From the Pastor – June 18, 2017

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.". (Jn 6:51) Today’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ  (“Corpus Christi” in Latin) is a fairly recent addition to the Church calendar, dating from only the 13th century.  We know that the Body and Blood of Christ are present at every Mass, but this special feast to honor the Body and Blood of Christ owes its existence to the petitions of a Belgium nun named Juliana of Liège from the 13th century. From a young age, Juliana had a great love for the Blessed Sacrament and longed for a special feast in its honor.  Her desire was increased by a vision she had of the Church under the … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – June 11, 2017

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)  Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Do you realize that almost all of the “solemnities” and “feasts” of our Church point to an “earthly” event?  Think about it.  They’re either focused on an event in the life of Christ (His incarnation, His birth, His death, His resurrection, His ascension) or an event in the lives of His Mother, St. Joseph or one of His followers – the Saints.  But only one celebration in the Church calendar points to something that can only be described as “other worldly.”  That’s Trinity Sunday.  It points to a Heavenly Reality – the reality that God is three persons in one God. It’s a mystery that has … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – June 4, 2017

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst?and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:19-21a) In the context of the season of Easter, it was only 53 days ago that the apostles were gathered together in the Upper Room for the Last Supper.  Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and fed them His Body and Blood. He made them priests by commanding them to “do this in memory of me.”  He washed their feet and instructed them about true service. But what happened when they left the Upper Room that first time? They ran away like scattered sheep without a shepherd. Judas sold Him for 30 pieces of silver. Peter denied Him three times. Only St. John, who leaned on His breast at the Last … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – May 28, 2017

When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.  They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven (Acts 1-9-11) Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, which is the elevation of Christ into heaven by His own power in the presence of His disciples. In Sacred Scripture, this occurred on the fortieth day after the Resurrection – which was actually last Thursday, traditionally called “Ascension Thursday.” However, the celebration of the Ascension has been moved … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – May 21, 2017

Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope. (1 Pet. 3:15) For the last several years our Director of Religious Education, Phillip Bellini, has been running a series of articles in the bulletin on “Apologetics.”  Since the word has the same origin as our word “apology,” often time people think that the word means to “say you’re sorry.”  That’s not the case, but the origins of the words are similar. Both “apology” and “apologetics” come from the Greek word “apologia” or apologia, but the original meaning of the word has changed in our current use of the word “apology.” In the classical Greek legal system two key technical terms were employed: the prosecution delivered the “kategoria” which … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – May 14, 2017

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9) Somebody was recently telling me that, although he didn’t come to Sunday Mass at St. Stephen, he did pick up the bulletin and read my “sermons.” After being assured that he did go to Sunday Mass, just somewhere else, I told him that these bulletin reflections are rarely connected to my Sunday homilies. Although they can be my first thoughts on the Gospel or another one of the readings, there are only rare similarities between this column and the Sunday homily. This is one of the more typical reflections.  I plan on preaching this Sunday about the Gospel, which is about Jesus “preparing a … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – May 7, 2017

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (Jn 10:1-3) This week is the Fourth Sunday in Easter, and it is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd Sunday” because of the Gospel reading today in which Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. We’re all familiar with the images: Jesus standing, staff in hand, with the lamb across his shoulders. We have a beautiful stained-glass image of this in the stairway leading up to the choir loft. In fact, it’s the screensaver on my phone! Or perhaps we … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – April 30, 2017

As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.  And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” (Lk 24:28-31a) In 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II announced a special “Year of the Eucharist, and issued the Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum Domine, declaring the special year and outlining its purpose. The Latin title Mane nobiscum Domine translates “remain with us, Lord,” and recalls the words in today’s Gospel spoken by the disciples on the road to Emmaus as they entreated the … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – April 23, 2017

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:19-21a) How do we define peace?  Politically, it can be defined as an “absence of conflict.”  If we are busy at work, it might mean “no interruptions.”  Some parents might equate peace with their kids being asleep or at their grandparents for the night.  Peace happens to some people when their cell phone finally runs out of batteries or when a power outage knocks out the internet and the television.  Oftentimes we actually “seek” … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – April 16, 2017

Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached,  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, … [Read more...]