Blog

Listen Obey and Learn

The Resurrection makes the Prodigal Son story our own story

Greetings on this the Second Sunday of Lent
Readings: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; PS 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10

Note: This was given as a homily yesterday at the Vigil Mass. Generally, it was not well received. I reflected on that and added points to strengthen the central theme: Jesus is the center of all true Christian thought.

Introduction

All week last week… Matthew Chapter 5 – the ethics chapters.

Tuesday – In praying, do not babble like the pagans and again If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

Wednesday – This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.

Thursday – Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.

Friday – You have heard that it was said … but I say to you…

Saturday – You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.

Summary

Remember Compunction (a willingness to be pierced) was the theme last Sunday as we are in the first 21 days of Lent (except Sundays). A period within the season of Lent where we are open to a radical change in our perspective on ethics, morals and the salvation mission of Jesus,

We must conclude that to his listeners (which includes us) did not understand the deeper meanings of the law and prophets and further have created a parallel but harmful set of precepts.

I gave the example of the Castrati. If you are unaware of it you can either look it up or ignore. Simply put, it was a practice that while attempting to be holy was not holy at all.

1st Reading – Abraham and Isaac

What God ISN’T asking you to do… sacrifice your Son. While children sacrifice was common way to appease the gods or to seek favor and resolution to problems, this is not the way of the Divine.

As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Abraham and Isaac had faith in the Lord and in his eventual restoration to life so while they would not be naturally happy to die, they held to the promise. Deep faith indeed!

Compunction – what things or habits have we created that are not of the Divine and do not draw people closer to God but push them away?

Letter to the Romans

Only God can judge. What I am saying in this homily is for us and about us. We must have compunction but with the sure knowledge that God is the true judge. We can only act according to conscience and our best understanding of Jesus.

Transfiguration

Story present in all the Synoptic gospels. A very important story.

Elijah and Moses (Prophet and Law Giver, both in heaven) Peter, James and John – witnesses of heaven and earth to the Rabbi Jesus.

Jesus is transfigured and attested to by the Father:
This is my beloved Son.
Listen to him.

Proofs
I gave this example to the RCIA class earlier in the week.

Proof One

Jesus says to the man, ‘Your sins are forgiven”. Opposition arises. OK. “So you may know the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins… he says to the paraplegic, ‘Rise take up your mat and go’.

So you my KNOW.
I instantly heal him.
Now, there is no reason to believe I cannot forgive sins.

Proof Two

He charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Resurrection

Everything Jesus said is proofed by his resurrection. Therefore every ethical and moral teaching of Jesus must be reengaged in light of the resurrection.

Further, the LAW and the PROPHETS must also be reengaged in light of the resurrection.

Jesus is saying we need to go through a compunction because we have falsified the law and prophets outside of the Messiah and his teachings.

This week

The ethical teachings continue.

Monday – Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you.

Tuesday – For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

Wednesday – whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Thursday – If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.

Friday – The tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned.

Saturday – Prodigal Son story. A story of the loving Lord in forgiveness of the wayward son. Here, if you read up to now, is where you should remember too that Jesus is saying God is a forgiving Lord. In light of the resurrection, we should have supreme hope in this promise of forgiveness.

In case you are wondering, the definitive shift in message of Lent begins on the Friday of the Third Week of Lent where the Gospel message ends with:

And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Calling All Sinners!

Greetings on this the Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Note:
Today – headed out to seek Rite of Reconciliation.
Tonight Rite of the Elect – bringing six people to be Baptized during the Eater Vigil to meet the Bishop and receive his blessings and the acknowledgment that the Lord is calling them to his table.

Verse before the Gospel

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

Ez 33:11

Isaiah

Programmer’s style…

if ( remove oppression &&
false accusation &&
malicious speech &&
pursue Sabbath rest &&
enter Sabbath delight &&
give bread to the hungry &&
help afflicted)
{
Light in darkness;
Gloom dissipated;
Plenty;
Like a watered garden;
Heritage;
}
}

Gospel

Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners

How healthy are you?

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Not So Fast!

Greetings on this the Friday after Ash Wednesday
Readings: Is 58:1-9a; PS 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19; Mt 9:14-15

Note: Today we abstain from eating meat, a luxury and an expense. Instead give a small offering for the poor among us. Saint Vincent de Paul had this to say about Charity:

You will find out that Charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the kettle of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give soup and bread. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and good-humored. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting master you will see. And the uglier and the dirtier they will be, the more unjust and insulting, the more love you must give them.

It is only for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them.”

(remember compunction)

Fast-less Fast

In our first reading today we are treated to a dialog.

We say…
God calls us to fast.
We do something that simulates a fast.
We immediately want rewards.

God replies…
Your fast day? you carry out your own pursuits.
Your fast day? you drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast… ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw.

God instructs for us to do a real fast…
Releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.

Then says the Lord… you will be healed yourself and ask for anything and you will be heard.

Gospel
The challenge to Jesus was why do your disciples not fast like the rest of us?

Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.”

We fast because we await the Lord’s return. We fast like as Isaiah how we should fast, heart turned toward the Lord and each other. Today’s fast isn’t of food but of doing service to those in need.

Otherwise, it is not so fast.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Choose Life Over Profit

Greetings on this the Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Readings: Dt 30:15-20; PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; Lk 9:22-25

Note: Choose life in it’s innocent form is well used by a life affirming peoples. In its improper use it is a weapon against women. For Lent, let us look at its compunction intention.

Deuteronomy

  1. Moses instructs the people to live by the law of the Lord: commandments, statutes and decrees.
  2. All will benefit from this obedience.
  3. The “You” he is referring to is both the individual “you” and the corporate “you” as well as your descendants.

Responsorial

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

Gospel

Jesus predicts his own total giving:

The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.

Then he said to all:

Deny yourself.

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”

The “you” Jesus refers to is each individual (“the one”).

Choosing life is to not keep for yourself all earthly gain.
Especially in light of those in need.

Pregnant women are in need.

True Almsgiving is to get over yourself and give over to others.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Compunction – Ash Wednesday

Greetings on this Ash Wednesday
Readings: Jl 2:12-18; PS 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17; 2 Cor 5:20—6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Compunction – is etymologically related to the verb “to puncture”.

The suggestion is the need for us to deflate our egos, stop our self-deceit, and reorder our lives as true disciples of Jesus Christ – Paraphrase of “The Spirit of Lent” Mark Searle, Assembly, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Notre Dame, IN

A puncture … do you recall I said compassion is to ‘co-suffer’? Divine co-suffering?

Compunction is the same. Divine compunction is the effect upon the Divine of our sense of guilt. Our awareness of guilt is an imperative for the Divine.

Divine Pity

Leading up to Ash Wednesday I reminded the reader that we have been focusing on the Divine Pity – the power of God and the will of God to act on our behalf in our most desperate situation.

It is good to recall that today as we are but “Ash… and to ash we shall return’.
The Divine Pity brings about an entirely different outcome.

Compunction

The readings in the first part of Lent attempt to achieve the impossible. Breaking through or pierce our heardened hearts and replace them with human hearts.

Focus of Repentance and Baptism – the ashes remind us of our mortality, certainly, and our need to repent (ash-cloth and ashes) and the sign of the cross the Divine Response of Love and Salvation.

The three practices of Lent are taken directly from the teachings of Jesus Christ. He cautions us to do so with the proper disposition of heart, that is with Compunction – a desire of change.

  1. Almsgiving – see the human need with a divine eye.
  2. Prayer – commune with the divine one.
  3. Fasting – be in solidarity with the human condition and the divine solution.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Great Wickedness

Noah – National Catholic Register

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Gn 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10; PS 29:1a and 2, 3ac-4, 3b and 9c-10; Mk 8:14-21

Note: Final day of Ordinary Time prior to Lent. The continuous readings stop for now and the Lent cycle begins tomorrow. So our first reading of the continuous reading of the book of Genesis leaves us off at a most desperate point. Noah has built the Ark and the animals are safely aboard.

The situation for humanity is actually quite dire…

the waters of the flood came upon the earth (Gen 6:10b)

It is the 40 Days of the Flood and now for us the 40 Days of Lent…

Leaven of Herod

What is leaven? Classic definition is a substance, as yeast or baking powder, that causes fermentation and expansion of dough or batter.

The leaven of Herod would be his leadership, teachings and disposition. Said from the receiving end, the way his followers become.

Greedy, violent, self-possessed. Alliance and advantage are their guiding principles.

Leaven of Jesus

I broke the five loaves for the five thousand.
I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand.

He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Sighed from the depth of his spirit

Greetings on this the Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Gn 4:1-15, 25; PS 50:1 and 8, 16bc-17, 20-21; Mk 8:11-13

Note: The Senate vote did not meet the threshold for conviction. Former President Donald J Trump is acquitted a second time. Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnel said although DJT is not guilty for the sake of impeachment, he is morally and ethically responsible for the insurrection and should be subject to civil and criminal law.

For which I can only say,

Aimless System brings depravation and excess.

We continue through Genesis cataloging the preeminent of man’s poor choices(Saturday was reading was the fall of Adam and on Monday the reading was the fall of Cain). We do make poor choices – even when we know exactly the situation for what it is and we are able to fully chose wrong. In moral theology this is called mortal sin.

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

Jesus Does

Up until the challenge by the Pharisees, [Jesus] worked many miracles; the blocks Mk 4:35–6:44 and Mk 6:45–7:10 are cycles of stories about healings, miracles at the Sea of Galilee, and marvelous feedings of the crowds (from Opening commentary for Gospel Mark in New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE)).

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?

Good Or Ill – We know

There was only one real question for the Pharisees. They knew of the healings and miracles and supernatural feeding events of Jesus.

Their only question was: Are we going to be impeached for our maleficence?

Jesus sighed. He knew that if the evidence already presented and widely known wasn’t enough, no ‘sign’ would suffice either. Their goal was to maintain power. They cared nothing about the truth.

Aimless System brings depravation and excess.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry