Fr. Tom’s Reflections

November 18, 2018: Thinking About the “End” Times

Thinking About the “End” Times

Today we celebrate the second last Sunday in this liturgical year. In two weeks we begin the season of Advent with a new liturgical year. Our focus shifts to what we call the “end times.” This is signaled by the words “In those days” in today’s gospel and in the reading from the prophet Daniel.

We use the word “end” in two different ways. One sense of the word is about termination or completion – like the end of a movie or the end of a challenging ordeal. Another sense of the word has to do with the goal or purpose of a project or task we undertake. This second sense of “end” connotes fulfillment and accomplishment. Both senses of the word apply to our Christian living. The day will come for each of us when our pilgrimage on earth will be completed. At certain times we muse about the goal and purpose of our lives.

Using both senses of this word, what do you see as the goal and purpose of your life? How do you want to be remembered once your pilgrimage of faith is completed?


November 11, 2018: A Tale of Two Widows

A Tale of Two Widows

Today's Liturgy of the Word highlights two widows -- a widow and her son who are near starvation living north of ancient Israel and a widow in the Jerusalem Temple who donates her last two coins to the Temple treasury. The first woman does not hesitate to offer a meal to Elijah in the spirit of hospitality to a stranger. The second widow does not hesitate to give all she has to support the upkeep of the Temple.

It is stirring to ponder how these women are so generous in their poverty. We stand at a distance to contemplate their generosity as they look beyond themselves. What motivates them to be this way? Perhaps it is their experience of God toward them as described in today's Psalm (146). It is the Lord God who feeds the hungry, sustains the widow, and raises up those who are bowed down.

Prayerfully spend some time with Psalm 146. Think about how God is toward you with compassion in your vulnerability and weakness. Then think about how you can be toward others in a generous way -- like God.


November 4, 2018: With Whole-hearted Love

With Whole-hearted Love

In today’s gospel we hear Jesus describing the two great commandments. We are to love God with every dimension of our humanity – mind, heart, soul, strength. And we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. These are the greatest commandments, Jesus tells us. When we observe them whole-heartedly we are not far from the Kingdom of God.

We express our love of God every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. In today’s Psalm (number 18) we use very direct language about this love: “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” This Psalm verse can be a little prayer we call to mind throughout the week as we go about our daily living. We express our love of neighbor when we compassionately reach out to persons who are experiencing challenges physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. We are to love God with the whole of our humanity. We are to love our neighbors who seek wholeness and serenity in their lives.

At this time in your life, how are you called to grow in whole-hearted love of God? How are you being called to love others in a way that helps them to come to wholeness?


October 28, 2018: There is Seeing and There is Seeing

Throughout the gospels various questions are put on the lips of Jesus. They include, “What are you looking for?” and “Who do you say that I am?” In today’s gospel we hear another one: “What do you want me to do for you?” The question is asked of Bartimaeus, who is blind. At first glance it would seem that the response would be quite obvious. Bartimaeus wants to be able to physically see again. And indeed Jesus heals him of his physical blindness.

But there is another level of meaning happening in this encounter. The physical sight granted to Bartimaeus symbolizes the insight necessary for any follower of Christ. Jesus says, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” The gift of faith helps all of us to “see” and experience the healing and saving way that Christ is toward us all the time. Imagine that Christ is asking you this important question. In the context of faith, how would you respond?


October 21, 2018: The Throne of Grace

The Throne of Grace

Our second reading at Sunday Mass for a stretch of weeks is from the Letter to the Hebrews. The author is unknown. It is different in format from Paul's various letters. It is really more of treatise or reflection on the mystery of Christ. Throughout this New Testament book Jesus is called the great high priest. In the Old Testament the priests were the ones who sacrificed lambs, pigeons, and other animals to God as atonement for sins. Jesus' own sacrifice on the cross makes it unnecessary to keep offering these sacrifices. He is the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our atonement with God.

In every celebration of the Eucharist we re-present ourselves to this saving mystery of Christ. "We approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help" as it says in today's reading. What is it like for you to approach the throne of grace?


 Fr. Tom Krenik


October 14, 2018: Are You Ready for the Answer?

Someone ran up to Jesus with great excitement and enthusiasm and knelt before him. He asked Jesus what he must do. It becomes a dramatic encounter. “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” and told him what he must do. Jesus affirmed the person’s sincerity and integrity. Jesus asked him to let go of some things so that he could more fully embrace someone. Jesus invited him into his company. But in the next scene the person’s “face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” He became gloomy and dark.

This gospel text calls each of us to do a self-examination. What is more valuable and important to me? Possessions or relationships? The things I own or my relationship with Christ? Focusing only on myself and what I want or allowing myself to be a channel of God’s mercy and love and peace?

Prayerfully imagine yourself as this person running up to Jesus. For what would you ask? What would Jesus say? How would you respond?

 Fr. Tom Krenik


October 7, 2018: Back to the Beginning

Back To the Beginning

The Bible begins and ends with wedding imagery. In Genesis we are told how God creates men and women in the image and likeness of God. In today’s Genesis reading we hear how a man and a woman become one flesh in the experience of marriage. The Book of Revelation ends with imagery of the wedding day of the Lamb. It points us to the intimate relationship between God and God’s people, between Christ and the Church.

In today’s gospel, Jesus takes us back to the beginning when Pharisees question him about marriage and divorce. Jesus asks them and us to uphold God’s original design for men and women in Christian marriage. He also asks for an honest look for any hardness of hearts. Such “sclerosis” of the heart must be tempered with mercy and compassion – which also originate with God.

What married couples stand out for you as examples of the unity and equality that are at the heart of Christian marriage? How does God’s mercy soften your heart?


September 30, 2018: What To Do and What Not To Do

What To Do and What Not To Do

The Liturgy of the Word today has a simple yet challenging message for us: accept the good service of others – even if they are not “one of us” and eliminate the root causes of sin in our lives.

In both the first reading and the gospel marvelous spirit-led things happen through people who are not formally part of the expected group to do such wonderful things. Moses and Jesus both say, “do not try to stop them.” This Biblical teaching is echoed in the Vatican II document titled Declaration On the Relation of the Church To Non-Christian Religions: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these non-Christian religions. It has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from its own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth that enlightens all men and women” (n. 2). 

We need to be careful not to stifle what originates with God in people whose culture or religion is different from ours. What we can and must do is cooperate with God to get at the root of our prejudice, intolerance, jealousy, envy, and selfishness so that God can do the purifying work of healing in the root of such evils.

When have you experienced someone very different from you doing good for others? How does God help you to get at the root of sin in your life?

Fr. Thomas W. Krenik, Pastor

September 23, 2018: The Mystery of Faith

The Mystery of Faith

One of the common threads of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) is a literary technique of three announcements of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection spread throughout the gospel. Today we hear the second of those three announcements in Mark’s gospel. This is a way of emphasizing this mystery. It is at the heartbeat of our Christian faith.

This paschal mystery is the core of each celebration of the Eucharist. We call to mind this saving mystery. We represent ourselves to the saving effects of Jesus’ death and resurrection for us, for our good, for our salvation. At each Mass, after the institution narrative of the Last Supper, the priest sings, “The mystery of faith.” We all sing one of three acclamations. Lately we have been singing, “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.”

What helps you to keep in mind this saving mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection?


September 16, 2018: A Real Question. A Real Response.

A Real Question. A Real Response.

Throughout the gospel Jesus asks important questions. Today he asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Next month we will hear the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” They were real questions asked of his first disciples. They are also real questions for us as we hear them proclaimed in our Eucharistic assembly. They are not mere rhetorical questions. They demand a response on our part.

Today Peter speaks for all of us when he responds, “You are the Christ.” The question and response format is meant to create a conversation, a dialogue between Christ and us. Our response comes from our experience of the Risen Christ in our lives. Our response is born of our relationship with Christ. Imagine Christ asking you today, “Who do you say that I am?” How would you respond?


Fr. Tom Krenik


September 2, 2018: The Inside and the Outside

The Inside and the Outside

“They who do justice will live in the presence of God.” So we sing again and again in the psalm today as a way of keeping this Word of God close to our mind and our heart. Biblical justice weaves throughout both of the Testaments. Justice in God’s eyes is about being in right relationship with God, self, and others. It is about letting God do re-creating work within us to make these relationships right.

In the gospel Jesus emphasizes how good actions and bad actions on our part have their origin within us. Constant interior cleansing and renewal are necessary. The letter of James reminds us, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” Our actions of love and service demonstrate the rightness of relationships with God, self, and others.

What interior renewal does God want to do in your life? How are you called to be a “doer” of God’s Word?                                               


August 26, 2018: Decision Time

There is a clear sense in the Word of God today of the importance of making a purposeful choice and decision to serve God and to be in Christ’s company. Joshua boldly acclaims before the people: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (There were all kinds of other “gods” that they could serve.) The people gathered together basically make the same acclamation as their leader Joshua. In the gospel Jesus asks the haunting question of the Twelve: “Do you want to leave me too?” (Some people found Jesus’ teachings too hard to accept.) Peter speaks for the group about their desire and decision to follow Christ.

Sometimes life can seem like we are traveling along on a choo-choo train or going in circles on a merry-go-round. There is a mindlessness about it. Something seems to be taking us along and we are passive participants. Today we are reminded that we are to be active participants in the journey of faith and life. We need to make a conscious, whole-hearted decision to follow Christ and to serve the Lord faithfully by loving God and our neighbor.

How deep is your decision to follow Christ in this twenty-first century? With all the other “gods” around us, what helps you to serve the Lord God?


August 19, 2018: To Taste and See

Both last Sunday and today the Psalm is number 34 with the repeated refrain, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” It is a way of emphasizing this imagery during these summer days when we ponder the meaning of the Bread of Life Discourse from John’s gospel proclaimed in our assembly.

The human sense of taste is a wonderful experience. It slows us down so that we can savor and delight in what we are eating. It makes the process of eating more than a functional or even mechanical experience of trying to fill our stomachs. To taste and savor our food makes the experience something deeper, something more meaningful. It helps us to cherish the goodness of our meal and the pleasure of dining. In the Eucharist we taste of God’s goodness in the sacrament we share.

How does the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist help you to taste and see the goodness of the Lord?

August 12, 2018: A Broom Tree or The Bread of Life

Today we hear a rather silly story about Elijah sitting under a broom tree in the desert. As the name suggests, a broom tree is small, spindly and doesn’t provide much shade. Elijah is mad and disillusioned that things have not gone his way. People are not responding with joy and enthusiasm to his prophetic words. He even prays for death! An angel touches him and encourages him to get up, eat, and be nourished so that he can continue the journey.

Have you ever felt like sitting under a broom tree, frustrated and disappointed that things haven’t gone your way? Perhaps you have found strength and encouragement from other people or directly from God. It may even have felt like a divine messenger was touching you. This is one of the ways we experience Jesus being the Bread of Life as he reminds us again in today’s gospel. Bread that nourishes and Life that is somehow deep and meaningful.


August 5, 2018: Bread from Heaven

Today we hear Jesus acclaim: “I am the Bread of Life.” This is one of several “I am” statements of Jesus in John’s gospel. The evangelist uses this literary device as a way of manifesting to us who the Lord Jesus Christ is for us. It follows the marvelous multiplication of the loaves and fish to feed a hungry crowd. It points us to each celebration of Eucharist as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ.


The refrain for today’s psalm (number 78) is “The Lord gave them bread from heaven.” This psalm links the teaching of the gospel with the first reading’s story of the ancient Israelites being fed with manna that mysteriously falls from the heavens upon the earth during the night. The heaven-sent mana and the heaven-sent Bread of Life are dramatic ways in which God’s loving care is showered upon us.

How does the celebration of the Eucharist help you to know God’s loving and nourishing way toward us? How can you help other people to appreciate God’s nourishing and sustaining care?

July 29, 2018: Satisfying Human Hunger

Today we hear one of six versions of the story of the multiplication of the loaves of bread and fish that appear in the gospels. Six narrations of the event tells us a lot about its significance at that time and its importance as a way of showing how Christ is toward us in all kinds of hungers. This will be followed with four Sunday gospels readings from the sixth chapter of John’s gospel. It is called the Bread of Life discourse.

In John’s version of this scene (which we hear today), Jesus himself distributes the loaves and fish to the crowd. In the other gospels Jesus asks his disciples to distribute them. Both approaches demonstrate God’s compassion for those who hunger. This includes physical hunger as well as hunger for spiritual nourishment, meaning, hope, and the truth.

What hungers does the Lord satisfy in you? How does God want to use you to help satisfy the hunger of others?


July 22, 2018: How the Lord Shepherds Us

The imagery of the Lord being our Shepherd weaves throughout the Liturgy of the Word today – from the prophet Jeremiah, in Psalm 23, and in the gospel. Shepherds were very commonplace in Biblical times. This is a good example of how Jesus and the Scripture writers used things in everyday life to help us appreciate how God is toward us.

Psalm 23 gives us word-picture of three ways in which the Lord is our Good Shepherd: he goes ahead of us, leading and guiding; he is right by our side to give comfort and courage; he follows behind with goodness and kindness and peace. So there is this sense of literally being surrounded by the Lord’s presence as we journey in faith, hope, and love.

How do you know the presence of Lord as the Good Shepherd in your life? How is God inviting you to be with people in a shepherding way?

July 15, 2018: We Are Other Christs

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2782) we find this marvelous sentence: "We can adore the Father because he has caused us to be reborn to his life by adopting us as his children in his only Son: by Baptism, he incorporates us in the Body of his Christ; through the anointing of his Spirit who flows from the head to the members, he makes us other 'Christs'."

The Catechism gives us the theological meaning of being baptized and confirmed persons. The gospel today gives us a sense of what this looked like for the Twelve apostles and what it looks like for us. Christ gives us authority. We represent him. We are to help bring hope and healing to other people.

When has someone been a Christ to you? When have you realized that you have been another Christ to someone?

July 8, 2018: The Sufficiency of Grace

In today’s Mass, we hear St. Paul telling us about his experience of what he calls “a thorn in the flesh.” He does not tell us exactly what he meant. It leaves us to wonder, was it something physical, psychological, and spiritual? Three times he asks the Lord Jesus to remove it from his life experience. Then he hears the divine message: “My grace is sufficient for you.” In his weakness, Paul becomes more keenly aware of the strong presence of Christ in his life.

There are times we experience such a “thorn.” We might describe it as “a pain in the neck.” It is bothersome and we would like to get rid of it. Like Paul, we need to welcome the strong and saving presence of Christ who is present to us in our weaknesses. Then our emphasis is on Christ’s loving presence and accompaniment with us rather than complaining about our troubles.

When have you sensed Christ saying to you, “my grace is sufficient for you”?


July 1, 2018: The Healing Touch of Christ Jesus

Today’s gospel includes two marvelous healing stories – a twelve year old girl whois at the point of death and a woman who has been suffering with hemorrhages for twelve years. The number twelve is significant. It signifies the new people of Israel, the new people of God, the community of believers living today. Through Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, God has the power to bring us healing and to raise us up.

The sense of touch is involved in both healings. Jesus took the girl by the hand and raised her up. The woman reached out and touched the cloak of Jesus. This healing touch of Jesus is part of the celebration of the sacrament of anointing of the sick today. The risen Christ continues to reach out and touch us in a healing and hopeful way.

When have you experienced the presence of Christ reaching out to you? When have you been an instrument of the healing touch of Christ reaching out to other people?





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