One way.

“Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father.”

Last week we studied Jesus, the gate-man. The one way to enter is through Him. We enter through and by Him so that we might have life eternal. Recall that entering through Him gives us abundant life. We call ourselves Christians and we live like we got heaven for indeed we do.

This theme carries through to today’s gospel. Jesus holds a dialog with his disciples. He was preparing them for the long and difficult road to Jerusalem and the cross. In doing so He means to give them assurance. Of course, the disciples being very literal missed the literal meaning of Who Jesus is. So, He explains it in even plainer language.

Those same questions plague our minds these days. I don’t know the way! I don’t know how to go! Jesus answers succinctly – “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He truly is our One way of going. His words and example are our truth. He holds the key to real life. We put ourselves into Him, take Him into us knowing real life is in Him.

Ok, but… we can hear ourselves saying. But what about my life now, here, today? What about my worries, fears, and stuff? If we were to lose it all, if we were to be left like Lot, sick, sitting on a dung hill, with people around us trying to figure out what’s wrong with us, we would still possess the greatest gift of all, the One way to the Father. See, neither our stuff, worries and cares, nor anyone else’s promises will get us to heaven. If we have Jesus, we have the Father and eternal life.

Today we honor great figures and witnesses of faith. There is a reason.

Our moms taught us about Jesus because they got it. They cared more about our everlasting life than daily worries or stuff. They wanted us to know Jesus, to know the way, truth, and life. Their gift was not just our existence, but rather the fullness of life in and through Jesus. They wanted us to see the Father, so they helped us know Jesus. Bp. Joseph Padewski knew this, from his mother and from his Holy Mother the Church. He laid down his life under torture, refusing to reject Jesus. No secret at all. He had it all. He hung on to Jesus, the way, truth, and life and came to everlasting life. Our moms, Bp. Padewski, lived knowing they had it all in Jesus. Let us as well.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

I am hungry.

We previously considered so much to be a part of normal routine. Much of it now fades away, and rightly so. There are certainly things in normal routine that we have learned are not all that important. We have reprioritized our cares. For each of us, church may have been another ordinary routine. Now we cannot gather as we did. We, even the servers and musicians present with me, cannot receive at the table. The Fast of Lent has carried forward, for we are deprived of the Bread of Life, the Cup of Salvation. This is a hunger pain beyond comprehension. It hurts! Jesus pointed out that the hungry would be satisfied, that those of us who really get it and weep now (you know I am emotional, but now I tend to cry at the slightest thing), will laugh. The sacrifice carries on. The mystical union is not ended, it will not end. The bread is prepared. Feel the hunger and cry now in prayer knowing that we will be satisfied and laugh. He promised!

May is here. The world is different. Our newsletter contains helpful hints for remote participation in parish activities and words of hope and encouragement so needed. In May we honor the Blessed Virgin, our moms, continue our celebration of Easter, honor the members of our parish from the former Good Shepherd parish and receive a special gift from Holy Spirit parish. We look forward with hope and continue to be the faithful church both at home and together. Check out our plans for Memorial Day as well.

Read about all it in our May 2020 Newsletter.

About the
when.

“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

It is often said that it is all about the timing. It is about being there when our ship comes in. Well. today the ship has really come in. Three special celebrations all in one day. We, of course, celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. We also honor our Blessed Mother, Mary, in a special way today crowning her with our admiration and love. Finally, we celebrate Mother’s Day. While these celebrations may seem somewhat disparate, there is a central theme that runs throughout. It is the theme of motherhood, of deep caring. About mom getting us to when.

As we consider the concept of motherhood, let us look at it from the angle of our mom’s, our Blessed Mother, and what the Good Shepherd left us, our Holy Mother, the Church.

Each of the ‘mom’s’ in our lives exist in time. Each of them has related to us throughout our lives in differing ways. Each of them has left an impact and a past. Each offers potential for the future. Each has been the source of tears and joys leading us to when.

We start with our mom’s. As we reflect on them we consider their experiences of us, and what they prepared for us. As we reflect on such things, we consider those many times mom may wondered about us. We also, and much more frequently, reflect on the happy moments. Those times mom was assured of our love, when she knew her counsel made a difference, when she had assurance of our ok’ness. For her, it is/was about our when, the opportunity of the moment – for us to have everything that really matters.

The same with our Blessed Mother. She holds out her hands to us. She watches over and intercedes for us. She certainly has wondered about us when we were distant from her Son. But there she is, always ready to help us come back. For her, it is about our when, the opportunity of the moment – for us to have everything that really matters.

Our Holy Mother, the Church, works diligently to raise us to the realization of Jesus’ intervention as Good Shepherd. We find Him holding the gate open, leading us, knowing us. For the Shepherd and His Holy Church it is about our when, the opportunity to have everything that really matters.

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

Mary spoke seven times as recorded by scripture. While I am sure she spoke more than that, that is all that is recorded. In those seven moments (depending on the Bible translation), Mary spoke a grand total of 189 words. Of the 189 words, 180 were spoken before Jesus was born and through His childhood. Only 9 were spoken when He was an adult, and only as a precursor to His launching His ministry. We tend to place a lot of emphasis on words, and perhaps not enough on action. However, the action is where it is at. That’s where we want to be, taking part in what’s happening. The Magnificat – a fancy way of saying Mary’s Prayer – gives us an example of one who really wants to be part of the action. Mary is proclaiming how her very being, her soul and spirit, are intent on magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord. She is throwing her whole self into God’s way of living, God’s way of being, God’s way of changing everything. She saying – I just don’t want to be part of that, I am fully in, onboard. Throughout the rest of scripture, we occasionally meet Mary. She is there as her Son ministers, she is along the Way of the Cross, at the foot of the Cross, a witness to His burial, and with the disciples on Pentecost. She made herself all-in. She did this by her service, by her willingness to follow, by her letting her Son’s precious words and actions shine forth. As we enter the month of May, Mary’s month, recall that the Holy Church sets her example forth not as some long ago tale, as some stale devotion, or as words for the sake of words, but so we may live her engagement as a disciple. Mary did not sit back and let words come before her action of magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord. This May, as we mow, tend to new blooming gardens, and honor mom, let us redouble our action and engagement, placing our whole selves into Jesus work, like Mary.

Join us in May for the fullness of the Easter Season, great national and local events now and throughout the summer, special thanks, and lots of great fellowship right here in Schenectady.

Read more in our May 2019 Newsletter.

Mom’s construction
job.

For it says in Scripture: Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame. Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and A stone that will make people stumble, and a rock that will make them fall. They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

So how can I possibly tie together the themes from this Sunday’s scripture with Mother’s Day?

In the gospel, Jesus is beginning His disciple’s preparation for His passion. The words of our gospel are then from the beginning of Jesus’ pre-Passion discourses meant to help envision a horizon that extends beyond Easter to life in the community of faith after Jesus is no longer visibly present with his followers.

The Acts narrative speaks of the appointment of the first deacons (a scripture that has always been very dear to my heart).

St. Peter reflects on scripture that seems to have more to do with God as builder. He talks about cornerstones and stumbling blocks and how the two are in One.

For some of us older folks, it is hard to imagine mom in a construction vest and hard hat laying down a line of mortar with a trowel. How would that beehive fit under the hard hat?
What we may have failed to perceive is that our moms were our first encounter with construction workers.

The good moms in our lives (this could have been a grandmother, aunt, other woman) did all they could to build us up into God’s solid people.

The key thing they did was to help us understand the place Jesus wants in our lives. He wants us to see Him as our cornerstone, He is the One we build upon, we develop from Him. With Him as our cornerstone, we do not stumble, we do not fall. He is our Rock – the stable place we can always go to.

The good women in our lives follow the model of Mary who points to Jesus, who holds Him out to us as our foundation. They don’t put themselves first, but rather the craftswomen who make us fully human – into buildings that will stand forever. Without their work, their building, we stumble and fall. Without them our destiny is one of limited potential, limited effect, people whose destiny is brokenness – like crumbling and decaying buildings soon to fall to the ground.

With our lives built on the true Cornerstone we are thankful for their craftsmanship.

Faith and
courage.

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: ‘Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me’

It is a pretty exclusive deal to belong to Jesus. It requires more than just showing up. It requires a leap of faith and active courage.

The leap of faith is to do what Thomas failed to do after Jesus rose from the dead. To say I believe in You Lord. I welcome you into my life. I am Yours first and foremost. I am sorry for the wrongs I have committed. I trust in You Lord.

Courage is required for that, and even more so to keep at it, to live it out in front of friends, family, and the rest of the world.

Jochebed was Moses’ mother. She was one of God’s chosen people and more importantly a godly woman who stood with God and or her faith with courage.

Jochebed lived in a totally hostile environment – a slave, under subjugation who was forced without mercy to do bitter work. In the face of that she did not allow herself to surrender to hopelessness.

We would think the last straw came when Pharaoh ordered the killing of all of Israel’s first-born male infants. For Jochebed, that included her son Moses. Resistance would mean her death or a life in prison at best. But as a godly woman she was determined to resist and counter the evil pressures of Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s government, and anyone who went along with Pharaoh’s plan. She refused to go with the flow. She refused to consider her own life, comfort, convenience or safety. She refused to bow.

Jochebed, fearing God more than man, made a decision that, though it put her in great jeopardy, proved to be the decision that saved her nation. By seeking to preserve Moses’ life she saved Israel’s future lawgiver and the leader of the Exodus. She gave Moses everything she could during those first few months and then gave him up when she couldn’t hide him anymore. Certainly, after placing him afloat in the Nile she figured she’d never see him again, but she entrusted her child’s life and hers’ into God’s hands. She acted in faith and with courage and received back more than what she gave.

It was a mother’s love, faith and courage that saved her child from a cruel death and preserved him to bless the world. All godly moms do that. They trust in God and leave a legacy of faith and courage so that the world will be blessed in us.

Let us remember the godly women in our lives and be thankful for their example of faith and courage. More than that, let us live up to that faith and courage, and Jesus’ prayer for us, by our very lives.

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Love as
God loved us.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

We are a busy Church today. As we observe the Sixth Sunday of Easter we also observe the 64th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Joseph Padewski and Mother’s Day.

It may seem to be a difficult challenge. We have to, as a Church, concentrate on Easter. That is our first duty, to proclaim Jesus’ salvation and the promise of His resurrection to the whole world. How do you mix that with the fact that members of the Church are sometimes called to suffer and even die to proclaim this message – something happening right now in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Then couple all that with honoring our Blessed Mother and our moms in a special way.

Certainly, each of these events can stand alone and with deep significance for the Christian faithful. Thankfully, our Lord has already showed us how all this is bound together: This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Jesus told us what we should do, but as opposed to false prophets and made up gods – He walked the walk. He laid down His life for all of us voluntarily. As St. John recounts Jesus saying: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.”

Bishop Padewski lived his vocation and followed in Jesus’ footsteps. He returned to Poland from Albany to serve God’s people in the devastation following World War II. He did not consider his own safety or comfort, but rather followed the commandment of love and walked into the horrors of the communist takeover of Poland. He was arrested, tortured, and killed for his love of God’s people and his faithfulness to Jesus.

The Blessed Virgin is the exemplar of love for Jesus. We not only honor her as our heavenly mother, but also as our example of love and dedication to her Son, Jesus. She sacrificed her heart and life for Him. So too our mothers, the first example of love in our lives. They laid down their lives in a great act of sacrificial love.

All of these themes, all of Christianity, is joined together by love – love of God and for each other – giving all we are for the truth of love.

May is here and our thoughts turn to Mary and Mom. They are not mythological creatures or goddesses – but rather true witnesses to commitment and dedication. Let’s pray together and ask Mary’s intercession for our moms while reflecting on what their commitment and dedication say to us.

Our newsletter arrives as warmer days have finally arrived in New York’s Capital District. Get out there, tend to the garden and do not forget about God’s garden – help your spiritual life grow too. Our schedule is jam packed with great events – please join us. We have added a new monthly Holy Mass and Anointing for Healing. The first will be May 18th at 6:15pm. Read more and reflect on what it means to be PNCC, get updates on Church-wide events for this year of regeneration, and check out the summer schedule.

You may view and download a copy of our May 2015 Newsletter right here.

Mothers by Martin Creed

Reflection for Good Shepherd Sunday 2014

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Recognize the right
Shepherd

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

Jesus begins talking about sheep, shepherds, and gates with a scene from everyday life. In Jewish villages each family owned a couple of sheep for personal use. The animals stay at night in the courtyard of the family’s house. Families in the village agree as to who will shepherd their combined flock. In the morning this shepherd goes down the street to gather the sheep. The person at the door recognizes the shepherd and opens the gate for the sheep to pass through. The shepherd has a distinct call or whistle, which the sheep recognize and follow.

We too live as a single village, a family; the family of Jesus called the Holy Church. We are God’s single flock composed sheep gathered from the courtyards of various homes. The doorkeepers in our homes are our faithful parents, particularly our mothers who were our gatekeepers. They stood watch over the gate of the home. They recognized what was best for us, what was safest, what would lead us to salvation and life. So, they opened the doors of the their homes to the Good Shepherd. They took action to recognize Jesus as the Good Shepherd, as the One who would shepherd their little flock, their children to salvation and life.

The One to Whom our mothers gave authorization, Jesus, enters into our lives in the proper fashion, through the gate. We recognize Him and He leads us to salvation and life while those without authorization, the false prophets, only have “the voice of strangers.” These forces of media, politics, celebrity, and peer group are not really powerful at all, but constantly try to draw us to ideas and aspirations that are contrary to those of our Shepherd. They want to lead us to separation, loneliness, fear, fading vanity, and death. They do not have the good of the sheep, our good, in mind but rather selfish ends of their own.

Our parents, our mothers who guard the fold, recognized the Good Shepherd. His entry into our lives was natural, out in the open, without forcing. Such has been Jesus’ entrance into this world and amongst his own people. He has come in the appropriate manner, having been sent by the Father to bring us life that is faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle.

What has been shown to us, taught to us, starting with our mothers, is the manner by which we recognize the Good Shepherd. In recognizing Him we find salvation and life.

May 2014 Newsletter – The Easter Season, Mom, and more…

It is May and our newsletter has arrived. It is filled with information on so many holy and exciting events as we continue to celebrate the fifty days of Easter. We start by visiting the upper room and study the witness of those who were there, including Mary, the mother of Jesus. We invite you to stand with your family in faith as we celebrate mom and worship together right here in Schenectady. You may view and download a copy right here — May 2014 Newsletter.

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