Serving Boston's West End, Beacon Hill and North Station Communities

Weekly Homily

Third Sunday of Easter - April 26

This past Thursday I took advantage of the weather and a break from technological and phone ministry and meetings. I prepared to take along walk. My preparations included a review of this Third Sunday of Easter Scriptures, prayers and music. I ingested a Claritin, ate, grabbed a bottle of water and a mask, of course and off I went. With comfortable clothing and sneakers I enjoyed the sunshine and felt hopeful though was intermittently saddened by the look of weariness and of fear in the eyes of masked and unmasked passers by. In the warmth of the sunlight I became acutely aware of the presence of God - I kept walking. As I returned toward the rectory, my Fitbit informed me that I had tracked nearly 7 miles! Nearly 7 miles! Along the walk I had reflected on a Thomas Merton prayer from his work “Solitude”. The prayer begins:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I desire to do your will. ...

This Sundays Gospel retells the story of two disciples on their 7 mile trek to Emmaus. They had departed (fled) Jerusalem full of fear and uncertainty. They had left the “others” in the upper room of the passover meal, the last supper. These two needed to deal, to grieve differently with the recent range of emotions regarding the grief of the death their friend, their rabbi and teacher. The life, ministry,passion death and empty tomb and being told that Jesus was alive was affecting them.

Our life’s journey, these heavy days of Stay at Home or Quiarentine or illness or hospitalization or even death or grief may seem lengthy and recognition of the Lord’s presence may come slowly and with difficulty. 

In the days following Jesus’ crucifixion and death, his disciples and family and friends were miserable. Some like Cleopas and his companion today left Jerusalem, others stayed, locked in their fears, others we don’t know so much about but we know they all were dispirited and defeated...mourning THE ONE they had HOPED would REDEEM them. ALL APPEARED LOST...

In the time of their greatest need, the disciples were blessed with the Lords’ presence. The journey we hear about is how all the emotions, disappointments, and fears were turned right size up. FEAR knocked at the door, FAITH Answered the door and no one was there. 

These personal accounts of the most directly impacted disciples help us identify with the universal realities of the stages of trauma and grief and recovery experienced these weeks and months. 

Theres no question that as priest and in ministry for sure I have lived with uncertainties and unanswered questions. For sure, even more basic for me, a 60 year old Catholic Christian with pre existing conditions placing me in the at risk population, Ive fluctuated with crazy thoughts of potential infection. Although extremely cautious and protective I find myself around various and sundry people and populations daily. Ive been strictly disciplined in not visiting my 97 year old mother, and maintaining physical distance from others here and elsewhere. The near inability of providing sacraments has created & reached a crisis of concern as to how to provide these spiritual remedies for our faithful. Easter 2020 broke all records for social distancing. There was, in effect, no communal Triduum-no Easter. We are a sacramental people. We have been commissioned by Jesus through the Holy Sprit to bring hope and healing to each other. The Eucharist is our source and summit, we are more than just nourished by the Body of Christ, we are called to be the body of Christ. The unprecedented experience of no mass, no Easter, no Eucharist, no Sacraments has surely begun to negatively effect and affect our lives, our communities, our nation and our world. We are spiritual, physical and emotion human beings. Human beings not human doings as we’ve begun to have in perspective these continuous days of “stay at home” advisories. We are called to be. 

Please let us all pray for a more timely & practical solution of maintaining a decrease in virus transmission-keeping safe, while keeping the faith and addressing the need to collectively worship, celebrate and receive the Eucharist and sacraments. 

On our present road to Emmaus we must face the realities, feel our feelings, identify and express our emotions, and bask in the guidance and direction of our Risen Lord to meet us with safe solutions. Let’s reflect on the words of that Thomas Merton prayer, “a desire to do Gods’ will”. If we pray, if we act from a desire to do Gods’ will then we know from biblical and salvation history that Gods’ will surely brings light to darkness. THY WILL BE DONE.

We remain, through it all, an amen, alleluia people.

Interested in reading a good book & perhaps discussing it with others. 

Parish reading group - Og Mandino “The Christ Commission” 


Fr Joe

-----------------------------------Last Week's Homily---------------------------------------

Second Sunday of Easter-Divine Mercy Sunday April 19
“Peace Be With You”
We remain, through it all an Alleluia people.

Today, this second Sunday and week of Easter, as our Orthox brothers and sisters celebrate Easter, we recognize Divine Mercy Sunday. Here at St Joseph’s, several worshippers represented us all at our 9:00am livestream mass. A debt of gratitude to John Lawless, our pastoral administrative assistant, for making this happen, as well as the Williams family, Joe Griffith - our recently laid off business manager, Moira and George music ministers, our intern Jeffery Malone, Fr Lucas and myself represented you all. Candles set at pews throughout the church where you normally sit burned for your intentions. The beauty of our church paled in comparison to past Sundays of Marathon Monday and Patriots Day week. No runners, no guests and your absence was sadly and powerfully experienced. We will run and not grow weary, we will rise again. We remain, through it all, an Alleluia people.
Thank you to the many who have already expressed their gratitude for this streaming of our simple celebration. We were viewed and thanked from as far away as Texas, France and 4 different countries!
-If you, or someone you know have the capacity and can assist with advancing our attempts at bringing this livestream to others please contact us asap.
April 15th, 7th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, our city acknowledge OneBoston day of service much differently this year. Our parish was directly involved in coordinating the interfaith prayer service at which Sean Cardinal O’Malley participated in representing all of us Catholics. We remain, through it all, an Alleluia people.
This past week and into this week and seemingly even much longer, we are each and all asked to keep our physical (social) distancing, maintain high levels of sanitary hygiene and to surely wear masks. Need a mask?
-‘Prayer Masks” have been made by a team responding in our parish. Those who make them pray for those who will wear them and those who wear them are asked to pray for those who had made them! If you are in need of a mask, or would like to join the team of merry makers please contact us.
We are here for you. We are making every effort to keep you spiritually enriched through our website, on facebook or by phone. Simply call or write or link onto a resource via our website or 617 523 4342.
-Outreach and our food drive continue and now have even greater needs. When passing by from WholeFoods or CVS drop a non perishable or paper or cleaning supply outside the church in the basket provided.
-A number of parishioners are our Neighbors InDeed for our Neighbors InNEED. If you wish to join the action or are in need of anything please contact us.
-Local 223, Select Demo and New England Finish have erected a temporary plexiglass front at our main entrance for your prayerful stop by and viewing of the Lord, present in our tabernacle. Thank you Patrick Walsh, Ryan Denver and John Marquis for this spiritual work of mercy and your promise to return and remove when no longer needed.
-Easter inside and out is being symbolically and aesthetically arranged and we are grateful. A lot of recycling of artificial plants and flowers has occurred. Thank you to those in the past who stored up these now sought treasures. We remain, through it all, an alleluia people.
We of course lack in offertory and finances and this is an area of great concern.
-Please remember us through online or mailed in contributions. While we strive to meet many needs we must stay attuned to financial realities. All parishes have been informed to act now so as to not be left in spiral financial free fall and chaos. I have reached out to be creative in meeting our financial burdens and will be presenting detailed information this and next week. Joe Griffiths, has offered to volunteer his services as laws allow and we have applied for the federal small business loans available. Cut backs and limiting of expenses is at an all time reduction. We are doing all that we can right now. Thank you to those who continue to remember us and contribute. Your notes of encouragement and appreciation lift me up and your contributions are offsetting the lean realities we all face. We remain, through it all, an Alleluia people.
-Pastorally we are attempting to be creative and connected. Although several weddings and first communion sadly have been rescheduled it is the sick and dying and affected families we are most concerned with. A team of young priests has recently responded to be trained and is attentively active to the sick. Fr Janusz, chaplain at Tufts NEMC,and in residence here has been very occupied. All of us clergy have been attentive to these needs.
-Our side altar of The Blessed Mother and St Joseph now has the remains of recently deceased “temporarily intermed” as a sacred place for them to be prayerfully remembered. Please pray for Sandra Wilcox and her family and all of our beloved deceased. Grieving families unable to participate fully in the prayers for the dying and rituals for the dead are very grateful for our bereavement outreach. We remain, through it all, an Alleluia people.
-Share a prayer, a phrase, a thought, artwork, lets start a patchwork quilt?, share with us that we might share (it)with others. These are challenging times, calling us to be creative and respond to whatever it is God calls us each to in our daily reflections.
***************************Join us each day at 3:00pm for a moment of prayer ***************************join us at 3:00 praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
-Light (electric or battery) candle in your window.
-Send a note or card to someone alone. Be united to each other as Christ is united with us.
Uncertainty and fear reigned in the hearts of those in the Cenacle/upper room. Jesus appeared, although the doors were locked because of their fear. Jesus proclaimed a peace of his resurrection. We share in that peace, we share in that Resurrection. We remain, through it all, an Alleluia people.
In this week’s Gospel meditation the main theme is believe. Jesus encourages Thomas to be believing and the author of John’s Gospel also urges us to believe. It may be harder to believe today because we are overwhelmed and uncertainty reigns. Faith is a gift of God, but it takes personal courage and conviction in order to believe. We must each be attentive to our faith. We may have to wrestle with our faith and the realities of today.
The 20th chapter of John’ Gospel contains four episodes of faith.
-Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb and runs to tell the disciples. Peter and the beloved disciple run to the tomb and see and believe. This is the first recorded act of faith in the risen Jesus.
-Mary Magdalene meets Jesus at the tomb. He call her by name and she believes in him.
-Jesus appears to the disciples in the Upper Room. They see and believe.
-A week later Thomas is with the disciples when Jesus appears and expresses explicitly: “My LOrd and my God”
Why does the author of this Gospel focus so intently on the theme of faith in the risen Christ?
This “Easter Faith” is so important because it gives color and meaning to life and to death, even to suffering. When I have faith in Christ who is risen from the dead, I am no longer dealing with a flat dull world. Faith is luminous with the presence of God and holds the promise of newness and transforming power, a destiny in Gods hands. Faith brings life even when nothing else seems to make sense. Faith changes how we deal , how we cope, how we live and breathe and have our being. Faith changes how I ponder this surreal and uncertain time of illness, death and fear. Faith gives me hope. Let’s keep the faith and share a hope.
Have you heard the Friday 7pm shouts and applause of appreciation for our essential workers. Join in the gratitude each Friday from your window, balcony or respective location. Have you seen the risen Lord, present and very much alive around us? He is risen, He is truly risen. Light up a window candle to let us see, help us know you shine, you live and have your being with the light of the risen Christ. We remain, through it all, an alleluia people.
God is good and I am grateful
Fr Joe White