From the Desk of Fr. Ron From a very early age we are exposing our youth to contracts for service. After they get their first job they may enter into their first service provider contract with one of the major cell phone providers. Then may come a contract with Netflix and/or other entertainment companies. The major contract agreements remain their first car and of course the leasing of an apartment and/or the eventual purchase of their first piece of property or home. Contracts for service are more and more a part of our life from a very early age. As we celebrate the Feast Day of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, our assigned Scripture readings give us a glimpse into the very early experience of a “contract” made between Moses and God. Because one partner of this contract is “all powerful,” God, we refer to the agreement as a Covenant. Evidence of the Covenant experience can been witnessed in the agreement made between God and Creation at the beginning of time, the one between Noah and God after the flood, and of course the covenant between God and Abraham our father in faith. In the Covenantal agreement with Moses, young bulls are slaughtered as a sacrificial offering substituting for themselves, because unlike their neighbors the ancient Jews did not believe in human sacrifice. Moses then read the “fine print” details of the agreement to which the people responded: "We will do everything that the LORD has told us" Exodus 24:3. Moses then takes half of the blood of the sacrificed bulls and splashes it on the altar. The other half he splashes upon the people. "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his" Exodus 24:8. Our Gospel text from St. Mark recalls the “New Covenant” made between Jesus, His disciples, and all of us God’s adopted children. Taking the unleavened bread of the Passover meal, he said: "Take it; this is my body" Mark 14:22. Then taking the cup after the meal he said: "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many” Mark 14:24. In all Covenant ceremony the symbolic actions signifies the expectation: “may what has happened to this sacrificial victim (animal or in the case of Jesus, human self-sacrifice) happen to me if I violate this Covenant. How blessed we are that God loves us so much that He willingly sacrifices His only begotten Son so that we may live with him forever in the His Kingdom. When you approach the Altar each Sunday realize the Covenant Renewal you’re participating in. Realize what you are agreeing to in the “fine print.” Appreciate the sacrifice that Jesus has willingly paid so that you may have the opportunity to live forever. Don’t forget your part of the agreement……
From the Desk of Fr. Ron
According to Aristotle, human beings are “social animals” and therefore naturally seek the companionship of others as part of their well-being. This is played out in the development of human civilizations and culture groups. Poet John Donne wrote that “No man is an island.” Songwriter Peter Schickele interpreted this poem in a the famous text sung by Joan Baez: “No man is an island, No man stands alone, Each man's joy is joy to me, Each man's grief is my own. We need one another, So I will defend, Each man as my brother, Each man as my friend.” Famous German Theologian Karl Rahner, (1904-1984) taught that even God wished to communicate outside of God’s self and so all we encounter was created. All created realities reflect who God is and was created so that God could enter into relationship with an “other.” In our Christian Trinitarian belief God is already and always was in relationship with God’s self; thus God is Father, “Logos” or “Word” – the Son, and Holy Spirit. As creation is unfolding God enters into a particular covenanted relationship with Abraham preparing the way for God’s most perfect communication of His own Divine Self. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the (Jewish) law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption” Galatians 4:4. With Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, we have the completion of God’s revelation of God’s self. All of us who believe in Him and are Baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are made adopted children of our Trinitarian God. As we celebrate our Trinitarian God this weekend we celebrate the fullness of the Revelation of our social God who has welcomed us to share in His Divinity by becoming part of His son’s mystical body; the “Body of Christ” and grow ever more in relationship with Him and with one another. Truly we are part of our loving and good God and truly we are all parts of one another.
From the Desk of Fr. Ron
Most of us do not live spontaneous lives. We feel more secure when we know where we’re going, how we’re getting there, what we’ll do when we get there as well as how and when we will return. Detail and organization in our lives give us a sense of security as well as control. Certain cultural types excel in this and are more comfortable with this than others. This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost; fifty days after the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. In the Pentecost experience the early followers of Jesus have to learn to wait upon the Lord to give the direction. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that Jesus’ disciples were gathered together in one place waiting upon this promised gift from God, the Holy Spirit. With the arrival of the Holy Spirit the assembly busts out of their fear with joy and manifest gifts of great excitement. Only by patient waiting, listening, discernment and testing do these new leaders determine how and what they should be doing. For most this is an unsettling experience. It was easier when Jesus was physically with them; they just followed His lead. Now they have to discern their every step walking in a newness of faith. The manifestation of this “Holy Spirit” also brings with Him a sense of intimacy with God and with their leader and now Savior Jesus. I once attended a national conference for Pastoral Musicians. The closing Liturgy was technically very rich with music, song, instrumentation, new techniques in application of music to the Liturgy. The choir and instrumentalists all did what they were supposed to do but there was an experience of emptiness. Though all were applying their skill it lacked the cohesiveness and joy of the Holy Spirit. It was as if each participant was trying hard to be heard rather than surrendering to the give and take of the Spirit in order to give proper worship to God. Church community leaders are challenged in the same way. Leadership in the Church is not a permission to remake a congregation in one’s image but pray, discern, discuss and apply all the gifts at our command to be faithful to the Spirit’s call at this moment in time. Come Lord Jesus and fill our communities of faith with your dynamic leadership in the Holy Spirit.
TOLTON: FROM SLAVE TO PRIEST, the powerful live production performed by actor Jim Coleman and directed by Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions, will be presented at Marie Maday Theater at Lyons’ Hall Canisius College on Thursday, May 24 at 2:00pm & 7:00pm. Meet Fr. Augustus Tolton, the first African American priest, in this one-man multimedia performance. From his dramatic escape from slavery to his courageous struggle in the face of prejudice, Fr. Tolton’s inspiring life centers around his message reconciliation and hope. This riveting drama is filled with all the elements of professional theater, runs 75 minutes, and is suitable for ages 10 and up. Admission will be free-will offerings. For additional information, contact Luz Milagros Ramos at (716) 847-2217. Learn more at www.ToltonDrama.com.
From the Desk of Fr. Ron
Oftentimes, people post much of their personal news on social media sites. Photos of a child’s birthday, news of a promotion, travel photos, and the like. People also post difficult moments like the death of someone they love, a certain struggle they are withstanding or some other trying moment. All these messages are often responded to by “friends” on their media list. It is amazingly comforting to read messages of hope, strength, shared sorrow, encouragement, and companionship not to mention joy and happiness from friends half a world away whom you may not have spoken to in many years. In chapter seventeen of John’s Gospel, St. John the Evangelist shares with us an intimate prayer of Jesus. It is situated at that most critical time in the life of Jesus: the last supper. The verses we hear proclaimed this weekend are a window into the soul of Jesus Himself. They are preceded with the message: “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours” John 17:9. Then (12) “When I was with them I protected them in your name,” (17) “Consecrate them in the truth,” (19) “And I consecrate myself for them.” Just after the selected text Jesus says: (20) “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” Jesus speaks to God His heavenly Father for those he loves in this world. He speaks of His ongoing care and concern for them; that they be protected. Jesus speaks of consecrating or dedicating His own future life sacrifice for their benefit. Finally, in a verse not proclaimed this weekend, No. 20, Jesus includes all of us in His prayer; we who would come to know Him because of the faithfulness of the first disciple’s mission. Jesus prays for them. Jesus prays for us. Enjoy the intimacy of this moment of prayer. Other words of Jesus begin to ring in my mind bringing comfort and strength: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” Matthew 28:20. We never walk alone. Be strengthened.
TOLTON: FROM SLAVE TO PRIEST, the powerful live production performed by actor Jim Coleman and directed by Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions, will be presented at Marie Maday Theater at Lyons’ Hall Canisius College on Thursday, May 24 at 2:00pm & 7:00pm. Meet Fr. Augustus Tolton, the first African American priest, in this one-man multimedia performance. From his dramatic escape from slavery to his courageous struggle in the face of prejudice, Fr. Tolton’s inspiring life centers around his message reconciliation and hope. This riveting drama is filled with all the elements of professional theater, runs 75 minutes, and is suitable for ages 10 and up.
Admission will be free-will offerings. For additional information, contact Luz Milagros Ramos at (716) 847-2217.
Learn more at www.ToltonDrama.com.
From the Desk of Fr. Ron
In our childhood, many of us have had the experience of being “chosen” by another one of our friends who had become the captain of a team for a particular game we were going to play. Can you imagine the joy of being “chosen” by Jesus to be part of His inner circle? The inner circle friends got to travel with Him, witness His miracles, listen to His teachings and then be sent out in His name to do the same. Even His power was shared with them so that they too could convenience others that God’s Kingdom was coming. In the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus reminds all His followers: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain” John 15:16. In the Acts of the Apostles reading selected for this weekend, Simon Peter is sent by the Spirit of God to the home of the Gentile named Cornelius. He travels with other Jewish believers in Jesus and with them boldly enters the Gentile homestead. This very act would violate Jewish custom and tradition. While speaking to Cornelius and his household about the wisdom of God’s will manifested in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the Holy Spirit comes down to rest upon his Gentile hearers. Because of this manifestation of God’s generous Spirit, even the Gentiles are Baptized and made part of this new chosen people of God. The ministry of the early Church began to bear new fruit. In our Baptism we too were chosen by God. We were strengthened in the Holy Spirit in Confirmation and are nourished at the table of the Lord each week in the Holy Eucharist. We are sustained in this way so that we too may bear fruit. Going to a Gentile home was not an easy task for the early Jewish believers. It was a decision filled with anxiety for some. I’m sure many were thinking that this action was crazy yet God was leading them. May we all surrender to God’s Spirit and respond well to the Spirit’s leading us to go out and bear much fruit.
PASTOR’S TRAVEL As founder and director of ROTA: Reaching Out 2 Africa, I have the great opportunity to occasionally travel to mission countries to begin, supervise and/or dedicate the completion of various mission projects. For the last few years ROTA has been lending support to a gentleman from Kenya who has been studying for the priesthood in the Diocese of Torit in Southern Sudan. Because of the tribal conflicts plaguing Southern Sudan, Deacon Richard Oduor will be ordained in Nairobi Kenya by the retired and former Bishop of Torit, his lordship Paride Taban. Having hosted Bishop Taban during his visit and stay in Buffalo as well as supported Deacon Richard through the years I have been invited to attend his ordination. I will be leaving our country on Monday, May 7th and return two weeks later on the 22nd of May. While there in Kenya I will also make a brief visit to our mission friends in Masaka Uganda and Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa. I will be in Masaka for the dedication of a completed project to assist the Diocesan Priests. Please pray for my successful and safe mission travel. Thank You…… Fr. Ron.
Fr. Ronald Sajdak is pastor of St. Martin de Porres, St. Lawrence, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parishes. Read his weekly scripture messages here.
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