Gratitude and Praise

07-28-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Back in the biblical times of Jesus, when someone saw a leper, they were always horrified by the sight of the filthy clothes, the skin with sores all over and especially the stench. These sick people had to shout “Unclean! Unclean!” wherever they went. Thus the scene in today’s Gospel of the ten lepers approaching Jesus is jaw dropping with fear and fright for everyone. Remember that one of the ten is a Samaritan, which to the Jews of then was like having leprosy times two. All ten lepers shout out to Jesus to pity them. Jesus tells them to show themselves to the temple priests, who are the only officials allowed to pronounce them “clean” (healed). We learn that as they go along to the priests, all ten are cured. Yet we know that only one of the ten, the Samaritan, returned back to Jesus.


The Holy Balance

07-21-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Our summer season has clearly arrived with this beautiful sun and wonderful warmth. For folks who have swimming pools, wonderfully large decks for grilled dinners, or homes away at lakes or oceanside towns, this is a great season of hospitality. In the last three weeks my family has had a constant and wonderful flow of family and friends at our home down in Falmouth. Nephews, nieces, grand nephews and grand nieces, in-laws, and countless long time and newly made friends have visited for a stay or for a great summer dinner. Our summer is a time of great informal hospitality. Are you also aware that the gracious art of hospitality also runs quite deeply in the Hebrew and West Asian traditions?

Our Old Testament is full of examples of this welcome. Indeed the Jews are reminded quite clearly that they once were a wandering people, and it is their obligation and honor to welcome the stranger and alien among them. Our holy scripture makes it quite clear that opening our heart and home to another is truly a holy act. This scripture this weekend should help us purify our hearts and minds over the present controversy over immigration and perhaps come to decisions which are worthy of our faith and our God.


The Mystery of Mercy

07-14-2019Pastoral ReflectionsPope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, n.1, 10, 15

Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.

Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love. Perhaps we have long since forgotten how to show and live the way of mercy… Sad to say, we must admit that the practice of mercy is waning in the wider culture. In some cases the word seems to have dropped out of use. However, without a witness to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert. The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.

Let us not fall into humiliating indifference or a monotonous routine that prevents us from discovering what is new! Let us ward off destructive cynicism! Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help! May we reach out to them and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity! May their cry become our own, and together may we break down the barriers of indifference that too often reign supreme and mask our hypocrisy and egoism!

Willing to be Vulnerable

07-07-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

They say “in the good ole days” that small-town newspapers used to wrap up their reports of a gathering or event with “A good time was had by all.” This was just how it all was said. People were to conclude that some good food and good company were shared. Thus indeed it was a good time for one and all.

In the scripture in the Old Testament this weekend, there is a similar type line: “The Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.” Those servants are us. Note how the Lord’s power is expressed in positive terms in nourishment and warm comfort. We are the fortunate receivers of this kind of power. The line is the summary of a vignette in which Isaiah gives us an image of the city of Jerusalem as a nursing, comforting mother. Imagine, in knowing this, our hearts and spirits are lifted up and grow.