Faith in the Lord

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: GAL 3:1-5; LK 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75; LK 11:5-13
Notes: Yesterday and today (plus tomorrow in regard to the Memorial of the Holy Rosary) is about prayer.

Prayer is a communion with the Lord. A conversation.
Faith, even a mustard seed faith, is the motivation or justification for my actions which includes prayer.

  1. Faith – I trust you hear me.
  2. Faith – I trust you will act for me.

The first reading sets the vector.

  • Yesterday, the danger of following a strange gospel.
  • Today, the motivation. Are we moved by a checklist (a/k/a Law)? Are we moved in the heart by compassion?

First reading
We are justified by faith because faith is an interpersonal reality.

I either trust you or I do not.
The LAW is not interpersonal of itself. It is useful to describe the contours of our relations.

Faith is justification in so far as it is trusting the Lord will act for me especially in the most difficult of all circumstance, which is, the need for forgiveness and cleansing from sin with an infusion of grace. I cannot overcome my need by my efforts alone. I must have faith the Lord will overcome my needs for me.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; He has come to his people.

Alleluia Verse
Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.

Gospel Portion
Our gospel portion today contrasts the faith we have in one another and the faith we are offered in the Lord.

Faith in a friend – it may require imposing and inconvenience a friend even as he does not appreciate the dire need we have. No doubt we have been on either side of that equation before!

Faith in the Lord – is always an open path. Ask, Seek, Knock! Any hour, any day, all the time and in every way! It is not an inconvenience or imposition for the Lord to hear you and respond to you because He loves you. That’s his motivation.

You can have faith in that.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Religion or Personal Projection

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Gal 2:1-2, 7-14; Ps 117:1bc, 2; Lk 11:1-4
Notes:

Speaking of the first reading a few days ago: I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel, I would like to share a story from this week.

We had the Catholic funeral liturgy for a beloved member. The Vigil service, Funeral Mass and the Committal Rite. All carefully prepared and the liturgy meticulously followed according to the faith.

We gathered:

  1. To pray for the soul of the dead (mercy, forgiveness, and the beatific vision).
  2. To pray for one another in consolation (love, unity, forgiveness).
  3. To remember our baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (salvation economy).
  4. To remember the sure hope of the resurrection and the mercy of God (the Divine Will).

After the graveside service the Funeral Director took it upon himself to orate for 20 minutes straight. And essentially demand the family and friends gather around the coffin for an extra-liturgical expression.

The worst part?

He started with: The real reason we are here

Really? You know the real reason. See the list I provided above items one to four.
In speaking with his coworker, he told me this FD does this all the time.

Shameful!

  • Funeral Director has a competence and role distinct and true.
  • He is not the spiritual director of the family and grieving.
  • I know he meant well and for that he gets this gentle warning.
  • At most he can provide comforting context when the context is not already provided.
  • He is there to provide concluding comments such as: ‘Thank you for coming’, and ‘This service is concluded’.

After three days of meticulous and exact theological understanding, developed over millennia, the FD decided of his own ego to declare, ‘the real reason’. He was not asked to do that. He is of unknown theological basis. He is unknown ordination or appointment. He did not read the discomfort of the family gathered to his expectations. He had zero understanding of interfaith practices.

Apparently he does this all the time.
Yikes!

I have done many interfaith services and faith services of other traditions, great and meticulous care must be given to represent the faith tradition of the grieving, not my own. His activity is a slap in the face of all religions and traditions and interfaith practices.

Why does it matter?

Because he is not in the position to declare the purpose of the gathering, the theological framework of the gathering nor listened to the words of the liturgy provided. The family and their ways are the paramount canon.

Some of our prayers are 2,000 years old given by the Lord himself!

How closed can a person be in such a moment!

I am writing this as a neglected reality. In the modern world, I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel. In your context it is fine. But in the context of a family with distinct and specific religious tradition, no, not at all.

Today is also the Optional Memorial of Saint Faustina Kowalska, virgin.
She is an impactful saint in the western church. Her modern era life (August 25, 1905 – October 5, 1938) and her diary has inspired millions to a life of loving the Lord and acting justly.

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska’s Story here:
https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-maria-faustina-kowalska

For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

First reading
When they saw that I had been entrusted with the Gospel.
But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all…

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

Alleluia Verse
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons through which we cry: Abba! Father!

Gospel Portion

This! This is our focus:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

So they glorified God because of me

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
Readings: GAL 1:13-24; PS 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15; LK 10:38-42
Notes: Paul says what each of us who follow Jesus hope for, that is to say, may God be glorified because of me. Seriously, it doesn’t get better than that. Not glory as in obligation but in revelation.

The One You Cannot See, You Can See, And What You See is Love.

The Franciscans have a loving tribute to Francis of Assisi. I would be honored if you read this tribute and ignored my reflection. He was a true disciple.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/who-was-st-francis-of-assisi

First reading
So they glorified God because of me.

Responsorial Psalm
Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

Gospel Portion
The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.

Martha, don’t be anxious!
Strive instead, in all you do and in all your rest, may God be glorified because of me.

Pssst, Martha, your prayer was answered that day.

Jesus honored you recognizing your work and devotion and not at the expense of another. And he invites you into adoration, too.

Martha and Mary, God is glorified because of you two, Service and Adoration.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Evidence-Based Theology

Greetings on this the Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: GAL 1:6-12; PS 111:1B-2, 7-8, 9 AND 10C; LK 10:25-37
Notes: We have many vectors for the parable of the Good Samaritan. As a matter of liturgy and theology, the focus is framed by the elements of time and supporting sacred Scriptture given:

  1. Ordinary time or season of Lent.
  2. Week day or Sunday (see link below for 15th Sunday ordinary three years ago).
  3. Sacred Scripture first reading focus.
  4. The current readings in close proximity to ‘today’.
  5. The events in the world around us.
  6. The homilest is a ‘different’ person than even one week ago because we change in time.
  7. The reader is a ‘different’ person than even one week ago because we change in time.

You can see then preaching the Gospel has an ever changing focus and at the same time solid in the foundation and source of its purpose: the saving message of God.

  • Today’s question speaks to the interconnectivity between action and salvation.
  • Yesterday’s question spoke to the interconnectivity between action and faith.

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Increase our faith?
Response: Do something.

Even if that something has a low probability of success, like being a mulberry tree cast into the ocean, the Lord will make it bear fruit and thrive even there.

Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time – Inherit eternal life?
Response: Do something.

Who was neighbor? But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.

The added element today is the source and foundation of faith:
The revelation to Paul and the passing on of the Gospel message.

Related reflections
https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2019/07/13/nay-neighbor/
https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/10/28/american-zealots/

First reading
Brothers and sisters:
I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ.

It is exhausting to debate theology almost as much to debate politics!
There are so many divisions of theology (method of study and expression).

The scholor of the law wished to justify himself.

Today, Jesus uses Evidence-Based Theology.

Evidence Based Gospel (Arms and Legs of the Good News of Jesus Christ)

  1. Person is moved to be their better self.
  2. Person is moved to praise God.
  3. Person is moved to come to the aid of any on their life’s path.
  4. Person intuitively performs Corporal Acts of Mercy.
  5. Person intuitively performs Spiritual Acts of Mercy.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.

Alleluia Verse
I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.

Gospel Portion
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

Do faith.
Do theology.
Do salvation.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

My Servant

Greetings on this the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4; Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14; Lk 17:5-10
Notes: Through out this past week we have gone deeply into the human crisis of understanding the world around us, in particular Evil/evil. In our first reading today, we again receive reassurance as to the Divine Will.

Look below: the Lord will not disappoint, the Lord will not be late. Part of our faith journey is reconciling this truth with the effects, sights and sounds of Evil/evil in the world.

We spent a week on this and some progress should have been made. We are intelligent beings and we can take on information, insights and new methods of measurement.

Today we remind ourselves of Job. The only one to be called “My Servant” by the Lord in defense of all humanity in response to the Great Accuser.

The LORD said to the satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.” (Jb 1:8).

Our responsorial psalm (which is Psalm 95 said daily in the Church) reminds us:

If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts. Why delibrately be deaf to the voice of God out of … what? Disappointment, disillusionment, fear, or maybe, guilt?

Meribah and Massah

Meribah, place of contention, and Massah, place of trial. A place we don’t belong and need to keep moving farther.

First reading
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.

Responsorial Psalm
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.”

Second reading
I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.

Alleluia Verse
The word of the Lord remains forever. This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

Gospel Portion
Jesus brings us the ultimate understanding, the ultimate flipping of the question.

Previously this week I reassured you that assessing everything through the lens of POWER is inferior to the way Jesus tells us to think, through the HEART.

Today Jesus says something even more important and bringing us back to the book of Job. Do you serve the God of Love or Yourself Alone?

The LORD said to the satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.”

When called the life of service, do or don’t do.

So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’

By the way, Jesus did in fact do what he is not obliged to do.

he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feetd and dry them with the towel around his waist. So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him (Jn 13:4-5, 12-16).

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Seventy-Two Blessings

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Readings: JB 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17; PS 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130; LK 10:17-24
Notes: We have arrived at the end of the Book of Job (selected readings, of course).

Isn’t the first reading so wonderful? (take a peek below).

For me it brings tears to my eyes. The great Job confession of sorts!

  • No purpose of yours can be hindered – the well-being of humanity, each individually.
  • I see wonderful things but cannot comprehend the depths of love behind them.
  • I have come to see you, not by eye sight but by your whispering action.
  • Therefore, I disown my anger. I desire right relation.

Beautiful!

And our gospel portion reveals the authority and power against evil given the Apostles and to you!

And
And
And

To praise God!

”At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

You, the baptized of the Lord, have become Priest, Prophet and King.

Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

First reading
Job answered the LORD and said:

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, let your face shine on me.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Gospel Portion
The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.

Amen!
Amen!

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Have you

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Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Readings: Jb 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5; Ps 139:1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14ab; Lk 10:13-16
Notes: In our first reading today, the Lord asks a series of questions:

Have you…

It is a two-edged sword type of question.

  • Have you – done wonderful and marvelous things (created, know all things)?
  • Have you – done things you’d rather not talk about (wicked, proud)?

Makes you think, no?

Our Alleluia verse today sums it up well:

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

In today’s gospel portion, Jesus reminds us that if you have heard the Lord speak, then you have responsibilities. The responsibility is to be like the One who made you and called out to you.

  • If today you hear his voice, respond in-kind.
  • If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

You really can be like Jesus in your ways. Just ask the Lord for help to be thus.
Just like Saint Jerome, we fall frequently into sin (all the usual problems of men), but we rise in repentance.

  • Stand up.
  • Dust off.
  • Praise God.
  • Aid humankind.

Personal note: One of my goals during the sabbatical was to learn Spanish and Creole, at least at the level of liturgical competence. I have failed miserably. Please pray for me I can turn this around before the sabbatical is over. It is such an important goal! Hear these words of Saint Jerome:

St. Jerome studied Hebrew in preparation to translate the Old Testament. He wrote, “It is more honorable to take a little trouble to get at the truth, and adapt one’s ear to an unfamiliar tongue, than to come out with a sham solution.” (One Bread, One Body, www.presentationministries.com)

I am embarrassed. Pray for me.

Reflection

Jerome was a strong, outspoken man. He had the virtues and the unpleasant fruits of being a fearless critic and all the usual moral problems of a man. He was, as someone has said, no admirer of moderation whether in virtue or against evil. He was swift to anger, but also swift to feel remorse, even more severe on his own shortcomings than on those of others. A pope is said to have remarked, on seeing a picture of Jerome striking his breast with a stone, “You do well to carry that stone, for without it the Church would never have canonized you” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints).

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

First reading
Then Job answered the LORD and said:

Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
Though I have spoken once, I will not do so again;
though twice, I will do so no more.

Responsorial Psalm
Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

O LORD, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar.

Alleluia Verse
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.

And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’

Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me.

And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

As I watched

Greetings on this the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels
Readings: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14; PS 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 4-5; Jn 1:47-51
Notes: These past three days we have been reading from the didactic sacred scripture Book of Job. In these readings we are challenged by what we see and hear – the difficulties of humanity – and what we hope for – the benevolence of God.

We confronted:

  1. our knowledge and our ignorance.
  2. our self-expectations and our actions.
  3. the tension between free-will and consequences.
  4. the tension between our understanding of Intended Will and Permissive Will of God.
  5. numerous natural evils and spiritual evils.
  6. copious examples of the benevolence of God.

In the gospel portion, parallel, we are given a pathway forward:

  1. from power politics to loving like and for children.
  2. from public opinion to resolute mission of love and sacrifice.
  3. from curiosity of the ways of God to living with commit to His Way.
  4. from vision and myth to knowing and seeing God in action.
  5. from power to love – it cannot be stated enough – to reframe our point of reference.

We but need to watch and consider deeply what we see, hear and know to be true.

Hurricane Ian made landfall at Cayo Costa, Florida as a Category 4 storm. It is not yet sunrise today so the visual evidence of the destruction is not yet fully seen.

Just as often we can explain with science what happens, we have many occasions where the hand of the divine is guiding events to a better outcome even in the midst of disaster.

We walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we can see the effects of the angelic powers working the Lord’s will in this world. The gates of hell shall not prevail. Divine love is in your life, in my life and the life of the human family.

Watch as the angelic powers work God’s will. Pray for their intercession in the will of God.

Prayer to St. Michael

Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle: be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do you, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen

Archangels (there may be seven of them, we know the names of three).
So many other heavenly creatures and angels:
a. Cherubim
b. Seraphim
c. Hosts of the Lord

Reflection

Each of the archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides. Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given way to a scientific world-view and a different sense of cause and effect. Yet believers still experience God’s protection, communication, and guidance in ways which defy description. We cannot dismiss angels too lightly.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-michael-gabriel-and-raphael

First reading
As I watched.

Responsorial Psalm
In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Alleluia Verse
Bless the LORD, all you angels, you ministers, who do his will.

Gospel Portion
To Nathanael he said,

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

To you he says:

Watch, see and know I have overcome death and all evil things for you.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God

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Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jb 9:1-12, 14-16; Ps 88:10bc-11, 12-13, 14-15; Lk 9:57-62
Notes: Contending with God is not a problem. The Lord would much prefer your voice than your silence.

Job, in the end, recognizes there is so much we don’t know. So he/we go deeper into the question.

Does God really love me?

Yes, yes, he does.

How do we know?

Job intercedes for his friends.

In the end, Job’s discontent is satisfied in his honest dialog with God and his acting like the Lord in giving forgiveness and grace. IN the concluding scene of the drama, the Lord reckons with Job friends who did poorly. Instead of anger, grace. Instead of direct action, He gives Job the work of forgiveness.

Let my servant Job pray for you (Jb 42:8b).

Hurricane Ian at our doorsteps. Pray for Cuba and the Keys, heavy flooding.

Locally only tropical storm status. Tampa needs prayer.

Reflection (Good King Wenceslaus – He is one of my favorites)

“Good King Wenceslaus” was able to incarnate his Christianity in a world filled with political unrest. While we are often victims of violence of a different sort, we can easily identify with his struggle to bring harmony to society. The call to become involved in social change and in political activity is addressed to Christians; the values of the gospel are sorely needed today.

Optional memorial https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-wenceslaus

First reading
I know well that it is so; but how can a man be justified before God?

Responsorial Psalm
Let my prayer come before you, Lord.

Daily I call upon you, O LORD; to you I stretch out my hands.

Alleluia Verse
I consider all things so much rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him.

Gospel Portion
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

How do we know God loves us? Because you intercede for your friends.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry