St. Peter Parish, Pacifica, California

A Reflection For The Week

Past Reflections from our Archives

PENTECOST SUNDAY, SOLEMNITY

Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12,13; John 20:19-23

Reflections from Father Jerry:

Today we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost which concludes the Easter season. Our challenge today is to consider the gifts of the Holy Spirit which were given to the apostles and, today, celebrate that gift to us in order to ‘build up’ our faith and relationship to God.

You may have heard the expression “diamond in the rough”. The most beautiful and largest diamond in the world is the Hope Diamond. Those who gaze upon and enjoy this beautiful jewel are amazed that it was transformed from a huge piece of black coal into an exquisite diamond.

Each of us is a “diamond in the rough.” Just as the diamond is transformed from a huge black piece of coal, God sees the good in us, the beautiful “diamond” that can be transformed.

The apostles, also were amazed and touched as they gazed at the early growth of the church after Jesus was raised from the dead. The Church became a “diamond in the rough”, transforming from a piece of coal over time, to a beautiful jewel through the talents and gifts of its members. The Church needed Pentecost to give the breath of the risen body of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Without Pentecost there would be no transformed ‘sparkle’ of the Church. All the stories of Jesus’ love, sacrifice would be missing the intimacy of salvation. This coming of God provides an intimacy that allows us to call Jesus, God “Brother” through our Baptism. The Holy Spirit gives all of us a communal relationship with Him and with others. The Holy Spirit, through wind and fire, inspires the church’s mission and continues the apostles journey through us from Baptism to Heaven itself.

Enjoying a daily conversation with God allows us to experience that transformation—from coal to diamond. God sees what we don’t. Transformation of the Holy Spirit directs, helps us to cut through the huge pieces of black coal to the exquisite jewel.

Peter’s homily to the 5,000, delivering God’s message to His church continued to attract diverse people all over the world. We know God loves all equally. No matter the time – God invites us to see others as God sees them. We know that without distinction by race, gender or social status, Jesus brings us home.

We know that the role of the Church is to remind us that we are one Spirit, transformed into one Body. The Holy Spirit breathes where it will—transforming us like the Hope Diamond is transformed to an exquisite jewel. The Holy Spirit continues to transform believers; those of us who see the lump of coal but also the potential for transformation into an exquisite jewel.

We are invited, challenged to consider the openness of the Holy Spirit carefully and look for ways we can transform from a simple piece of coal into the beautiful, exquisite jewel that we are in God’s eyes.

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD, SOLEMNITY

Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20

Reflections from Father Jerry:

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension and, coincidentally, the secular celebration of Mother’s Day. Today’s scripture invites us, challenges us to consider how we have experienced a sense of loss in our lives and how that experience fits into our lives today. Shakespeare’s Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing says “Everyone cannot master a grief but he that has it”. At the Feast of Ascension we share the grief of the apostles as Jesus slips from their sight. We share their loss of loss, their grief, their pain.

In the past weeks, we have walked and talked with Jesus. We have shared that closeness, that intimacy was a joy beyond what the disciples thought possible. We shared their deep sense of loss. Jesus was ready to take his seat at the right hand of the Father. He returned with a deep sense of contentment.

Jesus became one of us because God wanted us to be free of the inherited sins of Adam and Eve. Jesus suffered pain, tribulation. But He remained faithful, obedient and loyal to His mission, to his faith.

As followers, we are commissioned to the same mission as the disciples who looked up into the sky. We abide with the unique gifts bestowed on us by God. We too are sent to share today’s goodness – right now. We do so when we bring a bright smile to a sad face, we do it when we change sadness to joy. We do it with a simple greeting, with a comforting sound, a gift of hope bringing light to the world. We offer a kind word to a friend who is grieving over the loss of a spouse.

Jesus sends us to go forth and serve others in His name. God sends the Holy Spirit to bring light and meaning us to us. We go on with Jesus’ memory in our hearts and souls with the knowledge that one day we will join in His glory.

Today, we are challenged to reflect on how our sense of loss fits into our faith.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Acts 9:26-31; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8
Whoever remains in me and in him will bear much fruit.

From Father Jerry’s Homily….

When we think of ‘bitter fruit’ we often think of lemons, limes, unripened grapes because they are so bitter. In the Old Testament, the symbol of the vine often represents God’s people, the people of Israel. God’s people, who as the choice vine are lead from Egypt to the Land of Promise, where they took deep roots and filed the land. In the Old Testament, this symbol was not always fruitful. In Isaiah God tended the vineyard but the yield also produced ‘rotten grapes’.

Jesus tells us how to avoid bearing bad fruit—or no fruit. He says “I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. They have a mutual dependency and without God and his Son the vine cannot flourish. The grower needs the vine, the relationship is intimate.

A wonderful example of this mutual dependency is reflected in the story of Helen Keller. Due to a fever in infancy, she became blind and deaf, cut off from visual and oral input. She grew into a feral child. She communicated through guttural sounds and wild gestures. Luckily, Ann Sullivan, who was legally blind, was asked to be her tutor. Through patience and persistence, by connecting through body sensations and with sign language in her hand, Ann Sullivan was able to reach her. Playwright and novelist William Gibson brought the story of Helen Keller to us where we learned how she connected the feeling of water with the spelling of water in her hand essentially brings Helen, a withered branch, to life.

Ultimately Helen Keller sees the full of humanity of life and demands to know more. A human vine when well tended goes on to bear much fruit. Helen becomes an author, an activist and lecturer. The message here is that with Jesus, we needn’t fear that the vine will not offer abundant life. We need to stay connected to Him and that is why we gather together to share the Eucharist.

We have three challenges to reflect on in the coming days:

1. Do we experience Jesus as a vital source of our entire life?
2. Do we tender loving care of this source of God’s love daily?
3. Are there aspects of our own lives where we ourselves may be withering?

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:8-12; 1 John 3:-1-2; John 10:11-18

From Father Jerry’s Homily….

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday”. This year the Gospel comes to us from the Gospel of John where Jesus lays down his life for his sheep. Hopefully, we find encouragement by this news. In the Old Testament, however, the ‘shepherd’ is not always represented as a positive image.

Ezekiel denounces the ‘bad shepherd’. The shepherds targeted by Ezekiel work for pay and have no concern for their sheep and certainly no interest in laying down their lives for their sheep.

In the Gospel of John, however, the shepherd image is clear. It presents Jesus as a good shepherd who is caring, vigilant and a protector. Even after Calvary, Jesus presents Peter as his successor as “Pastor” which means “shepherd”. Shortly thereafter, 5,000 people who receive the Word of Jesus through Peter “join the flock”.

A beautiful illustration of this caring, vigilance and protection today is the experience of parenthood. The best parents are caring, vigilant, protectors….and they love each of their children equally. How many of us have heard our parents say “you are all my favorites”? Yesterday, during the First Communion celebration, several of our children who received their First Communion Sacrament, several of whom are here today, were asked “what do you think was the happiest moment in your parents’ lives”. One child answered “when a baby is born”. This humble response is correct but in truth each child brought great joy to their parents. So, each parent believes each child is their favorite—and they mean it.

Children bring a uniqueness that is remarkable. Through sports, as a “book worm”, a “tom boy” or a child with a delicate constitution, they are each loved in equal measure. Most parents’ hearts are full of love even when their children go astray. For example, a Dean of a college once called a father to tell him his child was in trouble. The father’s response was: “I don’t want to interfere with the college discipline program, I don’t want to ‘rescue” him. But I want him to know that we love him and will be there to pick him up when it's over”. This young person is very lucky to have such parents.

This week we are challenged to consider how we are consoled by the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. We should ask ourselves: “How do I recognize God’s voice as the Good Shepherd in my life”