Our Invitation to the Banquet

10-15-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

In our schools across the country, the classrooms tend to have over 20 or 25 students, often as many as 35. As a result of these larger census issues, parents are unable to invite an entire classroom to their child's birthday party. Some decisions and choices have to be made by the parents. Some of the youngsters will receive invitations while others will not. Most parents prudently caution their children not to discuss the plans at school or around those not invited in order to avoid hurt feelings. Word gets out anyway. What do the uninvited do? Sometimes they sulk, sabotage, cry, or complain. Once in a while they get creative and all the uninvited head to one of their backyards and have a great time of it themselves. Even when we're feeling left out, God always invites us. There's always a "backyard" to go to with God.

READ MORE

The Grapes of Our Vines

10-08-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

In our first reading, we learn that the prophet Isaiah has composed a song about his good friend, the vineyard keeper. We are not told this right away in the passage, but we learn the vineyard keeper is actually God. The thoughtful and hardworking keeper first decided on which land to plant, then the land was cleared of stones. After doing all this, he planted the vines and constructed a special vat and watchtower. As farming plans can go, the crop had every chance to become perfect, but it didn't. Surprisingly wild grapes grew instead, and the keeper became irritated and quite upset. His only recourse was to let the vineyard go and become whatever it would. Certainly there is a lot of symbolism in this story for God and our lives.

READ MORE

Free Will

10-01-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

Many of us live or work with people who seem to live in the past. Whenever they are with you, they seem to be frozen in time. They are waiting for some past time that was "bigger, brighter or shinier" than the present. They often fail to recognize that this nostalgic past that they wait again for was not perfect, that in fact it had its flaws, mistakes and wrongdoings in it. Indeed living in the past even spiritually is dangerous to one's health of mind, body and soul. All the readings today encourage us to change from the harmful ways of the past and live in good emotional and spiritual health during the present.

READ MORE

God's Generosity

09-24-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

Often the complaint of younger people is "it is not fair." Pre-teen through early twenty year olds are in process of figuring out about life and one of their great values is fairness, at least fairness in other's actions, at least as they understand it.

This weekend's scripture readings address this great value of fairness as the readings from the Old Testament and from Paul focus on a merciful and just God - a God who is near, who is loving, who pardons. The people of the great prophet Isaiah had lost their faith and hope in God. They were in exile far away in Babylon and did not live the way God wanted them to. Sadly, we know that their ways were not God's ways, and their thoughts were not the thoughts of God. God did not abandon these desolate and broken people, or even punish them, instead God called them to return to Him.

READ MORE

Seventy-Seven Times

09-17-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

Our first reading this weekend comes from the Old Testament section called the "Wisdom Literature." This section of the sacred scripture attempts to deal with the questions of life: our meaning, our existence, our purpose and our destiny. Many of the sacred books of this section reflect upon stories or culture or other literature and attempt to give at least some of the questions and answers of life. Oftentimes the questions are limited and thus the answers are ever more limited. No one really knows all the questions of life, who to ask them, what order to answer them in and really what to say or do in response. True human wisdom is very limited and, in fact, very modest in scope. Always be cautious and beware of people who have answers to everything in proper order and completeness. This person is really a "classic fool," someone who does not know they do not know.

READ MORE

Correction in a Loving Way

09-10-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

Growing up in Roslindale quite a while ago, our section was a rather tight neighborhood. Behind all of our homes was a large set of woods, at least large for a city, where the kids all played. We were actually well supervised because each mother at home kept an ear open and an eye on us so that we did not get into trouble. Every adult who spoke to us was equal to one of our own parents speaking to us. The times have changed, some for the better and some not so. Sadly, oftentimes when an adult should speak up, they do not because our culture has changed so much. Thus it must be a bit disconcerting to hear in the readings this weekend that we all have an obligation to speak up, from neighborhood children to the larger world and its issues and problems. Of course this does not mean just yelling out "our opinions that we have a right to." It is much more substantial. We are called to speak in a caring and constructive way about the wrongs and offenses that we see.

READ MORE

Take up your cross

09-03-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

We learn in our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah that he was more than a little annoyed and aggravated with God. Jeremiah absolutely did not want to be, and despised being, the messenger of God. He was persecuted and tortured by others because of this holy role and task. Jeremiah, however, preferred torture to disobeying God. You will notice in the reading from Saint Paul that he also continued the same plea of Jeremiah in his letter to the Romans. The Romans, too, also had values of a worldly and temporal nature. They were "this world" driven as were the people in the time of Jeremiah. Paul desperately encouraged the Romans to change their values - to make them more congruent with the directions of God. Our letter writer asked the people to live in a way contrary to what the world and society dictated - to be hospitable to strangers, to associate with the lowly, to feed their hungry enemies. Quite different from what was then the social values and customs.

READ MORE