, paying tithes, etc.) he appears to think that he is not in need of God’s forgiveness. God knows his deeds. The Pharisee does not need to list them for Him. He exalts himself with words while the tax collector humbles himself and understands the reality that we need God. The fact that Jesus states that the acceptable prayer was the one the tax collector prayed demonstrates that, among other things, God’s judgement is not based on appearances or actions. God knows what is in a person’s heart.
Although in today’s world tax collectors are not quite as reviled as in the first century and there aren’t many Pharisees around, I believe that we still need to guard against comparing ourselves to others either favorably or unfavorably and avoid any feelings of pride when we perform good works, which we are mandated to do anyway. At times such comparisons or feelings may be subtle and may manifest themselves in anger. For me I know I am particularly vulnerable when listening to politicians, celebrities, or athletes espousing views that are contrary to Catholic teachings. I need God’s help to keep in mind that only He knows what is in their heart and what really causes them to believe what they proclaim. This is especially trying when they claim to be Catholic. Consequently, I am always in need of God’s mercy.
Reflection by Robert Galibois
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
This fall, I have been a participant in Seekers II, an adult faith formation group at Holy Family. The group met several times to discuss Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and the parables that support and explain CST. With the guidance of our leaders, Linda Crowley and Jeanne Creagan, the participants and I quickly realized the parables are not as straight forward as they seem. The first glance parables appear to mean one thing but on further careful inspection and research mean something else entirely. Itis only with some persistence the meaning of the parable will be revealed.
The parable in this weekend's gospel "The Widow and the Judge" (Luke 18:1-8) tells the story of a widow who repeatedly appeals to a judge for help. Every time the widow comes to the judge with the same plea he refuses to do anything to help the widow. Eventually, after an unnamed number of pleas; the judge relents to the widow's plea. Sadly, the judge did not answer the widow's pleas out of compassion, a sense of righteousness, or even for a fear of God. The judge finally answered the persistent widow because she was a nuisance to him.
Thankfully, the Gospel reading does not end there. Jesus turns to the listeners and begins to compare God to the judge; God as loving and the judge as indifferent. If we are as persistent as the widow in our own daily prayer life won't God, who loves us so completely, answer our prayers with a loving heart? Jesus ends the telling of the parable by saying "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8).
If you want a scholarly interpretation of the parable it is easy to find one by doing an internet search. For me, I did not search for the meaning of the parable but immediately thought about my own prayer life. The things and people I have prayed for, and how the prayers were answered. There have been times when I had a robust prayer life and others when my prayer life was less than what God deserves. Typically, my prayers center around the health and happiness of my family, friends, fellow parishioners, that all people will know God's love and have strength to live with the circumstances of their life.
There have been a few times in my life when I prayed in moments of enormous need. Twice, separated by decades, I prayed for God to save the life of two different family members’. The first time, my prayer was "not answered" and my loved one died. The second time my prayer was "answered" and my loved one lived. I have had prayers for my personal health "answered" every day. And I have had prayers go "unanswered" for many years. In the end, all our prayers are answered. Perhaps not the way we wanted or can comprehend. Regardless of the outcome, I continue to persistently pray because I have faith that God listens to me and knows what is best. Although, I or my loved may suffer despite prayers I must continue to be persistent. And when all else fails, I hold on tight to the hope that all things will be revealed to me when I am reunited with God and my loved ones in heaven.
My prayer today is that you and I will be persistent in our prayer life and our continued faith in God.
Reflection by Aimee Casale
Thursday, October 10, 2019
My day is often filled with news, email, social conversation, home and office administration, etc. Our society has evolved to a point where we need to fill every waking moment. It often feels uncomfortable “not to be fully engaged – all the time.” Now later in life, I have acquired a good bit of knowledge that often sits unused. God gave us free will and intellect. I fear I’m not using these gifts.
Recently when I observed “TV news sound bite” about the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, a parish Priest was Blessing pets which is a longstanding tradition. St. Francis is allegedly to have preached to even the birds and of course he is the patron Saint of animals. Pets often bring great comfort to people who are lonely. Pets are known to provide unconditional dedication. But there was so much more to St. Francis. He renounced his wealth and possessions, to serve lepers and the poor. St. Francis believed in a life of sacrifice, poverty, and humility.
As with many young people, especially those coming from a wealthy family, Francis in his youth was given to follow the vanities of life. Tradition holds that he loved wine, food, and feasts, and lived a life of indulgence.
After a period of self-examination, Francis began to spend long hours in intense prayer, religious exercises, and in the contemplation of God. I’m taken with the concept of self-examination. But unlike St. Francis, I often forget to develop a strategy to change my behavior.
In his autobiography, through self-examination, Benjamin Franklin decided that they were thirteen virtues he deemed important and developed a complex daily process to “habitualize” changes in his behavior. Franklin also found that “… the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man” I’m a simple person and I like St. Francis’ moto “Pax et bonum” Peace and Goodness be with you. Metaphorically speaking, I keep forgetting to get some “dust on my sandals.”
Walking the talk: I have witnessed two examples of “Peace and Goodness” that often comes to mind. I was walking with a Franciscan from the Arch Street Chapel in Boston to a meeting when a homeless man asked the Priest “Father can you spear a couple bucks for an old altar boy?” The Priest replied, “I will give you five bucks if you can say the Confiteor.” The homeless man replied, “how about in Latin for $10?” The Priest accepted the offer at which the homeless man recited a perfect Latin Confiteor. The Francians take a vow of poverty and he reached deep into his pocket for that $10.
In another instance: I received a promotion at work and was assigned to an upper-level manager who was known to mentor subordinates. On my first day with him, he called me and asked me to go to lunch with him. Notwithstanding my enthusiasm for some sage advice, I knew he ate lunch at the Harvard Club every day. We met in the lobby and started walking, before I knew it we ended up at the McDonald’s on Washington Street in downtown Boston. While still engaged in “business talk,” my new boss ordered two “happy meals!” Not wanting to get off on the wrong foot, I too ordered two happy meals. We continued our business discussion and walked back toward our building. My personal thoughts at the point were – this guy is a nut, I’m in trouble. During our walk back towards our building we encountered several homeless men and women. He engaged them in friendly talk and gave out the happy meals (I did as well). We did in fact eat at the Harvard Club. I came to find out, he did that most every day.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25–30
Prayer to Francis of Assis
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Pax et bonum,
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Okay true confessions – I am a People Pleaser! I could pretend to deny it (and recently have), but truth be told, I am sometimes swayed from a point of my own conviction, in order to please or appease the person who is voicing a difference of opinion or suggesting a different course of action.
This Sunday’s readings for the 27th Sunday gave me pause. St Paul’s letter to Timothy, though short in words, struck a strong chord. “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love.” Cowardice – a strong word that caused my reflection. “…….bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” How different our lives could be if we relied on strength that comes, not from our own ego and pride, but from God.
Then Luke’s gospel states Jesus’ words to his followers. “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say…..’be uprooted and planted…..’ If we really hear those words in the depths of our hearts, we would readily apply them to us – his followers in 2019. Our faith is not even close to the size of a mustard seed in Jesus’ eyes. I know for a fact that I often try to accomplish my responsibilities, both at church and at home, without imploring the Lord’s help and guidance. How else can one explain the people-pleasing approach that I keep in my back pocket.
And then Luke continues with Jesus’ story to his apostles about the servant who is just expected to do his job as has been required by the master. It becomes clear that with all that is expected of us, our lives could be so much more fruitful if we had more awareness of the Lord’s hand guiding us in all that we do. How much freedom that would give our weary spirits. Spirits that often feel alone or are afraid of saying and/or doing what one assumes others expect of us.
My prayer…….the words of the psalmist……..
”If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Reflection by: Mary Keefe
Thursday, September 26, 2019
You may have noticed recently some staff members and parishioners wearing white Holy Family T-shirts with our new parish logo and wondered what the words on the back of the shirt mean. The words imprinted there are: Foster – Transform – Empower. It comes from our Holy Family Parish Vision Statement developed by our pastoral staff and endorsed by our Parish Pastoral Council. It can be found at the bottom of the Welcome Message page on the I’m New drop-down tab of our parish website. Here it is and what it means:
Parish Vision Statement
Holy Family Parish aspires to be a community guided by the Holy Spirit that will:
· Foster fullness of life in a personal relationship with Jesus.
· Transform members into intentional disciples.
· Empower them to make other disciples who love God and love neighbor.
As you can see these are action words, which connote movement. First, it depends on our docility to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, guidance and motivation to deepen our relationship with Jesus through regular participation in the Sacraments and personal prayer. This forms the foundation of a more meaningful, purposeful and fuller life that reflects the joy and peace of Christ. Second, with a dynamic personal relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit can work wonders transforming us into the image of Jesus, whereby we intentionally think with His mind, feel with His heart and love with His actions. Third, with the grace of the Holy Spirit alive within us, we are motivated and empowered to share what difference life in Christ makes in our lives and seek to convince others to become intentional disciples of Jesus, too.
So, now you know. You may want to keep this for reference since I understand it is a lot to take in and digest. And it will take a lifetime of continued perseverance. But, if you own this vision for yourself and seek to live by it, look out. Your life will never be the same!
God bless you!
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Jesus reminds us over and over again what our priorities must be. First and foremost we are called to serve one Master, and that is God. There are so many distractions that take us away from our true purpose. Once in a while we need to put down our iPad, our iPhone, and the remote. We don’t need to get rid of them, but we must realize that all of the things the “world” values are distractions from our true purpose, and that is to serve God. We serve God by loving Him and our neighbor, and by helping those in need.
Jesus tells us in this week’s Gospel that you can’t serve two masters. We “will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon”.
So what exactly is Mammon? I think of money when I hear the word Mammon, and it is money, but it can be many other things too! Originally the Hebrew term meant money or something of great value (treasure). Over time the term evolved and became known as something that was held either with a banker or someone you completely trusted, knowing that when you needed it, it would be available for you. Mammon was now becoming an object of trust. Next, the word began to be written with a capital letter signifying its importance, and people began to put all their hope and trust in this “Mammon”, and it became their god.
We live in a society that LOVES Mammon. We are so fortunate in this country to live, for the most part, extremely comfortable lives, and I don’t believe that Jesus is saying wealth is a bad thing. But he is saying we should be wise in how we acquire it, spend it, and how we should use it to build up the Kingdom of God, and not ourselves. It’s when the purpose of “Mammon” becomes self-gratifying, that we can become enslaved to it, and our motivation and disposition can quickly turn from God to self.
The Lord knows our limitations, and our potential. There is no “God quota” for prayer or good works. He does not have unrealistic expectations. He knows what we can and cannot do depending on our state in life. But He does expect us to do something!
So, what is your “Mammon”? Where do you place your hope and trust? What obstructions are keeping you from serving God? What is getting in the way of your special purpose that God has planned for you?
Reflection by Cheryl Provost
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