Great green
today.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.

As you know, over the past two weeks we have been focusing on history. There was our reflection on historical errors that keep repeating themselves because of the world’s sinful lather, rinse, repeat lifestyle. We reflected on manifest destiny, not as a political or social call, but as a call from God – by which we overcome all obstacles in furtherance of our carrying out God’s kingdom plan.

Today we hear the most well known Psalm of all – The Lord is my Shepherd. Psalm 23.

The 23rd Psalm is very well known chiefly for one reason – we hear it as we reflect on the history of a person who has died. It is said at almost every funeral home service and funeral or Requiem Holy Mass. It is, of course, comforting – being led by peaceful waters, protected, free from fear, anointed, having plenty – all is green and beautiful – but is it right?

Reading the words of Psalm 23 over and over, we are struck by the fact that it is not a mere reflection of some past benefit from God. It is not a historical re-telling of what God has done, but an indication of what God has done, is doing, and will be doing in our lives. For those who love grammar, the verb tense in the 23rd Psalm is the “habitual present.” God’s action is dynamic, regular, and repeated.

God’s Son, Jesus, is in the great right now. He is not just the past, a historical reality – the Lord was our shepherd, nor is He something we are just waiting on, off in the future – the Lord will be our shepherd. No, He is in our now.

It is time for us to take the 23rd Psalm as the prayer, poetry, and hymn of our everyday lives. All of the promises of God and the reflections of David in singing out this great hymn are about our now. Jesus is shepherding us. He is protecting us – have no fear in witnessing faith and prayer daily and publicly. He is gifting us with refreshment – that reserved for His faithful. He is feeding us, giving us rest, and calling us to follow His right path. Our God is amazing and now.

Faithful, it is about today. Let not the Psalm be a hopeful reflection only after death, but our reality today.

We are
among them.

Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD! And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

History is amazing study. The more we delve into history, the more we find humanity repeating it over and over.

Since Israel’s freedom from subjugation under the Pharaohs, the people began to lose faith and complain. They complained in various was over forty years of wandering. Joshua and the Judges came, they complained and began to follow gods of stone and wood. Trees and flowers held more fascination for them than the great miracles God was doing in their midst. By Ezekiel’s time, everything was god but God. He was at the end of three centuries of pagan life in the two kingdoms.

Ezekiel sums up the ways people had gone astray. Among these are a covetousness that lusted, longed, yearned, and desired each person’s own selfish ends. It is selfishness in its purest and most extreme form. Israel misread God’s love, grace, and goodness. They thought they could do whatever they wanted without consequence. Israel abused blessings on loan from God – they took the worship and gifts that were to go to Him and placed them at their own purposes. Selfish desire was more important than community, family, children, and life itself.

As we well know, greater responsibility is attached to those who own superior spiritual advantages. Israel ignored what they had, owned, possessed, held right in their hands. They wiped their memory clear of all that God had done and lived ‘for the moment.’ Today was all that mattered to them. As such, their sin demanded a more severe judgment.

Jesus faced a similar resistance in His hometown. People focused on what they thought were being said, and who was saying it (their perspective) instead of what was actually being said and what it represented. Their selfish ends were once again in front. They misread God’s love in their midst. They did not consider consequences.

Ezekiel and Jesus confronted hard hearts that would not move and selfishness. Those traits in our world today are a thousand times greater than former times. So now, today, we must stand forth. They must know that we are among them by the truth we tell.

We can’t
lose.

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

Isn’t losing, missing the mark, coming up short, or being a moment too late frustrating?

If we have ever experienced anything like that we know just a bit of what Jairus, the synagogue official, must have felt as he rushed through the crowds with Jesus on the way home. His daughter lay dying. They were trying to run, but the crowds prevented them. The woman stopped Jesus, and they were distracted for those precious few moments. Jairus certainly was worried: I’m going to be too late, I can’t save her, and I’m going to lose.

With all this on his heart and mind, suddenly Jairus’ servants confronted them. They were blunt: “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” He should quit.

That is the essence of the Christian life, isn’t it? We are running toward our heavenly goal. We do all the things necessary to get there. We go to Jesus. We attend church, receive the sacraments, pray, and read scripture, but still feel from time-to-time like we are not going to make it. We often feel pressed upon, like how Jesus, His disciples, and Jairus felt as the crowds surrounded and pressed in on them. The world and its allures distract us and pull us away from our mission. They delay us, and ultimately try to make us feel like we are going to lose. We should just quit now.

What pulls us away – the typical excuses – I’m tired, I can’t make it, I don’t have time or energy, I’d rather do this, that, or the other thing. Jesus has me covered – I don’t need to do too much.

For people called to win, to be victors in Christ, we cannot take for granted or blow-off the effort we need to put out. We should be listening very carefully to the rest of today’s lesson. Wisdom tells us: But by the envy of the devil, death (losing) entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience losing.

We don’t belong to losing we belong to Jesus. Jesus told Jairus and those with Him to keep moving forward to win. “Do not be afraid; just have faith” Push back, stay on course, press on with Jesus and we can’t lose.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

The world is in our face, and the struggles of many are on our conscience. In this constant onslaught, we are called by many voices into judgment on matters of human dignity. Many voices call us to make judgments – and in many respects to value one thing over and against another, one person over another, one policy over another. Because this is the perpetual situation in the world, the words of Jesus must be first and foremost in our minds and hearts. His teaching and way must be our guide. I have heard many of these voices: A man shouting in a store: “No one cares about kids killing each other in Chicago, why should we care about these kids.” Posts on Facebook that call out all the ways children suffer in our nation – those killed in the womb, those separated from parents by imprisonment or divorce, and other factors. The writer implies that our concerns for ‘each’ child is not good enough. In all of these the speaker or writer is calling us to chose, to judge. What many seem to miss is our call as Christians to respect the dignity of each and every human being. No sin, no misstep in God’s eyes, decreases a person’s dignity. No color, background, ethnic identity, financial standing, orientation, national origin, or self-identity makes a human being less in God’s eyes. Nothing ever must lessen the respect and honor we owe to all. True, Jesus calls all to reformation, to change and reconciliation. He often said: Go, and sin no more. People responded and did exactly that – they were changed. What we must remember is that Jesus never allowed the sin of anyone to bar the door. He called all to change because all have equal dignity in His eyes. Our call is to live our aspirations – to be the absolute best by living in full accord with God’s call. Let us never aspire to exclude, but to include. Let us aspire to open hearts and open doors, to reform and love as Jesus says we must. To respect and protect the dignity of each person.

Our July/August newsletter offers congratulations on several very special events in our parish, highlights our great summer activities, celebrates our Country’s independence, remembers our dearly departed brother śp. Richard, and gets to preparations for Back to Church Sunday – September 16th. The newsletter offers tips and advice for homebound faithful so they can stay sacramentally involved and connected. Let us know if we can help.

We also sadly reflect on the decline of the Roman Catholic Church in Schenectady and the challenges facing that Church. The National Catholic Church program is the best and strongest response and protection for its members. Parish property, finances, and the future of each parish are fully in the hands of its members, not distant bishops and ‘popes.’ We are thankful for that legacy. If you know someone who seeks the fulness of Catholic life and all the sacraments each Sunday, invite them to Holy Name. If you are looking for a place to express the Catholic faith as believed and celebrated by the undivided Church of the first millennium, join us here in Mont Pleasant. You Belong Here!


Check out all this and more in our July/August 2018 Newsletter.

What is it
really?

“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

There is a disconnect between what people think of the Kingdom of God, what Jesus taught about it, and the stresses that have been placed on Jesus’ words for centuries. It is like one of those jokes you see in magazines or on-line; the same sentence with two completely different meanings, depending where you put the accent. Late night television hosts have tons of fun with double entendres.

The sci-fi author Damon Knight wrote “To Serve Man” which was later adapted into a Twilight Zone episode. It is a double entendre that could mean “to perform a service for humanity” or “to serve a human as food.” Think of that next time the Church calls us to serve our fellow man!

The parable of the mustard seed is one of the many positive statements Jesus made about the Kingdom. He placed His stress on our faith and our shelter in the Kingdom. Think about all its implications. A small start in faith will grow into something awesome. Planting a small seed of faith in someone – your children, grandchildren, a friend, co-worker, or neighbor, will grow into something great. The very Kingdom, begun through the work of the God-man, Jesus Christ, twelve co-workers, and seventy-seven disciples would grow into a great protective shelter for many. We all dwell in its shade.

The fact is, Jesus provided a very positive message about our home, our destiny, joy, freedom, forgiveness, and God’s rock solid guarantees. The Kingdom is not what people suspect it is; rather it is what Jesus taught it is. St. Paul picks up on this when he says: We are always courageous. If God’s message was punishing and negative, we would not be courageous, but fearful, cowering.

We need to place the stress back where Jesus put it. His is the message of hope, the message the world cannot overcome. We must be courageous for the beauty and joy that awaits us. The Kingdom is better than anyone’s negative stress or accent point. Live in and tell what the Kingdom really is!

Rotterdam- Richard Maliszewski, 81, passed into the loving arms of our Lord on June 15, 2018. Richard Maliszewski was born on January 25, 1937, he lived out most of his life in Schenectady NY. He was predeceased by his beloved little angel and youngest child, Janet, his parents Raymond and Veronica (Starzec); his brothers Matthew, Edward, Eugene, Leonard and his sister Helen (Joseph). Richard is survived by the love of his life and best friend of 56 years, Shirley: his children Robert (Lynn) and Kimberly (Lawrence) Russo; his grandchildren Celena, Kendell, Anthony, Devon, Jasmine and his only great grandchild Travis. He is also survived by many in laws, nieces, nephews and friends.

Richard was very proud to have served in The United States Air Force from December 1958 through May 1962. After leaving the Air Force, he began what would become a lifelong career at The General Electric Company retiring from there in 1997. Richard was a devoted parishioner of The Holy Name of Jesus Church and served as chairman of their board for many years. He was also an active volunteer firefighter for The Schonowe FD for quite some time. Richard was a huge Yankees fan and one of his favorite pastimes was watching baseball. He also had deep interests in history and acquired a vast knowledge over the years of the history of our country of which he was so proud. He was a man of many talents but he became quite famous in his circle, for his amazing “old school” made fresh daily, popcorn. No matter what day it was or what was going on, one could always count on that bucket of popcorn on the kitchen counter. Richard was of the era whereby you put God, Family and Country first. He was a man of great integrity who worked hard in life and tried always to do the right thing. He was a devout family man who along with his soulmate Shirley raised their family to the best of his ability, always putting them first and foremost. He will be immensely missed by so many.

Family and friends may call on Monday, June 18 from 4pm to 7pm at the Griswold Funeral Home, 1867 State Street, Schenectady.

A Funeral Holy Mass will be celebrated 9:30 am on Tuesday, June 19 at the Holy Name of Jesus National Catholic Church, 1040 Pearl St, Schenectady, NY 12303. Internment with full military honors will immediately follow at Holy Name of Jesus Cemetery, Donald Ave., Schenectady.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may the perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.

What is wrong
with them?

Jesus came home with his disciples. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Today we re-enter the post-Pentecost season of Ordinary Time. As with nature around us, green has returned and we are called to growth.

In this season, we re-encounter the teachings of Jesus, His call to us to be different, to be changed, to be rich and abundant in our growth in holiness.

Jesus’ family and the people of His hometown could not believe Him. Who is this man? Where does He get all this from? He must be crazy! Truth be told, if we were to really and honestly live as Jesus demands, our families and friends would say the same of us.

This is not a sermon about what we should do, for I well know that many here live as Jesus demands. Many here follow His call in ways that would make their families and friends say, if they knew the extent of their life in Jesus, ‘They are out of their minds.’

The world really does think that of Christians – that we are mad. The world of sin, greed, conflict, anger, and deceit would like to see us all go away. It is not just the fact that the world is in sin, but because our life in Jesus nags them. It speaks to them of the fearful truth that the world’s sinful ways are weak, temporary, and oh so fleeting. It is tough to look at people and know they will win while you are on the losing side.

Jesus came to tie up the ‘strong man’ of sin. He came to bind that strong man so that we who live in Christ prevail – come out as the winners we are destined to be in the end. When the sinful hear that, they tremble. They call us crazy, misdirect, and use every ruse to try to incapacitate the true victor – Jesus Christ and His followers. Thanks be, they will not win.

As we come out of the joy filled season of Easter, as we recounted the great gift of the Holy Spirit, and reflected on the identity of God and His great gift of Himself in the Holy Eucharist, let us once again take up the mantle of life in Christ. Let us be Jesus crazy before the world. Let the world be astonished and nagged because we live the beatitudes, turn the other cheek, give it all away, and offer up our very selves for our brothers and sisters. Let us pray that our life in Jesus is that evident. Let us hope the world says of us: ‘What’s wrong with them?’ so we may show Jesus all the more.

Teaching love for
me too.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

Are ways of behaving learned or innate (i.e., natural)? A bit of research will show that behavioral scientists have opinions on both sides. This question seems to puzzle us more than in the past. Is parenting natural or learned? Is love natural or learned?

One of the best reflections on this subject states that it is a little of both. The Natural Law tells us that there are certain aspects of every person that are God created. We have built in tendencies to do right, moral, good things. We are naturally drawn to God. We have the call to love within us. Of course, those things can be thwarted by experience or by choice to sin.

Yet, one of the most wonderful aspects of the human person is an individual’s ability to overcome. A great illustration of the ability to overcome is “The Other Wes Moore.” Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence?

The Christian community faced a very hostile world. They were all Wes Moore. Life was cheap. The haves had, the have-nots were slaves. Women and children had no value – were no more than property. Power ruled all, all else bowed. Nevertheless, the natural call remained, the ability to overcome existed.

The love of Christ overcame for that very reason. The message of the gospel and the example of Jesus allow us to overcome and win. Jesus took what is innate in us and said follow me – and you will flourish. God so loved us – and we can be just like Him. People heard of the power of God’s love and said – me too!

So we must put message of the Gospel first. We must love, value, and break down barriers and obstacles like God. The world needed this then, the world needs this now. The old ways have re-emerged, so the triumph of God’s love must once again offer ‘me too’ to everyone through us.

Who carries
who?

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

The image of the Good Shepherd is one of the earliest Christian images and one of the most popular even to this day.

Early Christian images were often symbolic. This was due to the need to be discreet in a world where Christians were often viewed with suspicion at best and persecuted, even to death, at worst. The image summoned up by the words of Jesus, “I am the good shepherd.”

The image of the Good Shepherd often depicts Jesus carrying the lost sheep on His shoulders, bringing the lost back. The image is evocative of the power and strength of Jesus as well as of His care and concern for each of the sheep. We see Him going off among the brambles and thorns, the rocks and cliffs, among the wolves and other dangers, letting nothing stop Him from His mission of care, His rescue.

As Christians, we have the same call, but it can be muffled by our dual personality.

The call is to be imitators of the Good Shepherd. W e are to live up to our responsibility to search for the lost. How many do we know that have lost their relationship or have a broken relationship with Jesus – we need to seek them out and bring them back. Jesus gives us the grace to have the same strength He has, so we can go among the brambles, thorns, rocks, cliffs, wolves and other dangers of this world to bring them back. As He carried us back or into the fold, we are to carry others back or into the fold.

Our dual personality is such, that while we are His sheep, we too go astray at times. Our call can be muffled by the sinful attraction of the world. It is in those moments that we may have confidence that Jesus will not leave us alone and abandoned in the wild. Jesus will marshal all His resources, graces, and people to bring us back. As we carry others back, Jesus carries us.

There are great temptations and sadness, seemingly impossible obstacles in our journey with Jesus’ flock. Yet we have great power in Jesus and the strong shoulders of a great God. It is time to have confidence; it is time to work out our shoulders in scripture, prayer, and the grace of sacramental encounter. The question is not who carries who, but the confidence that that Jesus carries us and we are strong to carry each other.

The stone is
gone.

Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

Searching back through scripture we come to the various encounters between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. There are thirty-eight verses that refer to her.

Some consider her the prostitute who was going to be stoned by the crowd until Jesus intervened. Some believe she is the woman that anointed Jesus at the house of Simon the Leper, or the one who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, anointed them, and dried them with her hair.

While those women were not given a specific name, we do know from scripture that Jesus, specifically, saved her. Luke 8:1-3 is that reference to her: Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.

Mary comes to the tomb, early in the morning and finds the stone is gone. What a beautiful scriptural testimony to what Jesus has accomplished for her and for us; the stone is removed.

We face many trials and tribulations in our lives. The world is filled with stones that stand in the way of true joy and happiness. When we face these things, when the stones of our existence confront us, we are called to remember this moment of our salvation.

Mary is our example, standing before the removed stone. She is, at first, filled with questions and wonder, and then it hits. The alternate Gospel, for this morning, taken from Mark, adds detail: On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter.

She runs off to the Apostles. She begins to tell of it as she had been directed. She now connects fully to the removed stone.

We have a story to tell. We, the Christian faithful, have experienced the removal of our stones. By His death and resurrection, whatever stood in our way to eternal glory has been removed. Spread the joy!

Will we run across stones and confront roadblocks and obstacles? Most certainly! When we do, recall this most sacred moment, this day of indescribable joy. Whatever we confront can be climbed, and surmounted. Jesus has destroyed and overcome all stones. Alleluia! He is risen!