Fr. Tom’s Reflections

July 14, 2019: Actually Doing It

At every celebration of the Mass we remember Jesus' words at the Last Supper, "Do this in memory of me." In today's gospel Jesus says, "Do this and you will live." The "this" is loving God with every aspect of our humanity and loving our neighbor as our selves.


Today St. Paul reminds us that Christ is the head of the body, the church. Obviously, we are the other members of the body.  We are to do as Christ does. St. Teresa of Avila puts it this way: "Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the earth;  yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now."


As we gather for the Eucharist, we do what Jesus has asked us to do. How will you love as Jesus has asked us to do?              


July 7, 2019: What Message Shall We Give?

The Word of God this Sunday is filled with divine words and messages we are to proclaim in word and deed. Say "Peace to this household." "The Kingdom of God is at hand for you" (Jesus). Offer comfort as a nursing mother comforts her child (Isaiah). Offer peace and mercy and grace to others (Paul).

Our world and so many people in our world are yearning for this kind of message. Violence, hate, greed, bigotry, racism, and many other evils fly in the face of God's hope and desire for us.

How do you receive God's message in your heart? What message will you give through your words and deeds?


June 30, 2019: At the Heart of Who We Are

Today we hear about Elisha’s experience of being called to be a prophet to succeed Elijah. Elisha was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. That means he had 24 of them! To prepare for his new adventure he slaughters them and has a barbeque for his family and friends. It must have been quite a feast. In today’s gospel Jesus speaks about similar behaviors that mark being his faithful followers.

This tells us that our commitment to follow Christ is the most identifying mark of our identity. All the other “hats” we wear – being a parent, child, sister, brother, friend, citizen – all of these relationships are to be influenced by the primacy of our relationship with Christ. Our relationship with the Risen Christ is to be permanent and unconditional.

What helps you to keep your relationship with Christ at the heart of your identity?


June 23, 2019: Sacred Feedings

Sacred Feedings

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi in Latin). We hear St. Paul’s version of what Jesus did at the Last Supper. Matthew, Mark, and Luke also tell the story. Each celebration of the Eucharist throughout the Christian centuries includes the same actions that happened that evening – taking bread and wine, blessing them, breaking the bread, and eating and drinking.

This Last Supper account is put side by side with Luke’s story of the multiplication of loaves and fish to feed a large crowd. Similar actions happen in this scene – taking, blessing, eating. These two scenes of Jesus’ actions portray how God is toward us in our need for nourishment and healing. It moves us to give thanks to God. This we do at each Eucharist.

How does your repeated celebration of the Eucharist help you to know God’s compassionate love?


June 16, 2019: The Most Holy Trinity

Each year the Sunday after Pentecost returns us into Ordinary Time. This Sunday is also the feast of The Most Holy Trinity. This mystery is a most important one for us Christians. God is mysteriously one and three at the same time. Unity and diversity are at the heart of God’s being. We are drawn into this Trinitarian mystery.

Today St. Paul reminds us that through Jesus Christ “we have gained access by faith to this grace.” Through Jesus’ divinity and humanity a door is opened for us to know, love, and serve the Trinity. St. Paul also says that “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” This “pouring” is remembered at each Mass as we recall Jesus words over the cup of wine at the Last Supper.

How do you experience access to God’s life and love? How do you experience God’s love being poured out for you?


June 9, 2019

Today we celebrate the glorious feast of Pentecost. Today we complete the fifty days of Easter festivities. The sending forth of the Holy Spirit fulfills Jesus' Easter promise. At the first Pentecost the sound of a driving wind filled the house as the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of the believers. An ancient prayer echoes throughout the centuries: "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love."

The presence and vitality of the Holy Spirit also completes our Christian experience of God as Trinity. Both St. Paul and the gospel today speak of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. This divine personal indwelling is in addition to our experience of God's transcendence (God the Father, the Creator) and God's immanence (the Incarnate and Risen Son of God).



June 2, 2019: The Mission Continues

The Mission Continues

St. Luke tells the story of Jesus' ascension into heaven twice - at the end of his gospel and in the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. This is a way of showing us two ways of comprehending the mystery of the Ascension as part of our Easter faith.

Jesus’ departure from the earth is an "end" in the sense of completion. His ascension concludes his earthly mission and ministry. The Kingdom of God has been ushered into our midst. The repetition of the story of the Ascension in Acts affirms that Jesus' mission continues with the first believers and through us in the 21st century. Our acts of healing, peace-making, justice, and charity continue the work that Jesus began. The presence and action of the Holy Spirit empowers us and encourages us as salvation history continues.

The mystery of the Ascension challenges us to assume our rightful place and responsibility in the mission Christ began. How do you witness to the Good News of the gospel? How is God calling you to continue what Jesus began?


May 26, 2019: A Council and Counsel

On this Sixth Sunday of Easter we hear of the first of many councils of the Church as it is described in the Acts of the Apostles. (The most recent council was the Second Vatican Council in 1963-1965.) The Council of Jerusalem, as it is called, dealt with how to integrate Jewish and non-Jewish (Gentile) people who were becoming Christian. Their council led to this marvelous statement: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities…”

This reading is paired with the gospel in which Jesus promises the coming of the Holy Spirit who is called the Advocate or Paraclete. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to offer us counsel, guiding us in a spirit-led way of living. The Holy Spirit reminds us of everything that Jesus himself has taught us through his words and actions.

As we draw closer to the great feast of Pentecost, prayerfully think about how you experience the guidance of the Holy Spirt in gatherings with other people and in reminders of what Jesus said and did.


May 19, 2019: It Is All New for Us

One of our readings in this cycle of Easter Season Sundays comes from the Book of Revelation, the last book of our Bible. In today’s verses we hear the Risen Christ proclaiming, “Behold, I make all things new.” The author has a mystical vision in which he sees a new heaven and a new earth. The imagery is about God’s ongoing creative energy, constantly renewing the earth, constantly re-creating us in closer conformity with Christ.

The “new” theme continues in the gospel with the new commandment Jesus gives us – to love one another as he loves us. Wonderful renewal happens in our lives and in our relationships when we love others with this self-sacrificing love. It is a love that proclaims, “I am here for you.” It is how Christ is toward us. We are to be Christ-like.

How do you experience God’s renewing power at work in your life? How is God asking you to help others to experience this re-creation?


May 12, 2019: We Must Be Willing To Be Led

Each year on this Fourth Sunday of Easter the Liturgy highlights the imagery of the risen Christ being our Good Shepherd. Today’s gospel begins with the words, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” In the Book of Revelation today the risen Christ says, I will “shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water.” Christ leads and we follow.

The grace of this Easter message is that we do not journey through life aimlessly. We are not headed down a dead-end street. Our Christian faith is about allowing ourselves to be led. Christ has opened up the way for us. As we gather Sunday after Sunday for the Eucharist we are told more and more about what this way looks like for us. So this way has two dimensions to it: we must be willing to be led by Christ who goes before us. And we are to follow faithfully and sincerely.

 How willing are you to be led by the Spirit of the risen Christ? What helps you to be a faithful follower?


May 5, 2019: With What Kind of Love?

On this Third Sunday of Easter we hear the haunting gospel story where Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” It becomes a kind of rehabilitation for Peter after his three-fold denial of knowing Jesus on the way to the cross. It reminds us of the importance of making relationships right. There is another thing to see in this scene that is not noticed in English but is very clear in the original Greek. The first two times Jesus asks the question, the verb “love” is the Greek word agape, which is a self-sacrificing love. Peter responds by saying he loves Jesus as a friend. He doesn’t seem ready to acknowledge a self-sacrificing love for Jesus. Finally, the third time, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him as friend. Peter responds affirmatively.

This gospel scene invites us to stand in Peter’s shoes and imagine this important question asked of us. How far are we willing to go? Do we love the Lord Jesus as we love a friend? Are we able to say that we love the Lord Jesus with self-sacrificing love?


April 28, 2019: Entering the Door of Doubt

Entering the Door of Doubt

Each year on this Second Sunday of Easter we hear the gospel story of the encounter between the Risen Christ and St. Thomas the Apostle. To our day he is familiarly known as “the doubting Thomas.” Because of this scene, doubt regarding things of faith often has a negative connotation. Doubt often rattles people and makes them feel uncomfortable.

But Thomas shows us another dimension about doubt. Instead of being a brick wall, doubt is a doorway into deeper faith. By being present to his experience of doubt and because of Jesus’ invitation to see and believe, he becomes a model for believers with his acclamation, “My Lord and my God!”

When has doubt been part of your faith-life? When have you, like Thomas, passed through doubt to deeper faith?


April 21, 2019: The Easter Awakening

All four of the gospels begin the Resurrection Narrative with a reference to what happened early in the morning on the first Easter Sunday. Luke's account begins this way: "At daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb."

This imagery of daybreak, the dawning of a new day, is about more than the time of day. It points to the experience of spiritually waking up, an awakening of faith on the part of the first followers of Christ and us who live in the twenty first century of Christianity. Something new is happening. It all begins to dawn on us. So Easter is about what happened to Jesus and what happens in us.

Anne Lamott says it this way: "This is the Easter message, that awakening is possible, to the goodness of God, the sacredness of human life, the sisterhood and brotherhood of all."

On this Easter day, think about the difference the Resurrection of Christ makes in your life. What kind of awakening does it stir up in you?                                           


April 14, 2019: Enter Into the Mystery of God’s Saving Love

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. It is the beginning of Holy Week. About these holy days the introduction to the Roman Missal says this: “Since Christ accomplished his work of human redemption and of the perfect glorification of God principally through his Paschal Mystery, in which by dying he has destroyed our death, and by rising restored our life, the sacred Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord shines forth as the high point of the entire liturgical year” (n. 18).


The Liturgy today begins by recalling Jesus’ entry into the city of Jerusalem humbly riding a donkey – a beast of burden – rather than a mighty fiery stallion. The people honor him with their cloaks and palm branches. That entry of Jesus into Jerusalem helps us to think about how we humbly welcome Christ into our lives and honor his presence with virtuous living. I hope that you are able to participate in the various liturgies of this week as ways to enter more fully into the mystery of God’s saving love.


April 7, 2019: Jesus’ Words for All of Us

Today we hear the haunting gospel story of the people who wanted to stone to death a woman who had committed adultery. This was permitted according to Jewish law at that time. Death was seen to be the penalty for such a sin. Her partner could also receive the same sentence. Why wasn’t he brought forward? The people back off when Jesus says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” What were their sins? Had some of them also secretly committed adultery?


We hear this gospel in the Lenten season because the words of Jesus are words for all us: “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” Whatever our sin, whatever our need for repentance, the Lenten season beckons us to turn more and more to God and what is of God, and, to turn more and more away from behaviors, words, thoughts, and attitudes that are not of God.


What kind of turning is God asking of you this Lent?


March 31, 2019: Celebrating God's Acceptance and Mercy

On this Fourth Sunday of Lent we hear a familiar parable proclaimed in our Eucharistic celebration. It is often titled "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" to highlight the younger son who became lost and then came to his senses. But there are two other characters in the parable -- the older son who was resentful and didn't join in the celebration as well as the father who is gracious and merciful and accepting to both of his sons.

Luke gives us this parable to ponder something about God in this Lenten time. It is meant to help us accept and celebrate God's mercy toward all of us. How comfortable are you with the way God (like the father in the parable) is toward any of us in our foolish wastefulness or resistance and resentment? (Clearly both of the sons in the parable have issues!) How can this parable help you to really know God and how God is toward us in our weaknesses?


March 24, 2019: Seeing Something of God

On each Sunday of Lent the first reading relates a story from the Old Testament that is important in our salvation history. Today we hear about Moses standing before the burning bush that is not consumed. When Moses asks for God's name, "I AM who am" is God's response (in our translation). This name is more literally translated "I AM the One who causes to be what comes into existence."

The interchange between God and Moses demonstrates the mysteriousness of God. We never completely figure God out. We simply stand in awe of God's presence.

In what ways have you been faced with the incomprehensibility of God? What has been your response?


March 17, 2019: Glimpses of Glory


Each year on the Second Sunday of Lent we hear the gospel of Jesus’ transfiguration proclaimed in our Eucharistic gathering. Jesus and his three close friends have a marvelous mystical experience. They all experience a glimpse of glory. “It is good that we are here,” Peter proclaims. It gives them and us a renewed sense of the hope of  transforming light and glory that are in store for all the faithful who journey in this Lenten time.

We had Mass at the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor during our pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It is a mountain that rises up from the valley below. The Church is filled with sunlight and helped us to imagine the gospel story. It was an uplifting experience.

When do you experience a glimpse of glory? In what ways is our celebration of the Eucharist a way to taste of this glory?



March 3, 2019: Desire Sobiech's Reflection

As this bulletin is being prepared while I am on pilgrimage in the Holy Land, I have asked Desire Sobiech to write an article.  Desire is on staff and also one of our lay Word and Communion presiders.


The image on the left is a popular classroom poster.  As the coordinator of our family faith formation program for grades 1-4, I have seen first-hand how lessons aimed at kids can provide profound insights for adults.  This is, I think, one of those lessons.

The basic concept is simple, and at first glance, we may see ourselves as adhering to it fairly well.  We wave to our neighbors, smile and say thank you to the cashier, and hold the door for strangers.  But look a little closer, and I think we can all find areas of our life in which following these guidelines would require some changes to our behavior.  For example, consider your interactions with those people you see most often and know best.  Our First Reading tells us that our words reveal our true selves.  Are the words we are using with our spouses, children or parents Inspiring?  When we speak to, or about, our co-workers or those in our social circles, are our words Kind?  Is what we are saying Necessary, or is it idle gossip?

Those of us who are active on social media also need to check our online behavior.  Is the meme, tweet, or article I’m about to share Helpful?  Do I know if it’s even True?  When responding or reacting to those who disagree with me, am I Inspiring or simply attacking?

How might our world look if everyone strove to follow these basic rules for communication?  But, alas, we can not control others’ behavior.  Trying to do so will only lead us to focus on the splinters in others’ eyes while ignoring the plank in our own.  Instead, we are called to recognize our words and actions as the seeds we plant in the world; when we plant good seeds, we will bear good fruit.





©2014 Risen Savior | All rights reserved | Website design by | Report A Website Problem