Wordless Wednesday VAMC Christmas

Today I assisted the Sacred Heart Columbiettes deliver the Poinsettias to the VAMC Chapel. After a few one-on-one ministry work with disabled veterans, I did a 12 km training walk on the military reservation. It brought back fond memories when on two occasions while on transfer between duty assignments, I spent time on relaxed military reservations. I remember the peace I felt then and now. God bless America.

The promise and the oath

I picked this photo because my friend Bill loves it.
During Camino I ate that entire quiche over a 24-hour period.

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbott
Readings: Heb 6:10-20; PS 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c; Mk 2:23-28
Notes: Two immutable things: the promise and the oath.

Jesus’ commentary for us today during his life in Galilee:

The third commandment is also a promise: Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy.
The Lord is ever merciful, full of compassion and has ordered all things for our good.
The Sabbath is Holy because the Lord is holy.

The keeping and making of Sabbath is the Lord’s domain, not ours.

  • Mercy on the Sabbath.
  • Compassion on the Sabbath.
  • Good on the Sabbath.

Ritual is second to Holiness.
It does not replace holiness it is its representative only.
And representation is second to actions of holiness.

Law gets its meaning from holiness NOT holiness from law.

Promise
The seven promises to Abraham:
1 – 2. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you;
3 – 4. I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
5 – 6. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.

  1. All the families of the earth will find blessing in you.

Isaac is the Son of Promise.

Oath of Genesis 22
and said: “I swear by my very self—oracle of the LORD—that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your son, your only one (Gen 22:16).

Covenant of Genesis 17.
I will maintain my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting covenant, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you (Gen 17:7).

Reflection

In an age that smiles at the notion of devils and angels, a person known for having power over evil spirits must at least make us pause. And in a day when people speak of life as a “rat race,” one who devotes a whole life to solitude and prayer points to an essential of the Christian life in all ages. Anthony’s hermit life reminds us of the absoluteness of our break with sin and the totality of our commitment to Christ. Even in God’s good world, there is another world whose false values constantly tempt us.

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

First reading
This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.

Alleluia Verse
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.

Gospel Portion

Mark 2 – Accusation
23 As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
24 At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”

Deuteronomy 23 – Fact of Law
25 When you go through your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you wish, until you are satisfied, but do not put them in your basket.
26 When you go through your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pluck some of the ears with your hand, but do not put a sickle to your neighbor’s grain.

Innocence – They did nothing wrong.

Going Further – Now, Jesus, leveraging the accusation to a higher degree of what is allowed or permitted.

From 1 Samuel 21 5, 7.

Now what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves, or whatever you can find.” But the priest replied to David, “I have no ordinary bread on hand, only holy bread; if the men have abstained from women, you may eat some of that.”

Comment: the test is one of worthiness to eat sacred bread by way of consecration (intention) not ordination (appointment). Need answered by mercy. The only prohibition is sacrilege (misuse of what is regarded as sacred), i.e., if you were to use the bread for bedding or some other inappropriate use. These men were famished to eat.

So the priest gave him holy bread, for no other bread was on hand except the showbread which had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by fresh bread when it was taken away.

Jesus gets us to the root, the beginning of the promise, again.

God’s gracious will.

God’s Sabbath love. His promise and his oath.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Feast on God’s Love

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 5:1-10; Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4; Mk 2:18-22
Notes: Continuing the theme of John the Baptist: I myself did not know him.

Over the next weeks we will follow the life of Jesus. Christmas season is over, and Lent is another six weeks away. Let us take these weeks to reacquaint ourselves with the person of Jesus. His ministry has begun with his baptism and temptation in the desert certainly. We also can view him in the plain reading of the accounts of his life. Jesus taught and healed in Galilee. He reoriented us to faith and action.

I’d like you to meet my friend Jesus this week. He faced so many very human difficulties. In Galilee he moved about this agricultural and livestock-based community and economy. Fishermen, Shepherds, farms and freshwater springs. Money and education were not common as in the big city, Jerusalem. Those who were educated were revered and unquestioned. That had to change.

Jesus’ Challenges:

  • Ritual observance contested.
  • Sabbath understanding challenged.
  • Cried.
  • Anger.
  • Grief.
  • Withdral (prayer).
  • Withdral (protection).
  • Physical danger.
  • Suffering.
  • Even his family thought him crazy.

He reveals God in his action and teaching:

  • He is the bridegroom.
  • He is the Lord of Sabbath.
  • You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Monday Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins. Jesus is the new wine. It is the same grape of love but a new pressing of the grapes to bring forward even deeper and refreshing essence and aroma of God.

Tuesday – “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” Eating grain (by the handful) is not prohibitted at all as a matter of fact. But Jesus takes it further, Sabbath is made to help man not burden him.

Wednesday – Sabbath good. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored.

Thursday Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. So overwhelming was the positive response to Jesus, his message and his healing power, that a boat was needed to prevent a crushing onrush.

Friday Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. Jesus’ calling is a powerful attraction. The attraction of supperabunbant love even held, for a while, Judas Iscariot who later betrayed him.

Saturday When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Clearly, Jesus’ radical engagement with others unsettled everyone, including his family. In a sense he failed to do a task we always remember to do – reserve something for himself.

First reading
Brothers and sisters: Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.

In the days when he was in the Flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Responsorial Psalm
You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Alleluia Verse
The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Gospel Portion
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

Feast on God’s love today.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction

Mr. James Kolar, Director, wanted me to get these photos of my serving the Altar back in December, 2022.

I served again at Miracle House this weekend, January 14th, 2023. Having just come back from Guatemala and seeing the Eucharistic Adoration in every Church I visited there it was so comforting to know in every place and everywhere the Lord is glorified by our love. Including at home. Including as I noted in the Saturday reflection at the Chapel, anywhere where Jesus deems, he wants to go.

“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time. Mk 2:16b-17a.

Let Jesus, The word of God, living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrate even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of your heart. So you may be healed.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

I myself did not know him

Greetings on this the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Is 49:3, 5-6; Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; 1 Cor 1:1-3; Jn 1:29-34
Notes: John said this twice in the account of the baptism of the Lord.

I myself did not know him.

There is a mystery in this statment worthy of today’s consideration.

John did know Jesus certainly.
Elizabeth was visited Mary and John leapt in the womb at the sound of Mary’s voice.
Mary helped Elizabeth birth John (sympathetic reading of the scripture).

Taking a step back.

The baptism of the Lord is accounted for in each of the four Gospels.

We celebrated the Baptism of the Lord in Guatemala City on Sunday and in the USA on Monday past.
On this second Sunday of Ordinary Time we encounter the Gospel of John’s account of the baptism.

There are slight variations between the accounts each giving a more profound accounting theologically than the one written before. Using progressive elaboration is a common theme in the divine-human exchange and most delightful when seeing the process play out over the development of the gospel accounts themselves.

One example to illustrate. ok?

Spirit

  • Gospel of Mark – the first of the gospels – the Spirit descended upon him like a dove.
  • Gospel of Matthew – the second gospel – the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighted on him.
  • Gospel of Luke – the third gospel – the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove.
  • Gospel of John – the last gospel – I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him.

There are many such examples in this very brief but impactful sacred scripture.

Trinity

  • All four indicate the Trinity by the Father’s voice, the Sonship and the Spirit.
  • This is my beoved Son, with whom I am well pleased (three accounts, slight and important differences).
  • The Spirit, the Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit.

This is why we can make summary statements about the baptism taking into account the totality of the baptism accounts provided. For today, let us look at just one more and it will be the basis of the homily.

Where From?

  • Gospel of Mark – the first of the gospels – Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee.
  • Gospel of Matthew – the second gospel – Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordon to John.
  • Gospel of Luke – the third gospel – Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized.
  • Gospel of John – the last gospel – After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me (eternal).

The gospel of John adds:

  • Lamb of God.
  • Son of God.
  • Witness to divinity (preexistence).
  • Jesus is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit.
  • I did not know him.

What follows?

  • Mark – Tempation of Jesus.
  • Matthew – Temptation of Jesus.
  • Luke – Genealogy of Jesus and the temptation of Jesus.
  • John – Calling of the disciples and the ‘conclusion’ of the temptation Heavens open and Angels (See Jn 1:51)

First reading
The Servant of the Lord (Salvation for the Jew and Gentile alike)

It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of and restore the survivors of Israel;

AND

I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm
Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!”

Second reading
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Alleluia Verse
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him, he gave power to become children of God.

Gospel Portion
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

I did not know him.
I did not know him.

the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.

Just like Simeon in the Gospel of Luke, John received insight as to how to know him.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

God reveals.

  • John knew Jesus as man and as Lamb of God – though he wondered what that meant.
  • John knew Jesus as Suffering Servant, The Ideal Davidic King, and Messiah after his visitation.

There are seven weeks in Ordinary Time before we begin Lent Season.

Now is the perfect time to come to know Jesus:

  • Know him as a man walking the Earth.
  • Know him as friend and join his pilgrimage.
  • Know him as Lamb.
  • Know him as King.
  • Know him as Messiah.
  • Know him as suffering.

Let the Lord speak to you of him.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Letter to the Editor

Provided by Father Frank O’Laughlin (he picks good articles to read)

Benedict’s legacy will be a contested one. “Your wonderful and at times heartbreaking edition of 7 January confirmed everything I felt for this very holy, peaceful, gentle but strong human being. Thank you for a rare, moving and honest series of features”, writes John Elder in our Letters pages this week. “Through his writings he set out in search of lost sheep, lifted me on to his shoulders, and carried me home,” adds Paul Hammond; “His legacy is of a timid man burned by the experience of Nazism then blinded by the glare of modernity who sought guidance by looking in the rear-view mirror”, offers Dominic Kirkham. 

One – imperfect but not unhelpful – way the papacies of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict are characterised is as an echo of the contrasting visions of two of the great theologians of the last century, Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Rahner saw the grace of God at work in the world, thick with anonymous Christians; Balthasar saw a world of totalitarian nightmares, of nuclear arsenals, labour camps and torture chambers crying out for the abrasive medicine of the Gospel. As we write in our leader this week, “The Balthasar/Rahner debate, the dialogue between Benedict and Francis, is something the Church needs constantly to ponder – without trying to bring it to a simple resolution and without one side demonising the other. For they were both right. Humankind is simultaneously both redeemed and fallen.”

The other link: Why the dialogue between Benedict and Francis is something the Church needs constantly to ponder.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Frozen Ground – Empty Bellies

Deep Freeze. Harvest Lost. Courtesy Fr Frank.

Fr Frank asks that I remind you (and myself) of the difficulty of the migrant harvest workers.

When the freeze comes no aid is available for the harvest workers. Or hurricane, or tornado, or drought.

While the State of Florida provides financial assistance to farmers for crop failures as a result of freezes and other agricultural disasters, the migrant worker does not receive unemployment or financial assistance to bridge to the next planting season. It can be a very hard life.

The Gleaners. Finding a meal when the harvest is gone.

The migrant worker is every bit as part of our common economic life as any USA citizen. Whether here on visa, green card, or undocumented, they are an important part of our economic life and our social life. We are in fact one family.

We should as a part of our systematic care for all members of the common life provide assistance specific to the harvest workers when such impacts occur. Out of Christian charity, yes. But in a sense more so out of Solidarity and in our common humanity. You don’t have to be Chrisitan to see yourself in their plight.

Humanism and Christian Humanism share many common goals. This should be one of them.

Donate to: https://www.guatemalanmaya.org/

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

2017 Guatemala orphanage fire

Orphanage Fire Memorial

The memorial on the night day we were in the city photos.

The tragedy is the poor care for the orphan and the effects of social injustice have a cascading effect. Even righteous protest can be disastrous. It is wise to keep our eyes on Jesus and our behaviors in the Beatitudes.

Background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Guatemala_orphanage_fire

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

The unclean spirit convulsed

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s gospel portion: His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Route of the mission team above.

Frontier Route bleow.

Flight home was uneventful.

My last foot journey was the five miles from I-95 to my home.

Typing on a laptop. I miss my phone 🙂

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry