Conversion not coercion

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Greetings on this the Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 15:22-31; PS 57:8-9, 10 and 12; Jn 15:12-17
Notes: Conversion not coercion. It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us (the Church).
(Coercion is the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats).

Faith should be free from:

  1. unnecessarily upsetting people with excessive application of our teachings.
  2. disturbance of peace of mind as a requirement or as a tactic.

The Apostles speak clearly when they said:
It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities.

The Church rightly offers her guidance on so many aspects of modern life.
But She must resist, and at the current time is embroiled in, coercion.

It is clearly not the will of the Holy Spirit to coerce people.

First reading
We have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind.

‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right. Farewell.

Responsorial Psalm
I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.

Alleluia Verse
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.

Conversion not coercion.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

No one has greater love than this

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Greetings on this the Tuesday of Fifth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 14:19-28; PS 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 21; Jn 14:27-31a
Notes:

It is a mystery to be encountered this supreme act of love.

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work (Jn 4:34). No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (Jn 15:13).

First reading
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing that he was dead.

Responsorial Psalm
Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Alleluia Verse
Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory.

Gospel Portion
for the ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race

Greetings on this the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Readings: Acts 14:21-27; Ps 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13; Rev 21:1-5a; Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35
Notes:

Love dwells. Love remains.
I wish for you a life of love.

First reading
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm
I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.

Second reading
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”

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

Gospel Portion
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Do not let your hearts be troubled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Tell? Why not See?

Fr Damien – We Leapers

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

Optipnal Memorial: Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i

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

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

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

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

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

Abstractions (shorter but less precise)

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

and

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

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

Responsorial Psalm
All you nations, praise the Lord.

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

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

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

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Accompany them without discriminating

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

2022 – Athirst is my soul for the living God.

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

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

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

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

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

Peter says, false patriotism is evil.

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

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

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

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

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

Responsorial Psalm
Athirst is my soul for the living God.

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

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

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

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Hear and Hold Dear

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

Hear me.
Hold me.

We plead thusly.
He reassures thusly.

It is reciprocal.

We need him.
He wants us.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Glory to Ukraine!

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

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

The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

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

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

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

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

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

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Good Friday

Greetings on this the Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
Readings: Is 52:13—53:12; Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18:1—19:42
Notes:

It is a good Friday because it is a good outcome.
The quintessential expression that God allows evil only to the extent from it the Lord can bring good. Jesus’ crucifixion would make such truth difficult to image. But then the resurrection.

We too must imagine the loving will of God working in, with, through and for us even in the most dire of circumstances.

First reading
Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.
O come, let us adore.

Responsorial Psalm
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Second Reading
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.

Verse Before the Gospel
Christ became obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.

Gospel Portion
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”

He has won the victory over sin.
His thirst was satisfied.
The thirst of his soul.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry