God Will Carry Us Through

03-29-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

This week we again are witnessing to signs found in John’s Gospel about who Jesus really is. We know that signs often point to something more, or bigger, just like symbols do. In fact some people interchange the words sign and symbol. As we read about Jesus this year in our cycle of Lenten Gospel passages, we learn that he is clearly seen as the source of living water and the light of the world. Indeed this weekend he is also declared the resurrection and the life. All the meaningful signs given in John’s Gospel ultimately point to this last great sign. We know that there are very many other stories of people he raised from the dead, such as the soldier’s daughter and the only son of the widow of Naim. Note that John does not narrate these miracle stories; instead he gives a very long version of the raising of Lazarus. In listening to the story we may end up fascinated by Lazarus, but John strives to keep our attention on Jesus.


Jesus Is Our Light

03-22-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Are you aware that John's Gospel is all about signs? Do you also recognize that for a sign to have meaning, it must be seen, heard, or read? The Gospel of John is all about signs, and clearly his Gospel has to be read, and then ultimately thought about and understood to some degree.

Our first story this Sunday is from the Old Testament from the Book of Samuel. This story relates the journey of Samuel to Bethlehem to the house and family of Jesse. In listening we learn that God tells Samuel he should anoint the future king of Israel. Accordingly Samuel goes and meets the older, strapping, capable boys and thinks they're fine indeed, yet we learn that none of obvious candidates was the choice of God. Samuel is told again that God not only sees into our heart but also God sees differently than we do. And thus Samuel calls for the remaining son who is the youngest named David. This one, the non-obvious, is God's choice, and thereupon the Spirit rushes upon the young man.


Spiritual Growth

03-15-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

You may notice how beautifully our main church is prepared and decorated for this penitential Season of Lent. I appreciate the many positive comments and "thank yous" for making our magnificent stained glass window in our sanctuary the main focal point during this season in preparation for the Sacred Triduum and the Feast of the Resurrection. Certainly the magnificent jewel tones of the stain glass contribute to the poignancy and depth of feeling in the Crucifixion scene that is displayed before us. Coming into Church during this season with the great work of art before us can inspire us to deeper reflection upon the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Throughout most of the year, this window recedes into the background because of other appropriate decorations, but in this season this scene of the crucifixion of Christ on the cross can seize hold of us in graced and powerful ways. Note also that there is a second crucifix brought forth in the sanctuary at this season of the year. It is the "Processional Cross" donated to our Parish by the Sacred Heart Knights of Columbus Council. This cross displays Mary beside her beloved Son. This stands at the ambo (pulpit) and reinforces the sacred words of scripture which during this season are preparing us for the celebration of her Son's death and Resurrection. The addition of various colors of purple and violet reminds us of the seriousness of this season.


Blessed with the Gift of Salvation

03-01-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

When we hear or read the great stories of the Book of Genesis, we need to remember that there are always religious truths contained in these grace-filled stories. They are not about history and reality, but are about religious truths. In the story about the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were unable to resist the seduction of the serpent. Alas, they were tested and they failed miserably. We find in our Gospel passage of today a strong contrast in that, despite the three appealing circumstances (food for the hungry, sensationalism, and power), Jesus resisted Satan's tempting challenges. Also note that the selection from Paul's Letter to the Romans contrasts for us the differences in these two situations. The contrast is: one human's disobedience brought about sin and death and another human's obedience freed us from sin and death. Surely when thinking these truths over, we come to realize that we are blessed, even in our human condition, with the gift of salvation.