October 1 Community Message

How many of you have heard these words; “talk is cheap, its actions that count”, “you have to walk the walk not just talk the talk”, “actions speak louder than words.” I’m sure at some point in your lives those words have resonated. Jesus, in today’s gospel unpacks for us the meaning behind those words. Jesus, as we all know, had His greatest conflicts with the religious “know- it- alls.”
That was the main problem Jesus was facing when he encountered the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees. They thought they knew everything there was to know about the coming of the Messiah. They claimed to know exactly what kind of Messiah he would be. They knew all the rules and regulations, had them memorized, and could explain every little detail of the law. They applied these enforcements of the law to everyone but themselves. They laid heavy burdens on people, but excused themselves.
They simply were not honest or sincere. Jesus in using this parable exposed the “know –it-alls.”
The older brother had no intention of working and then had the honesty of saying so to his father. He was wrong, but he was honest. The younger brother was the opposite. He said the expedient thing to his father knowing what his father wanted to hear but he had no integrity. He was insincere because he had no intention of working even though he said he would.
The older son did the right thing. Christianity is not simply saying yes to a series of doctrines. It is not just our observance of rules and regulations. No. Christianity is a way of living the Gospel; being honest with ourselves, all the while being sincere in what we say to others and in how we treat them.
Talk is cheap; being honest and then acting in honesty are sometimes tough things to do. Sincere honesty is one of the hardest and most demanding of things about being a Christian. It is the “narrow way” Jesus told us about, that narrow way that is the road to our eternal salvation, the way of living that Jesus shows us and expects us to follow.

September 24 Community Message

I remember growing up as one of five children. There were many occasions when my parents had to divide something among their children. I can recall one particular Sunday. My uncle was visiting my grandmother for her birthday. He brought with him seven layer cookies; my favorites. My mom opened the box and proceeded to give out the cookies. I noticed that everyone at the table had at least one more cookie than I did. I immediately cried out that it “wasn’t fair.” My uncle reminded me that I had the largest cookie; actually two cookies stuck together.
“It’s not fair”, the professor hears from the best students when he or she generously puts the grades on a curve to benefit those who did not do so well.
Most of us have met people like the workers who have arrived first in today’s Gospel parable. They are people who are unhappy with the good things they have, unhappy with the good things others have, and generally skilled at letting everyone know about their unhappiness; and that’s putting it mildly.
The worker’s in this story made everything about them and what they should receive; what their idea of justice and fairness should be. Envy and jealousy are strong emotions that can block our ability to see the goodness and blessings that have been received.
All throughout our lives we will receive the same “wages” as those who we might think are less deserving. Everyone receives the same “wages” because the point is not to reward me for whom I am, but to change me to like Jesus; a person of love, a person who does not judge, a person who is fair and just, a person of mercy and compassion and one who is generous. We are not here to set terms and conditions, but to be grateful and rejoice at what are given; not only to us but to all people. The Kingdom of Heaven is for all who believe, whether you are a cradle Catholic or a deathbed conversion.
In the face of God’s abundant generosity and goodness, our only response should be one of thanks.

September 17 Community Message

There is a Disney animated movie recently; and most children as well as Disney fans will recall it. The movie is called Frozen. What struck me about this movie is the signature song “Let it Go.” You know the song; it’s been played so many times. How appropriate, for in today’s Gospel we are called to “let it go.”
Anger is a very strong emotion. It has the ability to consume us. It holds us back, it prevents us from forgiving. It destroys our lives. I have never met anyone who has not been offended by many different people. We hold on to that anger. It becomes a grudge and in some cases it even fosters hatred. Do you know what happens? Our anger, our grudge, our hatred and our refusal to forgive holds us back.
A family member once said “well I’m going to take this anger and grudge to the grave.” Trust me it sounds prettier in English; it loses a little in the translation from Italian. We cannot be good Christians and allow ourselves to be bogged down in anger and a refusal to forgive. The servant in today’s Gospel was forgiven a great debt, yet he was consumed with anger over a small debt owed to him.
The Gospel of Christ demands forgiveness. The Gospel of Christ demands forgiveness even when we think we are justified in our anger. We must mean what we pray when we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” By putting aside our anger and grudges we embrace love; we embrace God’s love for all of us.
Is there someone who has offended you? Is there a situation from years ago that has had a negative impact on your life? Or maybe it is a recent offense that is gnawing at you. The gospel today, like that Disney song urges us to just simply………….”Let it go.”

Deacon Anthony Mammoliti – August

This summer has been particularly warm and humid in southern Italy and Europe. Fires have raged throughout the dry brush land, especially in Sicily and Calabria. Fires have spread rapidly and have caused considerable amount of damage to homes and property. The people have been praying for relief from this heat and for rain to fall to end the drought. Something in stark contrast to what has been the weather of late in NY.

Through all of this many of the people have asked where is God in all of this? Todays Gospel reminds us that we must have confidence that God is always with us, even when it seems we are surrounded by raging storms and unsettled waters. Confidence is the word we need in our lives today. It is a word which comes from the Latin to believe with. We can not have confidence when we are alone, we can not have confidence without an Other; that Other is God. One can find confidence even in the most chaotic of times; the most perilous of times. And thats the point of todays readings.

One can find confidence, even in the worst of storms, even in the most chaotic of times. You can go through the worst that life can throw at you if only you keep up your contact with God. No prayer? No confidence. Stop coming to Mass? No confidence.Not sharing in the life of the Church, in the Body of Christ? No confidence. Soon you’ll take your eyes off of Jesus, and just like Peter, you will sink. Soon you’ll only be able to hear the screaming wind, the awful noise, and the deafening roar of the storms and winds in our world that shake the very foundations of our life. And without the voice of God and the eyes of Jesus to hold you steady, we, like Peter, will either be blown away or drown. Is your life getting out of control? Is your faith slipping away from you? Are you experiencing more and more powerlessness in the chaos that surrounds you? Then pray for God to be with you and give you the confidence you need to navigate life’s troubled waters. Where is God in all of this? The real question is not where is God in all of this?; rather where are we with God in all of this?