“This is how it is with the kingdom of God”

Today we re-enter Ordinary Time and the wearing of the Green. We had six weeks of Rose and Purple, ten weeks of White, and a brief week of Red.

Driving out to the Seminary and the Men’s Retreat was so refreshing. The land alive with growth, and on beautiful green display.

Holy Church uses green to convey a call to growth in our Kingdom citizenship. Not only that, it dedicates the majority of the weeks of the year, twenty-five in all in our Church, to growing.

In a beautiful way the call to growth is made imperative in today’s readings and gospel. Let’s look at that call.

In our first reading Ezekiel proclaims God’s promises of hope. He will restore Israel and plant it securely to grow and prosper. What had been broken and withered, reduced to nothing, will live again.

God likens Israel to the tender shoot from the top of the Cedar. We may not necessarily find cedars around us, but almost all types of evergreens put out tender shoots. Even the prickliest ones produce bright green, soft, fragrant shoots.

In Ezekiel, God does as He promises. The imperative things, that is the vitally important and crucial things authoritatively commanded, God Himself carries out. Israel had no power to restore itself, no army or political power. Israel is ‘new.’ So, out of His tremendous love and forgiveness, He will re-establish them. The imperative is from God and done by God.

Jesus Who came to usher in the Kingdom changes things up for us. Using nature and growth we see a different imperative. The focus is now on us.

God has scattered the seed – what we covered in the past few weeks – His sacraments and the depth of His Word given us, He has implanted in us by Jesus and has given us a place to dwell, His Holy Church, symbolized by the mustard bush the largest of plants with large branches, where the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.

As Jesus states: Of its own accord the land yields fruit. The imperative remains from God but now it must be done by us. Growth in ourselves and in the Kingdom is dependent on us. We must yield fruit.

So, we are to grow ourselves: our sanctification growth into the image of God filled with complete self-giving love. We are to evangelize, to draw people into the Kingdom. It is imperative!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. 

Two weeks ago, we began considering the word mystery and the fact that we are now in a short transitional season between the fifty days of Easter and the start of ‘Ordinary Time’ next week.

We have already considered the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Body and Blood of Jesus. Today we consider the mystery of the Word whose Solemnity our Holy Church has instituted.

All these mysteries flow out of Pentecost which is their lynchpin. The power of the Holy Spirit and His gifts are given to us so we may better appreciate and draw grace from our contemplation and celebration of the mysteries of God’s Being, Feeding, and Word.

We are so privileged, for our Holy Church is the only one that believes and teaches that the Word of God proclaimed and taught has sacramental effect in our lives.

Many of us likely have a vague recollection of what sacramental effect is. It has been a while since catechism class. So, a little refresher.

A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of God’s inward and spiritual grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification and salvation. Sacraments give sanctifying grace, and each gives a special sacramental grace through the merits of Jesus Christ Who instituted them.

Catechism of the PNCC 280, 283, 284.

That is a beautiful definition, and it covers a lot, but to make it more accessible let’s consider sacraments this way: God has great love for us and His love is so powerful that it changes us in the most remarkable and essential of ways. It causes us to grow into the image of His beloved Son Jesus and to become those who, when they appear before Him, are embraced just as the Father embraces His Son Jesus.

So, God has this love, but it must be transmitted, we need an infusion of His love, and it must occur in real, recognizable ways. Think of the sacraments as food for eternal life. We need to receive this food so to be filled and satisfied.

God’s Word Who is Jesus filled the world with all goodness at creation. His Word filled the people of Israel on their journeys, and His Word fills us today for through the Word people learn and grow, we are fed, filled and are enabled to confidently approach the throne of grace.

“Take it; this is My body.” “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

Moses anointed the people with the blood of bulls as a sign of the covenant between them and God. As the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, we have something so much better now, not cleansing or agreement through the blood of goats and bulls, but through the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We began last week considering the word mystery and the fact that we are now in a short transitional season between the fifty days of Easter and the start of ‘Ordinary Time’ two weeks from now.

In this time, we contemplate the mysteries God has revealed to us in His word, by the revelation, work and teaching of Jesus, and by the teaching of the Apostles and Fathers.

Last week we focused on the mysteries of the Holy Trinity. Today we continue in consideration of the mystery of the Body and Blood of Jesus which began Thursday and is so important it is celebrated and contemplated for an Octave, eight days. Next Sunday we consider the mystery of the Word whose Solemnity our Holy Church has instituted and requires to be celebrated on the third Sunday after Pentecost. No, next Sunday is not an Ordinary Sunday.

All these mysteries flow out of Pentecost which is their lynchpin. The power of the Holy Spirit and His gifts are given to us so we may better appreciate and draw grace from our contemplation and celebration of God’s mysteries of God’s Being, feeding, and Word.

It is so important that we be very careful in our consideration of the mystery of Jesus’ Body and Blood. We are not called to philosophically explain it, only to believe.

We are very privileged within our Holy Church because we have continually taught and lived the reality of what we receive. The dignity of the sacrament and how it is handled indicate that this is not some ordinary thing. Unfortunately, in some Churches they have thrown that all out. It is why more than a third of their churchgoers no longer believe that they receive Jesus’ true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. What a sad life bowing to bread and wine and thinking there is nothing there. 

If we do not believe, then there is no encounter with Jesus’ eternity during the Canon, we are not pulled into heaven with Him. We kneel to nothing. We receive nothing. We leave with nothing in us.  

Jesus gave us this mystery and gift so that we might be continually connected to His wholeness and He to us. This is what we believe. What an amazing and wonderful gift.

This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.

St. Paul told the Church of Rome; we are all children of God and because of our adoption also joint heirs with Christ. So, I welcome you my dear brothers and sisters.

That welcome is not just a trite saying, something pastors ‘start off with.’ Rather it is a statement of fact and part of the great mystery into which we entered at baptism.

The word mystery is key for this short transitional season between the fifty days of Easter and the start of ‘Ordinary Time’ four weeks from now.

In this time, we will contemplate the mysteries God has revealed to us in His word, by the revelation, work, and teaching of Jesus, and by the teaching of the Apostles and Fathers.

In these weeks we will focus on the mysteries of the Holy Trinity, celebrated today, the Body and Blood of Jesus celebrated this Thursday and throughout its Octave, and the mystery of the Word whose Solemnity our Holy Church has instituted for the third Sunday after Pentecost.

Pentecost is the lynchpin for these mysteries. The power of the Holy Spirit and His gifts are given to us so we may better appreciate and draw grace from our contemplation and celebration of God’s mysteries.

Over these three weeks we have an opportunity to revel in God’s mysteries. The word revel calls to mind a celebration, a loud, noisy party with great merry making, enjoying our life together. And so, we should celebrate God’s great mysteries.

What we celebrate is this – that we do not have to figure it out. I like that, no homework. 

We are not called to explain God’s mysteries but celebrate what has been revealed to us of God’s very nature.

The revelation of God’s identity as Father, Son, and Spirit – three persons in One God – is shown throughout the gospels from the Baptism at the Jordan to the Ascension. Jesus’ identity of God is self-revealed for He is “I Am.” The Holy Spirit has inspired the Church to fight back against numerous heresies with Creeds that state plainly what we believe of God’s identity.

What we celebrate is the fact that God loves us so much, so very much, that He allows us to know Him. My God is intimately my God because I know Him as He is and I know His desire to be with me.

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

A blessed Pentecost to all of you!

Fifty days ago, we celebrated Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. Ten days ago, we celebrated the Lord’s Ascension. Today we are gathered into that singular moment where alongside the Apostles, disciples, and the Blessed Mother we enter prayer and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But Father, what do you mean? Isn’t the Spirit something we ‘got’ when we were baptized and later confirmed? Well… yes and no.

If we think about the Holy Spirit’s presence and affect in our lives as merely a transactional thing, something that happens once and we are done with it, we would be mistaken. We must remember that the Spirit’s key gift is an ongoing and energizing life together. 

Let’s dissect this a bit. 

Where are we? Indeed, yes, in church. But think about this, the way our parish church is configured we are upstairs, in the upper room. Like the Apostles, disciples, and the Blessed Mother we are engaged in prayer. Like them we have received Jesus’ promise of the Advocate: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” And… here He is among us and in us.

Let’s take a moment and breathe that in. Let us close our eyes, breathe in deeply, just like when the doctor is checking your heart and lungs, and breathe out doing a self-check on our hearts and lungs.

Our hearts and minds should be perceiving the Holy Spirit flowing through us, planting His unique gifts in us. Our breath should be filled with praise for His wonderful presence and the power He gives us.

Back to the idea of transactional things, was that check-in with the Holy Spirit just a transaction. We paid a few seconds of our time and now we’re done? Not at all!

Life with a transactional god is life with a mere idol, it is idolatry. Life in the Spirit gets us forever strength and power. Doing that close your eyes, breathe in and out exercise focused on the Holy Spirit’s being with us should leave us trembling with energy and enthusiasm for doing as those others gathered in the upper room did this day: “speaking of the mighty acts of God.

“I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”

Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen! Alleluia! 

On this last Sunday in the Easter Season, we hear again from the extended Last Supper dialog between Jesus and His Apostles. Jesus is pouring out His heart to them as their servant, teacher, and Lord. He is begging them to take these lessons to heart.

In this dialog Jesus draws the distinction between the world and worldly and those who follow Him. He plainly states that those who follow Him are different.

On this Mother’s Day we might recall those dialogs with our moms: ‘Aww, mom, do I have to be so different. I want to be just like everybody else.’ Maybe it was the clothes or shoes we had. Maybe it was our weird lunch. Yet mom always reinforced the value of being unique. You know how that goes, in one ear, out the other. 

Perhaps I was weirdest and differentest kid of all, my dad having died, my diabetes touching everything I wished I could do. I was the textbook case of a child wanting to be just like everybody else.

I am thankful for the time I had in church. I recognized in God’s word the value of giving my all for His kingdom. In my mind it was no longer a question of wanting to be the same as everybody else but of embracing a different way of living; life different in Jesus.

Let us reinforce this – Jesus made us separate from the world. What we pursue matters. What we want matters. How we live matters.

Jesus asks us to consider those things we are chasing after. Our moms asked a similar question didn’t they: ‘What are you chasing after? What’s important to you?’

If we are not pursuing the kingdom we end up just like Judas. As Acts tells us, Judas went his own way. He pursued what was important to him and that was not God. He was after a worldly prize – power and wealth. That is why he is referred to as the ‘son of destruction.’

In a week we will move from the Easter season into Pentecost and living out the mission given us by Jesus with the power given us by the Holy Spirit. Our Easter joy becomes practical. Let’s then embrace our differentness, not pursuing the world and becoming sons and daughters of destruction, but indeed being sons and daughters of our heavenly King.

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

The text above is from Proverbs 12:25. The proverbs of King Solomon begin by stating their purpose: for gaining wisdom and instruction; understanding words of insight; receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right, just, and fair; giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

We all need this kind of learning and insight, especially when confronted by the anxieties of our time. When we look at the world and all its conflict, or perhaps even in our own hearts, how can we possibly be cheerful. Well, Proverbs tells us – by a kind word.

Spring is well underway, Summer around the corner – yet what surrounds us can still choke the air with anxieties. As this is leap year, we will soon be (and already are in) the midst of political conflict, bickering, election noise, and nastiness on all sides. As such, I ask you to realize the anxiety that rises in us and offer a solution that will work for our own hearts. It is God’s advice. With anxiety’s heaviness, kindness is a powerful counter-balance. This is more than just a feel-good sentiment. It’s a call to action, reminding us of the profound impact we can have on ourselves and others. We have the opportunity to be light-bearers, to offer kind words that uplift, cheer, and heal.

As we extend kindness, we ourselves often experience a lightness too. Kindness multiplies, spreading light to both the giver and the receiver. Then, as this year goes on, let’s take this Proverb to heart. Let’s seek those moments to speak a kind word. We never know the impact a single word of kindness can have – it might just be the very thing that lightens someone’s load. Lord, In a world filled with so much anxiety, help me to be a source of light, using my voice to uplift and cheer the hearts around me, just as You do for me every day.


May, what a wonderful month. All is coming to bloom and we are busy with all the great things we can do to magnify the Lord and His Blessed Mother.

We give thanks for an excellent Basket Social and all its supporters. We will celebrate Mother’s Day on May 12th. May Devotions are underway each Wednesday following Noon Holy Mass. The Ascension Solemnity is celebrated on its proper day, May 9th (no, Jesus did not Ascend on the 43rd day after His Resurrection!). Join us as we honor all who gave their lives in service to our country with our annual Memorial Day Holy Mass at the parish cemetery (May 27th at 10am). Read about all the great summer events – and yes, you can go without cost to you – such as the Men’s Retreat (June 12-15), the Kurs Youth Encampment (July 4-13), and Convo (July 22-26). Looking for volunteer or ministry opportunities? Check out our articles as to what you might want to do. Like mysteries? Encounter a season dedicated to God’s mysteries starting this May. All this and more in our May 2024 Newsletter.

This is My commandment: love one another as I love you. 

Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen! Alleluia! 

On this Sunday in the Easter season, we are blessed to welcome a new member of God’s Kingdom through the waters of regeneration – rebirth into a completely new way of life. It is indeed a life of love.

Now, this causes us to raise a question as to Kingdom love, our Christian way of life. What’s all so different about it?

Indeed, people of every background provide love and charity for others. Most people regardless of religious affiliation, or no affiliation whatsoever love in ways aimed at the physical, emotional, psychological, relational, and economic well-being of others.

For Tallulah and us this is the difference. It is not the how, where, or work of love, but rather, its source, sustaining power, and goal.

For those in the Kingdom the source of love is the cross of Christ, the total self-giving of God for a people who neither deserved nor merited His concern. St. John tells us: “We love because He first loved us.” In the Cross our sins are forgiven, we are justified, accepted, and loved by God. By the cross fear and greed, the great barriers to love, are taken away as we trust in what God has done in Christ. So, the first difference between secular love and Christian love is that our love is rooted in the work of Christ and its impact in us.

Second, Kingdom love is sustained and shaped by the Holy Spirit, where secular love isn’t. St. Paul calls it the “fruit of the Spirit.” It is the Spirit that takes the death of Christ, causes it to be real for us, and gives us new hearts so that the death of Christ has a love-producing effect on us. The work of the Spirit sustains and shapes Christian love, but not the love of the world.

Finally, Christian love has a radically different goal, All the good we do in our loving has a Godward goal. Our love has more than a here and now goal and effect. Our love is not just for the present, rather it is forever because its emphasis is what is truly good for all, bringing all to God in Christ.

All that was about how our loving is different, what our baptismal faith changes about our outward loving. But there is more. Our commitment to Kingdom love must bring about deep change in us. We cannot remain just as we are. Within ourselves we must be fully convicted of our love’s shortcomings and work to grow our love so to meet Christ’s commandment.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen! Alleluia! 

My dear brothers and sisters, we continue in our celebration of the Easter Season. We have not so much journeyed with Jesus as we do in other seasons of the Church year, rather we have sat and listened to His teaching, encountering His Risen presence, and being reassured in what He has won for us. We are having the meaning of all scripture opened to us so we might integrate all we learned as we did journey with Him. In short, Easter is about a deeper learning and integration of that learning into ourselves.

We heard this same gospel of the vine just seven weeks ago on the Solemnity of the Institution. On that occasion we related the meaning of the True Vine and our connection to it corporately as the Church.

Today, we consider our personal union with Jesus. Today is about how we are effectuating Jesus’ life in us in tangible ways, i.e., how we are bearing fruit.

We are given the best of examples of bearing fruit in Acts. Saul has just encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road. This man, who, as Paul, would later write about his life of animosity toward the Body of Christ, and toward Jesus, who lived as an enemy of God in his self-righteousness, now lives washed of all sin. Saul was regenerated and made new in forgiveness and in his desire for unity with Christ’s body. Not only that, but he now lives on fire for evangelization: [He] spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.

We see fruit in Barnabas who brought Saul into the community. He acted as a true brother in kindness and personal witness.

St. John reminds us of our obligation toward love of God and each other. He tells us: And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. He also reveals to us the mark of our salvation, the source of the confidence we should have from living in the True Vine and bearing His fruit, the Spirit he gave us.

Having the Holy Spirit in us and carrying out the work of Jesus in building the kingdom, evangelizing the unbeliever, acting in witness and welcome, we glorify the Father and bear great fruit living what we have learned.

Grant a loving, wise and courageous spirit to all who pastor, minister and teach in Your name.

Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen! Alleluia! 

The verse above will be re-heard in a few minutes as the Offertory Prayer or, Prayer Over The Gifts, or, Secret. Three terms for the same prayer, but that is not important. What is important is the sense of the prayer, our intention as we are offering our gifts to God Who will transform them from mere bread and wine into the Body and Blood of His Son Jesus.

My brothers and sisters, Jesus speaks to us today of two kinds of Shepherds, Himself Who is the Good Shepherd that gives His all for His sheep and the hired hand who merely works for pay and does not really care for the sheep.

We can draw comparisons between the two types of shepherds, but it is not necessary since it is obvious – it is about the offering.

Jesus’ offering is the perfect giving of Himself, and all of us are called to offer ourselves in His model. We must take care in living rightly in relation to our Chief Shepherd and those among us who shepherd.

The shepherds, as we will hear again in that prayer, are more than the priest. They are all who minister, pastor, teach, lead music – and beyond that – those who take up leadership over projects, events, on committees and teams, and as parents, grandparents, and godparents.

You, brothers and sisters, are those wonderful leaders. You do so much to shepherd this congregation and to help it grow by your varied talents in the roles you have taken up. You lay down your lives for the good of those around you. You sacrifice for Christ and the other. Sometimes you even have to put up with brief tensions or the inevitable well-intended advice that comes your way. Lesser people would let all that get to them. But for us, especially those in leadership, it is about how we shepherd under stress, achieve consensus, and act with loving, wise, and courageous spirits. It is offering.

For those of us who live in relation to the shepherds among us as team members, colleagues, and volunteers, and perhaps just as community members, let us assure those who shepherd of our prayer and act always with charity, kindness, patience, and deference toward them as offering.

In this way shepherds and community members will all be transformed into the beautiful image of the Good Shepherd.