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...]

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...]