Faith: a Treasure to Be Shared

10-13-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The ancient Jewish laws regarding lepers were indeed scary. Although a leper was an outcast beggar, wearing rags, and with terrible skin lesions, the law required that lepers look even worse and shout every time they came near someone by yelling “Unclean! Unclean!” In the Gospel story, the disciples and followers of Jesus must have hit a collective feverish pitch when the ten lepers dared to approach Jesus. Worse than all this “horror” was one of the lepers was a Samaritan, a heretic—to use a term that is thrown around too easily today. Notice that, despite the reaction of the people, Jesus did have pity of on them. He then told them to go to the temple and show themselves to the priests, whose role was to formally declare who was cured of this stigmatizing disease. In the story they leave and make their way, and at some point they are cured. Yet only one of the ten—who else but the Samaritan?—returns to offer thanks. How do you think Jesus felt at this point? Despite this issue, the theme of the Gospel and the first two readings is about faith.

The three readings offer us different perspectives or points of view to discern and learn about faith. The Old Testament launches the theme with a miracle. However, Naaman follows up with an act of gratitude, which results in faith. In the Gospel, in reverse so to speak, the Samaritan’s cure follows faith, which in turn prompts gratitude and praise. Notice how these two particular readings focus on the faith of the receiver of gifts. These readings make it clear that there is no such thing as quiet or anonymous faith. The gift of faith is meant to be seen by others, not bound and locked away. The readings tell us clearly that faith is a treasure to be shared and a reason for joy and hope.

READ MORE

A Conviction of Love

10-06-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In our first reading we learn from Habakkuk that he does not see life in positive and happy ways. Gloom, doom, destruction, and ruin surround him. And we are prompted to ask what is Habakkuk doing about it? He is plainly and boldly complaining! He does not have “the stuff” of New Englanders. No stiff upper lip for Habakkuk. He is letting God have it. Although it is hard to believe, he is exercising his faith. Not through silence and acceptance, but through loud and messy protest. The prophet is sharply demanding that his faithful God do something. And what we know happens: God hears the cries of Habakkuk. God promises that his will shall be done. Note, more importantly, how God also demands that faith be lived out. It appears that God is concerned that faithful people recognize that they can live even in a world beset by evil without being overcome by evil. In our intense world of today, this is essential to recognize and know.

Our Gospel passage from Luke focuses on Jesus addressing his disciples about the problems and difficulties which can arise within the community: These may become sins that can shatter the faith of the “little ones”, the members of the community who have less prominence and little power. He also speaks about the need to forgive one another the inevitable offenses that normally occur among members.

READ MORE

We Need to Help

09-29-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

I find today’s theme and message about responsibility to be very significant. When times are good, folks tend to think that they personally are responsible for the good times; when times are bad, they look for someone else to blame. Usually we transfer blame onto other people; if that fails to fly, then it is God’s fault; and if that does not work, we excuse our self with all sort of fabricated reasons. If times are good, it is due to us; if times are bad, it is clearly due to someone else or something else. Our prophet Amos in the first reading suffers greatly because of the complacent irresponsibility of the people. The prophet warns the rich of imminent catastrophe, a turn-around in fortune.

Notice how in the Gospel passage Jesus begins his story in the here and now and then ends it in the hereafter. Pay particular attention to the contradiction and confusion of the two main characters: Lazarus and Dives (the rich man). The poor man at the end of the story lies not outside the gate, but in Abraham’s bosom at the banquet of the Kingdom, and the rich man is no longer eating fine foods inside the gates, but is thirsty and far away in a place of misery.

READ MORE

God Alone Is True Justice

09-22-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Deacon Ron Gerwatowski: At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston our parishioner Ronald Gerwatowski was ordained by Cardinal Seán on this past Saturday, September 21, 2019 to the (permanent) Diaconate. Congratulations to Deacon Ron and also to his wife Kathleen and family. Next Sunday, September 29 at the 10:30 AM Mass, Deacon Ron will assist at his first parish Mass and also preach. We wish him God’s grace as he begins his ministry. Deacon Ron will be assigned to our Parish. He will be one of two deacons here. Deacon Guy will continue in his present role.

Pastoral Reflections: Our two thematically connected readings, the Old Testament and the Gospel, speak about messages of justice. These passages in a way shout the message that God alone is true justice. To know this is good, but it does not really still an upset heart. The scripture passages, in fact, are actually challenging our comfort and complacency, our lukewarm ways, our carless stewardship.

READ MORE

God's Heart of Forgiveneness

09-15-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The main theme of the scriptures and prayers at Mass this weekend is the forgiveness of God. This forgiveness of God is at the very core of our faith. When we step back and think about it, we survive because of it. Forgiveness cannot be categorized or understood in any logical construct, because it is not logical for our all-perfect God to forgive us, his imperfect creatures. That is why forgiveness is an all-encompassing medicine that restores anyone and everyone whom sin and failure have led astray. It gives back to us our future and it eliminates all fear. It rescues us when we have lost our way in life.

The first reading, which is from the Old Testament, illustrates for us a rather fickle God who is easily swayed by the pleading of a just man named Moses. It appears that God seems to come across as rather petty and quite rash, while in contrast Moses appears very wise and quite judicious. In looking closer at the reading, we discover more than the mind of Moses, we actually discover the heart of God. And, sadly, that heart is breaking, yet it is filled with forgiveness.

READ MORE

True wisdom knows that it does not know

09-08-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Welcome:
Yesterday, Saturday, and also on Friday evening we welcomed Bishop Robert Reed, Regional Bishop of the West, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and offer the Sacrament of Confirmation to over 200 young men and women. May the power and grace of the Holy Spirit inflame their hearts that they may live a life worthy of Christ. We thank Mr. Roger Gullo, who is Director of the Confirmation Program, for his very dedicated work and service to our young people. In our Program, Roger offers the young people an opportunity to come to understand how they can be the very best version of themselves as active and engaged Catholics each day of their lives.

Pastoral Reflections:
The scripture this weekend invites us to develop a new and different way to view and understand life. The scripture suggest that we look from what we can believe to be God’s point of view. In a sense it is less about me and how I see, and more about God and how God sees.

READ MORE

Quiet Kindness

09-01-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Today’s scriptural readings are an invitation to us to have an honest reflection and assessment on how we stand with God and people. If we listen to the scripture carefully, we will know how to consider our position with our God and others. It is good in life to occasionally do a “hard assessment” about ourselves. Note it is about our self, and not about other people.

In the first reading, when the wise grandfather Ben Sirach recommends to us the virtue of humility, he is doing far more than urging worldly discretion. Hear him when he says that the humble life “finds favor with God.” Indeed if you are busy all the time looking at yourself, you are not able to look at God, nor are you able to see the goodness of God’s creation around you. Sirach is not suggesting that we disappear, but that God is not impressed at all with wealthy or powerful people, or even people with a lot of “stuff.” It is simply and only our right relationship before God that attracts divine attention.

READ MORE