Sunday, January 20, 2019

Become Wine

Transformation – changing from one thing into another such as Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde or as in the Beauty and the Beast – the Beast into a Prince.  There’s water into ice.  There’s a simple wafer into the bread of life – our Eucharist.

But, in our case today, it’s water into wine or more to the point: a hateful attitude changed into one of compassion and even love.  That’s the transformation described in our Gospel story about the wedding at Cana – at least that’s one interpretation.

Helping us to understand transformation and what it can mean for us as individuals and even as communities, is a book you’ll find at the entrance to our church.   That book is by Matthew Kelly: The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity.  All have been invited to take a copy and then read it. Kelly begins with this story.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Two-Edged Sword


The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

This passage from Hebrews is quite definitive.   It tells us we can run, but we cannot hide.   The word of God is the best tracker.  No bloodhounds are needed.   The word penetrates between the soul and spirit and discerns our hearts.  And, we must eventually render an account, i.e., what have we done wrong and what have we failed to do.  We are naked before God.    Sort of like Adam and Eve before they reached for the leaves.   We won’t even have that.   Quite intimidating!

Frankly, we must all render an account now, and not later.   We need an every-day reflection important for our course corrections.  Otherwise, that final accounting may be more like an encounter with that sword separating joints from the marrow.   Ouch.  

Deacon David Pierce  

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Sins Are Forgiven

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. 

They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, "Child, your sins are forgiven."

Many of us are lying on mats, and we’re paralyzed with the guilt of our mistakes – hurting others through neglect, carelessness, or ambivalence.  Fortunately, we don’t need to have our roofs opened to gain access to Jesus.  He opens the door for those who carry us – those who encourage us to seek forgiveness, such a friend or family member witnessing our suffering from that guilt.

Forgiveness makes us walk again.  Our sins no longer weigh us down - or those who carry us.

Deacon David Pierce

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Come Out!

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!" 

Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet!  Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.  All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority.  He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Jesus was a Jew.   Many people tend to forget this critical aspect of Jesus’ life.   He taught in the synagogue.   His disciples were Jews.   Mary was Jewish.    For these reasons it’s important for us to understand the Jewish faith with its celebrations that were mirrored and modified by those Jews believing Jesus was the awaited Messiah.

Monday, January 14, 2019

We The People

I came across a November 12, 2018 issue of TIME in my town’s library.  The cover highlighted articles about “Beyond Hate” by Jon Meacham, Nancy Gibbs, Daniel Benjamin, Malcom Graham, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Katie Couric, and Deborah Lipstadt.   These commentaries were part of TIME’s Special Report about hate and how to get beyond it.

Gibbs said, “Hate among our base instincts, is the most distinctly human.  In animals, violence and venom are tools of survival; in humans, of supremacy.  Small, scared people hate, self-hating people hate, bullied and betrayed.”  All the authors had words of wisdom and shared their experiences."

Meacham was especially timely.  The author of “The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels,” Meacham ended his article with the following: “So is Trump the harbinger of a new dark age?  Not if We the People engage fully and consistently in the arena.  The demographic and cultural trends that will continue to produce a more diverse America are irreversible.  Andrew Johnson governed a vastly majority-white nation; Trump is more likely the end of something, not the beginning.

But only if the people force the issue and endure.  Cold comfort?  Perhaps, but it’s just about all we have – and just about what we’ve always had.  ‘One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history,’ Eleanor Roosevelt wrote shortly before her 1962 death.  ‘The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people.  It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voice of the people themselves.

After his own single term as President, John Adams wrote that ‘the people…ought to consider the President’s office as the indispensable guardian of their rights,’ adding: ‘The people cannot be too careful in the choice of their Presidents.’ History and experience suggest that, in moments where care fails, we must undertake the duties of guardianship ourselves.  We are living in just such a moment.”

Indeed, we are.

Deacon David Pierce

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Homily for The Baptism of the Lord ~ Fr. Edward Healey

January 13 2019, The Baptism of the Lord

Readings for today's Homily

To watch Mass in its entirety click The Mass

Loosen His Thongs

The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.  John answered them all, saying, "I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.  I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

The Holy Spirit is “in bodily form like a dove.”    We use the dove as an image of peace.    It’s a soothing image to some.  But if using a bird, I’d rather have the Holy Spirit in bodily form like a raven.   Ravens are smart and aggressive. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

THEM

Not feeling very well a few days ago and unable to fall asleep, I sat in front of the television to continue reading the 2018 book “THEM: Why We Hate Each Other And How To Heal” by U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (Nebraska).   I suddenly heard Late Night Show host Stephen Colbert, and to my surprise, there was Senator Sasse.   Quite the coincidence, or was it?

Our Church preaches against hate, and that’s needed because many of us do hate – someone or some group(s).  Sasse says: “The first part of this book is about the collapse of the local tribes that give us true, meaningful identity—family, workplace, and neighborhood.  It’s about the evaporation of social capital—the relational resources that help us navigate the world—and about the precipitous decline in recent years of the institutions that Alexis de Tocqueville, nearly two hundred years ago, saw were the heart and soul of America.  

It’s about the waning influence of the Rotary Club and the Scouts, the VFW and the local bowling league.  It’s about the mountain of data showing that shut-ins are getting fewer casseroles with instructions written on a notecard: Bake at 325 until brown on top! This book is less about legislative failures in Washington, D.C., than about the death of Little League in River City.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Heartfelt Gifts

Today is the Epiphany of the Lord when the magi (three kings or wise men) “were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.  They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.”  Some have said the magi’s identity as kings came about later in Christian writings and was probably linked to Psalm 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him.”

Myrrh was commonly used as an anointing oil; frankincense as a perfume; and gold as a valuable.  Gold was a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.  Gold also symbolizes virtue, frankincense as prayer, and myrrh as suffering.  There is much to this three-kings-gifts tradition.

What gifts did we bring to Mary and the child?   What star did we follow to realize that the Christ-child is with us now?  Our dismal fall/early-winter Cape Cod weather made the star(s) absent from our view.   We had to follow our hearts that led to our hearths, homes, and church – Christ the King.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Love Letters

Beloved: This is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the Evil One and slaughtered his brother.  Why did he slaughter him?  Because his own works were evil, and those of his brother righteous.  Do not be amazed, then, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.  

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death.  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. 

The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?  Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Who Lies?

Beloved: Who is the liar?  Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.  Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist.  Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

These are tough and harsh words from John in his first letter.  Once again it’s about lying; however, in this instance we’re more certain of the author’s intent.  If we don’t believe Jesus is the Christ, then we are liars and antichrists, so says John.  Clearly, John is not talking about the devil or Satan.   It’s a simple point: the truth is “Jesus is the Christ.”  The lie is that he is not.

What is Christ to us?   Christ is the risen Jesus who we believe will come again – eventually.  I also believe Christ comes again every time we show respect, compassion, and love to those around us.   Christ is made present though our words and actions when focused on God’s will.   That will is to love one another and, of course, to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls. 

We all need to be pro-Christ, not anti.

Deacon David Pierce

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Shining Faces

Today is the Octave Day of Christmas Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and we read: “The LORD said to Moses: "Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:  This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them."

It’s the first day of the new year.  We all wish for that shining, graciousness, kindness, and peace.  This is the sort of blessing we wish to receive.  Perhaps it’s best we first offer the same blessing to those around us.  It is better to give than to receive. 

We start 2019 with a reminder that Mary said “yes” to God.   We must do the same.  Let's keep giving so our faces shine upon those in need of love and kindness.

Deacon David Pierce

Monday, December 31, 2018

Antichrists

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared.  Thus we know this is the last hour.  They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us.  Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.  

But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.  I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

This is New Year’s Eve day.  Our first reading speaks of the antichrist, and many of them – those who are in opposition to Christ.  They are those who lie and are alien to the truth.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Homily for Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph ~ Fr. Edward Healey

December 30, 2018 Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Readings for today's Homily 

To watch Mass in its entirety click The Mass


Perfection

Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. 

And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.  And be thankful.

St. Paul gives us good advice this Sunday.   We are to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.