Thursday, January 26, 2017

"Send us out to be your hands and feet." OT4

“Send us out to be your hands and feet.”

The gospel of the 4th Sunday of ordinary time continues to be taken from Matthew.  Today we hear from Jesus’ sermon on the mount where he shares the beatitudes.

The beatitudes have been reflected in the music we have sung the past 2 weeks of ordinary time.  Today, I have chosen Matt Maher’s Unwavering as a prelude.  Click here for the lyrics

The verses of unwavering point towards the beatitudes.  The refrain, which contains the songs title, speaks of God’s consistency.  The bridge (the words are at the top of this page) connecting the two relates to our call as Christians.

Maher’s music and ability to lead worship have made him a popular figure both in concert and Christian gatherings.  Here is an excerpt from an early interview:

“It (my life experience) has given me a heart for two things: One is to interact with culture more and another is to be a vehicle for unity. …I feel like there have to be people who are willing to just stand in the gap between Christian thought, and society. We are supposed to be in the world but not of the world.  My mandate as a Christian is not to retreat, but to be a light…. everybody is called to be a missionary wherever we are. The mission field has changed. The mission field is everywhere.”

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

Teresa of Ávila

Blessed to be at St. Mary’s,


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today is the first of 6 weeks where we will hear from chapters 3, 4 and 5 of Matthew’s Gospel.  

In a pattern similar to during advent, the lectionary pairs these portions of Matthew’s gospel to the prophecies Isaiah to which they refer.  

Today’s pairing makes it clear; Jesus is the light that has arisen for the people who sit in darkness and dwell in a land overshadowed by death.  

Today’s gospel reading also contains several important elements which we will continue to hear throughout the upcoming weeks.

1.       Jesus preaches   
2.       Jesus calls
3.       Jesus heals


The United States Conference Council of Bishops (USCB) has produced a statement that takes it’s name from the readings which we will be hearing over the next 6 weeks.  The document is titled: Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish.

Here are just a few highlights from my initial reading:

1.       To be Christian means to be actively involved in Christ's mission

2.       The local parish is where this work begins

3.        As Catholics we are called to reach beyond our own community.

Jesus is calling us to bring  His light to the world - The work of Christmas begins.

Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary's,


Monday, January 9, 2017

The Work of Christmas Begins

“Blessed are they who are poor in spirit.” 

                                                                      Matthew 5:3 

Today the liturgical calendar begins an 8 week stretch of ordinary time connecting the seasons of Christmas and Lent. 

With the exception of today; the gospel for the next 7 weeks, is taken from chapters 4, 5 and 6 of Matthew’s gospel. 

These chapters will be familiar to many as they contain Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

A well-known element of the Sermon on the Mount is the Beatitudes. 
These 8 aphorisms have been the focus of my prayer and musical preparation.

They are also where my job as music director and position of interim chair of social concerns intersect. 

Today, and over the next 7 weeks I plan on using the song “We Are the Light of the World (#595) as the recessional hymn. 

We will sing just one verse each week as each verse focuses on one of the beatitudes. 

This week’s verse may (found at the top of this blog) may the most perplexing. 

How can being poor in spirit be a blessing? 

Here’s something I found that might help. 

When we come to God, we must realize our own sin and our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are, God cannot bless us. 

The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). 

Fr. Rich has been having the staff pray a prayer by Howard Thurman titled; “The Work of Christmas Begins.” I have a feeling you’ll be hearing and/or seeing it soon. 

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman

My hope is that our worship will lead us to begin the work of Christmas here at St. Mary’s. 



The Epiphany of the Lord

Star of Wonder, star of night… 
Guide us to thy Perfect Light 

Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. 

The word itself comes from the Greek; epiphaneia meaning manifestation or appearance. 

Matthew’s gospel tells the story: magi from the east follow the star and come looking for the newborn king. They bring the rarest and most precious of gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh and offer him homage (praise.) 

One might say an epiphany is an “aha moment.” Despite the humble surroundings, this is no ordinary baby. It’s not even an ordinary king. This is God’s Son! 

Today’s prelude; A Child is Born (#99) has several references to the Epiphany of Our Lord. 

The refrain connects the song to today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah. The Christ-child is the light which breaks the darkness that covers the earth. 

The verses speak of our theological understanding of the divinity of the Christ-child. While Jesus is born of Mary, he is "begotten by the Father." Verse 2 and 3 speak of an even more special relationship between God the Father and God the Son. "The Word in flesh appearing" and "Word of God Incarnate" are references to John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. This means that Jesus is, was and always has been part of God since the beginning of time. 

You will also find references to this relationship in the creed which we profess. 


With Christmas falling on a Sunday, so does the Solemnity of Mary, Queen of the Universe (January 1) Thus, Epiphany becomes the last of just 3 Sundays in this year’s Christmas season. Some will find this interesting. For a church musician it is akin to the stars being aligned. 

Praying that many wonderful things appear in your lives and the life of our parish in 2017. 


Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Day

The LORD bless you and keep you!

The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The LORD look upon you kindly and

give you peace!

So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,

and I will bless them."

                                                          Numbers 6:24-26

On Monday, December 19, I sat down to the most recent episode of a show that I have been watching “religiously” for years:  “60 minutes.”   As I pushed the button of my remote I was reminded of the promos I saw on the NFL on CBS the previous day.   I looked forward to the segment that appeared to be a choir singing to Pope Francis on his 80th birthday.  

The segment I saw did not contain giddy choristers and a smiling pontiff in a white hat.  This segment was about other men wearing white hats or more precisely; white helmets.  These men were Syrians.  They came together to excavate people buried alive in airstrikes the Syrian government is inflicting on its’ own people.  The volunteers in white helmets rush to where the strike occurs looking for signs of life; an arm or a hand, the sound of breathing.  They then begin to dig furiously in an effort to save the life lying in the rubble. 

As I watched the television my pulse rose and my mind raced.  I knew that I had to write about this and I had to do it soon.  The question was when.


It is now Wednesday, December 21st: the deadline for today’s bulletin.  I turn to the scripture readings we will hear proclaimed today and am distracted by a note:  

Since 1967 the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God has been designated  “World Day for Peace.”
I need to write about Syria, right now!

I try to read today’s first reading (see the quote above) through the eyes of a Syrian.  I read Paul’s words to the Galatians and ask myself, “If Christ has made all heirs and adopted sons and daughters of God are not these Syrians equally blessed by the God of the Israelites?


I’m not saying that I am going to put on a white helmet and go to Syria.  

However, I must do something today…  and tomorrow I need to do something more ….  and the next day something more….and when that’s done, something more.   

I am also saying that we as a parish community will not be fully who God is calling us to be until we are a 100% missional church. 

This is not a call to divert all our energy and resources to Syria.  

I’m saying that St. Mary’s won’t be who God is calling us to be until each of us does something for God’s children somewhere…  and tomorrow each of us does something more ….  and the next day something more….and when that’s done, something more.

One thing we can all do right now is pray.  I’ve included “Day of Peace” (#523) in today’s music.   It is a simple and beautiful prayer for God’s children of all ages.  It is a prayer for those living in Syria, Singapore or Centre Street.   My prayer is that you will see and hear it through the eyes and ears of someone in need.

Looking forward to 2017 at St. Mary’s,



Contact me at or at the parish office if you’d like to be part of the Social Concerns mission.

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