From the Pastor – May 18, 2014

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (Acts 2:37-39)

Somebody was recently telling me that, although he didn’t come to Sunday Mass at St. Stephen, he did pick up the bulletin and read my “sermons.” After being assured that he did go to Sunday Mass, just somewhere else, I told him that these bulletin reflections are rarely connected to my Sunday homilies. Although they can be my first thoughts on the Gospel or another one of the readings, there are only rare similarities between this column and the Sunday homily.

This is one of the more typical reflections. I plan on preaching this Sunday about the Gospel, which is about Jesus “preparing a place” for his disciples in John 14:1-12. However, the second reading for Sunday, of which a portion is above, really struck me. Although the last month has been extremely busy and sad with so many deaths and funerals, this week has been a real week of blessings for me. It’s not been anything in particular; in fact, my fishing trip planned for Monday got cancelled because of wind and dirty water. It’s just that I’ve really seen the Holy Spirit working in the lives of so many parishioners with whom I’ve met.

And so this little reading – some of which I actually expressed in my brief weekday Mass homily this morning – really struck me. It’s hard for us to understand how important we are to God. It’s really almost impossible to realize just how much He loves us. We usually get “theological” about it by looking at the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Or we get “material” about it by looking at our earthly blessings. Or we get “emotional” about it by experiencing God’s love in our families and friends.

When I read the passage above, I didn’t think of it in “theological” way. I thought: “Here’s St. Peter writing to his friends and saying ‘do you even realize how much God loves you? Look what He did to help you understand that!’ ” Basically, St. Peter is being “real” in looking at the love of God in the person of Jesus. He saw first hand how Christ suffered and died; he saw the Resurrected Christ; he was a witness to the Ascension; and he was present at Pentecost. We’re in the midst of these celebrations, and this week has been a week of seeing God’s love working first hand.

So let me just ask one thing: “Do you even realize how much God loves you?! More than you can imagine!

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty