Fr. Kelly

Our Sunday Journal is a brief reflection on the scripture readings of the day by Father Kelly, a senior priest in the Diocese of Saginaw.

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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 2, 2015
JN 6:24-35

That line, delivered (actually shouted) from the witness stand in a military courtroom by Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men” is part of Hollywood history. That courtroom scene has become legendary, certainly because of the skill of the actors, but also, possibly, because it prompts us to ponder whether or not we can…”handle the truth.”

One of the truths that we see in the Book of Exodus is that the people were quick to forget the misery and degradation of slavery, and equally as quick to forget how God, through Moses, liberated them. The same held true with Jesus’s followers. His popularity spiked after the miraculous event of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. However, as soon as their bellies started to growl again…so did they. I wonder if St. Paul’s ratings took a hit after the Ephesians read his letter telling them that they needed to give up the lifestyles to which they had grown accustomed? Could they handle the truth?

Francis echoes Paul in his recent encyclical on the environment. We need to give up our current lifestyles or there will be dire consequences. But this cautionary document has been met with much criticism by many people…even religious leaders. Why? Maybe because, like the Israelites, people have forgotten what misery and degradation comes from slavery to sin…and have also forgotten how God, through Jesus Christ, has liberated us.

In another powerful courtroom scene played out on Good Friday, Pilate asked Jesus: “What is truth?” The Gospel does not report a response. A response was not necessary because Jesus had already identified Himself as The Truth. (John 14:6) So it would seem that if YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH, then…YOU CAN’T HANDLE JESUS CHRIST! St. Paul told the Ephesians the very same thing The Holy Father is telling us today…if you want to be in a genuine relationship with Christ, then you have to change your lifestyle.

The Truth…plain and simple…is that to be in a genuine relationship with The Lord, one must live “in righteousness and holiness of truth.” CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH? We are in desperate need of a Few Good Disciples…hopefully YOU are one of them.

Response July 26, 2015

Father Kelly, your experience at Sam’s brought a smile to my face (who couldn’t relate to that?) as I imagined your friendly demeanor, chatting with the food preparers, and of course the thought of my special need son, in his innocence, is so quick to say “yes please” when offered a sample. I find this hard to comment, except that I am pretty sure of it, as you wrote, “that our Lord takes delight when He offers His Body and Blood in the Eucharist”, for in Holy Communion, He longs to enrich us with blessings and gladden our soul. “You do not even shrink from the unworthy” (Blessed Sacrament Novena by Rev. Lawrence Lovasik); so for this, we should be thankful, and to receive Holy Communion often, our aim. As always, thank you and God bless, Father Kelly.

Free Food
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 26, 2015
JN 6:1-15

I have to admit, if I need to go to Sam’s Club, I try to schedule my shopping for late morning. I want to get there after the little stainless steel tables with the electric skillets, or hot plates, or microwave ovens are out and operational…but BEFORE the “lunch crowd” arrives. Silly as it sounds, I enjoy moving from free sample to free sample as I make my way around the warehouse store. I appreciate this sales ploy masked as “free food.” I also like talking with the people who are there to describe and promote the product they are serving. What I have noticed, however, is that while most people take advantage of the variety of samples and few seem to “appreciate” what is given to them without cost.

Some people never break step, simply reaching over and grabbing a little morsel of food, totally ignoring the person who has prepared it. Others, manners aside, reach through those who do stand and listen to the sales pitch. Rarely is the invitation for a sample acknowledged with a simple “please” and “thank you.” Then there is the matter of the paper napkins, plastic forks, and small cups that are tossed carelessly on the floor after the sample has been gobbled down. Some shoppers have become so used to the sample tables that they don’t even glance over to see what is being offered. They walk past like they didn’t hear the server say: “Care to try our new pizza rolls?” Where free food is involved, common courtesy seems to fall by the wayside.

It makes one wonder how the enormous crowd that was fed with a few loaves and fishes behaved. Did they realize that a miracle was unfolding in their very midst? Did they acknowledge the hard work of the disciples who struggled to pass out the “free food” to so many hungry people? Were Jesus’s dinner guests respectful of one another? Was there pushing and shoving and shouting and grabbing? Did they take only what they needed…their fill…or did they hoard or waste? I wonder if they felt a deep sense of gratitude…or did they consider the meal as simply part of the program? Did they dine graciously or did they simply feed like a herd of cattle?

And what about The Lord? I wonder what was going through His mind as He watched. Certainly, Jesus was glad that this crowd was cared for and their needs met…but…did He take delight in watching them enjoy the “free food”?

And what about us? Does The Lord take delight in us when He offers His Body and Blood in the Eucharist? How do we act when invited to eat freely and without cost…The Bread of Life

Response July 19, 2015

Thank you Father Kelly. If one realizes that the Holy Eucharist is the source of true joy, the Sunday Mass will be a priority in one’s entire earthly existence. Aside from the Sunday Mass, the stillness and peace in an empty church while visiting Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is truly (for me) a “Come away and rest awhile” experience.
Fr. Randy-I found out first hand how damaging it can be devoting your life to your job! Because of dear friends-I have found PEACE. Thank You for being one of the dear FRIENDS!
Thank you so much for this topic. Taking rest at Eucharist, is such a perfect way of describe why stopping everything and going to Mass, continues to be so important to me. It is the breaking away from my “normal” life, for a little while, and getting needed insights until I come again.

Come away and rest awhile
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 19, 2015
MK 6:30-34

There was a cute commercial on TV over the winter months. It showed a series of kids, talking to their parents, but looking at us, the viewing audience, and making a desperate plea to their moms and dads to TAKE MORE VACATION! The sponsor was obviously the travel industry. In fact, researchers tell us that in 2014, 42% of Americans took no vacation days. There are a number of reasons for this trend, each somehow related to the unreasonable expectations that employers, intentionally or unintentionally, place on workers, together with the unreasonable expectations we place on ourselves. Even when we aren’t actually “at work,” we are connected to it by cell phone and computer. At a minimum, for most of us, work is “always on our minds.” It was only after I retired that I came to appreciate how damaging to the human person this total commitment to our work can be…even when we enjoy what we do…even when our work is ministry and discipleship!

Pope Francis recently coined a word for what appears to be the underlying cause of an unbroken chain of workdays: “RAPIDIFICATION” The Holy Father writes: The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”…the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we find the disciples returning after an intense, draining, but highly successful assignment. Success can be addictive. Is it possible that after sharing all that they had accomplished, they said to Jesus: What’s next? We’re ready to get back out there! What do you have for us? Let’s get going; there’s lots to be done!

No one was more aware of all of the work to be done than Jesus Himself. Still, the Lord’s response to their “progress report” was simply this: Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while. And so the Good Shepherd gathered His flock and took them on a boat ride, and they had PEACE!

Hard as it is to believe, it is the middle of July, and RAPIDIFICATION…finances, job insecurity, unreasonable employers…any number of things…might mean that you’ve not been able to TAKE A VACATION! But do you at least allow yourselves one hour of PERFECT PEACE? Clearly, that is at the center of our Second Reading where St. Paul urges the Ephesians to take full advantage of Christ’s great gift to us…PEACE!

Back in the 14th century, St. Catherine of Siena wrote something that seems particularly relevant to our 21st century lifestyles. I certainly want to search out the way (to peace), because we have fallen into such danger and harm both spiritually and physically. And I don’t see any other way but one…I mean the holy way! The “holy way” is to make Sunday Mass a priority no matter what. It is one hour a week in which you can join with other disciples in accepting Jesus’s invitation: Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile. There is nothing unreasonable about insisting on one hour of PERFECT PEACE in a week filled with demands and stress. If you’re reading this reflection, you probably have made Eucharist a priority in your life…so why not extend the invitation to someone who hasn’t. Invite a friend to Come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.

Response June 12, 2015

Once again great comparison in your homily from past to present time. It’s amazing how many years of the same message and we still can’t accept the concept or practice it. Our youngest son Mark was just talking about all the mean people he has to deal with at work:( We just have to keep saying thanks for the encouragement.
In your Sunday Journal you said “The disciples returned excited, fulfilled, cared for, and feeling that their mission was an overwhelming success.” How true God is to this statement, I frequently see God give people I train for ministry at the hospital that joy, that feeling of fulfillment that comes when they realize how they have brought peace and comfort to a sick person when they brought the Lord to them. God just gives so much for such little effort on our part.
Father Kelly, I love this line from the Litany of Humility (the whole litany in fact) composed by Rafael Cardinal Merry de Val (1865-1930), “From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver us Jesus,” for only then can one speak the prompting of the Holy Spirit, no matter what the cost. And oh yes, (from the same prayer), “From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver us Jesus”…. And thank you for making a DIFFERENCE among us, Father Kelly!
Thank you once again Father!
You have reminded us that God calls each one of us to be his disciple – and most of the time we want to say, “you can’t mean me, Lord.” But he continues to remind us that we need to live our faith in the deepest sense, despite the challenges and the potential for ridicule. Thank you.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 12, 2015
MK 6:7-13

If you sit in a barbershop, or enjoy an early morning cup of coffee in a local diner, or nurse a beer in a neighborhood bar, chances are fairly good that you are going to hear some pretty sensible, plain English suggestions…peppered with some colorful “expletives,” on how our leaders should be governing the country, or G.M., or even our Church. Now, just for fun, imagine these same people in their “everyday clothes,” standing before a joint session of Congress, or addressing the Board of Directors in an executive conference room, or sitting in front of Pope Francis in his office in the Vatican. If you play this little game, you will, perhaps, better understand our First Reading from the Prophet Amos.

A most unlikely and seemingly ill-prepared “common person,” using the most coarse, everyday language, maybe even employing a few colorful expletives for emphasis, stood in front of a corrupt, arrogant, and all-powerful ruler with a message from God. Of course, the message made perfect sense. It was God’s Word. It was a call to govern in justice and peace…a Divine directive to treat each and every person with respect, charity, and love. But, the messenger was so unlikely, and the Message so totally contrary to the will and ways of the corrupt ruler…well, continue to use your imagination and picture the reception that Amos received.

There appears to be no warm welcome in high places for God’s prophets (except I believe that Pope Francis would say: Are you comfortable in that chair? Would you like a glass of water? Of course you’ll stay for dinner!) There certainly was no warm welcome for Amos…just as there was no warm welcome from the “higher-ups” for Jesus. Yet, just like Jesus, Amos pushed forward with his mission and ministry, as did the Disciples whom Jesus sent out two by two, without any supplies or provisions. The disciples, however, returned excited, fulfilled, cared for, and feeling that their mission was an overwhelming success. This week’s Gospel teaches us that there are eager audiences out there, hungry to hear God’s Word, and open to God’s will and God’s ways.

This brings us to our Second Reading from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians…THE MESSAGE! What we hear is essentially an ancient Christian hymn. We might not sing these exact words in our churches today, because the language is not easy on the modern ear. In other words, the Reading isn’t exactly “plain English.” Nevertheless, the message is for all times and all people. What we hear is, essentially, a list of the blessing that God has bestowed on us and a call to people of faith to share the gifts as well as the Good News! If you want a more detailed version, in more contemporary language…read Pope Francis’s recent encyclical…Laudato Si. Written to all people of planet earth, it has already been received by many of the powerful, ambitious, materialistic leaders…people in a position to bring about immediate change…in the same way that the corrupt and heartless leader of ancient Bethel received God’s message spoken by Amos.

The Holy Father cautions that we have come to see ourselves as her (Mother Earth) lords and masters entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms evident in the soil, in the water, in the air, and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor. And it is the poor who suffer most from this “global environmental deterioration” caused in large part by greed and a total disregard for human suffering. This is not a message that goes over well in “high places.”

Still, there are good and faithful people sitting in barbershops, local diners…and YES, even in neighborhood taverns who are hungry to hear God’s Word and are open to God’s will and God’s Way. In the coming week, MAYBE YOU are the prophet God is sending. MAYBE YOU are the Disciple Jesus calls upon. MAYBE YOU are the Christian in the world inspired by the Holy Spirit to offer a message of repentance, healing, reconciliation, justice, charity, and love…even if it means you might be ridiculed for doing God’s work. MAYBE YOU are the one who can somehow make a real difference.

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