Let Us Die with Him

The Raising of Lazarus

Media Change

My PC is over 12 years old and still running Windows Vista. The problem is Trend Micro stopped supporting the OS. So until I can buy a replacement, I will post via Android phone only.

My posts will be brief. Maybe helping me write more clearly. Let us hope.

Greetings on this the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Readings: EZ 37:12-14; PS 130:1-8; ROM 8:8-11; JN 11:1-45

The seventh and final sign of Jesus in the place called Bethany. Bethany- House of Affliction. Bethany – House of Figs.

Bethany as place and in persons is the climatic pre-arrest confrontation. Lazarus, Mary, Martha are beloved by all of Judea. Everyone even the worst among us respected the holiness within them.

In the dramatic raising of Lazarus, Jesus gives sign of his power over death and in the Resurrection promise.

After this event both Jesus and Lazarus (in some ways especially Lazarus) are under the death sentence of the leadership as recorded in the Session of the Sanhedrin.

Let Us Die with Him

Thomas gives word to the interior thoughts of the Apostles. Faced with certain death, they go to tend to the dead. Even though their understanding is limited, their faith propels them forward to accompany Jesus (See book of Tobit for interesting parallels).

Instead of burying, raising.

During the Lazarus event Jesus ‘snorted in spirit’. See In 11:33-34 and In 11:37-38. The first snort is the effect weak faith has on the Lord. The second is the effect dead faith has on the Lord.

Snorting and Weeping

In-between the weak faith and dead faith, the opposite poles, Jesus wept. For all of them. He wept because we flip between the opposite ends. He weeps for us too.

The promise is made real in the person. By the sign of Lazarus and later in his own Resurrection.

If we must die and we do, then I want to heed the words of Didymus. Let us go to die with him.

For me I have decided to follow Jesus, also a favorite spiritual song. Let us love the living, the dying and the dead.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Mutual Yes

Annunciation

Mutual Yes

Greetings on this the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Readings: IS 7:10-14; 8:10; PS 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11; HEB 10:4-10; LK 1:26-38

Now I See!

The 4th Sunday of Lent we celebrate Jesus as the Light of the World.

I wrote a homily on this gospel reading called Divine Light Beyond Sight of which there were 8 views and 6 likes which means it wasn’t read at all. J On LinkedIn another two Likes but well you get the idea. As the Divine Will would have it this year, the Annunciation (fixed to March 25th, 9 months before His birth because well pregnant for 9 months ya know 😉 falls within the week. So this week we contemplate that Jesus is the Light of the World and the Annunciation of his coming.

Two Lite Stories

Coloring Lite Story

A recent scientific and medical breakthrough allows people who are color blind to see in color. It is truly an amazing time this Age of Medicine. On several occasions I have seen videos of people who received these special glasses and their first experience seeing color with these glasses. For the moment allow me to suspend doubt and cynicism about these devices as I hear a variety of outcomes and conclude they are effective in about 20% of the patients who try them.

Yet we must marvel at the response of those 20%. How wonderful it must be to be able to see color for the first time. There are several YouTube videos you can be a spectator to the response to such a gift. In this case he could see but not completely and was given the gift of complete natural human sight.

Cataract Lite Story

I have my own version of this type of gift. I had cataracts in both eyes. The milking over the eyes takes many years so it was not noticed by me until my eye glasses were fogged over in only one lens but I was blind! Turns out the left eye was 100% blocked but the right eye and the brain compensated until it couldn’t. So into surgery I went for lens replacement and vacuuming out the cloudy substance.

What a joy and wonder to have such medicine! Not only was my sight restored but the colors, crispness, depth, and so forth… that I tell you I didn’t have to begin with or so long lost forgotten what colored sight should be!

In my case my sight was restored but more than restored, naturally perfected.

These are within the natural created world sight stories.

On the Spirit

Today there is a natural and spiritual story. You know it well. Gabriel comes to Mary and we celebrate Mary’s singular, perfect Yes to the Lord.

We celebrate her Yes in prayer (Hail Mary composed of sacred Scripture) and we celebrate her intercessory heart for Elizabeth and all of us as a integral part of her yes to the Lord:

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.

Celebrate the Mutual Yes

The Annunciation is also about the Yes of the Lord. Yes to our need. Yes to our predicament and hopeless case without intervention.

The Annunciation is completely about intervention! The Lord was intervening in the life of Mary. She, although without sin, also needed the savior. Mary is alson intervening in our life as well as evidenced in her rushing to Elizabeth’s side.

The Lord’s Yes or, as we say, His initiative is to act and invoke a response with the intention of the salvation of souls.

Ahaz Couldn’t See

Ahaz (735-715 BCE) ruled in uncertain times. He was guilty of child sacrifice to Molech (2 Kgs 16:3), imperfect construction and treatment of the Altar in the Temple and is attested to permitting social injustice by both Isaiah (3:13-15; 5:8-13) and Micah (2:1-10).

He had power but was constantly at the whim and victim to overlords. He had no vision. He had become a hapless victim.

I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!

Even still God provides. Even if Ahaz could not say Yes to the Lord, the Lord said Yes to Ahaz! He offered his Son:

Emmanuel, which means “God is with us!”

Mary Couldn’t See Either

Mary couldn’t see either by the way. She wondered aloud ‘How can this be?’

But the difference is Mary wasn’t a hapless victim. She was one who trusted the one who made her.

Can You See it

Can you see the Lord always says Yes?

Can you see the Yes of your own heart like Mary’s as an honest heartfelt surrender to love?

The Annunciation begins the salvific mission of Jesus incarnate (pregnancy by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit). It is our Yes too. It is our becoming sharers in the divine mission. It is most of all the Yes of God.

The Yes he was dying to give us.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Divine Light Beyond Sight

Catholic Org Light Photo

Divine Light Beyond Sight

Greetings on this the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Readings: 1 SM 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A; PS 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6; EPH 5:8-14; JN 9:1-41

Special Circumstances

Note: Mass for this 4th Sunday of Lent was done via live streaming. The public was unable to attend due to the necessity of physical separation during the rolling waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view the Mass on-line at one of these two places:

YouTube Link:
sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

Facebook Link:
sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

Born Blind

In today’s reading in the Gospel of John we encounter the 6th of 7 ‘signs’ of Jesus. Here Jesus cures the blindness of a young man who was blind from birth. Each of the seven signs of Jesus brings about the revelation of his divine power over creation is a primal way and the specificity of the symbolic meaning of the cure.

Note: the language of the Gospel of John would surely be improved in future translations to replace instances of ‘Jews’ with the more proper naming of ‘Leadership’. Jesus confronted an embedded leadership not the whole of the Jewish people, his very own.

Primal Power Over Creation

Jesus brings about sightedness to the young man. During this story it is attested to by the young man’s parents that in fact he could not see from birth. This is distinctly a revelation that Jesus can perform a radical sanation – to the root – which is the restoration of creation to its most perfect form.

Symbolic Meaning

Father Quesnel goes into depth about this point. The young man makes the journey from physical blindness to physical and spiritual sight. In an opposing way the Pharisees go deeper into their spiritual blindness even as they conduct their inquiry.

This is quite an interesting point. The investigation and the investigators were unable to hear and see the evidence presented to them. Such is our common plight. How often does the Lord present answer and data and example to all our existential questions and the heartaches we suffer and we need to listen and hear:

  1. Bruised Primal Creation – Who sinned that this man is blind from birth. It cannot be attributed to personal sin but to the damage made to creation by sin.
  2. Sabbath for the Man not Man for the Sabbath – this sign as well as so many others performed on the Day of Rest because this indeed is the rest of God.
  3. Necessity of Touch – Jesus shows us again and again the Lord desires to heal us through his touch, his personal and specific interaction with us.
  4. Challenge – There is no offense taken by Jesus to be challenged. We challenge the Lord all the time. Discernment and challenge are good with done in the proper spirit of seeking truth. Do we want to be able to see in the spirit?
  5. Witness – This young man goes through a very significant change and growth by reflection on the events, on the scripture, on their tradition and on his deepest restorative desire – one with God.
  6. Voice of Conscience – the Pharisees felt the prick of the conscience ‘are we’? It was a good question but asked with the bias perspective imbedded in it… Surely we are not also blind, are we? Their response to conscience was to try to rephrase the spiritual blindness as physical blindness which they clearly are not suffering from. No, Jesus replies, your sin remains because you reject any possibility of blindness within you.

Encounter Jesus in the 6th Sign

I hope you get a chance to reread the sixth sign of Jesus with contemplation and meditation. Encounter Jesus in the 9th Chapter of the Gospel of John.

Going Dark

Going dark is represented in this story by the investigation.

It begins with the basic error filled thought. Providing a cure on the Sabbath is sinful because there should be no work on the Sabbath.

  1. Doubling Down on What I know – isn’t this obvious. We take a position we are comfortable with and even more so derive our POWER from and do everything we can to reinforce it.
  2. Ignoring the Facts – The leadership wanted to make untrue what is true. He was born blind but they did what they could to manipulate and pressure these parents to deny this basic fact. Remember, they live the same culture. They are admitting, as it were, their own sin by the birth of a blind son (even as we have heard from Jesus that is not a sound thought for the parents to have – they too are healed).
  3. Rejecting Any Possibility of Change of Mind – A key weakness. We have our basis (Moses and the Elders and the traditions) and nothing will move us from these positions even as the same basis of argument is used by the young man to prove the truth. In other words, the young man spoke and used the logical process of the Pharisees to the Pharisees so they could  jump the gap in understanding. It was not enough.
  4. Voices Outside the Elite – The leadership could not imagine any teaching or insight from anyone but those of their own group and from their own wealth of learning.

Let’s Let Light do what Light Does

As we can see from today’s reading, we must let light do what it is meant to do. Break free from bias and limited understanding. Don’t clutch so tightly the folk teachings that stand in front of and block the light of truth.

It’s work but the best of work. It is Sabbath work.

Interreligious version

I hope you find this teaching link to be most helpful in these current times. You see, I do not claim ultimate authority. I am but a member of the human family and each of us discover new ways to bring light to the world inspired by the Divine.

Here: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-one-19th-century-rabbi-responded-to-a-worldwide-cholera-epidemic/

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Holy Isolation

Miriam

Holy Isolation

(For background – See A Short Teaching on Unclean from my perspective here: A Short Teaching on Unclean)

Leprosy

Leprosy has never really completely left us. In 2011, I had the privilege to visit and minister to a community of Lepers (I will resist telling you where).

It was only at night. We would never be able to find them in the day time but at night they would come to a designated meeting place. The population subject to rumor and prejudice are openly antagonistic and violent in abuse of the lepers.

We’d set up chairs and break out the musical instruments. It was an all night banquet. We shared plenty of food, music, preaching and fellowship. Injuries were attended to, physicals conducted and dental work performed in tents erected right in the middle of the street in the middle of a city in the middle of a regional Capitol.

But of all the things we did the fellowship and the exercise of our common humanity was the most precious to all of us. When the Sun began to rise, they people melted into the background. We broke camp and left no trace of the Holy Isolation.

We were in Holy Isolation.

Exodus Leprosy

Maybe we have forgotten the story of Miraim (Numbers chapter12). Well, she had a disagreement with Moses and maybe a bit jealous of him. She spoke out and the Lord was not at all happy about it. He descended in a cloud and when the cloud departed Miriam was a white-leper.  Aaron and Moses interceded for her and begged mercy. The Lord agreed but no until she spent 7 days outside the camp.

and the people did not start out again until she was brought back (Num 12:15b).

The Standard

This became the standard. Going forward there is an additional story about Miriam. It is told that one time Miriam was sick and unable to proceed. Yet the cloud rose from the dwelling tent signaling the time to go forward. But they did not go. They did not move. For Miriam was ill and could not travel.

And the Lord smiled. He lowered then He lifted the cloud again.

His children refused him because one of them was ill.

And the Lord cried tears of Joy.

Ever since, for as long as human kind chose to remember, any and all who had to be outside the camp were given everything they needed. They were kept as close as close would allow. It became the exercise of our common humanity which was the most precious to all of us.

Which Side of the Wall Are We?

Does it them matter which side of the wall we are on? Does it matter who is my favorite or most favored.

No, we settled this question three Millennia ago. If one is sick, we are all sick. No one journeys until we all can journey.

SAINT ONUPHRIUS

A Hermit and Confessor, c.400, the story goes…

Because of their isolation and their sometimes strange forms of self-denial and penance, the lives of these desert fathers gave rise to a number of fabulous tales, none more richly imaginative than that of Onuphrius and Paphnutius. It seems that Paphnutius was a fifth-century abbot who left his Monastery to go into the desert to see if the hermit’s life was meant for him. After wandering about for days, he saw a strange creature approaching him: it seemed to be a man, but he had hair and a beard that fell to his feet and was unclothed except for a band of leaves around his waist. Paphnutius was about to run from the sight in fear, when the old man spoke to him and assured him that he was a man and a servant of God. It was, in fact, Onuphrius, who took Paphnutius to his cell and there told the abbot his story: he had come to the desert sixty years before, and ever since had lived in complete solitude, suffering continually from hunger, thirst, heat, cold, and temptations. His only food was dates from the palm tree beside his cell, his only consolation the knowledge that he was doing the will of God. That night the two men prayed together, and in the morning Onuphrius died, after first assuring Paphnutius that he had been sent there precisely for the purpose of burying him. The abbot did this, whereupon the cell and the palm tree immediately vanished, a sign that he was not to remain in the desert.

We are meant in this current age to head to the desert. COVID-19 is taking us there, impelling us to go into the desert. We are meant to be there. We are meant to do something or one thing or another. Each of us to our own competencies. And we are called there but for a while and eventually a sign we are not to remain and the crisis will pass.

Holy Isolation – What will we do?

This is our desert time.

As God did not create man for life in isolation, but for the formation of social unity, so also “it has pleased God to make men holy and save them not merely as individuals, without bond or link between them, but by making them into a single people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness.” So from the beginning of salvation history He has chosen men not just as individuals but as members of a certain community. Revealing His mind to them, God called these chosen ones “His people” (Ex. 3:7-12), and even made a covenant with them on Sinai. (GAUDIUM ET SPES, 32).

Br Prudent, Be Holy

One does not exclude the other. Holy embraces the virtue prudence. Holy enlightens prudent to its best form.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

 

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Deeper Well

Jacobs Well

Deeper Well

Greetings on this the Third Sunday of Lent

Readings: EX 17:3-7; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; ROM 5:1-2, 5-8; JN 4:5-42

Binding Problem

What s the binding problem that all suffer from in these readings today?

  • The elders of Israel at the place called Massah and Meribah;
  • His disciples; and
  • The Samaritans of that town, Sychar?

Each of them were bound to their own idea of what to do, where to worship, the way to think of others and way to find God.

Each was trapped in their own context.

The Israelites and their Elders of the Exodus event were trapped in their desire for food and water. Ordinary elemental things became more important than relationship with the Lord. Moses satisfied the immediate need but that need was far deeper and more misdirected and there was no resolution. They simply complained and complained.

His Disciples / Apostles were just as self-absorbed. They couldn’t imagine why Jesus would talk to the Samaritan woman. She was Samaritan and a woman. If he wanted water or food he could have asked them not her. They were completely focused on themselves and their standing.

The men of the City of Sychar were just as self-absorbed. These Samaritans were begrudged and unwilling to hear out the woman but not for the truth but for the curiosity. Even after allowing Jesus to witness to them they refused to see her and her witness as valuable. One can say here that they barely made room for Jesus but to stay for two more days. They placed Jesus into a box too, along with their faith traditions.

Every other person gave Jesus very little time nor attention and most of all they did not bask and soak in the dialog with the Messiah.

The Woman Basks In the Love

It is the Samaritan woman who basked and soaked in the dialog with Jesus. Together they dive deeply into the worries, hopes and promises she holds. They discuss the deepest aspects of her personal life (one man without benefit of marriage), faith life (5 false gods), ancient traditions (sacredness of Jacob’s well as a driving tradition), and the division between Samaritans and the Jews.

Their conversation was far, wide and deep into her faith, culture and behavior. The five husbands or five gods of the Assyrians or Babylonians are no there’re ‘husbands’ but the false faith traditions. The ‘one you live with’ is her unmarried partner. Summer Study on the Gospel of John for a deeper look Page: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/home/summer-gospel/ Site: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/

Living Water

Jesus is able to bring her and through her also us to a more sustainable and holy thought.

Worship must be in truth and spirit. It isn’t a place as much as a relationship. It isn’t a rubric of format as much as a spirit of trust and truthfulness – in the seeking and in the listening.

The woman chose what we must choose. To have the truthful and open spirit before God, talking, listening and immersing into the infinite presence.

Then and only then will the living water not simply flow over us and then away from us… but into us and persisting within us because we invite the Living One to stay with us.

Put it Down

Put down your water jar.

Sit and immerse yourself in Jesus.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Transfiguration

Transfiguration

Transfiguration

Greetings on this the Second Sunday of Lent.

A late arrival. I’ve been busy but that would be half the story. The other half is taking the time to produce a helpful writing. It is never my intention to have a following, as it were, in the Internet space. I fit neither the classic book publisher style nor the modern pithy writing style common for the internet. I am here simply to write. It improves my own understanding of our faith. It improves how and what I communicate. It has on occasion and perhaps not often enough helped others in their faith journey directly.

It is also my own Transfiguration. Is that a scandalous comment to you? You don’t understand. In today’s language we would say my writing reveals my thoughts and my person. What I hold dear and worthy of instruction. Who I love and how I love. Jesus’ Transfiguration reveals the divine thought, divine person, divine instruction and the divine who and how to love.

Readings: GN 12:1-4A; PS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; 2 TM 1:8B-10; MT 17:1-9

The Transfiguration is a fixed part of the liturgical readings. It is always read on the 2nd Sunday of Lent using one of the three Synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is also celebrated as a Feast on August 6th of each year. One is free to think that the Transfiguration would be preached perhaps differently given the contrasts of the seasons Lent and Ordinary time.  It would be advantageous to read Exodus chapters 32-34.

Jesus Identifies with his Ancestors

The event on Mount Hermon (or traditionally Mount Tabor) is a recapitulation of Moses on the mountain.

The sequence of events on the mountaintop is meant to invoke the common memory of the Jewish people the experiences of Moses.

Jesus is the new Moses.

Further, one can make cross reference to Face glow of Moses (Ex 34.29), and the dazzling white clothes of the one human before the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9).

The invocation is clear. Jesus is the new Moses, the new Intercessor. Jesus is the Anointed One. Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus is identifying with the terrible circumstances confronting the people. The people had violated the Covenant. While Moses was receiving the Law tablets they have been making the golden calf. When Moses arrived with the tablets of the Law, the law was symbolically smashed to the ground as a sign not of God’s break but the effect of the people filial turning away.

After Moses intercedes things are restored in a most marvelous way. The Lord, not wanting to journey with the Israelites, is persuaded by Moses to accompany them. ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’ (Ex 33:14). Thus the journey begins and the meeting tent and the cloud descends and ascends according to the stages of the journey.

Moses begs ‘Let me see your Glory’ (See Exodus 33: 18-23 for this marvelous exchange). The Lord shows Moses goodness but only his back may he see and live. Later Moses speaks with the Lord in the meeting tent Face to Face as Friends speak to one another. They are breath to breath. And yet even then the people could not look at Moses. His countenance was of one who is aglow with the effects of being in the presence of God. He had to cover his face with a veil so people could approach him.

Jesus Joins the Human Exodus

Thus the Transfiguration is a joining together into the Exodus journey through the desert toward Canaan, which is the Promised Land. Jesus, in the current time, joins the journey of the human exodus. We were once in slavery in Egypt too, in a manner of speaking, but now journey to a New Jerusalem.

The challenges like that of Meribah and Massah are before us. Jesus is the new Joshua who will guide us and who will fight our battles for us.

Jesus Unites Heaven and Earth

Witness of the event includes members of Heaven and Earth, all living and numbered at five. This is a formula of authenticity.

Moses and Elijah witness and are disciples in Heaven. Peter, James and John are apostles on Earth making five in total. At the number of five followers we can say Jesus is Rabbi or teacher. Jesus is the binding agent of Heaven and Earth.

Jesus in his person is the giver of the Law in the fullest sense of the Law and Word. There are no tablets but voice alone. Jesus wrote nothing in his life. He read and taught from the Torah, Prophets, Wisdom and Psalms all written on scrolls. But Jesus, the final word, speaks. Law has become flesh.

Jesus is Attested by Theophany

The theophany (This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him) is the attesting of the Father. Jesus does not claim his Sonship rather he is attested to by the Father. God the Father covers the Meeting Tent again in a cloud and speaks.

Jesus reveals the face of God. If Moses saw his back, Peter, James and John saw his face and lived.

Filled with fear the apostles were overcome (just like the people at the mountain of old).

But Jesus touched them. Touched them! Get up and do not be afraid. When they looked up they saw only Jesus.

Only Jesus. Only Jesus.

The incarnation and the transfiguration bring about a double gift. Although we glow with the effects of being in the presence of Jesus we are no longer in need to hide our face. Rather the glow is approachable even as Jesus is approachable. Grace is no longer bound to mystery alone but mysteriously freed in the incarnation.

Jesus Renews the Tabernacle Life

The Lord God tabernacled with the People on their journey through the desert of Sin. Jesus is the renewal of that tabernacle life.

The Covenant is renewed. This renewal is to bring about the ultimate purpose of Covenant. To enter into the Eternal presence of God forever and to bring about the final victory over the desert experiences of Meribah and Massah (quarreling and testing). The Covenant is ultimately the attestation of the faithfulness and trustfulness of God in both the acts of mercy and the efficacious effects of mercy.

Just beyond the reading are these twin accounts. Jesus instructs the apostles that the Son of Man must suffer at the hands of the leadership and will raise from the dead (suffer = propitiation for sin and raise up = final effect of mercy). Then Jesus is recorded healing a possessed boy and teaching that our faith is perverse (and needing refinement). See Matthew 17:9-22 which immediately follow the Transfiguration.

We need to be accompanied on our journey. Our faith is weak and our trust is slight. We are wandering and wondering if any of this is real.

Tabernacle with Jesus

But all is well.

Jesus is tabernacling with us!

He is our Rabbi, King, Prophet, Moses. He’ll renew our faith, journey with us to our personal and corporate Jerusalem. He is our sacrifice and burnt offering which we cannot supply from the elements alone but only from the divine as source. He will strengthen our faith, reinforce our trust and make us glow like Moses in friendship face to face, breath to breath.

Come tabernacle.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

I Believe, Help My Unbelief

Today’s Gospel contains the words of a father desperate for his possessed child. “If you can, help”. Jesus replies, “Faith”.

Then the marvelous confession shared by so many of us, ‘I believe…. But… Help my unbelief’

How many have a vague sense of faith. A dimly lit candle of faith. I tell you ask Jesus to help you in your unbelief’.

I sit here among the dead knowing they will rise in the resurrection. I reach out to the living telling them same.

Woodside, NY. Preaching the resurrected Jesus.

Rite of Committal

Preached the 7:30 AM Mass today. The basic notes found here this site You have heard that it was said .

Now at PBI awaiting my flight to LGA. Bringing Mom to her final resting place. Monday 11:00 AM.

Blessed Mother Intercede for Her

This will be the conclusion of the funeral rites. A final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member.

We commit her to her resting place as one among all those marked with the sign of faith where she too will await the glory of the resurrection.

The Church on Earth and the Church in Heaven share Mother now. We with our farewell prayers and they welcome her into the company of those who see God face to face.

Family Place, Calvary, Woodside.

May the Angels accompany you.

Sing Praise, sing praise

I’ll send photos throughout. May my devotion to her be give also to all those you love for we journey as a human family and love has no boundaries.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Plane reading
Saint Sebastian – Baptismal Church
Chapel
St Sebastian School she attended,
Morning Assembly
A pub the younger version frequented.

You have heard that it was said

Gossip

You have heard that it was said

Greetings on this the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: LV 19:1-2, 17-18; PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13; 1 COR 3:16-23; MT 5:38-48

Fake News

These past three weeks we have been reading the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon begins with the Beatitudes and continues on teaching for three chapters!

The Sermon on the Mount takes chapters 5, 6, and 7 to express.

It takes two Sundays alone to go through the correction of Fake News. Jesus talks about ‘You have heard that is was said’.

Of course the point is actually no. It is not what the Lord said. Not in the beginning. Not to Moses or the Prophets and not by Jesus. It is instead the product of the Deceiver, the Satan. [Note: some traditional reading of lex talionis, tit for tat, of Ex 21:24-25 is simply an error in reading scripture. Verse 24 must always be read with verse 26. Ex:21-24-26 as a continuous statement.]

But that is what makes Fake News so plausible. Lack of attention to detail.

As we progress toward the season of Lent (this Wednesday) let us be attentive to what Jesus has to say today.

Stop swallowing whole the Fake News of False Christianity.

Higher Standard

The Lord speaking to Moses set the standard of conduct for those who love God.

Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy (LV 19:2)

And again…

Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (LV19:18)

Be Holy. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Psalm Reading

I usually don’t list out the contents of the Psalm reading but today I will. Here are the ‘being holiness of the Lord’ as the Psalmist describes it:

Bless the LORD, O my soul – praise this loving God…

  1. Pardon neighbors iniquities.
  2. Doctor neighbors ills.
  3. Redeem neighbor from destruction.
  4. Crowns neighbor with kindness and compassion.
  5. Be Merciful and gracious to your neighbor.
  6. Be slow to anger and abounding in kindness in dealing with your neighbor.

Calculating Already?

I can sense the calculations already. But, not, I mean, how, why, no….

It’s an urge we need to avoid. It is the place Jesus describes as “You have heard that it was said”.

Do you not know that you (and your neighbor) are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (and them)? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

But, but, but…

God catches the wise in their own ruses, and again: The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Says St Paul to the Corinthians.

God knows our Fake News.

Gospel Standard

In today’s portion of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus describes the proper response to a variety of situations (strike, tunic, service, favors and loans).

The summit of these responses is Love. Jesus says love your enemies. Pray for those who prosecute you.

Jesus startles us with this paraphrase: Loving only those who love you is of little eternal consequence relative to the necessity to love toward the perfection of being holy as the Father is holy. This should be startling on so many levels!

And yet with divine help we can indeed make this transcendence. Love cannot be merely for self and immediate self (family/friends). Instead it must bridge the gap of difference and alien in order to be like the one who loves us though we deserve nothing. Isn’t that exactly how God loves us?

Come and share the divine love with any and everyone.

Perfect!

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Choose to Learn

Riding a bike takes learning and discipline

Choose to Learn

Greetings on this the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: SIR 15:15-20; PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34; 1 COR 2:6-10; MT 5:17-37 OR 5:20-22A, 27-28, 33-34A, 37

Can’t Escape the Message

It’s a challenge these weeks in the readings of the Church and next week too! During the week we step through the Gospel of Mark chapters 7 and 8. On Sundays we have been stepping through the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5:13ff. The message is clear and compelling.

What we do matters.

The readings in total show a lot of variety on how we can get off the path of right living (righteousness) and find ourselves alienated from each other and from God. Sometimes what we think is a good idea is actually an overburden for ourselves and others. Sometimes what we think is OK and excusable instead Jesus says, um, nope.

The Book of Sirach says it well: If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you.

But, how, Lord, can we, keep the law?

Jesus said the law and the warnings of the prophets is not revoked and remains in force.

Jesus does reframe the law in a way that challenges us to think anew. Obedience to the law of love requires we rethink everything we have been taught and everything we have come to practice.

In fact I heard this comment from a professor at the Seminary once that was a startling data point. He said, even as we train priests the clearest of theological thought, precise liturgical practice, interiorization of the Sacramental life and techniques on how to be a good pastor and Shepherd…. Some priests fall back to whatever their Mommy taught them when they were little. Usually within five years. Startling, yes?

So it’s safe to say, it’s a common problem.

What is at Risk

What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit (1 Corr 2:9). The peace and tranquility of living in harmony with Christ is a way of life at risk. We need to find our way through obedience to the law of love.

Jesus brings us a common rabbinical practice. Jesus built a fence around the Torah.

A Fence Around the Torah

In today’s readings Jesus demonstrates the use of concentric boundaries (fences) around your soul and around  your actions so as to avoid the constant possibility of escalating from innocence to sinful to mortally sinful. Examples:

  1. Fence Don’t Kill with a new skill – Don’t be angry with your Brother.
  2. Fence You fool/Fiery Gehenna with a new skill – go first reconcile with your Brother before bringing your gifts.
  3. Fence Adultery with a new skill – do not lust after women.

This technique applies to all the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel reading today.

It is a new way or an old way relearned – avoid the mortal sins by practicing the avoidance of venial sins.

Learning to Ride a Bike

Did you learn how to ride a bicycle?

Did you have a good mentor?

If you did learning to ride a bike was a sheer joy. Riding a bike can be tricky and difficult at first but really fun and liberating.

When you keep command of yourself the going is good. When you begin poor practices, well, you fall down.

(Children’s Mass – story of learning to ride a bike).

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you.

Choose well.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry