To Be a Follower of Jesus

01-27-2019Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

From our Bible History classes in Religious Education (CCD or Catholic School), we may remember that Nehemiah and Ezra were the two major rebuilders of the Israelite people after the Babylonian exile. Nehemiah was then governor, the political leader. Ezra, a priest and descendent of Aaron, was the agent responsible for the restoration of the people’s religious life. We learn in our first reading this weekend that Ezra has gathered the nation to hear the holy Law and to renew the Sinai covenant.

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The Christian Art of Deep Compassion

01-20-2019Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

Have you noticed that ever so slightly there is more daylight now? Yes, we are at the worst of winter temperatures for the next three weeks, but we are in a better pattern of increasing daylight. As we are all aware, Christmas occurs in the darkest days of winter. Its calendar origin is in its placement at the end of the three-day feast of the old Roman Feast of Lights. As Christ is often referred to as “the light that came into the world”, this celebrationof Christ, the Light in the midst of darkness is most poignant and powerful.

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Live in the Light of Christ

01-13-2019Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

We begin this Sunday with the return to the ordinary schedule of Sundays with this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Note that the beginning of the public ministry and life of Jesus occurred with his baptism in the River Jordan and that is why we begin our ordinary Sunday time of the church year with this feast. In fact, in the three synoptic (eyewitness point of view) Gospels, namely Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this scene of the Baptism of the Lord is the first common story for all that launches the Ministry and Mission of Jesus in direct and clear ways. Ironically, as baptism signaled the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and life of faith, it also signals the beginning of ours as well.

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Open Our Doors in Welcome

01-06-2019Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

I noticed in the news that books are a major source of gifts for Christmas. Many, many of those gifted books are biographies or auto-biographies. There is a fascination for us about the lives of others, how they lived, what they felt or thought, and ultimately knowing the secrets of their lives. Sometimes we even compare our story to theirs. Our journey may be quieter or less grand, but still we know that the human pathways of living are somewhat similar. Epiphany is an important story for us to hear of a road taken by astrologers, passing strangers who venture forth because of their hopes and dreams. In many ways this story is also ours.

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The Blessing of a Family

12-30-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

This week our scripture passage for the Gospel comes from the special section of Luke’s Gospel called the “infancy narrative” section. This entire part is the first two chapters of Luke. All of these stories that are related by Luke are specially prepared ones. We may think that they are “historical,” but upon reflection, we realize that they are telling in symbolic form some important truths. Luke is not just telling fabulous and heart-warming tales for the sake of telling tales, rather he is actually engaged in a very profound theological reflection on the nature and person of Jesus Christ.

When we stand back at a distance and listen to all of the stories and then ultimately all of Luke’s Gospel, we then realize that these beginning stories are really setting the framework for the great story of Jesus Christ in the Mission of Salvation for all of us. These stories help to nuance the great story of the public ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These stories begin our engagement and involvement with the inspiring story of Jesus Christ

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God's Best Wish for Us

12-23-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

This year Christmas jumps out at us all of sudden. This very weekend is the Fourth Weekend (Sunday) of Advent and then “there you have it!” Christmas Eveis the next day. We are almost caught unaware that the day has arrived. The message of our Sunday readings does not have time to dwell in our hearts this week and take effect. Sunday’s Mass is a just a breath and then we start Christmas.

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Tend to What Is at Hand

12-16-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

For many centuries we have called the Third Sunday in Advent “Gaudete (“rejoice”) Sunday.” We change the color of our vestments at Mass from the somber Advent purple to a deep and vibrant rose. Note that this week’s Advent wreath candle is also rose or pink. Our readings for this Sunday reflect this bright color in purpose and meaning. In fact, the whole speed and rhythm of Advent picks up today. As Christmas gets closer and closer, the more restrained mood of Advent’s early days is abandoned. The famous “O Antiphons” are sung and proclaimed beginning this week. You can feel Christmas in the air. We can feel or intuit that something very big is about to happen. And this weekend the liturgy is urging us to employ this sense to recognize that Emmanuel, God-with-us, really is with us now.

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What Really Matters

12-09-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

The darkness of winter light and the bitter cold of this season are growing more and more each day. In many ways, our life gets harder this season. Also sometimes life gets a little weary for one and all so that the readings at Mass this weekend are most welcome. They announce ‘good news.’ They will lighten the burden and keep us going forward.

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The Messiah is Already Among Us

12-02-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

Wow! Dear God! Is it really the First Sunday in Advent? Is Christmas really that close? Why is life running along so quickly? We start a new “Church Year,” with a civil year to start shortly. Last weekend we ended our Church year with a big noise about Christ the King and this week we begin our year with a quiet reflective tone. Our scripture readings for this initial Sunday of Advent remind us that we are people who hear the melody of the future.

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God's Reign Has Already Begun

11-18-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

The Wheel of Life always continues to turn and now we are approaching the end of our Church Liturgical year. The scripture at Mass now starts to focus on the second coming of Jesus Christ and the end times. “End times” is not necessarily a fun and happy topic for most people. Today’s readings, however, help us with a perspective of how to understand the end for any one of us, no matter what age we are.

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Do We Really Give for the Good of Others?

11-11-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

Our Gospel reading this weekend dramatically and beautifully illustrates the generosity of the poor. In our Old Testament reading from the Book of Kings, we learn about Elijah encountering a pagan widow during a famine. God had told him that there would be a great drought and that a pagan woman would aid him. When Elijah saw the woman, he asked for a drink of water. His request was normal for a desert climate, but he had “another ask.”

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The Primary Command of Christians

11-04-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

A Note of Hope and Prayer: On behalf of our Parish I sent an email-letter to Rabbi Thomas Alpert of the Temple Etz Chaim of Franklin to inform him and his community of our prayerful support in this moment of sadness and loss for them and the greater Jewish community. Anti-Semitism and prejudice are deeply against our faith. We must stand in solidarity with all Jews in this moment. I attended a special Service of Consolation and Comfort at the Temple on Sunday evening. The Franklin Interfaith Council held a Service of Comfort, Consolation and Solidarity on this past Tuesday. I was present to lead one of the prayers/readings.

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