Category Archives: Uncategorized
We need your input!
As you may know, starting next week, we will conduct a comprehensive survey of the entire parish. This planning study follows an extensive process that helped produce our parish master plan. Before making any final decisions regarding the long-range plan for Holy Family, we need to hear from you.
I will ask everyone to share their thoughts regarding our needs and the possibility of conducting a major fundraising effort. Your feedback will enable us to determine potential support for our master plan projects. If we, as a faith community, choose to move forward, the planning study will also provide us with information to identify prospective campaign leaders and to establish a realistic campaign goal.
The Steier Group, our development firm, will compile this information and present it to parish leadership. At that time, we will make an informed decision regarding the implementation of our master plan.
I believe that this process is extremely important, and I encourage every parish family to participate. Your input is valuable as we plan our future at Holy Family.
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
Introduction: Today’s readings teach us that true happiness, or beatitude, lies in the awareness that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father and that we will be happy only when we share our blessings with our brothers and sisters in need and work to uplift them, thus declaring our “option for the poor,” as Jesus did. Contrary to the popular belief, wealth, health, power and influence are not the source of true happiness. The word “beatitude” means “blessedness” in a double sense: both enjoying God’s favor and enjoying true or supreme happiness.
Scripture lessons: In the first reading, Jeremiah tells us that true happiness consists in our placing our trust in God and in putting our trust in His promises. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 1), finds beatitude in keeping God’s Law. In the second reading St. Paul warns us that true beatitude is obtainable only in Heaven and that Christ’s Resurrection gives us our assurance of reaching Heaven for an everlasting life of happiness. In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples in the paradoxical blessedness of poverty, hunger, sorrow and persecution. “Blessed are those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, insulted and denounced,” because in poverty, we recognize our dependence on God; in hunger, God’s providence; in sorrow for sins, reconciliation with God; and in persecution, the true joy of standing for the Faith with heroic convictions. What makes one blessed is not simply poverty or hunger or sadness or suffering for the Faith but living these in the context of our commitment to Jesus and his spirit of sharing. The beatitudes must be understood as eschatological statements which see and evaluate the present in terms of the future glory and everlasting happiness.
Life Messages: 1) We need to respond to the challenge of the beatitudes in our daily life. Millions are starving, persecuted, homeless, and leading hopeless lives. The only way the promises of the beatitudes can become a reality for them is through the efforts of people like us. Hence, let us remember that each time we reach out to help the needy, the sick and the oppressed, we share with them a foretaste of the promises of the beatitudes here and now. 2) Let us light a candle instead of blaming the political set-up. God knows that 50% of His children are hungry, 80% live in substandard housing and 70% have no education. If over half our children were hungry, cold and uneducated, how would we respond to their suffering? God wants us to live as brothers and sisters who care for one another. 3) We must take care to choose our way wisely. “There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the two Ways.” These are the opening lines of the “Didache” a first century Christian catechism used to teach new Christians the essence of the Christian Faith. The way of life and true happiness is the way of Jesus, the way of the beatitudes, the way of rendering loving service to God by serving our brothers and sisters.
OT V [C] (Feb 10 /2019): Is 6: 1-2a, 3-8; I Cor 15: 1-11; Luke 5:1-11
Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is God’s call to a person, and the positive response to this call which leads the person to discipleship. As in our own lives, that call has three steps: 1) The revelation of God Himself, or of Jesus’ identity as the One sent from God 2) The recognition and confession of one’s unworthiness and inadequacy to receive this call. 3) The word of reassurance from God, or Jesus, and a call to share in his life-giving mission. Today’s readings tell us that God has His own criteria for selecting people to be prophets and ministers. Presenting the special calls, or vocations, of Isaiah, Paul and Peter as life-changing events, the readings challenge us to examine our own personal calls to conversion and discipleship.
Scripture lessons: Isaiah, in the first reading, and Peter, in today’s gospel, express their unworthiness to be in the presence of God’s great holiness, and Peter and Isaiah both immediately receive their divine calls. Today’s second reading describes the call of another great apostle, Paul, who judges himself to be unworthy of the name or the call as he was a former persecutor of the Christians. It was by giving these three men a strong conviction of their unworthiness and of their need for total dependence on His grace that God prepared them for their missions. The Second Vatican Council teaches that we are all called to ministry by our Baptism into Jesus Christ.
“I don’t think I’ll be there.” Reverend Billy Graham tells of a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was. When the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Baptist church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to heaven.” “I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy said. “Why?” Billy Graham asked him. “Because you don’t even know your way to the post office! How can you show me the way to heaven?” Today’s readings tell us about the calls of the prophet Isaiah, Paul, and Peter to God’s ministry.
Life Messages: 1) We need to pray that our encounters with the holiness of God may lead us to recognize our sinfulness. God, who calls us and commissions us for His service, wants us to realize His presence everywhere and in everyone, to repent of our sins and to remain in readiness to speak and act for Him in our life circumstances as He shall direct.
2) We need to teach and practice expressions of reverence for the Lord. We need to express our reverence for God through appropriate bodily gestures. For example, when we come into church we need to show reverence for Jesus’ presence in the tabernacle by making a deep bow or by genuflecting and blessing ourselves with sign of the cross. Then we need to honor Him by listening to the word of God and by actively participating in the liturgy’s prayers and singing. This same sense of reverence can be expressed by keeping the Bible, God’s living word to us, in a prominent place in our homes and by kissing it each time we read from it. True reverence for God naturally leads us to the reverent, respectful love of our neighbors as God dwells in them.
3) Each of us has a unique mission in the Church. Therefore, God has a different call for each of us. Each of us is unique, so each of us has a mission which no one else can fulfill. Let us accomplish this mission by radiating the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus and by participating in the various ministries of our parish.
Greetings in Christ,
As you know, over 50 years ago, our founding members established Holy Family. Since then the parish has served our faith community well. From baptisms, to confirmations, through wedding vows and funerals, Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church remains committed to its people.
We attribute our success to the vision exhibited by our leaders, those individuals who expressed a desire to create the Holy Family Community. Forward-thinking leadership encouraged parishioners to unite in building the church and school in 1965. That same faith-filled spirit led to the construction of a new sanctuary 35 years later.
Today we, our lay leadership and myself, envision steps we must make to ensure we continue the legacy established decades ago. The process of enacting these moves began by establishing a Building Committee in 2017 charged with reviewing our facilities. Their assessment revealed the need to address a few campus upgrades. We followed that decision by hiring an architect early last year. By June 2018 we identified a project manager.
Now our next step is to conduct a planning study – we need to know what you think of our plans. Thus, we hired the Steier Group, a national Catholic fundraising and development firm, to gather your feedback; their work will begin shortly.
You’ll hear much more about the project in the comings weeks, but I want to stress my desire for you to participate in the upcoming study. This is your faith home. You help shape who we are. We, your prayerful leadership, truly need to know your thoughts.
This study is an important step for Holy Family and I graciously ask that when the time comes, you share your thoughts.
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
Greetings in Christ,
While inside the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read the scroll of Isaiah 61. The first reaction of the people was to speak highly of him. But the last portion of the Gospel describes the reaction of the people to what Jesus said about himself being the Messiah. This time Jesus was ready to receive Nazareth’s negative response, for they said “That cannot be. He is Joseph’s son. Everyone knows Jesus and his family. He is just one of us folks, like everyone else.” Their demand was “Take care of your own people first! Why should Jesus heal the gentiles and the Jews of Capernaum while there are many Jews needing help in his own hometown?”
The response of Jesus is like Isaiah referring to the Old Testament at the time of Elijah and Elisha. During a severe famine, Elijah was sent to a poor gentile widow in Zarepath. Elisha was sent by God to heal Naaman, the gentile leper, even though there were many Jewish lepers there. Luke, in telling the story of Nazareth, emphasizes the important theme of universalism. Jesus will fulfill the expectation that God sets forth in the Old Testament, but not necessarily the way the people desire and even expect. God cares equally for the gentiles, as Jesus is sent to save people of all nations. Jesus is Lord of all, not only for the few who claim Him to be their own.
Jesus is the reason for our unity here at Holy Family Parish!
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Fourth Sunday (Feb 3/2019) Jer. 1:4-5, 17-19; 1 Cor. 12:31–13:13; Luke 4:21-30.
Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is that we should have and show the courage of our Christian convictions in our faith and its practice in our communities, even when we face hatred and rejection because of our Christian faith.
Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us how God called Jeremiah as His prophet and equipped him to face opposition and rejection. In his prophetic vocation, which he lived out while encountering rejection and persecution, Jeremiah anticipated Jesus, the greatest of all prophets. In the second reading, we hear Paul speaking with the courage of his convictions in correcting the Corinthian Christian community where the exercise of God’s gifts was causing competition, jealousy and divisiveness. He courageously presents to them a “way” which surpasses all others, namely, the way of love and instructs them to exercise their gifts with love. Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s gospel presenting his own people’s reaction to Jesus’ “Inaugural Address” at the synagogue of Nazareth. The passage shows us how Jesus faced skepticism and criticism with prophetic courage. Jeremiah, Paul and Jesus believed that they were commissioned by God to proclaim a disturbing prophetic message (Jer 1: 4-5, 17-19). No matter how strong the opposition, the three had the conviction that God was with them.
1) We need to face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. Perhaps we have experienced the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, violated trust, neglect or abuse, even from friends and family members, when we reached out to them as God’s agents of healing and saving grace. Perhaps we ourselves are guilty of such rejection. Perhaps we, too, have been guilty of ignoring or humiliating people with our arrogance and prejudice. Let us learn to correct our mistakes and face rejection from others with courage.
2) Let us not, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, reject God in our lives. We reject God when we are unwilling to be helped by God, or by others. Such unwillingness prevents us from recognizing God’s directions, help and support in our lives through His words in the Bible, through the teaching of the Church, and through the advice and examples of others.
3) We need to follow Christ, not political correctness, and to speak the truth of Christ without being hypocritical or disrespectful. We must never remain silent in the face of evil for fear of being thought “politically incorrect.” Jesus taught us to love and respect others without condoning or encouraging sinful behavior. We need to be kind, charitable, honest, forgiving, but clear in speaking out our Christian convictions as Jesus was when he spoke in the synagogue.
Greetings in Christ,
After Jesus’ Baptism in the river Jordan, he returned to regions of Galilee, proclaiming the reign of God and performing miracles. These are pagan territories. Jesus taught in their synagogues very successfully and was praised by all. Jesus was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
From Galilee, Jesus moved to Nazareth, the place where he grew up, extending the story of his mission’s fruitfulness. Entering their synagogue, he stood to read, choosing Isaiah 61, which describes a prophet anointed by the Spirit to bring good news to the poor, embracing corporal works of mercy. Having finished reading the passage from Isaiah, he hands the scroll back to the attendant and sits down. Jesus is “this” prophet mentioned. He utters only one sentence: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus is proclaiming that he is the prophet so designated in Isaiah chapter 61. He is the one who is to come, and in fact he already has come, and his ministry will demonstrate this claim.
This week we continue praying for the awareness of Christ’s presence as the Universal Teacher of the truth, because He is Truth himself. May his presence be recognized and honored in schools as we begin today to celebrate Catholic Schools Week.
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
OT III [C] Neh 8: 2-4, 5-6, 8-10; I Cor. 12:12-30; Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21
Introduction: Today’s gospel, presenting Jesus’ inaugural speech in the synagogue of Nazareth and outlining his theology of total liberation, marks a great moment of Jewish history. The scripture readings for today focus our attention on the importance and liberating power of the Word of God as “sacramental,” making God present in our midst. The readings challenge us to listen to the Word, accept it into our hearts, then put it into practice as we live out our lives, liberating ourselves and others from all types of bondages.
Scripture lessons: Today’s first reading, taken from Nehemiah, and Luke’s gospel both describe a public reading of Sacred Scripture which challenged the hearers to make a “fresh beginning” with a new outlook. In the first reading, after rebuilding the Temple and restoring the city, Ezra was leading the people in a ‘Covenant renewal’ ceremony by reading and interpreting the Law. The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that “Together we are Christ’s body, but each of us is a different part of it.” This suggests that, as different parts of Christ’s body, we each have a share, as his instruments, in bringing the freeing and saving mission of Christ to our world in our times. Today’s gospel describes how, on a Sabbath, Jesus stood before the people in the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth, reading and interpreting what Isaiah had prophesied about the Messiah and his mission. Jesus claims that he is the One sent “to bring glad tidings to the poor, liberation to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom for the oppressed”—language that reflects the Biblical year of Jubilee. To the great amazement and disbelief of his own townsmen, Jesus declared that Isaiah’s prophecy was being fulfilled at that very moment “in your hearing,” because the prophet was foretelling and describing Jesus’ mission and ministry. Jesus’ mission would be to give liberation to everyone who would listen to his “good news,” accept it and put it into practice. Luke reports that the initial reaction of the people was surprise at the power and eloquence of this son of their soil.
Life messages: 1) We need to receive Christ’s freedom, live it and pass it on to others: As members of Christ’s Mystical Body, we share in the freeing, saving mission of Jesus. But we are captives of sin. We need Christ to set us free. We are often blinded by our evil habits, addictions and need for financial security. Once we receive true liberation from Christ, we must share it with those we encounter in our daily lives, families, neighborhoods, parishes and workplaces.
2) We need to let the power of the Holy Spirit fill us, and to be ready to have miracles done through us. Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus performed miracles because he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us be ready to become Spirit-filled instruments of Christ’s saving freedom.
Greetings in Christ,
At the wedding in Cana, Jesus performs His first miracle. Let us remember the role of the Blessed Mother here; she is the one who is very sensitive to the needs of the host family. They feel honored by the presence of their many guests, but come to the point of shame when they run out of wine. Mary shares her concern with Jesus, who asks how this concerns Him. The Blessed Mother is very confident that her Son can do something good for the bridegroom during this time of need. Mary tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you”. They obey Jesus, filling six stone jars with water. The water turns into wine without anyone’s knowledge of how it happens.
This miracle happens to all of us, in troubled times and in good times, when we hear Mary’s voice saying the same words, “Do whatever he tells you”. God speaks to us through our conscience, telling us to do good and to avoid evil. As we follow these words of Jesus in our conscience, Jesus leads us to walk in the ways of God, away from sin – doing good works for God. More than this, God is changing something in each of our hearts and lives, even without our knowledge. Then we find ourselves happily doing favors pleasing to God and to our neighbors. This is like the miracle at Cana happening in our life!
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
Homily – Jan 19/20 [C]): Is 62: 1-5; I Cor 12: 4-11, John 2: 1-11
Introduction: This week we are at a wedding in Cana where Jesus reveals his Divine power by his first miracle, transforming water into wine. The Bible begins with one wedding, that of Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 2:23-24), and ends with another, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9, 21:9, 22:17). Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the Covenant relationship between God and His chosen people. God is the faithful Groom and humanity is His beloved bride. Let us pray for God’s daily miracles in our families.
Scripture lessons summarized: We see this theme beautifully presented in today’s first reading, where Isaiah uses the metaphor of spousal love to describe God’s love for Israel. God’s fidelity to his people is compared to a husband’s fidelity to his wife. Isaiah predicts God’s salvation of Jerusalem after the return of the Babylonian exiles and visualizes it as a wedding between God and Jerusalem. Jesus’ provision of abundant wine for the wedding feast in Cana signifies that the day foreseen by Isaiah has arrived. In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us that the new wine that Jesus pours out for us is the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to his bride. In today’s Gospel, John describes the first of the seven “signs’ by which Jesus showed forth his Divinity. When the wine “ran short,” Jesus’ mother told him about it. At first Jesus seemed to refuse to do anything about it. But later he told the servants to fill six large stone jars with water and take some of the miraculously-made wine to the headwaiter. When they did so, the headwaiter expressed his surprise that such a great wine had been reserved for late use.
Transformation at the hand of Christ: It is said that the writer Leo Tolstoy experienced that kind of transformation. He told about it in a book titled, My Conversion. Tolstoy wrote, “[When] Faith came to me; I believed in Jesus Christ, and all my life suddenly changed. I ceased to desire that which previously I had desired, and on the other hand, I took to desiring what I had never desired before. That which formerly used to appear good in my eyes appeared evil and that which used to appear evil appeared good.” Before his conversion, Tolstoy had acquired fame and fortune through his great writings. But he was unsatisfied. “I fought duels,” he wrote. “I gambled, I wasted my substance wrung from the sweat of peasants and deceived men. Lying, robbery, adultery of all kinds, drunkenness was my life.” His conversion, one of the most dramatic of modern times, gave his life a new purpose, a new meaning and, he affirmed, an abiding satisfaction. [William E. Thorn, Catch the Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1980).] All of us remember the story of the old alcoholic who ended his addiction. When asked about Jesus’ miracle of turning the water into wine replied, “I don’t know about that, but I do know that in my house Jesus changed whiskey into furniture.” Many millions of people over the centuries have experienced that kind of transformation at the hand of Christ. The miracle of Cana gives us that lesson
Life messages: 1) Let us, “invite Jesus and Mary to remain with us in our homes” when we feel shortages in our family lives. The spouses need Jesus and Mary when their dreams are gone, mutual love is dried up, the relationship becomes boring and raising the children becomes a burden draining all their energy. The awareness of the presence of Jesus and Mary in the family will encourage parents to create an atmosphere of prayer, Bible-reading, mutual love and respect with a spirit of forgiveness and sacrificial service at home. It will refresh and renovate family life, removing its boredom.
2) Let us follow Mary’s instruction, “Do whatever He tells you.” This is the only command given by Mary which is recorded in the New Testament, and it is a prerequisite for miracles in our families. The Bible tells us how to do the will of God and effect salvific changes in our daily lives. 3) Just as Jesus filled the empty water jars with wine, let us fill the empty hearts around us with love. By the miracle of Cana, Jesus challenges us also to enrich the empty lives of those around us with the new wine of love, mercy, concern and care. 4) Let us learn to appreciate the miracles of God’s providence in our lives. God, often as an uninvited guest in our families, works daily miracles in our lives by protecting us from physical and moral dangers, providing for our needs, inspiring us and strengthening us with His Holy Spirit. Let us also appreciate the miracle of the Real Presence of the Lord on the altar where God transforms our offering of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.