Holy Smokes!

Greetings on this the Optional Memorial of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr
Readings: Rom 5:1-5; Ps 117:1bc, 2; Mk 16:15-20
Notes: The Lord is always at work for salvation of souls and tranquility of life for all of humanity.
Physical and spiritual healing (sometimes tightly integrated realities) are evidence of His Holy Love.

What has the Lord healed you from? For me, Smoking!

A reasonable count would be having NOT smoked a quarter of a million cigarettes (250,000)!
The smell, the expense, the addiction, the health effects and the shame for lack of self-control.

When I receive the blessing prayer of Saint Blaise, I know already the Lord has healed me and I ask him to continue his healing to prevent backsliding and further progression of illness caused by my prior poor use of free will.

For me (opinion), I see the Anointing of the Sick for the immediate need and the blessing of Saint Blaise for the habitual and chronic needs. And always the Lord attending to our needs now, then and ever. That’s love.

A story on Saint Blaise

One day a group of hunters seeking wild animals for the amphitheater stumbled upon Blaise’s cave. They were first surprised and then frightened. The bishop was kneeling in prayer surrounded by patiently waiting wolves, lions and bears.

The legend has it that as the hunters hauled Blaise off to prison, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. At Blaise’s command the child was able to cough up the bone.

Reflection

Four centuries give ample opportunity for fiction to creep in with fact. Who can be sure how accurate Blaise’s biographer was? But biographical details are not essential. Blaise is seen as one more example of the power those have who give themselves entirely to Jesus. As Jesus told his apostles at the Last Supper, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). With faith we can follow the lead of the Church in asking for Blaise’s protection.

From: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-blaise/

Most often as part of the Mass, all parishioners desiring a blessing of their throats typically proceed to the front of the church where the priest with the two blessed candles, tied with a red ribbon, holds them in the form of an X. He touches the candles to each side of the person’s neck and says: “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The red ribbon represents the blood of martyrs, and the candles held in the shape of an “X” represent the martyrdom of another saint, St. Andrew, who according to tradition was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Not only are we freed from disease but from everything keeping us from God.

From: https://www.simplycatholic.com/the-blessing-of-st-blaise/

First reading
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.

Responsorial Psalm
Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Alleluia Verse
Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world.

Gospel Portion
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.

They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Candlemas

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Greetings on this the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Readings: Mal 3:1-4; PS 24:7, 8, 9, 10; Heb 2:14-18; Lk 2:22-40
Notes: We complete the celebration of the Nativity with the 40 day purification of Mary and the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple.

We call it Candlemas because we are celebrating the Light has come into the world: What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness (Jn 1:4-5).

How many different ways has the Lord presented himself previously?

  • Through Angels and Prophets.
  • Through Donkeys and Nature.
  • Through a burning bush and silent sound.

Prophets
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).

Burning Bush
There the angel of the LORD appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush.a When he looked, although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed. When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to look, God called out to him from the bush: Moses! Moses! He answered, “Here I am.” (Ex 3:2, 4).

Talking Donkey
Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you beat me these three times?” But the angel of the LORD said to him: “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come as an adversary because this rash journey of yours is against my will.(Num 22:28, 32).

Creation
All the earth falls in worship before you; they sing of you, sing of your name!” (PS 66:4).

Light, Silent Sound
Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah? (1 Kg 19:11-13).

Shepherds too!
Then at 40 days after the nativity and completing the purification, two regular people.

Simeon and Anna. The whole of the expectation of the Jewish people.
And Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the Temple.

Reflection

In Luke’s account, Jesus was welcomed in the temple by two elderly people, Simeon and the widow Anna. They embody Israel in their patient expectation; they acknowledge the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. Early references to the Roman feast dub it the feast of Saint Simeon, the old man who burst into a song of joy which the Church still sings at day’s end.

From: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/presentation-of-the-lord/

Also for reference: https://gerrypalermo.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/a-short-teaching-on-the-presentation-of-the-lord.pdf

First reading
And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek.

Responsorial Psalm
Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!

Second reading
Since the children share in blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.

Alleluia Verse
A light of revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.

Gospel Portion
Simeon: It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.

Simeon took him [Jesus] into his arms and blessed God.

My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.

Simeon blessed them [Joseph and Mary].

Prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (Face of God, Face of the People): She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

Celebrate Jesus!

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

No Mighty Deeds There

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 12:4-7, 11-15; PS 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18a; Mk 6:1-6
Notes: So excited! It’s February!!

In January we bid farewell to Fr Quesnel and in February a warm greeting to Fr Jean (pronounced John).
We were blessed to have Fr Quesnel and will be blessed with Fr John, too.

While there was a problem in Nazareth, preventing Jesus from doing mighty deeds, may that not be so this February!

Not at Sacred Heart!
Not in our hearts!

Come Jesus and Bless us!

This week alone:

  1. Presentation of the Lord on Wednesday – Mass begins with a Candle Service in the back of the Church.
  2. Saint Blaise on Thursday (Optional Memorial of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr) – Blessing of the Throat.

This month:

  1. Ash Wednesday February 22nd!
  2. Start of Lent!

In our gospel portion today, Jesus is unable to perform many mighty deeds there in Nazareth due to their lack of faith. Yikes! The Creator of the Universe is constrained by our free will and, in the immediate sense, to our detriment but also to honor our dignity even as we mess up. Free will is holy and powerful indeed!

But to tie his hands? Is that what we really want or is that what we make happen (or nothing happen)?

Paul points out we don’t like divine correction. So, we avoid him.
Instead of seeing divine discipline as a bad thing, think of the gains!

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.

First reading
Brothers and sisters: In your struggle against sin.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him, For he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust.

Alleluia Verse
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.

Gospel Portion
The Rejection at Nazareth.

The version of the rejection at Nazareth in Matthew and Mark is rather tame I assume to not focus on it except its summary statement which is chilling enough: So, he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

The more dramatic ending is in the Gospel of Luke if you care to read it. It gives deeper understanding to our resistance (i.e., jealousy). But, it is sufficient enough to note we limit God and we really shouldn’t.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Daughter and child

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest
Readings: Heb 12:1-4; Ps 22:26b-27, 28 and 30, 31-32; Mk 5:21-43
Notes: Do women fully realize their importance to the Lord and in society in general in this day and age?

Sometimes I think, yes.
But I say maybe they don’t know as certainly as they should.

Young or old. Married or single. Sick or healthy.

For the Lord you are always beloved daughter. For the Lord you are always beloved child.

Jesus loves you.
Jesus will take away your infirmities and bare your diseases.
In every possible way, Jesus helps.

Yet it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured (Isa 53:4).

The word means: to make one’s way steadily especially against resistance.
This has multiple applications:

  • Substitute/Removal – is the one we most often think of in today’s gospel portion.
  • Compassion/Strength – to co-journey in our difficulties. To help through and to deal with problems.

Dimensions

  • Spiritual – sin committed against women, and by women.
  • Physical – difficulties specific to women.

Other reflections containing Mk 5:21-43:

https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/06/27/life-not-death/
https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2018/01/28/liberate-women/

Reflection (Franciscan)

John Bosco educated the whole person—body and soul united. He believed that Christ’s love and our faith in that love should pervade everything we do—work, study, play. For John Bosco, being a Christian was a full-time effort, not a once-a-week, Mass-on-Sunday experience. It is searching and finding God and Jesus in everything we do, letting their love lead us. Yet, because John realized the importance of job-training and the self-worth and pride that come with talent and ability, he trained his students in the trade crafts, too.

From: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-bosco/

First reading
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.

Responsorial Psalm
They will praise you, Lord, who long for you.

Alleluia Verse
Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

Gospel Portion
Jairus’s Daughter and the Woman with a Hemorrhage.

Starts: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/mark/5?21

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Go home to your family

Greetings on this the Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 11:32-40; Ps 31:20, 21, 22, 23, 24; Mk 5:1-20
Notes: In our first reading today Paul reminds us the faith of the ancients is the story of our ancestors in faith.

Each story, presented as fragments but meant to invoke a fuller recalling, are for our reassurance that faith is real, the problems of life are real, our ancestors and families had real challenges but, in the end, they had faith and things overall came out well (we are here, after all).

Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect. In an analogous way, our family tree as well.

Faith, always, faith.
Family, always, family.

Jesus asserts this with the demonic of the Gerasenes. “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Yes, travel the world if you are so called, to preach Jesus. But, never forget, the family you were given who by faith still stand among us.

Proclaim in [your city] what Jesus had done for [you]; and all [will be] amazed.

May I cross-reference today’s gospel to a few other writings?

Last Year: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/02/01/legion/
Bible Study – Mark: https://gerrypalermo.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/the-gospel-of-mark-a-study-v3.pdf
Bible Study – John: https://gerrypalermo.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/gospel-of-john-outline-final.pdf

First reading
Brothers and sisters: What more shall I say?
[about our common family in faith, about the need to remember and to tell the stories to one another!]

Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel.

Previously in the letter: (we read this in the continuous readings Year I).

Abel
Enoch
Noah
Abraham
Isaac
Jacob
Sarah
Joseph
Moses

Responsorial Psalm
Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.

Alleluia Verse
A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people.

Gospel Portion
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Beatitudes

Greetings on this the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Zep 2:3; 3:12-13; Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10; 1 Cor 1:26-31; Mt 5:1-12a
Notes: In the Gospel of Matthew the Beatitudes are the first teaching of Jesus. Up until that point there are references to repentance, healing the multitude and the announcement of the kingdom.

Up until Matthew chapter 5, Jesus’ teaching was inferred not explicit.

The Beatitudes are the first and highest of all the teachings of Jesus. A summary of all that is to come.

Like a concert piece it is the Overture or a Summary Statement. But much more than that. It is the basis by which we understand all teachings and disciplines and our mode of operation within a sinful world.

If the Ten Commandments are what we are to Do-Not Do, the Beatitudes are how we are to Be-Not Be.

2023

  • The Epiphany of the Lord – Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem (Where is the newborn king of the Jews?).
  • Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – John the Baptist’s Testimony to Jesus (Behold the Lamb of God!).
  • Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry (Selecting the Apostles).
  • Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – The Beatitudes (Overture).

First reading
Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Second reading
Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters.

Alleluia Verse
Rejoice and be glad; your reward will be great in heaven.

Gospel Portion
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them.

Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Blessed are they who mourn.
Blessed are the meek.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Blessed are the merciful.
Blessed are the clean of heart.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Let us cross to the other side

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Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Readings: Heb 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75; Mk 4:35-41
Notes: The Other Side. Instead of fear, distrust, greed and any number of drivers of our behavior and attitudes.

Let us cross to the other side.

This is where God is.

The Lord defeated sin.
Let us cross to the other side.

The Lord defeated disease.
Let us cross to the other side.

The Lord defeated injustice.
Let us cross to the other side.

The Lord defeated oppression.
Let us cross to the other side.

The Lord rules over creation.
Let us cross to the other side.

The Lord loves creation.
Let us cross to the other side.

The Lord defeated death.
Let us cross to the other side.

Reflection

We can look to Thomas Aquinas as a towering example of Catholicism in the sense of broadness, universality, and inclusiveness. We should be determined anew to exercise the divine gift of reason in us, our power to know, learn, and understand. At the same time, we should thank God for the gift of his revelation, especially in Jesus Christ.

From: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-thomas-aquinas/

First reading
Brothers and sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.

He references Abraham, Sarah and Issaac as persons who had faith and trusted the Lord.
They had faith in matters beyond the capacity and ability to humans.

  1. The Covenant with Abram. Fertility and infertility (Gen 18 and 20). Gen 15, 17 as well. Extended promise.
  2. The Testing of Abraham. Life after death (Isaac). Gen 22.

Responsorial Psalm (from Gospel of Luke)
Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel; he has come to his people.

Alleluia Verse
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

Gospel Portion
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.”

[Jesus] rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

This is how it is

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Greetings on this the Friday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 10:32-39; Ps 37:3-4, 5-6, 23-24, 39-40; Mk 4:26-34
Notes: Uses two agricultural references as the vehicle to teach the people.

Agriculture is a huge part of the economy so the reference would connect with most of the people in Galilee. The use of parables for the people is simply a teaching mechanism to relate truth in a way that is relatable and experiential.

Just like we trust seeds planted will grow and provide for us is a matter of faith it will happen based on experience and need. It must happen and it always does happen. We too can trust God that his seed of love is planted in us and it will grow and provide for us because this is our experience and our need.

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God:

  • The Kingdom of God grows by power and force not seen by the eye and not bound by the actions of man but of God.
  • The Kingdom is to grow unto harvest (maturity). There is a beginning and an end in this sense of things.
  • The Kingdom of heaven is centered on the crop (as a symbol for humans) and the Sower (God) and their relationship from beginning to end.
  • The Kingdom is a place of refuge in this life and the life to come where the birds of the sky (as a symbol for humans) can dwell in its shade. Of course, all creation also and for the same reasons by proportion.

With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

First reading
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.

We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.

Responsorial Psalm
The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry