Lincoln’s Log 7-25-2021

Eucharist 1: Sign of the Kingdom

Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’”
2 Kgs. 4:44

When they had had their fill, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
Jn. 6:12-13

This week we begin a series of Gospel readings that take us deep into the meaning of the Eucharist. We read selections from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. I would encourage you to spend the next several weeks reading, reflecting on, and praying with John 6. There is a depth of wisdom about the Eucharist expressed in this chapter.

The selection for this week (Jn. 6:1-15) places the miraculous front and center. We begin with the miracle of the “multiplication of the loaves”. This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. In fact, it occurs twice in Mark and Matthew. It is an important miracle and highlights the importance of the gift of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a miracle in our midst.

This miracle of the multiplication of the loaves is a sign that points to the Kingdom of God. The twelve baskets collected point that out. Like the twelve tribes of Israel, or the twelve apostles, these twelve baskets indicate that the kingdom of God is coming. Through this miracle, Jesus is establishing that Kingdom.

This is clear to the crowds. They understand that Jesus is pointing to the coming Kingdom. How do we know? Because “Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king” (Jn. 6:15).

But the crowds (and the disciples) are still confused about what the Kingdom of God is about. They think only in material and external terms (food, power, etc… ) so Jesus withdraws from them.

God’s Kingdom is deeper than that. There is more to be uncovered about this mysterious kingdom and especially its mysterious king. Stay tuned for next week to find out more about Jesus and the reality of the Eucharist.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 7-18-2021

Apostolic Succession

I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; none shall be missing, says the Lord.

Jer. 26:4

Question: How do you know where to find Jesus’ church?

Answer: Find the church he established.

As Catholics, we believe that Jesus established the Catholic church to continue His mission in the world. Last weekend, we heard how Jesus sent out the Twelve to continue His mission (Mk. 6:7-13). These Twelve were directly chosen by Jesus (Mk. 3:13-19) to be the core of the community. They were the foundation of a new Israel, just as the twelve tribes were the foundation of the people of the Old Testament. Like Israel, the new community founded on the apostles was to be the instrument God would use to renew the world. In fact, these apostles would spread the restoring power of God beyond Israel to the ends of the earth.

Already in the Old Testament, God was promising to renew His people. In our reading from Jeremiah this weekend, we hear God saying, “I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble.” These Twelve apostles are the fulfillment of that promise.

And these Twelve apostles form the foundation of the church. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:15-26), the Apostles choose a replacement for Judas so that their mission as shepherds of the people can continue. This choice of successors to the apostles continues today in the selection of bishops who are called to be shepherds after Jesus’s own heart.

Like the Old Testament shepherds, some of our bishops fail to live up to their calling, but Jesus continues to use them to guide and sanctify His church. The authority of leadership is passed down from one generation to the next in the call and ordination of the Bishops who take the place of the apostles as shepherds of the church. This process of handing down authority from one generation to the next is called “apostolic succession” and ensures that the Catholic church stays connected to the apostles and their mission. It is the source of the church’s apostolic authority. Since the time of the apostles, leaders have laid hands on the next generation to pass along the mantle of leadership.

That’s why we pray for Bishop Ricken and Pope Francis every time we gather for Mass. We believe that God has chosen them as our shepherds and that their authority comes from Jesus through the long story of apostolic succession.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 7-11-2021

What’s your Mission from God?

The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.
Amos 7:15

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two…
Mk. 6:7

God has given each one of us a mission. He chose us “before the foundation of the world’ (Eph 1:3) to be part of His plan to save the world.

It is easy for us to forget this fact. We get lost in the details and lose the big picture. But in the midst of it all, God has created us for a purpose. Here is a prayer from St. John Henry Newman to help us remember our divine mission.

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.

St. Cardinal John Henry Newman

This week, we hear from Sr. Martha Mafurutu about her mission and the mission of her order to proclaim Christ. As we support their mission, let’s also grow in the depth of our own mission.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 7-4-2021

Expectant Faith

Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.
Ezekiel 2:4

[Jesus] was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mk. 6:6

Last week, we heard the story of two people of faith: Jairus, the synagogue official, and the woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for 12 years (Mk. 5:21-43). They both received healing (in Jairus’ case, his daughter was raised from the dead), because of their faith.

To Jairus, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk. 5:36b).

To the woman with the hemorrhages he said, “Daughter, your faith has saved you” (Mk. 5:34).

These two people expected Jesus to do something in their lives. They expected Jesus to change things. They had expectant faith. They believed Jesus could and would help them.

Today’s Gospel tells a different story.

Jesus is in his hometown. He has just raised Jairus’s daughter to life. His power hasn’t changed. His ability to heal hasn’t gone away. He is still the Son of God who has come to establish God’s Kingdom.

Yet “he was not able to perform any mighty deed there” (Mk 6:5a).

Why? What is different?

The people of his hometown don’t expect Jesus to be able to do anything. They think they know Him. They know what He can and can’t do. Some things are just impossible for this local guy from Nazareth.

We do the same thing. We let our idea of the impossible swallow our faith. We don’t expect much from Jesus. Sure, we believe that Jesus can work miracles (in theory), but we know how the world works. We know what is impossible. Jesus can’t solve our family problems; that’s impossible. Jesus can’t heal the divisions in our nation; that’s impossible. Jesus’ can’t heal my illness; that’s impossible. Jesus can’t solve my financial problems; that’s impossible.

And so it is. Our hard hearts can shut out the gifts Jesus longs to give us. But what could happen if we expected Jesus to do something?

Ask Jairus. Ask the healed woman. They can tell us what is possible. They can show us what to expect.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 6-27-2021

St. Thomas More

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; … Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mt. 10:37, 39

I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.
St. Thomas More

On June 22, we celebrated the feast of St. Thomas More (1477-1535), the patron of our parish. The church recognizes him as a witness who gave up his life in testimony to the unity of the Church and to the indissolubility of marriage. He was born in London and was Chancellor of King Henry VIII. As a family man, public servant, and writer, he displayed a rare combination of human warmth, Christian wisdom, and a sense of humor. Here are some quotes from the pen of this great writer and saint:

“You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds….What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.”

“What does it avail to know that there is a God, which you not only believe by Faith, but also know by reason: what does it avail that you know Him if you think little of Him?”

“We cannot go to heaven in feather beds.”

“As Boethius says: For one man to be proud that he has rule over other men is much like one mouse being proud to have rule over other mice in a barn.”

“And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.”

St. Thomas More was executed as a witness to the faith at Tower Hill, July 6, 1535. May the words and witness of this Holy Martyr and our patron be an inspiration for us all.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 6-20-2021

Common Ground and Creating Community

For whoever is not against us is for us.

Mark 9:40

Are you tired of the polarization and divisiveness in society? Our faith calls us to be engaged in the world around us, but how do we do that in a productive way? Do you want strategies to engage in dialogue with others online or in person, even about “taboo topics” like politics, race, religion?

St. Thomas More is a member of Common Ground Fox Cities which is launching the “Golden Rule Project.” This initiative seeks to equip individuals within the Fox Valley community with practices that foster dialogue, trust, and positive relationships. In this time of division, the Golden Rule Project strives to move the needle of our society – away from polarization and demonization of the Other, and toward authentic relationships that celebrate differences while working toward community.

One of the primary ways we build a healthier community is through listening to one another and sharing our story. On the last Thursday of each month, Common Ground Fox Cities is hosting a series of community conversations which will empower and equip you to do just that: listen and share. These dialogues can be transformative encounters where we discover that “whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk. 9:40) and that we can live together.

The next Community Conversation is Thursday, June 24 at 7 pm. This virtual event, called Popping the Bubble: Creating Community Across the COVID Chasm will be a place to renew the work of creating community. I will be serving as one of the trained facilitators for this dialogue and I would encourage you to join in this conversation!

You can register and find more information at commongroundfoxcities.org

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 6-6-2021

Corpus Christi

This week we reflect on the great gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood. It is another feast where we use a sequence, a liturgical poem, to help us unpack the beauty and truth of the feast. Here is a section from the Corpus Christi Sequence:

Lo! The angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
See the children’s bread from heaven,
Which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willling,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling
Manna to the fathers sent.

Very Bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesus, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints,
Though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be.

Amen. Alleluia.

The purpose of a sequence is to connect many of the biblical images around a theme so that the mystery of the Body and Blood of Jesus can be appreciated from many angles. Like most poetry, reading out loud and slowly can help unpack the meaning. The rest of the sequence can be found online.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-30-2021

The Holy Trinity

This weekend we celebrate the Mystery at the heart of our faith, the Holy Trinity. It is a Mystery, which does NOT mean that we cannot know it, but it means that we cannot comprehend it. We can get glimpses and tastes of the Mystery, but we can never “master” it like we can master a math problem or a philosophical proof.  The Trinity is infinitely knowable. But where do we start? I’ve found that a good approach to getting in touch with this Mystery is through the Litany of the Holy Trinity. The Litany uses brief statements to point us in the direction of the Trinity. Taken together, the litany explores many facets of the Trinity and can get our minds oriented to explore this great Mystery. Here is an excerpt from the Litany. 

God the Father of Heaven,

Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us

God the Holy Ghost, etc.

Holy Trinity, One God,

Father from Whom are all things,

Son through Whom are all things,

Holy Ghost in Whom are all things,

Holy and undivided Trinity,

Father everlasting,

Only-begotten Son of the Father,

Spirit Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,

Co-eternal Majesty of Three Divine Persons,

Father, the Creator,

Son, the Redeemer,

Holy Ghost, the Comforter,

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,

Who art, Who wast, and Who art to come,

God Most High, Who inhabitest eternity,

To Whom alone are due all honor and glory,

Who alone does great wonders,

Power infinite,

Wisdom incomprehensible,

Love unspeakable,

You can find the rest of the Litany of the Holy Trinity here. Spend some time this week reflecting on this Great Mystery.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-23-2021

Pentecost Sequence

The feast of Pentecost which we celebrate this weekend is one of my favorites.  Below is the “sequence” for Pentecost.  A sequence is a liturgical poem that unpacks the meaning of the feast.

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.

May the fullness of the Holy Spirit descend upon us today and every day!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader