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Pastor's Letter 20220522 - 22 May 2022 - Renewal, Guided by the Holy Spirit

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May 22nd, 2022

Sixth Sunday of Easter


A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Renewal, Guided by the Holy Spirit” 

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

For the most part, the first Christians were Jews, who had recognized Jesus as the Messiah.  They were instilled with a centuries’ old negative attitude toward those who were not also Jewish.  When they preached “The Good News” of Jesus, they utilized Jewish heritage and Scriptures to present Him as the fulfillment of Jewish hopes.  Nonetheless, they saw Christianity as the logical “sequel” of Judaism and raised the issue of the place of those who were outside conventional bonds of the Jewish covenant.  Our First Reading, today (Acts 15:1-2, 22-29,) marks the final appearance of Peter (in Acts,) and from then onward, promotes Paul as the primary missionary figure.  Two distinct factions arose at this time: those who believed Gentiles must go to Christ through Moses—sometimes called “Judaizers;”—and those who did not understand Christianity to be contingent on the Jewish matrix, or relevant to their belief in Jesus.  Faith in Jesus was the keystone, overriding centuries of heritage and hate, bringing together all people to the same Eucharistic table.


Thoreau dreamed of “Walden,” and Huxley imagined a “Brave New World,” but neither could compare to the Holy City that John envisioned for his contemporaries (Revelation 21:1-23.)  Writing at a time when the earthly Jerusalem had already been razed (ca. 70 a.d.,) he “sees” the new city as one constructed, not by architects and masons of stone and mortar, but by God, Himself, built with/upon His people.  Liberally using the cosmic number “12” (i.e. Tribes, Apostles, months, Zodiac signs,) John makes it clear that the Holy City and its inhabitants would be ascribed to God, not astral movements.  It would be built on apostolic preaching and teaching, wherein all activities would be permeated by holiness—without tensions between Church and state, nor between the dark and light sides of human nature.  It would be illuminated by the glory of God and His revelation.  


In John’s Gospel, we learn that Jesus wished to bequeath peace and the Paraclete as gifts to His own, to be experienced by them after His departure.  Together, they would make Christian life possible and their trials survivable (John 14:23-28.)  The traditional Jewish greeting, “Peace-shalom,” characterized brothers and sisters as a covenanted people living in general completeness, and perfection, in which nothing is lacking.  It was seen as a wish for abundance and prosperity to all mankind.  Because of Jesus, and through the work of the apostles, peace, with its healing governance, was to be the hallmark of the awaited King and His Kingdom on earth.  Like peace, the Paraclete/Holy Spirit was given as an abiding Gift to the Church, sent to His disciples by the Father.  His role would be to provide an ongoing understanding and interpretation of all of God’s revelations to His people, and an ongoing, creative exploitation of the Holy Gospel.  

Peace in the Midst of Turmoil

Like a massive beast with feet of clay and angel’s wings, the Church is an institution at once both human and divine.  Even when the friction of opposing free wills ignites controversy, the Spirit of God is present to bring about compromise and accord; and to fulfill Jesus’ promise with possibilities of growth and unity among His followers.

For some, “peace” is represented by dreamy landscapes with rolling hills and lakes, without one ripple on the surface.  Such a scene evokes contentment and stillness.  To others, it might be better be represented by  a realistic, thundering waterfall crashing to the rocks below it.  Yet, amid the fury of the onrushing water, we might find small, budding plants, peeking out from behind the base of the falls, and a sparrow’s nest, within which a small bird closely guards her eggs in the mist.  This contrast of power and serenity could be seen to be analogous of our bustling world— with peace conveyed amidst the natural chaos of life.  

Peace is a communion with God, and Jesus was in perfect, peaceful communion with His Father at the Last Supper, in spite of the turmoil around Him.  Peace isn’t the same as tranquility—an external factor.  It is a state of inner calm and designates “right relations” with the Creator.  Righteousness is an essential component of peace, and so it is said there is “no peace for the wicked!”  

If we are at peace with our God, we can find contentment even when surrounded by conflict and unresolved problems.  Jesus didn’t offer us His peace in order to escape from reality, but to bask in its deep contentment, independent of outer circumstances.  His peace is something that the world cannot give us, and when we have it, cannot be taken away.  Peace is God’s gift to us, but it  is also our gift to one another. 

My Favorite Poem

I discovered “Desiderata” sometime in the late 1950s, as part of my youthful research into American poetry.  From that time, it has been part of my most treasured literary works, and forming no small part of my optimistic outlook on life.  

Authored during the 1920s by Max Ehrmann, its origins have been confused due to its inclusion in some devotional materials by the Reverend Frederick Cates, rector of Old St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore, MD, in 1967.  (The compilation included the church’s foundation date [1692,] which was taken as the time of its composition.)  However, it has been for me, and for many people, the world over, a source of inspiration and meditation.  I humbly include it here, as poignant for today’s theme:


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

 Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

 Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. 

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

~~Max Ehrmann, ca. 1927~~

May God Richly Bless You!

Spirit of God.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:



Spirit of God.docx

Edited by Father Michael
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