Blog

Outcast or Cast Out

Outcast or Cast Out

Greetings on this the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mother of Tears

Readings: EZ 18:25-28; PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; PHIL 2:1-11; MT 21:28-32

Note: This homily will be preached at the Vigil Mass, Saturday, September 26th, 2020.

Saturday

The gospel reading for Saturday was the Second Prediction of the Passion.

How this applies to today’s Gospel is simply these points:

  1. Jesus warned the Son of Man is to be handed over.
  2. The apostles did not understand
  3. It was hidden from them.
  4. They were afraid to ask.

They were afraid to ask.

This is a big deal because the Lord is dialogical. In the entire expanse of sacred Scripture is not one of God speaking and we only listening. It is actually a case of God asking man questions about what they are thinking.

He is dialogical. He speaks, of course, but he listens too.

Ezekiel

In the reading today from Ezekiel the people exclaim ‘The Lord is not fair!’

The Lord response with His perspective on the same situation.

Then he asks them, “Whos way is not fair?

Dialogical.

Psalms

The Psalms reading today Psalms 25 the psalmist is pleading with the Lord to dialog with him.

  • Twice he asks the Lord to guide.
  • Three times he asks the Lord to remember.
  • Four times he asks the Lord to teach.

Pleading, “Talk to me Lord”, he says, but talk remembering how fragile I really am.

Philippians

The Lord speaks indeed. The song Paul quotes in the letter to the Philippians tells volumes of how the Lord responded, humbly.

Original text Philippians 2:1-11 (minus 8c, 10c, 11c):

ONE

Who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God, something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.

TWO

Coming in human likeness

 and found human in appearance, he humbled himself,

becoming obedient to the point of death

THREE

Because of this, God greatly exalted him,

and bestowed on him the name that is above every name

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Gospel

The most reassuring words of the Lord of all that speak to me, ‘What is your opinion?

How many don’t care about your opinion?

How many times have you been shut out for what you think or what you hold to be true?

But that is not the Lord’s way.

What is your opinion? He humbly asks and responds to the real not the hypocritical. He knows as soon as we talk to him like the psalmist has done it is not long before we are asking the right questions and questioning the wrong ways.

Two sons… repeat the gospel reading regards to the two sons.

Prostitutes and tax collectors respond to Jesus and these outcasts are entering the kingdom of God. Those who presume to be in the kingdom are cast out.

What is the question prior to the opinion ‘question’?

Which of these did the Father’s will?

Those who do likewise as the Lord does.

That is to say,

  1. Humble yourself. We have to head the voice of God in sacred Scripture and in daily life.
  2. Empty yourself of yourself. We need to see the world as the Lord sees it. My advantage and alliance are inferior to the purposes of the Lord.
  3. Obedient that is listen to God speak. We must model ourselves after the Lord’s only Son. He isn’t asking us to do anything he hasn’t done himself.

Decision Time

Casting out others is not our calling.

Calling the outcast is our work.

How will be approach the days ahead? Casting people out because they are ‘not as holy as we are?

Or reaching out to the outcast – the ones who see less of themselves than the Lord wants for them (prostitutes and tax collectors).

Jesus offers the Eucharistic gift to the outcast. Let us not be cast out.

Come to the banquet of the Lord.

What is your opinion?

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Jealousy of Generosity

Jealous of Generosity

Greetings on this the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: IS 55:6-9; PS 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18; PHIL1:20C-24, 27A; MT 20:1-16A

Envy

Note: This homily MIGHT be preached at the 9:00 AM Mass today, September 20, 2020. You can reach the live stream from either YouTube or FaceBook, links below.

YouTube Link:
sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

 Facebook Link:
sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

This gospel reading is also my First Homily, September 2011 of which I received many whippings for:

[/audio

Shana Tova

The New Year 5781 has arrived according to the Hebrew calendar and we wish all our Jewish friends Shana Tova, a good year. At the risk of not articulating correctly, the Jewish people have been wonderful citizens, friends, family, and neighbors. No better example than the life lived by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court who passed on Rosh Hashanah. Mother, Wife, Justice she saw the destiny of women as essential to the wellbeing of our nation.

Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam, dayan ha-emet.

Rest in Peace, RBG.

Envy

Are you envious because I am generous?’

The parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is unique to Matthew.

It is bracketed by two sayings:

  1. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first (Matt 19:30)
  2. Thus, the last will be first and the first will be last (Matt 20:16)

Preceding the gospel reading we have the intertwined stories of:

  1. The Rich Young Man (it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God)
  2. Peter questioning what there will be for us who have given everything (nothing given will not be rewarded a hundred times more)

Following the gospel story today is the Third Prediction of the Passion.

Jesus’ answer is simple really for both in regards to eternal life: For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.

Envy is a sin against charity. The most serious sin of envy is sadness at the supernatural gifts or graces that another has received from God.

Is it envy that drives our discontent? Envy at the gifts and talents of others especially in the realm of supernatural and spiritual gifts?

Wages

The parable is framed in the context of the work and the earned rewards of work.

Interesting isn’t it? That Jesus chose the example of a just and generous employer as the example of the generous Lord.

For those who worked the vineyard from the dawn of day and for those who worked on the last hour of the day received the same wages.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nevertheless, we force up on the Lord the mental framework of wages for work upon the generosity of gift.

Instead, it is the other way around.

Generosity In All Things

Jesus is redirecting the thinking process to all the endeavors of human activity.

STORY – Teaching Calorie Payments.

STORY – Teaching Waiting for Work.

In fact the reading from Isaiah is not to say ‘Well, since God’s ways are above my ways it’s all a mystery’.

It is to say our work and relations should be bathed in the acts of God because we are in the image and called to the likeness of God.

Rewards are secondary to generosity. Always.

Generosity is the Reward

We receive the Eucharistic generosity of God. We cannot but emulate this in our daily life and professional life as well.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Depth of Our Debts

Depth of Our Debts

Greetings on this the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: SIR 27:30—28:7; PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12; ROM 14:7-9; MT 18:21-35

Note: A/C fixed in Church. I did not preach this weekend. So I can take certain liberties in these homiletic notes. Next Sunday 9 AM, 20th September I will preach on the livestream. It happens to be the Gospel reading of my first homily. I wonder how 9 years later the context has changed. We shall see.

Be Holy

There can be no confusion as to the direct and specific teaching Jesus is applying in this analogy.

There also is the necessity to carefully express the analogy of the faith and the Tradition of the Church as taught by the Church (Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis).

We can say clearly that forgiveness is a central nature to the Divine and is a required and acquired nature by baptism that we are to apply in our Christian life.

We forgive that which is trivial in relation to the size of the eternal debt sin has earned us. There can be no confusion as to the scales applied in this analogy.

Forgiving in the way of the Divine requires… divine assistance. There is no other way. We must bring our gift of un-forgiveness to the Lord that He might help us transform this into true forgiveness.

Here then we understand we are made in the image of God and we are called to the likeness of God. The first is an essential truth. The second a decision.

There is NO peace in this life without peace among brothers.

Pope Pius XII further wrote in Divino Afflante Spiritu which most chillingly was the day before Hitler issued Directive No. 7, Preparations for Attack in the West in 1939.

In this encyclical, Pope Pius XII reflecting on the peace accord resulting from the First World War and, unknown to His Holiness, the midwife of the Second World War:

81. No, Venerable Brethren, safety does not come to peoples from external means,

from the sword which can impose conditions of peace but does not create peace.

Forces that are to renew the face of the earth should proceed from within, from the spirit.

Pandemic Debt

We are indebted to one another on so many levels. Your sin, my sin and social sin.

This common human problem, sin, is paired with this common human problem, infection.

At this point there is no disconnecting them. We can try. We can blame China.

But we wind up in the same place. A problem that requires cooperation and mutual forgiveness.

Meanwhile we are the causal factor for the inattention to the effects of our own inaction and our lack of attentiveness to the situation among the family of nations.

Have Pity

Pity = the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of other.

In our context not merely a feeling but a call to action. You see a feeling without action is not a true feeling but a simple transient state of emotion.

Forgive

Peace and Forgiveness
among the Family of Nations

https://gcap.global/news/a-debt-jubilee-to-tackle-the-covid-19-health-and-economic-crisis/

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

For What Shall We Pray

For What Shall We Pray?

Greetings on this the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: EZ 33:7-9; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; ROM 13:8-10; MT 18:15-20

Note: The air conditioner is broken in the Church. So we have to limit our homilies to be very short as the temperature is very high and dangerous for human health. So my written notes will be short as well.

Ezekiel

Ezekiel is sometimes referred to as the Watchman. Twice in the Book of Ezekiel he is referred as the watchman calling out.

The first and second share these basic qualities:

  1. A watchman scans the horizon for the actions of God.
  2. He knows what God is about to do (in Ezekiel’s case allow Jerusalem to be captured); and
  3. He is obligated to stir up the people to respond to the alert.

It isn’t much different from a fire alarm in a building or at home. When that alarm goes off, does it not alert you and stir you to do something? Anything? Don’t you check here and there to see if a fire has started or someone or something is in danger?

Each of us has a responsibility to be watchman. It is an individual responsibility and corporate responsibility.

In Ezekiel’s case he is to alert the wicked. The Wicked are a group of people who do not believe in the presence of God or the consequences of their actions in this life nor in an eternal way. The Wicked see no need to seek right relation with God nor Man. The Wicked need to hear of the love of God.

Pray for the Wicked.

Responsorial Psalm 95

Daily we pray the Invitatory.

Psalm 95 contains the alert to not repeat the error of our fathers where at Meribah and Massah (testing and quarreling with God and one another).

The short version of the story. While journeying from place to place in stages through the desert of Sin they came to a place without water. They were thirsty, really thirsty. They began to complain to Moses and also about God. And they really got to it.

How can you lead us here to die?! In Egypt (the place of slavery and oppression) we at least had water and cucumbers. Now we have nothing. Well, God heard their prayer and provided water from the rock.

Here we have believers who under trial fail to trust God. We pray daily, literally, that we are strengthened to not repeat the weakness of the desert and succumb to our trials.

Pray for the Weak in Faith.

Paul to the Romans

Paul makes clear that we are to have no debt but the debt of Love for one another. Taking the people back to the Torah and the laws of Leviticus 19:18-19.

The law is fulfilled in love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Specifically, now these are believers who desire to follow God more deeply than those at Meribah and through the law. Paul describes the law in terms of love. He lists the most potent of the four major ‘do not’ laws (within the 10 commandments) as it pertains to one another. Then he specifically says to those who follow the law are not to do two things that are contrary to the law of love:

  1. Do not take revenge.
  2. Do not cherish and nurture a grudge.

Pray for those who hold onto their pain.

Gospel

So when we arrive at the gospel message of Jesus we can see he proscribes an order of normalized confrontation. How to orderly navigate disagreements and mutual mistrust and personal harm.

Then he says, PRAY.

  1. Pray to become a watchman.
  2. Pray for those who have no faith in God.
  3. Pray for those who fail under duress.
  4. Pray for those who nurture revenge and hold grudges.

Pray and Partake

Pray in community for all of us who fail and fall and don’t always live the life meant for us, in unity with God and man. Pray and be my people.

Pray and receive the Eucharistic gift of Christ.

Be a praying people for all who hurt.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

God Forbid!

God Forbid!

Greetings on this the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: JER 20:7-9; PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9; ROM 12:1-2; MT 16:21-27

Note: The air conditioner is broken in the Church. So we have to limit our homilies to be very short as the temperature is very high and dangerous for human health. So my written notes will be short as well.

Jeremiah Laments

Jeremiah acknowledges the contradiction right off and blames the Lord for it.

You tricked me!

Well, if you have ever fed a baby who doesn’t want to eat you can relate to both the one feeding and the one eating. Jeremiah accuses the Lord of beguiling him.

He was seduced by the beauty of the divine word to speak but he recoils at the bitterness of the people’s reply which of course Jeremiah shares a version of that bitterness but for a different reason.

Even still, Jeremiah notes that so persuasive, so important, so high an imperative the word of the Lord is, he cannot contain it but must blurt it out.

Paul Advises

Elsewhere, Paul struggled in the body as we know from his writings. Some propose the problem is bodily weakness such as epilepsy and/or eye sight and/or old age. Never the less Jesus advised him to accept his insufficiency because his perfection comes from Jesus anyway. Just do what you should and the divine purpose will be fruitful.

In today’s reading Paul is focused on the body-spirit continuum. I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.

Paul makes known the priority for us is not the physical health of the body (lacking whether by deterioration or by misuse) but the perfection of the soul. Be a living sacrifice where we give up the inferior goods of the natural world for the superior good of being a living and holy sacrifice. Illness of the body is not an impediment to being holy and pleasing to God. The work of subordinating the natural bodily needs in harmony of the soul is work, but the holy work that pleases God.

Peter is Horrified

God forbid, Lord!

Now, one might think Peter is referring to Jesus alone. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe he is as much thinking of himself too. After all, where he goes and what happens to him happens to us.

To which Jesus replies, ‘Yep’. Or more exactly: You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

Jeremiah had a problem thinking like God. Paul confessed the work of thinking like God. Peter did too.

Two Part Disconnect

We can describe the spiritual warfare this way:

  1. My body wants to do it but my soul says No!
  2. My soul wants to do it but my body says No!

I propose Jeremiah, Paul and Peter each describe a particular expression of these two contradictions.

There is a two part reply.

  1. The psalmist today’s reading helps us and is the first among the psalms: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. We cannot set aside an essential truth that we thirst and yearn for God more than all things. Every time we resist such a love we find ourselves in contradiction.
  2. Jesus offers new life. Perfected life. But the cost is to place the natural world’s good and goodness in a subordinate place and place the spiritual likeness of God in the higher priority.

It isn’t just because it is a good idea. It is a necessary idea, eternally.

Our calling, Our Answer

We account who we are by the decisions we make.

The Cross is the denying the body and listening to the deepest urgings of the soul. The soul is listening to Jesus and finds fulfillment in him alone.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry