God’s House

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Mass in the Morning
Readings: 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29; Lk 1:67-79
Notes: So excited! Merry Christmas!!

Today’s readings are special in an additional way. The Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent is read only every seven years except leap year calculations mess that up. So, we simply say about every seven years we get a full fourth week of Advent.

What did the Church choose for this special event?

A focus, not unique by itself, but unique in its selection. It is worthy of our pondering today as we prepare to recall his first coming and prepare for his second coming.

Asserting even on the rarest of days:

  1. God’s House is a tent. A tent or tabernacle within you!
  2. His kindness is forever. Jesus is the manifestation of the tender compassion of our God.
  3. He has come incarnate for our salvation.
    The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a person speaks to a friend (Ex 33:11).
  4. He is the way of peace.

Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!

Give thanks to the Lord with righteousness, and bless the King of the ages, so that your tabernacle may be rebuilt in you with joy (Tobit 13:10a).

Alternate translation:

Praise the Lord for his goodness,
and bless the King of ages,
so that his tent may be rebuilt in you with joy.

First reading
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: “Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?

I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his Kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.’”

It is the Lord who provides:

  • A place to worship.
  • A life to lead.
  • A way of being.

Our great cathedrals are beautiful and serve the twin function of giving Glory to God and a large gathering place to express our desire to praise God together! They are not his dwelling place, exactly. He is in reserve in the tabernacle for those who are sick and needing Viaticum (bread for the journey). He dwells there because we ask him to, where we have a sacred space for the purpose of Holy Mass and Holy Communion with him. Yet, the cathedral is the seat of the bishop. There is another seat in your heart.

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

The favors of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”; in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

His Kindness is forever.

Alleluia Verse
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.

Gospel Portion
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David.

In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

To turn the hearts

Greetings on this the Friday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Readings: Mal 3:1-4, 23-24; PS 25:4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14; Lk 1:57-66
Notes: John the Baptist, Elijah, has come. His mission continues each generation.

John, like Mary, always points us to Jesus and the Father.

He has other specific goals as well. John has come and continues his mission. Remember, John never married. John never had children. But he understood and was motivated by the turning of hearts.

To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Mal 3:24).

Recently, aiding a family with their gift giving, it was a joy to watch them in joy wrapping their carefully picked selections for gifts for their children. These gifts are outward signs of an inward turn, to the heart and wellbeing of the children. And children for their parents.

  • Turn hearts to love.
  • Be introduced to the Horn of Salvation.
  • Know, accept, and turn for and toward the forgiveness of sin.

Inseparable things.

Elizabeth, righteous, names John in harmony with the vison of the Angel Gabriel to her husband Zechariah.

Twin tasks of John:

  1. Prepare the way of Jesus as the Horn of Salvation.
  2. Prepare his people by knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin.

Three Songs of Advent: https://gerrypalermo.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/threesongsofadvent.pdf

John. John the Baptist.

First reading
Thus says the Lord GOD: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.

Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, Before the day of the LORD comes, the great and terrible day, To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.

Responsorial Psalm
Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.

All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees. The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him, and his covenant, for their instruction.

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

Gospel Portion
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son.

When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”

So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.

The Canticle of Zechariah (tomorrow).

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

The Ancient Prayer

Greetings on this Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Readings: 1 Sm 1:24-28; 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd; Lk 1:46-56
Notes: The stories of Adam and Eve, Hagar and Ishmael, Sari and Abraham, Manoah and Samson, Hannah and Samuel present to us a recurring theme of the Lord’s intercession for the wellbeing of women and through them the wellbeing of all peoples.

In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping freely (1 Sam 1:10).
For the LORD has heeded your affliction (Gen 16:11).

Adam again had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. “God has granted me another offspring in place of Abel,” she said, “because Cain killed him.” To Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to invoke the LORD by name (Gen 4:25-26).

Is it any wonder then the Lord God decided to hear the deepest prayers of humanity from of ancient times to bring a Son who will set them free through a woman, righteous and sinless?

At that time people began to invoke the LORD by name (Gen 4:26b).

First reading
Hannah Presents Samuel to the Lord.

Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said: “Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” She left Samuel there.

Hannah’s Song (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/1samuel/2?1) is the basis for the responsorial.

And Hannah prayed.

  • Manoah was supportive (Samson).
  • Elkanah was supportive (Samuel).

Righteousness.

Responsorial (from Samuel)
My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

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

Gospel Portion
The Canticle of Mary.

We pray the canticle of Mary every evening.

See in particular the O Antiphones the seven days before Christmas: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/12/17/o-antiphons-2021/

December 22
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Reflection: We are dust and to dust we shall return. But not just dust. Breath. Rûaħ. You, O God, have made this dust with your own breath. Save your breath so closely knitted and integrated within us as Emmanuel is knitted within Mary.

My Soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord….

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Open wide your arms

Photo by Marina M on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Readings: SG 2:8-14; PS 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21; LK 1:39-45
Notes: All week we contemplate righteous men and woman at the Advent of the Lord (full 4th week Advent).

At the Homily this past Sunday, I asked this question:

Q: How do you receive a hug?
A: You have to open your arms wide.

Emmanuel comes to you a baby. Open wide your arms to receive him!

Mary, the proto-deacon, faithful exemplar, Mother of God, her first act is to act in charity!

  • Righteous Mary, dispenser of divine charity. For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
  • Righteous woman Elizabeth, gratitude and humility in her hour of need.

DIAKONIA

The biblical Greek word for service. As such it applies to all manner of ministry (official) or assistance (unofficial) that a person may perform or render either to the Church in general or to some private individual.

From: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33072

First reading
“O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, Let me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely.”

Responsorial Psalm
Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.

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

Gospel Portion
Set-up: And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren.

Today’s gospel portion:
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Service, humility and gratitude.

Open wide your arms to receive the baby Jesus!

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Ask!

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Readings: Is 7:10-14; PS 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6; Lk 1:26-38
Notes: How often we design our own solutions without the divine aid.

Ask! The Lord answers in ways beyond our imagination! (Continuing the contemplation of righteousness in action).

  • Manoah asked.
  • Zechariah asked.
  • Ahaz wouldn’t ask.
  • Joseph didn’t get a chance to ask AFAWCT.
  • Mary asked.

Talk with the Lord for he has planned marvelous things!

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace (Isa 9:5).

First reading
The LORD spoke to Ahaz: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!

Responsorial Psalm
Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.

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

Gospel Portion
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”

And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Ask!

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Born of Faith

Angel visits Jospeh in a dream.

Greetings on this the Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Readings: JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A; PS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17; LK 1:5-25
Notes: This week is an exciting week! Today is an exciting day!

Day – Today I post my 1,000 post on this blog.

  • 1,000 Blog entries.
  • 2,602 Images mostly of nature areas, pilgrimages, Churches and others.
  • 195 Short Stories or Teachings in PDF format.
  • 3 Audio files.
  • 14 Videos.
  • End of year stats in January they aren’t very impressive. I have a core group of readers (thank you) and my need to write before preaching is a constant impetus to write and improve my calling well.

Week – The 4th Week of Advent is a rare 7 days long. We encounter the scriptures in a unique way in this time.

This week is about Righteous Men and Women.
Those who want to follow the Lord perfectly but need help doing so.

Dream holy dreams, my friends.

With the exception of Mary, without sin, each finds their way forward incrementally trusting the Lord.
So should you.

First reading
The Birth of Samson.
Worthy of a complete read if you have the time: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/judges/13?1

An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Though you are barren and have had no children, yet you will conceive and bear a son.

The woman bore a son and named him Samson. The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him; the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial Psalm
My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

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

Gospel Portion
Of Zechariah and Elizabeth
(for those of you who listened to me preach yesterday, you recall the righteous man Joseph, who was open to the inspiration of God and listened to his divine correction. Both righteous. Both open. Joseph trusted the Lord more than Zechariah. Zechariah needed a little more help than Joseph did.

Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.

And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.

Nothing is impossible for the Lord. Infertility since ages past is a most heartbreaking of situations. It is but a feather to the Lord.

Trust

  • Manoah and his wife.
  • Zechariah and Elizabeth
  • Joseph and Mary.

Wonder

  • Samson.
  • John.
  • Jesus.

Born of faith, all.

You! You can trust the Lord, too.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

A righteous man

Greetings on this the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Readings: Is 7:10-14; Ps 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Rom 1:1-7; Mt 1:18-24
Notes: The 4th Sunday of Advent has arrived and the length of the 4th week of Advent is highly variable.

Depending on the day of the week Christmas day falls, the 4th week of Advent can be only hours long or a full week in length. This year it is a full week.

In addition to this variability of calendar is the cycles of readings. We have the Cycle A readings. The Birth of Jesus, Gospel of Matthew, the Vision of Joseph.

We have an entire week to contemplate Joseph and his encounter with the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said:

Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Joseph himself has his own feast day, March 19th (days before the Solemnity of the Annunciation).

Our first reading has us contemplating another Divine-Human encounter, Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz with the Sign of Emmanuel. Through the week, those who act rightly with the Lord:

  • Zechariah.
  • Mary.
  • Mary-Elizabeth-John.
  • Mary-Magnificat.
  • Elizabeth-John.
  • Zachariah-John.
  • Year A The Birth of Jesus.
  • Year B Announcement of the Birth of Jesus.
  • Year C Mary Visits Elizabeth.

First reading
Unrighteous Decision

But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”

Tempt the LORD: Ahaz prefers to depend upon the might of Assyria rather than the might of God (NABRE commentary). How many in the Church make the deals that Ahaz makes?

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel.

For the Christian the incarnation is the ultimate expression of God’s willingness to “be with us (NABRE commentary).

Responsorial Psalm
Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.

Second reading
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Alleluia Verse
The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.

Gospel Portion
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.

Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Divine-human encounter.
Righteous decision.

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Be a righteous man or woman:

  1. Listen to the Lord when he speaks.
  2. Receive the message and contemplate the meaning (harmony, peace, mission, right a wrong).
  3. Act rightly.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Assemble and listen, listen to your father

Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
Readings: Gn 49:2, 8-10; PS 72:1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17; Mt 1:1-17
Notes: I was explaining to someone yesterday that sacred Scripture is storytelling at its finest.

I don’t mean fictional storytelling or the telling of lies (a common slang definition).
It is the art of the Oral Tradition to tell the story again and again then brought to paper in the Written Tradition.

In many cases, the stories are refined literary genius communicating great and powerful truth.
In other cases, it is the memory of our Ancestors, those who came before us.

This past week of Re-joy the church gave you example Sir 48:1-4, 9-11, Praise of the Ancients.
Soon we’ll re-encounter the entire book of Exodus!

But today we listen to a different story.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matthew).
From Abraham, the Father of Nations, to Jesus.

This genealogy doesn’t contain everyone.
The purpose is to treat it as an Index or Table of Contents to the stories and personalities of the Ancients.
Their stories.
Their communities.
The storytelling is never perfect in fact but perfect in spirit and intention.

Their children, of which comes Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

First reading
Jacob called his sons and said to them: “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father.

Responsorial Psalm
Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

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

Gospel Portion
Tell your story to your children.
Of grandparents, great-grands and as much as can be remembered.

Tell again the story of the Birth of Jesus.

Jesus’ family is your family too.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Authentic or Inauthentic

Greetings on this the Friday of the Third Week in Advent
Readings: Is 56:1-3a, 6-8; Ps 67:2-3, 5, 7-8; Jn 5:33-36
Notes: I dedicate this homily to a very caring and beautiful person who in her blog posts challenges us to be authentic in our thinking and authentic in our reaction to the Other.

The Lord calls us to be authentic in ourselves and authentic when encountering others.

The Pharisees and scribes who approached John the Baptist approached John with skepticism and curiosity, rightly, I think. There are plenty of charlatans in this world. But that is only ever a starting point.

  • In some cases, John was immediately seen as the A voice of one crying out ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths and the baptism of repentance took place.
  • In some cases, John was convincing conversion immediate so and baptism of repentence took place.
  • In other cases, John chastised those who approached for their inauthentic questions and excessive skepticism and yet they submitted to the baptism of repentance with the warning from John, Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
  • In the final categorical cases, John chastised those who approached for their inauthentic questions and excessive skepticism and they refused the plan of God for them and no baptism of repentance took place.

In the end, it is our choice to be Authentic or Inauthentic, in particular in our relations.

What is authentic?

  • Listen.
  • Respond.
  • Act upon the response.

From the first reading:

  • Observe (listen).
  • Do (respond).
  • Act justly or unjustly.

Everything else is drama.

In our gospel portion, Jesus is framed in the same way. After his third ‘sign’, the Pharisees and scribes approached Jesus with skepticism and curiosity. Jesus replies with very concrete observation.

John offered repentance and performed no miracles. Jesus offered even more:

  • Teaching
  • Miracles
  • Forgiveness
  • Healing
  • House of prayer (that is relation)
  • For all, not some.

First reading
Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed.

Let not the foreigner say, when he would join himself to the LORD, “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.”

For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

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

Alleluia Verse
Come, Lord, bring us your peace that we may rejoice before you with a perfect heart.

Gospel Portion
The gospel of John’s narrative contains a series of “signs”. Signs are the gospel’s word for the wondrous deeds of Jesus.

Just after the healing, at the pool at Bethesda, of a man crippled for 38 years, Jesus said:

John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Enlarge the space for your tent

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Third Week in Advent
Readings: Is 54:1-10; PS 30:2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b; Lk 7:24-30
Notes: In the third week of Advent we Re-Joy. Reenter the Joy of knowing God’s love.

Our first reading has a powerful message for women.

I spliced out the scripture so you may know, without a doubt, that you are beloved of God. Isaiah and Gospel.

Remember this simple fact. The Lord would not use the distress of women as an example only for a whole nation as here but as a singular example of how he responds to every woman in need, every day, everywhere.

  • Enlarge the space for your tent – be open to the marvelous and amazing love and blessings the Lord has for you!
  • Don’t be like the Pharisees and scholars of the law, … [they] rejected the plan of God for themselves.

First reading
Below, please understand this sacred response to the prayer of a woman in distress:

  • Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear, break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor. For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the Lord.
  • Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced.
  • The shame of your youth you shall forget, the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember.
  • For he who has become your husband is your Maker; his name is the Lord of hosts.
  • The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, A wife married in youth and then cast off, says your God.
  • But with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord, your redeemer.
  • So I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you.
  • My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Responsorial Psalm
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Alleluia Verse
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: All flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Gospel Portion
This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

Prepare your tent!

  • Enlarge the space for your tent – be open to the marvelous and amazing love and blessings the Lord has for you!
  • Don’t be like the Pharisees and scholars of the law, … [they] rejected the plan of God for themselves.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry