Bible Study for the Sixth Week of Christmas

  • 1/29 – Psalm 23 – Lord Jesus, You are my Shepherd. Grant that I may always take comfort in You, never forgetting that in the midst of turmoil or anxiety, You are with me.
  • 1/30 – John 14:27 – Lord Jesus, Your peace is my refuge. Grant me Your gift of peace, and the knowledge that there is nothing that can overcome or defeat Your gifts.
  • 1/31 – Psalm 42:11 – Lord Jesus, You know that I grow weary and discouraged. Grant me the grace to rise up again, singing Your praise as I do Your work.
  • 2/1 – Psalm 37:1-5 – Lord, the world and those that cling to it rage about me. Grant that I may see Your light that pierces every darkness, and enable me to carry that light to the dark places around me.
  • 2/2 – Matthew 6:33 – Lord Jesus, as the week winds down, grant me refreshment, renewal, and Your constant light.
  • 2/3 – John 16:33 – Lord, victorious King, You have overcome the world, and none of its darkness can harm me. May I always acknowledge Your peace and Your promises as enough for me.
  • 2/4 – Philippians 4:6-7 – Lord Jesus, set my heart and mind on You. Place me within the community of Your Church so that I may work with all and for all, showing forth Your peace.

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me Your comfort in the midst of cares and anxiety.


Reflection for the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Freedom is not free…
But we are free because the Lord has delivered us!

“Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties.”

There was a lot of anxiety in 1897. The people of Scranton had scrimped and saved to build a church. The parish they had built, that their generous donations supported, didn’t want them. They had been ejected from their former parish by a cruel pastor who demanded only obedience, who derided the hard working people, threatening them will hellfire. He sought only to be the lord and master of the people.

Think of their anxiety. They were outcasts, without a parish, without a pastor, without a spiritual home. Their investment in a spiritual home was gone and its doors were shut to them. In their anxiety they reached out to God and in doing so found comfort in a pastor, a shepherd who made the grace of God available once again. Not a pastor who demanded to be their lord and master, but a pastor who was their brother, teacher, and guide; a pastor whose heart was for the people.

God sent Ś.P. Bishop Hodur to take their commission. He let them know the one key way to alleviate anxiety. It was not submission to priests, bishops, and a pope who defined themselves as royalty, as lords and masters, but instead knowledge of the one Lord and Savior who frees us.

Bishop Hodur showed them the true Jesus who came to give us His word, to teach us, to show us the way to the Father. He showed them that Jesus was not preparing hellfire for His people, but rather the joys of heaven. He pointed and led to Jesus who takes up every one of our anxieties, big and small, and frees us; Jesus, who promises us joy.

Today we honor our freedom as we exercise our voice and vote in our annual parish meeting. This freedom was hard won, but has given us the best of all churches – one that is fully Catholic and fully democratic.

The people of Scranton took their anxiety to the Lord and He showed them the way, provided for them. Let us too rely on the Lord who has made us free.


Bible Study for the Fifth Week of Christmas

  • 1/22 – 1 John 4:19 – Lord Jesus, grant that my eyes may see as Your eyes see, and my heart may love as You love.
  • 1/23 – Romans 12:9 – Holy Spirit, come and grant the gift of discernment. Enkindle my heart with the fire of Your love.
  • 1/24 – Philippians 4:6-7 – Lord, I cast my fears and anxieties upon You. Free me to see and to do good.
  • 1/25 – James 1:22 – Lord Jesus, take me by the hand, lift me up, and set me to work in Your fields and vineyards.
  • 1/26 – Galatians 5:19-21 – Lord, take my sins away! Give me the grace to avoid temptation and to do what is right and proper in Your eyes.
  • 1/27 – Galatians 5:22-23 – Holy Spirit, I have been freed! Send forth Your gifts to enlighten and strengthen me to show Christ to the world.
  • 1/28 – Galatians 2:20 – Lord Jesus, You freely gave Yourself for me. I accept and love You above all else. May my words and actions reflect Your life within me.

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, I chose to follow You. Thank you for changing my life.


Reflection for the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Couldn’t I just go to the beach?
Ok, I’ll deliver Your message…

“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”

Imagine you were visited by God sometime around 1936. God tells you to board a plane and travel to Nuremberg. You are to visit the largest Nazi rally ever held. You are to take the stand, in front of all the microphones, stand right next to Hitler, and tell him and all the gathered crowds that they are doing evil and are required to repent. They must repent or they will be destroyed.

That’s the message Jonah received. The Assyrians were the Nazis of the ancient world. They conquered huge territories. They were particularly brutal. Their statues show their kings standing over conquered people while they were brutally tortured and killed.

Jonah, the happy-go-lucky prophet was to go to the center of their capital, a four city megalopolis, with walls so thick you could drive three chariots abreast along them. There were 1,500 towers, and 120,000 people living there, and it would take three days to walk through the city.

Jonah figured, forget faith in God — I’m going to run away, head to the beach. But no one can run from God who is everywhere.

Faith is confidence in the caring and powerful love of God who makes all things right. Our God who does miraculous things. The brutal Assyrians were no match for a Jonah when he finally decided to follow God’s word and act with faith.

We all face our Nineveh, we all face our lions, and we are all called to trust that God’s miracles overcome. We are called to faith and trust, that God who could love and forgive the psychotic and brutal Assyrians, who could still the lions, who raised Jesus from death, will save and renew us.

God is already rewarding our faith and trust in Him. It isn’t easy to trust like that, to set aside fears and the practicalities — but we do. It is there, in our eyes, in our resolve. His miracles are for us.


Bible Study for the Fourth Week of Christmas

  • 1/15 – Isaiah 54:10 – Lord Jesus, Your love is everlasting, it is our rock in the midst of the world’s rejection. Grant that we may live Your love and exhibit it to all.
  • 1/16 – John 3:16 – Father of all, You gave us Your Son that the world might know Your everlasting love. We praise and thank You for our salvation which He accomplished, and for inviting us to love as You love.
  • 1/17 – Romans 5:8 – Jesus, You welcome all to come to You. You never let sin block our way to You. Grant that we may always come to You in our distress knowing that we will find healing and peace.
  • 1/18 – John 15:13 – Lord Jesus, Your love caused You to lay down Your life for us. Grant that we may offer our lives in service to each other and Your Holy Church. Increase vocations, and let us count no cost as too great in the cause of Your love.
  • 1/19 – 1 Corinthians 2:9 – Heavenly Father, Your Son Jesus revealed the glory and joy of life everlasting. We eagerly anticipate a life of love with You. Grant that we may ever strive to live lives worthy of entry into life with You in heaven.
  • 1/20 – Romans 8:38-39 – Lord Jesus, when we are fearful and set upon, grant us reassurance that nothing in this world can stand in the way of Your love. Wipe away all that we perceive standing between us and You, for there is nothing that can overcome Your love.
  • 1/21 – 2 Corinthians 13:14 – Lord, as we come to You each week as a community of prayer, in Your Holy Church, grant this prayer. Grant that we always stand in Your grace, peace, fellowship, and love.

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, we love each other because You dwell in all.


Reflection for the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Can I have my zebra? Ummmm, ooops!

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Moriah was two and was on a cross-country flight home. She wanted her zebra, her favorite stuffed animal and comfort. Mom and dad packed it away. It was in the cargo hold of the plane, unreachable. Moriah cried and complained. Dad explained and explained. No use, the crying got worse. Everyone was looking. Then dad listened. He couldn’t get zebra, but could offer her the next best thing — a father’s comfort. “You wish you had zebra now,” he said to her. “Yeah,” she said sadly.

Moraish’s dad was able, in the midst of all the turmoil, with all the passengers looking at his crying child, to do something very important. He stopped, took a breath, and listened to his child. Listening, he understood what she needed.

Like Samuel, like Moriah’s dad, we need to stop, take a breath, and listen to God who speaks to us daily.

For our part, we need to — as is commonly said to young people — put on our listening ears. God has been speaking to us for eons. Centuries of His word are with us. When we are fearful or confronted by difficult decisions we need to know that we are not alone. God knows us and is with us. He is not an absent, far away father. He is our Father, and He is present to us. He knows the deepest desires we carry within us, as individuals and as a parish community. All we need to do is listen.

His words give us the keys to successful Christianity: Live as a community. Love one another. Don’t be the boss; rather serve all. Welcome the stranger. Speak His word. Offer Jesus to all who seek Him.

We cannot do any of this alone. That is what the Holy Polish National Catholic Church is about. It is ultimately about building a community in each place to listen to Jesus and follow Him.


Epiphany and Home Blessings

The Solemnity of the Epiphany was celebrated on January 6th. On that day we blessed of chalk and incense for use in the blessing of homes. Fr. Adam or Deacon Jim are available to come to your home for the traditional Epiphany home blessing. Please see them to make an appointment. Blessing appointments are available through February 21st (prior to Ash Wednesday).


Bible Study for the Third Week of Christmas

  • 1/8 – Luke 2:8-14 – Lord Jesus, You are the news of great joy. Come fill our hearts with Your happiness, which is eternal.
  • 1/9 – Hebrews 12:2 – Lord Jesus, You chose the cross to open the door to joy for all of us. We praise and thank you for Your great love.
  • 1/10 – Romans 14:17 – Lord Jesus, we long for Your kingdom. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
  • 1/11 – Colossians 1:11-14 – Father, you have made us co-heirs to the kingdom. You are our inheritance and our joy. Grant that we be drawn ever closer to You and each other in the family of faith.
  • 1/12 – Psalm 16:11 – Lord Jesus, the pleasures of the world are of little account. Grant that we may ever value the treasure You offer us, Your presence, Your path.
  • 1/13 – Psalm 5:11 – Lord Jesus, You are our strength and our protector. You shield us from harm and give us life unending. We praise and thank You in joyful song.
  • 1/14 – John 15:10-12 – Lord Jesus, grant that we may ever abide in You, and that we may find true and full joy in doing so.

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, You have granted me great joy!


Reflection for the Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds

Hey, Sheep! Do I know you?

Today, our Holy Church honors the humble shepherds, the first to gaze upon Jesus and carry the message of His coming to others.

And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

Shepherds had three key responsibilities, to tend, feed, and guard the sheep. To that end they carried quite the kit. They kept a bag made from goat skin in which they carried food and other items. They kept a sling to fight off wild animals, a rod with a knob on one end, a staff with a hook on the end, a flute for entertainment and to calm the sheep, and a cloak for warmth and to be used as bedding at night.

The most amazing relationship developed between the shepherds and their sheep, the sheep would learn to recognize and follow their shepherd’s voice.

God has used the image of the shepherd since the creation of the world. Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, was a shepherd. When Israel blessed Joseph he recalled that God had been his shepherd throughout his life.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and He does all those things that shepherds do. He feeds us with His body and blood. He tends to us, healing and renewing us. He guards us and protects us so that we will never die.

The key for us is that we grow in relationship with Jesus. We need to recognize His voice. That comes from reading His word, talking with Him in prayer, following His way. Doing that, we will recognize His call, His voice.

Do we know the voice of our Good Shepherd? When we hear His voice, let us all respond with “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I will follow your way.


Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord

First reading: Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm: Ps 72:1-2,7-8,10-13
Epistle: 2 Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?”

Gifts:

On this Solemnity of the Epiphany we tend to focus on the magi arriving and bringing gifts. We might speak of the gifts and what each means. We might focus on the gifts that we would bring to Jesus, most importantly the gift of our faith. We might focus on the gifts that we give each other, our kindness and love. It is a day of gifts, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Best of all, this day gives us an opportunity to focus on the gift God has given us in the incarnation of His son, Jesus. Jesus, our newborn King.

Matthew’s point:

The magi only appear in St. Matthew’s gospel. St. Luke tells us about the Shepherds, but Matthew focuses on these visitors. Matthew has a strong point he is trying to convey.

Matthew starts his gospel with a long genealogy. It shows us that Jesus family is a royal family, Jesus is in the lineage of kings and other great leaders, both men and women.

Throughout his gospel, Matthew references Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of heaven. Matthew is the one who tells of the magi who came to worship and present gifts to the newborn king. Matthew tells of the triumphant entry of the King and Messiah into Jerusalem. He tells us of the sign that hung over Jesus on the cross — this is the king.

The king is here:

Starting Matthew’s gospel, you might think Elvis has arrived. The King is in the building. Yes, the King has arrived, the King of heaven and earth. He is the one who St. John will tell us was King before the beginning of time.

Cool:

It had to be so cool. You’d think people would have been very excited. The King has come. He didn’t just show up, but came with the whole show: angels, magi, gold, frankincense, myrrh, a huge star in the sky. Las Vegas or Broadway couldn’t do a better job. Hollywood might work on a movie to make us think we are seeing what these folks saw, but that’s just smoke and mirrors. This was the real deal — the real King.

They didn’t get it:

Seems that very few caught on. The shepherds, simple people, as we previously noted, expectant people, they saw and understood. The magi got it. Even evil Herod kind of understood, he tried to kill the newborn King. Most people didn’t get it though. Not the innkeepers, the royal advisors, not all the folks who stayed home and didn’t go to meet Him. The King arrived to a less than enthusiastic world.

Gets worse:

It gets worse of course. As Jesus goes about revealing the kingdom of heaven, and who He is, people still don’t get it. What Jesus is — not what they want. He wasn’t their king. Their king was more like David the warrior. Their king was going to slaughter their enemies, and lead the bloody revolution, restore an earthly and powerful kingdom suited to men.

The real deal:

Today, on the Epiphany, a term which means revelation, we and the world meet the King. Jesus is the King — who fulfilled all the prophecies. Those who didn’t recognize Him were simply looking for the wrong thing We take the example of the magi who came to witness to Jesus’ kingship, the real thing. They recognized Him as King immediately. The people who heard His message, and continue to witness to Him today, we and they recognize Him as King.

Jesus is not a king who came to bring men to power. Jesus is the King who came to bring power to all humanity. Jesus is not a king to rule a kingdom of boundaries, armies, and place. He is the King who rules in the hearts of all who believe in Him, who follow His lead, abide in His word, and love the gift God as given us, our newborn King. Amen.