Homily 12th Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle A June 25, 2017

As far as Facebook is concerned, I’ve heard the best of stories and the worst of stories. As I’m sure you have.
When giving it some thought, Facebook is very much an extension of the person who is using it. So when angry information is intentionally placed on Facebook, attacking others because we happen to disagree with them politically, socially, or humanly, then that reveals the anger resting inside our loins.
When religious topics or information connected to our faith is placed on Facebook for all the world to see, then it says your religion is very important to you, and you wish to share some thought or teaching connected to it. If someone you are friends with wants to read it and comment on it, they can. Or, if they want to say, “Oh, there goes Fr. Riley on his Catholic soap-box again, putting all that stuff about Jesus as Lord and Savior on his page again for all the world to see. He thinks he’s Billy Graham or someone like that. I’m sick and tired of reading his social preaching,” then they can say that too.
The point of Facebook is to put information out there for others to see and possibly react to. The information can be in the form of photos, or writing where you went to dinner last night, which no cares about. Or putting future events on it so others will know about it. And so forth.
Today’s Gospel is the 1st century form of Facebook, without the technology. Without the buttons to push, especially the send button, the most dangerous button there is. Its pseudonym should be called the “Regret Button.”
Jesus tells the 12, “What I say to you in the darkness, speak it in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim it on the housetops.” Information being passed on for others to hear and ponder. For others to accept or reject. An acceptance or rejection that God will always respect and give us the freedom to choose. His love is never forced, not even in the smallest way.
Jesus is giving the 12 a heavy responsibility: “Share the information I give to you. Don’t keep to yourself this information of salvation, of the Kingdom of Heaven, of the good news to the poor. Don’t keep it in the darkness. Don’t keep it a whisper. The poor need to know there is hope. Not only the material poor, but just as much the spiritual poor.
Jesus says, “I’m passing on this responsibility of sharing this information that will lead all people who accept it to the peace and joy of God’s Kingdom. But when you 12 share this information in the light and on the housetops, you must do so with accuracy, with protecting the truth of the message, without false representation, and with mercy for those who are choosing to hear you.” That’s Facebook coming from the voice of the Lord.
No slander, no anger, no harsh judgments that have no chance of converting people, no vengeance, no eye for an eye, no hatred and burning animosity within one’s heart, and no misuse of one’s power and fingertips. Jesus tells the 12, and us, to share the Good News from the housetop of Facebook or other forms of technology. Don’t share the bad news, the angry news that doesn’t draw anyone to Christ. Don’t be the catalyst for anyone to reject God, unless we’re speaking the truth with love and mercy, and they choose not to hear it. Wipe the dust off your feet and move on.
What we cannot leave behind in our faith lives is this 1st century form of evangelizing. We cannot allow technology alone to replace the form of communication found in this Gospel… “What I say to you, speak in the light, proclaim it on the housetops.” This Gospel is the beginning of the oral tradition of the Christian faith. That we have a solemn responsibility to speak it and proclaim it. To not allow technology or Facebook to replace our voice. It can be part of our sharing the Good News. It can be one method. But we are not to ever lose the voice part of our faith. The 1st century form of Facebook, of sharing information about God.
This confronts the political climate of today that seeks to dominate our lives and our culture. Political correctness doesn’t want you to share your Christian faith in the public square. It wants you to shift to technology alone, after Sunday morning has come and gone.
Today’s dominant social climate seeks to take your religious voice, your actual voice, put it in a box, put some strong Monday-Saturday tape on it, and open it next Sunday morning. This must be rejected. It must be rejected because of what our Lord commands us to do; speak it in the light, proclaim it on the housetops.
Our Lord’s message in the Gospel is, “Don’t let your voice be silenced.” The 12 Apostles will deal with this after Jesus ascends into heaven, and they begin to carry out his form of sharing the Good News. They will be confronted by the religious and civil authorities to stop preaching in that man’s name! They continue because they must do what God commands, and not what man wants. Man is feeble, man is weak, man is sinful. Thus, the blood of the 12 will become the seed of the Church. In our faith lives, God’s ways must always trump the ways of man.
If you use Facebook, use it in a way that reflects first and foremost your love for God and neighbor, rather than cooperating with the Devil. If you don’t use it, then you’re all set. But the heart and soul of sharing the Good News of our faith is our voice. Our voice is the truest, and most original communicating tool for evangelizing. It makes us present for this Gospel scene when we use our voice for the Lord.

Lector and Eucharistic Minister Schedule for July-August 2017

SATURDAY   SUNDAY
LECTOR SCHEDULE   LECTOR SCHEDULE
SATURDAY  4:00 PM    SUNDAY 7:30 AM  10:00 AM
July 01 F. McGuire   July 02 A. Huffman M. Greene
July 08 R. Lapid   July 09 C. Dougherty L. Morin
July 15 W. Stanton   July 16 K. Shaughnessy C. Klofft
July 22 D. Pasquale   July 23 W. Borek M. Greene
July 29 R. Lapid   July 30 A. Huffman L. Morin
Aug 05 F. McGuire   Aug 06 C. Dougherty M. Martella
Aug 12 W. Stanton   Aug 13 K. Shaughnessy L. Morin
Aug 19 D. Pasquale   Aug 20 W. Borek M. Martella
Aug 26 R. Lapid   Aug 27 A. Huffman C. Klofft
           
           
SATURDAY   SUNDAY
EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS   EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS
SATURDAY  4:00 PM    SUNDAY 7:30 AM  10:00 AM
July 01 D. McGuire   July 02 D. Huffman M. Gonyea
J. Wine   C. Huffman W. Evanowski
July 08 K. Stiles   July 09 L. Vigeant D. Greene
D. Pasquale   P. Powers C. Grady
July 15 R. Lapid   July 16 J. Hester M. Gonyea
L. Vigeant   B. Hester W. Evanowski
July 22 K. Stiles   July 23 C. Dougherty L. A. Branche
W. Stanton   S. Dougherty D. Greene
July 29 L. Vigeant   July 30 D. Huffman J. Morin
D. Pasquale   C. Huffman W. Evanowski
Aug 05 D. McGuire   Aug 06 W. Borek L. A. Branche
J. Wine   P. Powers C. Grady
Aug 12 R. Lapid   Aug 13 J. Hester J. Morin
D. Greene   B. Hester M. Phaneuf
Aug 19 K. Stiles   Aug 20 C. Dougherty M. Greene
W. Stanton   S. Dougherty D. Greene
Aug 26 L. Vigeant   Aug 27 D. Huffman M. Gonyea
J. Wine   C. Huffman W. Evanowski
           
       

Parish Council Minutes from June 11, 2017

Attendees:
Fr. Riley
Deacon Kevin Deignan
Matthew Foster
Chris Klofft
Stephen Sycks
Ann-Marie Sheehan
Josephine Ferrie
Meeting, June 11, 2017, 8:30 am
Topics:
Opening Prayer: Fr. Riley

Mr. Sycks gave a finance overview. Discussed that the church is in a good standing with finances.

Fr. Riley discussed the success of the recalibrated sound system and the positive impact it has made. Spoke of a possible change to the position of the Ambo (pulpit) and the effect that it may bring. Some concern was raised with regard to better understanding the effect it would have visually, agreeing that as it proceeds there will be visual staging in the build out to preview what it would look like. Fr. Riley gave praise to the efforts and impact of the religious education staff at the parish for another very successful year. There was a lengthy discussion regarding the installation of an American Disabilities Act compliant chair lift to support allowing wheelchair-bound parishioners into the church basement for functions. We discussed the progress of Partners In Charity as well as the need for someone to possibly help Father Riley next year in support of the campaign’s presentation and outreach. We also discussed the Parish Activities Committee and their generous support for the Parish.

Mr. Foster discussed the success the scouting program had this year and a continued interest to look for opportunities to involve them more in Church needs.

Next meeting was set for some time in early September.
Closing Prayer: Deacon Kevin Deignan

Homily Feast of Corpus Christi Cycle A June 18, 2017

“Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
These words from the Book of Deuteronomy today were repeated by Jesus in the desert during his encounter of temptation by the Devil, when the Lord was hungry after fasting for 40 days and nights. Bread alone doesn’t satisfy our souls. But bread followed by the word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does bring satisfaction.
And what are some of those words that come forth from the mouth of God? “Take and eat; this is my body. Take and drink, this is my blood.” Don’t be shy. There’s an abundance. Enough for every person ever born.
As the Israelites ate manna in the desert after much complaining to God because of their hunger pains, so we Christians eat our form of manna in the desert, the Eucharist. They ate the shadow of what was to come. Look at our shadow. Your shadow is near you, next to you, but it’s not really you. Your shadow doesn’t have a heart, a brain, a mind that thinks for itself. It’s just an image. It doesn’t breathe; it doesn’t work for a living. It doesn’t raise families. Shadows don’t drive to Boston to go to a Red Sox game, sneaking into Fenway Park without purchasing a ticket. Only if you try to sneak in without purchasing a ticket will your shadow sneak in.
A shadow is real. You can see it. You can reach out and touch it. But you don’t feel anything. You might as well reach for nothing, because the result is the same. Shadows are freaky. They can be short; they can be long; they change with the time of day and season of the year. Shadows play mind games with us. Have you ever noticed that? They’re real, but they’re fake. They’re not a living entity, but they are part of us. There’s something unfulfilling about them. And that’s why the Israelites kept complaining they were hungry. Their manna did not fulfill them. The shadow of bread did not fulfill them.
God supplied bread from heaven for their hunger, after much complaining: “Why did you bring us out here in the desert? We would rather be in slavery in Egypt and eat whatever and whenever we want!” They complained; they got their bread; they ate it; enjoyed the bread; were satisfied; got hungry again; complained again. That’s a shadow. It begins with complaint; it ends with complaint. Nothing but frustration for those who are complaining; nothing but frustration for those who have to listen to it.
Our celebration today of Corpus Christi takes us past the shadow forever, and into the reality of the bread that came down from heaven in the form of a Divine Person. The shadow has been removed. The shadow is dead. Catholics have no business and no justification thinking the shadow remains. There are some of us Christians who have moved from the reality of the Eucharist and welcomed back the shadow of bread. Such movement is going back to the Old Testament.
Listen to the words of the Gospel; “The Jews quarreled among themselves saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” Interpretation: “This man is crazy. He thinks we’re cannibals. We prefer the shadow. We prefer the complaining bread.” That’s how they interpret the words of Jesus, as Christ is trying to teach them the reality that he is the true bread that comes down from heaven. He has forever replaced the shadow of the unsatisfying manna, and proclaimed himself the reality of the Eucharist.
“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” There is nothing false contained within his being food and drink for us. All shadows have disappeared for good. And this is nothing less than a sign of how deeply he loves us. We Christians are loved so much greater than the Israelites of old, and God loved his chosen people unconditionally. They had the shadow; we have the reality. They ate bread; we eat the true God. Would you rather consume tasty bread, or would you rather consume the eternal God?
Yet, it’s apparent that so many of us Catholics believe in the shadow and not in the reality. If we happen to believe in the limited nature of manna rather than the truth of the Eucharist, please pray for understanding and faith so that we may not restrict God’s gift to us. Pray to stop quarreling with Jesus, and come to the greatest belief of all that he gives to us. Don’t be a Catholic who is satisfied with a 2-course meal when God has cooked for us a 5-course meal every Sabbath Day. Don’t cut yourself short on belief when God has invited us into the incredible length of the Body of his Son.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. It has been since the Last Supper. The Apostles went on to hold the communal meal aside from their dinner. They were two separate meals. One filled the stomach until breakfast the next morning. The other meal welcomed the intimate presence of Jesus, where they commemorated the Last Supper, his Passion, his resurrection, and consumed him.
This is not our dinner here. This is Christ feeding himself in word and Eucharist. This is the bread that came down from heaven and satisfies. We are smack in the middle of it. And what a blessing it is.
When it comes to the Eucharist, we do not live in shadows. We do not quarrel with Jesus, thinking he’s a crazy man. He knows what he’s talking about with the food and drink being truth. May the top blessing we receive in this lifetime, the Eucharist, be seen by all of us Catholics in its reality. Avoid the shadows of the Old Testament bread, and enjoy the true food and true drink that is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Homily Feast of the Most Holy Trinity Cycle A June 11, 2017

This Gospel from John, Chapter 3, is at the heart of a conversation taking place in the night time between Jesus and the well-known Pharisee, Nicodemus. Nicodemus appears to Jesus in the night rather than during the day because he most likely does not want to be seen by other Pharisees conversing with the Lord, and be accused of being one of his disciples. He needs to find out more about Christ before he, as a Pharisee, can be seen in the daylight with this guy who is beginning to shake up the hearts of people who hear him.

                The night time seeking out of Jesus by Nicodemus is both good and not so good. It’s good because it’s a first step toward the possibility of becoming his disciple. It’s fair to assume that long ago we took that night time step into Christian discipleship, and have moved into the daylight for others to see. Where there are no attempts to hide the truth in our lives that Jesus is Lord, and that we are on his payroll 24 hours a day. Where there is no cooperation with the modern powers of political correctness that attempt to shut down our faith and religion in certain places and at certain times after Sunday has come and gone.

                The not so good of Nicodemus visiting Jesus at night time rather than in the daylight involves lack of courage and belief in Christ. Where Jesus is seen only as a curiosity, a sideshow, and a nice guy, and not as Savior and Redeemer. Nicodemus can be cut some slack on this if he takes this night encounter and carries it forward into the daylight for all his family and friends to see. That would be a natural progression of belief. It would lead to belief in the Son of God, spreading such belief to others, and performing righteous works that reflect his belief.

                If Nicodemus does not take that step into the daylight of Christ, but remains simply a curious onlooker regarding this man from Nazareth, then he will miss the most crucial step of his life. He will misstep on his belief in Jesus as Savior, as many have done today.

                Trinity Sunday is not about trying to explain the formula of God’s essence and being. Any priest or deacon who tries to explain what the Trinity is in their homilies today, and do so in theological terms, I feel awful for those who have to listen and try to follow what’s being said.

                The celebration of the Blessed Trinity is much more about experiencing God rather than explaining God. Experiencing the presence of God in our lives begins and ends with belief. Belief that God is Father, who is slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity. Belief that God is Son, who is the pure sacrificial lamb who suffered and died for our sins so that we may have life. And belief that God is Spirit, who fills us with knowledge and love while sustaining every moment of existence. Belief in the step that brings us into the daylight of encountering the Lord.

                Belief, we know, can be a funny sort of animal. We can have much of it one day, and less of it another day. Belief in God is effected by our life experiences. Someone going through a divorce may have a difficult time believing that God is really with them. Someone dealing with a life-threatening illness can have a much harder time believing that Christ is really carrying their cross with them. Someone who wins the Powerball might believe that God is present to them in a special way, until they find out how many friends they really have. Someone who experiences healing, certainly will believe that God is near.

                Belief can be inconsistent, depending on the circumstances. But belief will always remain the step that leads us to the daylight encounter with Christ, the step that Nicodemus may or may have not taken. We pray he did.

                May we take a few moments in this celebration of the Blessed Trinity and reflect on how God so loved the world. The belief that he gave his only Son for our benefit, so that those who believe in him, believing that his life was a ransom for ours, might not perish, but might know the joys of heaven. This belief is never removed from our daily lives and events, nor from the highs and lows of living each day.

                And may God grant us the courage to take the step into the daylight of belief each day. By doing so, we will experience the Blessed Trinity and the closeness that follows.      

Homily Pentecost Sunday Cycle A June 4, 2017

It’s not by chance that the words “Peace” and “Forgive” are spoken by the Lord in the first appearance of Jesus to the Disciples in the room where they held their last meal before all that bad stuff happened to him. When they left after dinner that night to head out to the Garden of Gethsemane, they were pretty clueless as to how that night gathering of prayer and the inability to stay awake with Jesus was going to finish. One thing led to another after Judas arrived with the torch bearers, offering a false and phony kiss, leading to the other 11 scattering to the four winds in their fright and fear of being arrested along with Jesus.

                So, when they see him next, a few days later, after much anxiety, after many evil things have happened to the Son of God, the appearance is filled with indescribable joy, led by the words ‘Peace” and “Forgive.” “Peace be with you,” and “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.”

                That first phrase of Jesus is very easy to understand. And easy to accept. “Peace be with you.” He desires our peace, and we want peace. We want peace in our personal lives, our families, our cities, our nation and our world. We’re not warmongers. We hate war. Most of us. Jesus desires our peace. Our peace of mind. Peace of heart. Our peace of body and soul. Peace in ways where we can believe in him and live out our faith in him despite the interference and numerous interruptions of the world.

                But the truth is there’s always something interrupting our peace. Jesus tells his disciples elsewhere in Scripture that in the world you will have trouble. This world, this life, will always be fraught with certain types of trouble. As long as death is a possibility, there will always be trouble. This will not end until Jesus returns. Which is why the word “Forgive” must accompany the word “Peace.” Peace without forgiveness is a false sense of peace. Peace without forgiveness is some human concept of peace, absent the peace Christ desires and gives to us. So, don’t ever think you can have peace in your life without the will or capacity to forgive.

                What does all this have to do with Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit, the birthday of the Church? A couple thoughts to share.

                First, in today’s reading from Acts, we heard proclaimed this familiar scene of the disciples, once again, gathered together in the same room, where the Spirit enters like a rushing wind, and fills them with full knowledge of Christ. All those things that Jesus said and did in his public ministry, the Spirit now gives them full knowledge of. Wouldn’t we like to know and understand everything that Jesus said and did in his public ministry? How great would that be for our confidence as Christians, in a world where even longtime Catholics are losing it every day.

                This is the Spirit Jesus promised to send them. The promise is being fulfilled. The same Spirit present right now, promised to us. There’s only one true Spirit, and that’s the Holy Spirit. Any spirits in our world not connected to the love and goodness of the Holy Spirit, are spirits of evil. Always be mindful of what sort of spirit we look for. There are many folks lost today because they search for spirits outside of the Holy Spirit. They play with the wrong kind of fire. As Christians, we always want to be burned, scorched, touched and led by the love and goodness of the Holy Spirit.

                In this amazing scene that penetrates their lives, “Peace” and “Forgive” are revealed in language. This reading reveals to us the importance of language, and speaking words as connected to our faith in Christ. What does it take for us to speak? It takes breath. It takes wind. If there’s no wind in the pipes, there will be no voice. What is the Spirit? The Spirit is breath and wind. Our voices are meant to be the Spirit of God speaking through us.

                So, to connect the Gospel message to this reading in Acts, the language we share, the words we speak, are to be words of peace and forgiveness. If we’re not speaking peace, whether it’s with immigrants, or the poor, or the sick people who burden our lives, if we’re not speaking or seeking peace with those faces of Christ, the ones that challenge us the most, then we’re speaking outside the love and goodness of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is not about invisible wind. Pentecost is about the faces of the people we encounter, and how we think and speak about them.

                And second, the upside of the Spirit of Pentecost is seen in today’s 2nd reading from 1st Corinthians: “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” We’re touched by the Spirit. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we’re intimately touched by the Spirit, for some benefit. The benefit is realized when we become what we receive, and share our reception of the Eucharist with others, especially others in need.

                In the context of this holy celebration of Pentecost, the benefits are understood as bringing peace to others, and not mini-wars, and extending forgiveness where needed. Those are the benefits God has lovingly extended to us through the life of his Son. Before Jesus, there was no ultimate peace, and there was no redemption for the forgiveness of our sins. What great benefits we’ve been given freely. At no cost to us.

                So, it’s not coincidental that our Lord’s first message in his first appearance after the resurrection is one of peace and forgiveness. Without those two virtues, the Disciples would have failed in their mission of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Their GPA would have been 0.0. Without those two virtues, we will fail also. The breath of the Holy Spirit invites us into the power and effect of these world-changing virtues.

                Pentecost makes the words “Peace” and “Forgive” our own, placing them at the heart of our lives, offering them to those we encounter.