The springtime blossoms bursting with soft white flowers along Winthrop Street cast a festive glow over the Training Field. At the moment I am writing, families are gathered with
small children on blankets as a troubadour serenades the gathering and the kids sing along. Seasons changing is one of the many blessings of life in New England.
Yet the metaphor of changing seasons extends beyond climate and weather. The exquisite passage from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8), has been read for thousands of years and appreciated for its wisdom and beauty. There are multiple seasons of our lives and the text eloquently describes them from birth to death, laughter to tears, war to peace, planting to harvesting and so many more. Each of us knows these seasonal changes in our own lives and in all around us – our families, our communities, and our world.
I am preparing for a change of seasons, so to speak, in my own life. On June 5, I will retire as pastor in Charlestown after 18 years. Now months after my 77th birthday, I am thinking a lot about seasons changing! Someone asked me after Mass on Sunday how good I was in “letting go”. I had to think about how I wished to answer, for I had not thought much about that.
Like every one of us, I have had to let go of many places, jobs, family members, homes, friends, and more over the years. Sometimes these changes are wrenching and other times less so. Leaving Charlestown will be hard to do. There is so much that is wonderful about the people in The Town and about being a parish priest here. Furthermore, returning to Boston after many years away has been a joy – I am a city guy and love this unique neighborhood.
There is, however, another aspect of this evolution that is constant. For forty years, I am an ordained Catholic Priest and a man never retires from the most essential life and work of a priest. Yet, retiring from being a pastor – that is another matter!
The final lines of the passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes are profound for me and perhaps also for you: “I have considered the task which God has appointed for us to be busied about. God has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into our hearts, without our ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done”.
With immeasurable gratitude to God and to so many in our community, I will let go of Charlestown and carry within me the multiple blessings of these years. A new season is ahead and God is good.
Third Sunday of Easter – April 30/ May 1, 2022
This weekend’s Gospel reading from John enjoys a number of themes not least of which has to do with hearing Christ’s call to live differently but returning to our “comfort zones.” Even after seeing the risen Lord and receiving his blessing and missionary charge, his disciples go back to what they were doing before Jesus first called them.
Instead of continuing Jesus’ ministry, they return to the life they knew.
When faced with the choice between embarking on a new way of life or staying where life is familiar and comfortable, they chose the latter.
Good stewards know that Christ has called them to open their hearts and live in a different way.
How often do we retreat from the Lord’s call so that we may remain with what is ?