All Saints/Souls Celebration with the youth K-5 – 10/31/2010
All Saints/Souls Celebration with the youth K-5 – 10/31/2010
Recently, I met with two engineers to discuss the possibility of air conditioning the church. In the process of that meeting, I asked whether or not the system that they were proposing would cost more to run than a different system. One of the engineers said that, while it might be hard for me to imagine, it would be less expensive. I agreed: it was hard for me to imagine that larger machinery would take up less electricity to run. He started to explain, “it has to do with their veersâ€¦” and at that I stopped him. See, I know my limits and, quite frankly I believed him. I knew that while I might be able to learn a few more tid bits, it wasn’t worth my investment of brain power: I wouldn’t comprehend half of the stuff he was saying and, in fact, I already trusted the information to be true.
Maybe another illustration of the same principle: I do not understand all of the issues involved in proving how gravity works, but I believe it does actually work. I’m willing to put faith in it without having a deeper understanding of its reality.
With those two illustrations now mentioned, I do not believe that the same can be said about issues of faith today. In today’s way of thinking, in today’s world, while people believe in the expertise of engineers and the theory of gravityeven without having firsthand knowledge or proofthey do not approach faith the same way. Very often, I have found that when some people pose questions about faith, they are trying to disprove its importance, downplay its relevance and dismiss its existence as foolhardy.
Today, while people in the world pursue power, prestige, pleasure and the like, without significant regard for the needs of anyone but themselves, they often then don’t find that God even really matters, that faith won’t impact them at all, and that skepticism is the most appropriate response to â€˜not knowing’.
But the fact that we’re here, says something different about you and me. The fact that we’re engaged in our “Catholicism series” this year or starting our new Scripture Study during this Year of Faith; we believe that God does exist, that God has always existed and interacted with His creation and His creaturesâ€¦and that a relationship with Himborne of faithis essential to us. Beyond that, I would propose that even in the midst of faith, however, there is still great value in knowing how and why God exists around us in the life of faith. Sure, we may not grow in our understanding of God Himself, but exploring the movements of God over time and throughout salvation history could actually be the ticket for us to appreciate more and more the gift of faith within this world; a world that despises things unseen and rejects things unfelt.
In the end, our knowledge of the words of Isaiah in the first reading or of “Ephphatha”, the word of Jesus in the gospel don’t help our understanding of how ears or lips were opened, but they do help in another way: they point to a plan being laid out and then fulfilledâ€¦all by God, who creates, who cares for us, and who dwells among us, to give us His own life; a life bursting with freedom, with openness, with hopeâ€¦and a lively faith placed in Him as we move about in our everyday. May this blessing of faith for each one of us be renewed this week, that we might be instruments who connect our world back to God, through Jesus Christ.
After hearing John’s gospel for the last five weeks, many murmur, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Not many can accept the sayings of Jesus, unfortunately, but that is not our roleto seek so much as to know the saying; no, our role is seek to know the Say-erâ€¦the One sent by God as the Way, the Truth and the Life. That’s our goal, isn’t it?
So often nowadays, people only accept what they can understand about Jesus, what they can relate with about Him: that is to say, many have no difficulty acknowledging that Jesus was a good man, a human person of wisdom and insight. And while that is certainly true, the most important thing to know about Jesus is that He is divine.
The Gospel of Johnfrom which today’s exchange comesbegan with, “In the beginning was the Wordâ€¦”. It is this word of God that became flesh in Jesus Christ, thus bearing God’s own life for all of us to know, to hear, to love.
So, a question comes to mind, doesn’t it? Is He really? Is this Jesus really divine?
Throughout the gospels we are given the evidence, but even more, St. Paul’s letters are emphatic. St. Paula powerfully phenomenal Jew of the first century who studied under the great Rabbi Gamalieltime and time again, over and over refers to Jesus as “Lord”. This is not so peculiar to us today, but to the people of Paul’s era, it was unheard of, simply because one only used the title â€˜Lord’ when referring to God alone. How radical and strange it was, yet, in Paul’s wisdom and virtue, in his knowledge and experience of Christ, he was convinced that the One Lord is Jesus Christ. Paul knows the sayings of Jesus, but more to the point, he knows the Say-er and he knows him to be God himself. Yes, the sayings are hard, but we can accept them once we know well the goodness, or Godliness, of the Say-er.
Well, with that, comes now a compelling and all-important choice for each one of us: with this understanding of Jesus as Lord, Jesus now compels us to make a choice in a way that no other founder of a great religion does. Mohammedto his infinite creditnever claimed to be God. Mohammed said, “I’m a messengerâ€¦I received a message from God.” Mosesto his infinite creditnever claimed to be divine. Moses received the Law from God and, in turn, gave it to the people. The Buddhato his infinite creditnever claimed to be divine. What he said was, “I’ve found a way.”
Then there’s Jesus: who doesn’t say, “I’ve found a way,” â€¦He says, “I AM the way.” How strange indeed. He doesn’t say, “I’ve found a truthâ€¦let me tell you about it,” rather He says, “I AM the truth.” He didn’t say, “Hey, there’s this new mode of life that I’ve discovered, let me share it with you,” rather He declares, “I AM the life.” These claims are the unique treasure of Christianity and treasure needs to be shared, needs to enrich us in order for it to be true treasure.
And so, this treasure, like I said, compels a choice. If Jesus is who He said He is, I must give my whole self, my whole life to Him. Of course, because He is God, He is the highest Good. But if He’s not who He says He is, then He’s a bad man. Either He’s God, or He’s a bad manâ€¦and each one of us must decide.
“Either you gather with me, or you scatter.” “Either you’re with me or you’re against me.” Even in today’s gospel, Jesus directly asks this question of us: “do you also want to leave?” It’s clear over these last five weeks of hearing John’s gospel, we are not allowed to be mere bystanders and spectators. We either believe and follow him full-well, or we leave him and return to a former way of life.
But we know the “Say-er” of these things; we are the recipients of the treasure of Jesus’ resurrection and new life; we are the bearers of Baptism; we are the manifold recipients of God’s graces; we are a people chosen and blessed by God as adopted children of the Father, in the Son.
Let your choice be unanimous, let your choice resound and echo in the days and weeks to come, let your choice guide all that you are and all that you do: for, Jesus is Lord. Amen.
Just a few days ago, we enjoyed our 13th Annual Golf Classic. The day couldn’t have been any better, except for one small detail: my dog Mimo was pent-up in the rectory for almost 11 hours all by herself. I knew she wouldn’t be pleased with me when I got home so in anticipation of â€˜the cold shoulder’, I brought her a rib bone from the banquet. I opened the door and while she wanted to ignore me completely, she couldn’t help catching the scent from the doggy-bag. I gave her the bone and she ran outside to a small dirt patch to enjoy her treat. Noticing how dirty it had become I grabbed it and threw it on the lawn, at which point, she ran over and started to roll all over it! She didn’t want to simply enjoy the bits on the bone, but she wanted to gnaw on it, savor it, dig deep into the treasured marrow and, when asleep, dream of the scents wafting from her coated coat!
In today’s gospel, Jesus is continuing what is known as His “bread of life discourse”. Over and over, Jesus is trying to teach His followers of the necessity to eat His flesh and drink His bloodtrue food and drink with everlasting value and reward. But, He did more than invite them to “eat” as we often do (even our ancestors merely “ate” the manna of the desert and still they died). Jesus invited them to “eat” His flesh, but in a manner like gnawing on it. He was inviting themand still invites usto gnaw on the gift of Himself, to savor His being, to gain the richness of His divinity, to live within the odor of the Lord and to take all of Himself into our very being, our very lives.
As members of His mystical bodythe Churchwe are invited to gnaw on the gift of the Bread of Life, to taste and see the goodness of the Lord as His own life blends and co-mingles with ours. Amen.
When I was in my first year of seminary in Italy, I decided that my eyeglass prescription really needed to be adjusted. Of course, the advice from some of the local alumni was to “be sure to go to Dr. TWA” (aka Trans World Airlines!). Anyway, I went and told the doctorwith my very sketchy Italian skills at the timethat I wanted to be able to see better. After awhile and several gestures, he seemed to understand and he sat me down in the chair and started to apply different lenses, asking me to read the chart. At one point, he asked, “meglio?” (which translates, “better?”). “Si” I replied, to which he abruptly stood, clapped his hands and declared, “va bene!” and decided that he had done his job completely. Eventually, I got my new prescription and it wasn’t merely “better”, but close to perfect.
The immediate need that I had expressed was the cause of our confusion. I had said that I wanted to be able to see “better” or “meglio”, and his response was appropriate. But what I really wanted, with the help of an updated eyeglass prescription, was to have my eyesight brought to 40/40. I had expressed an immediate need, not realizing that I should have been expressing my ultimate, final need.
In today’s gospel, the crowds who were fed the loaves and fish are now hungry again, and naturally, are seeking Jesus in order to have their hunger satisfied. But what they didn’t realize was that their hunger was much more deep, fundamental, basicâ€¦. Even with enough bread to satisfy them for the rest of their days, they would still feel the pangs of longing for the union they keep seeking with Christ. The Lord sees this truth, and His challenge to them was for them to place their faith in him, believe in Him, and thus commit themselves to the works of God. For us, too, the Lord sees this truth as we approach Himsometimes with mundane and not-so-mundane intercessionsbut in all of them, he wants to satisfy our lasting hunger with His everlasting life.
A Message from the Pastor: Greetings friends! On behalf of the one thousand parishioners who call the Church of St. Mary their home, welcome! St. Mary's is located in the town of East Greenbush and was founded in 1927 as a mission church of St. John's Church in the city of Rensselaer. In 1961, the small mission church burned while the building of the new parish school was underway. As a result, the gymnasium of the school became the new temporary worship space. We are still in this same space but it has truly become a wonderfully prayerful environment for our worship. St. Mary's is a … read more
Imagine what your life would be like if you awoke tomorrow morning and found that there was no water … help the thirsty