1 Click on DONATE button.
2 Choose your PROGRAM
3 Choose your amount.

If you still have problems, please let us know, by sending an email to support@sjbny.org . Thank you!


Mon-Fri 9:00AM - 6:00PM
Sat - 9:00AM-5:00PM
Saturday, 23 September 2023 / Published in Church Reflections

SIRACH 27:30-28:7 | ROMANS 14:7-9 | MATTHEW 18:21-35

“Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?”

These words of wisdom were written 200 years before the birth of Jesus by the sage, Sirach. Sounds like the teaching Jesus delivered. “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” It sounds, too, like the prayer Jesus taught us. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In the gospel passage today, Jesus answered a question Peter asked about the number of times we’re obliged to forgive our neighbor by spinning a lengthy parable about a servant who owed a huge amount of money to his master the king. After listening to his plea for leniency, the king wrote off his entire debt. Everybody knew that the king symbolized God, the great King. They understood that Jesus was teaching them that God’s compassion and forgiveness were radical and boundless. But….the parable went on.

That same servant left the glow of the King’s chamber and bumped into a fellow servant who

owed him a pittance. He beat him and had him dragged to prison because he couldn’t repay the little he owed. I don’t know any Hebrew curses but I’ll bet you that a bunch of them could be heard mumbled throughout the crowd describing the merciless servant. But justice was eventually served when the King heard of the incident and handed his servant to the torturers until he repaid his debt to the King. (I’m sure a cheer rose from the crowd.)

Jesus began the parable by saying, “the kingdom of God may be likened to…” In the kingdom everyone has to be like God – loving, merciful and, above all, forgiving.

Here we are, the followers of Jesus. We live in the world, but hope for the kingdom. We pray for its coming every day at the Eucharist, but the horrors of our many wars, the millions we’ve imprisoned, the burning political hostilities that plague us leave us angry and revengeful. Sometimes it seems we’re condemned to the torturers with the doors of the kingdom closed to us. We need to let go of resentment – to let compassion reign over justice – to free our hearts to forgive – to weep for our sins against each other – to heal our human family – to knock at the kingdom’s golden door – to kneel with Jesus and pray with him. “Father forgive them.”

Saturday, 16 September 2023 / Published in Church Reflections

EZEKIEL 33:7-9 | ROMANS 13:8-10 | MATTHEW 18:15-20

I love this passage because everything about it is wrong…and that’s important. The topic of Jesus’ discourse is forgiveness. Next Sunday we’ll be listening to Jesus’ parable about an unforgiving servant. Let’s cheat and take a quick look at that parable before we look at today’s passage.

A servant was forgiven a huge debt by the king to whom he was indebted. When the king learned that this same servant pounced on a fellow servant who owed him a pittance and had the man arrested, the king called him back and revoked his forgiveness. “Then, in anger, his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.” Jesus concluded the parable with a lesson. “So will my heavenly Father do to you unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” Let’s also link up this parable with Jesus’ answer to Simon Peter who had asked how many times he should forgive a brother, “Seventy times seven times!” Keep these thoughts in mind as we look at today’s passage.

Reading it, I feel like I’m in a class studying the legal procedures for excommunication. Step one: confront the person who has offended you. If you can’t reconcile move to step two: bring in two or three witnesses who are familiar with your case. If this doesn’t result in reconciliation move to step three: bring the case to the assembly of the Church. If this doesn’t work, take the ultimate step: excommunicate the brother, “and treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”

Now, what makes this passage even more challenging to interpret is that this is what the Jewish community did in Jesus’ day, and what our community, the Church, continues to do today. Procedures like these were exactly what Jesus fought against. Over and over again, Jesus taught the need for radical forgiveness forgiveness from the heart. As far as treating someone

who has offended me as a Gentile or a tax collector, nothing could be farther from what Jesus taught. He asked to eat with Zacchaeus, the tax collector, an act that meant he was in communion with him. He called Matthew, the tax collector, to be an apostle!

Jesus cured the son of the Roman centurion and commented that he had not seen such faith in Israel. He liberated the Canaanite woman’s daughter from demonic possession. Dramatically, he fed 4000 people, mostly Gentiles, in the area of the Decapolis. Jesus flagrantly broke the religious and cultural prejudice regarding tax collectors and Gentiles.

Jesus had no tolerance for the intolerant. But we see from this passage, written around 70 CE, that the old ways still held on in the early Christian community and even crept into the written Gospel.

I said that I loved this passage because everything in it is wrong. It’s wrong because it doesn’t reflect the Jesus we see in the rest of the New Testament. It’s wrong because it advances a juridical process to exclude people from the community of believers. This “insertion” into the Gospel of Matthew stands as a warning to us. The Gospel Jesus teaches is a gospel of inclusion. It’s challenging. It’s messy. It isn’t black and white. It brings together sinners and misfits, king and queens, saints and ordinary people all in various degrees of conversion. You and I, the Church, must recognize that, as followers of Jesus, we face a complex and continual challenge every day, inclusion.

None of us is a finished product. God has gathered us, unfinished products, to witness to a broken, unreconciled world that each of us is a beloved child of God, loved equally, loved with our imperfections. Our baptism has anointed us to preach the gospel of inclusion, and to struggle, day by day, with all that it implies.

Saturday, 09 September 2023 / Published in Church Reflections

JEREMIAH 20:7-9 | ROMANS 12:1-2 | MATTHEW 16:21-27

A short time ago Jesus had brought the apostles to the sacred district of Caesarea Philippi. There Simon made a profound, public profession of faith in Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus was exuberant. He even gave Simon a new name, Peter, a rock. He promised him the keys of the kingdom of God, and assured him that the powers of darkness would never prevail. What a moment that was! Peter and the other apostles left that district on a religious high.

Simon Peter’s profession revealed Jesus as the Messiah. The joy that the apostles felt ignited their fantasies of power and glory, the Messiah leading a march into Jerusalem riding a magnificent horse, and followed by a great army. He would ascend the throne of a liberated and independent Israel. It took but a moment for Jesus to dissolve their fantasies. “Jesus began to instruct his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and on the third day raised.”

The apostles were high on thoughts of power. Jesus’ prediction of his death threw them for a loop. Simon Peter, again the first to speak, rebuked him. “God forgive, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”

Poor Simon Peter, his heart was in the right place. What a shock when Jesus, burning with anger and frustration, spat at him, “Get behind me, Satan!” It seemed like one minute he was joyfully changing Simon’s name and giving him the keys to the kingdom of God, and then suddenly,

he was calling him the king of tempters, Satan. He commanded him to step back into line, and begin “to think like God does, not like humans.” Simon Peter stood there, silent, embarrassed, confused.

Then Jesus turned to the rest of the apostles and hit them with a teaching that would take them a lifetime to digest. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

That was a mouthful, wasn’t it!? The disciples must have been speechless when they heard him. They were hoping to be princes in Jesus’ kingdom; what’s this about denying oneself? What did he mean that they needed to lose their lives in order to find life? Was he out of his mind challenging them to accept death on a cross?

The teaching coming from this scene is of utmost important for every disciple to contemplate, not only once, but every day. It’s the guide to the Christian way of life. Jesus is telling us, his beloved disciples, that we’re wrong if we think we’re alive. Our concept of life was a fantasy. Longing for power and fame are distractions. We discover true life by pouring out our lives in the service of others. Jesus is teaching us that we’ll have to liberate ourselves from our ego’s selfishness if we hope for real life – the life he’s offering us. Let’s conclude this reflection with the words Jesus spoke so many times. “Let those who have ears to hear, hear.”

Saturday, 02 September 2023 / Published in Church Reflections

ISAIAH 22:19-23 | ROMANS 11:33-36 | MATTHEW 16:33-36

We study an important moment in the life of Jesus and his disciples today. Time was getting short. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem for the final time; his death was near. He went out of his way to bring the disciples to a very special place separate from Jewish territory. He could have some peace and quiet there, away from the crowds. At Caesarea Philippi he could focus on his disciples and continue to instruct them.

Why did Jesus choose this particular place? It was a sacred place. There were many shrines to the ancient Syrian and Canaanite gods scattered throughout the area. There was a cave there with a deep well that Jews celebrated as the source of the sacred Jordan River. The Greeks believed that the god, Pan, was born in that cave. There was also a great white marble temple dedicated by Herod’s son, Phillip, to the emperor god, Caesar. Hence, the city was named Caesarea Philippi.

This site, revered by Greeks, Romans and Jews alike, focused the religious energy of the world. In this context, Jesus asked two most serious questions: “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”

They answered the first one easily. “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” In answer, the disciples pulled out the big guns. John the Baptist was executed by Herod, but he feared that Jesus may be John raised from the dead. Others thought that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi that predicted the prophet Elijah’s return to prepare the world for the Day of the Lord, the time of global purification in preparation for the Messiah. Others thought that Jesus was Jeremiah returning to announce the liberation of the Jewish people. Many people viewed Jesus as a prophet. It had been 400 years since a prophet had spoken in Israel. Jesus’ message of the coming of the kingdom of God rang with hope. But Jesus was looking for a deeper answer his question. So, he asked, “Who do YOU say that I am?” Peter’s answer was immediate and unambiguous. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is what Jesus wanted to hear! He was on his final journey to Jerusalem; the cross was drawing near. How successful was his mission? Did anybody really understand who he was and what his mission was? People saw him as a holy man and a prophet. That was a start; but there was more, much more. In a flash of insight Peter got it. He saw Jesus – the anointed Messiah, but even more, he saw the son of God. This wasn’t only an observation; it was a profession of faith and, most importantly, by this profession, he became the first stone of the new edifice Jesus was constructing. “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Peter interpreted these words of Jesus for the early church in his first letter. “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) Peter’s message is meant for us to hear, too. Sometimes we think of this passage as saying that Peter is the rock, the foundation that the church is built upon, but actually Peter is the first “rock” of the new edifice, the church. Many more “rocks” are needed to complete the building. Jesus will be the capstone, completing the structure. Remember Paul’s teaching: “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred to the Lord; in him, you are being built together into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” (Ephesian 2:19-21) We’ve been called to the city of Caesarea Philippi today to be challenged by the most important question we can be asked. “Who do you say that I am?” Are you ready to be a “rock?”