Humble Sweetness

Who of us isn’t a child?

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: EZ 2:8—3:4; PS 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131; MT 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
Notes:

In all our striving, being humble is our core perspective.
How difficult that can be!
But how obvious it is when we are not. Let us take the gospel portion as example:

See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.

A child (we are all child, unless you claim some supernatural origin).

No matter what, all are child.

He explains another way:
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

Humility is:

  1. Scripture and Prayer – by the divine will we have any effect!
  2. Protection and Shelter – each is a child needing care.
  3. Seeking and returning – those lost to difficulty deserve our attention and effort.
  4. Seeing yourself as one and the same with others in one to three above.

First reading
Son of man, he then said to me,
feed your belly and fill your stomach
with this scroll I am giving you.
I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. He said: Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.

Speak to your proximity with the sweetness of the word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
How sweet to my taste is your promise!

Alleluia Verse
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Gospel Portion
Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?

He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Heartfelt and Truthful, Both

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest
Readings: Ez 1:2-5, 24-28c; PS 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14; Mt 17:22-27
Notes: Being heartfelt is not enough. It is a good start but not enough. One must be truthful.

In our gospel portion today, Peter is rescued from his lie by Jesus himself. Peter is heartfelt, perhaps ignorant, attempting to protect Jesus from scandal was his goal. But Peter was wrong in fudging an answer.

There is no place in the Christian life for pretend answers.

Jesus corrects Peter two ways:

  1. Factually we are not obliged to pay the tax.
  2. But there is also the scandal therefore we shall pay it anyway.

And he provides from the fish in the sea a coin to pay the tax for them both.
A scandal for Peter is a scandal from Jesus and vice versa.

Bringing our Saint and our gospel together today, here is the contemplation on the conditions:

  1. Heartfelt but untruthful (Peter). Same with the Albigensians.
  2. Truthful but lacking heartfeltness (rich Catholic preachers).
  • Peter wanted to avoid scandal but created one lacking. Jesus came to his rescue.
  • Dominic came to the recuse of the rich, well appointed, Catholic preachers lacking.

The people are saved from error.

Heartfelt.
Truthful.

Both.

From Franciscanmedia:

On a journey through France with his bishop, Dominic came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians–or Cathari, “the pure ones”–held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and the sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink.

Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching crusade was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 Dominic founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans.

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

First reading
Like the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day
was the splendor that surrounded him.
Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.

Ezekiel shares a marvelous vision with us of the Lord upon the Cherubim.
Referencing the rainbow here he also includes us, as the bow that appears in the clouds on a rainy day has a very specific spiritual meaning:

When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being (Gen 9:14-15).

Responsorial Psalm
Heaven and earth are filled with your glory.

Alleluia Verse
God has called you through the Gospel
To possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel Portion
When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
“Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes,” he said.

When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?”
When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him,
“Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Transform Transcend Transfigure

Christ the King

Greetings on this the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Readings: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14; PS 97:1-2, 5-6, 9; 2 Pt 1:16-19; Lk 9:28b-36
Notes: The Transfiguration and The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane are uniquely witnessed to by Peter, James and John. The glory of Jesus and his mission of sacrifice are tightly, inextricably, linked.

Jesus’ transfiguration is who he is, what he does and what we are to become.
It is Jesus’ plan to transform us, divinize us and have us be his brother in all things.

A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians
Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Reflection

One of the Transfiguration accounts is read on the second Sunday of Lent each year, proclaiming Christ’s divinity to the Elect and baptized alike. The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent, by contrast, is the story of the temptation in the desert—affirmation of Jesus’ humanity. The two distinct but inseparable natures of the Lord were a subject of much theological argument at the beginning of the Church’s history; it remains hard for believers to grasp. From:

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

First reading
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

Second reading
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Alleluia Verse
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.

Gospel Portion
Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Peace!

Greetings on this the Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: NA 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7; DEUTERONOMY 32:35CD-36AB, 39ABCD, 41; MT 16:24-28
Notes: Peace takes effort.

  1. Deny Self.
  2. Take up the Cross.
  3. Follow Him.

Pray!

  • Pray for Haiti.
  • Pray for NPH Haiti/St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.
  • Pray for Fr. Rick Frechette.

Our gospel portion:
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

The Introduction to the Prophet Nahum gives the best of summary of the contrast between brutality and the best possible response. The response of Heroes, Saints and Martyrs.

From NARBE:
Shortly before the fall of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, in 612 B.C., Nahum uttered his prophecy against the hated city. To understand the prophet’s exultant outburst of joy over the impending destruction it is necessary to recall the savage cruelty of Assyria, which had made it the scourge of the ancient Near East for almost three centuries. The royal inscriptions of Assyria afford the best commentary on Nahum’s burning denunciation of “the bloody city.” In the wake of their conquests, mounds of heads, impaled bodies, enslaved citizens, and avaricious looters testified to the ruthlessness of the Assyrians. Just such a conquest was suffered by Israel, when its capital Samaria fell to the Assyrians in 722/721 B.C., and by Judah, when its capital Jerusalem nearly fell to invading Assyrian armies twenty years later. Little wonder that in 3:19 Judah is shown as joining in the general outburst of joy over the destruction of Nineveh!

But Nahum is not a prophet of unrestrained revenge. He asserts God’s moral government of the world. Nineveh’s doom is evidence that God stands against oppression and the abuse of power. As an ancient Near Eastern superpower, Assyria had terrorized its smaller and weaker neighbors, exploiting their economies and subjugating their people for its own ends. Thus Nineveh’s demise is viewed as an act of divine justice, and it is greeted by the small, oppressed countries as a time of deliverance, as a moment of renewal, and as a message of peace (2:1; 3:19).

FROM: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/nahum/0

First reading
See, upon the mountains there advances
the bearer of good news,
announcing peace!

Responsorial Psalm
It is I who deal death and give life.

Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people;
on his servants he shall have pity.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Gospel Portion
Peace takes effort.

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

The Yoke of Kindness

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor Church
Readings: JER 28:1-17; PS 119:29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102; MT 14:13-21
Notes: Which Yoke is for you?

No Yoke? Anchorlessness seems appealing to some especially in the face of such disappointment in government and religion, and, even family life. It seems to them almost right we are but animalistic beings with little moral thought to guide us.

Learn the lesson from the Alligator. Alligators naturally watch over their hatchlings. They are very protective. But with the encroachment of man, the modern practice is to abandon them once humans come into contact as a way of protecting the hatchlings and the mother herself. This is an example of brokenness.

Wood Yoke – the moderate and gentle yoke of the Lord.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matt 11:29-30).

At times it may not be what we want at the level of human impulse but it is the perfect guide in life in every way.

Iron Yoke – the world’s domination of mind, body and if you allow your soul.

We celebrate Saint Alphonsus who preached and taught moral theology giving us a model of moderation and gentleness.

Reflection

Saint Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a practical model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all. From:
https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-alphonsus-liguori

First reading
Previously – The Wood Yoke

The LORD said to me: Make for yourself thongs and yoke bars and put them on your shoulders. To Zedekiah, king of Judah, I spoke the same words: Bend your necks to the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, so that you may live. (Jer 27:2, 12).

Disobedience (with the natural consequences)

Now – The Iron Yoke

Thus says the LORD:
By breaking a wooden yoke, you forge an iron yoke!
For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
A yoke of iron I will place on the necks
of all these nations serving Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
and they shall serve him; even the beasts of the field I give him. (Jer 28:13b-14).

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, teach me your statutes.

Remove from me the way of falsehood,
and favor me with your law.

Alleluia Verse
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel Portion
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over– twelve wicker baskets full.

Let us learn from the lesson of the Two Yokes.

Jesus, tired, grieving, and heavily burdened remained as the Divine person he is: gentle and kind.

His yoke is better.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Say Something!

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: JER 26:11-16, 24; PS 69:15-16, 30-31, 33-34; Mt 14:1-12
Notes: My Mom used to say, if you have nothing good to say about someone, don’t say anything”

This will be a short homily.

  • The death of John the Baptist was recorded in all three Synoptic gospels.
    • Matt: This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.
    • Mark: John, him I beheaded, has been raised.
    • Luke: Perplexed, John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things? And he sought to see him.

Herod finally meets Jesus in the gospel of Luke during the arrest sequence before Pilate (LK 23:6-12).
For he had long desired to see him:

  1. He heard about him.
  2. Hoped to see some sign from him.
  3. Jesus did not ablige.

First reading
“This man deserves death;
he has prophesied against this city,
as you have heard with your own ears.

Jeremiah spoke about his calling and the Elders testified to the purpose of all prophets.

Thereupon the princes and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve death; it is in the name of the LORD, our God, that he speaks to us

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Gospel Portion
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus.

Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.

None of the guests of Herod spoke up for John the Baptist.

Speak up for holiness!

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Everlasting Hills

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
Readings: Jer 26:1-9; PS 69:5, 8-10, 14; Jn 11:19-27
Notes: The beginning of the Babylonian exile. Seventy Years of Exile.

Shiloh: an important sanctuary where the ark of the covenant was kept, according to the Books of Joshua, Judges, and 1 Samuel. In response to the corrupt behavior of the priests serving there, God allows the Philistines to destroy Shiloh and take the ark of the covenant. Cf. 1 Sm 1:9; 4:3–4; Ps 78:60, 68–69. From:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/jeremiah/7?12=#30007012

First reading
The loss of Shiloh would be the equal in our times to the sacking of Rome and the loss of the Basilicas and sanctuaries. A truly tragic outcome from the eyes of those living in that time and in our time.

It is an important reminder that losing the edifices of the faith is painful but our mission and our hope is for eternal life and a place in the everlasting hills.

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Alleluia Verse
I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel Portion
What is a greater loss?

  • Shiloh or the Vatican?
  • Life or Eternal Life?
  • Damnation or Salvation?

Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Plasticity

Know Thy Self, Socrates

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: JER 18:1-6; PS 146:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB; MT 13:47-53
Notes: In the general sciences and in medical science, including psychology, the term plasticity has a very important meaning.

In short, the ability to adapt and change.

The first reading and the gospel reading share the same message.

Your plasticity is a gift from the Lord to redirect and realign one’s ways (righteousness) regardless of the mistakes of the past. The Kingdom of Heaven is here. One of the gifts of the Kingdom is plasticity and with plasticity, the divine aid to grow.

First reading
In the first reading today, the reading that the Lord can change and remold a person anyway He wishes is a particular way of describing the gift of freedom and of the divine concern for you. It is not a description of your helplessness in the hands of a foreign power. It is the plasticity or freedom to find a good path forward, even after making such terrible mistakes.

Said another way: God is not limited by our mistakes. We have the plasticity to learn, adapt and change per the divine plan for us.

Can I not do to you, house of Israel,
as this potter has done? says the LORD.
Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter,
so are you in my hand, house of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.

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

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to the disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.

The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

It is for the Angels to decide when the opposite of plasticity is present.

The opposite: (Eek!)

  • hardness
  • roughness
  • harshness
  • bias
  • discrimination
  • acrimony
  • bitterness
  • rage
  • anger
  • bitterness
  • animosity
  • resentment
  • grimness
  • strictness
  • severity
  • sternness
  • austerity
  • discourtesy
  • bloodlust
  • grouchiness

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Precious without the vile

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jer 15:10, 16-21; Ps 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18; Mt 13:44-46
Notes: If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.

The challenge for Jeremiah is our challenge too. Having received the good news (the precious) we must bring it forth without the vile (sin). That is: abandon sin and keep the kingdom.

The gospel portion today and tomorrow are the last three parables of the Matthew chapter 13 series of parables. Together they detail the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old. Just like Jeremiah, each abandons the lesser for the greater.

  • Find – a surprise discovery but realize with Joy the supreme value. This is the ‘old”, the law, revealing the ‘new’, the Messiah.
  • Search – a deliberate effort to find a pearl and having done so preserve it. This is the ‘new’, the gospel. Perhaps a good reference for the gentiles.
  • Catch – the angel net catching all men and separating the just from the unjust. This is the end times.

First reading
If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.

Responsorial Psalm
God is my refuge on the day of distress.

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:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

How do you catch a monkey?

Cut a hole in a gourd large enough for the hand of a monkey.
Inside the gourd, place favorite treats the monkey likes.

He will grab a fistful of treats but will be unable to withdraw the hand because the fistful has the treats is wider than the hole to get in the gourd. He is trapped by his own greed.

If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.
Make sense?

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry