Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Merciful Like the Father 5

This is the final message for the first part of the Merciful Like the Father series. The second part of the series will begin September 11th when we begin talking about the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Merciful Like the Father 4

Here is the second to last of the first part of the Merciful Like the Father Series on the Corporal Works of Mercy. The second part of the series will be on the Spiritual Works of Mercy and that begins September 11th.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Merciful Like the Father 3

I was informed that I never posted this...  Here's last Sunday's message, part three of the Merciful Like the Father Series.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Merciful Like the Father 2

In this second of the Merciful Like the Father Message series we reflect briefly on two more of the Corporal Works of Mercy: Comfort the Sick and Bury the Dead.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Merciful Like the Father 1

this is the beginning of a new two part message series entitled Merciful Like the Father - which is the same as the motto for this Jubilee Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis. During this first part of the series I will be reflecting on the Corporal Works of Mercy. Today we begin with Feeding the Hungry.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Trademarks, Brands & Tattoos 3

This is the third and final part of this series about the tasks or behaviors that we as a Community of Believers value. Today: Service.  How will you serve your parish community?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Trademarks, Brands & Tattoos 2

Finally...  I don't know if my internet connection, a problem with YouTube, or a problem with my computer - but uploading this file has taken much longer than usual!

So, here's part two...

It might seem that I contradict myself by talking about being a welcoming community while at the same time offering the opportunity to get off the bus if these behaviors are not something an individual is willing to do.

Remember this: evangelization, discipleship, and service (next Sunday) are essential aspects of being a FOLLOWER of Jesus and by extension part of the parish of St. John XXIII here in Tamaqua.  My message is already longish, if I were to give an extensive list of how to do this things, how to evangelize, how to be an intentional disciple, or how to serve I would need days because the list would be limited only by the imagination of anyone wanting to do these things. Consequently, I offer only a few practical thoughts about each behavior.

Another aspect of "being on this bus" is the reality that everyone is on a different place on their journey toward holiness and sainthood. Therefore, a simple WILLINGNESS to be an evangelist, an intentional disciple, a servant is what counts, as well as finding ways to make those behaviors an important part of life. It is this that guarantees a seat on this bus.

Finally, ONE reason why I post these recordings is so that parishioners who hear me each Sunday can have the opportunity and means to hear the message again so that they can catch all that I said. When we listen to one sentence we often miss the next because we are still thinking about the first. Being able to listen to the message again enables you to catch what you missed. Catching what you miss may very well help to clear up any confusion about what I say.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Trademarks, Brands & Tattoos 1

We are starting a new series this week, actually it is more of a continuation of the series New Beginnings. As a Catholic Parish what is our trademark? What is our Brand? How are we tattooed? With the beginning of this new year (the parish of St. John XXIII begins her third year this July 1st) we begin a with a renewed emphasis on achieving the goal we all seek: the Kingdom of God and our call to be evangelists.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

New Beginnings 3

William Bridges book "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes" is the inspiration for this series. He writes of the three parts of a transition beginning with an ending, then a journey through the neutral zone and finishing with a new beginning. Today we look further into the neutral zone and see that Jesus asks us, his disciples, to see him differently just as the neutral zone is an opportunity to see a new perspective on endings which lead to a new beginning. While this is the last part of this three part series it is actually only the prelude to the new beginning that will happen in two weeks when we start the next series entitled: Trademarks, Brands & Tattoos.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New Beginnings 2

Part two, the second stage of making a new beginning is the neutral zone. A safe place in the midst of fear and danger.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New Beginnings 1

New beginnings always start with an end. In this new message series we will look at the new beginning Jesus has in store for our lives.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Corpus Christi

You can be holy - the great lie of our time is that you can not be holy! Holiness does not come from hours spent in prayer, doing good for others, or even attending Mass. Holiness comes from a relationship with Jesus and prayer, good works and the Eucharist are necessary because they sustain that relationship. (Zach, who I mention at the beginning of the message is a seminarian who has just completed his first year in theology and is staying with us for two months this summer as part of his formation to be a priest).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Trinity Sunday

What does Jesus do? As the Son he loves the Father - Jesus loves because God is Love.the love of the Father and Son is personified in the Holy Spirit. The Father, through the Son sends the Holy Spirit into our lives so that we can have joy, so that we can be holy. The great lie is that we cannot be holy, we cannot have joy, we cannot become saints. YES, we can! This week and next week we look at how that can happen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What's Next? 6

This is the end of the What's Next? message series: results! What is next is exactly what we celebrate on this feast of Pentecost: the joy given to us by the Holy Spirit. That joy only comes in obedience to the commands of Jesus. His command is to Love God, Love Neighbor, and Make Disciples these are the results that we seek, nothing can distract us from doing just this.

I want to extend a word of thanks to Patrick Lencioni for the inspiration for this series. His book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" speaks of five gospel values that when missing from a "team" (a parish community) will be the cause of its demise.  We must be wiling to trust, enter into conflict, make a commitment, accept accountability and attend to the results that Jesus wants for us all: JOY in the Holy Spirit.

Monday, May 9, 2016

What's Next? 5

Accountability is one of the most difficult traits to find in our culture, but it is absolutely necessary for disciples to hold one another accountable if we are to accept what's next.

Monday, May 2, 2016

What's Next? 3 & 4

Here are my messages from the past two Sundays: What's Next? 3 & 4. These weeks have been kind of busy and I have not had the time necessary to get these messages uploaded.

Regarding this series, I have been using Patrick Lencioni's book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" where he writes about those foundational issues that prevent a team from properly function. The first is trust, the second, conflict, the third is commitment.  In the coming two weeks, I'll talk about the last two (you'll have to wait - or read his book - find out what they are!).  Lencioni is a devout Catholic and although you would never know that fact from reading his books, these issues, which help to make "business teams" great, are really biblical in nature.  These are Gospel Values at there best using the Easter Gospels I am hoping to point our parish towards continued growth in discipleship.

Week 3, the 5th Sunday of Easter:

Week 4, the 6th Sunday of Easter:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What's Next? 1 & 2

While there are many ways to approach life - two come to mind: we can approach life with a hospital mentality or an amusement park mentality. What’s the difference? The hospital mentality focuses on the next bit of bad news that we expect to receive when we are faced with a medical issue. What’s next? is answered with more trials and challenges that we’d rather avoid - so it’s better not to ask “what’s next?” The amusement park mentality is filled with excitement. When you finish one ride you can’t wait to get to the next ride because of the thrill that you experience of anticipating, What’s next? How you approach life determines how and if you’ll answer, “what’s next?”

Over the course of the remainder of the Easter Season we are going to take a look at this question and some of the issues that can help us to accept the answer. From the miracles we experienced at Christmas, then finding what’s your story, to the Barefoot Journey and even the Most Important Things of Easter, it’s good to ask “What’s Next?”

Friday, March 25, 2016

What's Most Important 2

When we ask what is most important and then reflect on making the Gospel most important we soon discover that there is a gap between the life we lead and the life of the Gospel.

Monday, March 21, 2016

What's most important 1

The beginning of a new message series that will run through Divine Mercy Sunday. What is most important and what difference will living that 100% make in your life?

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Barefoot Journey 5

The fifth and final message in the Barefoot Journey series. NO MATTER WHAT: God Forgives, without guilt, without blame, without shame.  In these final days of the season of Lent take time to go to confession and experience the power and joy of God's forgiveness.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Barefoot Journey 4

The fourth in the Barefoot Journey message series. This week: penance. Like the younger son, do your penance - recognize your need for the Father.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Barefoot Journey 3

It's time to take off your shoes...  "remove your sandals, this is holy ground" God says to Moses.  Moses makes his confession, asking Who do I say sent me? confession is about what we believe; telling sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an admission to our failure in our belief.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Barefoot Journey 2

This second in the Barefoot Journey series is the first "Act of the Penitent" Sorrow or Contrition. Recognizing the shoes of sin that we wear - shoes that bind us up, tire us out and make us hungry - we must acknowledge the wounded or broken relationship we have with God and His Church and repent saying, "I'm Sorry."

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Barefoot Journey 1

With the start of the Season of Lent, we are starting a new message series called "The Barefoot Journey" Did you ever walk bare foot in the sand on the beach? Why would you put shoes on your feet? To be more comfortable? To prevent injury? To keep your feet warm in the cold? Shoes are a lot like sin...  Sin is often the result of a desire for comfort, to prevent something bad from happening, because we are are cold and hungry.  Through this Lenten season we will look at those things traditionally call the "acts of the penitent" in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and see that taking off your shoes is akin to putting aside sin.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Homily - What's Your Story 6

Here's the final in the What's Your Story message series.  For the record, I'd like to extend my deepest thanks to Fr. Michael White and the team at Nativity Church in Timonium, MD, for developing this series (under the original title: "The Story of Your Life") and making it available for use.  I have really enjoyed preaching this message series and I hope and pray that you have found it inspiring (what good story doesn't inspire us).
If you have a "gmail" account and log on to your account you can add you story to the comment section of my blog page.  I'd really like to hear (read) your story and how you have come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Peace and Blessings
Fr. John.

BTW...  Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Lent and the beginning of a new message series: "The Barefoot Journey." Stay tuned....

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Homily - What's Your Story 5

Part 5 of the What's Your Story message series. We are all called by God to be a prophet like Jeremiah. Having received the word of God we must share it; sharing makes for a better story.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Homily - What's Your Story 4

If I would have been home...

If Masses would not have been canceled because of the snow storm...

Here's the text for the fourth installment from the What's Your Story message series:

Today we want to continue that part of the discussion by looking at a part of our story  that we don’t like to think about or talk about, but it is essential to living a better story to embrace it and run towards it instead of running away from it.

We are going to look at this passage from the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah is a book of the Bible found in the Old Testament. It is a great story in and of itself, really one of my favorite books in the Bible. Let me fill you in a bit on the story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah is a Jew, but he lives in Persia, because at this point in the story the Jewish people were in exile from their homeland. They had messed up in a major way in their relationship with God, and made themselves vulnerable before their enemies. As a result, Judah was overrun, Jerusalem destroyed and many of the people exiled.

Nehemiah however, was in a pretty good position. He served as cupbearer to the king of Persia, when Persia was the most powerful nation in the world. As cupbearer, Nehemiah had a privileged position. He would have been one of the king’s inside advisors. 

Nehemiah is living in the artificial world of palace luxury when one day he learns the real story about his native land.  Jerusalem has fallen into disrepair, her walls are ruined. They had been destroyed years earlier but have never been rebuilt. For us, it doesn’t mean much, but it was a great disgrace to a city that it effectively had no city walls. Walls were needed for protection and a city was sort of “naked” and vulnerable without them. Nehemiah hears about the situation and it really bothers him. It kind of throws him into a depression, so much so that the king noticed the change in personality.

So one day, he takes a great risk and asks the king if he can have a leave of absence to lead a rebuilding effort and, additionally, if the king will give him the supplies and military to get the job done.

Unexpectedly, the king says yes, appointing Nehemiah governor of Judah. Eventually Nehemiah rallies the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, and despite all kinds of obstacles and adverse conditions and critics and the threat of conflict, they get the job done in less than two-months time. 

At the end of the project, the people gathered for a celebration, which begins with a worship service. They begin with Scripture:

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
which was made up of men, women, 
and all who were old enough to understand.
Nehemiah 8.3

So the priest is reading from the Bible, specifically the first five books of the Bible which are called the Law of Moses. The people had probably never heard the word of God before because it had been forgotten and neglected, like the city walls.
The Bible goes on to say, 

Ezra opened the book.  All the people could see him 
because he was standing above them; 
and as he opened it, the people all stood up.  
Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; 
and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord
Nehemiah 8.5-6
Nehemiah tells us:

The people had been weeping 
as they listened to the words of the Law
Nehemiah 8.9
Here’s what happened:
As the law was read and people heard the law of God, they realized in their ignorance they had broken so much of it. They began to recognize this huge gap between their lives and God’s standard. That essentially they had abandoned their faith and walked away from God. And this recognition fills them with regret.

The beauty and truth of God’s word just seeps into their hearts and changes their hearts. They come to see how God had wanted them to live and the beauty of his commands.  They simply did not know the good news of the great life God wanted for the people of Israel. And they’re genuinely sorry for that. But, that is not the end of the story.

Then Nehemiah said, 
“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, 
and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  
Nehemiah 8.10

In other words, lets have a party. What’s the occasion? Nehemiah tells them…

This day is sacred to our Lord. 
Do not be sad and do not weep 
for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemiah 8.9

Don’t dwell in your regret, he urges them, move beyond it to celebrate what God is doing in your life now.

All our stories include regret, which is a consciousness of something negative, a sadness and sorrow for something wrong. 
If you don’t have anything you regret you don’t know you’re story very well or you’re not being very honest about it. No one gets it right all the time; inevitably we get something, somehow, somewhere wrong and that is regrettable, and ought to lead us to regret.

You may look at your time in high school or college that way. You didn’t study, and had way too much fun.
Maybe your regret is about a friendship that was lost. You had a close friend and you allowed that friendship to fall apart and you regret you didn’t work harder at it, and give more to it. 
Maybe it’s a marriage that fell apart. You regret you didn’t fight for it. Or you regret that you were unfaithful in the marriage and you allowed your heart to drift or your eyes to wonder.  
Maybe you regret choices you made as a parent. Your adult children have problems and you feel this twinge of regret that maybe it was something you did as a parent. 
Your regret might be at work. At one point, you felt like you should take a stand, you knew without question that what was happening was wrong, but instead of saying anything, you quietly took the path of least resistance. 
Or maybe there was someone you could have helped and you didn’t, and as a result, things went badly for them. 

There was this semester, or season, a Spring Break, or rash comment or dumb decision; there was this bad deal, there was this little tiny lie….the result: regret.

Here’s a regret I have… (fill in your own story)

When we come to the places of regret in our story, here’s the temptation. We want to pretend like they never happened. And that’s understandable, but it’s also not helpful.

For one thing, those regrets are part of your story, they are what make you human and real. Denying them and just trying forget them is mixing up your story

But there’s another reason too. Here is the deal about our regrets. 

It is the very things we regret that God wants to redeem. Our failures and mistakes that we regret are exactly where we come to know God as our Savior, as our redeemer. Your relationship with God will grow immeasurably if you face those regrets and bring them back to him. And then you will grow immeasurably too. 

God will give you a chance, he will give you an opportunity to redeem those regrets and use them for good. 

Maybe God can take your regret about bad choices in finances to rebuild your financial situation.
Maybe the bad choices were with unfaithfulness in your marriage. If you face that regret and invite God into that regret, God can use it to help you rebuild your marriage.
Maybe you have regrets about decisions you’ve made with your kids, you see now your mistakes and the consequences that followed.  God can use that regret to rebuild your relationships with them.
Maybe you have regret about your faith, you regret your shallow commitment and half-hearted approach. God can rebuild your relationship with him. 
God can take any of our regrets and rebuild , just like Nehemiah built the city walls from the ruins of the past mistakes of the people. 

God can take any regret and rebuild. He can use them for greater purposes, but we have to face them first. We have to recognize them as part of our story and offer them back to him and say, 

God, I’m sorry. I apologize for that part of my story.
And I thank you for redeeming my regrets.

Better yet, go to confession and say it there.
The people we meet in Nehemiah feel regret. But notice what Nehemiah says. 

Do not be sad
for the joy of your Lord is your strength.
Nehemiah 8.10

Nehemiah is saying, OK, you’ve acknowledged your regret and you’ve apologized.
Now, focus on God, find your  strength in God and find your joy in that strength.

Don’t live in the sadness of your regrets,
Live in the joy of God’s strength.

Whoever you are, whatever station or state of life you’re in, whatever you story has been, you can write a different story, better story. With God’s strength, you can write a better story.

Homily - What's Your Story 3

Here's the third message in the What's Your Story series from two weeks ago.  I tried to post it while I was away but was unable to.  So better late then never, here it is for you to listen to as a preview/reminder for this week's message.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Homily - What's Your Story? 2

On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we reflect on the beginning of your story. This week's homework: how did your story begin? What happened to you? Answer these questions in the form of a conversation with God and begin to look for God forming your story.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Homily - What's Your Story 1

We are starting a new message series this week: What's Your Story? We will be reflection on your life's story and how God plays a role in it.  Homework this week: spend 15-20 mins. reflecting on your life; write a timeline of your life and share the events of your life with a friend or neighbor. Your life is important and interesting!