Tag Archives: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Fourth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Fourth Sunday of Easter (First Communion): CLICK HERE!

The story is told of a mother preparing pancakes for breakfast for her two boys, Jimmy and Johnny.  Before the pancakes could be placed on the breakfast table, the two boys began to argue over who was going to get the first pancake.  The mother, thought that this is a teachable moment, so she said to the boys, ”Now boys, if Jesus was here right now, he would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake.’” With that, Johnny said to Jimmy, “Jimmy, you be Jesus today!”.

Well on this First Communion Weekend, on this Sunday often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday, we are all being reminded that we are all being called by God to be good, to be “Jesus-Like” every day.

And the Eucharist that we share in every week is Jesus himself reminding us, encouraging us, nourishing us, to bring the Jesus we receive in Holy Communion to everyone every day.

You know at the end of Mass, the Priest or Deacon says something like, “the Mass is ended, go in peace.” This is not, “Mass is ended, see you next week or whenever”.  No, this is each of us being sent out to the world we call our home, our school, our workplace, our community, where we can bring a glimpse of Jesus to others in our words and actions of kindness, love, goodness, caring and sharing…etc…

This past week I called a priest friend of mine on his 90th birthday. As we talked, I asked him what is the secret to reaching 90 years of age.

He said, “Good friends…”

And I thought to myself, isn’t that what Jesus… The Good Shepherd asks of us, to be good friends to everyone, every day, just as He does for us every day.

Does anyone remember the call/response statement I shared with everyone about God many, many months ago?  It was, “God is good all the time; all the time God is good!”

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, asks us to be Good Shepherds to everyone ALL the time.

To be good friends, be good “Jesus People” to everyone you and I meet in our words, our attitudes and our actions!

In the mid 70’s I lived with Bishop Maginn.  He had a little poem he used to share that went like this:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest,
Till the good is better
And the better is best.

Let’s keep working with the help of God in the Eucharist to be not only good friends and good Jesus People, but better friends and better Jesus People… and the best friends and best Jesus People Jesus wants us to be every day!

Fourth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

Did you ever wonder why 3,000 people in one day accepted the message that Peter had to share with them that day some 2,000 years ago?

Remember Peter was someone many of them knew.  This is the guy who promised that he would never allow Jesus to suffer and who had sworn to stand firm.  And when Jesus was arrested, he hid, forgetting that he even knew Jesus.

But then came Easter and after meeting the forgiving and resurrected Jesus, Peter was a changed man!  Peter finally got it!

And now Peter was trying to help his audience to something more wonderful than they ever imagined.  Peter’s message was simply, “our God has come through in ways we never dreamed of!”

Peter was changed and the people knew it by how he not only talked but how he lived.

The message that Jesus came to offer is life and life more abundantly, was seen in the enthusiasm, the joy, the love, the care for not only this crowd of people that Peter, for the most part did not know, but for us.

A reminder, a message if you will, that we all need.

I was looking at these picture in the pews that you all sent it recently and I noticed one common denominator… Know what it is?  Everyone is smiling!  Everyone is happy!  Might I even say, most are enthusiastic about the picture taking.

That’s what Peter and the Disciples were like, smiling, happy, inviting, enthusiastic about all that Jesus did, but all that Jesus has to offer each of us and all us here on Earth as it is in heaven.

Maybe a thought to ponder this weekend is, “how is our faith in Jesus lived and shared with one another day after day after day?”  Starting with a smiling face, throughout the day today!  Continuing with actions of caring and sharing and encouragement that reflect that of the Shepard, Jesus, who offers us more than we could ever image, here on earth as it is in Heaven.

Let me end today with a story someone shared with me the other day.  They were at a big box store and as they left, at the red light was a homeless person whose sign asked for help, for food.  The person shared that they felt uncomfortable as their car idled at the light, as they drove away, they felt they had to do something…  So they drove up the road, stopped into a fast food place and got a $15 dollar gift card and then drove back to give the man the gift card, because they knew it was the thing to do.

And my guess is the person who did this felt right, felt good about their good deed but maybe more importantly, the homeless person who was helped, felt good also.  Maybe good that someone not only cared, but made the effort to care and maybe they both had a happier day because faith was put into action that day.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Fourth Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE! 

In our First Reading today from the Acts of the Apostles we heard Paul and Barnabus, who spoke to the people urging them to REMAIN FAITHFUL to the GRACE of GOD.  And even today this exhortation is appropriate and timely to remain faithful to the grace of God.

It is easy to point a finger – literally or figuratively – about how this person or that person or those people are not being faithful to the grace of God…  And for sure, you and I, can give example after example of the lack of faithfulness to God by many people, and maybe even ourselves…

But maybe something that may underline this lack of faithfulness to the grace of God may be the lack of hearing the voice of The Shepherd: Jesus Christ our Lord, and Savior, and Brother…

The truth is, it is a challenge to hear the voice of The Shepherd.  Other voices seem to be all around us, voices that are: louder, more attractive, more convenient, less challenging, easier, less responsibility…

Yet today, the Scriptures are reminding us not only to be faithful to the grace of God, but to be attentive, be open to the voice of God in our lives.

It goes without saying that God can speak to us at any moment, in any situation or place.

  • Be it in our car…
  • Be it a quite moment…
  • Be it in some situation or conversation of life…
  • Be it in those moments of prayer, of silence…
  • Be it here at Mass…

How attentive, how receptive are we to the voice of God spoken not just to others but to each of us as person, family and Parish?

I would suggest what might be one of the biggest reasons we seemingly have a deaf ear to the voice of God in our lives is we may have to change, we may have to get involved…  And you know what?  We don’t want to…

The Scriptures this weekend are a reminder that as we grow in begin attentive to the voice of the Lord, who is our Shepherd, we will grow in awareness of a God who cares for us, who wants the best for us, who wishes to lead us to verdant pasture.

The Lord is our Shepherd who continues to call us to that which is greater than our expectations… May our prayers and singing that “The Lord is my Shepherd” become more and more evident in the lives we live today and tomorrow as person, family and Parish…

Fourth Sunday of Easter – 150th Anniversary Mass

To watch Father Joe’s homily from the Fourth Sunday of Easter, our 150th Anniversary Mass: CLICK HERE!

This Sunday is often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday.  Five times in today’s Gospel we hear Jesus, the Good Shepherd, say, “He lays down His life for His sheep.”  Jesus is not only the model shepherd, but the model human being who has discovered the purpose of his life and chooses to fulfill it without excuse or reservation.

In just five words by Jesus, “I am the Good Shepherd.”  We know everything that we need to know about Jesus:  Jesus — loves us, guides us, cares for us, guards over us, protects us from the Evil One.

In a recent letter to Christians around the world by Pope Francis, entitled Rejoice and Be Glad.” (Something that just might make some good summer reading at only 98 pages…)  Pope Francis reminds us that the most basic teaching handed on by Jesus is to help others, without any ifs or buts.

For over 2000 years, faith-filled people have come to know the Good Shepherd and have also come together to form a community of believers we call the Church.  A Church, a people  called to continue the Mission and Ministry of the Jesus.

A community of believers who gather around the table to hear the Scriptures (the Word of God) and to be nourished by the Eucharist (the Body and Blood of Jesus).  Food for the journey of life and faith.

This gathering, this Eucharist, is meant to bring people together; but also meant to send us out into the world.

For 150 years, this Parish of St. Mary’s, Crescent, beginning with just six families in 1868, growing to 25 families in 1929, then to 50 families in 1936, and then to 570 families in 1964 and now 1300 families in 2018, has promoted unity and love by feeding, embracing, consoling, teaching, assisting and forgiving others as we serve one another.

These windows of the Corporal Works of Mercy on the wall behind me are a constant reminder of our marching orders, if you will, as Parishioners of St. Mary’s.

Anniversaries are certainly times of celebration, but anniversaries are also times of renewal, re-commitment and I would suggest that our Parish Anniversary is an opportunity to renew and recommit ourselves to the Mission and Ministry of the Gospel of Jesus, as we continue in our journey of faith and of life.

Again as Pope Francis reminds us, “We are called to be Holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do: at home, at work, at school, in the Community, in our Parish, wherever we find ourselves.”

While I was putting some finishing touches on my homily, a phone call came into the office with a request for Anointing of the Sick.  The person was not dying, it was a busy week, another busy day, and here I was preparing this wonderful homily and the Anointing probably could have waited.  I was certainly tempted to respond by saying, “What time can I visit on Monday?”  But, living the Gospel is not always on our terms or my terms.  Living the Gospel sometimes means leaving what we are doing, to do something better or of a greater good.

And of course the affirmation of that is the sense of appreciation and joy the person had from our visit and I had just for going.

If we are honest with ourselves, we know there may have been a time or two when that person of faith was absent in our lives because of a shortage of understanding, forgiveness, civility, respect… whatever…

But let me share what the Pope said about Saints in his letter, “not everything a Saint says is completely faithful to the Gospel; not everything he or she does is authentic or perfect.”  What we need to contemplate is the totality of their life, their entire journey of growth in holiness, the reflection of Jesus Christ that emerges when we grasp their overall meaning as a person.”

And so the journey continues…

May we see the wonderful opportunities to live our faith that each day offers.  It all begins with getting up and seizing the opportunities that come our way, often in little ways, that bring our faith to life.

And hopefully, the inconveniences, the “ifs and buts,” the excuses and reservations, slowly disappear and more and more people would come to know the Good Shepherd through each of us as person, family and Church.

For 2000 years and for this Parish the past 150 years…

For all those people of faith, the “Saints next door” and the Saints in our own homes who have been role models of Good Shepherds to us and others, we pray today in Thanksgiving.

And we also pray today for ourselves, for our families, for our fellow parishioners: that we who are all called, will continue to: act justly, love tenderly, serve one another and walk humbly with our God.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

This week in our Diocese and Parish the Annual Bishop’s Appeal begins.

As we know, the Bishop’s Appeal is about we the people of the Church in the Diocese of Albany supporting the mission and ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our Parish and our Diocese in ways that we cannot do alone.  Do take a look at the brochure that you may have received at home.  These same brochures are also located at the main entrance of Church near the Parish Bulletins.

We the people of St. Mary’s, Crescent have generously supported the Bishop’s Appeal in the past, for which I thank all of you.

So in this year of the Lord 2017, I ask for your support and generosity again.  Hopefully, you will be able to make your gift or pledge in the amount you did last year.  And, if you were unable to do so last year, I hope that you can do so this year.

Bishop’s Appeal envelopes were mailed to parishioners this past week.  Additional Bishop’s Appeal envelopes are located at all the Church entrances near the Parish Bulletins.

This week is also the Fourth Sunday of Easter also referred to as: Good Shepard Sunday and World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

The Gospel shares with us the image of Jesus as “the Good Shepard.”  And John’s Gospel also reminds us that the “sheep follow the voice of the Shepard.”  Translated to the times in which we live, “the people of God listen to the voice of Jesus and respond by living as faithful Disciples.”

Listening to the voice of the Shepard on this World Day of Prayer for Vocation that calls to single life, to marriage, or to being a Priest, Deacon or Religious.

The voice of God, the voice of the Good Shepard that comes through prayer and silent reflection as we discern our path, our career, our vocation…

At a meeting I was at last week, one of the people present lamented the fact that some of our Parishes do not have Priests, as well as, the fact that the number of Priests is becoming less and less and less.  In a few weeks we will ordain one Priest for the Diocese; yet some 40 Priests attended a “pre-Retirement Orientation” this past week in anticipation of their Retirement in the next year to 7 years or so.

Truth is, many people presume for themselves or for their children that someday they will marry.  But there are other possibilities.  I have always been a bit critical of “Career Days” that schools hold.  Not for the people invited, but for the people not invited.  In my 43 years as Priest, I have never heard of a “Career Day” that included:  a Priest, Rabbi, or Iman or other religious persons.

There is no doubt that we need to pray for vocations, but we also need to encourage others in all the possibilities of life.  When is the last time we spoke highly of Church Vocations or let our children know that a Church Vocation is also a viable and healthy option in life.

On this Vocation Sunday, let us:

  • Pray for ourselves and others in our Vocation of life that we will be faithful to our God given calling.
  • Pray for Vocations to Priesthood, Religious Life, and Diaconate…

…now and in the future.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

We’ve all heard about Bud Light, Crystal Light, light salad dressing, light yogurt, Cooking Light, but have you ever heard of “Christianity Light?”  Basically, it is removing what we, the people, do not like about Christianity, about being a follower of Christ.

Examples of “Christianity Light” might be not living the Faith we say we believe…

  • Yes, my faith calls me to love everyone, but this person, this person, I just cannot love.
  • Yes, my faith calls me to forgive others, but this person, I will never forgive.
  • Yes, I should attend Mass Weekly, but the weekend is my only time to party.
  • Yes, I should… but…

“My sheep hear my voice and they follow me,” says Jesus in today’s Gospel.

As I have shared before, Jesus speaks us… We hear Jesus in the Scriptures and every week, as we gather as God’s people to pray, He speaks to us in the Scripture Readings of the day.

God has something to share with us today and every day.  Something we may have forgotten; something we may have not heard before; something that we were not ready to hear in the past, but God wishes to share with us today.

But then follows the difficult task:   We must follow Jesus.  What does following Jesus mean?  As one person, Fr. Jose Pagola, has shared, it is:

  • to believe what Jesus believed
  • to love what Jesus loved
  • to defend the dignity of the human person as Jesus did
  • to be with the powerless and vulnerable as Jesus was
  • to be free to do good as Jesus did
  • to trust the Father as Jesus did
  • to face life and death with the great message of Easter – Hope and Victory.

As Americans or maybe just because it is our personalities, often we make quick decisions about many things…  Just maybe we need to be reminded that when we listen deeply (meditating, thinking) on God’s Word, then we are motivated and strengthened to follow.

To follow not as sheep, but to follow as Disciples of the Savior, Jesus.  Disciples who,  “hear the Word, reflect upon the Word of God and strive daily to faithfully live the Word of God always and everywhere.

As I was preparing my homily, I thought of the cell phone commercial, “Do you hear me now?”  God knows we hear him when our lives live the message of Jesus, live the word of God more faithfully each day.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Scriptures:    Acts of the Apostles 4: 8-12;       1 John 3: 1-2;       John 10: 11-18

This past week, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger shared on his Facebook page the following; God knows you and loves you and it’s personal.

I would suggest that the annual bishops appeal is our way of concretely as a committed disciple of Jesus to share with others directly and indirectly that, “God knows you and loves you and it’s personal.”

Shepherds care for their sheep, shepherds never abandon any of their sheep; and Jesus the Good Shepherd of today’s Gospel, like any Shepherd, cares for us individually and collectively.

As disciples of Christ, the more we share in the mind and heart of Jesus, the more we will act in his name, allowing the kingdom of God to unfold in the lives of all people in today’s world.

My thanks to Michael Wright for his sharing about the needs and the people that the Bishop’s Appeal addresses because each of us as person and family, care as Jesus cares for all his people.  As Jesus is our Good Shepherd, may we see our participation in this year’s Bishop Appeal as our way of being Good Shepherds to one another and especially those in need of God’s support and love.

Pastor’s Note:

This weekend we begin the annual Bishop’s Appeal that assists the people and Parishes of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y.     Hopefully all have read the Bishop Appeal brochure mailed to everyone entitled:  “We are ALL the Church.”   We ask and encourage every family of the St. Mary’s Parish, Crescent to prayerfully reflect on what your Personal/Family Financial Gift or Pledge will be to the 2015 Bishop’s Appeal.   With the participation of every family of our 1300 family Parish we can easily meet our Bishop’s Appeal Assessment of:  $ 101,975.00 in the coming months of May/June 2015.  Bishop’s Appeal envelopes for making our 2015 gifts were mailed to all Parishioners and are also available in the Church, also you may make your Bishop’s Gift on-line by going to the Bishop’s Appeal webpage on the Diocesan Website:  RCDA.org.   Thanks for your past generosity and support.  Thanks for your generosity and support in the coming weeks.     “Alone we can do so Little; Together we can do so Much!”