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...]

From the Pastor – April 9, 2017

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;  and when he had said this he breathed his last. (Lk. 23:44-46) “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion” begins Holy Week. If it has been a while since you have experienced all of the services of Holy Week, consider doing so this year.  Commemorating the events of the Lord’s Suffering and Death help us to have a greater understanding of the importance of the Resurrection and Easter Sunday.  Jesus had to suffer and die before he rose! On Holy Thursday we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 p.m., which commemorates the … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – April 2, 2017

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” (Jn. 11:21-27) At a recent school Mass, I spoke to the students about fear. I mentioned that I had been afraid of the dark when I was younger, and that I was still scared of snakes now that I am older. And I asked them … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – March 26, 2017

Jesus said,  “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”(Jn. 9:39-41) The Gospel this Sunday is about the cure of the “man born blind.” Jesus did so by making clay out of dirt and saliva, by putting the clay on the man’s eyes, and then by instructing the man to wash in the Pool at Siloam. The closing words of this Sunday’s Gospel passage sum up the meaning of the cure of the man born blind. It’s not just a miracle cure of a physical illness.  It’s about opening the eyes of … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – March 12, 2017

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light. (Mt. 17:1-2 ) The Transfiguration of Jesus is one of the mysteries of the life of Christ. In fact, when the Holy Father, (soon to be Saint!) Blessed John Paul II decided to propose five new mysteries of the Rosary, he included the Transfiguration in his “Luminous Mysteries.” The other mysteries are the Baptism of Our Lord, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, and the Institution of the Eucharist. So what does the Transfiguration mean? It’s literally a “change in appearance” of Jesus. It’s described as a brightness emanating from Him. But what is the mystery behind … [Read more...]