From the Pastor – July 30, 2017

Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Mt. 13:44-46)A few years ago, one of my friends who is in the construction business told me a story about a man who owned some property on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain.  It was basically swamp land that the man used for hunting and fishing.  At that usage, the land couldn’t have been worth more than $1000-2000 an acre.  And then something happened.  A survey found that there was a large vein of clay on the property.  With all of the coastal protection projects going on, the need for local clay is enormous.  Small amounts of clay are not that expensive, but clay is expensive to move in … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – July 23, 2017

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’” (Mt. 13:32-31a)One of the memorable scenes from the Acts of the Apostles is when the Pharisees are deciding what to do about the pesky Apostles, who seem content to suffer persecution as they courageously preach about the Resurrection of Jesus. One of the Pharisees, named Gamaliel, orders the Apostles out of the Sanhedrin, and makes the following appeal to the members:“Fellow Israelites, be careful what you are about to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – July 16, 2017

Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it. (IS. 55:10-11)The Gospel for this 15th Sunday in Ordinary time is the parable from Matthew 13 about the field sown with good and bad seed.  We might have heard the expression “bad seed” as referring to someone who came from a “bad family.”  While it’s true that one’s environment can have a serious effect on our personalities, attitudes and habits, the Church teaches that we are all God’s children.  You might also hear … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – July 9, 2017

“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.” (Mt 11:28-30)“Come to me,” the Lord asks us in today’s Gospel.  The word used for “come” in the original Greek is “?????” – pronounced “dyoo-teh.”  It’s a command, and it’s directed to the entire group to whom Jesus is speaking.  The same word is used by Jesus a number of times in the New Testament, speaking to a past event, a present event and a future event.In the past event, Jesus first used the word: “Come, after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mk 1:17).  In the future event, Jesus gives us the parable of the talents, and uses the word as … [Read more...]

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...]