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Friends

Greetings on this the Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle
Readings: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; PS 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Jn 15:9-17
Notes: I can think of no greater compliment than to be described as a Friend of God.

Both because He sees you that way and you see yourself that way.
Really nice.

We are human/imperfect. Our perfection is our intention to be good friends to the Lord.
Be a good friend to the Lord and to others.

Last year reflection on this scripture: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/05/07/god-says-lets-be-friends/

Franciscans:
https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-matthias

Reflection Franciscans

What was the holiness of Matthias? Obviously, he was suited for apostleship by the experience of being with Jesus from his baptism to his ascension. He must also have been suited personally, or he would not have been nominated for so great a responsibility. Must we not remind ourselves that the fundamental holiness of Matthias was his receiving gladly the relationship with the Father offered him by Jesus and completed by the Holy Spirit? If the apostles are the foundations of our faith by their witness, they must also be reminders, if only implicitly, that holiness is entirely a matter of God’s giving, and it is offered to all, in the everyday circumstances of life. We receive, and even for this God supplies the power of freedom.

First reading
Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers and sisters

Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people.

Alleluia Verse
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Do not let your hearts be troubled

Greetings on this the Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 13:26-33; PS 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11ab; Jn 14:1-6
Notes: As difficult as life can become, it is not the final story.

Our final end is in the loving hands of God. Loved and received.

First reading
We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you
that what God promised our fathers
he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus,
as it is written in the second psalm,
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

Responsorial Psalm (the Second Psalm)
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.

Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice

Alleluia Verse
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.

Gospel Portion
Often used in the Funeral Liturgy is todays gospel portion. We use it because the summit of our faith is to believe in the Resurrection unto the Righteous.

  • Faith the Lord will raise us.
  • Faith the Lord prepares a place for us.
  • Faith he will come back for us, each by name, and bring us hand-in-hand to our new home.
  • Faith for “dwelling places” – a place for you.
  • Faith for “Houses” – a place for all families, tribes, and nations (alt translation).

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Blessed are you if you do it

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 13:13-25; PS 89:2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27; Jn 13:16-20
Notes: I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.

Unworthy, yet called to be like him in ministry to others.

Blessed be God forever.

First reading
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.

Responsorial Psalm
For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Alleluia Verse
Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead,
you have loved us and freed us from our sins by your Blood.

Gospel Portion
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master
nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.
If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

From now on I am telling you before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.
(Note: this is the high prophetic utterance of Jesus. In the discourses to follow he predicts his resurrection).

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Jesus cried out

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 12:24—13:5a; PS 67:2-3, 5, 6 and 8; Jn 12:44-50
Notes: People cry out when the message is urgent or te need is urgent.

Jesus cried out too (but not often but specifically):

  • In the Temple – Messiah has come.
  • At the Feast – Completeness of relation satisfaction in the Lord.
  • On the Cross – Redemption.

John the Baptist cried out in the wilderness about Jesus.
Elizabeth cried out in her home about Mary.

So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true (Jn 7:28).

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink (Jn 7:37).

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me (Jn 12:44)

And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”* which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46).

First reading
So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm
O God, let all the nations praise you!

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.

Alleluia Verse
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel Portion
Jesus cried out and said,
what I say, I say as the Father told me.
In the Temple – Messiah has come.
At the Feast – Completeness of relation satisfaction in the Lord.
On the Cross – Redemption.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Tell? Why not See?

Fr Damien – We Leapers

Greetings on this the Memorial Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i
Readings: Acts 11:19-26; PS 87:1b-3, 4-5, 6-7; Jn 10:22-30
Notes: (readings are from the Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter because I don’t have a lectionary at home).

Optipnal Memorial: Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i

Franciscan Reflection
When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy, Hansen’s disease. By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-damien-de-veuster-of-molokai

Read the opposition and response to the work here. The first link is the original and most compelling of all the abstractions below it.

Full Text Open Letter: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/281/281-h/281-h.htm

A plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honour—the battle cannot be retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested. It is a lost battle, and lost for ever. One thing remained to you in your defeat—some rags of common honour; and these you have made haste to cast away.

Abstractions (shorter but less precise)

https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/opinion/columns/2022/03/the-father-damien-letter/

and

http://robert-louis-stevenson.org/works/father-damien-an-open-letter-to-the-reverend-doctor-hyde-of-honolulu-from-robert-louis-stevenson-1890/

First reading
It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

Responsorial Psalm
All you nations, praise the Lord.

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

Gospel Portion
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Accompany them without discriminating

Greetings on this the Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 11:1-18; PS 42:2-3; 43:3, 4; Jn 10:1-10
Notes: I sometimes write historical notes here so that years from now, I can recall the societal situation present when I wrote this reflection. Think of it, today we look backwards to the past to recall the stories of the human family. One day these words will be read the same way (if not mine specifically, but those of other Christian writers who write in this Age).

2022 – Athirst is my soul for the living God.

Discrimination and racial bias continue in the USA despite many advances. Even now the struggle is how hard to press forward against the strategy of consolidating the gains and the counter strategy of rolling back social justice advances. There seems to not be enough repeating stories, and forgotten famous stories, of the past. Black, Brown, Jewish, gender and ethnic suppression have become the stuff of fairytales with a false ending of Happily Ever After.

Peter says, we must continue to advance in justice. Jesus, as attested in the gospel of Luke, is entirely interested in Justice in this life and Justice in the next. All Justice is Social Justice. That literally is the meaning.

Women’s Autonomy, even at the risk of mortal and moral death, is a right of creation. It is a fight at its core not of women “wanting” something intrinsically evil but of women being without something more positive: respect, dignity and autonomy. The Roe v Wade debate has lost its vitality to the intrinsic and hidden evils of suppression of women.

Peter says, we must aid in crisis and cry when choices are made contrary to life but within the realm of autonomy. Autonomy is not an unbound chaos but based on discernable yet lamentable standards that offer pathways forward even as it suffers over choices made. Jesus is the gate and the sheep know and trust his voice. This kindness is the path, not of religion but of kindness. Lovingkindness, Hesed.

The USA is suffering from the phenomenon known as Hatriotism, a slighting term for those who practice false Patriotism, creating dividing lines between and among the People.

Peter says, false patriotism is evil.

War rages in Europe. Ukraine was unjustly invaded by Russia. This is not in dispute. The fanciful reasons given by the Czar Putin, are not much different than those who practice institutional discrimination, dominance, false threat, acquisition, alliance, and advantage.

Peter says, victims of war need our spiritual and humanitarian aid and if necessary more. The gate is to the places of peace, here and now and the age to come.

The Church herself is being divided even as I type. Pope Francis took the extraordinary step of criticizing Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, for his obvious and direct support of the Russian war against Ukraine.

Peter says, we must correct those who are leaders without conscience. Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. Jesus clearly had no use for leaders who profit against and abuse the sheep.

First reading
The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.

Responsorial Psalm
Athirst is my soul for the living God.

As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Alleluia Verse
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.

Gospel Portion
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Hear and Hold Dear

Greetings on this the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Readings: Acts 13:14, 43-52; Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5; Rev 7:9, 14b-17; Jn 10:27-30
Notes: The entirety of the divine-human exchange can be put this way.

Hear me.
Hold me.

We plead thusly.
He reassures thusly.

It is reciprocal.

We need him.
He wants us.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Glory to Ukraine!

First reading
Many… who were converts… followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them
and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.

Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth.

The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm
We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.

Second reading
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne
will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Alleluia Verse
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

This saying is hard; who can accept it?

Mother’s Day tomorrow – Just a reminder!

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Third Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 9:31-42; PS 116:12-13, 14-15, 16-17; Jn 6:60-69
Notes:

This saying is hard; who can accept it?
What is hard?

From our first reading:

  1. Peter healing Aeneas from paralysis in the witness of all Lydda and Sharon?
  2. Peter healing Tabitha from death in the witness of the holy ones and the widows?
  3. Peter does not possess these powers of himself but in the Name of Jesus.

From the gospel portion yesterday:
They quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you (Jn 6:52-53).

From the gospel portion today:
This saying is hard; who can accept it?

  1. Does this shock you?
  2. Do you also want to leave?
  3. See the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? (Which is fact happened at Ascension, thus fulfilled prophecy).

When we doubt divine love, we doubt a love completely self-giving.

St Paul introduced this quandary this way:
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Rom 5:7-8).

Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse is BEFORE the crucifixion and Resurrection.
For Peter, and the Twelve, We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. They did not yet understand but trusted him because of his person and his signs (faith and works).

This perpetual institution, Holy Eucharist, is total self-giving.

First reading
The Church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria
was at peace. She was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit she grew in numbers.

Responsorial Psalm
How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

Alleluia Verse
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel Portion
As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?

For us, who consider all these things, I say:

The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?

Greetings on this the Friday of the Third Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 9:1-20; PS 117:1bc, 2; Jn 6:52-59
Notes: All week this week we have worked our way through the gospel message of John where Jesus tells us time and again the Father is found through the Son in the Bread of Life. The Father himself teaches this as does Jesus.

Remember, he is Living Bread. We do not consume him as to exhaust him.
We eat his flesh that we might become a part of him and his divine life with the Father.

I like to use the example of a nursing mother. Do we criticize a Mother for feeding her baby breast milk? No, rather we know this is the way of life from the beginning. Mother does not die but lives as she gives life to her infant. For a mother there is nothing more intimate.

For the Lord, the same.

The manna prefigures the Bread of Life.
The rejection of manna prefigures the rejection of The Way.

First reading
Ananias was a brave guy. He trusted the Lord to enter into the deepest conflicts of mankind: Listen or do not listen to the Lord. He did as the Lord instructed and Saul, becoming Paul, became one of the two most preeminent founders of the Church: Peter and Paul.

But Ananias replied,
“Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

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

Alleluia Verse
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood,
remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.

Gospel Portion
“How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?”

Even today some Christian sects struggle with the question and clearly those antagonistic to The Way also struggle with this belief of the faith. In earliest times, the Romans had Christians put to death for this supposed cannibalism. Yet, Jesus lives even as we partake of him, body and blood.

For my Flesh is true food,
and my Blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry