Perfectly Imperfect Family Life

12-29-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The word and concept of family is used so very often in speeches. We talk of religious families, the family of nations, the Christian family, and also the parish family. We launch this word and concept as pertaining to the ideal, whereas we know in life that no family is ideally formed or lived. Just think of the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Mary is pregnant before marriage and the father is not Joseph. We realize that this is part of the sacred mystery of the Incarnation which brings about our salvation, but it is not the “ideal” family that people talk so much about. Family is about a loving bond and commitment to nurture and care for its members. When we remember the meaning and values needed in a family, we can let go of some of the outrageous, silly and rigid demands and interpretations which people have. Our readings this weekend invite us into God’s Revealed Word to remember what matters.

Our first reading is from the Book of Sirach which encourages being respectful to parents. Our author is offering the wisdom thoughts of a grandfather to his grandson. Although manners are included in the Book, Sirach is really about passing on to the future generation values which manifest concern, self-giving, sincerity, responsibility, and generosity. These are habits or virtues of being a good person; these virtues keep anyone from being a social phony or deceptive person. Sirach reminds everyone that these virtues need to be in practice each and every day.


With Grace and Faith

12-22-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Christmas is shortly upon us. In light of the Gospel reading, perhaps we can use the quiet Saint Joseph as a model for us in these last few days. He was open to God’s will no matter what, and he steadily tried to live the Word of God in his life in the good times, and the bad times, and most especially in the confusing times.

Note how our Old Testament reading is deliberately selected because of its direct connection to the Gospel. The words of the prophet Isaiah used most frequently in the readings during Advent are linked to Matthew’s story of the vision of Joseph, which is brief and quiet in contrast to the drama and noise we read about in Isaiah. King Ahaz was distraught that the massive Assyrian army was lining up on the border land of Judah. Ahaz was desperate for help and grasped at anything and anyone to aid him to win. Ahaz even asked the prophet Isaiah for advice and help. Isaiah told the king that his role as Judah’s king was not to find strength in arms or in worldly alliances, but in the ancient and religious covenant with God. Ahaz was a descendant of the great king David and needed to remember his inheritance. Yet, Ahaz did not want to follow through as he should. He wanted to be mad and blame others. Isaiah reminds him of the sign and promise we hear in today’s Gospel: “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”


Waiting in Hope

12-15-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Lessons and Carols: You and your family and also friends are invited to attend the special Service prepared by our dedicated Choir and Director called “Lessons and Carols.” It is this afternoon, Sunday, December 15 at 3 PM in the main Church. Pause a brief while and come and be uplifted and prepared for the coming days before Christmas. People often say they are too busy with too much at Christmas, so take a break for less than one hour and come and hear the beautiful music of Christmas as prepared by our great Choir and talented Music Director Terry Kerr. It consists of scripture passages and also spiritual and powerful Christmas music. Pastoral


God's Answer for Our Hearts

12-08-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

To some practical extent, the future is now. We need to realize that our present actions and attitudes create our future. We cannot know the future as such, but we need to think about it. Life will happen whether we think about it or not, but knowing what matters for the future is most important. Our central character this weekend in the Gospel is John the Baptist who is most willing to shine a light on the future. He announces a message of repentance to prepare for the future. Indeed people come in hordes to hear him and respond. They step forward and receive a baptism of repentance. Note, however, in this Gospel passage that John’s blunt judgment of the Pharisees and Sadducees who are in this mass of humanity brings us up a little short. Matthew, the Gospel writer, was always hard on the religious leaders of Israel. His Gospel holds them responsible for failing to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. He evens holds them to a greater charge of failing to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. Thus for this great reason he has John sharply criticize them to one and all. John taunts them by saying they can take no pride in their heritage as sons of Abraham.


Find God in this Moment

12-01-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Situational awareness and mindfulness are two concepts that are often talked about today, and people encourage us to practice these mind issues in our daily lives. I also like the saying about wherever we find ourselves, there we are. In this coming month we are rolling up to Christmas. Most of us are busy thinking a lot about this event, which is four weeks from now. We do not really think about now, today, this moment. This First Sunday of Advent, the scripture asks us to be where we are in this moment, this day as we light a single bright candle in the Advent wreath to break up the darkness. We are really being asked to consider God’s salvation, which dawns on us right here where we are.

The prophet Isaiah offers us in the first reading, in very poetic and elegant words, the first image of a messianic time. Know also that vision is echoed in the angelic greetings of the Incarnation: “Peace on earth to those on whom God’s favor rests.” Isaiah’s vision has all nations streaming up the high mountain with all the people coming with their work tools. His vision has the very tools of war transformed and thus there will be no more war. For the great the messianic time will be a time of peace and justice among all nations.