Look!
Jesus!

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

I saw a cute little poster. Kermit the Frog is drinking tea and reflecting: ‘You slow down when you see the police but you don’t stop sinning even though God is watching.’ It makes me think of exactly how scared I was as a kid when I heard that God saw and knew everything.

Of course, now I know better. Certainly, God is all knowing, He sees everything – but He sees us through a kind of rose colored glasses – He sees us through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus who gave Himself for us. If I have placed my faith in Him, all my sins have been washed away and I need no longer fear. As the hymn proclaims: ‘Grace, my fears relieved. The hour I first believed.’

The one error we fall into as people freed by grace is to maintain a two-plane view of our relationship with God. He is ‘up there.’ We are ‘down here.’ We do stuff here; He watches from there.

Having a two-plane view of our relationship with God sets Him apart from us. As Kermit surmises in the poster, we see the police and slow down. We fail to see God’s near presence in our lives, our workplaces, and our community because we do not believe He is with us, near us.

The changes we are called to make begin with our breaking down separateness from God.

Indeed, Jesus came into the world to demonstrate God’s desire to be with us. He did not leave us alone and apart, but sent His Holy Spirit to live with us, advise us, and to fill our lives with grace as we encounter Him in sacrament and community. We are called to break free of our two-plane view and live closely with God – as St. John tells us, walking with Him ‘in the Spirit and in truth.

The next step moves us from concept and thought. We must decide how we will see God – Is He apart or near? This is where the rubber-hits-the-road. If God is on another plane and apart from us, we may choose to live just as we live, disconnected from Him, not seeing Him. But if He is with us, part of every aspect of our lives, not just watching, but involved here and now, then we must take John the Baptist’s observation seriously. John pointed to Jesus saying ‘Behold!’

If we believe that He is with us, we are called to point to Him just as John did. We are called to bring clarity where there is doubt and to make Him completely real – on the same plane – as those we encounter. That happens when people recognize Jesus in their midst when they recognize His very real presence. That happens when they see the face of Jesus in our faces and feel His touch in our work – when the light goes on and they say, ‘Look! Jesus!’

Hurry
up.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste

Reflecting on this team of shepherds we see some amazing things happening.

For the shepherds, their meeting an angel and seeing the whole heavenly host would be amazing enough. Hearing that the Messiah had been born – for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah – represents a promise that had become a dream that for them had now been fulfilled. Amazing to have one’s dreams fulfilled in an instant.

We have several choices when we encounter something amazing. We might stand there with our mouth open. We might jump for joy. We might, after the initial shock, begin to question whether it was real. Would we leave everything, would we abandon our entire life, for that amazing thing?

Throughout faith history we encounter amazing things happening. An elderly barren couple becomes the progenitors of God’s chose people. The people of Israel, enslaved, are freed. Judges are chosen to lead the people against enemies that vastly outnumber them. A youngest son, a shepherd, is anointed king.

In Jesus’ coming those amazing things are magnified. The deaf will hear. The poor will have the good news preached to them. The dead will be raised.

On this Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds the amazing teaches us an important lesson.

Among the amazing things that happened that morning was the fact that the shepherds left their herds. They abandoned their herds, their means of livelihood and hurried toward Bethlehem “to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord made known to them.”

This is the same thing that was to happen thirty years later along the shores of lake of Gennes’aret. Men would leave their livelihood; abandon their families and boats to follow Jesus.

Let us reflect on our faith journey, that moment we finally recognized the power of accepting Jesus and placing our faith in Him. In that the amazing became real for us.

Following Christ goes far beyond just believing certain things about God. It is more than intellectual endeavor. It comes down to our willingness to be part of the amazing and to do the amazing because our lives have been changed by God’s agenda for us.

By God’s grace, the shepherds left their flocks; the apostles dropped their nets. What are we to do? Our call is to hurry up in leaving the old self behind and join with Jesus in living amazing grace filled lives.

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Sometimes news causes a huge change in our life. Our perspective and our work are reordered by the news and our reaction to it. Our outlook on life and habits can be changed overnight. Our scripture above, taken from 2nd Corinthians, asks us to be aware of the thing that some people discover only at the last minute. Each of our days is a favorable time to grow, to change, to become more like our Master. Each of our days is an opportunity to grasp our salvation, to order God as our first priority. In 2017, let each day be one in which faithful change brings favor to all we encounter.

Join us as we continue to celebrate Christmas right through February 2nd. We have some great events (our spaghetti dinner for one), fellowship, and mostly our taking advantage of the moment to draw closer to God.

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

I am
resolved.

Eight days later Jesus’ parents did for him what the Law of Moses commands.

Today we listen to the shortest Gospel reading of the year; one sentence in length. Yet this reading contains so much of what Jesus is all about.

After eight days every male child who was descended from Abraham was to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant with God and in order to be full participants in God’s community.

The milah – circumcision – was performed anytime between sunrise and sunset on the eighth day from when the child was born. Mary brought her Son to the place where the circumcision was to be performed and Joseph likely performed the ceremony. Circumcision in Jesus’ time was much the same as it had been in Abraham’s day. It was ritualistic and less formal than it is today.

Now Jesus, being God, did not need circumcision, yet He went through it. We can say that His circumcision is more than something He accepted, it is something He resolved to do. It was His purpose, God’s resolution, that the requirements the old law be observed so that the new law, the new covenant would be ushered in.

For practical purposes alone Jesus had to be circumcised. Otherwise, the community of Israel would have excluded Him from the Synagogue and Temple. He would not have been able to bring God’s new covenant to God’s chosen people if He was seen as against the Law.

Beyond the practical, Jesus took up in this act the fullness of humanity. God came, born of a woman and took up all of what we are. God would live and experience the fullness of human loss, sufferings, pain, and temptation. He would also enjoy the fullness of human joy. He, like us, would not live immune or somehow above the reality of human nature. He came to show us what we can be, what our opportunities and possibilities are.

We stand at the beginning of a new year. It is that moment when we take up opportunities and possibilities. They may be practical – lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more. They should be something more.

In reflecting on the opportunities and possibilities of the New Year let us unite ourselves with the Lord. Let us recognize the important lesson He taught – the fullness of our humanity has every chance at perfection because of Jesus and only in Jesus. Like Jesus we will spend time in joyful celebration and happiness in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Like Him we will be challenged by human loss, sufferings, pain, and temptation. God resolved to save us. Let us be resolved to do the Father’s will, and become more and more like His Son. He has freed us in the new covenant to do exactly that.

“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

Together with Mary and Joseph, imitating their simplicity and humility, we kneel in front of the Word made flesh: Jesus Christ, our Savior. We bow in silent adoration before the great mystery of the Incarnation Who offers joy and peace to everyone who adopts Him.

Breaking the Christmas Eve wafer, we pray that the newborn Christ will fill your heart with the steadfast hope that overcomes all difficulties; will give you faith that will conquer even in the darkest of days; and will fill you with the greatness of his joy and love.

We would like to thank all our benefactors; all who take such great care of our home, this parish church, and who are dedicated to building God’s presence in our community. May the Child Jesus reward you with abundant graces for your open and generous hearts.

May your Christmas season be filled with love, joy, and peace both at home and among your family and friends. May the blessings of the Child Jesus accompany you throughout 2017!

With a prayer and blessing, Your pastor,

Fr. James Konicki and family


„A Słowo ciałem się stało i zamieszkało między nami” (J 1,14)

Razem z Maryją i Józefem, naśladując ich prostotę i pokorę, klękamy przed Słowem, które stało się Ciałem: Jezusem Chrystusem, naszym Zbawicielem. Pochylamy się w cichej adoracji nad wielką tajemnicą Wcielenia, które napełnia radością i pokojem każdego, kto przyjmuje Dziecię Jezus do swojego serca.

Przełamując wigilijny opłatek, życzymy Wam, Drodzy, aby Nowonarodzony Chrystus napełnił Wasze serca niezachwianą nadzieją, która pozwoli pokonać wszelkie trudności, silną wiarą, która rozjaśni nawet najbardziej mroczne dni i głęboką miłością, która w każdym człowieku potrafi dostrzec promyk dobra oraz zawsze jest gotowa przebaczyć.

Pragniemy podziękować wszystkim Dobroczyńcom, którzy troszczą się o parafialny Kościół-naszą i o sprawy naszej Wspólnoty parafialnej. Niech Dziecię Jezus wynagrodzi Wam obfitymi łaskami za Wasze otwarte i hojne serce.

Wszystkim życzymy, aby Święta Bożego Narodzenia upłynęły w atmosferze miłości, radości i życzliwości w gronie najbliższych i przyjaciół. A błogosławieństwo Dziecięcia Jezus niech towarzyszy Wam przez cały Nowy 2017 Rok.

Z modlitwą i błogosławieństwem wasi duszpasterz,

Ks. Jakub Konicki i rodziny

Expect the
unexpected.

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”

What doesn’t change? If we took a moment, we could probably jot down a list of the things that don’t change a whole lot from year to year, Christmas to Christmas.

Those red poinsettias that always decorate the parish; they’re so beautiful. But wait; didn’t Fr. Jim add while ones a couple years ago to signify the purity of the Christ child? Hmmm.

Growing up we always went to my aunt and uncle’s house down the street for the Christmas vigil. It was a night filled with tradition. We had the same soup and food. We waited until the dishes were washed before we got around to opening presents. My one cousin was the one to hand everything out. We waited for that moment we all knew was coming when one of my cousins would open her gift only to find it was a new set of underwear – she got the same gift from her mom every year. We would all chuckle and comment. Then we would walk home and try to rest before the shepherd’s Holy Mass at midnight. Those dinners and the gift of underwear have changed.

Our memories are filled with experiences we thought would never change. Instinct, intellect, and common sense were disregarded because we were so sure they would never end. This will happen, be repeated, year after year.

In the Christmas proclamation we hear that Jesus was born 5,199 years after the foundation of the world. Consider a world caught up in the expected for thousands of years. The children of Israel hoped for the Messiah, but I am pretty sure they set most of that hope aside –nothing is going to change.

Then, suddenly, the heavenly host appears. The angel proclaims the news: “a savior has been born for you who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Savior has a particular meaning. The Messiah is to be the Rescuer. The Savior is indeed the Rescuer. He will pull us up out of trouble. He rescues us from sin, from hopelessness, and most of all from the expected.

The world stood in silence waiting and suddenly everything changed. The unexpected happened. The Messiah – not a civil ruler and army commander – but God’s only Son made flesh and blood. He is God as child, as baby, coming in the poorest of conditions. He is God Who wipes away all separation. He is God who reaches out to us. We need not plead, we need do nothing, for He did it all for us. Wherever we are, whatever we expect, the one sure unchanging things one our list is God who rescued us, God Who always delivers unexpected love. Do not be afraid – be sure of Him.

December 24: We will hold a Christmas Vigil Holy Mass at 4pm on Christmas Eve.

December 25: The Solemn Shepherds’ Holy Mass of Christmas begins at midnight. During one of the year’s longest nights, we will break forth with light, song, and pronouncement to celebrate Jesus’ birth. The night’s liturgy begins with one of our parish’s women carrying the baby Jesus to the manger. Then the manger is blessed and the Christmas proclamation is made. The Solemn Holy Mass of the Nativity follows with beautiful traditional music of the season.

December 25: For those who prefer, the Holy Mass on Christmas Day will be celebrated at 10am.

Whichever Holy Mass you choose, it’s important that we not forget the reason for the celebration. Come to Jesus’ house on His birthday (and bring family and friends) for these beautiful liturgies.

Other services of the forty day Christmas season coming up include:

  • December 27: Feast – St. John, Apostle & Evangelist. Holy Mass at 7pm with Blessing of Wine
  • January 1: Solemnity of the Circumcision. Holy Mass at 9:30 and 11:30am. Happy 2017!
  • January 2: Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus – Holy Mass at 10am.
  • January 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. Holy Mass with blessing of chalk, charcoal, and incense at 7pm.
  • January 8: Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Holy Mass at 9:30 and 11:30am.
  • January 9: Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Holy Mass at 8:30am.

Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Last year we dedicated ourselves to focusing on joy. In the spirit of one liturgical and calendar year ending and the next beginning, let’s look back. We began last year in Advent, a season of anticipatory joy. Fitting for us as Christians – God’s children – we awaited the best present ever. Then came that day standing at the stable, looking upon the baby Jesus and living the forty days of joyful celebration that followed. Knowing Jesus is always in our midst as well as newly with us. We walked though each season finding new joy in Christ and each other. Here we are – at the start – again reconnecting, celebrating, and knowing endless joy. Time to smile, shed a tear of joy at the stable, and look ahead.

Join us throughout December for a jam packed schedule of holy events, fellowship, and mostly joy. Escape the harangue of the world and find peace, time out from the madness in Jesus and the family of faith.

Send in your Polish Food Sale orders. Get a memory cross. Pick up those Christmas wafers / Opłatki. Join us for our annual Christmas Vigil / Wigilia pot-luck will be held on Sunday, December 18th following Holy Mass. Our SOCL students will present a short play for your reflection and enjoyment. Our brother, Derek Westcott will present two musical pieces he has been working on for months. Come see and support them. Genealogy, roots, stipends, college, read up…

You may view and download a copy of our December 2016 Newsletter right here.

Help the me in me
to decrease.

John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

In the some Churches the celebration of the Lord’s Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ threefold revelation.

Jesus is revealed to the nations in the visit of the Magi. Jesus and the Holy Trinity is revealed at Jesus’ Baptism: heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus is revealed to His disciples at Cana in Galilee when He changes water to wine. You have got to love the Church’s celebration especially when you get a three-for-one deal.

In the west we spread the celebration of these events over several weeks. What remains most important is that we maintain focus on the magnificence of God’s coming. Whether commemorated in one day or over several weeks, the importance Jesus’ coming should always be before our eyes. Why so?

We could say that God’s coming to earth is important and magnificent in and of itself. That’s the wow factor – Wow, God is here, walking with us. We could focus on the wonderful teaching and way of life Jesus proclaimed. A lot of people do that even if they don’t believe that Jesus is God. Jesus’ coming and revelation touches each person in a particular way. That’s God’s grace at work in us – drawing us closer each day, entering relationship with us.

Today, two young people will be baptized. They will come forward and will agree to start the journey into relationship with God. They will acknowledge their search for and commitment to God’s revelation in their lives. They will say that they want the world to meet Jesus through them, their words, actions, and way of life.

What we sometimes miss in Jesus’ revelation is the very thing John said: He is mightier, I am not worthy… The Gospel according to St. John is even more explicit in this regard. John the Baptist says: He must increase in importance, while I must decrease…

At its essence, that is what baptism is all about. It is about revealing God as more important than all of my wants and desires. I want God more than anything else. He is all in my life. Fill in the blank: God is more important than my ________. When we do that, we place God at the center of our lives, we become victorious. When we put Jesus front and center and throughout our lives we let Him be powerful and revealed in our lives. It is no longer just me, but Him in me. Then we achieve true joy and glory.

Being a joyful and
holy family

Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.

Today we honor the Holy Family, but what do we mean by that?

In recent years we see more and more representations of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. While these are lovely and heartwarming, they can present a false image, a misrepresentation of the true relationship between Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As Christians we must maintain true and orthodox teaching about that relationship. How should we understand that relationship?

In portraying Jesus we often see Him as a Child alone with His Mother. This stresses the teaching that Jesus is “a Son without a father, Who was begotten of the Father without a mother before the ages.”

Traditionally, Jesus is never portrayed alone with Saint Joseph or with Joseph and Mary as a pair of parents. Joseph’s fatherly role is not understood as some sort of head of the ‘Holy Family;’ rather, he is seen as the Providentially provided guardian of Mary and her Divine Child. His humble acceptance and virtuous fulfillment of this role holds a very special lesson and example for us.

What we learn from this is that the Christian life is a family life with family love and caring not defined by blood but by unity in Jesus. As Mary and Joseph were bound in a new kind of love by the coming of Jesus, so each of us is to be bound to our fellow Christians in this new love.

St. Paul reminds us that this new way of life is to be filled with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, and over all these love. What a way to live!

So what we mean by ‘Holy Family’ is that God has created a new model of relationship. The definition of family has grown. Of course family includes our natural family and the model God has ordained since creation. It also includes, since Jesus’ coming, a changed and expanded order of nature. Family is caring not just by blood, but also by unity in faith in Jesus.

As we celebrate this Holy day and our calling to be one family in Jesus let us resolve to be faithful to this great family. Let us encounter one another as St. Paul says we should. Let us remind ourselves of the true joy to be found in family.