Consecrated

“Consecrate them in the truth.  Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

We all know what happened on the birthday of the Church which we celebrate next Sunday on the Solemnity of Pentecost. As with the Apostles that day, so we have received the Spirt and have been consecrated so that everything Jesus had taught would come pouring out of us and into the world. As the Apostles were sent, so we are sent.

We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit calling us to a life defined by the gospel and to strong proclamation of the gospel message to the world. Repent and believe!

As we listened to Jesus’ prayer in today’s gospel, did we believe He was speaking about us? If we doubted that, here is where we need to alleviate that doubt. Indeed, Jesus was praying for us, for you and me. He asked His Father to consecrate us in truth, the very Gospel, and then He stated that we are sent by Him.

For the Apostles and disciples, Jesus’ prayer came to fruition Pentecost day. There and then they fully understood their consecration and undertook living it. For us, Jesus’ prayer is not just some words from the past, but a living and active prayer that has consecrated and sent us. So, we must understand we are consecrated and undertake to living our consecration.

To be consecrated means to be set apart, to be fully dedicated to God’s Divine purpose. Do we think we are? Are we living that way? Are we grabbing the opportunities laid before us to witness to the gospel entrusted to us?

Think of the importance of the word consecrated – for it is the word which describes the greatest of the sacraments, the bread and wine mystically made the Body and Blood of Jesus. Consecrated. Just as a church building and priests are consecrated for sacred work, so has Jesus prayed that we be consecrated for His work.

Being consecrated tells us that we are kept in the Father’s Name, that we are all one, that we are partakers (sharers) in Jesus complete joy, and that we, like Jesus, bear the Father’s word – that Word placed into our hearts, minds, and hands in trust by Jesus.

We are that important to Jesus and therefore are to live the consecrated life.

John the Apostle understood what that meant, and he shared this understanding with us. It means that we remain in Him and He in us, that He has given us of His Spirit. It means we must tell people, testifying that the Father sent His Son as Savior of the world. It means that we who acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God have God remaining in us and that we are in God. Let us then be reinforced in how we live as God’s consecrated people. 

What’s next?

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,”

We are now celebrating the Sixth Sunday and the start of the Sixth Week of the Easter Season. Is the thrill gone?

In the first few weeks of the Easter Season, we stood in awe with the apostles and disciples as they continually encountered the Risen Lord. We could sense their joy, the celebration and thrill that lifted their hearts and opened their minds to the truth of Jesus’ claims. He was indeed the fulfillment of all contained in the Law and the prophets.

Jesus had spent this time connecting the dots for His followers and so armed them to bear fruit by lived faith, to continue the message of freedom that is the gospel, and to bring people to repentance and membership in His body, the Church. As we heard last week, to graft people onto the True Vine.

We all know how it is. We spent time celebrating, thrilled, but now we have to turn what we learned in the celebration into physical action. We have to move the trill to lived witness to the risen Lord. Today, next Sunday, and for the rest of the year, we reinforce how we should be living.

Looking forward, we know what Jesus’ followers did not quite grasp, that Pentecost was coming, that Jesus’ instruction we will hear this Thursday, to remain and pray, would situate them for the awesomeness and trill of that day. Everything He had been teaching them, all the dots He connected, would in a flash of the Holy Spirit’s coming. pour out of them and into the whole world. Is that power pouring out of us? Is that trill with us or are we bored by Jesus?

In today’s readings and gospel, we see Jesus’s direction, how His followers carried it out, and how we should be doing it; what should be pouring out of us as we remain thrilled to be His followers.

It starts in the great commandment – restated today, This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

Peter understood it in the house of Cornelius where people he would never associate with became his brothers and sisters in the Lord, who also received the Holy Spirit. He saw the trill they encountered, knowing Jesus changed them completely, and he was again renewed.

John, the disciple Jesus loved, went on to continually proclaim the power of love – for love is a thrill when it is lived genuinely, honestly, and effectively.

We live in the trill of being chosen, being free because of Jesus’ resurrection, sharing in His love for us, and our mutual friendship. We are so free, and love filled, that if called upon we will give our lives for Him and each other.

What’s next for us is what was next for the disciples, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, strong proclamation, a life defined by the gospel. And the everlasting trill of Jesus risen.

I am a ________ branch

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit”

Years ago, we added a new deck to our house and on one end of the deck we added a very tall wood slat screen. Now some might think it was for privacy. In fact, it was meant to be a support for growing grape vines. The vine would be an ever-present reminder of our True Vine and our life as His branches. The vine also would be the source of the grapes used to make the wine for the sacrifice. That little project still needs to be started. Perhaps it is that wooden screen, absent the vine, that starkly recalls what life would be like without Jesus, the True Vine. It would resemble those barren wood slats that are no more than dead wood and yield nothing.

Our gospel this morning calls to mind what we have by our union with the True Vine. In Jesus we are nourished, we prosper, we live. We are strengthened and disciplined through the Father’s pruning of our lives which makes us better able to provide the abundant food the world needs – Jesus’ gospel and sacraments.

Jesus uses the analogy of a vine to give us the opportunity to think about where we are and what we are a part of. We know that the vine, Jesus, is strong and capable of sustaining and nurturing all the branches. But to receive His nourishment we need to not just be attached to the vine; we need to live in it. 

As with any plant, some branches are fully alive – green and fruitful. Some may be in need of correction and pruning to return to full life. Some may be attached but in actuality are dead, their veins separated from the life of the vine. Jesus’ word calls us to look at ourselves. It gives us the chance to consider, ‘What kind of branch am I?’

Perhaps I am that fruitful living branch, strongly attached to the vine. I remain fervent in prayer, spending time in His presence and allowing Him to speak to me. I receive the sacraments, almost as if it were the very first time, I give thanks for the way His sacramental grace renews and sustains my soul. I strive to use all of my gifts and talents to build up and encourage; I also challenge things have gone wrong in my life and in the world. I demonstrate through my actions that I am willing and eager to help others in and outside of my circle. I let my light shine brightly from the hilltop and call people to Christ. I know that this describes each of you because I see it in you.

Perhaps, however, I am the pruned branch, waiting for renewed growth, ready to leave failings behind and prepared by God for the next part of my Christian mission journey.

Perhaps, I am the dead branch, and if I am, it is time to trust in the God of life who can restore me. I just need to want it.

Our call today is to look deep within and honestly ask, which branch am I and then to set forth by the grace of God to fully live as or become that fruitful branch.

The Lord is my…

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”

Today is a good day to recall the words of our esteemed English teachers. Recall when they used to ask us to compare and contrast works by different authors, poems by different poets.

Jesus breaks right into a compare and contrast with His listeners today. Compare the good shepherd and the hired worker. He cites their motivations, one of concern, love, and sacrifice versus a pecuniary motivation – getting paid and not really caring. He cites their reactions – defense of the flock or running away.

Beyond that immediate compare and contrast, Jesus speaks of those listening as belonging to a fold and another group of people who do not currently belong to that fold. While they were of different folds at that time, Jesus tells His listeners that they will all be brought into one fold, one flock, with one Shepherd.

What Jesus was trying to impress upon those listening is that there is an ideal – a way of being that is unique to followship with Him. 

In this new reality – in the Kingdom and the gospel way of life – we need not worry about who might care for us. We have a Chief Shepherd Who is I AM – God Himself among us – watching over, guiding, guarding, and caring for us. We need not worry about what tribe, nation, people, or party we belong to for that is all worldly death. Instead, we belong to the one fold, the one flock of Jesus.

Peter, on trial with the other disciples, clearly tells the court of the old Israel, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” There is no other fold, or flock, or Shepherd. There is one, only one, for salvation and it is the flock of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. 

St. John expounds: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Children of One Father, brothers and sisters of the One Lord, no longer separate and apart from God and each other. One flock.

Brothers and sisters, we have a new reality in Christ Jesus. Our esteemed English teachers called us rightly to compare and contrast, and so we should. What was I before Jesus (apart, alone, afraid, without hope beyond today) and what am I now (an heir to eternal life and a member of the eternal family of God)? Who was God to me before Jesus (judge, accuser, punisher) and Who is He now (Good Shepherd)?

As we go forth from this blessed day, let us continually reflect on who the Lord is in our lives. Let us give thanks that we are in Him, the Good Shepherd, the cornerstone, where we together lack nothing. 

Membership.

But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.

The words membership and identity are hot terms in these days. That said, they have been terms used throughout history to impose or self-impose a sense of communal belonging. 

In some cases, membership and identity were imposed upon others as a result of prejudices – in an accusatory manner – to differ the other from self, to reduce people’s humanity. In other cases, we have taken on our own memberships and definitions of identity.

If we took a moment to pull out our wallets and purses, we could quickly list some of our memberships. Here are some of mine: SEFCU member, NY driver, PACC member, AARP member (how did that happen?), BJ’s Club member, and others. A quick look at someone’s Facebook – memberships and identity markers abound. Where in all of that is our Jesus card?

The most significant sign of our belonging to Christ is that we bear markers that cannot be reduced to a card or social profile.

Our communal membership, our mutuality, our identity as Christians starts with that which was written on our souls at Baptism-Confirmation, our regeneration, from which our membership and identity as family, as brothers and sisters permeates our entire being and way of living.

Jesus, joined with His disciples as recounted today, told them that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations. This statement directed His disciples to go out and bear witness throughout the world. With the gifts of the Holy Spirit and, as St. John’s letter describes, the keeping of His word, they grew the family of faith. Out of people of every nation, class, status, color, and gender the Church grew as family.

Faithfulness to Jesus does not make us individuals, separate from each other. Rather, we are defined by our belonging, our obligation to God and each other.

We, the people of the Church, are not a separate people, each on his or her own path who just happen to get together for a moment. Instead, our getting together in worship is sign and symbol that we belong to God, that He belongs to us, and that we belong to each other. God infuses us with a grace to see beyond self to the family. He causes us to share with the Body of Christ as a symbol – a sacrament – of our love and of each person’s dignity.

In today’s Psalm we hear, for you alone, O LORD, bring security to my dwelling. This is not just our home, a physical structure in which we reside. Rather, the term my dwelling refers to our house, the place we reside together. He secures us in the family of faith and calls us to show our Jesus card by being “witnesses of these things” and bearing perfected love.

Say what?

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “I will not believe.”

As usual, on this Low Sunday, we consider the consternation St. Thomas faced when confronted by the news of the resurrection.

The consternation St. Thomas faced is what we might call ‘say what-ed-ness.’ We all do that, don’t we? Someone tells us something and we proclaim, ‘Say what?’ We shake our heads in a state of perpetual disbelief. I don’t get it. I can’t accept it. This is too foreign to me.

If you ever want to test your own or others ‘say what-ed-ness,’ tell them what the Church teaches in truth and power. Jesus is God and man – He is not just a nice teacher. His words are the Word of God and must be obeyed. We must take up our cross and follow Him, walking the gospel path. All people are the children of God, and each of the baptized are co-heirs with Jesus to the promises of the Father. The Church’s teachings are not just an option but required belief. Say what?

Within the first three Chapters of the Book of Acts we learn that: The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

We do not even have to imagine the ‘say what’ reaction of the people who witnessed the life of the early Church. The reaction of the established leadership was negative. It is well recorded throughout Acts and the Epistles. We can hear the voices: What do you mean? They sell everything they have and share in the proceeds equally? They proclaim Christ without fear, with no apprehension, but publicly and with great power? Say what? We need to shut them up. That still rings true today.

Our ability to elicit ‘say what-ed-ness’ from the worldly is founded upon the power we have as recorded in St. John’s writings: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God… Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

As a people empowered by the salvation and inheritance we have in the risen Jesus – the God-man who overcame for us – we need to be a people of resolute faith, a people who truly believe and own, within our hearts as well as shown by our actions and words, the power of the Risen One.

We are called then to go out, dressed in Easter joy, with power, to challenge the ‘say what-ed-ness’ of the world. We are called to proclaim truth and liberty, freedom from death in sin to life in the resurrected Christ. The next time we hear ‘say what?’ let us respond with ‘Let me tell you about Jesus.’ “My Lord and my God!” He lives. In Him we have life. Come and believe.

In the garden.

“He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that He is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Here we are, in this beautiful garden, standing in awe before an empty tomb.

I have spent a lot of time these days contemplating this garden, in my mind’s eye thinking that it closely resembles the nearby tomb where Jesus was laid.

Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there…

I watched as this was put together, the color and texture of the place, the scent of flowers where our beautiful Lord slept in death.

Picture, in your mind’s eye, the women, setting off to the tomb before daybreak on the third day, eager to attend to the remains of their Lord and Master. They loved Him and could not do otherwise.

Each of the Gospels differ slightly in the exact narrative, but they all agree that the first witnesses to the resurrection were the woman who followed Jesus. They all found the tomb empty and went or were instructed to go tell the disciples. 

Here we are, in this beautiful garden, standing in awe before an empty tomb.

The narratives describe the reaction of the women and the disciples as one of fear, a lack of understanding, or wonderment – all words for awe. Awe is defined as a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

We too respect this garden, and we encounter it with fear and wonder. Certainly, we can picture the scene, we even physically sense it in feeling the petals of the flowers, the moisture of the green leaves, smelling the flowers and the scent of earth, touching the sharpness of the crown of thorns still resting nearby and the hardness of the rock. We can look up and see the cross still standing, but can we connect with the new reality this day brings?

Here we are, in this beautiful garden, standing in awe before the empty tomb. We still stand in awe because, like those women and disciples, we can hardly believe what God has done for us.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.

He gave His Son for us. His Son suffered and died for us. His Son rested in the tomb for us. His Son rose for us. For you. For me. Awe.

Here we are, in this beautiful garden – not just that garden, but the new Eden in which we dwell with God, no longer alienated or unreconciled, because of all Jesus did. So, affirmed now, let us go forth from this garden to proclaim, testify, and bear witness to our risen Jesus.

Holy Week and the celebration of the Solemnity of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ are the true central point of our liturgical year. In this time, we are called in a special way to walk with Jesus from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to the Last Supper, through His passion, death, and entombment, to His glorious resurrection. 

All celebrations will be conducted in full and the church is completely open. We will also broadcast our services for those who cannot attend in person.

  • March 28: Palm Sunday. Holy Mass with Blessing and distribution of Palms at 10am.
  • March 30: Holy Tuesday. Chrism Holy Mass in the Cathedral, Scranton, 11:30am.
  • March 31: Holy Wednesday. Day of Fast.
  • April 1: Maundy Thursday. Day of Fast. Holy Mass with Reception of Oils, Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and Striping of the Altar at 7pm. Church remains open afterward for private devotion.
  • April 2: Good Friday. Day of Fast. Church opens at Noon for private devotion Seven Last Words at 1pm. Bitter Lamentations / Gorzkie żale at 3pm. Liturgy of the Presanctified and Opening of the Tomb at 7pm. Church remains open afterward for private devotion.
  • April 3: Holy Saturday. Day of Fast. Liturgies of the day (New Fire, Blessing of Holy Water, Proclamation of the Exhortations, Renew of Baptismal Promises) at 10am followed by the Blessing of Easter Baskets.
  • April 4: Solemnity of the Resurrection (Easter). Solemn Resurrection Procession and High Holy Mass at 8am. Second Holy Mass at 10am.

The blessing of Polish Easter food baskets, the Święconka, is a beloved tradition that takes place on Holy Saturday when families bring a sampling of Easter foods to be blessed in church. This year you can order a pre-prepared blessed basket for pickup or delivery.

Our Easter food baskets will be blessed by Fr. Jim and have over twenty (20) imported and locally made items to eat and enjoy on Easter morning! Use the form below to place your order. Baskets are $50 each and include:

  • Kielbasa
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Homemade Babka
  • Beet Horseradish 
  • Culinary Salt 
  • Homemade Butter Lamb
  • Fruits
  • Homemade Kruschiki (Angel Wings)
  • Juice
  • Tapered Candle
  • Traditional Palms
  • Pisanki Decorative Egg
  • Polish Candies
  • Informational Booklet
  • And more!

You may pick up your pre-ordered basket on Saturday, April 3, 2021 between 11am to 3pm at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 1040 Pearl St, Schenectady

In the alternative, you can have your basket delivered to your home using contactless delivery. There is a $10 delivery fee for addresses in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy.

Important:

  • Pre-orders ONLY. 
  • No substitutions. 
  • Must pick-up on date/time specified.

Getting us ready.

Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly

Jesus’ dialog for the long road continues today. Over the past two weeks we listened in on Jesus’ talk with His disciples. He meant to prepare them, and deep down He knew He was. It would all eventually become evident to them – Who Jesus is, what laid ahead.

The dialog approaches its conclusion with a prayer to the Father, a prayer for us, and again we listen in just as the disciples were listening in. He prays: the words You gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from You, and they have believed that You sent me. I pray for them.

The road starts with Jesus’ word, a word that conveys sacramental effect in us. We only need listen to what we have been given, accept it, and understand that the One who provided that word was sent by the Father and is God. We have God’s word and if we believe on Him we are obligated to know Him and live out all He said and did.

The road ahead continues in doing what the disciples did. They returned from the ascension and took up prayer. They prayed as one and in the One who taught them how to pray. They lived and prayed as He prayed they would. They prayed in expectancy, for the working of God’s awesome plan; worked through our witness and in accord with the promptings and action of the Holy Spirit.

The road goes on in our work. It is amazing, isn’t it – St. Peter would tell us to Rejoice to the extent that [we] share in the sufferings of Christ. These words tend to trip off the tongues of the saints – and there is a reason. They experienced Jesus. Deep down they all encountered Him. Peter and the apostles, the disciples who walked with Jesus and saw it all, understood the promise. They saw the resurrection, the new man, the promise of heaven’s open door. Paul found it on the road to Damascus, right in the middle of his sin, hate, and anger Jesus broke through. The mystics and contemplatives found Him in prayer. Francis heard Jesus voice and set to work. The martyrs knew where they were headed. They counted suffering nothing because they knew where the road led.

We have been prepared for the work so that when his glory is revealed [we]may rejoice exultantly. We have Jesus’ word, the Spirit’s gifts, the model of the Acts Church, and the charge to carry on as His witnesses. Ready? Yes, ready Lord!