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Finneran: Jesus’ Carpenters

Friday, December 28, 2018


Scripture tells us that Jesus was a carpenter.

How ironic that his house—his Church—is in such a state of disrepair.

But, like any skilled master carpenter, Jesus has schooled some mighty good apprentices. In fact, they are the finest finish carpenters I have ever known.

I have seen them in action, master craftsmen picking up after the foul wreckage wrought by pompous hypocritical clergy who degraded the Church, the faith, and themselves.

Several recent funerals, as well as weekly celebrations of Mass have shown me the resilience and strength of the Catholic faith, when left in the hands of humble parish priests. Not for them is the lust for position, prestige, plush settings, or favored assignment.

Rather, these carpenter priests want to guide parish families, to build and re-build parish communities, to excite young people about their faith, and to minister to their flocks as life unfolds.

They explain Scripture in the context of ordinary people living ordinary lives with all the attendant joys and sorrows of human life—celebrating the occasions of marriage and births, consoling on the occasions of illness and death, grieving, inspiring, teaching, and praying with and for a community of souls who seek strength and guidance, yearning to be good spouses, good parents, good citizens and good Catholics.

Just this week I was reminded of Jesus’ beautiful words----”For My burden is easy and My yoke is light”. The reminder occurred at a funeral where four priests were celebrating the life of former Boston Police Commissioner Mickey Roache. A quick aside about the use of the word “celebrate” in connection with the sad circumstance of death---the celebration has a distinct duality to it. Friends and family gather to celebrate the earthly life and achievements of the deceased, as well as to celebrate his passage into eternal life with his God and Savior Jesus Christ.

There is a two-way avenue of joy in a well-said Mass. There is the joy of the priest in sharing the wisdom and insights of Scripture and the Gospels. There is also the joy of the gathered congregation in receiving the Word and understanding its relevance to their daily lives. At those moments of shared joy—for the priest as Teacher and for the parishioner as Believer—it becomes clear that Jesus’ burden is easy and his yoke is light.

Father John Connolly was the principal celebrant of Mickey Roache’s funeral Mass. To be in Father John’s presence is a blessing. He says a beautiful heartfelt Mass. Father Chris Hickey proclaimed the Gospel reading. Father Chris should be both Pope and President. He is a gift from God. He has drawn more young people back into an appreciation and pride for their Catholic faith than anyone I have ever known. Father Brian Clary was also on the altar. I had heard Father Brian lead the funeral Mass for a friend’s wife a few months ago and the memory of his consoling words to a devastated family has stayed with me ever since.

Up the road in St. Gregory’s Parish we have Father Jack and Father Brian who live Jesus’ words every day---visiting the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, teaching the prisoner, counseling the addicted, soothing the weary, consoling the grief-stricken. Before Father Jack and Father Brian we had Father Vin and Father Ryan as our parish leaders. Truly our cup runneth over.

God’s master carpenters are hard at work. We are the wood, in need of their ministry. Their Church needs their healing touch. May God bless their efforts. May God prosper their work.

Can I get an “Amen”?

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.


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