Withered

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Gn 18:1-15; Luke 1:46-47, 48-49, 50 and 53, 54-55; Mt 8:5-17
Notes: The SURFSIDE, Fla. building collapse is in my region. We remember the lost, injured and missing.

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam dayan ha’emet.

This translates to : Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the Universe, the True Judge.

The healing ministry of the Lord.

We wither before evil at times. The Messiah came because we have become dried out, shrunken or wrinkled from sin, age or disease.

  • Friday – Leper (yesterday). Healed.
  • Saturday – Paralyzed servant. Healed. Peter’s Mother-in-Law (today). Healed.
  • Sunday – Young girl. Healed. Old Woman(coming Sunday). Healed.

First reading
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years,
and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods.
So Sarah laughed to herself and said,
“Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old,
am I still to have sexual pleasure?”

One year later, a son, Isaac. Abraham’s destiny.

Responsorial (Gospel of Luke – Magnificat)

The Lord has remembered his mercy.
The Magnificat “Magnifies” or makes viewable the depths of the mercy of God.

It declares the great eschatological reversal where evil it overcome by good.

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

Here the Blessed Mother sings her song of Joy.

Nine months later, a son, Jesus. Mary’s destiny.

For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name
.”

Alleluia Verse
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.

Gospel Portion
For this first story there are three different accounts between the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John. For the second story there are about the same between the three gospels.

In today’s Gospel portion. Jesus heals a centurion’s servant.
This servant has no name, no gender, no citizenship, no identity except as slave.
Perhaps he was loved, or not.
What we do know is:

“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”

At its minimum witnessing the abject pain of others moves people to compassion.

Jesus heals the servant remotely.

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.

You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”
And at that very hour his servant was healed.

  • Sarah was withered.
  • Abraham was old.
  • Mary a virgin.
  • Servant, a nobody.
  • Mother-In-Law (no wise cracks, please).

All given grace.

You are too, my friend, you are too.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Invaluable

Greetings on this the Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Gn 17:1, 9-10, 15-22; PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; Mt 8:1-4
Notes: You are invaluable.

Invaluable means indispensable, beyond the ability to assign a value.

This little series is of maximal importance.
Each story is about someone who is of ‘little value’ in the eyes of the world:

  • Lepers were to be avoided.
  • Servants were useful until sick.
  • Mothers-In-Law are old women.

Mini Series of Readings – You really matter:

  • Friday – Leper (today). Healed.
  • Saturday – Paralyzed servant. Healed. Peter’s Mother-in-Law (tomorrow). Healed.
  • Sunday – Young girl. Healed. Old Woman(coming Sunday). Healed.

Whether by touch or remotely, Jesus heals.
Whether by faith tradition or simple the desperate calling out, Jesus heals.

First reading
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him
and said: “I am God the Almighty.
Walk in my presence and be blameless.”

“As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai;
her name shall be Sarah.
I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her.
Him also will I bless; he shall give rise to nations,
and rulers of peoples shall issue from him.”

Responsorial Psalm
See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

Alleluia Verse
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.

Gospel Portion
Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
“I will do it. Be made clean.”

You are invaluable.
Be made clean.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Extreme Fear

Greetings on this the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jb 38:1, 8-11; PS 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31; 2 Cor 5:14-17; Mk 4:35-41
Note: The rainy season was delayed this year. It did come and with it a massive pollen release by every plant species! My face and eyes are so swollen I am unable to attend Mass today. So my reflection is what I offer you alone.

Note 2: Happy Father’s Day!!!

If you recall yesterday, Saturday, the reflection He knows. He knows our needs. Today we plumb how deeply he knows and how deep our afflictions (even terror, even death). He knows.

As Osner would say, “Jesus knows, Jesus knows.

Guest sermon from a favorite: Even Though He Sleeps, Christ Is in the Boat: My Sermon on Mark 4:35-41

First Reading
Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said:

  • Where were you on the day of creation?
  • Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place? (v12).
  • (I am) taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are shaken from it? (v13).

We have limits on what we know and what we can do.

God has limits that are self imposed:

  • He will not remove our free will. This is a gift he shall not take back.
  • He will not remember confessed sin.
  • He will never abandon us even at the hour of our death.

Responsorial Psalm
Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
This account of sailors being rescued at sea is a presage of the disciples adrift in a raging sea.

They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them,
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled

From this morning’s Liturgy of the Hours, Antphon of Cantical of Zechariah:

Help us, O Lord, for we are troubled; give the command, O God, and bring us peace.

Second Reading
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.

A real part of that is our approach to the fear of death and our response to terrifying things.

While residual fear exists, we are not yet perfect, we are no longer fearful of death because Jesus has overcome the grave.

Alleluia Verse
A great prophet has risen in our midst
God has visited his people.

Jesus proves himself by the works themselves, the miracles and the power over all things.
From the gospel portion: Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?

Gospel Portion
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”

Jesus exerts his power over the raging sea to reassure us he is present with us. No difficulty escapes his constant care for us. Still we remain.

I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one (Jn 17:15). (protect us from terror).

What rages in you?
What casues you to feel completely unable to control the world around you?

We live in a world filled with outrage and terror (extreme fear):

  • Indignation.
  • Feigned Indignation.
  • Transference.
  • Beyond frustrated, enraged.
  • Beyond hurt, deeply wounded.

But the most profound lose of all is losing faith. Like the story of Job and the gospel portion of the disciples in the boat on the sea, our faith can be shaken to its core.

In all our difficulties, some too hurtful even to repeat them, we must never forget this Jesus who knows. Jesus is present, even in the hour of our terror.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Courageous

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Ez 17:22-24; PS 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
Notes: Homily given at 4:00 PM and the 9:00 Am Sunday, live streamed.

Good homily from a friend: https://mypastoralponderings.com/2021/06/12/mustard-seeds-and-majesty-my-sermon-on-mark-426-34/

First Reading
The Lord is in control of nature and the natural elements.
The Lord is in control of kingdoms and principalities.
I, the LORD,
bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
wither up the green tree,
and make the withered tree bloom.
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

Second Reading
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous.

Alleluia Verse
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower.
All who come to him will live forever.

Gospel Portion
We are coming out of the pandemic.

It has been a strange 15 months.

For some the pandemic has been from catastrophic to annoying depending on circumstances.

  • lose of life
  • lose of friends and family members
  • lose of employment
  • lose of businesses
  • isolation
  • change in routines

All of these are either have a large impact or incidental impact but all are impacted.

But we are now in the season of refreshment.
The planting season of Easter and the three Solemnities of the Lord following Pentecost have given us the seed and they are planted.

We must now rest. We must process of trauma.
Each day must contain a portion of the Sabbath rest.

Don’t go back to the same old routines.
Read under a tree. Have a picnic.
Read poems, pick fruit off trees.
Do the activities of the Sabbath.
Sing.
Sing songs of faith.
Clap your hands.
Shout for joy.

Put Your Hand in the Hand Lyrics https://g.co/kgs/uyHUuz

Put Your Hand in the Hand YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1iAaKHd7z8

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Love IS the Horizon

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
Readings: Tb 6:10-11; 7:1bcde, 9-17; 8:4-9a; PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; Mk 12:28-34

Note: For those who follow me on WordPress, Twitter or Instagram I hope you enjoyed the photos taken and shared from a vacation trip. Connecting with family and nature is a great blessing. At the same time, bliss!

Note: We are in day two of a Novena of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

First Reading
A continuous reading of the Book of Tobit all weekdays this week.

The first reading from the book of Tobit is a wonderful expression of love. It is not a linear reading so best to read from the lectionary: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/060321.cfm

We have to work through the cultural and historical realities of the time but it is well worth the effort. So different from our culture today how they honored women and heroically married even with the possibility of death from forces unseen. Their horizon was beyond the immediate and what they could ‘know’ in the ordinary sense of the word.

May we love again as Tobiah and Sarah. May we share their trust in the One who created them.
They shared the greatest commandment to love.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

It would be helpful to understand this scripture as: Blessed are those who ARE IN AWE OF the Lord.

Awe in the Lord brings:

  • Willingness to act rightly in all things.
  • Spouse and children joyful, most of the time, because you are joyful.
  • Spouse and children trusting, most of the time, because you trust the Lord and they can trust you.
  • You place a shared faith in the greatest commandment, to love.

Alleluia Verse
Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.

Gospel Portion
Today we honor St. Charles Lwanga and Companions. These young men held fast to the promises of the Creator and in their Baptism into Christ above the torment and demands of an unjust Babandan ruler, Mwanga.

The torture was brutal and their end violent.

Their horizon was beyond the immediate beyond what they could ‘know’ in the ordinary.

Like Tobiah and Sarah, St. Charles Lwanga and companions, trusted in the promise.

Death has been destroyed and life has taken on a new light!
They shared the greatest commandment, to love.

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Love IS the Horizon.
Keep your eyes on the Horizon.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Lifting up his eyes to heaven

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; PS 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; Jn 17:20-26
Note: I take care to publish with regard to the various religions of the world. No offense is ever intended and I hope you find benefit. As to Catholics, I have the obligation to hold us to the Way of Beatitudes.

Current events: The current conflict between Israel and Palestine Gaza, reminds us of to imperatives when in a conflict:

  • Lifting up our eyes to heaven pleading for help and also knowing the divine is present.
  • Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope. – as we allow the divine to bring peace, peace will be.
  • We are right.
  • We are wrong.
  • Best to know the tension between these two facts.

First Reading
OK. IMHO, Paul was an instigator.
Knowing the differences of opinion, Paul deliberately gets to the heart of their conflict and a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Personally, not too happy with this technique.
Except, the dialog had come to an end and was not bringing about a good outcome.

So he was given a wider audience and a broader respect for his cause. Several presentations will follow over time: to Felix, to King Agrippa and then off to Rome.

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage.
For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem,
so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

He was given an escort out of the city with 200 soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred auxiliaries. Paul was even given a horse (“mount”) to ride. Off to the Governor Felix for a proper trial.

It might be fair to say that agitation is a legitimate tool of negotiation and encounter even to the point of the others deciding to assonate you. Eek!

Bear in mind however, the violence is not yours to commit.
Speak your truth. Be non-violent even as others attempt violence.

The Iron Dome is an excellent example.

Responsorial Psalm
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

We really have to build a faith reliant upon this faithfulness of the Lord.

Alleluia Verse
May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that the world may believe that you sent me, says the Lord.

We must speak up in faith and in peace. Our purpose is unity and peace.
There should be no other course of action.

Paul had no army but an army protected him.

Gospel Portion
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one.

they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.

It is difficult to watch the ancient places at war. It is even more difficult seeing the modern elements of warfare rain down upon the people.

Faith in the divine is intended to bring about perfection, and the heart-assurance of divine love.

How is any of this conflict good?

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Healthy Repetition

Greetings on this the Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle
Readings: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; PS 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Jn 15:9-17
Note: The Feast of Matthias this year falls happily in the traditional period after the Ascension. This is not always the case as Easter is a movable solemnity and May 14th is fixed.

Unhealthy Repetition
When did Judas commit suicide?
Actually we really don’t know.
The account of the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles have differing vantage points. The manner of death is also not the same (hanging verses over a cliff).

Matthew places it immediately after the trial with the Sanhedrin and Jesus Before Pilate (Matt ch 26-27). They were preoccupied and so the appearance before the Chief Priest by Judas would have happened much later. Matthew uses a very complex combination of multiple prophet writings to give the story a scriptural basis.

Here is what we do know
By the time after the Ascension, Peter announces Judas’ death and the necessity of replacing him. Matthias is given his place among the Eleven to make the Twelve again.

From the text, Judas could have died:

  • After betrayal/Sanhedrin.
  • After Resurrection.
  • After Ascension.

From the text, Judas could have died:

  • in Deepest despair.
  • by Accidental fall.

It’s always worthwhile to take a pause and review what we know versus what we think we know.

We can be certain of this, Judas abandoned his role as an Apostle by his betrayal and subsequent unwillingness to reconcile. It is helpful to think about when resignation can occur:

  • After betrayal/Sanhedrin – regret he saw the maltreatment?
  • After Resurrection – Jesus may seek revenge on me?
  • After Ascension – Jesus left me forever, there is no hope of return?

Judas’ death could have been:

  • Deepest despair at the magnitude of his betrayal (consequences).
  • Accidental fall that is completely disconnected from his betrayal. That is a completely void conscience.

I agree not the most frequent of contemplations. But worthy to understand ourselves and to not be so quick to claim understanding of another or their state of being.

Gospel Portion
The gospel portion today we have repeated specifically 4 times in the past 9 days.

Clearly healthy repetition the Church wants to be sure before we return to ordinary time you know:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.

  • Keep the commandment to love.
  • You are a friend of God.
  • Live a life like mine, says the Lord.
  • This I command you: love one another.

Jesus is making clear to keep our focus on keeping our divine-human relationship healthy. Judas focused on himself as self, from self, for self.

Try to remember divine love is a gift to all regardless. We are all deniers or betrayers at one point or another. The point is to focus on the love that is God.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

We do not know what he means

SBS News – Text for Attribution or Removal

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 18:1-8; PS 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4; Jn 16:16-20
Note: Where the celebration of Ascension is transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, the following readings are used on this Thursday.
Note 2: This reflection is written during unrest in the Gaza strip and now expanded. I do not have extensive knowledge on the current situation, although the newspapers are reporting the immediate situation on the ground. The news media is also providing context with the governmental, legal, and historical issues in dispute.

First Reading
The book of Acts chapter 18 chronicles the failures and successes of evangelization.
It did not go well with some in Corinth. It went well with others.

Where there was success and peace was when the gentiles were righteous.
Paul stepped away from those who opposed.

Perhaps we can take this thought away: Peaceful people, righteous people are able to listen to the Lord and have at least a basic understanding of the Lord’s will.

Where then are the righteous in Israel and Palestine today?
They should be leading, not the corrupt leaders in both governments.

Responsorial Psalm
Even as his new Jewish sect comes into being, we can see that:
The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

  • Saving: Because there is no greater good than to bring eternal life.
  • Power: Because He protects and leads through the difficulty of the life.

Alleluia Verse
I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.

Do not be afraid. When the Lord seems absent, he is present in the mist.

Gospel portion
Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

The Lord will ascend. The Lord will return.
He has given us the Advocate to help us navigate our difficulty and difference.

We do not know what he means in some things.
We do know what he means in others.

We should not pretend we have the reverse.
Some weeping and mourning will come, this is the life.
But when we deliberately bring conflict, there is disaster.

We know we are to be people of peace.

Stop pretending otherwise.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

You cannot bear it now

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 17:15, 22—18:1; PS 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14; Jn 16:12-15
Note: from the editors of NABRE – In Paul’s appearance at the Areopagus he preaches his climactic speech to Gentiles in the cultural center of the ancient world. The speech is more theological than christological.

Note Two: Our Pentecost Novena begins Friday in preparation for Pentecost. I typed out the customary prayers for receiving the Holy Spirit. Find it here: Prayers to the Holy Spirit

First Reading
In our first reading today, Paul is in Athens at the Areopagus talking to an impromptu gathering of people. Paul preached while standing at the top of the hill. By this time the city was a traditional place to learn philosophical truth.

For the listeners, most of them except a few, the long tradition of religion and philosophy have already taken us the space of ‘knowing the answer’. By and large they listened politely if not outright dismissing Paul and his proposition.

It was the first and major attempt to dislodge the Greek Philosophical view.

But they could not bear it “now”.

Sometimes we have sophisticated view or well established theories of what is truth. It is very difficult to dislodge the preconceived notions of truth and listen to the word preached.

Gospel Portion
In the gospel portion today, the Apostles suffered a similar problem. Jesus said to them, I have much to tell you but you cannot bear it now.

We know the Apostles were grieving deeply over the passion predictions, the literal army of people looking to harm Jesus and them and the idea that Jesus will be leaving them in a way too terrible to contemplate.

They were full of anticipatory grief.
They could not bear it “now”.

The Spirit of truth will come and help you understand, Jesus promised.

Patience
God is patient and his patience is oriented toward our conversion.

He does not force truth upon us but rather has the Holy Spirit gently guide us.

He will declare what is of Jesus, recapitulate his teaching and continue the invitation to the inner life of God.

You cannot bear it now
But why?

  • Do you have sophisticated view or well established theories of what is truth? Is it very difficult to dislodge the preconceived notions of truth and listen to the word preached?
  • Are you in deep grief, actual grief or anticipatory grief? Is your heart bruised so that you only want to protect it from further harm?

Those are the two extremes: I got it, or I lost it.

Don’t worry.
God will not force anything on you but has rather sent the Holy Spirit gently guide us.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry