Reflection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

16 August 2014 - By

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All people?
Really?

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants—all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

This beautiful text recounts very powerful words to people who believed themselves to be exclusive. This sense of separateness built up in Israel over time – but this was not God’s way or instruction to Israel.

When Israel was constituted as a nation, a concern for resident aliens and foreigners was built into its legal system. The alien peoples received special protection under the law and were to be loved as native Israelites.

They came to or dwelt in Israel for various reasons including for the specific purpose of knowing God. All foreigners sojourning in Israel were counted as its people under the care and protection of God. Those who were joined to Israel through circumcision could join in the Passover. All were expected to honor and follow the laws of the Lord including the Sabbath rest. No foreigner was to be vexed or oppressed. They were to be loved, helped in distress, and have justice in all disputes.

Of all nations only Israel’s law, given by God, contained legislation for the resident alien. When Israel received the Promised Land she was required to purge it of its foreign population. But, foreigners in this context represented those hostile to her – it did not mean complete exclusion. Israel’s entire existence was bound up with being a blessing to all nations.

Various scriptures including Solomon’s prayer at the inauguration of the temple implied that God’s house was a house of prayer for all peoples. Israelite and foreigner could both pray to the Lord. Today’s words from Isaiah re-speak those words as instructed by God.

By the time of Jesus’ coming Israel had become extremely exclusive, and forgot God’s words – to be a blessing and mission to the nations. Jesus’s life is replete with His reaching out to foreigners – they were present at His birth, during His ministry where He interacted, preached to, and healed them. Paul clearly states that in Christ all are called and there is no negative racial, linguistic, or ethnic difference. We are gifts to each other.

Jesus’ call is never to separateness, to dissolution, or hopelessness – but to hope for all people in all circumstances. May God be praised for choosing and loving all!

Pray for Christians in Iraq

11 August 2014 - By

They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. — Luke 21:11-19

Let us pray for the Christians of and in Iraq. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, members of the body of Christ, our family.

Lord God, Father Almighty, grant by Your strong arm that Your Church in Iraq may be saved and preserved from every evil. Grant also that it may remain steadfast and persevere in faith before the evils of the enemy. If called to martyrdom, may Your Church show forth strong witness; for You preserve our lives even if we lose them in the eyes of the world. May we too be strengthened to serve you in imitation of the courage of the Holy Martyrs of Iraq. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

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O God, Who rules the world from everlasting to everlasting; speak to our hearts when courage fails, and we faint for fear. Keep us resolute and steadfast in the things that cannot be shaken, abounding in hope and knowing that our labor is not in vain in Thee. Restore our faith in Thine eternal purpose: renew in us that love which never fails; and make us lift up our eyes to behold, beyond the things which are seen and temporal, the things which are unseen and eternal. We ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

9 August 2014 - By

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Who’s out
there?

Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.

We are called to recognize and live in the power of God.

St. Paul was distraught because he saw the potential the Jesus offered His own people and the fact that His people, in large part, did not recognize the great gift of salvation He came to bring.

Jesus came walking out on the water. We often talk about the fact the Peter got out of the boat, and in faith came walking across the water toward Jesus. He would then falter in his faith and go sinking to the depths. It is a powerful image. We should recognize the fact that a lack of faith, a lack of recognition preceded that event. In the fourth watch of the night He went towards them, walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered, ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is You, tell me to come to You across the water.’

The disciples in the boat were rightly terrified but Jesus called out to them. Why didn’t they recognize His voice? They had been with Him for some time now. They heard Him preaching. They saw Him healing. Yet, in their moment of fear they failed to recognize the voice they had heard so often. Peter strongly challenged the voice he should have recognized. He challenged that voice to call him out onto the water.

As faithful Christians we hear the voice of Jesus at least weekly. If we read scripture and pray regularly, we hear Him daily. We should be well trained to recognize Him no matter the circumstance. Yet somehow, when we are afraid or troubled, we close our ears to His voice. We may even, like Peter, say: ‘if it is You, tell me to come to You across my troubles.’ When times are good, we may fail to recognize that He is there, providing for our good. When we have an opportunity for living out the image of Christ in us, we may forget that His image is in us and His grace is there to lead us in the right direction.

Paul was troubled because his people failed to recognize Jesus at all. As His disciples, we should be troubled if we do not recognize Him in every aspect of our lives.

Jesus calls us out onto the water, to take that big step, the leap of faith that shows how closely we are bound to Him. Let us recognize Him, His voice, and His powerful presence in every aspect of our lives and so live faithfully as His disciples. He says: ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Transfiguration

6 August 2014 - By

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. — 1 John 3:1-2

Transfiguration IconA Solemnity Fighting Fear

Today we observe the Solemnity of the Transfiguration of our Lord. We read in the 17th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew: Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.

Jesus chose this moment, before the great struggles, persecution, suffering, and death He was about to encounter, to reveal the blessing of His heavenly Father and His glory in Him. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

In our time the Holy Church is facing greater and greater struggles. In the Middle East, North Korea, Africa, and elsewhere Christians are actively being persecuted and martyred. Some Christians in our country are losing jobs for their beliefs and face other forms of prejudice. When faced with all this – and we may be in ways subtle or not so subtle – recall this holy day and let us say in confidence that our God is bigger and His promises are more important than anything anyone can do to us. Trust in Him and have NO fear for His promise is that “we shall be like Him!

Reflection for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

2 August 2014 - By

We have a big God

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are called to recognize and live the power of God. Reading the Old Testament we see the multitude of tremendous things God did for [...]Read More

Arts Opportunities, Scholarships, Programs, and Research Grants

28 July 2014 - By

From the New York State Alliance for Arts Education Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core 2 August 12- 13, in Albany. Hear an inspiring keynote on inquiry-based learning from Barbara Stripling. Participate in experiential labs where you'll learn how to create compelling lessons using cultural resources to meet the Common Core Learning Standards. Explore inquiry as a professional discipline. Network with colleagues in your region. And, to close the conference, hear from James B. [...]Read More

Summer Issue of the Cosmopolitan Review

28 July 2014 - By

The summer issue of the Cosmopolitan Review has been published. The authors note:

The arts, in all their variety, are mirrors that reflect a people. We owe so much to artists. They make us laugh, cry, think, and see ourselves in our infinite variety, so no wonder we admire those talented people who create images, words and music that enrich our lives. This issue, we focus on them, whether we find them working in [...]Read More

Congratulations to Holy Trinity Parish

28 July 2014 - By

From the Meriden Record-Journal: Southington church turns 100 Been to the parish. Very dedicated and loving people. Congratulations on your anniversary! Dwieście lat!!!

SOUTHINGTON, CT — Marilyn Folcik and her sister Arlene Strazzulla looked at a black and white photo pinned on a corkboard inside the Holy Trinity Polish National Catholic Church on Summer Street Thursday afternoon. Strazzulla leaned into the picture from 1957 to get a better look and then pointed to a [...]Read More

Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

26 July 2014 - By

Follow the blueprint for being in Christ

“O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right [...]Read More

July 2014 Issue of God’s Field Published

26 July 2014 - By

The latest issue of God’s Field is now available online. Articles for the August issue are being accepted now through August 1, 2014. You may E-mail items and photos or send them to: God’s Field Polish National Catholic Church 1006 Pittston Avenue Scranton, PA 18505

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