God's Saving Power Is for Everyone

08-25-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

It is so hard to believe that the new school year is not just approaching, but for some of our young people school has already started. Parents have loaded up SUVs with “stuff” for our young college and university parishioners, and have driven them off to their new residence for the next 8 months. Some local schools have begun sports practices and some schools have actually opened and launched the new school year. New learning has begun for so many of young people that we forget that we who are over “university age” also must continue to learn and grow in many and various ways. As followers of Jesus, we are invited to walk in his ways and also continue to learn more from him.

Our first reading this weekend suggests a vision of universal salvation that is quite exotic. The passage mentions so many distant and mysterious places of old that we can only imagine the beauty and distinctiveness of each place: Mosoch, Javan, Tarshish, Put, Lud, and far distant Tubal. The vision also includes the practical: traveling by foot or wheel. Indeed these far distant and mysterious people stream forth. Everyone is welcome, the known and the unknown. This indeed is a contrast to our Gospel passage.


Journey with Jesus

08-18-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The Gospel and the other scriptures this weekend invite us to think about our journey in life with Jesus. We do not usually use this word ‘journey’ so that the word is less familiar to us; we tend to use the word ‘trip.’ Of course, the whole notion of a trip usually means the daily trip by car to work or school. We know, even before the latest State Study, that our roads are overly congested for too many hours each day and that our public transportation is too little and too poorly maintained. Who would want to take a trip with Jesus at the present moment in Metropolitan Boston? Not really too many of us in case he might hear some of our thoughts or words!!!

But to the matter of understanding this weekend’s scriptural passages:
The very young prophet Jeremiah lived in very difficult and hard times and yet he still proclaimed God’s messages. Although he was from an era when prophets were listened to, he still got into trouble because of his message. Jeremiah told them that for the Jews to hold out from the enemy attacking Jerusalem was useless and indeed God was going allow them to be taken by the vicious Babylonians. Indeed this is the worst of news, but what made it even worse was that Jeremiah told them that God had the power to hand them over to their enemy, the Babylonians. This message that God would hand them over was radically new and horrifying to the Jews of then. The big implication in the message was that the Babylonians were also servants of Yahweh, their God. So in anger they threw Jeremiah in a well to die. It took a non-Jew, a foreigner, to help Jeremiah out of the well and let him continue his mission for God. Know that Jerusalem did ultimately surrender, and the people suffered the indignity of the Babylonian exile. Jeremiah was also included and was exiled with his people. It was a long painful journey and trip to Babylon.


Living Faith Requires Action

08-11-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

We tend to think that faith is rooted in reason and in the mind, but faith is actually rooted in feelings and the heart. Faith actually is based in many ways on trust. The scripture this weekend invites us to remember these basic truths about faith.

In the Wisdom section of the Jewish Scriptures, which we call the Old Testament, the actual Book of Wisdom highlights and offers to all of us interpretations and insights into the long memory of Jewish people. The passage today goes back millennia to the very first Passover of the Jews. In this reading we are specially invited to imagine a people who are not yet free, “who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” This enslaved people found courage in their memory of God’s promise to their ancestors. We get the clear sense that they believed but did not dare dream that God’s promise would finally be realized in them. They, however, did escape through the Red Sea. They, in fact, passed over from no real life in Egypt to ultimately life in God’s Promised Land.


Be Rich in God

08-04-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of Ecclesiastes, a possible translated name is the Book of the (early) Church. The early faith communities used to read and reflect upon this book so much that it was given the name of the “Church Book.” It is actually the message and sayings of a teacher or preacher named Qoheleth which were gathered into this book in about the third and fourth centuries before Christ. In this pre-Christian era the popular culture believed that the thinkers of that time could unlock the mystery of God. They speculated quite loudly that God perhaps could be defined and understood. Qoheleth, however, totally disagrees with their boast. God, to him, is beyond understanding. And thus he also says that God is beyond our control and indeed God’s actions beyond our prediction.