It is about
understanding.

And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. 

Gaining understanding, seeing what God is doing and what our relationship is toward Him are the things Jesus fought for His entire life. He wanted us to see family as more than a functional organization that does stuff together, but as the model of the kingdom. Family is designed to be a peek into what the eternal kingdom will look like.

Jesus and his parents had been at the festival for at least seven days. They spent their time growing in relationship to their community (the model of church), to each other (the domestic church) and most of all, toward God (their eternal Father source of family). They were living out church.

We know how it is when we get caught up in something great. We don’t want to leave. So it was for Jesus. In the Temple precincts, Jesus had it all. He has the fullness of family all in one place. He didn’t want to leave. He was having an excellent time. He wants us to feel and live this way too – right now.

Jesus wants to share the fullness of family relationship with us. He wants us to gain insight, to understand and see beyond the ordinary and look to the extraordinary greatness of life that is the Christian family – the family centered on and living in Him. He wants us to revel in the family of God and to never want to leave.

God is all about family. He designed us and the world around us to mirror family life in heaven. “Let us make man in our image.” He wants us to be moved to such an extent that we want family. He wants us to stay, not just with Him, but with each other in family. He ministered to and built family to provide a life example – this is how it is supposed to be.

Jesus taught His disciples to refer to His Father as their Father. He asked the crowds – who is my mother, brothers, and sisters? It is those who understand and live in family relationship with Him and His Father. He wants us to remain, to stay in family love.

God’s family is built upon all the things Jesus taught – the example He gave us – one of dedication, worship, sacrifice, and love. God wants us to understand His great desire – that we are family and are to live that way.

As we once again renew and take up life as the kingdom family, let us remember the example of the Acts Church – people living as one – living, sacrificing, praying, and worshiping – really getting it, never wanting to leave.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Walking through my backyard I listened to the leaves from our Ash tree crunch under my feet. This season of marvelous color, scents, great foods, and treats like apple pie and cider always brings to mind transition. It is a time of obvious change. Fall occurs every year and, because of our experiences, perhaps we are programmed to see everything as changeable. Maybe we were brought up to even think that God’s love could be turned on and off depending on how we acted. Everything is temporary or provisional. Nothing is solid. As we reflect on the change around us, we should also pause to consider that this sense of change is not a universal constant. There is at least One who is immutable, unchangeable, and permanent. Yes, God is universal and permanent, He is immutable – which means unchangeable. But it is more than that. God’s nature in and of itself extends beyond Himself – because of Jesus it includes us who have confessed our sins and have placed our faith in Him. In that act, we are pulled into God’s permanence. Because He is unchangeable we enter into permanence. As St. Paul told the Romans, we are transformed. In Him we have a solid rock to cling to no matter the challenge. By connecting to God, by accepting His Son’s revelation, we enter an eternity of permanence.

Join us in October as we celebrate the Christian Family and get busy with our Fall activities including our Craft Fair (October 7th) and our Spaghetti Dinner (October 21st). Check out all we have invested in including our new kids corner.

You may view and download a copy of our October 2017 Newsletter right here.

Love is
hard – and worth it.

when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper

In the course of less than half-a-day, the Samaritan had the courage to walk up to a total stranger who was in trouble, used his personal store of oil and wine to clean this stranger’s wounds, bound the stranger’s wounds with his cloths, gave up his ride to let this stranger ride, took the stranger to an inn where he took care of him – meaning he fed him, kept him company, and assisted the stranger in every way he needed (consider he was likely taking care of the stranger’s bathroom needs too), and then having to leave, took from his own money and offered that too. He also pledged to come back again and make up any difference. These things cost, and pretty dearly. Beyond the outright cost of oil, wine, bandages, rides, a place to stay, and two days wages ($405 average in New York as of today), the Samaritan lost at least a day’s business. This little escapade – helping the stranger – likely cost the Samaritan at least $1,000 in today’s money.

Interestingly, economists have spent a lot of time and effort in studying Jesus’ parable. Jesus isn’t just for philosophers, theologians, and clergy anymore. “The Good Samaritan and Traffic on the Road to Jericho” by Ted Bergstrom studies situations where people encounter an unsatisfactory state of affairs and must decide whether or not to act or leave it for someone else.

Bottom line, the question of “Who is my neighbor?” involves estimating the cost and deciding on whether it is worthwhile or not. It is sad that we still ask this question, still count the cost. Look at the News or social media and we see debate – who is my neighbor? Many want what the lawyer wanted – that some people are not. The immigrant is not, the person with the different skin tone is not. The person whose religious beliefs are different or who has no religious beliefs is not. No, according to God we must be neighbor to all. We must act.

The stranger was hurt by violence and neglect. He was saved by one who saw him as neighbor. Jesus, the Samaritan, touched the unclean, went to the lost, outcast, and those in need. Jesus spent it all – far more than $1,000 – His very life – to save His neighbors.

What does it look like to love someone, to act? Is anyone off limits? Is any cost too high? Is any mile too far? Are there boundaries? Jesus’ answer to the lawyer in us is that we must have no boundaries or limits. We have been touched by complete love. Our response is to act, to pay it all, and to find complete joy and satisfaction in loving like Jesus.

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Did you ever wonder why we do what we do at church? Not the Holy Mass as an act of God directed worship or educating our youth as God has commanded so that they may have knowledge of the fullness of God’s love – those things are pretty straightforward. No, I mean the investments we make in church infrastructure for the future. Since the beginning of 2012, we have taken on twenty-two major infrastructure projects. This month we are replacing the entire sidewalk along the side of the church and have made major repairs to the church hall floor with the entire floor soon to be updated. Do you wonder why? If it were about dedication to just a building, or to memories, it would not be a wise investment. After all, what is a church without people, or memories without people to share them with. Grabbing onto Paul’s Letter to Timothy, we find the real reason for investing. It is about you! Paul exhorts us to guard the good treasure entrusted to us. We have Jesus in our midst and we have you in our family. The Holy Spirit guides us in what we do so that you may have a place, a home, and a family. A place to belong. We invest – we invest so the church is there for you – we invest so you may belong to and rejoice in being God’s precious treasure.

Join us this September as we celebrate brotherly love, take up a collection for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and welcome you to a ‘Place to Belong’ on Back-to-Church Sunday, September 17th. There are lots of activities, a new kids corner, and best of all, a true sense of belonging.

You may view and download a copy of our September 2017 Newsletter right here.

She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

We begin our summer with the celebration of Holy Mass on Sunday, July 2nd followed quickly by the celebrations of the Visitation and Independence Day. The Visitation holds special significance for us. What would summer be without visits with family and friends, getting together for picnics, or the traditional family road trip to go visiting? The scene of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth is part of the larger story of salvation. The story line in Luke’s gospel is the story of God’s powerful desire to visit with us, to be present in our lives. Mary’s visit with Elizabeth would not have been possible without the angel Gabriel’s visit with Zachariah (Elizabeth’s husband) telling him that they would have a son. It would not have been possible without that same angel’s visit to Mary, telling her that God desired to place His Son in the world, to visit with us. All of salvation history is a telling of God’s visitation with us. He wants to be with us, even when we do not want to be with Him. He remains with us and calls us back even when we wander off. He continually calls us into deeper and deeper relationship with Him. He is the visitor that never leaves! As we contemplate our best visitor, let us also take up Mary’s example As we get out there to visit this summer, let’s talk about the One best visitor ever. Help others invite Him into their lives.

Join us this summer as we continue to visit with Jesus, as we are assured of His abiding presence with us. There are tons of summer activities – Kurs Youth Camp, Independence Day, the National United Choirs Convention and Music Workshop, the YMSofR Golf Tournament, our neighborhood and community picnic, and so much more. We will continue gathering bras – that’s right, bras!

You may view and download a copy of our July/August 2017 Newsletter right here.

Open to God’s
reward.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

These scriptures for Ordinary Time speak to where we are and urge us to deeper spiritual formation, authentic responses to God’s call in the midst of our challenges, and to a renewed commitment to evangelism.

Earlier in St. Matthew, chapter 10, Jesus sends out the Twelve. He commissions them to: go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Jesus advised the disciples to accept no extra money, but to receive the welcome of those who would care for them on their mission. He specifically points out that: The laborer deserves his keep. Today we focus on our task of receiving those who are sent.

The Church sends forth its priests to serve local communities, and in our tradition the local community is given the option of accepting the one sent. This helps because when the personality of the one sent and of those receiving him mesh, good things happen, graces abound, and the work of drawing more into the kingdom is productive. Jesus remains with the sent and those who receive them. He does not turn His back on them. He rewards them.

Today, Jesus addresses those receiving the ones sent and He states His expectation as well as the rewards given to those who meet His expectation. By illustration – whoever gives to the one sent, even a cup of cold water will be rewarded. Whoever receives the sent, because they have sacrificed their lives to carry the Gospel, will be rewarded. Isn’t this a wonderful prospect – a reward guaranteed by God?

If we look at our community we see the rewards that come from graciously receiving the sent. We see God’s promises fulfilled. The cooperative and positive relationship between our local church and those sent to it has resulted in growth, greater charity, and a joy that overcomes any obstacle. The rewards and the blessings we receive are not separate from God, nor is He just a bystander. He is active in our lives – delivering on His promises because we listen to Him. He is blessing us! Let’s be absolutely clear, God has blessed our work specifically because we give that cup of cold water to the sent and in fact to all who come and find welcome here.

We hold Jesus out to others by our authentic response of welcome. How we receive the sent, how we receive all, is how we receive Jesus. Open to all we open ourselves to God’s reward.

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

…and the greatest of these is love. Famous words we recall hearing at almost every wedding. I wonder if St. Paul, in writing to the Church at Corinth, was thinking of pretty words for marriage ceremonies? Likely not, marriage wasn’t even on his radar. Frankly, it wasn’t even on the Church’s radar at that time. Paul cared more about the way Christians interacted with each other and with the world that was awaiting the hope only Jesus could offer. Were Christians, therefore, living and showing the lives the saved and redeemed should be living? We have, in Paul’s words, a certain irony. Words we hear at a wedding – at the beginning of a new sacred vocation for a couple – are words that should inform our vocational lives as Christians. The message of Jesus and of the Christian faith is a call to vocation. We are called to participate full-time, with every breath, in God’s creative and redemptive work. The Christian life is to be vocational to the core. It is a complete and total way of living. As we celebrate and pray in this month of sacred vocations let us remember that each of us is called to the most sacred vocation of all – to love completely as Jesus loved us.

Join us beginning with the celebration of the Church’s birthday at Pentecost, through the post-Easter solemnities, and in enjoying some great fellowship. We will be having our Rummage and Bake Sale, our seniorate Corpus Christi celebration, and we will be gathering bras – that’s right, bras!

You may view and download a copy of our June 2017 Newsletter right here.

we commend ourselves in every way: by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God

This month our Holy Church holds its Seventeenth Annual Mission and Evangelism conference. This coincides with the words above from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Church at Corinth. How do we commend ourselves to others? How do we show forth what a genuine life in Jesus means? Being truly genuine in our walk with Jesus is at once a difficult task and a great reward. In May we look to Mary as a perfect example of someone who genuinely walked with her Son. Let us focus on what it means to be genuine, authentic – or as some would say – being real. Let us commend ourselves to others as Jesus’ authentic followers with confession, repentance, fellowship, obedience, genuineness, and truthful speech. By doing so, the power of God will show through us. We, like Mary, will glow with His real and genuine love. We will be real!

Join us continuing our celebration of Easter joy and in celebrating mom and our heavenly mother this May. There is so much going on in May and we are actively getting ready for our many summer activities. Check out all this and more, plus read up on how we are called to baptize our culture in this month’s newsletter.

You may view and download a copy of our May 2017 Newsletter right here.

Please join us as we walk with the Lord. Our schedule for Holy Week and Easter:

  • Palm Sunday, April 9: Holy Mass at 9:30 and 11:30am.
  • Holy Monday, April 10: Holy Mass for Healing at 6:15pm.
  • Holy Tuesday, April 11: Clergy Conference. Holy Mass of Chrism (Cathedral in Scranton).
  • Maundy Thursday, April 13: Holy Mass, Procession, Stripping of the Altars, 7pm.
  • Good Friday, April 14:
    • Cross Walk at 11am,
    • Private Devotions at 2pm,
    • Bitter Lamentations at 3pm,
    • Liturgy of the Presanctified and Opening of the Tomb at 7pm.
  • Holy Saturday, April 15: Liturgy of New Fire, Renewal of Baptismal Promises, Blessing of Easter Baskets, 4pm.
  • Solemnity of the Resurrection/Easter, April 16: Solemn Procession and Holy Mass at 8am and Holy Mass at 10am.