Come Closer to the One who Loves You

04-25-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In the very long history of the Christian faith, the image of the shepherd has been constant. Since we were very young, we often saw pictures and statues of Jesus as a shepherd. Oftentimes there would be a young lamb sitting astride his shoulders. Pictures often have Jesus standing among fluffy sheep. We celebrate this Sunday with the name "Good Shepherd Sunday". This title for the Fourth Sunday of Easter goes way back in church time. We know that when we think about and ponder the meaning of Jesus as a Good Shepherd we can deepen our faith and relationship with Our Lord.

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The Good News of God's Love

04-18-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In the readings for Mass this weekend we learn that a holy mission has been entrusted to us by the risen Lord and that this mission is defined with the words such as reconciliation. Indeed it is not the great Feast of Easter "the great celebration of reconciliation"? In following the words and actions of Jesus we learn that His mission was one of reconciliation, and thus we who are His followers and witnesses have the mission of reconciliation.

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Ask and Seek in Faith

04-11-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

On the days these past two weeks when the sun was gloriously shining and the air had a gentle warmth to it, it become quite easy to believe in the goodness of life and also in our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus. Yet on other days when something horrible or evil has happened such as shootings, the spewing of racial or anti-immigrant hate, or other despicable acts, it becomes hard to believe in the goodness of life. This also happens when a child is seriously ill or someone dies tragically in a car accident. We ask: How can these things happen? How can this God who has so loved us, who sent His Only Begotten Son to die on the cross and rise from the dead allow all these terrible things to happen? How can we believe in resurrection with all these various types of "deaths" around us?

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We Live in the Risen Lord

04-04-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

When we think about it, the beautiful verse we sing at Mass on Easter during the responsorial psalm - "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad" - certainly expresses it all. With the Resurrection of Jesus Christ all new life has begun. We now have a "New Creation". Our lives are now different and new because of the Risen Christ. How great it is to sing of this truth.

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Preparing for the Resurrection

03-28-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Our church uses the image of a "journey" during the Lenten Season. We are traveling to Jerusalem for the great events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. During this journey we come to understand that the Passion and Death of Jesus is a necessary part of the journey and that we must share in these events in order to come to the full meaning and power of Easter Sunday and the Resurrection. We must in a significant way share in the Passion of Jesus Christ, if we are to share in His Resurrection. Although we share only in a symbolic way, it is also real and authentic for us. Our sharing requires us to go through the struggle and passion of letting go in particular of our natural narcissistic and egocentric desires, of always taking without giving, and of false pride and delusions. The great Passion of Christ calls us to become vulnerable as Jesus was vulnerable, to be actively open to being compassionate without understanding, to forgive rather than to measure and seek revenge, to advocate for unity not division and separation, and also to give ourselves over completely to live authentically.

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In the Living Heart of God

03-21-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

We often have “church or religion words” that we do not use in ordinary everyday life. Church leadership tends to think that everyone knows them and their meaning, but in fact specialty words are specialty words and are not normally comprehended words or concepts. For ex- ample, the church leadership thinks that every Catholic should understand the issue of Divine Presence according to scholastic medieval philosophy. People do not. Communication needs to be clear and comprehensible and oftentimes church concepts and language are not. This is very similar to the world of computers and software and in particular the people who build, run, and maintain all this arcane and distinctive machinery and computer code. The computer world speaks about concepts with a language that most people do not really understand, but the leaders in technology expect us to comprehend. Just try and use an instruction manual! Or worse: the help question on a computer screen!

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God Loves Us First

03-14-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In the Catholic and Christian Churches, we write and talk about Salvation so much. We announce to people that Salvation is impossible completely to comprehend and describe. We say that Salvation is an unconditional and no strings attached gift of love from God. It is really the gift of love from our God to us who have not earned this gift. In fact, this gift actually transforms our earthly life.

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Jesus: The New Dwelling of God

03-07-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In Catholic or Christian theology, we use the word “Revelation” frequently when we are thinking about or discussing God and life. This word comes from the Latin language which uses the preface “re” to reverse the meaning of the main part of the word. Instead of covering up, it means showing. God and his sacred Word are revealed to us, i.e. God and his message are shown to us.

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Heaven and Earth Meet

02-26-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Sometimes in our lives we have a critical moment when we discover or come to understand something that gives us dramatic insight or purpose in life. This moment does not happen as often as the cinema or autobiographies portray, but we do indeed at times have this flash of insight or knowledge that profoundly influences our life. The scripture of this weekend shows examples of this: Abraham on Mount Moriah and also Jesus with his disciples on Mount Tabor.

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God Is Committed to Us Forever

02-21-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Our Old Testament passage is the first reading during the Sundays of Lent and it holds a great deal of meaning for us. We do not start the reading at the very beginning of the story of Noah, but much later when all the trouble and travail have passed and the flood waters have gone back down. Indeed, the beautiful multi-colored rainbow is now showing forth across the sky for one and all to see. Earth and heaven are connected by this beautiful display of light that tells us God is with us and He is committed to us forever. What a great thought to hold in mind as we launch out and begin the great Season of Lent.

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Do Not be Frozen in Fear

02-14-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Because we think our modern society is so sophisticated and advanced, when we hear the stories of various events in the early times of the Israelites or other ancient people, wetend to view them with a judgmental attitude. Certainly the great fear that the ancient Israelites possessed about leprosy and other skin diseases gives us this opportunity to feel so very superior to them.

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Stay Connected to God

02-07-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Our first reading comes from one of the most powerful and meaningful books of the Bible: the Book of Job. This book is about the story of the man who had everything, then he had nothing and all the sad happenings that went on in-between. There he is: Job sitting on a dung heap and he has to listen to speeches from his well-intentioned but nonstop talking friends. Because they cannot understand what happened, they think he should not either. Our passage for this weekend gives a plain view of life from Job. Simply put, he sees life as hard.

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