With the prohibition of public Masses and all of our other isolation I thought it might be a good practice to start a daily reflection to be e-mailed to parishioners. The e-mail will have a regular title so you will know if it is the reflection or some other update that I am releasing. I will plan on it being based on that days Mass, most likely the readings but possibly on the feast day like today. And so you don’t get bored with me Msgr. McCumber and Fr. Patrick will also be taking turns in these reflections. Peace, Fr. Nick
Today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus’ commands are made out of love for us, they teach us how to live our lives. Sometimes it is hard to obey others, this becomes more true the more independent we become as we age. I have met with many people who speak of difficulties they have with Church teaching; but we are called to obey the Church. To obey God is to love God. Our love for Christ shines through the ways that we live our lives. May we come to love Christ in a deeper way every day. (Fr. Patrick)
It can be easy to get nervous and anxious about something very important that we want to be sure of, and hopefully our eternal life falls into that category. We can get caught up in wanting to know all the exact details of what needs to be done and why and how everything works, but Jesus tells us otherwise. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” When we still are stressed and want more details He lets us know that, “I am the way.” For anxious times I think this is pretty good advice, we need to do what we can and follow Christ, and beyond that simply have faith God is there for us. (Fr. Nick)
CLICK HERE for a Video Reflection from Fr. Patrick
“I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.” A very encouraging attitude to see in Christ, and to also know that is what God the Father also shares with Him. As we face challenges, difficulties, even temptations, we need to always recognize that God is not trying to trick us or test us in a way where He wants to see us fail. Rather, He wants to see us believe and to follow Him to eternal life. And once we realize that God treats us this way, maybe that can encourage us to try and treat others that way ourselves. (Fr Nick)
The Gospel today is similar to the one we heard yesterday. Jesus is reminding us that he is our good shepherd and we are called to follow him. We should know his voice and respond with love and obedience. Sometimes we may think that we are disqualified from God’s love. Such was Peter’s thought in the first reading today. But we are reminded that God’s love and call is for all people, not just the few, but the many. Jesus is the Good Shepherd for all people, may we learn to respond to his voice with love. (Fr Patrick)
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker. St. Joseph is of course the foster father of Jesus. Although there are no recorded words of St. Joseph, we still hold him in high esteem and on May 1st every year we remember work. He was a man who’s actions spoke volumes: he had compassion in sparing Mary public humiliation; he had obedience and faith in responding to the angel’s instruction; and he took faithful protection and care of Mary and Jesus through exile and danger. We should remember to sanctify our work; that our work and actions may speak to the kind of people we are. If our actions don’t line up to the kind of person we are striving to be then we need to change something. May we sanctify our work to God and may we pray for all of those who are without work during these trying times. (Fr. Patrick).
CLICK HERE for a Video Reflection from Fr. NIck
Jesus tells those following him today, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” I think this is a good reminder for us when our lives are full and busy and we have to many demands on us going in every direction, but they are also good works when we may be sitting there thinking we have nothing to do, or more accurately we can’t do what we are thinking about. Maybe we can spend a little time today thinking about what we can do, and how we can work for food that endures for eternal life. (Fr. Nick)
On the Feast of St. Mark we are challenged to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Not only are the disciples described as preaching Christ’s word everywhere, but they were also accompanied by signs that God worked through them. That can be particularly important if we are in difficult times when we might doubt. Consider who are some of the people that you are hearing Christ’s words through, and look for some of His accompanying signs to further encourage ourselves and others in our faith.(Fr. Nick)
CLICK HERE for a Video Reflection from Fr. Nick
Our first reading today talks about the early Church. These were a people who understood what the radical love of Jesus meant. They heard that call from Jesus and they wanted to fulfill it. This desire to be faithful to the mandate of love is what inspired these earliest members of the Church to give. They gave so that those who needed extra help or food or clothing would be provided for. These days of staying at home could be great opportunities to clean out our closets; to look at the excess we have in our homes and to help those who might need more assistance. The St. Vincent de Paul Society continues their beautiful ministry of loving our neighbors with that same radical love God is calling us to. I can’t help but remember Fr. Jim Sichko quoting St. Francis of Assisi: “it is in giving that we receive.” Fr. Jim’s ministry is a testament to the truth of this line. May we come to know this truth in the deepest of ways. (Fr. Patrick)
A constant theme in St. John’s Gospel is the relationship between Jesus and His heavenly Father. In our passage for this day, John 3: 1-8, Jesus instructs Nicodemus on this relationship and tells him that he too can be part of that communion when he is baptized in water and the Spirit. To be baptized in water is to belong to Christ, to be baptized in the Spirit is to be part of the mysterious and grace-filled union with God. This is our heritage, by virtue of our own baptism. We are immersed in the wonderful relationship that Jesus shares with the Father. There is no greater blessing. At this challenging time, this time of uncertainty, placing our trust in this blessing brings us peace. (Msgr. McCumber)
Today we hear that Thomas wasn’t there when the rest of the Apostles were gathered and Jesus appeared to them. Worse than that, after they told him what had happened, he still wouldn’t believe that Christ had risen and appeared to them. But Thomas did say what he would need to believe. He was there in the room the next week. And when Christ appeared, he knew he no longer needed to place his hand in his side or his finger in his palm, he believed. Not only do I think that Thomas believed, but I also have to believe that he was an even better evangelist then he could have been if he hadn’t gone through his period of disbelief. He knew what it was to doubt, but his example also encourages us to still be open, to listen to how God will reveal Himself towards us. May we also recognize the incredible ways God has answered our doubts at different times, the great gift of faith he has given us, and do what we can to share that faith with others.
In today’s Gospel we hear some of our Lord’s last words to his apostles: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” The apostles faithfully carried out this command; a command which led to death for nearly all of them. Here we are 2,000 years later and we should ask ourselves how we are doing on this task? How have you been at proclaiming the Gospel to everyone you come in contact with. We could make excuses for ourselves (especially during these difficult times), but we should seize this opportunity to proclaim the good news on our Facebook pages and emails, in our zoom conferences and most especially to our families. May we have the courage and fortitude to proclaim the good news to all we encounter. (Fr. Patrick)
In the Acts of the Apostles we see that they are carrying on Jesus’ ministry, preaching His word and healing as Jesus had. But they also realize that this work, and especially the miracles, are being done in the name of Jesus Christ and by His power, not theirs. We need to similarly be open to Christ working through us, and always remember that salvation is not through our works, but is always through Jesus Christ. (Fr. Nick)
CLICK HERE for a Video Reflection from Fr Patrick
This particular Gospel of Luke’s account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is one of the most beloved post-resurrection stories of all time. It is certainly one of mine for this simple reason…it is all about sacramental theology, or in other words, it helps us to understand how grace is translated into our lives and understanding. Sacramental theology says to us that God communicates His grace to us through our senses, whether it is touch, sight, smell, hearing, or taste, God communicates His life to us in ways that we can understand. But I digress.
Luke’s Gospel not only describes their journey, but also their progression from despair to incredible joy when they recognize the Risen Lord in the breaking of the bread. A good reflection for the reader is to “walk with” these two disciples and to sit with them at table in the company of the “stranger.” When we participate at Mass we are in the presence of the Risen Lord as He explains to us scripture, and every time we approach Communion, so that our hearts may burn within us!
When those coming to the tomb find out Jesus has risen, their first reaction is to go and tell others. Jesus even finds them on their way and encourages this. This should also be our first reaction to finding Jesus risen, that as soon as we recognize this our reaction is to share Christ risen with others.
Happy Easter! We made it through a crazy Lent and we all get to celebrate together as the Body of Christ! Jesus has truly risen. He has risen for you and for me. He had to die because there is something in all of us that deserves death: sin. May we be courageous at handing that sin over to God so that he can transform it into his grace. Please know that we are praying for each of you in a special way today. May God continue to bless you all my friends. (Fr Patrick)
Holy Saturday always feels a little different. Even in normal times the daily schedule of not having the service until a half hour after sunset can be strange. As a priest I can prepare for the Easter Vigil in the church. Being sure everything is set up that I will need, I might clean a few things that only get cleaned once a year, be sure my homily is ready, and then I’m usually still waiting. That is probably appropriate. We don’t like to wait, especially when it is for something very special that we are really looking forward to. But we often do have to realize that we are not there yet and stay in faithful anticipation. I think this year we can relate to that even more than usual as our social separation and distancing continues, keeping people from school, work, stores, social activities, so much of our lives, even church. And yet if those are our biggest concerns, we are fortunate, as we should recognize that others are suffering from illness and even death. In looking forward to the Resurrection it is hard at times to keep in mind that this is a period of Christ’s death. Tomorrow is Easter, but we are not there yet. For today we must continue to work on our faith, hope and trust in God. (Fr Nick)
CLICK HERE for a VIDEO REFLECTION from FR PATRICK
We know that Judas had many opportunities at which he could have handed Jesus over to be arrested, but we also see today that he had many opportunities to change his mind, to not go through with this, and then even later to ask for forgiveness. Our sins are not just mistakes or things that happened outside of our control. We realize that we not only have the opportunity for forgiveness after we have committed them, but hopefully we also see the moments beforehand when we can still change our minds before we even commit them. As we come to the end of our Lenten Season and begin the Triduum I hope we have taken some time to recognize our sins, not only to ask for forgiveness, but to be more aware and even change our ways before we may commit these or other sins in the future.(Fr. Nick)
In today’s reading from Isaiah (49:1-3, 5a,6) the second oracle of the Servant of the Lord continues the description of the anonymous servant of God who was formed “as His servant from the womb.” This oracle describes a great future for the servant who will be a “light to the nations.” Generations later, this prophecy is embodied by Christ who comes to be that light for all peoples and to bring the salvation of God to every nation. Our faith rests firmly on this great mystery, we are caught up in God’s plan of salvation. We too have been formed from the womb to be servants of a loving God. At this time when we are practicing social distancing it is more important than ever to reach out to others in need. Those who have no family in town or perhaps who have no family at all. Those who have recently experienced the death of a loved one. Those who have undergone some major change in their lifestyle, such as a divorce or health issue. There are still others who are in need of our light, our prayers, and our kind words. Now is the time to let our light shine. (Msgr McCumber)
As I was praying with today’s Gospel I was struck by our Lord’s words: “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Those words stung a little more than they might have usually. One of the great temptations of this time is to fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus has abandoned us. The disciples were probably tempted to think the same thing on that first Good Friday many centuries ago. We must remember that God does not abandon his people. He is still with us. Remember that elsewhere Jesus promises us “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20). As we prepare for the Sacred Triduum we should remember that God has not abandoned us. I challenge you to try to find God in your life today. When we search for him we will surely find him. May God continue to bless you all! (Fr Patrick)
As Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem we want to be there with the crowds, we want to see Him with our eyes, shouting our praises, our acclamations and sharing in His glory. This year the Sunday’s readings are taken from Year A, thus in St. Matthew’s description (Mt. 21:1-3, 6-11) of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, Jesus is clearly in charge. He sends His disciples to make arrangements for the procession into the city, and the crowds respond with cries of adoration. Even as this joyous event draws us into its unfolding, we know that Jesus’ passion and death will soon follow. But for today, we want to acclaim Jesus as our Lord and share in the glory of this prophet from Nazareth. (Msgr McCumber)
The Gospel today has some lines in it that struck me a little different in our current situation than normal, “So from that day on they planned to kill him. So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews…” Some question whether we should still be gathering for Mass and Confessions as we did before the restrictions due to the Coronavirus, does this not gathering show a lack of faith specifically at a time when we need it? Yet in the Gospel we see that even Jesus, aware that some were planning to kill him, let this affect his public ministry and withdrew to a different area until he needed to come for the most critical part of his ministry. I hope this encourages us to take the appropriate precautions also. To realize the many ways that God is with us, and to even allow this to increase our gratitude for the sacraments when we can fully celebrate them together again. (Fr Nick)
In the Gospel (John 10: 31-39) reading for this day, Friday, April 3rd, the tension between Jesus and some of the Jews is about to become violent in this exchange between them. Although Jesus’ listeners are devout Jews, they regard His statement about identifying Himself with God as being blasphemous. The law required punishment by stoning…that was the law! But Jesus points to His works as evidence that He was sent from God. This is a good lesson for us at this stressful time in our history. When we say that we believe, do we really? Not on the surface level, but deep down in the depths of our hearts, so that what we say is supported by what we do. If Jesus were to tell us, like He did Peter, to step out of the boat and come to Him across the water, would we? Throughout His public ministry, Jesus instructed His followers to listen to His words, but also to follow His example in their deeds. This is our calling as well. (Msgr. McCumber)
In today’s Gospel Jesus says to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps My word will never see death.” (John 8:51) The argument goes forth from there is whether Jesus can really say this, is He greater than Abraham? Or the prophets? The reason for their arguments is that of course they would follow His word if they believed He had the power to carry it out. If we declare ourselves to be Christians we should definitely believe Jesus has the power to carry out this promise, so what reasons would we give for not carrying out His word? (Fr Nick)
CLICK HERE for a VIDEO REFLECTION on Today's Scripture from Fr. Patrick
It’s not always easy for us to understand who Christ is in St. John’s Gospel. In the Gospel reading for this day, 3-31-2020, taken from St. John’s Gospel (8:21-23), Jesus tells the Pharisees about His impending return to the Father. When Jesus tells them that they cannot come to where He is going, He probable means that since they did not accept Him while He was among them, they will not be part of His future glory. Although this seems rather harsh, it underlines how important it is for the readers of St. John’s Gospel to accept the truth about Jesus teaching, and let His teachings shape our life as His followers. It is not enough for us to know about Jesus, rather, it is everything to love Jesus. At this time of uncertainties, I pray each of you will stay strong in faith, and sincere in love. (Msgr McCumber)
This week we enter Passiontide, the final two weeks of Lent. This Lent has looked so different for us since for much of it we have been deprived of the Eucharist. But we have the unique opportunity for these weeks to be special times of retreat with the Lord. The readings today remind us of his mercy and how we are to model that mercy to other. We are not called to condemn or harshly judge, but to have mercy. Who is it in your life who is voiceless or helpless and how can you pray for them and stand for them? May we have the courage to do away with condemnation and stand for mercy. May God bless you! (Fr.Patrick)
Today we read of one of the most incredible miracles of Christ, his raising of Lazarus from the dead. But we also hear of the incredible faith of his sisters, Martha and Mary. That they trusted and had faith that Christ could have saved him, and that Martha even states she knows Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that her brother will rise in the resurrection. Hearing this faith, and yet seeing their suffering, Jesus brings Lazarus back to life, even though he had been dead four days. But he does so requiring others to also act. Asking some to roll away the stone to the tomb, he calls Lazarus to come out, and then tells others to untie him from his burial bands. We need to have faith and trust in God also, and be ready to respond to his call, and be willing to untie one another from the bands that bond us. We face some challenges in this life now, so that our faith and trust may grow, so we will be ready to answer his call and assist one another when it comes to our eternal life.
For today's reflection, Fr Nick prepared 2 video reflections on the Stations of the Cross.
Reflection on the Stations for School-aged Youth
Way of the Cross for Adults
In today's scriptures we are reminded that God has a deep love for the brokenhearted; he cares immensely for the state of his children. Bring whatever you are experiencing these days to God. He is listening to you because he loves you. When the just people cry out to the Lord, he hears them. (Fr Patrick)
Why do we believe what Jesus tells us? Jesus asked that of His followers. Why do they believe what anyone in particular told them? Was it on the word of John the Baptist, or on the word of Moses? We realize that we do rely upon others in who we first listen to, in who we will later believe. Hopefully that started with our parents, then others we learned to trust and who cared about us in our lives. But ultimately we needed to decide from our own experience if we would believe someone. Hopefully we have had the fortune that others, who we trusted, helped lead us to find Jesus. But having found him we have grown to know his love for us, and our faith is truly in Him, and His Father.(Fr Nick)
Fr. Patrick opted to "announce" his reflection with a video message. Blessed Feast of the Annunciation to all.
CLICK HERE for Fr. Patrick's Video Reflection
Jesus meets the ill man at the pool called Bethesda who wants to go into the water to be healed, but is unable to do so. So, Jesus heals him where he sits. We are not asked to do more than we can, Jesus comes to us where we are and responds to our needs. That seems particularly comforting when we realize we are restricted in our gatherings and asked to stay at home. We need to be open to the ways Jesus comes to us today.
In our reading from Isaiah, the prophet announces an amazing future for the people of God, Israel. The trials of God’s people will not last forever nor will they be the end of His people. Rather the difficult times will be overcome, and more importantly, God will revisit all of creation: a new heaven and a new earth to quote Isaiah. This is a prophetic proclamation that the future will be a time of great joy and prosperity for the people. As we continue to embrace this season of Lent, and more importantly, to live the Paschal Mystery at this particular time, in faith we know a great joy awaits us. May God bless each of you and your loved ones. (Msgr. McCumber)
In our First Reading from Samuel today the Lord reminds us that he “looks into the heart.” There is a lot going on in our hearts during these times. God looked into David’s heart and saw the potential in his heart to become an adulterer, murderer, and a horrible king and father; yet God still chose him. God looks into our hearts and sees all that we are: our succeses and accomplishments; our weaknesses and wounds. Yet God still chooses us. He is not surprised or discouraged, and he is not stopped by our weaknesses. May we bring to God our weaknesses and invite him into our hearts so that we may continue to journey to sainthood together. (Fr. Patrick)
Do we humbly try to recognize the sins in our lives, and the things we need to change to grow closer to God? Or do we look around and consider ourselves better than others, not needing to change anything about ourselves? If we don’t need to change to grow closer to God, maybe we don’t think we need God to get to heaven. – Do we pray to ourselves or do we pray to God? (Fr. Nick)
In today’s Gospel we hear about the two greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” These times of heightened anxiety, social distancing, and more time with family can really try our patience. We should remember that our families and those we are at home with are the ones we are called to love the most in these trying times. (Fr. Nick)
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Solemnity which means we can even forego some of our Lenten disciplines (as long as it was giving up snacks – not if it was giving up swearing). The Gospel tells us of Joseph’s decision to continue with his marriage of Mary even after he found out she was pregnant at the urgings of an angel, accepting unknown duties and responsibilities and even the path of his life at the request of God. It seems a good model for us today, realizing the additional burdens and challenges we may be facing in our lives at this time, but to listen to God’s urgings in how we consider the needs of others in our actions. (Fr. Nick)