Seventh Sunday of Easter

A little joke: 

The boss to one of his staff: “We’ve got a vacancy. Your twin brother could fill it.”

“My twin brother?”

“Yes. The one I saw at the football game yesterday while you were attending your uncle’s funeral.”

A couple of weeks ago, my challenge was for you to use the power of using Jesus’ name for the purpose of “Good.”  To actually say, “By the power of Jesus Christ’s name, I will keep you in my prayers!” When we think about Jesus’ name, we all know that it isn’t really Jesus Christ. It would probably be something like Jesus BarJoseph (Meaning:  Jesus the son of Joseph). So, in our minds and hearts we call him “Jesus, the Christ.” Christ means “The way, the truth, and the light.”

Can anyone remember the name of the apostle that betrayed Jesus? Yes, you’re correct, there was more than one.  Judas, who was seduced from the truth by the shiny objects of this world. And there was also Peter. Despite Peter’s 3-fold denial of Jesus, he becomes the “Rock” on which the Church is to be built. It is Peter that declares Jesus as the “Christ!”

This past week, not only did we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus, but we also celebrated the feast day of St. Matthias. Matthias became the Apostle that replaced Judas. We don’t know much about him, other than he traveled to a foreign land, and eventually was martyred for his faith. However, it is pretty safe to say that he took the words and works of Jesus to heart. When Peter spoke to the 120 listeners, the Holy Spirit empowered Matthias to come forward.  

As we approach the celebration of Pentecost, I encourage you to make a place in your heart to receive the Holy Spirit! To replace the Judas in our hearts, with that of a saint! This is the perfect time to get our spiritual houses in order. Like Matthias, when the Holy Spirit prompts us to come forward, don’t hold back!

Jesus’ mission was to allow all of us to know that even though we live in this world, we who accept him and his words, do not belong to this world. That not only those who witnessed Jesus and heard his words belong to his kingdom, but we too, belong to his kingdom.

Jesus wasn’t born to die. Jesus was born to show us how to live.

So, ask God for guidance, talk with him, praise him, and enjoy his friendship.

I will pray that your hearts will be opened and that you will receive the Holy Spirit with joy-filled hearts.

Readings for Sunday, May 16, 2021

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Jesus said to his disciples:

Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
Until now you have not asked anything in my name;
ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

I have told you this in figures of speech.
The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures
but I will tell you clearly about the Father.
On that day you will ask in my name,
and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you.
For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me
and have come to believe that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world.
Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.

The peace of the Lord be with you.

Growing is a process. When we were children our parents and other teachers had to explain things in more simple terms for us to be able to understand. As we continue to develop and grow in maturity the facts could be presented in a more straightforward way. Jesus is using a similar model as he talks about growing in faith. He says he has tried to introduce his followers to a basic understanding of who he is and the ways of God but that soon he will be talking to them about more sophisticated things.

We are very fortunate that in the time we live in to have access to so many great tools for Christian education. Having factual information and a deeper understanding, may each of us to be able to answer questions that may come our way by those who are being touched by the Spirit of God and are trying to form their basic understanding. May we be inspired today to read, ponder, and use these tools for the betterment to advance the kingdom of God.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Saturday, May 15, 2021

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

Jesus said to his disciples:

As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.

John 15:9-17

The peace of the Lord be with you.

On this feast of Saint Matthias, there is a theme of being chosen running through our readings. There is always something pleasant about being chosen or recognized. For most of us, it may date back to our earliest moments in life, probably to some of our earliest friendships. Being chosen by someone outside our family to be part of something that links us to another person or another group of people.

Today, the Son of all creation says he chooses us as friend. Let that sink in for a moment. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of all creation wants to be our friend. He is inviting us to His house, wants us to share a meal, and stay after the meal to catch up on what has been happening in our lives. We have been chosen. Today, independent of how we may feel about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses — let us accept this invitation to true friendship.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Friday, May 14, 2021

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Jesus said to his disciples:

Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Mark 16:15-20

Most gracious and loving God today you command us to carry your word to all peoples that they may believe in you and also become messengers of your great hope. Help us to be gentle and humble teachers who teach about you through our service to others. Help us to be loving toward each other as we remember your divine spark lives in each person we encounter. Through these graces Lord may the world be transformed and all souls saved.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Thursday, May 13, 2021

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’

Acts 17:15, 22—18:1

The peace of the Lord be with you.

At the time of the early Christian community much like today there were many religions with competing views about God and leading a holy life. Like those gathered around Paul in our reading, many of these people had sincere questions and a desire to find God.

Our reading today gives both a brief but very accurate explanation of God and God’s nature. Paul also addresses how he sees people searching for and how natural it is that we have a desire to go back to our source. We not only seek this of out our desire for God, but God’s desire for us. God wants us to have relationship with him and enjoy all that he has created to make our lives free and fulfilling.

Today, I invite you to take a moment to appreciate what and how God provides for you, your family, and those you love. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Sixth Sunday of Easter

One of the things I enjoy about living in New England is the changing of the seasons. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, I still love these changing seasons despite the challenges they can bring with likes of finger numbing cold, oozing spring mud, biting summer insects, and falling leaves that suddenly reappear after I thought I had picked the last one up. Despite these annoyances, the changing of the seasons often reminds me of the phases of life and how each of those phases gives us a chance to see and experience life differently.

Our first reading this weekend, from the Acts of the Apostles, looks at the process of spiritual change, as it focuses on the conversion of Cornelius. Just as we see in this reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Baptism is the principal place of conversion as we actively “reject what is evil and receive the gift of new life.” This call to conversion is not just a call to a single person but “a call to the whole Church… to penance and renewal.” As followers of Jesus, we are called as a both individuals and community to look carefully at our lives, ask ourselves are we living out our baptismal promises and continue to actively ask God for the strength to live this call to renewal (CCC 1427-1433). As our Psalm response reminds us, this “saving power” has been revealed to the nations and is available to all people.

This call to all people is precisely what Jesus means when He says we are to love others as he has loved us. The word love in the instance is not the unconditional love that God lavishes on us, but filial love. This filial, or brotherly love, is a reminder that because of our common origin we are all children of God and thus a single human family. That as individuals and as a community of believers, we are called to look beyond the human weaknesses and resistance to the unconditional love of God — to see the inherent human dignity that resides in each person. We are called do this by being a person and community that is humble, approachable, and genuine. Being true to what God wills, allows those gifts of the Holy Spirit to work through us, which leads to healing and transformation beyond anything we could ever achieve through human efforts alone. 

This process of conversion — like the changing of the seasons and their challenges — offers periods of renewal, growth, harvest, and rest. Ultimately, these periods have the power to heal, restore, and transform all of the human family.

Readings for Sunday, May 9, 2021

Fifth Sunday of Easter

A little joke from Deacon Tom Sheridan:

The little church suddenly stopped buying office supplies from its regular office supply dealer. So, the dealer called the pastor to ask why. “I’ll tell you why,” shouted the pastor indignantly. “Our church ordered some pencils from you to be used in the pews for visitors to register.”

“Well,” interrupted the dealer, “didn’t you receive them yet?”

“Oh, we received them alright,” replied the pastor. “You sent us little pencils each stamped with the words: Play Golf Next Sunday.” 

1st Reading, from Acts: 

Can you imagine being at war, and in the heat of battle, one of the enemy’s soldiers came to your side and said ‘I’m now fighting on your side’? Would you simply trust him? Probably not!

This is how it was with Saul: the disciples of Jesus knew exactly who he was — he was their persecutor. So, the apostle Barnabas actually steps in on Saul’s behalf and becomes like his sponsor, and shares with the other apostles how the Risen Lord appeared to Saul and spoke with him. Something the apostles would find very familiar.  From that point on, not only was Saul accepted and protected, but wherever Saul went, the Church flourished and grew, and was at peace.

2nd reading, from 1 John: 

The thrust of this reading is that we must believe in the Name of Jesus. So often, the Name of Jesus is only used in a curse. Do we, can we, use His Name in the Power of Good? Try it this week! Use the Name of Jesus out loud in a positive way. If it feels awkward to you, then it is something that you MUST work on, as you are a disciple of Christ.

The Gospel, from John:

The Gospel of John reminds us that God wants us to have an intimate relationship with him. The image of the Father being the Vine Master, and Jesus being the Vine, and all of us being the branches that need to bear fruit, is a reminder for us as disciples that we must always remain connected to Jesus, as Jesus is connected to the Father.  To bear fruit means that we continue the work of the Lord.

Let’s go back to the 1st reading, where Saul becomes known as Paul. In meeting the Lord, Saul realizes who he truly is supposed to be. It enabled Saul to confront himself, to see himself in truth. Now, known as Paul, he blossomed because he accepted who he was. Paul shows us what it takes to become and remain part of Jesus’ vine.

When we receive the Eucharist today, either physically or spiritually, may we in return become Eucharistic people, meaning that we are thankful people and use the Name of Jesus for only good things.

Readings for Sunday, May 2, 2021

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Jesus said to his disciples:

Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me; 
righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me;
condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

John 16:5-11

The peace of the Lord be with you.

Today we see how Jesus prepares his followers for his passing from this world to the next. As he dos so, he validates and normalizes their grief. He tells them and us that this grief will be followed by joy as the burdens they carry will be lifted as the one who oppresses will be taken from power. The oppressor will be replaced by the gift of the Holy Spirit who is the invisible presence of God who will once again restore our ability to hear and respond to the voice of God.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Good Shepherd Sunday

Joke (Anonymous): 

Shepherds really get offended when you refer to them as “ewe” people!

On Good Shepherd Sunday, the obvious two questions are: 

  1. Who are the sheep in my flock? And,
  2. How can I be a good shepherd to them?

These questions are a good source of reflection for all of us this weekend. I encourage you to think about each of them this week. Obviously for me, as your pastor, I have to do a little soul searching along with some reflection. As your pastor for the last nine years, I realize that I might not fulfill all of your wishes of what a pastor might be, but I definitely try my best. As most of you know, I am also the Dean of the White Mountain Deanery, which includes supervision for the parishes of North Conway, Lincoln, Woodsville, and every parish north of there.

I realize my weaknesses are not being overly charismatic in my spirituality, and also I am not one for confrontation, so you won’t hear me preach fire and brimstone homilies. I try to stay away from talking about politics. I also realize that my preaching could be a lot different as I admire so many other preachers who are better than me. I don’t consider myself as a conservative or a liberal person when it comes to my faith and my liturgical style. I am also an ultra-introvert when it comes to my personality.

I realize my strengths include organization and order; management of the parish operations. Also, my willingness to try to talk with everyone and to get to know them. To simply hold the door and be a welcoming pastor. To have good judgment without being judgmental. To use my “Priestcraft”, as Bishop O’Neil told me to do, on my ordination day.  He said that the “Ministry of Presence” will be vital in my ministry. When tragedy strikes, and they call you to come — even though you might not have any answers — you must go, and simply be present to your people. The same is true in graduation or birthday parties, just being present goes a long way. Visitation to the hospital, the nursing homes, and the homebound, or that person you just haven’t seen in church for a while, or even visiting the children in the classroom, simply has to happen — and it does. I also find, I can get along with all the age brackets, simply by using a little humor every now and then.

I love the image of the one lost sheep, and Jesus leaving all of the others, simply to rescue the one who is paralyzed due to fear. That’s what sheep do — their legs go stiff and they simply can’t run away. Jesus picks up the paralyzed sheep and places it on his shoulders and carries it back to the flock. Once the fear-filled sheep has been returned to flock, its legs become un-paralyzed and it returns to normal activity.

Jesus knows his sheep, Jesus knows who we are, by name. He is our shepherd and we are his sheep. Jesus has laid down his life in order for us to be saved. Fear and death can no longer paralyze us, for the Good Shepherd continues to place us back into his flock.

So, think about those two questions this week:

  1. Who are the sheep in my flock?
  2. How can I be a good shepherd to them?

Let us, together, imitate the Good Shepherd of our lives!

Readings for Sunday, April 25, 2021

Divine Mercy Sunday

On this second weekend of Easter  we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. All of our readings this weekend have this theme about trusting in the mercy and goodness of Jesus. 

Our reading from Acts of the Apostle s reflects on how the early Christian community shared things in common as a means of demonstrating a trust in the mercy of Jesus who through his disciples would take care of the needs of their growing community.The Psalm  response reminds us that the love of God is “everlasting”.The reading from 1 John reminds us that that the Spirit testifies to the “truth” born from the water and blood which is a reference to that which flowed from the side of Jesus during the crucifixion.Lastly we  have these acts of mercy by Jesus by giving his disciples the power to forgive sins as well as encouraging Thomas to overcome his disbelief by probing his wounds 

I thought this weekend might also be a good time to reflect on Saint Faustina. “Saint Faustina was a young, uneducated nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s.  She came from a poor family that struggled during the years of World War I.  She had only three years of simple education, so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden.  However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from our Lord Jesus.  

Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church, Sr. Faustina’s Diary sparked a great movement, and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ.  Saint John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the “first saint of the new millennium.”  Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary, the Pope called her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”

Today, we continue to rely of St. Faustina as a constant reminder of the message to trust in Jesus’ endless mercy, and to live life mercifully toward others.  We also turn to her in prayer and request her intercession to our merciful Savior on our behalf. There is a National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. 

The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us – all of us. And, He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy

This message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina who in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread. 

The message and devotional practices proposed in the Diary of Saint Faustina are completely in accordance with the teachings of Church and are firmly rooted in the Gospel message of our Merciful Savior. Properly understood and implemented, they will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ. 

Personally I am deeply moved by St Faustina’s prayer for the Healing of the family tree which we will pray this Sunday from 2:30 to 3:30 pm here at St Rose as part of our Divine Mercy Holy Hour. I hope you will consider joining Father Mark and myself. 

Jesus I trust in you.

Source information St Faustina from

Readings for Sunday, April 11, 2021