Be On Guard

Gospel of Mark chapter 2

Greetings on this the Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 4:1-5, 11; PS 78:3 and 4bc, 6c-7, 8; Mk 2:1-12

Letter to the Hebrews

This week the Church has been reading from this letter. This anonymous sermon touches upon Psalm 2, 8, 20, 22, 23, 45, 102, 104, and 110 in the first three chapters alone! Blending them with the Old Testament the writer illustrates the unity of the theme of sacred Scripture, how they are interconnected and reinforcing.

In chapter four, the writer of this letter provides an extended commentary on Psalm 95. Psalm 95 has two basic messages deserving of deeper reflection: (1) God’s kingship (2) Man’s response.

God’s kingship and Man’s response has been our theme all this week.

Would you take a few moments to read Psalm 95? https://bible.usccb.org/bible/psalms/95
I hope you do, the Church reads this Psalm every day.

As a reminder:

  1. Eternal God is above all gods.
  2. He made the depths of the earth and the height of the mountains.
  3. He is the rock of our salvation.

Let us be on our guard

Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed.

Still some have failed in obvious ways. For they were not united in faith with those who listened. God responds, As I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest.”

As the letter says, “Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

Responsorial Psalm

In the daily responsorial the selection is PS 78 themed: Do not forget the works of the Lord!
This psalm is a review of the history of Israel specifically the wilderness period.

Recurring theme:

  1. God has delivered
  2. Man rebels.
  3. Man falls into trouble.
  4. God saves.

Rebellion and Divine Response is a recurring theme in biblical history. It is a recurring theme in our lives. Ye we are reminded – Remember the work of the Lord!

The Paralytic

In the gospel reading today four men went to great lengths to bring a paralytic to Jesus even so much as to go upon the roof and lower him down through an opening in the roof.

God delivers: When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

Man rebels: Who but God alone can forgive sins?”

Man falls: Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?

God saves: Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once.

Remember the work of the Lord!

There were five men who entered into ‘my rest’ that day.

The four who carried in faith the burden of the paralytic and the paralytic.

Remember means to Do

Remember the work of the Lord!
Do the work of the Lord!
Enter into His rest.
And glorify God.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

At the Rebellion

Mt Horeb

Greetings on this the Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 3:7-14; PS 95:6-7c, 8-9, 10-11; Mk 1:40-45

Lack of Trust

In the first reading we are reminded that the people revolted against Moses at Massah and Meribah (translated testing and contention, respectively).

They wanted demonstrable evidence that G-d is with them because they were camped at Rephidim (“rests” – an oasis) and there was no water to drink. The Lord told Moses to go a little bit further to Mt. Horeb and tap the rock for fresh water.

The letter to the Hebrews alerts the reader that in difficulty and trials, if you are not careful, can have the effect on you to grow hardened by the deceit of sin primarily the sin of not trusting G-d.

Sometimes you have to go a bit further.

Sometimes that place that APPEARS peaceful and bountiful, Rephidim, is not the place for you and you need to go a little farther. One way to know is your angry revolt seeing the situation only as Trial and Contention.

God Acts Man Reacts

The Lord always planned to give water at Mt Horeb. The people wanted it at Rephidim, the ordinary place. But G-d moves from the ordinary to the extraordinary – sharing the divine life.

Our reactions aren’t always the best.

Healing of the Body

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Healing of the Spirit

Warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”

Healed in the body and following the prescripts of the law he would receive reception in the community and give Glory to G-d by following the law. He would be made spritually whole.

But he didn’t want to go that far.

Instead he fomented. Causing great difficulty for everyone including the Lord.

Why Rebellion

It would go well to trust the Lord has been active and moving us forward. Rather than anger, trust. Trust that we will get through this. Even if we wind up in a place different than what we planned for ourselves.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

THE FEVER LEFT

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Readings: Heb 2:14-18; PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9; Mk 1:29-39

Note: This reflection written during the most controversial times in fifty years maybe longer depending on the aspects you are considering.

Fever is not Fervor

The fever of our times are (to sum them up)

  1. consistent lying;
  2. false Victimhood; and
  3. Excesses in the concepts of freedom.

Peter’s Mother-In-Law

She was sick with fever.

They immediately told him about her.

He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.

Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

That evening and all through the night he healed all who were brought to him.

First Priorities

  1. Prayer – Intercessory prayer is a method of bringing people to Him, Jesus.
  2. Healing Arts – The medical sciences are a gift from God to be used quickly.
  3. Food/Rest – The body has needs that should be attended.
  4. Everyone – Should either be getting help or helping another but not a mere spectator.

The followers of Jesus leave no aspect outside of their competencies and outside of their scope. All of the supportive. None of the judgmental.

Do you have Fever?

Watching the news it is clear some have a very high fever. Come to Jesus. Be cured.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

After John had been Arrested

Greetings on this the Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 1:1-6; 97:1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9; Mk 1:14-20

John was Arrested

Royal marriages were instruments of international politics. John’s prophecy against Herod Antipas’s marriage to his brother wife Herodias, alienated the Nabatean king Aretas IV, father of his first wife, and deemed by John to be was politically incendiary. (NRSV Oxford Bible notes on John).

Tetrarch, popularlly known as king, Herod had John the Baptist beheaded.

Later, King Herod and Herodias were sent into exile due to his poor leadership of the people.

Note: You just can’t make this stuff up.

Jesus Begins Ministry

Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:

“This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

Then he started to gather followers, his disciples, later to be known as Apostles demarked when he specifically sends them (Mk 6).

Response

Repent, return to God’s way, is in RESPONSE to the good news of God’s plan.

The Gospel is both person and message.

The Gospel is both thought and action.

The mission of Christians is to be fishers of men.

The action is to aid men and women to become peacemakers by lives of the Beatitudes.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Baptism and Chaos

Baptism and Chaos

2018

Greetings on this the Baptism of the Lord

Readings: Is 42:1-4, 6-7; Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10; Acts 10:34-38; Mk 1:7-11

Note: The photo is not the USA but it just might well have been. The chaos of these days remains with us as we enter the joyful feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We remain stunned with the coldness of the human heart. Both those who acted in the first instance and those who continue to support President Trump in the second instance.

Exousia

The Gospel of Mark uses a specific literary tool to set apart a portion of sacred scripture as have a unity that may escape the simple linear reading of the text, intercalation and bracketing.

Today’s reading gives us an example of bracketing. The bracketing gives us a more powerful understanding of divine Exousia. Exousia is the power of choice, or liberty of doing as one pleases and in this case the Divine choice.

The Divine choice to:

  1. End the separation between heaven and earth.
  2. Begin the communication in the flesh (incarnation).
  3. Cleave the gap between God and Man.

Bracketing

The heavens rent – opening of heaven symbolizes the end of separation from God and the beginning of communication between heaven and earth (ISA 64:1 and Bar 22:1)

Mark 1:10 Baptism

  1. Heavens torn open – divine communication.
  2. Spirit Descends – divine communication.
  3. Baptism.
  4. You are my Son whom I am well pleased – divine communication.

Here Jesus accepts the divine mission of Baptism leading to our own baptism of repentance, Holy Spirit and fire for the forgiveness of sins.

Gospel Life of Jesus

The life of Jesus Christ in-between doing good works and healing those in the grip of the devil. He came to baptize to restore the old man to new life, heal our sinful nature and clothe us with unfailing holiness.

We are encouraged by the psalmist to draw water joyfully from the font that is Jesus Christ.

Mark 15:38 Death

  1. Jesus breathes his last – divine communication.
  2. Curtin of the Temple torn in two from top to bottom – divine communication.
  3. Centurion said – Truly this man was God’s Son – man’s response.

It is most important to note that the Centurion response is the completion of the divine communication in the bracketing of the Gospel of Mark. God’s word does not go forth without completing his mission.

A Wondrous Mystery

Father’s voice – my beloved Son, listen to him.

Reversal of the tragedy of original sin.

The invitation to have a human exousia – a free decision to accept the divine gift of baptism, forgiveness and the path to holiness.

Creator of the Universe washed away our sins in the Jordan River and by the pouring out of his blood. The Baptismal event is made full in the last breath of Jesus.

Holy Communion

As we go to receive the Eucharistic gift may we repeat the trinity response of repentance, prayer (communion) and an openness to suffering.

Chaos

I have not been shy on writing about the failing of the faithful to detect the wholly ill-suited and disqualifying characteristics of Donald Trump in the first election and certainly by the second election. But those who remain bound to Trump and his message of hate I dare say reconsider the formation of conscience should have been strong enough to detect the more excellent decision for Biden even in his deficiency. You failed the basic test – being anti-abortion isn’t a function of law it is a function of heart. There are many ways to help women find the excellent answer. You refuse to see but one, law.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Children Be On Guard Against Idols

Greetings on this the Saturday after Epiphany
Readings: 1 Jn 5:14-21; Ps 147 Jn 3:22-30

Note: This reflection is after the horrendous assault and insurrection on the form of government and the Capitol building of these United States. Even still people persist in their self-righteousness.

Idol of Violence

Children, be on your guard against idols the 1st letter of John states. We know this can come in many forms. Some are more present than others. Some are reflex results of others.

But for a Catholic Christian violence is not something we support. Rather as John states again, We have this confidence in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Taking matters into your own hands is the oldest of Satan’s tricks. Satan used sacred Scripture to lure Jesus into unrighteousness. Did we not learn anything from the temptations in the desert that Jesus endured (Lk 4)?

Jesus’ three responses are:

  1. One does not live by bread alone.
  2. Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.
  3. Do not put the Lord your God to the test.

We know the one who is true is not the one who mimics sacred scripture like Satan did but lives out the Beatitudes. You should have been able to see the difference.

Epiphany Violence

On the day of Epiphany (traditional) – Christian Violence? Is this what you have me believe? Are you pretending not to see Donald Trump gleefully watching the violence with his family and the Vice-President having to intervene.

Our Alleluia

The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death. Indeed the contrast is stark. The silence of the Church is deafening. Jesus is present and he illuminates all of this. The darkness, the pretend sacredness and the true path of right living in him.

The Way of John the Baptist

He must increase; I must decrease. John understood making room for Jesus is the quintessential change in us. Making room for Jesus is Justice!

Quote of the week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered blistering remarks Wednesday afternoon against President Trump and his Republican colleagues who are objecting to the Electoral College results, saying of Congress:

“We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids.”

“We’ll either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the results or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebears showed, not only in victory, but in defeat,” he said.

Only minutes later…. the Capitol building was invaded.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Nazareth Truth

Greeting on this the Thursday After Epiphany

Readings: 1 Jn 4:19–5:4; PS 72:1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17; Lk 4:14-22

Note: I write this reflection on the morning after the insurrection instigated by the President of the United States to disrupt and prevent the legal and official final ceremonial step in validating the election of Joseph Biden, to be the 46th President of the United States which is mandated for January 6th, 2021. The traditional date for the Epiphany – an experience of a sudden and striking realization.

Jesus returned to Nazareth and we read today the sacred scriptural mission statement. A few verses later those same people he proclaimed his mission, they tried to kill him.

Jesus’ Mission

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Power Response

They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” which means who is he to cite scripture to us? Given further explanation it became too much for them.

They rioted. They insurrected against God.

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.

Rejecting Jesus

Rejecting Jesus is to reject the Spirit of the Lord. The work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, 2nd and 3rd persons of God, is to bring freedom to truly oppressed people. He didn’t come to riot and grab power. He came to heal and help those who have none to help them.

Yesterday, January 6th, Epiphany is in fact a Great Awakening.

The Catholic Church has self-inflicted wounds having supported a megalomaniac for election and then again for reelection. In plain sight he was known to be foundationally ill-suited for the Presidency.

We’ve forgotten our mission statement. The Christian Church has become more like the Nazareth Leadership who riot and attempt murder.

The Anointed Bearer of Glad Tidings

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God; To comfort all who mourn; to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.

Should Have Known – No Love There

Beloved, we love God because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his  brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen  cannot love God whom he has not seen.  This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Exodus Shadow

What should chill our Catholic hearts is Jesus’ response. While they tried to throw him off the cliff, instead we have a mirror of the Moses Exodus Event.

But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Love or Leave the Church

In the end either you must love Jesus and his mission or you need to leave the Church.

There are all sorts of moral evil in this world. We shall always teach the way of righteousness. We must live the same righteousness. Correction comes by way of acts of love and understanding. I’m gonna walk with Jesus. I suggest you leave you MAGA monster behind.

Today is truly an Epiphany.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Peace Is A Decision – Love is the Motive

Greetings on this the Wednesday after Epiphany

Readings: 1 Jn 4:11-18; PS 72:1-2, 10, 12-13; Mk 6:45-52

First reading speaks to the necessity to love and the power to love is from love itself.

Loving in the midst of chaos is the quintessential expression of love. Love without the challenges of ‘the test’ is but a potentially only emotionality.

But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them,
“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”
He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.  They were completely astounded.

It is very challenging to resist demanding others be like yourself. But we are called to do just that and the test. Whatever the differences of opinion, religion, policy, and taste finding a common ground based on love is to preserve life in its entirety.

A Christmas message from Bethlehem…

Peace is a Decision