A Note on Today’s Readings | Proper 29: The Reign of Christ or Christ the King — Year A

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

Today is the final Sunday of the Church year, on which we celebrate the Kingship of Christ. Since last Advent, we have been reading the Gospel according to Matthew most Sundays. In this final reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we have Jesus’ description of the final judgment. Those who will be welcomed into his Kingdom are those who show their love to Christ by caring for the outcast and helpless.

The prophet Ezekiel, centuries before Christ, foresaw the coming of the Shepherd – King, sent by God to his people. This kingship would be one of caring love and of peace to the entire human race.

In the second reading, an extended pa ssage describes Christ as the final fulfillment of God’s plan for the universe. We who are the beneficiaries of that plan for our lives are gathered up into Christ who is our head and who gives his own being to all that exists.

Our gatherings for worship are meant to be points of departure for us to move into the world in active works of ministry to the hungry, the helpless, the imprisoned, the lonely, the sick, and the dying. The reign of Christ must begin with members of his body the Church making him kn own in the world, especially to the least of his sisters and brothers.

Happy Christ the King Sunday.

Father Eddie+

 

A Reflecton for Harvest Thanksgiving

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

Now Thank We All Our God

One of the major goals of religion is to teach people to focus gratefully on what they have instead of being aware mostly on what they don’t have.

– Rabbi Harold Kushner

Saying “thank you” is one of the first lessons we learn as children. Among our e arliest memories are our parent s ’ stern reminders; to remember, to say thanks for our toys, gifts, meals and all the goodies that come with childhood. Gra titude is more than remembering to say thanks, however, it is a way of looking at the world that does not change the facts of our lives but has the power to make life more manageable.

One of the best illustrations of this is the story of Rev. Martin Rink art. Rinkart was the pastor of the Lutheran Church in his home of Eilenberg during the Thirty Years War, which devastated Germany in the early 17th century. Eilenberg was swamped by refugees. Famine and pestilence wreaked havoc on the overcrowded city. In 1637, when the crisis was at its peak, Rinkart, officiated at fifty funerals a day. It is estimated that he buried more than four thousand people that year, including several members of his own family. Yet, in the midst of such pain and tragedy, he wrote t he hymn that is our stable for our harvest and Thanksgiving observances:

“Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things has done in whom this world rejoices:

Who from our mother’s arms has blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love and still is ours today.”

God, it has been said, has two dwelling places: one is heaven, the other a thankful heart. On this Harvest Sunday and during the week’s Thanksgiving rituals, let us pray that God would give us grateful hea rts.

We welcome all who have joined us for worship today. A special welcome if you are here for the first time. We pray that your time with us has been a blessing.

HAPPY HARV EST SUNDAY.

Father Eddie+

A Note on Today’s Readings Proper 27: Sunday closest to November 9—Year A

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

As we enter the last weeks of the Church year, the liturgy is focused on the “last things,” and especially the return of Christ as Judge. The Gospel reading is the familiar parable of the wise and foolish maidens. The emphasis here is always to live in readiness for the Lord’s return.

In the first lesson, we recognize that we are are drawing near the end of our reading through the ancient story of God’s people. The Israelites have now settled in the Promised Land. Joshua has called them together to renew the Covenant they made with God at Mount Sinai. This renewal recalls to them all the mighty acts God has done on their behalf from the time of Abraham to their own time.

The second reading continues the first letter to the Thessalonians. Some in that church, expecting the Lord to return in their lifetimes, have begun to doubt because some of the members have died. Paul assures these early Christians that those who die before the Lord’s return will nonetheless be saved.

In our Eucharistic gathering, we are in a kind of rehearsal for life in the Day of Judgment. We find in our prayer the model for the commitment to ministry and social justice, which gives heart and soul to our worship; and in communion, we meet the Lord as judge and as Savior.

HAPPY SUNDAY.

Father Eddie+

A REFLECTION ON ALL SAINTS’ SUNDAY and ALL SOULS’ DAY

In the perennial seasonal epic, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the final exchange between Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present is both profoundly brooding, as it is chillingly expositive. In this scene, Scrooge is confronted by two figures of children who cling to the legs of the Ghost of Christmas Present. They are described as, “yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility.” The Ghost names and remarks upon them: “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all, beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” The echo of the Specter’s warning reverberates and lingers in all places where ignorance gives way to hatred and violence and want devolves into anguish and despair. Is there any means, one may wonder, to effectively and decisively confront these Dickensian realities?

For the Christian believer, this question is boldly answered, “Yes!,” in the celebration of the first two days of November: the Solemnity of All Saints, and All Souls. These days, each in turn, express the two foundational principles around which revolves the liturgical year and toward which develops the daily life perspective of the Christian. To the folly of ignorance, the Solemnity of All Saints responds with memory; to the scourge of want, All Souls offers hope. Memory and hope are the pillars of Christian liturgical and daily life, and are the dynamic actions through which ignorance and want are defeated.

Blessings on ALL SAINTS’ SUNDAY.

Father Eddie+

A Note on Today’s Readings Proper 19: Sunday closest to September 14—Year A

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish as we celebrate REVIVAL 2017.
We continue to read from the section of Matthew’s Gospel, which deals with
God’s forgiveness and our role in extending His forgiveness to all people.
Peter asks Jesus how many times he is to forgive someone who wrongs him. In
a parable, Jesus explains that God’s forgiveness of us lays on us the
obligations to forgive our brothers and sisters unconditionally.
The first reading brings us to the most important event in the story of God and
the people of Israel. God saved them from the Egyptian army at the sea. The
people were led to safety and freedom. Jesus spoke of his own death and
resurrection as his Exodus. We join him in that Exodus as God leads us to
salvation through the waters of baptism.
In our final reading from Romans, Paul calls on Christians to refrain from
judging one another. The differences between the ways various ones of us
follow Christ are to be accepted. Our responsibility is to love God and each
other.
We are a community marked by faith and obedience to God’s Word. Our life
reflects our relationship with God and our relationships with each other. We
are to be a community marked by acceptance of all and by forgiveness. Not a
gathering of perfected saints—we are, rather, a gathering of sinners who have
known God’s love and forgiveness and who in turn extend that love and
forgiveness to all people.
REVIVE US AGAIN, O LORD.
Father Eddie+

Note on Today’s Readings Proper 25: Sunday closest to October 26—Year A

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.
As we continue to read the Gospel according to Matthew, we hear another of
the confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees. Last week they tried to
discredit him with the people and the government; today they test his
orthodoxy. Jesus answers their question in correct Jewish form and then
counters with a question to them. This passage is leading toward the Christian
belief that Jesus is more than a descendent of King David; he is the Son of
God.
Today we hear the conclusion of Moses’ part of the story of God’s People.
God led him to the top of the mountain to see the land that had been the goal of
the journey. After Moses’ death in the wilderness, the people he led entered the
Land of Promise.
In the second reading, Paul continues his greetings to the Thessalonian church,
reminding them of his original visit to them and of his love and affection for
them.
In the Eucharist, we experience the dual nature of our own existence: related to
God and yet human. We are not simply living at the human level but through
baptism are bearers of divinity. In the mundane elements of common food and
drink, we meet God. Likewise, in our lives our human nature is permeated by
God’s nature. This is the reason we can pray; this is the reason we are sent into
the world to minister to others.
Happy Sunday.
Father Eddie+

A Note on Today’s Readings Proper 24: Sunday closest to October 19 – Year A

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.
As we draw near the end of Matthew’s Gospel, the opposition to Jesus
intensifies. Today the Pharisees seek to entrap Jesus, asking if it is lawful to
pay taxes to the emperor. The trap would be to offend either zealous Jewish
patriots or else offend the ruling class in Jerusalem including the Romans.
Jesus’ answer points instead to Jewish teaching that the government, even a
pagan one, has legitimate authority, but that authority cannot be allowed to
interfere with our duty toward God.
[Using Exodus] In our ongoing story of the Exodus, it is time for the Jews to
move on in their journey to the land of promise. Moses asks for a sign of
God’s favor. God gives two signs. One is his promise to go with the people on
their journey to the Promised Land and the other is to give Moses a glimpse of
God.
The second reading today begins several weeks of reading Paul’s first letter to
the Thessalonians. This is probably the earliest of Paul’s letters. Things have
gone well since he left and he begins by giving thanks for their faithfulness.
This church, however, had some problems and confusion about the second
coming of Christ. In coming weeks we will hear Paul’s teaching about that.
Central to every gathering of Christians for worship is intercessory prayer. Our
prayer is always for the church and the world. A striking illustration was that
the early Christians prayed for the emperor who was persecuting them. Our
faith calls us to pray for and to minister to all aspects of life. The liturgy
reminds us that God is concerned for all creation and is the Savior of all.
Happy Sunday.
Father Eddie+

A Note on Today’s Readings Proper 23: Sunday closest to October 12—Year A

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.
During these last weeks of the Church Year, we come to the section of
Matthew’s Gospel marked by intense confrontations between Jesus and the
religious establishment; these confrontations were to lead to his crucifixion. In
today’s Gospel, Jesus is again teaching about the Kingdom. Here it is
described in a way that antagonized the establishment. If those who are
religious do not respond to God’s call, they will be replaced by others who do
respond.
In the first reading, the people of Israel lost patience when Moses did not
return from the mountaintop. They built an idol and worshiped it as their god.
God saw this and intended to destroy them but Moses interceded and God
turned aside from destroying the people who he loved.
We continue to read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul brings his letter to its
conclusion, calling on the people to live in peace and unity and to help one
another.
Our gathering in Eucharist is a foreshadowing of the Kingdom of God. We are
called to bring all people into this fellowship and meal. In this way, the
Kingdom of God is revealed and humanity’s hope is made more certain.
Happy Sunday
Father Eddie+

A Note on Today’s Readings | Proper 22 – Year A |

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.
In today’s liturgy, we have a parable warning us as God’s people to be faithful
to God, lest God turn away from us. This parable may have been a simple story
about the need to seize the opportunity God holds out. Matthew has taken
images, especially from today’s Old Testament reading, and allegorized the
original story to make a point which the Church in his day needed to hear and
which we need to hear today.
For months, we have been reading the history of the establishment of God’s
people, beginning with Abraham and Sarah. It has led us to the Exodus from
Egypt. Today the journey through the wilderness has come to Mount Sinai.
Here God establishes the law by which his people are to live in the giving of
the Ten Commandments.
Paul calls on the church in Philippi to hold fast to their faith and practice. We
are not to be anxious about anything, rather we should expend our energy
reaching out to be the kind of people God calls us to be. For we are citizens of
heaven, Paul tells us, and we are destined for glory.
God’s people need the warnings of the prophets and of Jesus to balance our
knowledge that we have been redeemed. While God’s action of redeeming us
is set and established, we must nevertheless live the lives of redeemed people.
Our weekly gatherings in Eucharist therefore are not meant to lull us into
complacency but to strengthen us and equip us to follow the Way of Christ.
Happy Sunday.
Father Eddie+

A Note on Today’s Readings | The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels – September 29.

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.
On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, popularly called Michaelmas, we give thanks for the
many ways in which God’s loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly and we
are reminded that the richness and variety of God’s creation far exceeds our knowledge of it.
The Holy Scriptures often speak of created intelligences other than humans who worship
God in Heaven and act as His messengers and agents on earth. We are not told much about
them but Jesus speaks of them as rejoicing over penitent sinners (Lk 15:10). Elsewhere, in a
statement that has been variously understood (Mt 18:10), He warns against misleading a
child, because their angels behold the face of God.
Angels are referred to as “messengers of God,” or simply as “messengers.” The word for a
messenger in Hebrew is malach, in Greek, angelos, from which we get our word “angel.”
By the time of Christ, Jewish popular belief included many specifics about angels, with
names for many of them. There were thought to be four archangels, named Michael, Gabriel,
Raphael, and Uriel.
Michael (the name means “Who is like God?”) is said to be the captain of the heavenly
armies. He is mentioned in the Scriptures in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be
the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he is said to have disputed with the devil
about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he is said to have led the heavenly
armies against those of the great dragon). He is generally pictured in full armor, carrying a
lance, and with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the Martyr George are often
similar, but only Michael has wings.)
Gabriel (the name means “God is my champion”) is thought of as the special bearer of
messages from God to men. He appears in Daniel 8:16; 9:21 as an explainer of some of
Daniel’s visions. According to the first chapter of Luke, he announced the forthcoming births
of John the Baptist and of our Lord to Zachariah and the Virgin Mary respectively.
Raphael (the name means “God heals”) is mentioned in the Apocrypha, in the book of Tobit,
where, disguised as a man, he accompanies the young man Tobias on a quest, enables him to
accomplish it, and gives him a remedy for the blindness of his aged father.
Uriel (the name means “God is my light”) is mentioned in 4 Esdras.
It is thought by many scholars that the seven lamps of Revelation 4:5 are an image suggested
by (among many other things) the idea of the archangels.
May the Holy Angels always guard and protect us.
Father Eddie+