This week’s memory verse: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:10
  • 4/18 – Philippians 2:3
  • 4/19 – Ephesians 5:21
  • 4/20 – Luke 6:31
  • 4/21 – 1 Peter 3:8
  • 4/22 –  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  • 4/23 – Hebrews 10:25
  • 4/25 – Romans 12:4-5

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, by Your grace I have been made a member of Your Body, the Church. Grant, O Lord, the grace to build up the body and witness to the power of Your family.

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.

This week’s memory verse: But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:6
  • 4/11 – Ephesians 6:12
  • 4/12 – Deuteronomy 4:29
  • 4/13 – 1 Corinthians 14:33
  • 4/14 – Proverbs 8:17
  • 4/15 –  Proverbs 3:26
  • 4/16 – 2 Corinthians 3:5
  • 4/17 – Philippians 4:13

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me the strength to stand up to the ‘say what-ed-ness’ of the world with the truth of Your gospel way. Help me to call others onto the path You have forged for us so together we may give You all glory and praise.

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.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

This Easter Season is marked by the particular joy of being together in-person in church once again. The beauty of each of your faces, your smiling eyes, the thanksgiving, the song, the praise reverberate with that joy. One year ago we could not gather in-person. We did not know what might happen. Would the parish survive? Would we ever gather again? How will I shop? How will I obtain my most essential needs? Most of us had never faced a challenge of the magnitude brought about by COVID-19. We deeply felt the loss of normalcy. The questions and the fears were natural. Tears were natural. Yet, in spite of those rightly placed feelings and fears, the parish persisted. Prayer and supplication were made for each of you, our entire Church, the nation, and the world. Holy Masses were offered. God’s mercy was called upon in Jesus’ Holy Name. Prayers of intercession were offered to the Blessed Virgin. Yes, throughout it all, the parish bore on, carrying out its witness before the world. Your discipleship fought against despair. The greatest testimony of the time was the gift of perseverance all of you, the parishioners, friends, and members of Holy Name of Jesus were graced with. You did not throw in the towel, nor would you even think of allowing for defeat. By God’s grace the parish not only survived, but grew and was strengthened. Your hearts were uplifted, but not only. The hearts and minds of countless others known and unknown encountered our witness to our risen Lord and Savior. We bore witness in ways seen and unseen, by prayer, outreach, charity, kindness, and sacrifice. Because of what we did together, witnessing to the might of Jesus’ Holy Name, grace continues to abound. The Lord Almighty is the creator of the times and the seasons. He chastises, but also lifts up. He tests and rewards those who bear up. You, my brothers and sisters, have borne up mightily in witness to the power of the Risen One in our lives.

April brings us again to Easter joy. Celebrating Easter in our 100th year as a parish recalls past joys and resurrects our hope for the future. Abundant blessings are being received as we continue moving forward.

This month we focus on Mother Teresa as a faithful disciple of our Lord who lived her life in a beautiful way showing unconditional love. We celebrate the return of two Holy Masses on Sundays and the regular reception of Holy Communion. We remind ourselves of our Sunday obligation which, first and foremost, requires our presence in church each Sunday. We learn various ways of giving the Easter greeting in many languages. Check out information on our Music Scholarship program. We look forward to this summer’s national activities, the Men’s Retreat and the Kurs Encampment for children and youth. Read our special thank you for great work and a beautiful donation. And, we also share more of our 100 years of memories.

Check out all this and more here in our April 2021 Newsletter.

This week’s memory verse: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:17
  • 4/4 – Revelation 2:7
  • 4/5 – Numbers 24:5-7
  • 4/6 – John 7:38
  • 4/7 – Jeremiah 31:12
  • 4/8 –  2 Peter 3:18
  • 4/9 – Song of Songs 4:15-16
  • 4/10 – Psalm 92:12-15

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, move me from the joyous contemplation of Your empty tomb in the garden to proclaiming, testifying, and bearing witness to You. Help me to grow the seeds of faith You have planted in all people.

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.

Perfect

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Jesus, the perfect Son of God, the perfect advocate, the perfectly blameless and sinless one, the perfect high priest, the perfect lamb was sent by God the Father to save the imperfect.

The testimony of the Scriptures insists upon Jesus’ perfection. In Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, we read: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What is so amazing is that God would self-sacrifice perfection for the likes of us. He gave perfection so those who hate, the violent, the prejudiced, the deniers, the betrayers, the unfaithful, the cheaters and liars, those who place politics above truth, the thieves, and the man or woman who just cut you off or slammed a door in your face, can confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

The Father instructed His perfect Son to be the perfect sacrifice, to take upon Himself the sin we live in, because only by the offering up of perfection taking on our sin could we be saved.

Throughout the history of the Jewish people, we see time and time again God taking action to save, not because of some imperfect offering from imperfect people, or because of some human plea, but by His own perfect will; by His choice and interior self-agreement. God chooses, God agrees, God brings about. 

In the end God brought about perfect forgiveness of sin, fellowship with the imperfect, and adoption of the imperfect through the offering of the Perfect one, Jesus. All we need to do is accept that gift. Can we in our imperfection grasp this and say yes? Assuredly so! Now is the time.

Therefore, on this Good Friday, and in each of our days, let us take account of where we fall short, let us then give thanks for the timely helpavailable to us because we have approached the throne of grace and have said, ‘Yes Lord, I believe.’ Let us take every opportunity to let all we encounter know what God has done for us. Then, with deep humility, rest in God’s perfect love.

Up.

Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you

Dearest people of God in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

There is a consistent quality in what happens over these three days of the Pascal Triduum. It is the quality of “up.” Consider these few short excerpts from the Gospels:

Jesus tells His disciples: “We’re going up to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death.”

Matthew 20:18

he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.”

Mark 14:13-15

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:26

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him

Luke 23:33

Up to Jerusalem, in the upper room, up on the Mount of Olives, up to Golgotha, the place of The Skull. Jesus travels ever upward.

Each of these references have to do with going to a higher place, to going up. This is, my brothers and sisters, why Jesus embarked on this journey in fulfillment of His Father’s will. 

His journey was and remains so that we may be lifted up to God. 

It is so we might spread the word to humanity, held down in sin and despair – that Jesus, the Son of God died for you so you might be lifted up. Accept Him.

This is why, on this very night, Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood. He did this so we might remain in His constant presence, sins forgiven, partakers in His very Body and Blood, in every Holy Mass lifted up to heaven till He brings everything to completion.

This is why, the final step in His journey was to be raised up – raised so that we may rejoice in both the forgiveness of our sins and the fact that the gates of heaven and resurrection have been opened up to us.

We have received what has been passed onto us. Let us then, on this night and throughout this Triduum, keep our eyes fixed upward, to the cross and to the promise of heaven opened up for us. Amen.

This week’s memory verse: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes

Romans 1:16
  • 3/28 – Ezra 1:1
  • 3/29 – Exodus 32:5
  • 3/30 – Isaiah 55:11
  • 3/31 – Acts 18:24-26
  • 4/1 –  Acts 1:8
  • 4/2 – 1 Thessalonians 2:13
  • 4/3 – Luke 4:18-19

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that my words, my entire being, may be a public proclamation of my faith in You. If I shrink from this, call me back and heal me so I may speak boldly of Your good news, peace, happiness, and salvation.