"We gather in faith..."

Teaching and commentary from our pastor, Bishop Francis J. Christian


During Bishop Christian’s recuperation, we offer you the

following reflection from “Living the Word” by Laurie

Brink, O.P. and Paul Colloton, O.S.F.S.

When my mother called me “Paul Henry”, I knew I

had better pay attention. What followed was important.

Most often what followed was, “You’d better change your

ways, young man.” Strong words invite attention and

almost demand a response. Such are John’s words to the

Pharisees and Sadducees, “You brood of

Vipers!” (Matthew 3:7). Such are Isaiah’s words to the

Israelites, “On that day” (Isaiah 11:1). The desired

response? Produce good fruit, Pharisees and Sadducees.

Show the spirit of the Lord, Israelites. Judge by fact, not

hearsay. Be just, that is, live in right relationship with

God and all creation. Befriend enemies. Keep the most

vulnerable safe. Remove ruin and harm from God’s holy

mountain. These signify that the sprout of Jesse’s root,

the Messiah, has come. The second reading adds

harmony, hospitality, and inclusivity to the list of desired


Words like these can instill fear in us or inhibit us or

they can invite us to change our ways. Change offers

hope. We can be counted among the gathered wheat

rather than the burning chaff. The gifts of the Holy Spirit

named in Isaiah today and bestowed in the sacrament of

Confirmation do make a notable difference: enemies

speak to each other, adversaries join hands, people seek to

meet together, love overcomes hatred, revenge gives way

to forgiveness, and discord becomes mutual respect, to

paraphrase Eucharist Prayer II for Reconciliation. Living

these words gives flesh to our psalm response: “Justice

shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace for ever.”

Hear God use the name your parents used to call for

attention. God invites the change that hope, healing, and

justice offer. Respond by following the One who has

given us the Holy Spirit and the fire of God’s love, Jesus