Listen Obey and Learn

The Resurrection makes the Prodigal Son story our own story

Greetings on this the Second Sunday of Lent
Readings: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; PS 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10

Note: This was given as a homily yesterday at the Vigil Mass. Generally, it was not well received. I reflected on that and added points to strengthen the central theme: Jesus is the center of all true Christian thought.

Introduction

All week last week… Matthew Chapter 5 – the ethics chapters.

Tuesday – In praying, do not babble like the pagans and again If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

Wednesday – This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.

Thursday – Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.

Friday – You have heard that it was said … but I say to you…

Saturday – You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.

Summary

Remember Compunction (a willingness to be pierced) was the theme last Sunday as we are in the first 21 days of Lent (except Sundays). A period within the season of Lent where we are open to a radical change in our perspective on ethics, morals and the salvation mission of Jesus,

We must conclude that to his listeners (which includes us) did not understand the deeper meanings of the law and prophets and further have created a parallel but harmful set of precepts.

I gave the example of the Castrati. If you are unaware of it you can either look it up or ignore. Simply put, it was a practice that while attempting to be holy was not holy at all.

1st Reading – Abraham and Isaac

What God ISN’T asking you to do… sacrifice your Son. While children sacrifice was common way to appease the gods or to seek favor and resolution to problems, this is not the way of the Divine.

As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Abraham and Isaac had faith in the Lord and in his eventual restoration to life so while they would not be naturally happy to die, they held to the promise. Deep faith indeed!

Compunction – what things or habits have we created that are not of the Divine and do not draw people closer to God but push them away?

Letter to the Romans

Only God can judge. What I am saying in this homily is for us and about us. We must have compunction but with the sure knowledge that God is the true judge. We can only act according to conscience and our best understanding of Jesus.

Transfiguration

Story present in all the Synoptic gospels. A very important story.

Elijah and Moses (Prophet and Law Giver, both in heaven) Peter, James and John – witnesses of heaven and earth to the Rabbi Jesus.

Jesus is transfigured and attested to by the Father:
This is my beloved Son.
Listen to him.

Proofs
I gave this example to the RCIA class earlier in the week.

Proof One

Jesus says to the man, ‘Your sins are forgiven”. Opposition arises. OK. “So you may know the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins… he says to the paraplegic, ‘Rise take up your mat and go’.

So you my KNOW.
I instantly heal him.
Now, there is no reason to believe I cannot forgive sins.

Proof Two

He charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Resurrection

Everything Jesus said is proofed by his resurrection. Therefore every ethical and moral teaching of Jesus must be reengaged in light of the resurrection.

Further, the LAW and the PROPHETS must also be reengaged in light of the resurrection.

Jesus is saying we need to go through a compunction because we have falsified the law and prophets outside of the Messiah and his teachings.

This week

The ethical teachings continue.

Monday – Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you.

Tuesday – For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

Wednesday – whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Thursday – If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.

Friday – The tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned.

Saturday – Prodigal Son story. A story of the loving Lord in forgiveness of the wayward son. Here, if you read up to now, is where you should remember too that Jesus is saying God is a forgiving Lord. In light of the resurrection, we should have supreme hope in this promise of forgiveness.

In case you are wondering, the definitive shift in message of Lent begins on the Friday of the Third Week of Lent where the Gospel message ends with:

And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Choose Life Over Profit

Greetings on this the Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Readings: Dt 30:15-20; PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; Lk 9:22-25

Note: Choose life in it’s innocent form is well used by a life affirming peoples. In its improper use it is a weapon against women. For Lent, let us look at its compunction intention.

Deuteronomy

  1. Moses instructs the people to live by the law of the Lord: commandments, statutes and decrees.
  2. All will benefit from this obedience.
  3. The “You” he is referring to is both the individual “you” and the corporate “you” as well as your descendants.

Responsorial

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

Gospel

Jesus predicts his own total giving:

The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.

Then he said to all:

Deny yourself.

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”

The “you” Jesus refers to is each individual (“the one”).

Choosing life is to not keep for yourself all earthly gain.
Especially in light of those in need.

Pregnant women are in need.

True Almsgiving is to get over yourself and give over to others.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

My heart is moved with pity

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Note: Lent beings Ash Wednesday this week. May you have a fruitful Lent.

Readings: Gn 3:9-24; PS 90:2, 3-4abc, 5-6, 12-13; Mk 8:1-10

First Reading – the Fall

So much has been written about the Fall of Adam and Eve. Perhpas I shall just list some bullet points for reflection. Pity is different from compassion. Compassion is ‘co-suffering’. Pity is a unilateral action, one to another. Divine pity is a unilateral action that is of a quality that can only be done by the Divine One.

Remember the Lord is always taking pity on us from the very beginning. The divine actions follow:

  1. The serpant is expelled. I will put enmity between you and the woman (the mother of all peoples).
  2. The woman will become the great unitier for all time (Mary). Your urge shall be for your husband.
  3. Man is given work as a blessing and diversion from sin (grace).
  4. The LORD God made leather garments to cover their nakedness (sacrifice).
  5. He relocated them to east of the garden of Eden to protect them from the garden danger (ark).

In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Gospel
Jesus takes pity on us. He is constantly doing things that no ordinary person can do. He provides in his person the Divine Pity – divine action – of love.

In today’s reading, he performs a super abundant multiplication of the loaves.

He continues to love and pity us to this day by giving us the living bread, his body, in the Holy Eucharist. It is what the Divine and only the Divine can offer.

Take.
Eat.
And see the Lord is good.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Lent Observance

Note: The trial portion of the second Impeachment of the former President of the United States Donald J Trump has concluded. At this writing we do not know the outcome. However, there appears little chance of conviction.

As part of my Lent observance I will abstain from Twitter and LinkedIn for the season of Lent. I will continue to publish on my blog but will not forward the writings to these platforms.

You are invited to follow me and/or leave greetings/messages.

https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/

These tumultuous days past and the days to come are hazardous. No matter the outcome of the trial the damage to the civil governance has been severely damaged and likely not recoverable.

In this time we have been forced to answer questions this democratic society was never made to answer fully. It is not possible to parse, disect and project a completely just society with perfect process and procedure to satisfy the wanton needs of the opportunist and greedy.

Without sacrifice of individual rights in balance for the common good there is no Constitution, only alliance and advantage, and law as instrument of the powerful.

My greatest spiritual agony is the moral failure of the Catholic Church. In search of the perfect solution to the preeminent moral priority the Church abandoned discernment of person in favor of the tyranny of law.

My greatest humanitarian agony is the abandonment of women as the primary recipient of mercy for her and on behalf of her children. It is as if the fetus has no mother only law as her guardian.

Let me ask you:
Can you have a fetus without a mother?
Can you have a mother without ever having a fetus?
Then how is it possible that we act in law and of social justice as if neither of these things are true?

The Church has forgotten what gave the Church attactiveness to the entire world in its own infancy: how they love one another.

In our Lent of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, may we make real this pledge of 1st Peter:

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I am holy.

Visit the blog. Come say hello.
Pray for a good lenten journey.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Be Clean

from National Catholic Register

Greetings on this the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Lv 13:1-2, 44-46; Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11; 1 Cor 10:31—11:1; Mk 1:40-45
Note: All through the week prior to today, we have three specific themes to consider:

  1. The Creation story told over a series of days including the fall of Adam and Eve.
  2. How we have set aside the commandment of God:
    2a. What defiles us
    2b. Not doing Purification rituals? No, from within the man, from within his heart.
    2c. Tradition over law.
  3. Jesus Heals:
    3a. Heals sick even by the simply touching of his tassels.
    3b. Healing of the possessed Syrophoenician daughter.
    3c. Validating the Medical Arts together with Spiritual Healing.
    3d. Feeding of the four thousand. Seven loaves and a few fish.

The Right Way

Jesus wanted the leper to present himself to the Priests to fulfill the requirements of Lev 14 regarding the health and safety of the people and the proper regulation of the community. In these requirements the overall truth that God heals.

Ironically Jesus is the one who now must stay outside the camp. This is an indication of his otherness to the community in taking on all that defiles the community.

Which is higher, the one who does the healing or the offering as healing? Jesus is both.
Offerings of Liviticus chapter 14:

  • reparation offering
  • purification offering
  • burnt offering
  • elevated offering

From biblical foot notes: The blood from the bird serves as a ritual detergent, much like the blood from the purification offering (see notes on 4:3). It is not a sacrifice, however, since it is not performed at the sanctuary. Fresh water: lit., “living water,” taken from some source of running water, not from a cistern.

Jesus is the living water.

Jesus did not want to upset the proper order of things. The ritual clean process is a prescribed way to identify those who can prove they can be returned to the community and be reconciled.

God heals

Hidden in Leviticus is the fact that God heals. Yes, the prescribed method to verify and give thanks and absolution are present. It is the power of God that any are healed. Jesus makes this personally obvious.

As we near Lent the question become more obvious and that is this:

Will we allow Jesus to heal us?

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Unity in Prayer

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

Readings: Heb 7:25—8:6; PS 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17; Mk 3:7-12

Prayers in the night

This grotto has been here for at least 25 years or more. Situated outside people come night and day to pray.

Many come from different traditions. Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Other Christian. In the terror of night they come seeking relief for their sorrows. Anxiety sorrow, pain sorrow, brokenhearted sorrow, and the sorrow of low horizons. The sorrows of the human family.

But they come. Because this place. This tiny place is holy ground. It is made holy by the unending prayer of people. It is made holy because we choose to reach out to the eternal in this place again and again.

Today is the Memorial day for Saint Agnes.

From Catholic Culture:

One day when Agnes, then thirteen years old, was returning home from school, she happened to meet Symphronius, a son of the city prefect. At once he became passionately attracted to her and tried to win her by precious gifts. Agnes repelled him, saying: “Away from me, food of death, for I have already found another lover”.

Incensed by her rebuff, Symphronius denounced Agnes to his father, the city prefect. When he threatened her with commitment to a house of ill fame, Agnes replied: “At my side I have a protector of my body, an angel of the Lord” (2. Ant., Lauds). “When Agnes entered the house of shame, she found an angel of the Lord ready to protect her” (1. Ant., Lauds). A light enveloped her and blinded all who tried to approach. Then another judge condemned her to the stake because the pagan priests accused her of sorcery.

After the flames died out, she continued: “I praise You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, because by Your Son the fire around me was extinguished” (4. Ant., Lauds). And now she longed for union with Christ: “Behold, what I yearned for, I already see; what I hoped for, I already hold in embrace; with Him I am united in heaven whom on earth I loved with all my heart” (Ben. Ant.). Her wish was granted; the judge ordered her beheaded. —The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Affianced couples; betrothed couples; bodily purity; chastity; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; crops; engaged couples; gardeners; Girl Scouts; girls; rape victims; diocese of Rockville Centre, New York; virgins.

Read more about her life here: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2020-01-21

Mother Who is Blessed (Blessed Mother)

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Amen.

Women in Leadership

So Saint Agnes and the Blessed Mother watch over us.

They intercede with the Eternal One to, please, watch over women who help govern this land. Amen.

Not read by a single person. I’ll give you a $1.00 if you read this and comment.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Save Life

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Note: Inauguration Day – in a few hours President Biden will be sworn in. He started his day at Prayer Service at The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C. May he always put the Divine Guidance the first word of each day.

Readings: Heb 7:1-3, 15-17; PS 110:1, 2, 3, 4; Mk 3:1-6

Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?

Interestingly Jesus already is quoted as saying: The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.

Note: We always have to be careful with sequencing Jesus’ words. These stories and snippets are not always intended to be sequential in time or even actually sequential in time. Obvious sequential (birth, death, not included).

Now one must ask the question, what is the real question? They wanted something to accuse him with, a cure on the Sabbath, would in their minds be a violation of law. The outstretched withered hand – unable to do work, unable to sustain his life due to his deformity. His life is beng lost to his illness/injury. One could assume, nobody was helping him either. He, with the withered hand, was tolerated in the synagogue but not aided.

The Pharisees were interested in power, authority and this upstart carpenter son upstaging them.

Jesus frames the question to be about saving life.
When is it a good time to save life?

Always.
Always.
Always.

Jesus grieved at their hardness of heart. This is an example of law and rule being held in higher regard than the life to be saved. This is exactly the tight and mirrored logic of the Pro-life and the Pro-Choice arguments. They both grieve Jesus.

Friday is Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. It is a good time to refactor how we protect women and their unborn children. It is heartbreaking to ever disconnect the wellbeing of the child in the womb without the wellbeing of the Mother who is the womb. How can we talk about the baby without talking about the mother? She, with her type of withered hand, is distained and not aided.

Matthew quotes: Now go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, RATHER THAN SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

When is it a good time to save life?

Always.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Unlawful

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 6:10-20; PS 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c; Mk 2:23-28

Three Days of Accusations

The readings of the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the 2nd week in ordinary time concentrate on the false accusations against God.

  • Monday – Jesus confronted about his followers not fasting.
  • Tuesday – Jesus confronted about his followers eating grain.
  • Wednesday – Jesus confronted for his healing on the Sabbath.

Jesus replies in turn, Monday, knowing they do not understand who he is, this is the new wine of the Presence. They will one day fast (and mourn) when the bridegoom is gone. A fast of the heart not of the habit is a more profound fast.

I’ll cover Wednesday on… Wednesday.

Bread – Tuesday Accusation

Generally the view is Jesus’ disciples violated perhaps three expectations:
Traveling too far on the Sabbath.
Harvesting on the Sabbath.
Not resting on the Sabbath.

Jesus does not reply to the direct accusation because it actually is fine. Anyone is permitted to take a fistfull of grain from the fields to eat as they travel. It is a false accusation.

Jesus helps with a more substaintial claim of David eating the Holy Bread of the Temple. To repeat, Jesus gives them a more credible arguement to make. What about David (1 Sam 21:1-6)?

So many aspects to consider here!

  • Holy Bread, the Bread of the Presence, to be given not just the priests but for many.
  • Add Monday’s reading with the new Wine of the Presence (Bridegroom is present).
  • David was revered so perhaps this was a legitimate use?
  • New understanding of the Presence of Bread and Wine (Monday and Tuesday).

Jesus Teaches

The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.

Pope Francis

In his new, very readable book, Dare to Dream, Pope Francis describes how we need this type of breakout moment. Where we allow the Holy Spirit to reintegrate our understanding of holy and making room for new insights on the implementation of faith, liturgy and law.

That is not to say unintelligible or negation of divine law. Rather an opening for the Holy Spirit to provide a pathway forward.

Don’t be stuck in the unlawful – a judgment yielding no fruit. Instead we should focus on the Lord who orders all things, even the Sabbath, to the well-being of the human race.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry