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Vocation of Love

Vocation of Love

Greetings on this the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Readings: ACTS 8:5-8, 14-17; PS 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20; 1 PT 3:15-18; JN 14:15-21

Special Circumstances Note:

Mass for this 6th Sunday of Easter will be done via live streaming. The public will be unable to attend due to the necessity of physical separation during the rolling waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since I will be preaching this Mass I thought it might be good to share my notes and research.

You can view the Mass on-line at one of these two places:

YouTube Link: sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

Facebook Link: sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

Voice of Prophecy

I go to a lot of doctors a lot. The building these various doctors are in is rated an Energy Star building for its innovative energy saving design.

I’m not complaining as I appear to be the youngest among the clients. Basically my fellow patients are all in the shape of a ‘C’. So I count myself fortunate.

Anyway, the front door is a source of shared giggles among my familiar strangers. You see it’s an automatic door.

I have gotten so good at making the door perform that I can walk full stride to the door, raise my hands like Moses and declare ‘Open says-a Me” and the door swings open. Seamlessly I glide through the doors at full stride to the delight of all present.

As time goes by I get a few good snarks like, ‘Moses has nothing on you’.

I guess you have to be there to appreciate the humor.

Well, I certainly have no superior skills or magic like powers.

Whatever I preach or prophecy about is always contained within and sourced from the sacred Scriptures and the Church. Not my own wisdom. I only own the presentation and application.

But Jesus is different.

Jesus is the one Moses spoke of who is the prophet worthy to be followed. And the test of worthiness is in the fulfillment and verification of the prophecy (See Deuteronomy 18:15ff).

Prophetic Jesus

The Gospel of John chapters 14-17 are of primary significance during the Easter season. Among many purposes one purpose is to provide the prophecy with its eventual fulfillment and verification.

Jesus predicts his arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. All this prior to the events. Prophecy.

The Gospel of John sets the stage for the recognition of the authority and truthfulness of Jesus’ words as fulfilled and verified (for the reader, in time).

His primary message is love.

Voice of Love

Jesus is the voice of love itself.

In revealing the divine love in the gift of the coming Advocate (the Holy Spirit) in today’s reading.

But he presages the gift with the commandment ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments’.

Powerful Gifts of Love

Our first reading from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles tells of the deacon Philip in Samaria proclaiming the Christ in power! Unclean spirits expelled and those paralyzed and sick being healed. So powerful (Simon the magician who was power hungry previously) even those who had no use for love were being converted. So then baptized into the Name. Philip called for the Apostles Peter and John to lay hands upon them to receive the gifts of the holy Spirit.

Clear indications of the Sacramental system of heavenly graces. These are the powerful gifts of love (Baptism and Confirmation).

Long-serving Gift of Love

The Psalmist also provides us with a longer view. Here the psalmist speaks to the ancient saving work of God in the Exodus event. The psalmist wants us to recall the saving acts of God are past, present and future.

Gentle Gift of Love

Peter’s letter gives us the active agency of this divine love. All that was done and to be done in the Name must be done in gentleness and reverence for the one who is love and the power of love.

Commandment of the Gift of Love

And, finally, in the Gospel reading itself, Jesus sets the stage…. In all my prophecy (Jn 14-17), I am making now before my trial (Jn 18), all of it is based in divine love and the commandment to love like the divine has asked us.

Worldly Uncertainty but Divine Presence

We preach the world is uncertain, unaware and unconcerned with godly things. But we are. We concern ourselves with the commandment of love in all we do. In all our communities. In all our commerce. In every endeavor that humankind engages. Love first then do whatever you will.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

The Father’s Way

I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Mass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wqHt5QNbj0

In the gospel reading yesterday two of the disciples questioned Jesus.

Thomas wanted Jesus to show them the Way.
Philip wanted Jesus to show them the Father.

This is a progression of questions Thomas first, Philip second. Each of their questions were a reflection upon what Jesus had just proclaimed.

Where I am going you know the way – Thomas then asked his question
If you know me, then you will also know my Father – Philip then asked his question.

In summary, Jesus provides a four part answer with a 5th as observation.

(1) The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own (Unity of purpose)
(2) The Father who dwells in me is doing his works (Work in common)
(3) Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me (Trust in person)
(4) or else, believe because of the works themselves (Trust in the work)
(5) whoever believes in me will do the works that I do (Work in common).

Jesus is equating the Way with the Father in both person and in activity.
If you ever question what Believing is… it is in the doing.

Perhaps this will help, what is Mother? In the final analysis it is the person and the doing that makes for Mother.

Blessings,
Deacon Gerry

Life Gate

Life Gate

Greetings on this the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Readings: ACTS 2:14A, 36-41; PS 23: 1-3A, 3B4, 5, 6; 1 PT 2:20B-25; JN 10:1-10

Special Circumstances

Note: Mass for this 4th Sunday of Easter will be done via live streaming.

However, I will not be there this week. Instead I will be assisting Father John Perez at the Veteran Administration Medical Center. Father John asked me to preach this Sunday. It is televised in the VAMC CCTV system but not on the internet. I will be dividing my time between the Guatemalan Mayan Center and the VAMC for the next few months. One really bright spot. I will be ministering the Rite of Infant Baptism at Sacred Heart in a restricted attendance early morning Mother’s Day. Very excited to add to the Body of Christ through Baptism.

You can view the Sacred Heart Mass on-line at one of these two places:

YouTube Link: sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

Facebook Link: sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

Gates

It comes as no surprise that gates and gating are a common architecture and practice in the ancient world.

I thought it would be fun to list out a sampling of the types of gates there were besides the obvious category of a gate to a city. There are so many!

Sheep gate – major entry Muster gate
Fish gate – major entry Valley gate
Dung gate Spring gate
Water gate Gate of inspection
Horse gate Prison gate
Royal gate King’s gate
East gate Guard’s gate
North gate West gate
Closed gate South gate
House or Tribe (name tribe of Israel) gates Foundation gate

As Veterans we can particularly relate to the Muster gate. I recall as you do too, how often we were called into action with a Muster command. Quickly you would check your appearance, grab your weapon and assemble at the muster location in formation for inspection. Woe to those who showed up without their weapon! Mustering is a calling account for who you are and how you are in respect to your responsibilities and community.

Mustering we know well.

Being called to account we know well too. On active duty we know what is expected of us.

In our faith tradition we know mustering as:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

Sheep Gate

In today’s Gospel reading we begin the discourse of Jesus Christ known as the Good Shepard discourse. We focus on this teaching and revelation of Jesus Christ today through the Sheep gate dialog.

The Sheep gate and Fish gate are the two named gates leading to the Temple area. Unlike the Dung gate, we shouldn’t assume that the commerce of fish and sheep are restricted through these gates. These names are symbolic and religious names invoking the providential care of the Lord. The Mustering gate and Dung gates we may assume have a particular practical purpose.

Jesus uses the practice of gating as a teaching tool in understanding the true path forward and the passage a gate brings about.

Gates then firstly are a place of taking account as already mentioned in the Mustering gate. Gates offer a before and after realization: before I am here and now I am there.

Gates as used by Jesus can be authentic or false.

Gates can have a bountiful purpose or a nefarious purpose.

Gates need to be evaluated before going through them. Just like in the horror movies! You know what I mean. Who hasn’t yelled out, ‘Don’t open that door!’ as the actors play out scenes in a suspense thriller!

Jesus Enters the Gate

Jesus is describing a very important point here. Jesus himself has lived the life in the incarnation. He has faced every important test and temptation of life as we do. He has passed through this gate himself. He bore the ills and pains of the many. He lived without sin. He mustered through the Sheep gate and he is testifying to the account of his life. He is the first to enter the gate of death and to return again resurrected. He therefore is the worthy Shepard. One to be followed.

He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.

There is no doubt he is comparing his behavior to those of the leadership who act as thief and robber by comparison.

Jesus is the Standard Jesus is the Gate

“Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. A worthy one to follow who offers not what thieves offer and not what robbers offer. They offer misery and grief. They steal and slaughter and destroy.

Jesus instead offers life, abundant in this life, security and peace in everlasting life.

He Calls you by Name

Jesus calls you by name and offers to lead you through the pathways of life. He offers as a Shepard the sacred bread for you to sustain you so you may…

have life and have it more abundantly…

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Graduation Joy

Graduation Joy

An open Graduation message to the Class of 2020.

Celebration

This is a season of celebration. Graduation from High School is a notable achievement and one that should be celebrated!

There can be little doubt that the expectation of the High School graduate of today is way beyond the Class of 1975, my graduation year. You are tasked with far more in respect to skills attainment, personal emotional growth and social responsibility.

Challenge

You have persevered through some very difficult events and circumstances. School shootings, a rarity, now a norm. Political and economic upheaval regionally and nationally. Weather events of size and scale never before seen.

And now Coronavirus COVID-19. This last one encompassing the difficulties of all the others yet on a worldwide scale and in each of our families.

There can be no doubt in my mind that these events impacted your development and family harmony in a variety of ways. Events such as these test our understanding of personal autonomy, family unity, community cohesion and national identity.

Celebration

In this season we celebrate you in this bittersweet historical time. You’ve mastered what we asked you to, completed assignments, challenged your thinking process and garnered an openness to the wider world that now awaits you.

We do without hesitation nor reservation celebrate you and your success!

May I outline for you what you have accomplished? And our greatest hopes for you as one in the same!

Knowledge

You have proven you can think for yourself. You patiently (sometimes not so much) allowed us to pour into you data, history, and content in massive quantities. As you absorbed this voluminous knowledge base we asked you to assess, calculate, extrapolate, interpolate, evaluate and dissect what we are telling you. Critical thinking became your best ally. You rightly questioned: What is factual? What is true? What is verifiable? What is reasonable?

Charity

You have proven you can be charitable. Although some counter currents exist (and strong currents at that) you have accepted that acceptance of what is different from you is a core competency of charity. Speaking out against injustice, however you have grown to see it, is a part of you now. Accepting what you should, tolerating what is difficult, and resisting what is beyond the boundaries of charity. To borrow a phrase, ‘you can see the holy in the practice of another’.

Arête

You have proven you have excellence within you. Did you think you would escape Aristotle in this graduation address? Never! The most obvious examples of your arête is your voluntary participation in sports, music, arts, and social clubs. Having decided there is something in you beyond how you know yourself you allowed your innate desire for excellence to compel you to the fine arts, clubs and being a member of a sport teams. Here you combined knowledge and charity with your inner desire to excel and produced what only you can produce. Producing a new sound with personal flourish, a disciplined athletic sculpting the body/mind in a specialized unity, and bringing forth an expression of the theater that is a reflection of the divine drama.

Combo Meal

Isn’t it something?! You can think with charity and act with excellence!! Is there any greater compliment? I think not. This is the hallmark of a High School graduate. This is your foundation to encounter life in all its glory and all its difficulty.

Congratulations Class of 2020

Don’t let the inconvenience of virtual ceremonies and distanced parties bring too much sadness. Rejoice in your achievement. Rejoice in the achievement of your classmates and friends.

Last Thought

Think with clarity.

Act with Charity.

Excel in doing.

Each of these modifies the other. All must be present. And they are present… within you!

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Law and Bread

Emmaus

Law and Bread

Greetings on this the Third Sunday of Easter

Readings: ACTS 2:14, 22-33; PS 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; 1 PT 1:17-21; LK 24:13-35

Special Circumstances

Note: Mass for this 3rd Sunday of Easter will be done via live streaming. The public will be unable to attend due to the necessity of physical separation during the rolling waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since I will be preaching this Mass I thought it might be good to share my notes and research. As I continue to pray and discern the content of the Homily and await the gift of the Holy Spirit in the moment of diaconal ministry, you can compare and contrast the written text in this blog entry and oral proclamation after posted on Sunday afternoon. I find the process interesting and I hope you do too. Please feel free to comment on the blog entry. In terms of presentation I already see my sometimes weak transitions and too broad focus and other such technical observations. I invite you to do likewise. But alas, I cannot do anything about the baldness.

After Sunday, April 26th, 2020, you can view the Mass on-line at one of these two places:

YouTube Link: sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

Facebook Link: sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

Thank You Father

Ever get a really cool gift? I mean one that speaks volumes about how the gift giver obviously thought through the gift and your needs and with great consideration places a symbol of their love for you in a package with a bow and wrapping paper.

Do you ever notice how the gift giver has a great expectation on the way you receive that gift? Their eyes are wide open watching you open the gift and hoping that the interior gift will rise higher than the actual thing presented?

We celebrate Easter as a seven week celebration. A celebration of Resurrection.

From Easter Sunday to Pentecost with Ascension of the Lord the week prior, we celebrate exuberantly, joyfully, with songs on our lips and within our hearts.

We celebrate the gift of Resurrection. During Lent we contemplate the necessity of the Crucifixion and the propitiation of sin. During Lent we accept our need for a Messiah.

During Easter Season we have opened the gift and have seen with our own eyes through the eyes of the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus the real and bodily Resurrection. Ultimately too the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Second Week Leading to the 3rd Sunday

In the week leading to the 3rd Sunday of Easter the cycle makes certain to include multiple Gospel readings form the period of Resurrection to Ascension. This week it was Mark 16 and Luke 24.

The 2nd Week also reads the entire chapter 3 of Gospel of John – a must beloved and quoted chapter!

Making Sense of Senses

So one thing we have to be certain to establish is there is a literary sense to the sacred Scriptures. There is also a spiritual sense. The spiritual sense cannot be derived without first going through the literary sense.

Sense of Scripture:

  • Literal Sense – all scripture has a literal sense (what is meant), not a LITERAL account but a narrated story with a purpose.
  • Spiritual Sense – three types
    • Spiritual as Allegory (figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another),
    • Moral (what ought to be)
    • Anagogic (future sense, usually the Eternal sense or concepts in regards to the Eternal)

Both the literary and spiritual senses are presented using Literary Forms.

(A document with some additional teaching points here: Notes for Background of Scripture Updated Blog Version).

Supporting Research

The beautiful and beautifully presented story of The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus is worthy of our Joyful embrace of the Resurrection and the KEY purpose of the story.

It is worthy study to engage the use of etymology – word roots and usage. The story contains many possible references that make for the potential of deeper meanings.

It is worthy study to engage the use of numerology – the hidden use of numbers with symbolic meanings. The story contains many possible references that make for the potential of deeper meanings.

But it can fall off the rails sometimes. For example, one aspiring researcher lamented that if the two disciples traveled 7 miles from Jerusalem he questioned that scripture observation. He used google maps to map out all cities that claim today or in the past to be the city know in scripture as Emmaus. I think we can applaud the researcher and also gently encourage him to step off that line of inquiry as it is so difficult a path and not likely to yield additional literal or spiritual meaning.

Since the number 7 is used (a perfect number) on the first day of the week (Sunday, for us we see that as the new Sabbath) there is a hint to a meaning here of a spiritual dimension as the researcher is trying to discern.

Some suggest the distance they are traveling is the maximum allowed in a day or on a Sabbath. But that would be over reach. Not supported.

So what are we to derive from this at first review? We have to wait to use other techniques first and then come back to it.

Literary Structure

It is often easier to simply ask the twin questions, ‘What is the narrative?’ and ‘What is the technique?’

In linear fashion we can see:

  1. ON the SAME Day as the Resurrection two disciples were traveling to Emmaus – which is 7 miles away.
  2. Jesus accompanied them incognito in some fashion they were unable to recognize him.
  3. After prompting, they relate their concern to Jesus.
  4. Then they relate their disappointment and surprise by the testimony of the women as to the empty tomb.
  5. Jesus, gently corrects them.
  6. Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets he relates to them what is revealed about him in sacred Scripture.
  7. The disciples encouraged Jesus to stay with them out of their concern for Jesus, a stranger (so it seemed).
  8. Jesus sat at table, broke the bread: blessing, broke it and gave it to them.
  9. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
  10. But he disappeared from their sight.
  11. They rushed back to Jerusalem to add their account to the other accounts about the appearances of Jesus Resurrected.
  12. How he was made known in the Breaking of the Bread.

Some key components of the narrative highlighted.

  1. ON the SAME Day as the Resurrection two disciples were traveling to Emmaus – which is 7 miles away.
  2. Jesus accompanied them incognito in some fashion they were unable to recognize him.
  3. After prompting, they relate their concern to Jesus.
  4. Then after they relate their disappointment and told their surprise by the testimony of the women as to the empty tomb.
  5. Jesus, gently corrects them.
  6. Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets he relates to them what is revealed about him in sacred Scripture.
  7. The disciples encouraged Jesus to stay with them out of their concern for Jesus, a stranger (so it seemed).
  8. Jesus sat at table, broke the bread: blessing, broke it and gave it to them.
  9. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
  10. But he disappeared from their sight.
  11. They rushed back to Jerusalem to add their account to the other accounts about the appearances of Jesus Resurrected.
  12. They relayed how he was made known in the Breaking of the Bread.

The disappearance is a binding supernatural event that binds the Breaking of the Bread with the Proclamation of the Breaking of the Bread (lines 8-9 and 11-12 – not verse numbers). This supernatural literary bridge between the Bread Breaking and the Knowing and Professing (an actual event used for a narrative purpose here) makes them

The Resurrection if TIGHTLY linked to the Breaking of the Bread.

The Old Testament is used as proof text to the authenticity of Jesus by Jesus.

The Last Supper is a supernatural event and the central point of the narrative.

This Bread is what is preeminent in the conclusion of the story: We know him in the breaking of the bread.

I understand some of you are challenged to accept the Real Presence and the Sacramental theology. Let us set that aside for a moment.

In the literary and spiritual sense (anagogic) it is the bread breaking (blessing and breaking) presence that is primary conclusion of this narrative.

And to borrow from a brother, it is all three tenses past, present and future.

How? Look at the simplest level of literary sense. We don’t even need more sophisticated theological understanding.

This is about the Resurrection – the great manifestation of the promise of the Messiah – freedom form death.

In the past the Old Testament speaks in diffused terms and is now made clear by Jesus what it means.

In the present the disciples said ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke on the way and opened the scripture for us?

In the future the disciples proclaim as we do today and continue until the end of time, that he is made known to us in the breaking of the bread.

Now the Homily….

Law and Bread

The Easter season is a seven week celebration of the Resurrection.

The story of the Road to Emmaus distinctly celebrates the Resurrection in the context of the Last Supper.

These disciples made tracks to Emmaus a seven mile journey. They must have been quite upset. I mean the missing from the narrative…. They didn’t even wait for the funeral.

On the day of the Resurrection the women went to prepare the body of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, were all thinking to prepare Jesus for a proper burial and the prayers of the faithful. Even Peter and the apostle Jesus loved ran to see for themselves.

At the same time, Cleopas and another hit the trail.

How deep the disappointment. How challenged the love to not even do the respectful thing. Did not even Lazarus get prayers and dirge songs when he died?

This happened in the current time too. I have seen people skip out on funerals for their love was so bruised.

Yet Jesus did not abandon them. If we are faithless he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself (private note: see brother I remember your teaching!).

He journeys with them and their basic question. Did sacred Scripture lie to us? Is this promised Messiah (which we want to believe he is) really a lie actually?

Did you break the promise of the psalmist (PS 16): you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld.

Is the psalmist wrong in PS 17: The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

It doesn’t seem that way.

Ah, but Jesus is with them.

He explains and shows them the truth of sacred Scripture.

Then he reveals what has happened that brings the fullness of the sacred Scriptures these disciples are questioning. The blessing and breaking of the bread.

Later they recount how when he taught that to them their hearts grew stronger and peaceful.

The Law perfectly points to the Bread that is Jesus. The Resurrected Jesus.

Jesus has always accompanied those who followed the Law for they are offered the fullness of Law in his person.

Sacramental Memorial

This narrative in both literary and spiritual senses reveals that the Breaking of the Bread is a supernatural event that is to be shared and proclaimed.

It has its mystery, yes. Just like the Old Testament did. Yet Jesus accompanies us in our journey reassuring us his presence in the sacred Bread and in our lives.

It times of crisis it is tempting to be a Cleopas. Let’s run away. It’s all an illusion. It’s all a lie.

But, no, know Jesus accompanies you even there.

And he beacons you back to himself. In scripture. In person. In bread.

Come celebrate the Resurrection. Share the sacred mystery of the Bread that is Jesus.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Pealing Back the Layers

Pushed back my face shield for the snapshot. Delivery for today is 4,200 lbs of rice, beans and corn meal.

Waiting to sort hygiene products for delivery too.

Afternoon schedule shopping for bins and containers. Up supply community leaders.

Tomorrow afternoon this space will be mfg zone for disinfectant and sanitizer.

Factory 😋

Friday we’ll resupply provisions as this will be gone.

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.

Wounds and Mercy

Put your finger here

Greetings on this the Second Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 2:42-47; PS 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Ptr 1:3-9; Jn 20:19-31

Tranquility

In our first reading we see even in the midst of conflict, danger and oppression, the Apostles and followers are living in peace.

They lived a communal life, celebrated the ‘breaking of bread’ and prayer.

Even among their oppressors and conquerers, who witnessed their way of life, marveled. Scripture notes The Way enjoyed the favor of all the people. Both for their internal peace and their embracing of the estranged.

Do we live this way?

How, yes? How, no?

Genuine Life

The second reading confirms some elemental points. We are not immune from suffering through trials. In fact, how we act during trial is what will be our testimony at the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Peter said a genuine faith will be revealed in trial and suffering and the forbearance we exhibit are as precious as gold. Yet more than gold but that it proves by charity we really are praising, honoring and glorifying God.

Wounds Fear and Peace

How beautiful the Gospel of John testifying to the Mercy of God! Here Thomas put your finger here.

It is a marvel that God allows us to wound him. Yet he wants us to learn from and be released from the bondage of these wounds.

Do not be afraid. Twice repeated.

Mercy is stronger that the wounds. Mercy thinks beyond mistakes. Mercy calls us to the Divine Life.

Let Us Follow Him

Following the path of mercy can be difficult. Our current crisis brings our most difficult trials upon our heads.

Let us be merciful. Let’s live in community. Let’s share the sacred bread that is Jesus. Let us be kind to stranger and enemy.

Let us put our hand into the side of Jesus that his Mercy be real for us and for all.

Let the course of our lives bring honor, praise and the favor of the people so that Christ may be known.

For Our Sake – Mercy

For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. I ask God to do that. I ask also from you.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry