From the Pastor

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

Image of man and words "Here I am, Lord"Today we begin Ordinary Time meaning weeks are numbered. It is a kind of count down to Christ the King. Our readings for this day are chosen to get us off to a good start. Although we will read through Matthew’s Gospel this year, we start with a reading from John.

The gospel speaks about Jesus, who is identified as “the Son of God” who John baptized that he might “be known to the world.” In the first reading he is seen as “a light to the nations.” Our response is “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”

This gives us a great start, we know who He is and who we are. He is the light, we are the servant. At St. Bernadette, we are adding another tool to come to know who He is and His will. We will be reading and praying on Laudato Si, the most recent Encyclical from our Holy Father Francis. Through this study, we will discover new ways we can serve and follow. Please join us.

With love,

Fr. Tom

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

Image of the Baptism of Christ

The Baptism of Christ. Carl Bloch [Public domain]

The scriptures tell us that when Jesus was baptized by John he was submerged in the Jordan river and then came up out of the water. This prefigured the Paschal Mystery which he would accomplish just three years later when he suffered, died and went into the grave but then rose again emerging from the darkness to become himself the light.

This then is the central image of baptism today. Die to self, live in the light for Him. Baptism then is a calling to a special kind of life, one that is in the image of Christ. Peter tells us today that from the baptism, Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, went about doing good. Does this describe you?

Jesus gathered around him people with whom he could travel, talk, share meals and receive the support he needed for his work. We gather as church, a family with the same intentions for one another. By being baptized into Christ and into the church, we have all we need to go about doing good.

With love,

Fr. Tom

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

Epiphany Image“Let there be light!” The scriptures begin with the creation of light and the theme of light shining in the darkness is found throughout. On the Feast of St. Lucy in December, we traditionally light the Christmas lights. On the Feast of the Presentation in February we bless our candles celebrating the light. Today, Epiphany Sunday, we celebrate Christ “The Light of the World” who has come to enlighten all the nations.

The emphasis today is that the light comes to all. God’s light is meant to reveal His truth and gather all into it’s warmth. The Wise Men follow the light (they represent the world) and Isaiah celebrates that the darkness that covered the earth has been overcome by the Lord.

We can easily see there is too much darkness still in our world. Deeds done in the dark (secret) are what keeps us apart and cause much suffering. This feast calls us to bring His light into the world, into our community, family and heart. Light can be warm. Light can be powerful. Light can shatter the darkness.

Let us recommit our lives to the light. Following Him and shining His love and truth every day.

With Love,
Fr. Tom

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,
Image of the Holy Family

In this “A” cycle of readings, we have focused on Joseph’s story.  This continues today as he protects his precious family enduring the trials of a long journey.  Our first reading compliments this focus through honoring those who are fathers to their children.

These images are given broader meaning in the Responsorial Psalm as the call to honor our father is extended to our relationship with God our Father.  We are reminded that families that are well fathered are places where children prosper.  God wishes us to know His fatherly care that we also might prosper.  We are blessed!

Today is a wonderful time to thank God for our parents and family.  Let’s express this gratitude through caring for one another.  Do something together today.

With Love,

Father Tom

Fourth Sunday of Advent

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we always begin telling the story and focusing on Joseph and Mary. Without their “yes” to God, our story might not have happened. They too needed to stop and listen before the could hear God’s call.

Do you suppose God is calling you for some part of his plan? Are you listening?

We not only praise and thank God for Joseph and Mary, but look to them as an example. I am sure both of them were well formed in prayer, to seek that quiet place where God could speak to their heart. After their “yes” I am sure they spent a great deal of time in that same place seeking the strength and wisdom to parent such an important child.

Let’s not get too busy to seek that quiet place in our lives and listen to God.

With Love,

Fr. Tom.

Third Sunday of Advent

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

Jesus tells the followers of John the Baptist that the signs of his presence will be little acts of kindness. If we take the time, we can see these all around us. They are not random, but consistent acts of caring for one another, even for the stranger.

We can enter into this mystery of the presence of Christ in our midst in two ways. One is to stop and notice. Being mindful, even in a crowd of shoppers, of those little ways His presence makes a difference. The other is to be engaged in such acts ourselves. Looking for opportunities to help those in need whether through some organized charity or an individual act of generosity. We will become more aware of God’s presence and it will help us know the true meaning of Christmas.

With Love,
Fr. Tom

Second Sunday of Advent

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

Image of advent wreathPeople have dreamed of peace for many thousands of years as we see in our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah. The dream is not just a cessation of fighting, but peace and justice for all. This dream includes the imparting of gifts of the Holy Spirit: counsel, strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord. These are tools of peace.

It seems strange, the dream of peace we all share and the path to this peace being clearly laid out for us from ancient times, yet it is not achieved. Might John the Baptist call us a “brood of vipers” too? Do we embrace the ways of the Lord or of the world?

Paul tells us to “welcome one another as Christ welcomes you.” Let’s take the time during Advent to be aware of the great gift that is the coming of Jesus into the world. A gift of welcoming us and our sure hope that one day, His peace will come to the earth! Simple acts of welcoming others into our busy life are tools we can use today to know His presence and promote His peace.

With love,

Fr. Tom

First Sunday of Advent

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

If you have ever climbed a mountain, there is an amazing blessing. On top of the mountain we behold a wonderful view. We can see for miles and get a broad look at the world around us. This is a very different view from down in the city. With buildings blocking our view and often times people or trucks and such, our sight is limited.

This image then is used throughout Scriptures to speak of a meeting with God. From a place near God, our view of life, the world, the past and future is changed. Clarity is often achieved by spending time on this mountain top.

During Advent, when we are often amidst crowds, we need to rise to a place of clear sight. We can find this place in prayer, in a quiet place, in church or even perhaps on a mountain. Take the time to gain perspective, especially as we begin this journey of Advent. Vespers is one of my favorite places. What an amazing view.

With love,

Fr. Tom

Christ the King

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

Do you want to be the king or queen or would you rather be Jesus? There is something enticing about being the one in charge, the one with all the power. But, with being king comes responsibility and the cross.

His kingship is not something we would want, yet we are so glad he embraced it. His kingship sets us free and promises us to be, “With him in paradise.” In dying for all of us, our God takes delight in our salvation and welcomes to his side for eternity.

We pray, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” This means that although we are not king, we do build the kingdom. We pray and work so that even here on earth our brothers and sisters might experience that eternal presence and the reconciliation experienced by the good thief while hanging upon a cross.

With Love,
Fr. Tom.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

Jesus invites us to act out of confidence in Him instead of fear. When we act out of our fears, we often act in a way that is focused on our own well being, whether that is survival or safety, comfort or control. When we can trust in Him, we know that all will be well and we are then free to act with love seeking survival, safety and comfort for others.

In Jesus’ teaching he acknowledges we will see terrible sights and experience awesome sights and signs. Our faith allows us to interpret these things correctly. While lack of faith might see chaos, faith tells us that out of the chaos, God has created and out of death, God gives life.

Malachi speaks of the “sun of justice” which will heal. We now know this is the Son of God and his justice will have the last word.

With love,

Fr. Tom

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

My Dear St. Bernadette Family,

32nd Sunday Mass Reading imageAs we come closer to the end of our church year, the readings pick up on nature and the winter experience of falling leaves and seemingly dead trees. The cold air furthers our awareness of death and the questions it brings to the living. In the readings today, we are pondering the question of the resurrection of the dead, that is, what will happen to us on the other side of this life? Is there another side, heaven, judgement, etc.?

Jesus’ answer is not an attempt to describe but an invitation to trust. That is, we cannot describe an experience beyond this life, but we do know who it is that is in charge. Our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is who we place our trust in with all questions of eternity. God, who has revealed love for us beyond any human experience, invites us to believe that God’s incredible love which is without limit.

Our Alleluia verse ofter points to the heart of the readings. Today’s is “Jesus Christ is the firstborn of he dead; to him be glory and power, forever and ever.” That glory and power is our eternal hope.

With Love,

Fr. Tom

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

31st Sunday image: Zacchaeus and JesusMy Dear St. Bernadette Family,

As our gospel story begins, we see Zacchaeus as a successful businessman (a Tax Collector) but someone who is curious to see Jesus.  He isn’t a follower but knows something is missing in his life.  He hungers for more, but not sure what it is he hungers for.  His curiosity leads him to seek Jesus.  He thinks he only wants to see Jesus, but in fact he hungers for so much more.

There are many Zacchaeus’ in our world today.  They are successful by the world’s standards, but something is missing.  They are searching, but do not know where to look.  Like Zacchaeus, they are “up a tree”, or “out on a limb”.

What they might not know is that they are looking for Jesus.  Not just to see him, but to know him in a personal way.  Not just for him to pass by, but to stay in their home.

Perhaps, that is us!  Maybe you are the one looking, hungering for something more.  Undoubtedly you know someone else who is looking in all the wrong places for “salvation”.

Although our story does not give us the ending, we are certain that Zacchaeus’ life was forever changed.  His relationship with Jesus would have flowed from this encounter and he would have become more honest, generous, and caring.  It would have been a big change for him to leave it all behind and follow Jesus.  He probably didn’t do that, or we would have heard more about him.   But he did find what he was looking for.

With Love,

Father Tom