Breaking of Bread

07-25-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

At Sunday Mass we read a major gospel each church year which tells the story of Jesus and His life; in this process we read only selected sections which have been curated to tell the essential story of Jesus Christ. In fact, we read from only Matthew, Mark, or Luke in a three-year cycle because they are gospels which are written from an "eye-witness" point of view. The Gospel of John offers a distinctly different view of the life and message of Jesus. This year our gospel is that of Saint Mark. We do, however, fill in at times with sections from the Gospel of John. Mark is the shortest of all of the gospels, so it is necessary at times to read at length from John to add a depth or a dimension to what we are following in the life of Christ each Sunday. This Sunday we begin the section of John called "the Bread of Life" passage. The Eucharist is the focus of our reading of the Gospel of John for the next 4 weeks. Perhaps these readings will help us put the proper focus on the controversies which are circulating in our Church and in the American public world. I am attempting to provide a reflection for your faith which hopefully supports and helps you to be a faithful disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, instead of being caught up in other things. How often have I said "to know what matters and pay attention to what matters." This advice sounds simple, but often it is very hard to follow.

READ MORE

Green Fields and Restful Waters

07-18-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In today's gospel, the writer Mark was trying to stir the deep memories of the Jews with his use of the image of a Shepherd. In the very long history of the Jews, they had always tended sheep. In fact, we can recall the story of long before the Jews had been Israel, when Abraham and his wife Sarah left their homeland for the Promised Land and took their many sheep along with them. You may recall that at one time even Moses tended the sheep of his father-in-law. The great King of Israel, David himself, was a shepherd. In fact, David was called from the fields when he was tending sheep to be anointed by Samuel to be King of Israel. Sheep and shepherds are in the memory DNA of the Jews at the time Mark is composing his gospel.

READ MORE

What Matters in Faith

07-11-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Although we are usually an infant when we are baptized, the church's theology says that at the time of our baptism, our vocation to follow Christ starts. We are His beloved children and are united to Him. Every one of us at baptism is called to become a holy and good person. How this all happens depends upon the grace of God in our lives and how we accept this grace and live it. In our reading from Saint Paul this weekend, we hear how the great apostle Paul gave great praise and was full of gratitude and amazement that he of all people had been chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and drawn into the eternal mysteries. We need to know and understand that this calling and election is not Paul's alone. This calling and election, in fact, belongs to all the baptized. We need to remember that we also are chosen and are sealed by the promised Spirit. All of this has happened in each one of us and all we have to do, like Paul, is give praise and thanks.

READ MORE

Name of Jesus

07-04-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Today in common discussion we often use the word "revelation, or to reveal" in talking about parents who hold a 'gender reveal party". This word "revelation" is so frequently used in religious contexts. In religious use it means to "show forth" or to "make manifest." The root of the word, however, is a stem that means hidden or veiled. When we listen to or read scripture, the Bible, we are to recognize that God's thoughts and words are being shown forth or made manifest to us. When we read or listen and then also reflect on scripture, the Word of God, we learn many, many truths, ideas, and insights into ourselves and lives which may have been hidden for various reasons.

READ MORE

Heart speaks to Heart

06-27-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The section of the Bible in the Old Testament called the "Wisdom Literature" actually offers a lot of wisdom and insights for us who live today. Just because much of what is written in the Wisdom Books is from well over two millennia ago, it does not mean it lacks meaning and power for us now. We often dismiss our scripture as dusty and irrelevant and look to the scripture of other religions that are as old as our Judeo-Christian tradition. I often think we do this because these writings appear to be exotic and distant, and anything that is different and from far away often appeals more to many folk.

READ MORE

Safe with Jesus

06-20-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

When we listen to the various passages of the Book of Job, we hear the suffering Job calling out to God. Our Old Testament reading this weekend is the first response of God to Job's calling out to Him. The irony of the situation for Job is that God's reply is not what Job had expected or hoped for. God, instead, hits Job with a very long list of unanswerable questions. Job, in asking for God to speak to him, never expected what he got when God spoke. He wanted clear direct answers from God that explained everything; instead, God gave Job a battery of unanswerable queries. Job got more than he bargained for; he wanted solutions from God. Job, instead, got confusing "mystery" and learned the very great truth that God's ways are not Job's or often even any of our ways.

READ MORE

God is in Charge

06-13-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

One of the best ways to get people to pay attention to you is to tell them a fascinating and intriguing story. A wonderful story captures the imagination and always contains more than what the story tells. We should realize that the stories of today's scripture at Mass demand our attention and reveal much to us, even though the stories retain some mystery or secrets about God.

READ MORE

We Are the Body of Christ

06-06-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

One of the best human activities we have is to gather as a family and even with friends around a table and have a wonderful meal. Sometimes it can be very fussy food and other times simple and tasty. The meal is really about sharing our connection to one another. Oftentimes this sharing actually involves certain rituals. Who are the cook(s) for special food? Who has set the table? Who serves? Do we wait for everyone to be seated? Who says grace? How does discus­sion take place? Who is in charge of the joy and laughter? Who is to re-tell the most important stories of family and friends that tell us who we really are? And, most importantly, who cleans up with washing the dishes and also the pots and pans and tidies up the kitchen and dining room? So this great symbolism of Jesus being the spiritual food for us and the preparation and ritual that go along with it are indeed most significant. This Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ re­minds us our spiritual food has great and profound meaning. This ritual meal of the Mass touch­es our inner being consciously and unconsciously.

READ MORE