Tag Archives: Reverend Joseph S. Cebula

Seventh Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 7th Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

This summer marks the 50th Anniversary of just maybe the greatest scientific accomplishment in history.  At 9:30 pm Houston time on July 20, 1969, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.

When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, America was experimenting with rocketry and space exploration.  With the Russians having already launched Sputnik in 1957; space exploration took on a new urgency.

In a speech to Congress, President Kennedy said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”

Despite this ambitious goal, nothing existed to stop them from realizing the dream.  But what Kennedy did was marshall the resources and talent from the civilian, military, corporate, and educational sectors to leapfrog the Russians and take the lead in the space race.

For Kennedy, going to the moon was more than being better than the Russians.

Kennedy saw the American Space Program as the noblest illustration of the American pioneer spirit.  A journey that would not only open new frontiers but bring new technologies in: communications, medicine and transportation, among other things.  We can thank Project Apollo for our cell phones, cordless appliances, radial tires and the laser technology that makes many surgical procedures possible.   (Oh, and of course – Tang)

Said President Kennedy, “we choose to go to the moon and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because the goal will serve to organize and measure our best energies and skills; because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept, and we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

In his brief Presidency of 1,037 days, President Kennedy articulated a vision of America’s great space adventure that harnessed the imagination and talents of our nation as never before.

The night before his death, at supper with his Disciples, Jesus articulated a similar vision:

  • A Church brought together to realize the vision of the Kingdom of God hear on Earth, as it is in Heaven.
  • A vision centered in the conviction that, in God, we belong to another…
  • A vision that lifts up and honors the gifts and the talents, that each one of us bring to the table.

In the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus prays for us…

He prays that the extraordinary love that binds the Father to the Son, will bind us to one another and in the process we will realize God’s vision that can transform our world with extra ordinary peace and the mercy of God that knows no limits.

As Neil Armstrong said as he stepped on the moon 50 years ago, “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind…”

May the small steps we take daily in living our faith individually and cooperatively, lead to giant leaps for proclaiming the Gospel to Jesus Christ today and in the days and decade ahead…

Feast of the Ascension

On this Feast of the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven we are reminded that having completed his mission on Earth Jesus commissions his Disciples of yesterday and today to continue to witness to His life, death and resurrection through the lives we live daily with all.

There is no question that God wanted and wants the best for all people (past, present and future) a desire exemplified in Jesus.

Jesus changed the lives of people for the better some 2,000 years ago, as many other disciples have done of the past 2,000 years.

There is no doubt that we live in challenging times…  Yet working for a better world is possible…

Says Father James Keller, the founder of The Christophers, “Our world will change for the better when there are more people who get into the thick of things and fewer who sit on the sidelines finding fault;  when there are more people who point out what is right and fewer who harp on what is wrong;  when there are more people interested in lighting candles and fewer in blowing them out.”

It almost sounds like Jesus in the Gospel today who says to his Disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature…”

There is no one way to do this.  But simply put it might just mean bring the goodness, the love, the mercy of God and so much more not only by the words we use, but by the lives we live daily to an always watchful, waiting and appreciative people.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

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

Today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us another glimpse of the early Church.  And what we see is the Early Church and its leaders were not always on the same page.  But, there was something they did agree on: when issues arose, they not only needed to talk about it, they needed to discern where the Holy Spirit was directing or pointing the Church.

And one might ask today; where is the Holy Spirit directing our Church?

Not just a good question, but a great question.

This past week, local news carried a news item put forth by a New York City Law Firm about the Diocese of Albany and sexual abuse by Clergy.  Most of the information was old news from the past and some of the information shared was inaccurate.

But what such news items do for me is remind me, and maybe all of us of something that is horrible, horrendous to say the least.  And in light of new Legislation here in New York State, it seems we may be hearing and reading more about this in the coming months…

Then on Friday, I received an advance copy of a book that maybe sums up the feelings of many, entitled “Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis” by Bishop Robert Barron.

Initially, I was not going to refer to the sexual abuse crisis, but we cannot bury our head in the sand, because the the Church is suffering in many ways.

So what’s to be done?  By me, by us, by others, by the Church?

Maybe our First Reading today gives us at least a first step:  turn to God.  Pray, asking God to allow us to discern the direction of the Holy Spirit for the Church of today and tomorrow.

I think sometimes our first response to this problem, or this challenge, is personal – this is what I would say or do.  Yet what is often missing are the facts which need to be part of the conversation.  But also not to be forgotten is the question, where is the Holy Spirit in this effort or conversation?  Where is the Holy Spirit guiding not only me but where is the Holy Spirit leading the Church?

As we heard in the Gospel today, Jesus reminds his Disciples (of 2,000 years ago and today) “…the advocate, the Holy Spirit… will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you… Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid… Peace I leave with you, peace I give to you.”

Individuals, groups of people, the Church… maybe even ourselves are suffering…  But there is hope, peace is possible…

In these days ahead, may we prayerfully and thoughtfully seek the Spirit of God to guide us, His disciples, and to guide the Church of Jesus Christ (note that I did not say my church or our church, but the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior).

In the end, we are not Catholics because our leaders are flawless, but because we find Catholicism both compelling and beautiful.  We believe that it is Jesus who is our way, truth and life.

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…

Third Sunday of Easter

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

In today’s Gospel we hear about the large number of fish that the Disciples caught and then as they near shore there is Jesus, who says to them, come and have breakfast.  (fish and bread)

This my friends is not only a reminder that we need to eat.  Maybe this was the original reminder that breakfast is the most important meal of the day… But it is also a reminder of the Eucharist/Holy Communion.

The Eucharist – the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – is meant to nourish us for the living of our daily lives as people of faith, as disciples of Jesus Christ.

We are called to be Jesus and bring Jesus to the world of today.  We cannot be or bring Jesus to the world, if we do not know Jesus and the Eucharist is THE Sacrament of Sacraments that brings us closer and closer to Jesus and his word and his way.

In today’s Gospel, what we see after the death and resurrection of Jesus is his disciples getting back to work and being fishermen.  They do what fishermen do, they go fishing.

But the appearance of Jesus is meant to remind the disciples that the RESURRECTION is still at work in their lives.  In a sense what Jesus is saying is that it is not either/or – either be a disciple or be a fisherman – rather it is both/and…  Be both a fisherman and a disciple.

Where are we being reminded to bring the resurrected Christ, to LIVE and share our faith in the every day routines and responsibilities, as Disciples of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

In our every day and seemingly ordinary lives, who do we choose to be by the lives we live, the example we give, and when necessary the words we speak?

Put another way, do people know that we are persons and families of faith, centered in Jesus Christ; centered around Scripture and Eucharist (Mass)?  Are we living our Catholic-Christian Faith?

As the disciples of the Gospel today, Jesus says to us every week: “Come and be nourished!”

Second Sunday of Easter

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

Last Sunday we celebrated Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  As people of faith, we believe that at our Baptisms we share in the life, death and most importantly the free gift of life eternal.

Yet our faith needs to be more than a special day here and there like our Baptism Day or First Communion Day or Confirmation Day or our Wedding Day…

The gift of faith needs to be lived by us in this time and place, as others have done in the past and hopefully will do in the future.

In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus appear to this Disciples, people like us who were still trying to understand all that had happened.  People who were wondering if the death of Jesus was the endgame.

Well we know it was not the endgame and Jesus says it pretty clearly to his Disciples of 2000 years ago and to his disciples of every time, including us: “as the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

People sent to share and to bring the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others day in and day out in word and deeds.

As the caption in this week’s Evangelist read: Living the Gospel, Changing Lives – Thanks to You!

The quote comes from Bishop Scharfenberger, but I could hear Jesus saying to each of us as person, family and Parish, thanks for living the Gospel and changing lives!

Thanks for sharing your faith, thanks for living your faith when at: home, work and school…  In your Parish, your community and our world.

“The Mission of the Church is to teach, to heal, and to sanctify” and the Mission of the Church “depends on the generosity of each of us”.   (Time, Talent and Treasure)

Folks it is Bishop’s Appeal time 2019 and as the Bishop encourages all of us to read through the BA Brochure that you received in the mail this week and are also available in the Gathering Area of the Church.

The Bishop asks us to learn how our financial gift to the 2019 Bishop’s Appeal in the coming month or so help change people’s lives for the better.

This weekend we are not looking to collect: $300,000,000 (like some 3 hour movie; Avengers: Endgame).  But we are being asked to prayerfully consider a gift or pledge to the 2019 Bishop’s Appeal that helps people in our Parish and our Diocese in ways we cannot do ourselves.

I think I heard someone just ask, “How much Father?”  Hopefully you can make a 2019 Bishop’s Appeal gift equal to last year and if you can increase it, please do so.

If you are new to financially supporting the Bishop’s Appeal, maybe the cost of a movie ticket, popcorn and a soda per month for the next year might be an idea to consider, to continue the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who, is the Savior of the World!

Every gift to the Bishop’s Appeal, no matter the denomination, makes a difference.

Do what you can in the coming few weeks in support of the Bishop’s Appeal.  And know that it is an important part of supporting those many efforts that make a difference in the lives of our Parishes and the people of our Parish and Diocese.

Thanks for living the Gospel and changing lives!

Easter Morning

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from Easter Morning: CLICK HERE! 

For Jesus, ABBA – Father, God our Father – was his constant source of strength and purpose that he needed in order to do what he did and to say what he said.

And his trust in ABBA was most evident when Jesus in the garden “pleaded” with his ABBA to “take away this cup from him?”    This road to suffering and death on a cross.

For Jesus knew that death on a cross was not the end.  For the cross is but a symbol reminding us that, God never abandons his people, that death leads to life; Eternal Life.

In what seems almost unbelievable, amid the destruction and ashes of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, images of the golden altar cross were seen glowing, with the cross intact.

Just maybe a symbol, a reminder, to look at and beyond the cross for it ALL leads to life, to resurrection, to eternal life…

And that is what we celebrate this Easter: life, resurrection, eternal life…

Not the Easter Bunny, marshmallow peeps, or helicopter egg drops.  (As enjoyable as these may be…)

But the power of God who offers us, again and again and again, as he did his son, the grace, the power, “to do what God asks us to do,” as his sons and daughters.  “To say what God asks us to say,” as his sons and daughters.

In the shadows of a smoldering Cathedral in Paris this week, people gathered to cry, to sing songs, to pray and to resolve to raise up this church, this Cathedral to its original splendor.

As persons, families, a church, there often are times when we need to be raised up”  and may be more times than we would like to admit.

But resurrection, new life is not a dream, it is for real!  (Have your heard?)

We pray this Easter that as person, family and Parish, we will grow in an ever deepening relationship with God, our ABBA, our Father, that is supported in prayer and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

Resurrection is not just something that happened once 2,000 years ago, rather Resurrection – Easter, if you will is happening all around us.  Witness the season of spring, witness the miracle Mets of 50 years ago; witness the rise to the top by Tiger Woods at August, last weekend; witness the many people who come together, time and time again, to assist individuals or peoples around the world.

This Easter as we renew our Baptismal promises to grow in love of God and others and in being Faithful Disciples, may our words be seen in all that is NEW, all that is life giving, all that gives hope, all that gives joy” to our brothers and sisters – at home, at work, at school, in the community and around the world.

If Easter says anything, maybe it is never underestimate the power of the God…  Not just the power of God to raise us up to Eternal Life, but the power of God to raise us up as His sons and daughters in ways that bring about a new heaven and a new Earth in our time of lived faith, hope and love…

Holy Thursday

Like families, the Church has it’s memories… its stories that as so important to being people of God we are asked to REMEMBER, not to forget….

What are your family memories?  What are the family stories, memories that you tell again and again?

In our First Reading we hear about the “Memorial Feast” called the Passover. Remembering that it was GOD who delivered the Israelite people from slavery in Egypt.  And this was something to remember and to pass on to be passed on from generation to generation…

And then in the Gospel today, Jesus and his Disciples (being good Jews) are preparing for Passover and all the tradition associate with it.  But then Jesus throws the curve ball no one saw coming: He washes the feet of his Disciples…  Unheard of…  “As I have done, so you must do…”

Tonight, this ONE event of salvation over three days, the Triduum of: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, are certainly meant to be remembered and celebrated…

I would suggest that the Triduum is more than knowing what happened some 2000 years ago. It must be remembered, it was to be shared with our children and their children, from generation to generation…but maybe most importantly is must be LIVED…

Lived not just by going to service, to church or knowing the stories.  Rather lived by doing as Jesus asked, to do all this in memory of me…  To be of service to others…  To love deeply, even to the point of death (literally and figuratively).

So as we participate in this Triduum of 2019, what will we remember, what will we share, what will we live each day…

Will it be recognizing the every day moments of caring and sharing and service that are right before us?

Will it be challenging ourselves a bit more to love God and others in word and action more today than yesterday?

Will it be passing on the faith with others who have yet to appreciate all that God, especially in Jesus Christ has done for US, for each person.

May these three day, the Triduum, be for us a reminder of all that God had done for us – without counting the cost…  and all that God calls us to do for one another – without counting the cost; yesterday, today and tomorrow!