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.


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!


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.


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?


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.


We are on a Lenten Journey

03-25-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

We often use in "church speak" that we are on a Lenten Journey. We are trying to get someplace and we have to put in the time and effort to get there. For us as Christians, it is Easter. It is clearly the Celebration of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Our image and theme is to help us to frame our minds and hearts to ultimately come to a deeper understanding of the meaning of Jesus Christ in our own personal life, and also the lives of everyone. Part of all this is walking with Jesus as he comes closer to Jerusalem, as he enters the City itself, and ultimately his Passion and Death on the Cross. The Passion of Christ is not simply a record of Jesus' suffering and death. If we realize that we are walking with Jesus through all this, then this journey of faith will take on a very deep and rich meaning for us.


The Faithfulness of God

03-11-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In the passage from 2 Chronicles this weekend the author emphasizes the faithful­ness of God, even though we know that God's people were unfaithful. Out of this faithful love, God sent messengers and prophets to warn all the land of Israel, to call the people to faithfulness and also, as importantly, to love God in return. These special invitations were cruelly spurned. The author composes his scripture to tell us that because of Israel's infidelity and lack of love, Je­rusalem was destroyed, the people lost their home, and the nation was taken into captivity.


How Open are our Hearts to God?

03-04-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

It is said by many people that they need "closure," that they really need to know. There seems to be deep within us the need to know so that we will finally understand something and accept it in our lives. We even want to know many things that we should not know. We are often curious about information and people that is "none of our business." We like mysteries only if we know the answer to it and others do not. We also forget that knowing something also makes us responsible.


The Power of the Resurrection

02-25-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In our scripture this weekend, we learn of the unbelievably powerful promises which are fulfilled. There are two summits involved in these experiences, one is on Mount Moriah with our beloved Abraham and the other is on Mount Tabor with our Savior Jesus. We all recall that Abraham, our father in faith, had uprooted his family and traveled across the Fertile Crescent to an unknown land. Abraham, who struggled and became overwhelmed, trudged steadily forward on the particular and singular promise that his and Sarah's children would be as numerous as the stars on clear, cool nights and as many as the sands.


The End Point in Christ is What Matters

02-18-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Our first reading this weekend, which is from the Book of Genesis, is a frequently told and fondly remembered story. Although this story is often considered primarily a children's tale, the meaning of the story of Noah has a powerful insight for adults of all ages, from teen years until eighties and nineties. Bear in mind that the tale of Noah relates the story of God's first covenant with the chosen people. In fact, we realize that this covenant comes as something of a surprise to Noah and also to one and all.


The Journey of Lent is Like Tending a Garden

02-11-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

I notice after the 4 PM Mass on Saturdays that there is now a decent amount of light. Now after days of darkness and long nights, we can now look forward to springtime when, several minutes at a time, each day lengthens. Yes, on Groundhog Day it was announced that there were at least 6 more weeks of winter, but we need to remember we are now halfway through the cold and icy season. My daydreaming and thoughts have now shifted towards my flower gardens.


The Sacred Mystery of the Kingdom of God

02-04-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Sometimes we are so busy completing what is on our list for each day, that our focus is to get to the end of everything. As a result we often miss the very good and wonderful that is right in front of us. We are engaged in frantic activity that is purely frantic because we fail to enjoy what is going on in the moment in front of us. We race about to get to the future and do not recognize or enjoy the present.