Witnessing to Jesus
without fear.

When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.” The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them.

Last week we heard of John’s witness. His witness to new life in Jesus was recorded near the very end of the apostolic era. Today we see a glimpse into the beginning of that era.

The apostles had recently experienced the infusion of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. They never asked – What was that? The first thing they did was to stand on a balcony and proclaim the coming, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. They spent the weeks and months ahead preaching, not to gather followers, but to share the saving work of Jesus. They wanted everyone to know about God’s wonderful gift of freedom and Jesus’s glorious gift of friendship, the very same friendship He offered to them at the seashore. The apostles did not preach themselves as some sort of new leadership. They did not point to themselves as having anything to offer – they offered what they had – their witness to Jesus Christ crucified, raised, and ascended.

Today we will welcome Vincent John into the family of Christ. What we hope and pray is that in his life he will see each of us witness strongly to Jesus crucified, raised, and ascended. Hopefully, he will never see any one of us putting ourselves before the proclamation of Jesus. Hopefully, he will see and find in the Church his new and eternal family. Hopefully, he too will take up the mantle of witness so that his children and his children’s children will know Jesus as friend and savior – the One Who offers complete freedom.

Together with Vincent we have this great opportunity, but it comes with what might be seen as a problem… Jesus’ witnesses will not go without worldly assault. There is a cost to accepting Jesus. This arrest marks the third time they had been apprehended. Soon Stephen would be chosen, would proclaim and witness, would be arrested and would be martyred. The apostles’ greatest witness is that opportunity in Jesus is greater than any challenge. It is why they lived fearless lives.

Vincent, as we have all done, takes on the opportunity and challenge. His is the call to witness to the promise of God’s friendship and freedom, which is greater than any fear. That is the real glory isn’t it? The reward is that all of us have complete power and assurance in Christ. No fear in us because of Him. Ours is fearless life forever!

This week’s memory verse: Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, fill me with Your joy. Instill confidence in me for Your promise is greater than all things.

Witnessing to Jesus
without fear.

He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.”

John, Jesus’ beloved Apostle, is exiled on a Greek island. He’d been cut off from His community. They tried to kill him repeatedly without success. If they couldn’t kill him, at least they could send him far away and shut him up. That didn’t work either. While on this far away rock Jesus comes to John. He gives him a command. Write what you see so that your witness will be preserved. The words of your mouth and the writing you undertake in my Holy Name cannot be silenced. To reinforce this Jesus showed up in the fullness of heavenly glory.

For nearly eighty years, John had traveled the world, proclaiming the saving action of Jesus. He met the resurrected Jesus on that awesome Sunday. That gave him more than just power and the ability to speak and write. It gave him the gift of joy. No matter where he would end up, no matter where he would go, he had Jesus – and a clear path to eternal life.

Many heard him. He wrote his witness and sent letters. Because of his witness some believed. They came to Jesus by faith. Many others walked away or outright rejected the message.

The question of Jesus has perplexed generations. Encountering and believing in Jesus was even difficult for the Apostles. The whole group thought that they had seen a ghost. Thomas couldn’t see it. To this day Jesus is accepted by few and rejected by many.

Jesus showed forth His power over nature, sickness, and death itself. His resurrection attests to His Divinity, and we embrace Him. Yet many are like a judge in a court who has heard an open-and-shut case and then reaches a verdict exactly opposite from the facts. Everything about Jesus was astounding, astonishing, humanly inexplicable, marvelous, superhuman, supernatural, and Divine. Many saw it all and still refused Jesus. Is it any wonder then that “Jesus marveled at their unbelief?” How can one be exposed to such an infinite number of convincing credentials and witnesses and walk away?

Like John we have the gift of faith and the power of Jesus in us. We have witnessed amazing things. Hearts and lives are changed, peace comes, healing is made real, and death is no more. The tomb is empty! Joy is ours. Jesus has changed our lives as He changed Thomas’. Like the Apostles, the sent, we have these great gifts and a heart to share them. Never fear witnessing to Him and all these amazing things. Rejection cannot overcome the joy we have. Let us remain steadfast and take Jesus’ word to heart: “Do not be afraid.”

Our ever popular Basket Social, back for the 14th year in a row, will be held on Sunday, April 17th starting at noon at a new location, The Rotterdam Senior Citizen’s Center, 2639 Hamburg St., Rotterdam, NY.

Along with a slew of baskets and door prizes we will feature our great Polish Kitchen. All are welcome and we look forward to seeing you and serving you.

2016 Basket Social April 17

Back on the early newsletter streak (at least one day early this time).

April and we are filled with Easter joy. But what happens when life becomes challenging, when we are confronted with something really serious and maybe even dangerous? Can we find joy there? This month we reflect on the lives of martyrs – and these aren’t just people who lived in ancient times. We have a host of new martyrs all over the world. Yet they stand strong and resolute. Not fearful, not shrinking away – but joyous because nothing the world does to them or takes from them is more valuable than the joy they have in Jesus. We have that same joy. Reflect, rediscover, and be joyous!

Also in our newsletter, important news on our annual Basket Social (note the new location), CONVO 2016, Kurs, national workshops, and ways to increase reverence in your current marriage.

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

We pray that you will experience a Reverent Holy Week. May we approach these sacred Liturgies of the Church with great reverence and solemnness. We have a wonderful opportunity over these next days to share with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the events of salvation. Take advantage of the opportunity we have and approach these beautiful Liturgies of the Church with reverence, respect, and allow them to draw us closer to Jesus and our brothers and sisters in the faith.

The schedule below notes all services for Holy Week and Easter. Please remember that Wednesday through Saturday of Holy Week are days of fasting.

  • 3/21 – Holy Monday. Holy Mass for the Sick at 6:15pm
  • 3/22 – Holy Tuesday: Clergy Conference and Holy Mass of Chrism, St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Cathedral, Scranton, PA.
  • 3/24 – Maundy Thursday: Holy Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament, 7pm.
  • 3/25 – Good Friday: Cross Walk begins at 9am at St. Adalbert’s R.C. Church. Church Open for Private Devotion at 2pm. Lamentations at 3pm, Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified and Opening of the Tomb at 7pm.
  • 3/26 – Holy Saturday: Holy Saturday Liturgies – Blessing of new fire, holy water, renewal of baptismal promises, blessing of food, 4pm.
  • 3/27 – Solemnity of the Resurrection: Procession and Solemn High Holy Mass at 8am with Baptism, Holy Mass at 10am. Easter Repast/ Święconka after each Holy Mass.

Making
choices.

And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed.

Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week. Palm Sunday marks the start of a week in which tremendous, world-changing choices would be made and would be followed up on.

Choices big and small confronted the people we meet today. Would the disciples go and get the colt? Would the owner of the colt let them take it? Small matters, but unless Jesus arrived on that colt He could not be proclaimed the peace bringing King and Messiah of Israel.

There are those in the party of Jesus. They had made or were making choices. Peter would choose to react without thinking. Thomas would choose to doubt. John chose to stand by Jesus. After Jesus fed the multitudes Judas heard and saw Him refuse political power. Judas heard Jesus tell the crowds that He must be betrayed and must die. Judas chose to follow Jesus to Jerusalem so me might destroy Him. Jesus was not living up to the choices Judas made for Him.

The crowds appeared after they had all made their choice. They chose to cut branches and lay their cloaks on the road – honoring the King of kings. They shook their fists in the air proclaiming, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” They did this right under the nose of the Roman governor and his troops. Important stuff.

St. Paul tells us “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Yet so many choose to walk away from the Name of Jesus or even to step all over it.

Jesus had to choose. We think He was on autopilot and that everything He did was pre-arranged. Not so. At the supper He had to chose to leave us a lasting memorial, His body and blood to be real and present to us so we might partake of Him. In the garden He prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” He struggled and chose to accept and follow the Father’s will. He did so, not because it was easy, but because it was the ultimate act of love and surrender. Love freely given.

Each day we make good and bad choices. We live our Christian virtues and rejoice in doing so. We confront the ease with which we fall in our day-to-day choices. Who among them would do such a deed? We are weak Lord. Our deeds not yet one with You, not completely loving. Yet Your cross lifts us up when our choices fail You. Help us to choose You, Your way, Your love. “Jesus, remember me.

Getting back to
Eden.

It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.

We continue in our Lenten series on getting back to Eden.

Paul puts it so plainly. We are all on a journey back to Eden. We haven’t quite gotten there, but we press on toward that goal.

Paul cites himself as the best of examples of one who needs to keep working toward that goal, to the full maturity of faith needed to grasp onto Eden. He knew that he had faith, but he wanted it to mature, to become more and more intimate with Jesus.

The people he was writing to couldn’t quite understand that. Here was Paul, and apostle. One who met and was sent by the Lord. Here was Paul, one who had suffered in union with and for the Lord; Paul who had sacrificed so much in order to acquire justice before God. He had to be there already, hadn’t he? Paul had to be in a state of perfection. He shouldn’t have to do anything else.

Yet here is Paul clueing them in. We all need to increase our efforts to reach Christian perfection. Much remains to be done, and we really cannot rest on the merits of what has been done before.

We are all tempted to pause, pat ourselves on the back, and think we’ve got it done. Paul reminds us by saying that he must strain forward, press ahead, to what lies ahead, a continued pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

Today we have reflected on the times we have fallen short in our effort to press ahead toward Eden. We have removed the image of being all done, so we can start fresh. Our prize is not far from our grasp, we re-enter a state of sinlessness, we take hold of the promise of that beautifully perfect place, we have removed the fear caused by shame, we feel peace all around us, we re-engage in a cooperative relationship with God and each other. Eden is not far off.

Jesus is not far from us, but to reach Him it takes effort, introspection, and a commitment to developing more fully that intimate relationship that is at the heart of the Christian journey.

This is the time. If we haven’t done all we should then we need to take heart. The path is clear now and we are able to re-engage. Like the woman brought forward in that street so many years ago we hear Jesus say to us “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.

Freedom is before us. Eden is close by. Wrongs are forgotten. Sin is gone. We are free. We are ready to get back to Eden. The option is to do all required to strain forward.

Getting back to
Eden.

Brothers and sisters: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

We continue in our Lenten series on getting back to Eden.

St. Paul makes Jesus’ mission to the world explicitly clear for the Corinthians. He came to reconcile the world, to eliminate the old and make all things new. This is the practical application of the parable of the Prodigal Son.

The son had taken all of the gifts his father had given him and had wasted them. The father’s work and savings, a lifetime of achievement had been squandered: he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.

The son returns, somewhat penitent, but still in a way self-serving. He is going back to the father to once again take advantage of his generosity – even if as a slave. Yet the father welcomes and forgives.

God knows our selfishness, our sins, our failings, yet through His Son Jesus, He no longer counts this against us. The old paradigm, the old way of doing things has been destroyed. There is a new way of forgiveness, reconciliation and welcome in spite of our sins. “We must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

How did the sinful son feel? Overwhelmed by his father’s welcome, by the freely given and unconditional love he received, he had to be changed. The selfish motive for returning had been removed by the father’s welcome. The past had been forgotten. No grudge existed. Healing did.

The world of Eden is a world of healing love – sin is completely removed. While we remain in a world marred by sin, we live in the promise of a world without sin. Sin weighs on us not because we expect punishment and retribution, but because God is so very loving. He welcomes us back to the Eden born of His great love. How can we not regret our sin, and pledge to improve our lives, when faced with such a great love?

St. Paul, in reminding us of this great love, tells us that we also have something to give back. We are to become ambassadors of reconciliation, making the promise of Eden known to all we encounter. We are reconciled so we may reconcile.

Total reconciliation with God is not something that exists somewhere in the future. In Jesus, Eden is for today and for all.

Back on the early newsletter streak (thanks to the extra day this leap year).

March and Easter is here. Lent has flown by unexpectedly quickly, and we reflect on the amazingly unexpected things God has done for us. We invite you to join us for the remainder of of our Lenten events, our Seniorate Lenten retreat, and all of our Holy Week observances. There will even be an unexpected surprise Easter Sunday morning (come check it out at 8am).

Also in our newsletter, important news on our annual Basket Social (note the new location), CONVO 2016, and this Special Year Reverence Across our Holy Church.

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