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Broken Records and Jukeboxes

Broken RecordBroken Records and Jukeboxes

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: SIR 27:4-7; PS 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 1 COR 15:54-58; LK 6:39-45

A Needed Break

A long Ordinary Time between Christmas season and Lent this year. It allows us to enjoy the continuous readings of Sirach – a wisdom book offering time tested advice about friendship and relationship.

The time before lent is a time for listening to the wisdom of Jesus, Son of Eleazar, Son of Sirach. Listen to Jesus – listen.

One’s speech discloses the bent of one’s mind.

Of course this truth cuts both ways. What we hear others say reveals and what we say reveals about us as well.

When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks.

Under stress truth wiggles out. Truth tends to do that. Find its way to the mouth – even when we don’t want it to.

The body has similar strengths that are always interesting examples. How about the man who having been shot in the back years ago suddenly – twenty years later see the bullet coming out of the skin. Slowly ever so slowly the body expels what does not belong. I always found those stories interesting. But I digress.

There is another listen warning in today’s readings.

Gospel Listening

Judging is tricky business. Jesus recommends we look at the fruit of the one speaking. What do they say? What do they do?

Mostly it’s about the jukebox we have in our soul.

Jukebox

When difficult or uncomfortable conversations begin we have this really useful but dangerous habit. Play back the records form the Jukebox in our souls.

Some of these vinyl records are harmless and filled with joyful memories.

Yet most are filled with judgment and condemnations from past events. The problem is we don’t listen to the current event. We hear only the past and plat h appropriate broken record that applied then and is convenient now. It is a convenient process but untrue and hurtful.

Fruit Not Broken Records

Jesus calls us to produce good fruit. Good fruit come from within souls that cast away the jukebox of prerecorded responses and broken records of resentment.

Good fruit is producing new fruit founded on listening and engaging and being authentic in the moment.

The examples Jesus gives are when we actually do not engage the other but prescribe history and law alone to the situation.

Jesus says, provide good fruit.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Loser Leaven

Leaven

Loser Leaven

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

It was another example of the leaven of evil or as Jesus described it: Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod (Mk 8:15).

Donald Trump, Jr. proposing to the young conservatives to distain and forsake their teachers and their loser teacher indoctrination (Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/02/16/why-donald-trump-jr-loser-teachers-comment-was-a-chilling-moment-educators-around-world/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c354436ea825).

You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth.

The Leaven

Some basics on leaven are in order.

Leaven or leavening agents have a basic function.

When making bread the desired chemical reaction is to produce many tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. This causes the dough to rise and expand in every direction and make for a large and fluffy flavorful loaf of bread when baked. It is a yeast based fermentation process. The alcohol is gassed off in the process.

The leaven example is a way Jesus would compare and contrast the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of the divine one.

The Divine Leaven

Jesus describes his own leaven.

He cites the twice sharing miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000. He is referring to the restorative and supportive nature of the divine will when this leaven enters us. When we allow the Lord to be the leaven of our souls great and wonderful things happen. And all these things elevate and support the human experience.

Justice is a central theme of the divine. Loser teachers teach the same: There are no just structures without people who want to be just (CCC, 2832).

The Leaven of Evil

By comparison Jesus infers the inferior leaven of the Pharisees – the ones who hold the religious and political power (Pharisees and Herod, respectively). These do not produce the miraculous or restorative nor just and right relation. Rather they focus on wealth, power and control. Trump perverts the true conservative movement for one based on greed and fear.

Donald Trump Jr is selling the leaven of people like William Franklin Graham III and Jordan Ross Belfort, respectively, expressing self-interest in religion and business.

ISM Social

Donald Trump, Jr is right. Teaching needs to change. Here are some proposals for his charitable foundation to fund. Oh wait. He was permanently barred from running a charity in New Your due to his and the Trump family enormous greed. The family must pay back 2.8 million.

  • Philosophy – Essential understanding of a moral framework and the authentic search for the character of the person.
  • Ethics – Ethics should be a required course in High School and business ethics in College.
  • Humanities – How we come to believe and sense what we think.
  • Economics – Clearly Donald has very little understanding of economic theory. This can be said of so many so some more education is in order. The misuse of language has taken new and disturbing energy from the Trump family.

What Leaven will you eat?

If leaven can be thought to animate the human soul then what type of leaven do you want to eat: the leaven of the divine or the leaven of a ponzi schemsters like Bernard Madoff?

Which do you think Donald Trump, Jr is promoting? Justice or Greed?

Let’s eat.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Way or the Highway

MYwayHighway

My Way or the Highway

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: JER 1:4-5, 17-19; PS 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; 1 COR 12:31—13:13; LK 4:21-30

The reading today brings into sharp focus the difference between the way God thinks and we humans tend to do something else (react). The first reading in Jeremiah recounts Moses and the Exodus (gird your loins). In Jeremiah’s time, how God will rescue them too and you should have faith in your deliverer. The responsorial psalmist recounts how we are known and knitted in the womb and the one who made us will surely not forget us.

Then in the Gospel reading it all falls apart. Right after Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah (the ‘Spirit of the Lord is upon me’) he is confronted with our demand: My way or the Highway.

Startling isn’t it that in Jesus’ home town exists in many living there such interior discord that when Jesus continued to speak they basically said, ‘My way or the highway’ or more specifically they try to throw him off a cliff.

Eek!

Interior Discord

The pairing of the Gospel with the letter of Paul to the Corinthians helps us frame the question well and therefore help us choose the better path.

Isn’t this the son of Joseph? –there it is. This is a hint to the interior thoughts. Who are you to tell us anything? Wow, from praise to derision in 10 seconds.

Jesus offers insight to their interior discontent:

  1. Physician, cure yourself – you think you are better than us?
  2. Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum – do what we tell you for us!
  3. Yet, no prophet is accepted in his own native place – you are a simple man, no Great Prophet are you, Jesus.

Jesus recounts the ancient story about God’s love for all. This reveals the deepest discontent of all. He told them the story to help them break out of their self-interest and interior discord and to think more broadly about Godly love.

  1. Elijah – sent only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
  2. Elisha the prophet – cleansed only Naaman the Syrian.

Ouch! Or Ouch? Therein is the interior response.

Paul to the rescue

The apostle Paul brings this great divide into focus. How are we focuses interiorly?

Everyone in the crowd had gifts from God. Some gifts are obvious and grand. Some gifts are subtle and sublime. Depends what you do with them!

Paul teaches without love as the centering purpose and source of strength it is worthless.

Then he does the side by side comparison.

  1. Love is patient and love is kind verses jealous and pompous.
  2. Love rejoices with the truth verses inflated, rude, seeking its own interests, quick-tempered, brooding over injury, rejoicing over wrongdoing.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Decide

The gospel message is kindness to the other, even your enemy. The Gospel is the power to do such things in love.

If you want to throw people over a cliff because they want to heal the sick, help the immigrant, feed the poor and tend to the widow and orphan… then know you are asking Jesus to pass through the midst of you and go away. And that brings tears to the eye of God.

Decide to love instead.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

 

 

 

Divine Transparency

transparency

Divine Transparency

I meant to post my homily notes before the Baptism of the Lord.

Readings: IS 42:1-4, 6-7; PS 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10; ACTS 10:34-38; LK 3:15-16, 21-22

Lukan Perspective

In the Gospel of Luke we have one of the four accounts of the baptism of Jesus. Each account emphasis is different. Each account has a slightly different perspective.

The Lukan perspective is centered on the prayer of Jesus which in the Holy Spirit reveals the interior dialog of Father and Son.

‘… and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying’

In very few instances of sacred Scripture can we use one of the alternate definitions of prayer in the Jewish tradition; here this prayer is an introspection and bonding.

In this prayer both Father and Son answer the question in the context of a deep judgment — ‘who am I’.

This baptismal prayer is a communal bonding of Father and Son. This prayer is a reciprocal and dynamic expression of communion. The Father’s love for the Son is not static or stale. Rather it is loving communion that is ever-dynamic and ever-fresh. In this case we see how this is so based on other known aspects of the divine life.

‘… The heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove’

The presence of the Holy Spirit in this prayer exchange would be understood in the context of known perspectives of the Spirit. As we see in 1 Corr 2:10:

This God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

In this baptismal exchange the Holy Spirit reveals the very depths of God. The Spirit searching everything that is God and the revelation of the mystery of God’s wisdom.

We humans cannot do this. Dominus providebit. The Lord will provide.

Who am I?

In the baptism of the Lord the question is asked and answered by the Father and the Son at the probing of the Holy Spirit. To the very depths of the Father we find him and He tell us directly.

You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

God is the very essence of beloved. Jesus is the beloved. God is love. Jesus is love. That is who they are.

Actually, to put it in modern terms and in parental terms we can all best relate.

This voice from heaven is the exuberant overflowing irresistible primal utterance coming from the very depths of a parent —- I Love YOU!

This inner life of God the Father and Son brought out to us by the Holy Spirit is the very life Jesus baptizes us into. This is the final end for us to be in the middle of this dynamic ever fresh love.

God’s love for you is never stale, never static and never unreflective.

Rather in every prayer you raise to God the Father allows the Holy Spirit to probe his depths and bring forward this eternal reality.

I love you, my beloved!

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Mission Accomplished

epiphany 3 wisemen

Mission Accomplished

On this The Epiphany of the Lord, I’d like to share with you the profound reality hidden in plain view regarding the Magi and their homage to the Lord.

Readings today: IS 60:1-6; PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6; MT 2:1-12

Generally the Christian community tends to focus on the mystical aspects of the star rising which is not a problem per se but does tend to mask over the basic truth: the Jewish people have fulfilled their mission. Mission accomplished: the Messianic message has been given to the Gentiles. For it is written (Isaiah 60:3):

“[The Gentiles] shall walk in the light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.”

We can say that Jesus is the visible sign of the consistent and ancient sharing of the good news by the Jewish people through the centuries prior to Jesus’ arrival. Jesus is both attesting to the work of his faithful people and to the future fulfillment of this work in himself.

From Summa Theologica:

I answer that, As stated above (A3,r 1), the Magi are the “first-fruits of the Gentiles” that believed in Christ; because their faith was a presage of the faith and devotion of the nations who were to come to Christ from afar. And therefore, as the devotion and faith of the nations is without any error through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, so also we must believe that the Magi, inspired by the Holy Ghost, did wisely in paying homage to Christ.

How does this come to be?

Throughout the Old Testament the Jewish people brought the good news of the saving power of G-d. Throughout their travels they would speak with faith the ancient stories of Genesis and Exodus of which you are familiar. They had two different audiences. Primarily, the diaspora or dispersed Jewish populations around the known world where they would teach them the ways of the Torah and right living. The secondary audience was the gentile communities. Here too they taught the same lessons. They would teach of the Exodus and how You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God (Lev 18:34).

The concept of righteous gentiles was well established from of old. The Gentles were further taught the 7 Noahide Laws which bind the children of Noah. Right living or righteousness were the central themes taught to the gentiles and that they too should expect the Messiah. Further during major inflection points in Jewish history the Lord uses a Gentile to bring about His will (a useful book reference: http://www.jewishlights.com/page/product/978-1-58023-364-4).

Trading Secrets

How did this all come about: trade. Jewish traders traveled far and wide long before the time of Jesus. The traders would supply and support the diaspora and trade with all those gentiles who wish to trade. Israel had products to trade as well as particular access to the Egyptian markets and products. Well established southern and northern trading routes were in existence centuries before the coming of the Christ.

The city of Palmira or Palmyra was built by King Solomon (1 Kings 9:18; 2 Chron. 8:4). It was situated about 140 miles northeast of Damascus, on the caravan route between Palestine and the Euphrates. Thus situated, the city was fortified by Solomon to protect his trade routes. In Hebrew, it is called Tadmor.

To the south more trade routes which included portions of sea-routes to India and south east Africa.

The title Magi is based on a Persian word. It is generally accepted that these Magi came from ancient Persia. They came a long way to see for themselves this King!

Witness and Inspiration

It is the diaspora and the Jewish trader who brought the good news (small ‘g’ and small ‘n’ to distinguish) that there is a loving God and He will send the Messiah. This witness together with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit compelled them to travel to Jerusalem to greet and pay homage to the King. I submit to you both are required. It is God’s plan to have us participate in the salvific message and no less so for the Jewish people to be the first to bear the Good News. I think the Magi knew Bethlehem was the place but they were simply asking directions to this suburb of Jerusalem. Herod was clueless.

Gifts

Gold, Frankincense and myrrh. Usually we associate the frankincense with the temple worship and incensing the Altar. However, from a Persian perspective, frankincense is a healing remedy. It is my opinion that the Persian influence allows us to view the frankincense as a healing remedy (Persian) and as incense for temple worship (Jewish). These three kings are declaring this new born to be a King, the healing remedy of God and the Suffering Servant. Wow! The righteous living of the diaspora and traders would be the witness that proves the promise.

Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph of Gospel fame was most likely a trader. Galilee while principally an agricultural region it s also perfectly situated for trade toward Damascus (east). It is understood that Joseph traded and traveled for and wide. While some would like the British version the more likely is Damascus, Babylon, the east coast of Africa and India. This is still evolving science and archaeology. Artifacts placing 1st century Jews in trade is well established. Jesus, between age 12 and his coming out in public ministry, very likely accompanied Joseph on these trading caravans. Poetically, it is even possible Jesus met the three Kings later in life in their home place (speculative).

Modern Take-Away

Application of the Epiphany in our time should include these observations:

1. Trade, free-trade, is critical.
2. Freedom of religion is critical.
3. Freedom of travel and immigration are critical.
4. Righteous living is essential. It is the preparation for the Messiah.
5. Sharing the promises of a loving God is a mandate for Jews and Gentiles alike.
6. The Messiah is the healing remedy for what ails humanity.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Christmas Was a Riot

Riot Fun - Identity

Christmas was a Riot

It couldn’t have been more prophetic now could it?

On the Saturday of the Third Week of Advent, December 22, 2018 the gospel reading of the day is LUKE 1:46-56.

My Soul Proclaims!

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

Why?

He has looked upon his lowly servant (and by extension all his lowly servants).

How?

He has mercy.

In what ways does he have mercy?

He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

Even now?

He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.

Quick Trip

I took a quick trip to Haiti to support a friend and serve the Funeral Mass for his Mother.

Nearly everyone would grieve the loss of one’s mother. For a priest it can often be exceptionally painful. As described to another prior to leaving:

For a priest and their life of celibacy the loss of a mother has two distinct characteristics. The last bit of the femininity of G-d and natural maternal relationship has now passed. It becomes a very lonely time and one of the greatest affronts to their faith. While none should stereotype this is the case for my friend. I go for our friendship. I go because I know her and love her too. I go because his faith needs me.

Luke Proclaims Liberation which requires the Struggle with Evils

Evil does not sit quietly as the proclamation of righteousness is made. Evil pride fights back. The mighty use their power to oppress. The rich continue to fill their stores without pause.

Evil resists the Gospel. We should resist evil.

On the evening of December 21st the well respected radio station Radio Kiskeya burned down. The radio station was respected for its championing of democracy and press freedom in Haiti. It is no more.

RadioStation

None are suggesting that the fire was arson at least not yet. Evil and natural evils abound in the creative space.

Miami Herald Reporting on Haiti Radio Station Destruction

Protests and anxiety erupt

Nearly immediately protests – well organized and large – protests began. So ingrained is mistrust that what most likely was a simple fire took on the character of oppression.

And the protests began with large scale blockage of Route 2 – the route we were taking and entered this space as we returned from the funeral.

Driving Route - Haiti

US Embassy Security Alert 22-12-2018

Embassy Alert

National Zealots verse zealousness for the Lord

For Men of Goodwill there will always also be the tension between nationalistic zealots and zealousness for the Lord. The Lord reminds us He judges rightly and not necessarily always for the poor in particular when in error of judgment and action. With that caveat noted the Lord is clearly most attuned to the widow, orphan, hungry, weak and dispossessed. Knowing the difference takes wisdom.

Maybe we can renew our Christian ardor by proclaiming as Mary did and acting as Mary acted.

Given the Message – She Went

After learning of her cousin Elizabeth being pregnant in her old age, Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. She tended to Elizabeth in her time of need.

Given the Need – She Remained

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.

Haiti is improving I believe. I saw lots of new construction and many at work. Roads are improving if at too slow a pace that suppresses development they are still improving. Good does not happen merely spontaneously – or only spontaneously. It is the action of Men of Goodwill (Humans of Goodwill) moved by the Holy One to get up and go!

TPS Extensions – By Virtue of the Good Fight

The Christ has come – and continues to come!

And the infant in me leaps for joy!!

A private trip goes public

My trip was intended to be private. Support between brothers and the immense weight of grief. But the fact is yesterday we celebrated the martyrdom of Saint Stephen and tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs. Evil does not give up easily. Innocence is the victim. Indifference is the fuel.

Let us all resolve to make 2019 the year of difference. Proclaim the goodness of the Lord! Do it in your actions. Live it in your politics.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Margin Call

O Antiphons

Margin Call

As we enter the final days of Advent (December 17th begins the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve) we again make a margin call. We are at an inflection point in our self-awareness.

Taxes

Well, if you are a stock investor such a margin call would cause heartburn. Stocks have been pounded lately due to the general disintegration of governance and the erosion of executive branch moral vision. This has placed in peril the future of these United States.  These supposed tax breaks are nearly worthless to me as millions like me. As I do a draft tax return (standard procedure this time of year) the impact is negligible, given the cost the people this is a disastrous legislative failure.

Immigration

How did we get here? How is it possible we are silent in the reality that we use military troops to repel men, women and children desperate for a new life? How can we just sit and watch people being marked with indelible ink on their arms with a serial number in the hope of an immigration interview.

What is your understanding of the vision? Is this really your vision?

We have always struggled with the best way to be a friend in our own hemisphere. While the task is difficult it is not one we must abandon to this new xenophobic executive branch.

In December 1961 by President Kennedy’s initiative the Alliance for Progress was started. Faulty and never fully implemented it was an expression of a desire to find common good and hospitality among our neighbors. It was a ten year progressive plan with a peaceful pan-America as the aim – which is well beyond the current guttural vision. We can do better.

The O Antiphons

These last Seven Days we observe the O Antiphons as the antiphons for the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer. The Magnificat already is known to be a recognition that the plan of the Lord is to lift up the lowly and that the hungry are to be fed by us. All of us.

We’ll step through the O Antiphons now. Perhaps we can break through your fear and anxiety and find in charity is true freedom.

O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!

We can know and should know the will of God that is to defend the widow and orphan. All who are without power.

O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!

Laws are meant to rescue and protect.  Right relation is expressed in the common good. Barbed wire is an evil barrier between friends.

O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!

The bounty of God’s love is for all. The riches of the earth are for all too.

O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!

People excommunicate themselves when they have been radicalized by the new nationalists.

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Who will be satisfied? Do we need to see piled bodies of serial marked arms laying in desolation? Why are we desecrating the land of the free?

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Who among us are above being dust? Who can account our riches to our efforts alone? No, it is a bounty from God.

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!

Indeed save us Lord from the anxiety of wealth!!

The darkness grows day by day. We need our Advent light.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

A Lost Soul

esp-lost-soulA Lost Soul

When one fears no God.
When one has lost the gift of hope.
When one sees only what is advantage or disadvantage.
Non Fui, Fui, Non Sum, Non Curo
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care.

Partial quote: we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world! https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/20/donald-trump-statement-saudi-arabia-khashoggi-killing-1008219

We have become the terror itself.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, not even one;  there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for god; all have turned aside, together they have become useless;  there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips;  whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of god before their eyes. Romans 3:9-18

For President Trump there is every advantage to ignore the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. He is after all a journalist in the way of Trump’s agenda.

This is pure evil and the alignment to evil.

How many Prophets does the Lord have to send to us? There will be no more.

But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ Luke 16:30-31

If we continue with this, we are all lost souls.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

From My Poverty

Jewish Coins

From My Poverty

Greetings on this the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 KGS 17:10-16; PS 146:7, 8-9, 9-10; HEB 9:24-28; MK 12:38-44

A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.  For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood (MK 12:42-44).

The Gospel reading paired with the first reading today gives a voice to two downcast widows. In the first case, we know her thoughts as she speaks with Elijah. In the second case, we know her thoughts because the eyes of the Lord are upon her and he teaches us from her poverty.

Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die (1 KG 17:12b).

The widow of Zarephath of Sidon suffered during the severe drought in the land. She and her son having reached the very bottom of poverty prepared to eat one last meal before dying. The Lord had a wonderful plan for her. Rather than dying, the Lord sent Elijah to her. For Elijah he was given the word she would be his caretaker. Upon his arrival and discovering her dire circumstances he first ministered to her. Or perhaps we can say it this way: they ministered to one another?

Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.  Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.  For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry,  until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'” (1 KG 17:13-17).

She gave from her poverty. There was no pretense. There was no condemnation. Just the truth and her heart willing to share the truth of her insufficiency. The Lord accepted her and gave her the riches of the heavens. Immediately in the story she, her son and Elijah ate through the drought with a super abundant oil and flour. Even next beyond the reading Elijah resuscitates her son after he is near or at death. God provides.

In much the same way, the Gospel widow having prayed contributes her two cents. She gave from her poverty. There was no pretense. There was no condemnation. Just the truth and her heart willing to share the truth of her insufficiency. The Lord accepted her too and her wonderful gift from the heart.

Jesus wants the gift of our insufficiency

In actual fact, Jesus wants the gift of our insufficiency not our excess.

The Lord gladly and tenderly accepts these gifts coming from the greatest weaknesses within us. He wants these things because they are the gifts and signs of our greatest needs. He, himself.

The gifts are given in community

In the case of Elijah and the Temple gift, both gifts are given the context of community – the Church. Elijah has come to bring hope to the widow and her son and to all those in the vicinity. The prophet is here.  The Lord is here with us in our difficulties. He is here among us and expresses his gifts through us — through our inadequacies. Here in this place is acceptance and the warm embrace of Christian love.

Hear the words of Saint John Paul II:

To everyone I say: love your parish; think of it as your home, your family, where you can meet, get to know one an-other, dialogue and reflect together on the principal problems which affect your community. However, most of all, you should find in it the strength and enthusiasm for a faith journey that is ever more shining and attractive, which will lead those who consider themselves “separated” to reflect on the beauty of faith in God, the Father of all, and in Christ Jesus, Redeemer of every person (November 10, 1991).

Give Jesus your poverty.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

One Vote

USA Flag

One Vote

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – MK 12:28B-34   

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  MK 12:34

True Prayer One

Two deacons were having a conversation about prayer and the difficulty of staying present and silent in prayer.

Deacon One, “It’s not easy”.
Deacon Two, “Sure it is! I do it all the time.”

Deacon One, “OK. I will make a reward for you. I will give you my prize horse if you can be present and silent for one hour in prayer.”
Deacon Two, “You got it”.

Deacon Two goes into prayer, settling in, closing his eyes and begins. Silently he sits, silently he prays, ever so silently.

Deacon Two, “Does that include the saddle?”

True Prayer Two

A young Brother at the monastery approaches the Abbot with a question.

Brother, “Abbot, is it right to eat while I pray?”
Abbot, “No! Absolutely not right. That is a terrible thing to do.”

Later in the week…

Brother, “Abbot, is it right to pray while I am eating?”
Abbot, “Yes, this is most virtuous.”

The Lord is One

In today’s gospel reading we encounter the single yet impossible goalYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

Impossible yet absolutely necessary and good! How then is it possible? If we cannot settle in for one hour of prayer without regressing to ‘what is in it for me’, how is it possible to reach such degrees of quiet and attentiveness to the Lord? Jesus reassures us, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” MK 10:27. It is the Divine Presence that calls us to himself – to aspire to this degree of intimacy with the Lord — and it is the Divine Presence that makes it possible for us to respond with intimacy. Said another way, it is the inspiration of God that makes the desire and provisions the pathway. We enter into the way…. without the horse.

The second commandment is a little less impossible… The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

How can I say such a thing? How can it be that the 2nd commandment is a predicate to the 1st commandment unless I reengage Jesus’ response to the scribe.

The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

Our burnt offerings (prayer) and sacrifices (Eucharistic practice) are virtuous but are lacking without the binding commandment to love neighbor as yourself. The challenge here is to read the commandment in both directions. Usually we read this way — Love God entirely by way of burnt offering and sacrifices then you can love neighbor as self. Jesus prefers the opposite, love neighbor as yourself then bring your gifts so as to be receptive to the Divine Presence.

Have you not read: Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. MT 5:23-24.

Love Neighbor and Self

How and what do we love about ourselves? Well, some are often unhappy about their person for different reasons. But we can say that for most all we love ourselves by taking care of the body, emotions and spirit. Do you not eat? Do you not see a doctor when sick? Are you not attentive to what you think and how you feel and what is the natural good for you?

Seek those things for neighbor.

You see most times we eat while we pray. We need to learn to pray while we eat.

One Vote

The oneness of the Lord includes without separation love neighbor as yourself.

Vote with your conscience. Vote with an informed conscience.

Is our own eating the priority and our primary focus? Is this not the dead faith James speaks of (Jam 2:14)?

Is political dogma and thoughts of moral right kept on a higher value than the person? Do you not understand Jesus statement “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”

The gospel reading today ends with a moment of decision. The scribe having correctly answered with understanding that love of neighbor is an intrinsic part of loving God, Jesus says in reply: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Time to Vote

And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

There is nothing left to ask.

Know the difference between prayer and prayer with the reward of a horse and saddle.

Know the difference between eating and praying.

Now, press the lever.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry