Ready for peace?

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn”

Thank you for joining as we continue in this time of expectation awaiting the Lord’s return.

Last Sunday we considered hope, the first Advent theme, acknowledging that our confidence and surety are in Christ Jesus Who delivers on all God’s promises, most particularly on the help that is ours so we may live out the gospel. We also reminded ourselves to ‘pencil in’ Jesus’ return every day so that we might be ready for that day when all of our hope is fulfilled.

The second standardized theme for this Sunday of Advent is that of peace.

If we have hope, we tend to also have its cognate which is peace. Think of it this way – if we are sure of what is to come, what is being delivered to us, how could we possibly be uneasy or not at peace?

In Isaiah we are painted a picture of perfect peace. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid… The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain

All this vision and all its implications are about the coming of the Lord Jesus, for all in the Old Testament points to Him, the Gospels reveal Him fully, Acts preaches Him, the Epistles teach Him, and Revelation points to His return. Reaching Isaiah’s vision does not depend on us, we cannot achieve it, only the King of Peace, the Root of Jesse can, and we can share in His perfect peace, but only if we believe. 

God sent Jesus into the world to bring us a peace that is beyond all understanding. The Roman Caesars and governors, the Russian, Chinese, and North Korean communists, the Nazis, the Jihadists – not a one can understand why the earthly holds no fear for us. We know it is because those who have given their whole selves to Christ find peace that overcomes every kind of evil.

John comes, crying out in the desert, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Often, it seems to us, that such a statement is accusatory. Who are you to tell me to repent? Our offense at the cry of the Prophet, of whom Jesus said there was no greater man born of woman, is an internal failure on our part. We must own up to what is wrong, those places we refuse to surrender to Jesus. 

That little reserve of ‘I am a rock, I am an island’ in us needs to be dashed on our Rock, the Prince of Peace. We need to let Him baptize us in the Spirit, with a fire that burns away fear and anxiety, a fire that frees and releases us to everlasting peace. In peace we rest in hope. In peace we see clearly what must be done and shared, and we acknowledge that no one and nothing can take it from us.

For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade

Through much of Advent we read from the Prophet Isaiah. In those readings we often hear a reference to the poor and how God will save the poor. Later in the Christmas season we will hear Jesus quote Isaiah 61:1 when He gets up to proclaim the Word and teach in the Synagogue: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. We might think to ourselves, well isn’t Jesus just great with the poor! Think of how He helps them and causes us to exert our charity in helping the poor. He lays out all this stuff about us doing for the least of these, thus doing it for Him. That work for the poor helps us get to heaven. The Church, in the model of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, established the Corporal Works of Mercy focused on the poor.

What we tend to miss in all this discussion of the poor is the fact that Jesus did not specifically come to address the economically poor. Remember, He told us: For you always have the poor with you. (Matthew 26:11). If He did not come to address the economically poor, then who did He come to help? The answer is simple enough, Me. Jesus came and gave His all for me. I started in a place that was very poor – my humanity – and Jesus took on my poorness, entered into my poverty – to raise me and many on high, up to the very heaven He came from. He sacrificed His life to make me rich, a co-heir with Him to all His Heavenly Father has.

As we walk through Advent and finally gaze on the representation of Jesus in the poverty of the stable, let us remember where we were before we came to faith in Jesus and how very rich we are now. Then let us act! Certainly, to act means to care for the economically poor as required of us by the gospel of Jesus, but also beyond that to lift up those who are what we were, poor without Christ Jesus. Let us use this new Church Year to invite them into the Kingdom, to share in the treasure we have, to be rich with us.


Welcome to our December 2022 Newsletter and the journey through Advent to the start of the Christmas season (all forty days of Christmas starting Christmas Day). As you can imagine, there is tons going on.

The Opłatki / Christmas Wafers and Advent Wreath are blessed. The Church’s youth are gathering the evening of December 2nd. We have our Seniorate Advent gathering and youth meeting on December 3rd. There is daily Holy Mass at Noon and Rorate Holy Masses every Wednesday of Advent at 7:30am. Join us for our Wigilia / Vigil Dinner on December 11th. Help us decorate (green the Church) on December 18th. We have a full schedule of Holy Masses for Christmas (the traditional three) including the Shepherd’s Holy Mass at Midnight – yes, a real Midnight Mass right here in Schenectady. Join in our giving efforts, enjoy a concert by the Thursday Musical Club, offer a Memory Cross in honor of someone you wish to remember this Christmas season, and join us in giving thanks for all who do so much on behalf of the parish. Above all, remember to keep centered on the Holy Eucharist.

All that and more in our December 2022 Newsletter.

Ready for hope?

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime.

Thank you for joining as we begin this new liturgical year, a time of expectation as we await the Lord’s return.

The sort of standardized theme for the First Sunday of Advent is that of hope. Of course, that causes us to pause and perhaps think about what hope means, where we might find it, and when we might add hope’s arrival to our calendars.

Put simply, hope is having confidence in God’s faithfulness, that He will complete what He has begun. It is also the surety that all God’s promises will be fulfilled – 100% delivered.

Well, that defines hope, and where we might find it – in Christ Jesus of course – but when will its fulfillment arrive, where should I pencil it in? That is the tough part, isn’t it?

St. Paul is reminding us that time is growing short, our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. We can certainly agree, based on our life experience, that time does grow shorter by the day. Life is not stagnant nor is the time till Jesus’ return getting longer. But where to pencil it in?

Paul wasn’t making this all up. He is merely repeating the words of Jesus, the gospel of Jesus wherein Jesus says over and over: the Kingdom is at hand. We hear Jesus speak on this very subject in today’s gospel: “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. So, you must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” But where to pencil it in?

Brothers and sisters, Isaiah’s message is so very hopeful, the source of our theme. We love to hear those words about swords and spears being turned into tools of life. We enjoy getting to those few lines about peace and no more war. We like it so much that we miss our obligation, what it takes to get there: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”

So, we are called, at the start of the liturgical year, to refocus, re-commit, renew, and set to work in living out our faith. We must live up to our baptismal pledge. We must live as citizens of the Kingdom. The gospel path must be our daily walk. We must not sit on our hands, for our connection to hope is in how we live right now.

Our duty right now is the making of hard choices between the world’s way, society’s way, our own way, and God’s way. Only one of those ways leads to life, the rest to death.

God’s promise of help is ours so we may live out the gospel. Let us do it, and pencil in Christ’s return everyday living ready for Him.

The King of peace

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Thank you for joining as we testify to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our King.

Some may remember, several Lents ago, we spent the entire season reflecting on the life and witness of Dismas – otherwise known as the “good thief” crucified alongside Jesus. His opposite number was Gesmas, the “impenitent thief.”

On this great Solemnity of Jesus Christ our King it would seem odd to read from the crucifixion narrative, this sad moment, a moment of disgrace, pain, suffering, and death. So, let’s explore the reason for that.

Throughout this year’s Liturgies we have read from the Gospel of St. Luke. This gospel is best thought of as Jesus’ travelogue. It begins with Zechari’ah and Elizabeth, her pregnancy with John, then to Mary, Joseph, the journey to Bethlehem, the infancy narrative and all else associated with Jesus’ birth – much focused on travel. Travel to Jerusalem for His Presentation. Travel to Jerusalem where Jesus stayed behind. Travel to the dessert for His fasting and temptation, to Galilee and His hometown of Nazareth where He was rejected. He traveled on to Caper’na-um where He was welcomed and urged to stay. Scripture recounts: And the people sought Him and came to Him, and would have kept Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Jesus traveled throughout Judea preaching repentance and proclaiming the immanence of the Kingdom as He made His way to Jerusalem where He could carry out His Father’s will by His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection.

So here we are at the cross, with Dismas and Gesmas, the seeming end of the journey.

Now consider this too. Dismas and Gesmas walked the way of the cross with Jesus. The journey continued and along the way they saw people weep over Jesus, His mother’s presence, so many others to whom Jesus mattered. No one came out for them. They were abjectly alone and abandoned.

Finally, on the cross, all they had was each other. No one was even jeering them. In their experience of Jesus which was less than a day, they each reached a different conclusion. Gesmas resented everything and everyone, even himself, thus his attitude toward Jesus. Dismas rather saw peace in Jesus.

For Dismas, and for us, we see in this moment the true Kingship of Jesus, as St. Paul tells us: For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all things for Him, making peace by the blood of His cross. He is our King of reconciliation, justification, salvation, and thus peace. In this key moment on the journey the King offers Himself, His blood on the cross for us so we may journey with Him in peace forever. Praise our King forevermore!

Our testimony

“Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony.”

Thank you for joining us this Sunday as we testify to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

After a long, nearly three-year journey across Israel and Samaria, preaching the gospel, proclaiming the kingdom, teaching the apostles and disciples, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem. He preaches in the temple precincts with the same message, these times tinged with the exigency of His coming arrest, suffering, death, and resurrection.

As Jesus teaches, people are commenting on the magnificence of the Temple. Indeed, it was the place to be, the place to meet God. We might speed by this comment about the way the Temple was adorned, but we should not set aside its overwhelming presence. Even from afar you could see it towering over Jerusalem. Its walls magnificent white with large gold plates. Sparking jewels and offerings on its walls. This – and it was still under construction. Indeed, it would not be completed until 63 A.D., seven years before it is destroyed completely by the Roman army.

Jesus tells of the Temple’s coming destruction. Now, when someone predicts something like this, especially involving something so magnificent and meaningful in the lives of the people who fill and journey to this holy city, we all want to know more, and the disciples take up our curiosity and ask: “Teacher, when will this happen?”

Certainly, our minds cannot help to think of what is to come. But, in the Gospels Jesus stresses something different no matter how much people persist in their inquiries about the end and His return.

In our own day there are those prophets of doom who say they represent Jesus (really only a shadow of Who Jesus is) and tell us the end is neigh. Our own flights of fancy go from Jesus’ return out of the rising sun in the East with trumpet blast and astride a white steed followed by all who had previously fallen asleep and the heavenly host of angels. Then we start thinking of ourselves, will I be a sheep or a goat?

Yes, there were those time I fed and clothed, visited, but then again, there were times I hoarded, fought, over-ate, and ignored. And we get a little worried – we should because it keeps us honest in our weekly confession. 

Jesus warns us today – do not get caught up in all that end-times stuff. If we truly are to be His disciples and Kingdom dwellers, then we have far more important work to do. There will be bad times; people will disappoint and betray us; storms, earthquakes, and other awful stuff will happen – and through it all, no matter what, we are to testify, to proclaim Jesus and His Kingdom because only His overwhelming presence matters, frees, and makes those who believe ever secure.

“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

November brings together several liturgical events that lead us on a journey. We spend the first couple of days of November celebrating all the saints and then remember all those who have gone before us, our dearly departed family members, friends, co-workers, and all those we loved. We start in our faith history. By the sixth of the month we are reading about the end times, the last things, from Luke’s gospel. We study eschatology — death, judgment, the coming final destiny of our souls and of the souls of all humanity. We focus on our ultimate destination. On November twentieth we conclude in the celebration of our one and only King – Jesus Christ Who will rule and reign over us forever in the Eternal Kingdom of God. Shortly thereafter the Church year ends and we start anew in Advent, the new Church year, expectantly awaiting the return of Jesus.

What we must be careful of in considering this time of the liturgical year is avoiding the temptation of seeing it as just repeating over and over. Here we go again, ending one cycle, beginning another, it will happen again in November 2023, 2024, 2025… and so on. Rather, we are to use this time as a reminder of the fact that we are moving along a linear timeline from our start in God to our ultimate end in God, and what we are to do in-between. Just as Scripture begins in God’s creation and ends in Jesus’ return, speaking along the way of God’s love for us, so must we live in a constant journey toward God, a closer likeness to His love in our everyday environments, and our ultimate end where we stand before the Son of Man. Jesus asks us to be the difference, the Kingdom builders along the journey. Let us then do as Jesus asks, staying awake – and that means being engaged – getting to work building the Kingdom, walking the gospel path, and praying in worship, as families, and alone.


Welcome to November and all the opportunities God offers for discipleship, charity, thsanksgiving, and Kingdom building.

In November we celebrate All Souls and All Saints day, recall our beloved family, friends, and all those we loved who have gone on before us. There is a brief report on our XXVI Holy Synod, an invitation to a VERY IMPORTANT Seniorate and youth gathering on December 3rd, as well as our Pizza and Game Night on November 12th. Of course we give thanks. Note that we still have tickets available for our for our $2,500 Christmas Vigil Raffle. Get them soon.

Have you ever felt alone and abandoned? See what God does through His people in the story of Little Larry and see how you can help out too.

Check that and more in our November 2022 Newsletter.

Did you happen to read?

That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord, ‘ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 

Thank you for joining us this Sunday as we testify to the great salvation and promise we have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today’s gospel begins very plainly and factually. Here comes another group to challenge Jesus. This time it is the Sadducees, as the gospel notes: those who deny that there is a resurrection. Well, there was good reason for their being named Sadducees because they were without hope – they were sad-you-see.

The Sadducees, like others, are going to Jesus, not to learn anything whatsoever, but to prove a point and show Him to be a worthless prophet. They come with this story of the widow who marries various brothers and after the seventh dies, leaving no heir to the original brother, the widow says, thank God that is over.

This process of one brother marrying the widow of another brother to ensure he has heirs is found in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 25:5-10 if you would like to look it up.

This kind of marriage is called a Levirate marriage. In many positive ways it served as a protection for the childless widow who would have no one, being childless, to provide for or protect her. This type of marriage also ensured the survival of the clan.

What is interesting here is that by Jesus’ time the practice of levirate marriage was out of favor and had declined in practice. That being the case, the Sadducees question was strange in and of itself – and it gets stranger.

The Sadducees’ question becomes even stranger when you consider how manufactured it was. It was a reductio ad abusurdum argument, trying to prove that there cannot possibly be a resurrection because all these absurd machinations of marriage and childlessness would come to chaos in eternity, everyone looking for a spouse and wandering about heaven calculating who it might be. As such, reduced to, the resurrection is absurd.

Here Jesus, while not wasting time on their absurd question, cuts to the chase. And to really understand this we need to know that the Sadducees only believed in and followed the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. 

Jesus says: That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush. The very books you follow, and say are the only books, right in their very middle, themselves prove the resurrection. You haven’t even read what you claim to believe.

Brothers and sisters, take time to study scripture. Know what God says and what He promises. Life in Him is forever. In that, be alive in God and live forever.

My roadmap.

But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.

Thank you for joining us this Sunday as we testify to the great salvation we have in our Lord and Savior.

Imagine if you will a great roll of writing paper. You take that roll and stretch it throughout your house. You start in the kitchen, run through the living room, dining room, through the halls, up the stairs, into the bedrooms, back down the stairs, back into the kitchen where you finish.

On this great scroll you write out the history of the world, the great and small events in twenty-year generational segments. You get to the modern age, and there is you – your birth and the important moments of your life.

Once finished, you step back and survey it all. Your roadmap. Now you can pick from these moments and see in each of them several things.

In these moments, we find causes for joy and sorrow, reasons for hope and despair. We also see across the great arc of history God’s abiding presence and call to His people, to you and me. We see where we have failed to heed His call to faithfulness. We also recognize the times we joyously returned to Him.

Today we have cause to consider return, the very reason we all join in this place of holiness and prayer, this place of encounter with Jesus and the moment where we repent and welcome Him into the house of our very bodies, hearts, and souls.

Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem to carry out His Father’s will. The last town He comes to is Jericho. You may remember that the man robbed in the story of the Good Samaritan was journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho. It was a well-traveled route, and the one Jesus would take.

Jericho was the place! It was the most perfect of cities. Temperate weather year-round, balsam trees, feathery palms, low slung sycamores, roses. It was a fragrant place. It was wealthy because it stood along this major trade route. Everyone was there. Yet in this very perfect place you’d find tax collectors and robbers.

Among the tax collectors was Zacchaeus, Zacchai, little Zach, a man with a name that means ‘the just, pure, innocent one.’

Imagine, like you, little Zach stretched out a great scroll around his grand home. There he considered his life in the span of history. Among his wealth and comforts derived from being unjust, Zach recalled his parents who named him the just, pure, and innocent one. Struck by the contrast of who he was to be, who God wanted him to be, and what he was, he ran out to meet Jesus. So here we are as well. We know what we are called to be, we know we fall short of God’s call, and our reality. So, we are here to meet Jesus.

We have our timelines and no matter who we are it ends right now. We do not know what the next minute will bring. So like Zach it is imperative that we meet the Lord, turning our lives to Him, changing as we must, for He is the only roadmap to salvation. May we hear Him calling our name – for He knows us. May we welcome Him into the temple of ourselves and live up to who He wants us to be.

End of the rope.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.

Welcome, thank you for joining us this Sunday as we testify to the great salvation and confidence we have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We have all heard the old saying: When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

If we think but a second, we see that this saying is about self-reliance. I am slipping down the rope and I need to have the presence of mind to tie that knot for myself and hang on. In our great American tradition, we can connect with that. I need to make my way and take care of myself.

God asks us to think differently, to see His provision for us. To know that He has us and is with us constantly, the essential truth that we do not have to worry at all.

God does what He does, and attempts to show us in varied way, throughout salvation history, how His people can rely on Him, how our end of the rope is never the end or disaster because He has us.

Our first reading from the Wisdom of Ben Sira, or simply Sirach, gives us groups of wise sayings. We might say, how nice, it is good to have wise sayings we might live by, until we see that this is the wisdom of God Himself passed onto us by the prophet.

Sirach loved the Lord’s wisdom and was dedicated to His worship because He saw how God made a difference in the lives of the people. A person who has that kind of love and devotion for God places their reliance on the Lord because He has proved Himself.

For us it seems obvious. God’s ultimate sacrifice for our salvation and well-being is well known. As we study and worship Him, we connect to the fact that in this loving relationship we have ultimate protection by His promise. No one and nothing, as St. Paul would say, takes us away from the love of God. Nothing can overcome it. For us here, we have seen it in the life of this Kingdom family. We are surrounded and infused with His salvific power. We own that.

In the Epistle, Paul speaks of his persecution before the Roman authorities. Even to this day, as we learned at Holy Synod, our people, clergy, and parishes are the targets of persecution – but it does not bring fear. It does not cause us to shrink, but to stand forth faithfully because God has us in the palm of His hand. We trust. We stand. As Paul tells us, it would be inconsistent to fear for we live in the strength infused in us by our faith made most present in Jesus.

Finally, Jesus sets forth the example of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the self-righteous and the sinner. This brings it all together. The Pharisee was tying ritualistic knots in his rope, fully confident he was saving himself, yet he was slipping away. The tax collector, like all of us, sinners though we are, trusted completely in and only on God. God justified him, declared him not guilty, saved him, and like all of us he lived in confident reliance on the God Who saves. He will never let us slip and fall.

Prayer and loyalty.

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.

Welcome, thank you for joining us this Sunday as we testify to and act on our faith in our Lord and Savior.

If we listen carefully to the liturgical Propers for today, we will hear these words in reference to prayer: loyal, ever, constant, always, persist, patience, at every opportunity, watch, persevere, never cease, steadfast, call. All these words are action words, none are passive.

These words apply to the woman seeking a just judgment in today’s gospel. She was an engaged individual; she would not let the wicked judge off-the-hook even though she knew he was wicked.

The woman seeking a just judgment had something the wicked judge did not have. While not plainly said, she was a woman of faith who combined her faith and respect for God and others with action.

Jesus really wants us to focus on action, and the primary action we will study this and next week is the action of prayer.

There are five key components to prayer – to making prayer real and effective. It is these actions:

Offer up our desires to God. We are called to pour ourselves out to Him. This seems like the easiest part. We are good at doing this.

Surrender to God. Just as Jesus taught us in the Our Father and in the Garden: God’s will be done, and His will is to be ours. This is harder.

Enter Conversation with God – it means we not only talk, but we also listen. We seek God and attend to His presence and desire for us.

Practice the presence of God. I want to be in God’s presence, never apart from Him. This is about the time and effort we make to seek God’s face, not compartmentalizing Him, but having Him ever before us, permeating our lives.

Own the peace of God. It is in prayer that ultimately, despite all things and in all things, we find peace.

It is key, we churchgoers, that we pay close attention to this, for prayer is our heritage. We come here to do as Jesus asks, joining in fellowship to offer, surrender, converse, practice, and own. Do we do it perfectly? Could our lives be more fully in God’s presence? Could we be more active? Of course! And we should get at it. But we have the start and the commitment, and in the end we will be heard. We are like the woman seeking a just judgment – and you know what? – God will give it to us.

Now I must be very honest with you. Some come to me who would never think to darken the doorway of a church. An emergency, disappointment, a tragedy – please pray for me. This isn’t people trying, but those who won’t until… I do pray in hope that they will be convicted and converted. Almost none are. I often wonder why. Thus, Jesus’ warns: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” May He find each of us loyal, active, and wholly His in prayer.