Pastor Corner Homilies
Previous Pastor's Corner Items
Pastor's Corner updated June 30 2020
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time brings with it a selection from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus challenges His disciples regarding the difficulty of the path of discipleship and acknowledges that their very public profession of faith in Jesus will lead to them accepting the path down which He will first go, and it will be a path of suffering. “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Such a message is appropriate and necessary in this time as well as America is confronted with the fact of an underlying systemic racism now being exposed by those who have for so long suffered. She as well is confronted by the fact and truth of the duty, goodness and dignity of those who have served to uphold what is right and of law and in a way which is itself good and right. It is not impossible to defend both. One thinks of the Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who, in his important work, The Cost of Discipleship, described the difference between cheap and costly grace. “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline…..cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross….” “Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart.” The cost of discipleship is therefore a willingness to be involved in actions taken up against injustice even if it means suffering, even if it means death. The pages of this gospel selection have come alive in the real and overdue struggle of people of color in this country to confront and to end the tendency to dominate people who are powerless with violent acts of power. Yet at the same time we maintain that those who protect and serve as good, honest and compassionate upholders of what is right are disciples who serve with great cost as well. Bonhoeffer wrote against and stood against the evil of the Nazi party and its outrageous violent tendencies, ultimately losing his life at the hands of the party he so courageously opposed. So to some who have stood against the injustice we oppose what is happening in the streets all over this country. Jesus speaks again and with clarity and reassurance: “So do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” So the call to discipleship rises not first from the pen of Bonhoeffer or other such heroic martyrs, but from the mouth of Jesus. His speech and more so His sacrificial action spur us on to answer the question of how should we then live in this or any age with the resounding Amen! of “as disciples of Christ!”
We continue to ask everyone to consider Online Giving as your primary method of gift to Saint John’s as we go forward. It is simple and easy to use and guarantees a provision to our parish even when you cannot be here. We also urge a consideration of the inclusion of Saint John’s in any estate planning you may be doing in planning for the future. I would like to thank everyone who has given to our parish over the time we have been unable to come together. Your gifts, some large one time, and some regular and steady have provided for the satisfaction of needs and of unexpected expenses. Remember that we ask that you include your email address on your submitted envelope or registration form, even if you have been a parishioner for many years. We thank those who continue to serve as ushers at each of our three weekend Masses. The manner in which we proceed is dependent on their commitment and on your compliance and we thank you. Have a great week!
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner updated June 11 2020
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ 6/14/2020
The celebration of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is offered on this Sunday and has been traditionally such a big part of parish life both here and everywhere over the course of these many years. It is usually accompanied by a procession of the monstrance holding the Eucharist and moving throughout the streets of the parish as a sign of the significance of the Eucharist to the people of faith. This year, given restrictions necessary as a result of Covid 19, we will move simply down the middle aisle and then up one of the side aisles at the end of Mass concluding with placement of the monstrance on the altar for Adoration and private prayer. Of course we will process with only a few and will ask the participants to maintain social distancing if you are staying for the prayers.
The reading from Deuteronomy which opens the Liturgy of the Word offers an anticipatory word regarding the goodness of God’s constant provision of needs satisfaction for His people. Moses reminds the people of Israel that the Lord, in testing them, lets them be aware of their basic need but never does He not provide. “He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Saint Paul reminds the Corinthians and today’s disciples that the bread that we break and the cup that we bless is a participation in the body of Christ. With this celebration of Corpus Christi, as it has been known for so many years, we begin in this Archdiocese a Year of the Eucharist, over the course of which we will be emphasizing the truth of the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is the central focus of our active lives of faith and has been described as the “source and summit” of our lives as Christians by the Second Vatican Council. So it is that we are set on this journey of one year of celebration in a unique and special way of the Holy Eucharist. We turn to the Gospel of John, chosen for proclamation of this Sunday, in which Jesus announces to the crowds that He is the living bread that came down from heaven and that whoever eats this bread will never die. The Eucharist is the outcome of the victory of Jesus over suffering and death and memorializes the way in which He gave His life for us. It is an offering of His sacrifice offered for our salvation. It is offered to us in the power of the Holy Spirit which comes upon our gifts of bread and wine and ourselves and changes them. We can then take and eat and take and drink of what He gives us and be filled with the life of God. The words of this Gospel are etched into the wall which rises up over the altar at Saint John’s and gives us strength and a reinforcement of the truth of the real Presence in which we believe. So it is that we begin our journey of the Year of the Eucharist as it should be started; by coming forward in humility and with gratitude and speaking our “Amen” to the truth of God’s gift offered for our eternal salvation.
Please let me take a moment to thank all those who have continued to support our parish and its life in such a generous way over the course of the time during which we could not celebrate public Mass and now as we open slowly and with precaution. Thanks also to all those who have come and complied with our insistence on a careful and considerate reopening. Again, our Mass schedule has been abridged to accommodate care and prepare for the future and will be as follows: Saturday Mass at 4:00p.m., Sunday Masses at 9:00a.m and 11:00a.m. All are asked to please wear a mask and proceed as indicated by ushers and the signs which are obvious throughout the church.
I take this place to acknowledge with gratitude the participation and service to the parish of parishioner Andrew Sullivan, former ranking officer in the United States Army and a student at the Harvard School of Government. Andrew has completed his studies and has taken a job in government in Washington D.C. We wish him well and may he receive God’s blessing as he has blessed us with such. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Ann Sheahan, longtime parishioner and quiet servant of Jesus here at Saint John’s. Her funeral Mass was celebrated on Monday of this past week and was attended by many of her family and friends from St. John’s. May she rest in peace. It was wonderful to see and hear our old friend Michelle Deluise who came to be the cantor for Ann’s funeral! We continue to ask everyone to submit by mail or email your email address so that we can offer Constant Contact mailings. Also, please, please consider Online Giving as the method of contribution to the parish. It will make it so much easier both for you and for parish staff. Thanks and have a great week!
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner updated June 3, 2020
Most Holy Trinity, sunday 6/7/2020
The celebration of the Most Holy Trinity, announced and urged on this weekend, June 6-7, is a recognition not only of the truth that our one God is Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but also of the fact that we, as a community of believers coming to celebrate such, reflect and echo that truth in our gathering as one in faith. Over these weeks we have been frustrated by our inability to gather in person and as a community reflective of the Body of Christ.
But now happily we are free with restrictions to come together in faith in the presence of Christ and His Spirit. We, in the words of St. Paul, offered to the Corinthians, “greet one another with a holy kiss”, metaphorically of course and encourage the Holy Spirit to gather us as a reflection of the Trinity that we celebrate in faith. Paul offers us the very blessing with which we begin our celebration of the Eucharist, that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of god and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” be with us all as we come together as one to receive the Body of Christ by the power of the Spirit. This grace, this sacrifice offered in joy, flows out and over our celebration as we are encouraged to make our lives a reflection of the Trinitarian Community by offering sacrifice in ways which are grateful and generous.
Our St. John’s community has done this with consistency over the time that we have been apart and will continue to offer gifts in the weeks and months to come. I am overwhelmed by the number of people who have given with generosity so that we might thrive during this time. I am amazed at how many people continue to bring gifts to the porch door so that people who might be hungry can be fed. I quote from a note left for me by one of you who gave food and a gift as I write, “I just dropped off a bag of food on the porch. Please put this money in the collection for me. I was an altar boy here over 60 years ago”. He is not alone as so many come forward in goodness to be a reflection of the Trinity that we celebrate.
Please remember Ann Sheahan in your prayers as she has died and was buried with a Mass of Christian Burial on Friday June 5th at St. John’s. Ann gave much of her life in service to the Christ and His Church, working for many years as the housekeeper and cook at Immaculate Conception on Alewife Brook Parkway and then serving St, John’s at the altar and in many other ways until she died. She was a fixture at the jewelry table at the Christmas Fair and cared for many things at the main altar in the church. May she rest in peace. Well done, good and faithful servant. If you would like to donate to St. John’s in her memory, please send anything you offer to the main office.
I want to thank those who came to Mass last week for the first time in a long time and who worked hard to comply with all requests offered for our safety. We will continue to offer Mass each weekend at 4:00p.m. Saturday and at 9:00a.m. and 11:00a.m. on Sunday and to urge compliance with all that we have asked. Please consult the website for updates regarding the daily Mass schedule and other movements and machinations at St. John’s. Thanks and have a great week.
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner updated May 26,2020
Seventh Sunday of Easter 5/31/2020
The coming of the Holy Spirit celebrated this Pentecost Sunday brings with it the added joy of the opening of our parish church for public Mass for the first time in many, many weeks. The joy that we sense at this time brings with it an understanding that we must proceed with caution and in the best interest of our parishioners. It is paramount that we adhere to the precautions and limits that have been set out for us so as to protect everyone who would be participating in the Mass. The church has been marked with blue painters tape on every other pew to remind parishioners to properly space and to maintain social distancing. The floors will be marked with directional signs properly spaced both to create a one way flow of traffic for Communion and to provide a reminder to keep 6’ apart when walking for any reason. A team of volunteer ushers will lead people to seats which have been marked to assure spacing. The middle pews will hold two parishioners on each side with an exception being made for those families who live in the same household. The side pews will accommodate one person in each available pew and will be so marked. Please be patient with our volunteers. We ask that people enter the church through the main doors located on Mass. Ave. and that you leave the church at the end of Mass through the side parking lot doors. The exception to this request is the individual who needs to use the elevator to come and go. There will be NO singing on the part of the congregation and missalettes will not be available. Bulletins will be available after Mass outside the church. The collection will not be taken up. Rather we ask that you deposit your contribution directly into a basket provided for that purpose and placed at the doors. An even better solution would be to use our ONLINE giving option, an easily usable alternative to use of paper envelopes. All those present for Mass will be asked to wear masks for the purpose of protection of others. Please bring your own mask to Mass and leave with it. Some masks and gloves will be available for those who might forget. Hand sanitizer will be available at various spots in the church. While it might be necessary for some, it is not optimal for those present to use the bathrooms in the church. Please try to limit your visits. Perhaps the most challenging part of the celebration of Mass with restrictions will be the reception of Communion. If you have any difficulty coming up for the Eucharist, please simply raise your hand and someone will come to you. For others it will be necessary to proceed in one direction down the side aisles to the back of the church and then up the middle aisle, keeping 6’ apart, to the Eucharistic ministers. Upon arriving at the minister, extend your hand and receive the Eucharist in the hand. There will be NO reception on the tongue. Step aside and lift your mask, placing the Eucharist in your mouth. Proceed back to the same seat that you were in before. At the conclusion of the Mass, proceed to exit from the side aisles out the side parking lot doors, maintaining social distancing all the while. Take a bulletin outside the church at the end of Mass and proceed directly to your car. We thank you very much for adhering to these protective guidelines and we look forward to being together for the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and beyond. Please remember that the church needs to be sanitized after each Mass and so it is not possible to linger or to stay to talk. We continue to seek volunteers as ushers and cleaners and so if you would like to offer your time please call the parish office at 617-547- 4880. The spirit and sense of community of which we have been necessarily denied in these past many weeks and which is returning to us slowly as we happily welcome people back to the celebration of the Eucharist is a part of human longing and being. The community of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is reflected in our longing to be with and for one another in a spirit of generous love. It is the spirit with which we have been gifted and so celebrate that fact in the joyful day of Pentecost. Saint Paul writes to the Romans and to all of us when he says, “The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will”. May the Spirit heal us and bring us together as a reflection of the Body of Christ for which we so long. Have a great week.
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner updated May 19,2020
Seventh Sunday of Easter 5/24/2020
Thursday of this week we celebrated the Ascension of the Lord with a 5:00 p.m. Mass in the church which you can view here
The Ascension is a celebration which announces the Lord’s return to the Father, having left the Church the Holy Spirit for guidance, so that the work of His saving acts of death and Resurrection might be validated. Jesus departs and leaves the disciples with a powerful mandate to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Holy Spirit”. But he does not depart without the promise of His being with the church until the end of the age. What we celebrate in the Ascension is the truth that Jesus has accomplished His defeat of sin and death and that He continues to be present to us always.
The Sunday celebration offered on May 24th is the seventh Sunday of the Easter Season, the final before the wonderful blessing of grace and Spirit which is Pentecost, which brings with it the story of Jesus’ gift of the Spirit to the disciples and to His Church. The gospel selection offered for the seventh Sunday is again taken from John and includes a beautiful and heartfelt prayer offered by Jesus to the Father in which Jesus prays for the glorification of the Father and the Son. Here Jesus is interceding for the disciples with the Father. He speaks first to the Father of how Jesus has revealed the Father’s glory and so His own glory has been revealed. He then turns His attention to the disciples. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.” It is a reassurance, especially in these difficult times, to return to this beautiful and intimate prayer and know that Jesus is with us, offering us to the Father for our protection and interceding for us on our behalf. The prayer is a gift to us as we close the Easter Season and proceed with confidence in the power and sweetness of the Spirit to guide and protect us.
It is with joy and hope that I announce to you that our parish of Saint John the Evangelist will be open for Masses beginning next weekend May 30-31st for the celebration of Pentecost. While we will proceed with the utmost caution, we will proceed with happiness produced by the Spirit and growing by our generous participation in the celebration of the Eucharist. Guidelines should and will be followed for the safety of every parishioner and will include the following:
- There will be Mass scheduled for Saturdays at 4:00p.m. and for Sundays at 9:00a.m. and 11:00a.m. There will be, for the foreseeable future, no 6:30a.m. Mass. Logistics do not allow for such at this time.
- Each Mass will be limited to between 80 and 100 people and the numbers will be regulated by ushering teams inviting those who enter to sit in specific seats with proper social distancing. Each entrant will wear a mask and gloves. Family members may sit together.
- The Mass Ave doors and the parking lot side doors will be the only ones open for the process and those entries will be guided by proper social distancing. Those using the elevator are asked to use such one person at a time.
- The front pews will be reserved for those with specific needs.
- Each pew will be distinctly marked with tape to show the area for seating. The side pews will hold one person each with an empty pew between each entrant. Families are an exception. The middle pews will hold two people each with an empty pew between every two entrants.
- The floors will be marked with directive markings indicating one direction for Communion. The flow of the Communion line will maintain six feet of separation up to the altar.
- The “amen” spoken at reception will be replaced by a collective “amen” prayed prior to coming to Communion.
- There will be a non-verbal no contact sign of peace.
- Reception of Communion will be under one species offered in the hand with no availability of the cup.
- There will be no missalettes or bulletins in the pews. A worship aid will be available and must be taken with you when you depart. Departure will proceed civilly with maintenance of proper social distance. Please, if possible, leave coats and other extras in your car.
- The Collection will be taken up in baskets available for deposit either before or after the Mass. No baskets will be passed.
- Those who sense they are not ready to return must know that you should stay home and watch Mass on Catholic TV.
- Gloves and masks and hand sanitizer will be available at church but you are strongly encouraged to bring your own and to leave with them.
Thank you for doing all you can to follow these and other guidelines for safety as we proceed with cautious joy up the altar of God once again.
We continue to urge you to consider ONLINE GIVING as your method of choice for contribution and we thank those who have been so generous during our stay away. Be safe and we will see you soon!
God Bless, Father Joe
Pastor's Corner updated May 12,2020
Sixth Sunday of Easter 5/17/2020
The Sixth Sunday of Easter brings with it a second scripture reading taken from the First Letter of Peter which contains a brief but powerful summary of our mission as believers in Jesus Christ and members of His Church. The piece begins “Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear.” If we are not ready with an urgent and explanatory answer to such a question, and to offer it with kindness and understanding, we could stand accused of blind obedience to an ideology for the sake of the ideology. True disciples of Christ, wrestling with honesty and humility with the difficulty of human freedom, encourage a friendship with Christ which is intimately and lovingly expressed in both directions and not merely the championship of an idea of such born of institutional self-preservation. The reason for our hope is not the longevity of the institution through which we express love for Christ, but rather Christ’s love for us which He encourages us to imitate with and for others. The words of the Letter are clear: “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts”, not merely in religious expressions which are meant to express the deeper truth of love of God and love of neighbor. There is a great sadness to our being unable for awhile to come together as a community and celebrate the outcomes of Jesus’ love for us which is the Eucharist, but it is not because we cannot obey a mandate from the institution through which we come to experience His love. Rather, our sadness comes from being unable to taste and see the goodness of the Lord in the way that He has made it possible. Our hunger to return is born not of a need for satisfaction of the “old way” but rather rises from within our minds and souls which have been made by God in His image and so have an inner tendency to move toward Him, both in this life and in the satisfaction of the next. Finally, the Letter asks us to offer our reasons for hope with gentleness and reverence. This reminder brings us to an awareness of the way in which Jesus brought people back and to Himself. Whether it be the way in which He taught in parables expressive of mercy and forgiveness or the way that He treated those who were ashamed of themselves, it was always with kindness and appreciation of their dignity. So it must be with us. We cannot be a people satisfied merely with obedient response to an institution but rather we recognize the opportunities provided by such to enhance our relationship with Christ in His Holy Spirit, and to provide others with an impetus for inquiring about that relationship for themselves by virtue of how they see us live and act.
Allow me to express my gratitude for celebrating 23 years as a priest ordained for the Archdiocese of Boston and now working and living with and for the people of Saint John’s. Allow me to include Fr. Leclerc in those prayers as he celebrates 40 years ordained as a LaSalette priest. We were both ordained on March 17th, albeit in different years and we ask your prayers for our continued service to Christ and His Church.
I continue to be amazed and grateful for the generosity of the people of Saint John’s as we struggle through this extended period of separation and difficulty as a result of the burden of Covid19. My thanks go out to those who have decided to opt in on our Online Giving Program. It is the easiest and best way to contribute to our parish. Thanks as well to those who have given larger, one time offerings to sustain us. As I mentioned last week, Saint John’s has been granted the SBA Loan for satisfaction of employee salaries and utilities. I am thankful for the sacrifice that all employees have made over the course of April to help the parish. The month of May would have brought confirmations and First Communion for some of our parishioners in a different time. Our prayers go out to all those children and families who were expecting the joy of First Communion. Hold on and be patient because you will not be overlooked. The same is true for those who would have received Confirmation. We look forward to the celebration of such in the Fall. The parish office is open on Tuesdays from 10-3. If you have any questions or need anything at all, please call at that time. Know that I continue to say Mass each day and at those Masses I offer the intentions that have been unable to be offered in a public way. Those intentions include the growth and success of our parish in the face of this pandemic. You are a big part of that prayerful effort. To that end we pray through the intercession of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted. Be safe.
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner updated May 5,2020
Fifth Sunday of Easter 5/10/2020
The gift of faith, granted to us at baptism and growing stronger by our meeting Christ in so many ways and through so many people along the way, can be challenging. It does not provide certainty of the existence of God or of His love for us. Rather we are challenged to let go of the struggle for certainty and give over to the freely offered acceptance of the truth that there is a God and that He seeks a personal relationship with each one of us. This acceptance has been called a leap because it implies a mysterious uncertainty into which we are invited by a sometimes mysterious God. Saint Paul described faith as “seeing as through a glass darkly’, an experience which brings with it some expected frustration. It is a frustration that even Mother Teresa voiced in private journal entries written while she served the poor with great sacrifice. It is a frustration that was the experience of the great Saints Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross as they described the dark night of the soul on its journey to God. It is a murky frustration that every disciple has experienced as we long for a surety regarding God’s existence and love. Such an experience can be amplified in situations like the current pandemic, as we struggle with questions unable to be answered fully now like, “why would a loving God let innocent people die in such a way?’. But we have always relied on the example and person and friendship of Jesus when we are burdened with such struggles. His person, His teachings, His sacrifice and His Spirit offer us guidance and an invitation to patience as we walk by the light which, while His gift to us, is sometimes dim.
The Gospel of John provides perhaps the most famous example of the struggles of a follower of Jesus with the difficulty of belief. It is the disciple Thomas, dubbed even in the public square “doubting Thomas” that gives us an example of the murkiness of faith but as well an example of the conversion that is possible in Jesus’ invitation to walk with Him in friendship. He comes before Jesus admitting that he does not know where Jesus is going (to the Father) and so cannot possibly know the way himself. Jesus' words to him are powerful yet reassuring, just as they were in the upper room when Thomas had demanded that he put his hands into Jesus’ wounds or would not believe. Jesus' response is clear and welcoming. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So it is true. We have been sent out from the Father on this difficult journey of faith only to one day be sent back to Him in the clarity of the vision of our God. But for now the way is a struggle, but Jesus is clear: “whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” It is the person and presence of Christ offered to us in faith that provides guidance and reassurance, two gifts which are needed now perhaps more than ever. May our loving God, available to us as Jesus, keep us safe and willing to commit to the path and gift of faith, now and for a lifetime.
We continue to thank those who have been so generous in offering gifts large and small so that we can continue not only to operate but to very soon thrive. Please, please consider Online Giving as a way to sustain your gift to the parish in these difficult days. It is easy to use and is a great help to Saint John’s. Our discussions regarding the invitation offered to us to merge rather than collaborate with Saint Peter’s Cambridge continue, but my tendency is, because of your generosity, to continue on the path already set for us and to begin collaboration in June of 2022. If our financial situation changes along the way, so too might this change. Again we urge everyone to be generous to the extent that that is possible and know that my prayers offered both at Mass and in other ways are always for the wellbeing of you and your families. Be safe and comply with what is best for all of us.
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner updated April 28, 2020
4th Sunday of easter
The Gospel 4th Sunday of Easter is familiar to the disciple as the first part of the Good Shepherd discourse, where Jesus compares the relationship which is developed between Him and His disciples to that of a shepherd and his sheep. He maintains that because the sheep hear and recognize the voice of the shepherd, they will follow him but will not follow the voice of one strange to them. So it will be with His disciples who recognize His voice and are easily willing to follow Him because of such. “When he has driven out all of his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger.” Who is the gatekeeper who is described as opening the gate for the shepherd to do his work? Could Jesus be making a reference to the Father who has sent Jesus to the disciples for instruction and guidance? As the piece moves along, Jesus is willing to plainly explain the metaphor. As we know, Jesus' preface of “amen amen I say to you” signals the importance of what He is about to say and to teach and so its use here prefaces His announcement that He is the gate through which the disciples are to go. Jesus is the awaited moment of salvation and there is no other. His announcement fulfills their expectation and He punctuates the importance of such by claiming that He has come so that the disciples might have life and that to the full, the very life of God. When I was a child, we had a flock of sheep living and thriving in the field next to our house. I was always amazed that the owner of the sheep was able to call them and move his arm to the left or the right in order to get them to move together in the right direction. Despite Jesus’ metaphor, it must not be so with His disciples. We are a community of believers which is not fashioned as such by our blind adherence to the insistences of institution but rather which is honed by the fine edge of human freedom, the greatest gift of God. Our humility, a gift from God’s hand, allows and encourages us to give over to the truth and reality of God which is love and is never satisfied with mere obedience for its own sake. We are not blind and obedient sheep but sheep which are in love with the shepherd and grateful to be taught in a way which is gentle and kind. Because of this, we are, in the words of Saint Peter, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own” so that we might be men and women for others, gently calling more and more disciples to Him in a way which is merciful and good.
Thank you to those who have responded with generosity to my request to continue offering a generous gift to Saint John’s each week so that we might not only survive, but thrive. Your gifts are much needed at this time and will continue to be as we go forward. We pray that others who enjoy Saint John’s as a spiritual home will come forward with regular and one time gifts to support the parish. Early on in the time of this trial, I decided to go forward with an application for the Small Business Grant which was available, despite early Archdiocesan suggestion that we not do so. In my opinion it would have been too late to recoup some of the payroll for employees if we did not move quickly. The Archdiocese reversed its suggestion after a while but it was late for many parishes. It is my happiness to tell you that we have been granted a Small Business Loan of $39,900 to be applied to payroll and utility costs during the pandemic. The agreement with the federal government is that, at the end of this burden, when we bring back each person in our employ, the loan will be forgiven. This is good news for which we are very grateful. I thank Steve Kerwin, our Business Manager for facilitating this transaction. Please continue to keep Saint John’s in your prayers as we go forward. I have offered and will offer daily Mass for the people of our parish each day until we emerge from this difficulty. Know that at each Mass, you are remembered. Please alert everyone to the necessity of consulting this webpage for continued updates as we go forward.
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner updated April 21, 2020
The Third Sunday of Easter offers a selection from Psalm 16 which is to be read at Mass on this day the lines of which provide a beautiful and comforting prayer for all those burdened by the hardship of the Covid 19 virus as it encourages all of us to take refuge in the Lord. “Keep me O God” provides an opening hope for our being protected by the One who made us and encourages a reminder of what is our true safety and refuge. “You, it is who hold fast my lot.” This line provides a recognition in us that we are directed by the grace of the One in whose image we are made and to whom we will return one day. “I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.” Sometimes when there seems to be an uncontrollable and unpredictable force directing our lives we fall into the darkness of fear and are frightened by the dark night of the soul that it encourages. We must continue to call upon the Name of the Lord, especially at these times and remember that He is always present to us. Remember the storm on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus rose to calm first the weather and then the fears of his friends. “I set the Lord ever before me, with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” This is a determined statement of faith which insists that our God is bigger than the most powerful of struggles and that we choose God just as He has chosen us before this time. “Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body too abides in confidence.” Sometimes when we are fearful and unsure of our safety and comfort we can give in to sadness and fail to see the greatness in hope. Jesus offers wonderful examples of the power of God to heal and comfort even the most despondent of those who came before Him. The examples are many: the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Lazarus alone on the tree branch and the burdened man at the Pool of Siloam. Each of these and so many others provide us with not only confidence in the power of God but joy in the fact that He is in love with us in an intimate way. “You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” Not only will we one day be freed of the present burden by the grace of God and the grateful joy we experience because of the continued hard work of so many talented people, but we know by faith that we will one day enjoy the fruits of the Resurrection of Jesus in the land we have come to call heaven. Even as so many experience the pain and suffering of the loss of loved ones at this time, we bolster them with our confident prayer that those who have died will be seen again. It is my hope that you might use this brief Psalm selection as a daily prayer of hope offered during this time of pandemic and that as it is prayed with even weakened faith, it will provide comfort.
The prayer of the Holy Mass is offered every day at Saint John’s for the intentions of all who cannot be here with us in a public way. Be confident of our return to community and to sacrament one day even as we pray for patience waiting in the moment.
On this page (see above note) there is a summary of a webinar that was offered to Pastors and Parish staff and Personnel regarding measures both in place and offered going forward which are and will be offered for our safety and best practices. This webinar was conducted under the leadership and guidance of both the Cardinal and key Archdiocesan figures and is provided both in the interest of full transparency and in your best interest. Please take the time to view its contents.
We take a moment to thank those who have continued to give and that generously to the regular and other collections taken up so that our parish might remain solvent and fluid. We thank those who have given more in an effort to make up for shortfall and those who have continued use of or started using Online Giving to make or income steady and regular. We urge those who have not yet given their regular offering or those who may be holding on to offering and envelopes until that time when we open with confidence, to give those donations now and with regularity. While we can remain confident of our remaining above water for the time being, we cannot be as confident at the end of the month of May. This situation can quickly turn from one of riding out a storm to that of jumping from a sinking ship. As I have said before all of the Saint John’s employees have taken large cuts in income, some furloughed, some sacrificing all pay, to help us. Please respond with generosity to our request, which is in fact urgent. We have applied for the Small Business Loan offered by the Federal Government, but even if we receive such, it only allows for satisfaction and payroll payment for eight weeks. We need you and we need you now. Thank you for your willingness to consider my request.
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner updated April 14, 2020
It is my continued hope that you and your families remain safe and socially distanced and that you continue to know of my offered prayers for you and those you love. This difficult time has brought with it a heightened sense of the sacrifice of Lent and an odd celebration of both the holy Triduum and of Easter Sunday. Throughout the Lenten Season and through the Holy Days of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and now in the Easter Season I have celebrated private Mass at the altar in our beautiful church offering up your intentions and the intentions that we have been unable to offer in a public way for more than a few weeks now. I want to thank Bill Kisich, devoted Catholic and friend of Saint John’s, for his willingness to stand at my side (six feet away) and serve the Masses that are offered.
I long for the day when we are gathered as a community of family and friends at the familiar and holy altar here in the middle of North Cambridge and celebrating our faith again publicly. I long for the day when families are welcome to bring those they love who have died to be lifted up in prayer at the offering of funeral Mass. I long for the day when our beautiful choir is singing again in honor of the goodness of our God. But that day is not yet. We continue to abide by the directives of our government and public health officials and wait patiently and with hope. We pray that the rest of our country will do the same. The Second Sunday of Easter, celebrated this Sunday, is traditionally celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday and it is that that we seek for God’s people; the overwhelming and sometimes unexpected response of compassion and peace which comes from the Spirit of God alive in the Resurrection of Christ. We pray that God’s divine goodness and healing will come first upon those afflicted with the effects of this terrible disease and will make its way to those who love them so very much. We ask again that God’s blessing will come upon those who continue to work to satisfy the needs and comfort the fears of those who are sick and ask again for peace and safety in the hearts and lives of those who continue to work to satisfy our basic human needs of food and comfort. The Acts of the Apostles, traditionally read in the Easter Season, speaks this Sunday of the necessity and goodness of the communal life of the disciples of Jesus. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” In a way, this is what we are doing as we live life in a different way these days, weeks and months. We are committed to community and so stay socially distanced. We are committed to the Teaching of the Apostles and so sacrifice for others as Jesus taught. We pray, not in the same way, but with just as much hope, that we will be better one day and we do so always with gratitude. We break bread because Jesus is with us wherever we are and we are with Him as the celebration of the Mass continues. The piece ends with a powerful reminder of who we are in Christ and the hope that we have in Him. “Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” We pray every day that this is so and that we will emerge from this burden a better, more loving, and more faithful people than ever.
I want to thank those who have continued to be generous and good in mailing, dropping off, and donating online necessary donations of money to our parish. The operations costs have not gone away despite great sacrifices from the already generous staff of people who work here. For example, the federal government has not yet opened a portal that will allow church employees to access unemployment benefits so our employees, all furloughed for the time being, have no fiscal relief as of yet. We have applied for the small business grant which will provide some, if it is granted to us. The staff, and that is everyone, has made a great sacrifice in all of this. They are underpaid anyway and they have stepped up to help us. I am proud of what they have been willing to do as a team and I know that you are too. I thank them and know that their spirit of goodness among the parishioners of our wonderful parish will not disappoint. I have heard that some are “saving” envelopes to give them all when we get back to normal. This is not in the best interest of the parish or its operation. Please consider online giving! If you are unsure about how to do it, you can email the Office and someone will walk you through remotely. The Catholic Appeal is on hold until May but the Archdiocese is still receiving contributions. Our assessment will still come due, just at a later date.
Please stay safe and know that God loves us with an infinite love. Please tell others to consult this website for frequent updates. Thanks!
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner April 7, 2020
The cycle of the year brings us sunshine and flowers and warm rains at this time, signs of hope which realize our movement from the dreariness of winter to the warmth and enjoyment of spring. The liturgical cycle which we celebrate over the course of that same year brings the familiar prayers and joy of the Season of Easter, the time during which we announce with confidence the truth of the impact of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. But this year is profoundly different. We have been draped outside of our will with the scourge and shadow of a dangerous virus which has brought death to more than some and sickness and heartache to millions. The pandemic with which we are now too familiar has broken spirits and economies and it seems that it even has the power to shudder the celebration of Easter Spring. Good and happy people have been visited with an unwelcome guest which has threatened homes, families, and businesses and even the economy and way of life of nations. Faithful people have been barred from the prayerful celebration of belief in one God and in the Lord Jesus out of the need to insist on human safety. But God and His people will not surrender to such tyranny. We believe in one God who has made and protected heaven and earth and in one Lord Jesus who came down from heaven, became man and committed to save us by His willingness to suffer and even to die for us. And we believe that He rose again on the third day, Easter day, in order to guarantee that death will have no permanent hold over us. We believe that He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide and watch over us, especially in times of trouble so that we might never lose hope, the virtue instilled in us by the hand of God itself, which strengthens and buoys us especially when we seem lost. We are never abandoned by the God who loved us so much that He sent His only Son to be present to us in good times and in bad. So it is that we will hold tight to the tender gift of faith and the urgency we have to believe in the reality and truth of Jesus Christ because of it. We acknowledge with great gratitude the resiliency and strength of the people of the world who have united their sacrifice to that of Christ and advanced hope and healing among a people so badly injured. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated in the moms and dads who have stayed home with their children, even with great fear, and cared for them with love and longing for their safety. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated in those medical personnel who, at great risk to themselves have gone through the doors and onto floors where they hold the Cross of Jesus and say, not my will but yours be done. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated in those restaurant and grocery worker who have committed to serve the basic human needs of all of us in a fulfillment of the demand of Christ that we offer corporal works of mercy. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated in the willingness of police, fire and emergency personnel to put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve us. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated by all those good and faithful priests all over the world who offer Mass in the silence of churches and lift up the intentions of everyone who cannot be there. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated at Saint John’s by the good people of our staff who have sacrificed greatly during this time of need and still, without hope of payment, have committed to the work of this parish. Please know that I have celebrated and will continue to celebrate Mass for all of you so that the Resurrection of Christ might be alive in your hearts, homes and families, even if for now we seem so very far apart. God bless you and please, bolstered by all of our sacrifices and that of Jesus foremost, have a very Happy Easter!
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner March 31, 2020
There is a moment in the reading of the Passion of Jesus Christ offered for the celebration of Palm Sunday in which the Narrator proclaims, “But Jesus cried out in a loud voice and gave up His Spirit.” Immediately following the proclamation, all are asked to kneel and pause for a short time, in reverence and in solidarity with the sacrifice that Christ makes for us. In the absence of our being draped with the comforting cloth of this gospel proclamation on this Palm Sunday, it is appropriate that we kneel in reverence and hope that our God who vanquished death in the macabre celebration of the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection, will relieve us of this great burden which has brought so much pain and anxiety. Indeed, we are asked to pause for what we pray is a short time and think less about ourselves than our commitment to one another. We have seen such come alive in so many wonderful ways as medical personnel put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the health and wellbeing of our families and friends, and as emergency responders commit to service which is selfless. Our police, fire, and emergency responders as well as grocery workers and others who provide food have come alive in what we pray is a brief pause to protect and to serve in an echo of the sacrifice of Christ. We continue to offer thanks for those who serve in the military who continue to stand a post even as they are asked come alive in this need. Here at Saint John’s I know of so many who are willing and able to sacrifice in ways which are big or small in the effort to keep people safe, satisfied of basic human need, and nourished in faith. People have come with bags of food for those who might have need and offered generously for their satisfaction. I continue to offer daily and Sunday Mass privately for all those intentions that cannot be offered in a public way. The Young Adults are praying together on a Zoomcast on Sunday mornings to nourish and encourage the faithful and you, the good people of this venerable parish continue to be generous.
I had a meeting with all employees last Tuesday in order to prepare them and me for the financial hardships to come if we do not have a total and complete commitment on the part of the parishioners of Saint John’s to satisfy our needs. I have committed to our employees that I will suspend the payment of my salary for the month of April, as did two other employees in a position to do so so that our good and giving staff might keep benefits and have the small payment we make to them for a wonderful and dedicated job! There will be other cuts in anticipation of need but I KNOW that the good and hard working people of North Cambridge will not let our dedicated staff go without. I know that this community has contributed in wars foreign and domestic before and will continue to do so against this enemy to our freedom and our right to practice friendship and our faith. Please consider giving to Saint John’s in whatever amount you can to keep us safe and our wonderful workers safe as well. Please consider using the ONLINE GIVING program that is easily available on the website. Please continue to send or drop off your contribution and to those of you who might be able to give a one time increased gift to keep us solvent, I say thank you! In this time of sadness in which we kneel and pause for a short time, we know that we will rise as Jesus will at Easter, standing up against such a threat to our health our wellbeing and our freedoms and we will be one again! Thank you for considering this request and please keep abreast of our situation at Saint John the Evangelist website. Thanks and have a healthy and safe week.
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Pastor's Corner March 23, 2020
Please know that as we continue to struggle with the new reality of life in the COVID 19 age and to work for maximum self protection from such, I am continuing to offer private Mass for our parish and its people. While I am still breaking open the words of the Gospel to the two servers who are with me at the celebration, I miss very much the social interaction with all of you who enjoy the presence of Christ and the opportunity to choose Saint John’s as your spiritual home. Many of you have continued to be generous and thoughtful, utilizing our ONLINE GIVING system and or sending your regular donation in the mail. It is essential that we receive such in order not to fall into the financial situation which greeted me 22 months ago when I arrived here. Our Catholic Appeal process is continuing to reap benefits as we have given over $16,000 at this time, a figure which is 57% of our assessment. I understand that there are great financial burdens in the lives of many which have been caused by this current crisis and we promise continued prayers for relief. That being said, we are so thankful for those of you have been able to maintain of even increase your gift as we go forward in hope.
This past Sunday at Mass we proclaimed the Gospel of the man born blind and heard that Jesus lifted the burden of this man’s darkness by healing him and bringing him into the light. Jesus is juxtaposed to the Pharisees, in whom there are variant levels of acceptance of Jesus, the most fierce being those who He is evil because does “work” (mixing the clay) on the Sabbath. But the entire group is described by John as remaining in the darkness while the Light who is Christ brings the man born into darkness into the light of sight. Just as he uses water to signify the cleansing effect of belief in Jesus, John uses light to emphasize that Jesus has come to draw people away from the darkness of sin and division.
This week’s Gospel, also from John, is the familiar story of the raising of Lazarus. Lazarus, a friend of Jesus along with Lazarus’ two sisters Martha and Mary, has died and Martha comes to Jesus with a faithful plea that urges Jesus to consider the situation. “Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.’”
Martha is confused as Jesus tells her that her brother will rise. She acknowledges such but is thinking of the resurrection on the last day. Rather Jesus, in a powerful miracle goes to the tomb of His friend and demands that he come out, which he does much to the obvious amazement of those in attendance. This act anticipates Jesus’ Resurrection after the Cross and moves many to come to believe in Him. So too must we take comfort and solace in the truth of the possibility of our being so raised after death, but in the now we celebrate those moments of light which are kindness and comfort, generosity and sacrifice which are the stuff of our being drawn from the darkness of this burden into God’s wonderful light. In so many ways the good and faithful people of our country and world are demonstrating our belief that resurrection is possible and we will come back from this darkness with a stronger resolve and a powerful recommitment to selflessness.
God bless you all and please stay safe. We pray in a particular way for those affected by the virus directly and those hospital personnel, grocery management and workers, emergency personnel and others who commit to neighbor and stranger every day.
God Bless, Fr. Joe
Message from Fr Joe first
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced us all to reconsider the ways in which we interact and share personal space and that consideration has led to some unexpected but necessary measures regarding the ways in which we celebrate our faith and its practice. Sunday and daily celebration of the Mass has been suspended for the foreseeable future with the exception of funerals and weddings and all other church gatherings have been postponed. We have not experienced these drastic measures in the past but we have agreed to come together as one community and do what is right in response to public need. While we cannot be physically present at church for the Mass, we do have the opportunity to pray reverently at the Sunday and daily Mass celebrated on our own Catholic TV. There are many other programs of prayer and education on Catholic TV which can enhance our experience of faith and its practice which must satisfy us during this necessary period of sacrifice. Please remember that those wedding and funeral Masses which are celebrated are limited to a gathered community of just immediate family. Please do not break this limited practice and come to satisfy what seems to be an immediate need but is in fact a wrongheaded solution to the current situation. Saint John’s will continue to pay our bills and to guarantee the financial stability of our staff as we go forward. We can do so only if you recognize this action as a social justice issue and continue to support our regular and special collections by employing our online giving process or by sending your envelopes in the mail. I am begging the good folks of this parish, who have been so good in the past to respond with generosity to this urgent need. The staff will be here to process such payments and to continue to pray for all those who may be in need. I thank you for your willingness to attend to this important request and I promise my continued prayers for everyone who enjoys our parish and considers it a spiritual home.
God Bless and Good Health,
Learn more at the RCAB website: https://www.bostoncatholic.org/coronavirus