One in the Spirit of Unity

05-20-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

There is no way that we are able to contain the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is much larger than us, or our minds or imaginations. In John’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit comes on the very first evening of Easter, Easter Sunday night. In this version the Spirit is a commissioning Holy Spirit, a peace-bearing, forgiving Spirit, quiet but powerful. We all know the larger story of how the first Christian Pentecost began in great fear and ended in ecstatic joy. However, we realize that the reality of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, has not yet ended because we now in this moment of today, and every moment, live in the time of this powerful Spirit.

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Love

05-13-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Christians of all faith traditions spend a lot of time talking about love. Our tradition often seems to be one that can win first prize in the talking department about love. This very small word carries a lot of responsibility for its size. We use this word in all sorts of contexts with all sorts of meaning. The word love invites equivocation. From loving a person, to loving a color, or loving a book or even loving oneself we use the word love. The word love has many meanings and very many nuanced understandings of the word. However, in the Christian context and in the Catholic Way of Life as disciples of Jesus on mission, love is for us a powerful and demanding word. And, more importantly, we need our four Gospels to help us understand its deepest meaning and how to live that meaning out in our lives.

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The Manifestation of God's Abiding Love

05-06-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Christians of all faith traditions spend a lot of time talking about love. Our tradition often seems to be one that can win first prize in the talking department about love. This very small word carries a lot of responsibility for its size. We use this word in all sorts of contexts with all sorts of meaning. The word love invites equivocation. From loving a person, to loving a color, or loving a book or even loving oneself we use the word love. The word love has many meanings and very many nuanced understandings of the word. However, in the Christian context and in the Catholic Way of Life as disciples of Jesus on mission, love is for us a powerful and demanding word. And, more importantly, we need our four Gospels to help us understand its deepest meaning and how to live that meaning out in our lives.

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The Spring Time for Our Soul

04-29-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

We will shortly see along the rolling hills of country Massachusetts all sorts of farm people at work trimming the branches of our fruit trees or our grape vineyards. Spring is the most important season to tend to the special care of tree branches and vines. Weak or sick branches and vines are pruned out and thrown away or into a fire. This also went on in the day and times of Jesus. He saw all this work and action every year in his land. He knew that this necessary work in the long run produced good things for everyone, wonderful full-tasting fruit or rich-tasting grapes for wine. The Gospel for this Sunday is drawn from Jesus' long Last Supper discourse which is in the Springtime when the signs of beginning life in plants, vines and trees are showing everywhere. Jesus uses these images to speak of his relationship to the apostles. They must be tightly grafted to him, as branches are to the vine. He is the strong vine from which they all draw their life.

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The Good Shepherd

04-22-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The image of a shepherd with his sheep is a beautiful pastoral image that we see as a child and gives rise to thoughts and feelings of light, peace and beauty. A few weeks ago in reading the Sunday papers I came across an article about shepherds that older folks might relate to better. It appears that shepherds live much longer than most people. The isolation and outdoor weather does not bring limitations to their life spans, but rather the healthy outdoor life along with organic food, quiet and also lack of pressure and stress provide the conditions for a longer life. Although the life span of a shepherd is not what the scripture readings are about, I thought it would be nice to know that if you do not see me around, I could be on a mountainside tending sheep!

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The Message of God's Reconciling Love

04-15-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In reading and listening to the scriptural passages this weekend, we discover that the risen Lord has given us a mission and this mission is one of reconciliation. Easter is the magnificent and great celebration of reconciliation. All things are made new, since everything is now reconciled to God in Jesus Christ the risen Lord. Because Christ's mission was essentially one of reconciliation, so is it the mission for all of us who die and rise with Christ and who seek to witness his life and words in our daily actions.

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Resurrection Faith Demands Belief

04-08-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

We can feel and tell that Spring and beautiful weather is on the way. The now early morning sunlight and the later setting sun tell us that the wonderful mild days of early summer will soon be upon us. This season makes it a lot easier to believe in a God because the beauty of his creation is coming alive again in New England. Trees and shrubs are sprouting and crocuses are blooming in many places. Yet, when the suddenness of tragedy strikes, be it the death of a young person or sudden fast job loss putting someone's home in jeopardy, or people losing their retirement savings due to the unbridled greed of elites, then wonder and confusion rise up in us in rippling waves. We ask how this can have happened. How can God allow this to happen?

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God's Way of Restoring our Humanity to Us

04-01-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

On Easter Sunday at Mass we sing with great and joyous voice the responsorial psalm's antiphon "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad." Indeed, a brand new day, the first of days has come upon us as we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This day is the absolute key to understanding the meaning of all our days. The evil of sin is banished, death itself is conquered, and all of life opens onto life. Our wonderful Easter morn celebrates the new creation. On this day, the old gnarled tree of destruction has become the living tree of life, whose opening blossom is Christ and whose blossoms show us that we are growing free in Jesus Christ.

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