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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Pentecost Sunday
Jn 20:19-23
May 28, 2023

The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990. The James Webb Telescope was launched on Christmas Day, 2021. Webb is said to be 100 times more powerful than Hubble, capturing images of light generated literally billions of years ago…from the very dawn of creation. Both LARGE SPACE TELESCOPES have helped to confirm and illustrate scientific theories and to inspire even greater and more ambitious visions of the “ultimate nature of things.” That is what scientists are eager to discover…the “ultimate nature of things.”

It occurs to me that Hubble and Webb relate to one another much like the Old Testament relates to the New Testament. Both brought…and continue to bring messages of enormous importance and great value to scientists and researchers. For its part, Hubble pointed towards and inspired future discoveries. Webb has gone on to make some of those discoveries that Hubble could only predict.

So far, it seems that nothing which Webb is telling us has disproven THE BIG BANG THEORY that Hubble helped to inspire. According to this well-known theory, everything existed in a single point of energy no larger than the tip of a match. This tiny cosmic seed contained power beyond description or imagination.

Then, 14 billion years ago and in an instant…or, as the Book of Genesis tells the story: In the beginning…all this power exploded with a force much greater than the speed of light. With that, what we know as “the universe” began to blossom and unfold.


When teaching and preaching, the Lord often turned to nature to enable His listeners to better comprehend God’s Eternal plan. The Lord pointed to the birds in the sky, wildflowers, grapes, and grain to reveal something significant about the mystery of God. So then, why can’t we use the universe to delve deeper into the truths which The Creator reveals through the vastness of outer space?

Think of it this way:

The Person of Jesus of Nazareth was “THE” single point of energy and power…DIVINE ENERGY…AND THE CREATIVE POWER OF GOD. Flesh and blood was the cosmic seed which was ignited about 2,000 years ago, moving the entire universe towards its ultimate destination…Christ’s return in glory.

As predicted by the Old Testament, Jesus’s death and resurrection were the so-called “significant” but unrepeatable events…the flash point…that set the stage for a SECOND BIG BANG…a spiritual or sacred BIG BANG. On that first Pentecost, The Holy Spirit broke into time with a force and power that defy any scientific theory or mathematical equation. The Holy Spirit literally flooded the entire universe with holiness.

With this SECOND BIG BANG…this spiritual or sacred BIG BANG…all of creation was infused with WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, AND RIGHT JUDGMENT…so that humankind could participate in this very gradual movement towards the fullness of the Reign of God.

Every stage in salvation history has important work to do. So, The Spirit of God infused all creation with COURAGE to accept the challenges unique to each era of history.

The Holy Spirit tempered all these gifts with PIETY…so that even the most brilliant of minds…Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, Hubble, Webb, Stephen Hawking would go about their work, appreciating that they are not The Creators…only creatures doing exactly what God prepared them to do.

The birds in the sky, the wildflowers, grapes, and wheat continue to offer us insights into The Sacred Mysteries. But we live in an era of mind-boggling change…especially in science and technology. And so, it is extremely important to be vigilant to what God is revealing to us in the furthest galaxy of the universe which has now been made visible to us. That is certainly where the coming generations will be focused…space! It’s our job to teach them what they should be looking for, how to properly interpret what they see.

In the cosmos, God has revealed what scientists and researchers continue to search for: “The ultimate nature of things.” Through the second Big Bang that occurred on Pentecost, humankind was given the Gifts to better see and appreciate that what science is searching for has already been and continues to be revealed.


We are much blessed, but also greatly challenged to be living in this era of salvation history. Still, with or without technology, when we look into the night sky, the experience we have is the last Gift of the Holy Spirit…WONDER AND AWE!

The Ascension of the Lord
Mt 28:16-20
May 21, 2023

It’s graduation season.

The invitations to Open Houses are flooding the Post Office (although a lot of people are using email these days). Along with all the other party preparations, families are rummaging through drawers and closets and boxes, gathering old photographs for what has become the centerpiece of the decorations…THE PICTURE BOARD.

Guests really do enjoy the time travel experience of tracking the graduate from cradle to cap and gown. But the proud parents, looking at the display of treasured memories, might just find this to be a bittersweet experience.

Flashbacks of bringing home the newborn…or the baby’s first steps…starting kindergarten…etc., etc., bring on a wave of nostalgia. Missing who their child WAS blends with the pride of what the child HAS BECOME…leading to hopes and dreams of WHAT COMES NEXT. All this makes for a roller coaster of emotions.

There were obviously no picture boards on the mountaintop on the day the Risen Lord vanished from their sight. But the Apostles and disciples carried with them the memories of the many “AWE MOMENTS” they enjoyed as they witnessed Jesus of Nazareth walk the earth. From the first day they heard His voice inviting them to follow Him to the taste of the extraordinary wine that was somehow drawn from water jugs…driving out demons, calming storms…the raising of Lazarus…it was all there in their minds and their hearts. They had no need of old photographs to help them remember.

Those “AWE MOMENTS” helped His followers to see who Jesus WAS. Memories of miracles and sermons and intimate conversations then blended with their experiences of Easter morning and the days following. After the horror of Good Friday, they came to believe that The Lord had BECOME the Risen Christ.

Now, as they stood on that mountaintop looking up towards the heavens, they were hit with a powerful wave of nostalgia. Clearly, this was a bittersweet moment for them. All of those watching this next great episode in the drama of our salvation must have wrestled with the very same thought: Why does He have to leave? The couple from Emmaus might even have called out the same invitation that they offered the Lord the night He walked home with them: Stay with us.

At the same time, they found comfort and hope in The Risen Lord’s promise that: Again, in a little while you will see me! They understood that WHAT COMES NEXT would bring more miracles…more powerful deeds…more “AWE MOMENTS.”

And, of course, what came next was an entirely new way of relating to God. WHO came next was the Holy Spirit.

Christ returned to The Father so that the next great episode in the drama of our salvation could begin. The Risen Lord made room for the power and presence of The Holy Spirit.

Those who had been companions of Jesus of Nazareth, standing on that mountain, gazing up into the heavens and feeling the bittersweet experience of The Ascension, were soon to become much more than mere spectators to miracles. The Risen Christ sent The Holy Spirit to dwell among and within them. And so, they became empowered activists, continuing the mission and ministry which Jesus began.

There are no “picture boards” preserving all of this. But there is The Gospel…the Living Word of God. When we read the Good News with eyes of faith, we remember that Jesus of Nazareth WAS the Son of God. And we marvel at the great love that He had for us…love so great that He accepted death on the Cross. And so, He BECAME The Risen Christ.

What CAME NEXT was the arrival of The Holy Spirit. The same Spirit Who empowered the Apostles and disciples to spread the Good News continues to empower us today. It is on us to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ.

This celebration of the Lord’s return to heaven is a perfect opportunity to put together our own…spiritual…picture board. Beginning with the photos of our Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation, we get a glimpse of who WE WERE.

As we move through the years, are there images of us living the Gospel? Is there evidence that WE ARE disciples of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to continue The Lord’s mission and ministry? Are we leaving behind a record of empowered activism?

Or do we need to step up our game? Tempting as it might be, we can’t just stay here looking up into the heavens. We must go out into the world and actively proclaim the Good News.

This much is certain: If we have done our best to live lives of discipleship, WHAT COMES NEXT…is traveling out of time and into Eternal Peace and Joy!

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Jn 14:15-21
May 14, 2023

There is a line in this Sunday’s Second Reading that deserves a second beat. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.

For Christians, all hope rests in Christ. Most of us trace Christian hope back to our mothers and grandmothers, who did the essential work of presenting us for the Sacraments of Initiation…Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. Christian mothers, for the most part, are the first and longest serving catechists in the lives of their children. Children begin to learn “right from wrong” while still in their mothers’ arms. Very often, it is the women of the family who make the effort to form and inform children in the practices, beliefs, prayers, and traditions of our Catholic faith.

Long after children leave home and start their own families, a Christian mother continues to guide and inspire her children. As they move into their adult years, her words of encouragement are heard less frequently by the ear, but now the echo of her voice from the past persists in their minds and hearts…staying with them and reminding them of what discipleship involves.

As we mature in our faith, we pursue a deeper relationship with Christ, not because of our mothers’ expectations, or out of a sense of fear or guilt…but because we come to a deeper understanding that all hope does rest in the LORD GOD, Who created the heavens and the Earth. At this stage, disciples feel the urgent need to pass the faith of our mothers…the faith of our ancestors…on to the generations to come.

When I am asked to explain why I place all my hope in Christ, I respond: “Because my mother and my grandmothers were instruments of the Holy Spirit.”

Through them, I came to understand that by doing my best to live as Jesus taught, trying hard to love God with all my heart, and soul, an mind…and even when it’s difficult…especially when it’s most difficult…to love my neighbor as myself…I might not actually see the Lord standing next to me, but I will feel with certainty His presence living within me. When Christ is so fully present to us, we cannot help but live in peace and hope.

And so, with grateful hearts, we pray for the women who have fulfilled their vocation as Christian mothers and passed on the faith to us.

Prayer for Mothers

All-loving God, we give you thanks and praise for mothers young and old.

We pray for young mothers, who give life and tend to every need of their children; May they be blessed with patience and tenderness to care for their families and themselves with great joy.

We pray for our own mothers who have nurtured and cared for us; May they continue to guide us in strong and gentle ways.

We remember mothers who are separated from their children because of war, poverty, or conflict; May they feel the loving embrace of our God who wipes every tear away.

We pray for women who are not mothers but still love and shape us with motherly care and compassion.

We remember mothers. grandmothers, and great-grandmothers who are no longer with us but who live forever in our memory and nourish us with their love.

We pray for healing and forgiveness on behalf of those mothers, who, for whatever reason, have not fully lived out their vocation.


Fifth Sunday of Easter
Jn 14:1-12
May 7, 2023

Families with “troubled hearts” come to their parish to prepare the liturgy celebrating a loved one who has died. As they hear and consider the various Scripture passages the Church suggests as appropriate for a funeral liturgy, John 14:1-12 seems to strike a special note with many grieving families. They often respond with a nod…sometimes even with a slight smile, when they hear The Lord’s promise: I will come back again and take you to myself. And so, this passage is frequently heard at funerals because it certainly has a comforting message.

However, at the time that Jesus made the promises and offered the assurances found in John 14, He wasn’t involved in planning a funeral. The Lord was preparing The Apostles and disciples to continue His mission and ministry in this world after His return to heaven. So, it seems wise not to reserve this passage for those times when we are forced to deal with death. What we have here is also The Lord’s plan for how we can face life…here and now…with all its hardships and challenges…and face it without “troubled hearts.”

Fully aware of the common human response to confusion, uncertainty, and adversity, The Lord explains that HIS WAY is the perfect WAY to deal with “troubled hearts.”

The image of a single house with many dwelling places is a good starting point to reflect on THE WAY. The Gospel calls us to come together…joining in mind and spirit…rather than to turning our backs on one another and going in separate directions. THE WAY is communion…sharing and exchanging…with God as our Center.

And THE TRUTH is that the most perfect communion of human minds and hearts is Holy Communion. When we come together and join our minds and spirits…proclaiming The Word and sharing the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ…we are at our very best. The Church teaches that Eucharist is both the source and the summit of our faith. It is also a perfect remedy for “troubled hearts.” Eucharist is spiritual and emotional medicine that helps us deal with “troubled hearts.” Eucharist restores joy to our lives.

But even more than making this life bearable, Holy Communion is the nourishment that promises us eternal life in The Father’s house where there are many dwelling places. When we come together and do as Jesus commanded us to do, we enjoy the healing and forgiveness which He so generously lavished on believers when He was physically present. Cleansed and healed, we are better prepared to face our merciful and loving Judge when our time in this world comes to an end.

And the miracle goes on.

The graces the Sacrament brings have the lasting effect of “ongoing protection” against the temptations to turn away from the Light…to wander alone into darkness. Like gravity holds us fast to the earth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Eucharist keeps us secure in the Divine Life…more pleasing to the Creator…easily recognized as an image of Christ.

We are living through an epidemic of “troubled hearts.” The violence, the confusion, and uncertainty, the division that we face daily threatens the joy of our hearts. The Lord urges us to protect ourselves…not by isolating ourselves…not by closing ourselves off from the rest of the world…but by going out and continuing His mission and ministry.

Coming together in peace and harmony to hear the Eternal Word proclaimed and share in the saving banquet is THE WAY disciples celebrate the TRUTH and live THE LIFE… here and now…preparing us for the ETERNAL LIFE that awaits believers.

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