We do have a

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

We have a bit of a problem as Christians.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is before Pilate. Jesus stands His ground and tells Pilate about His kingdom. He tells Pilate the purpose of His coming – “to testify to the truth.

Our “bit of a problem” is that when we describe Jesus as our King we often times, both in words and visually, describe Him as a humble King. His head is bowed, He looks meek and frankly – weak.

This image can be compounded further because our Church has a democratic tradition in its management. We also live in a democratic society and take our liberties seriously. We tend to prefer our King to be meek and weak.

To help us fully appreciate the Kingship of Jesus – His formal and official Office as our King – the Holy Church gives us this Solemnity. We need to take this opportunity to fix our perspective, to adjust our vision to see Jesus as the One who has absolute authority to rule and reign over us. The Magi and Pilate called Him King. Jesus comes to Jerusalem as the gentle and humble King riding on a donkey – a symbol of a king arriving in peace. In the days to come, with the arrival of the fullness of His Kingdom, He will come astride a white horse. The King astride a horse is a symbol of a king arriving in power to judge and wage war.

The “Kingdom of God” is noted at least sixty-six times in the New Testament, most of the references are in the Gospels. Jesus proclaims: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come . . .

We should have no doubt, Jesus is our King and we owe Him total loyalty, obedience, worship, and adoration. While the time is here we need to greet Him as the King who came in peace to free us and accept His forgiveness and His Lordship. We need to receive Him in awe and reverence for LORD! We are not worthy. It is time for us to recognize that we need to give Him the Lordship and power over our lives – for “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!”

What are we holding

“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Terror! On Friday evening, our time, we learned of horrible terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Earlier the same day there were similar attacks in Beirut, Lebanon. There are insurgent wars and terrorism across the globe. Those with power and money accumulate more – some through a subtle terrorism and violence that slowly whittles away at the lives of those without. The night of the terrorist attack in Paris also marked a major earthquake off the coast of southern Japan.

Many members of the early Church (1st Century) expected Jesus to return within a generation of His Ascension. In the New Testament, the word Parousia, meaning arrival or official visit is used at least seventeen times to refer to the Second Coming of Christ, except the one case in which it refers to the coming of the “Day of the Lord.

The Church has always looked forward to the Parousia, the second coming of Christ. Of course as time passed, and as certain Churches grew rich and powerful, those Churches did not make such a big deal out of it.

The early Church prayed Maranatha (Come, Lord!). They longed for the Lord’s return because they knew the glory that was to be realized by those who put their faith in Him. They didn’t care for worldly wealth and power for, as St. Paul reflected, “I consider our present sufferings insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us.” Somewhere along the line a good chunk of the faithful lost track of that desire.

We must not assume that we know the day and hour of the Lord. That is pride, and a time only the Father knows. “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” What we do know is that terror will come, earthquakes will happen, earthly death will go on, Christians will be persecuted, beheaded, crucified, and subject to the derision of the worldly.

We, as Christians, need to reconnect to that longing, the desire for the Parousia. When we pray the Creed we need to wholeheartedly proclaim: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” We need to really look forward to “the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” We need to cry out “Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!” If we cannot do that, then we must be holding onto something so much more important than His glory.

Riches out of our

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

It is the thought that counts! We might hear that saying in a couple of instances. One is the more traditional meaning – as Oxford tells us: “Used to indicate that it is the kindness behind an act that matters, however imperfect or insignificant the act may be.” The other is slightly more sarcastic. It might also be used when someone receives a gift that isn’t quite wanted – a re-gift of an unwanted gift, something not quite attractive or necessarily wanted. Well, it was the thought that counts.

There was more than just Jesus and His disciples observing the day’s giving at the Temple treasury. We know from some of the other observations Jesus made that many of those who gave did so just to be noticed and praised: “So when you give to the poor, don’t announce it with trumpet fanfare. This is what hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets in order to be praised by people.” Jesus also told a man who had invited Him to dinner to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you.” Living in community obviously allowed many to see and make judgments.

So there is the widow putting in her two mites, all she had. Most were probably not thinking – ‘Well, it was the thought that counts.’ She was an embarrassment to them; that widow, that poor woman. The Old Testament is filled with legislation that attempted to provide for the widow. The legislation acknowledged the fact that they were vulnerable and victimized. People probably did not treat this widow as they should, and there she was. The fact she had next to nothing to give accused the observers.

Jesus was not thinking: ‘Well, it was the thought that counts’ either. The widow’s act of giving was neither imperfect nor insignificant nor was it something received and unwanted. Jesus knew that this widow knew the joy of love and the anguish of loss. Yet she continued to give her all. This act of giving represents what Jesus intended to do in giving of Himself totally. This is what he asks us, His disciples, to do. Jesus saw her giving as perfect, significant, and wanted. Jesus points to her so that we too – from love and loss will chose correctly and give our all.

We need a

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”

Many of our fellow Christians get worked up over the dangers of Halloween. They see it as a glorification and perpetuation of evil. Setting aside the fact that or little Batman, Disney Princess, and movie character is a lot more interested in candy than in evil, Halloween does give us a really good lesson to reflect on as we come to church today on the Solemnity of All Saints and as we remember all our dearly departed throughout the month of November.

Part of the danger we face these days is that we think that the evil of evil isn’t real. Some romanticize evil and ignore its real dangers. A few are so paranoid of evil that they give it power over their lives – like those who try to ban Halloween altogether. Sadly too, there are those who delight in evil and immerse themselves in it. They become numb to what evil is – hatred and the power of death.

If we have watched old horror movies or have read the universe of good stories with their villains and heroes we confront the fact that these stories, based in the experience of their writers, reflect the fact that evil is real. We learn that vampires, werewolves, and mummies shouldn’t be let in the door. We know that these creatures, like evil, are deceptive and dangerous. We also knew that in the end good will prevail. Evil is overcome by great and even unlikely heroes.

So the Holy Church teaches us. First and foremost, the power of our Lord and Savior has overcome all evil. At His death, Jesus crushed Hell beneath His feet. His Precious Blood is the sure remedy that eliminates sin and death. He is on the Heavenly Throne. We, those who have preceded us in holy death, and the glorious band of saints and martyrs will be and are: “… the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.

We should not diminish the evils of the world, or their real danger to us. At the same time we should have confidence that evil holds no power over us if we are in Jesus.

Our power and confidence come from the fact that we are children of God, people of the Light. We have a glorious band of heroes who we should model ourselves after – and like those great saints, let us all find in Jesus the example we are to follow, the way we are to go, and the attitudes we are to live. Then we will indeed be heroes and the blessed of God.

The on-time/early newsletter record goes on…

In November we offer up prayers for all of our dearly departed, those who have proceeded us in holy death. This process of praying in holy memory of our beloved must serve some purpose, correct? It is right to ask, what are we praying for? If everyone goes straight to heaven (as so many think today) there really is no purpose in praying for them. They certainly don’t need our prayers – we need their’s. If we are praying just to keep them in memory, we should pray for ourselves. If, however, our loved ones journey goes on, prayer for them is necessary. Read more about prayer for our departed in our newsletter. Remember, The Lord is patient toward us, and does not wish that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

November also brings Thanksgiving, a continuation of our Holy Masses for Healing and our Bible study, and lots of other news.

You may view and download a copy of our November 2015 Newsletter right here.

This is how I

He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

The restoration of Bartimae’us sight appears to be a rather ordinary. Yet understood within the context of the Gospel of Mark, it serves as a profound revelation about seeing rightly and living in discipleship.

Mark 8:22 tells of the healing of another blind man. In this case, Jesus has to try twice to bring clear sight to the man at Bethsaida. At face value it seems odd that Jesus cannot restore the man’s sight the first time around, but when seen as a parallel to how Jesus deals with His disciples and us it becomes clearer.

Jesus doesn’t give up on making things clear to us. He tries over and over to help us see clearly by the light of faith. Later in Mark 8:29 Jesus asks His disciples their opinion – “Who do you say that I am?” The disciples finally see Jesus for who He is as Peter declares, “You are the Messiah.” As soon as Peter has said that, Jesus begins to teach them about the suffering He must endure. Peter rebukes Jesus and tells Him how he thinks things should go. Jesus plainly tells Peter to get behind Him because Peter doesn’t see clearly. Jesus teaches His disciples over and over that as Messiah he must suffer and die, yet the disciples repeatedly fail to see clearly. Like James and John they think that following Jesus will bring them glory and power.

Jesus repeatedly tries to help His disciples see. Thanks be that He does that for us too since we too can miss the fact that discipleship requires a radical change in our vision, in our way of seeing and understanding.

Now in Mark 10:46 we come across blind Bartimae’us. The blind man lights the way to discipleship and response as it should be. We see Bartimae’us doing all that is required of Jesus’ disciples – a way of living and acting that is hope-filled and authentic.

Bartimae’us, the son of Timae’us, which means ‘the honorable one and son of honor,’ shows how we are to respond to Jesus’ call. Bartimae’us hears that Jesus is near and calls out to Him. As Jesus’ disciples we need to recognize when Jesus is near – indeed how near He is – and we must call out to Him in prayer and petition. The crowd attempts to shout Bartimae’us down yet he cries all the louder. As Jesus disciples we need to speak the truth regardless of the voice of the world. Bartimae’us responds to Jesus’ healing not by going his own way, but by leaving behind his cloak, his all, to follow Jesus. This is the essence of discipleship: to see Jesus clearly and follow along His way.

Our Lord
gets us.

…let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Today our Holy Church calls us to confidence. This call comes directly from scripture.

We start by understanding that we have reason to hold fast to our confession. Our confession is not something without an accompanying promise. In fact, the promise of God is that those who confess Him have a mansion waiting for them in heaven. We who confess Him have the promise of eternal life. We are entitled to call upon Him, and when we do so in faith all that we ask for will be given to us. Confess with confidence.

If this were not enough, the Letter to the Hebrews goes on to explain that our High Priest is also our Advocate. Jesus gets us. He intimately understands us. This isn’t just because He is God, but because He has traveled the same paths we travel. He set aside and emptied Himself and took up our humanity. He ate and drank as we do. He laughed and cried as one of us. He was tempted, He was hungry, He was poor, He was betrayed, He was abandoned, He faced the desecration of His Father’s house, and He suffered and died. He was similarly tested in every way.

As both God and man, Jesus has deep compassion for us. He sympathizes with us. He stands before the Father and claims ownership of us. He and His Precious Blood stand between the Father and us to invoke the Father’s mercy for us. He pleads for us; and is ever ready to take up our cause. As such, we have reason to approach the throne of grace. This is not a mercy-seat on earth such as the high priests of Israel approached with animal and grain sacrifices. It is rather the true throne of grace. A throne won through Jesus’ High Priesthood and self-sacrifice for our redemption.

This throne was built for us, unworthy though we are – so that without qualification, pre-requisite, or preparation we may come, open our hearts, confess our sins, and obtain God’s blessing. It is a throne of glory and beauty built to encourage us to come. It is a throne where grace is freely, frequently, and plentifully dispensed. Grace for pardon and sanctification so that we may be fit for God’s service and praise. Grace is dispensed to us from this throne without money and without price.

Our Lord gets us. He needed the Father’s grace and blessing to carry out His Father’s mission. Thus He offers us the same chance to come to His throne of grace for all we need. Let us be confident, confess Him, and go to Him.

What if things aren’t
so great?

And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.

Today our Holy Church celebrates another of its unique Solemnities – that of the Christian Family. Many pastors will speak today about the unique and beautiful ideal that is the Christian family. This is certainly the model we should be pursuing. We have the example of the Holy Family as our model – Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

In the gospels we read of all the wonderful things that emerge from the blessings of family. Mary came to the assistance of her kinswoman Elizabeth when she was expecting. Joseph protected his family when Herod sent his army to kill them. John proclaimed the coming of His cousin, Jesus. This is certainly the kind of mutual support and overall family goodness we strive for, we hope to find in our lives. But what happens when things go wrong, when our lives don’t exactly match up to the ideal?

The Holy Family faced one of those moments. Jesus went missing. Things weren’t going according to plan. He couldn’t be found. He wasn’t with family and friends. Some Biblical scholars and historians estimate the festival crowds in Jerusalem at about 3 million people. A boy of twelve was somewhere among 3 million people… Scary stuff.

Our lives are filled with scary stuff. When those moments come – abuse, divorce, addiction, poverty, homelessness, infertility, infidelity, and so many other struggles – and we think about the Christian family – we feel that God must have turned His back on us. We are abandoned and alone. We can’t possibly live up to the ideal.

God didn’t abandon Mary and Joseph in their moment of fear. He didn’t abandon His Son in the midst of 3 million people. God has not and will not abandon us. Remember, we are worth so much that He offered up His Son’s life for us. When problems center down on us we have one stronghold we can rely on. It is one stronghold with two aspects. The first aspect is that the Father has adopted us all. We are brothers and sisters to Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit with us to strengthen and uphold us – God who gives us life and complete love. The other aspect of our Father’s provision is the Holy Church and each local parish. This is the Body of Christ in all its reality – brokenness striving to heavenly glory. Mutual love and support so that we may assist each other as one family when things aren’t great.

Are our hearts

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.

This is the day – the set of readings and gospel – we dread to hear. God is laying out His plan for our lives, how we are to act, what we must believe, and the fact that we just cannot make our own rules. These things are difficult for us to hear. As with Israel, we want things our own way.

God is great when He blesses us, but when He tells us the way we must go, the narrow road we must tread, then we balk. We fear the hard questions because the answers are not easy to hear and are even harder to carry out. We often ask – well why can’t..? Why can’t those two people marry? Why can’t we just live together? Why are you getting in the way of my good time?

These and other questions are certainly with us. To get to the answers we must start with a more basic question: Who am I?

As humans we are both honorable and shameful. We are God’s glorious creation, made in His image. We are also fallen from innocence and marred by the sin that pushes us further and further away from the image of God in us. Great evil occurs most readily where the answer to ‘Who am I?’ gives way to hard-hearted, egotistical, and self-centered answers. These offer the wrong answers to the question of who we are.

At an even more fundamental level, we must ask the most important question anyone could ever ask. This is, of course, the question of who God is. Who is this god – the God revealed to us by our Lord and Savior or another deity? Is God pure truth, without lie or deceit, or just a great bunch of suggestions?

In order to understand the image of God within us, we must first decide Who He is. To find the answer to all questions we must fix our eyes on life according to God who does not lie. Otherwise we end up with nothing more than a take-it-or-leave-it menu god, a set of options that offer no real path to life. We end up with ourselves, life according to us. Then we remain with hard hearts because there is nothing else. I am all I have.

Jesus understands our struggle in answering hard questions – finding Him and ourselves. To cure our hard-heartedness He told us to have the faith of a child: “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” That kind of trust, unquestioning and unrestrained, will melt our hearts and give us every answer.

An on-time newsletter again. The record is unbroken…

Fall is here and we take a look at prayer. For whom and for what do we pray? Do we dare to pray big? We are encouraged to trust in God’s promises and to lay before Him more than our most immediate needs. We should be praying big – for all the saints, for the Church, and for the wealth of blessings God offers to His elect. Let’s trust in Him.

This month we will celebrate another one of our Holy Church’s great Solemnities – the Solemnity of the Christian Family. October also brings our Seasonal Craft Fair and Polish Food Kitchen, our Rummage Sale, a continuation of our Holy Masses for Healing and our Bible study, and many other events.

Also in our newsletter – congratulations to our young people who made their First Holy Communion.

You may view and download a copy of our October 2015 Newsletter right here.