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.

Seek! Encounter!

Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

Early in the morning Mary’s heart would not let her sleep. Her heart broken in the experience of witnessing her beloved Lord and Master’s cruel death called out to her – Go, be with Him. Still dark, she ventured out. Wending her way through the city in the early morning, avoiding the Roman soldiers, Temple guards, and other ne’er-do-wells she headed out to the tomb. On her way there she would look up and see the hill on which He was crucified, the crosses still standing in the dawn’s rising sun. Arriving in the garden near the hill she found the stone removed. Shocked she runs off to tell the apostles. St. Matthew tells us that she saw the angel descend to roll away the stone. He told her to run to the apostles. On the way to the apostles, she encounters Jesus.

We have been called into our own monasteries, our convents, our Sketes. We have been, in a way, in this time of confinement and separation, been called apart from the world and are being asked to encounter Jesus. In the silence of this time, let us anew seek what is above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. Let us think, ponder, reflect, and lift ourselves up with a focus on what is above. Lifting ourselves to Jesus, let us find hope and more than that – assurance in our encounter with Him.

In facing our current fears, we are closely aligned with how the apostles and Mary felt that morning. Their hearts were broken, and their bodies worn out from grief. And Jesus broke through! He said, I am going before you to Galilee where you will encounter me once again.

Early each morning let us too venture out, out of the things that confine our hope, that break our hearts, that keep our eyes pointed low and down. Let us go to be with our Lord and Master, to sit with Him in prayer. Let us look up to the hill where the cross stands and encounter in it the tree of salvation and freedom. Let us see the tomb empty, knowing that He has risen, knowing that we too are inheritors of that glorious resurrection.

St. Paul calls the people of Colossae and us to a key truth. If we have encountered Christ’s resurrection let us keep our eyes, hearts, thoughts, and spirits focused on Him. The joy of this day is ours forever and nothing can take it from us. It is ours!

Expect the
amazing.

And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus appears again resurrected.  He encounters His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. We have all the drama of the encounter with the unexpected. The disciples do not recognize Jesus. He sounds like a sideline commentator; hey you should fish over there. Peter, the nearly naked fisherman runs for cover once John recognizes Jesus.

So much of Jesus’ ministry is an encounter with the unexpected. The widow, bringing out her dead son, sees him risen. Martha and Mary, thinking Jesus too late, see their brother risen. The woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman who went from man-to-man, find the Lord full of both insight and compassionate forgiveness.

Last Sunday, we were asked to share Jesus, His resurrected life, His mercy, His central role in our life. If we did, did we experience an encounter with the unexpected? Did Jesus show up, surprisingly, and give new sight, new freedom, and forgiveness?

The disciples, the nascent Church, found Jesus with them. In spite of locked doors, unbelief, poor fishing, lack of insight, nakedness, and past. He returned and returns, feeding, instructing, forgiving.

Do we perceive or understand this resurrected Lord? Are we ready to really get what’s going on? If we truly saw, if this empty tomb, the glory of Easter morning hit us full on, life would be so different. Why?

Because we have a life of unexpected encounter in Jesus. We have been changed. Hit with this power, Revelation tells us: the elders fell down and worshiped. Knowing what we have this minute, knowing what we will receive, knowing the power of our baptism and our sealing with the Holy Spirit, we would be out those doors proclaiming like the first apostles: “We must obey God rather than men.” Jesus was killed and is raised. Jesus is exalted. Jesus offers you opportunity for repentance and forgiveness. I am His witness. We are His witnesses, here in Schenectady, and Scotia, and Glenville, Rotterdam, across New York, and everywhere we go. We would be constantly in awe. But we are afraid.

Peter was afraid, naked in his betrayal – until the unexpected. Jesus was there telling Him as He tells us: Let go. Be unafraid. Follow me. Feed and tend. Expect the amazing.

Getting done
what had to be done.

For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

What a weird thing to say. John, in writing this gospel, is recalling that moment at the tomb. As he is recalling, he interprets the scriptures to say that Jesus had to rise from the dead. A weird thing to say because this writing and interpretation of scripture is directive to God. It is telling God what He must do.

Would we ever presume to tell God what He must do? Oh, by the way God, You have to do this. Yet this is what we read about Jesus today. Jesus had to rise from the dead.

On the morning of the resurrection John, and Peter by inference, did not yet understand. Later they would all realize that Jesus had to do this. Jesus had to get done what He had to get done.

Jesus mission to us is an eternal arc. This narrative, this historical account, begins from eternity and goes to eternity. His work is completely directed to and for us.

Easter, the Solemnity of the Resurrection, all the joy and celebration we feel today, is about this. It is about celebrating what God wiled Himself, required Himself, to do for us.

God’s work is never incomplete, it is never pointless. Each aspect of His work has purpose and effect. Every moment of Jesus life was about and for you and me, each of us, no one excluded.

Is there any point where Jesus’ arc was just good enough? Should He have just sent word through the prophets and left good enough alone? Should He have stopped at the stable in Bethlehem, giving us only a glimpse of what might be possible? Perhaps after His preaching and miracles? After all, we would have had wise words to live by, a nice example to follow. Should He have stopped at the cross, gotten down to show His power? Could we say enough, all right, at His death and burial. Should that have been it? No! We, by Jesus’ eternal arc, have the fulness of God’s life in us. We have the examples of the prophets. We have Jesus’ incarnation and coming for us. We have His life – God among us showing us how to live God’s life. We have freedom from all sin and freedom from eternal death by the cross. Life forever in the resurrection because Jesus did what He hadto do.

What’s
next.

Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.

This week and next bring to an end the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. With these weeks we begin our expectation of the end times and Jesus’ return as our Lord and King. Today’s questions from the Sadducees get to the question of what happens after death and the essential truths of God’s kingdom.

The Roman historian of Jewish matters, Josephus, identified the Sadducees as being upper crust socially and economically. They had a great deal of political, social, and religious power. They believed that the soul was not immortal; that there was no afterlife, and that there were no rewards or penalties after death. They specifically rejected the resurrection of the dead.

It is ironic; the upper one percent denied any idea of hope or reward in the life to come. It sounds like something we might hear in this day and age. If you were the working poor, if you had nothing, you would receive nothing regardless of how faithful you might have been. Again, there is a distinct parallel to our present age. The rich Sadducees had no worries. They saw life as something they could enjoy to the fullest while the rest of the world suffered in despair.

Jesus came to set aside all such notions. He did not just attempt to set them aside. He destroyed this lack of hope with the authority and power of God.

If, like the Sadducees, our concern is about our power in this life and projecting that power into eternal life we fail to understand the purpose of the Kingdom of heaven. We fail to see essential hope that exists in God’s kingdom.

God’s kingdom is defined by life, not death. It transcends our senses and time. God’s kingdom – to which we are made heirs through Jesus – ends the base and immoral systems of domination and control that mar this life. God’s kingdom offers true rewards based on faith as well as our spiritual growth, loyalty of God’s way, and righteous living. God’s kingdom is limitless and eternal – our awaited home.

Hope does not regard today’s riches or defeats, power of lack thereof. As God’s children His rewards await us and we will enjoy them eternally. There will be many poor and lonely who will rule in God’s kingdom. The lordly and mighty men and women who ruled over institutions and nations and who, if they are lucky enough to even enter into the Kingdom of God, may get an apartment. This is what is next.

Join us for Holy Week and Easter in Schenectady

holy-week-easter-700

Please come and join us during Holy Week and Easter. Jesus looks forward to our company during Holy Week as we commemorate His passion and death for us. Having stood by Him through these trials we hold unto the promise that we will rise again with Him.

The schedule below notes all services for Passiontide, Holy Week, and Easter. Please remember that Holy Week is a week of fasting.

  • 4/13 – Palm Sunday: Blessing and Distribution of Palms. Service of Worship and Holy Communion, 9:30am
  • 4/15 – Holy Tuesday: Clergy Conference and Holy Mass of Chrism, St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Cathedral, Scranton
  • 4/17 – Maundy Thursday: Holy Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament, 7pm
  • 4/18 – Good Friday: Good Friday Cross-walk at 10am. Church opens at noon for private devotions. Services at 1pm (Stations), 2pm (Lamentations), and 3pm (Opening of the Tomb), Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified at 7pm
  • 4/19 – Holy Saturday: Holy Saturday Liturgies – Blessing of new fire, holy water, renewal of baptismal promises, blessing of Easter baskets and food, 4pm
  • 4/20 – Solemnity of the Resurrection (Easter): Procession and Solemn High Holy Mass, 8am, Service at 10:30 Free Lunch on Sunday/Easter Breakfast 10:30am

Easter Wishes

My dearest family in Christ,

On behalf of my family, I extend to you every blessing for this Easter and throughout the Easter season. May the resurrected Christ continue to reign in your heart and in your life as you follow Him and adhere to a faith both ancient and new.

We have a wonderful Lord and Master, a Savior who understands our needs. He is filled with love for us. In turn we, His people, reflect His love in all we do. It is a great blessing to have been called into the Lord’s service. He called me into His field, to do His work. I have been so greatly blessed because the portion of His field, here in Schenectady, is filled with people who so desire to work within His body, the Holy Church, in fellowship, as the family of faith doing good for each other and for all we encounter. You have blessed me greatly and I love you with all the joy of the resurrected Christ.

Życzenia radosnych Świąt Wielkanocnych pełnych wiary, nadziei i miłości, wypełnionych nadzieją budzącej się wiosny. Pogody w sercu i radości płynacej z faktu Zmartwychwstania Pańskiego, oraz smacznego świeconego w gronie najbliższych szczerze przesyla.

Deacon Jim, Renee, Stephanie, Adam, and Victoria

Passiontide, Holy Week, and Easter in Schenectady

The schedule below notes all services for Passiontide, Holy Week, and Easter at Holy Name of Jesus in Schenectady. Please also remember that Holy Week is a week of fasting.

  • Sunday, March 17th – Passion Sunday: Lenten Penitential Service, Holy Mass, Anointing of the Sick, 11am
  • Friday, March 22nd – Stations of the Cross, 7:30pm
  • Sunday, March 24th – Palm Sunday: Blessing and Distribution of Palms. Service of Worship and Holy Communion, 9:30am
  • Tuesday, March 26th – Holy Tuesday: Clergy Conference and Holy Mass of Chrism, St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Cathedral, Scranton
  • Thursday, March 28th – Maundy Thursday: Holy Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament, 7pm
  • Friday, March 29th – Good Friday: Church opens at noon, Stations of the Cross at 1pm, Bitter Lamentations/Gorzkie Żale at 2pm, Opening of the Tomb at 3pm, Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified at 7pm.
  • Saturday, March 30th – Holy Saturday: Holy Saturday Liturgies – Blessing of new fire, holy water, baptism of Karina Leigh Weglinski, renewal of baptismal promises, blessing of food, 4pm
  • Sunday, March 31st – Solemnity of the Resurrection: Procession and Solemn High Holy Mass, 8am, Service of Worship and Holy Communion at 10:30am, Soup on Sunday and Easter Breakfast 10:30am

Our hearts and doors are open to all who wish to walk with Jesus through His trial, suffering, death, and burial so as to share in His resurrection.