God mounts his throne

Greetings on this the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Readings: Acts 1:1-11; PS Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; Eph 1:17-23; Mk 16:15-20

First Reading – Empowerment
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”

  • After forty days Jesus prepares his followers to accept his return to the Father.
  • Later, Saint Stephen sees Jesus at the Right Hand of the Father.

Responsorial Psalm
God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

Second Reading

I extracted from Ephesians as a form of prayer below.

Alleluia Verse
Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.

Gospel Portion

  • The period of Ascension to Pentecost is a preparation phase for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Many are praying a novena to the Holy Spirit.
  • Ascension brings our humanity to the very throne of God.

Our Mission
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.

A Blessing
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of him.

Amen.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones.

Amen.
And May Almighty God bless you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Dismissal
Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Accurately

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 18:23-28; PS 47:2-3, 8-9, 10;Jn 16:23b-28

First Reading
In our first reading there is a consistent focus on accuracy.

  • Paul traveled in an orderly sequence.
  • Apollos spoke and taught accurately.
  • Priscilla and Aquila corrected more accurately.

All to work establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm
God is king over all the earth.

Alleluia Verse
I came from the Father and have come into the world;
now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.

Gospel Portion
These past two weeks we have spent all out time in the Gospel of John chapters 15 and 16. Often repeating sections for accuracy. We can never exhaust sacred scripture but we should exhaust ourselves trying!

I have told you this in figures of speech.
The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures
but I will tell you clearly about the Father.

  • Moving from parables to specifics.
  • Moving from encouragement alone to empowerment.

On that day you will ask in my name,
and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you.

You may ask directly in my name because there is no separaton between us and between us and the Father.

For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me
and have come to believe that I came from God.

Ascension tomorrow
I came from the Father and have come into the world.
Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

We strive to accurately to express, preach and teach Christ. We accept corrections when needed and furtherance of clarity when apparent. Because in the end and in a similar way,

we want to Ascend as he ascended, and you to Ascend as he ascended.

We all want to go to the Father.

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

Where are you going?

NOT OUR WAY OF BEING! A MEME OF FEAR!

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 16:22-34; PS 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8; Jn 16:5-11

Note: By the way, infant baptism is an ancient tradition and the first reading supports such theology (he and all his family were baptized at once). Confirmation confirms the baptism of faith by parents on behalf of infants with the teen now confirming the very baptism they received. Confirmation completes baptism in its fullest.

First Reading
Again we see in these series of readings the coming together of two worlds.

One of darkness and imprisonment and one of light and life.
It is the encounter and conversion we focus on.

while Paul and Silas were praying
and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened

Conversion by the power of G-d.

(the jailer) He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds;
then he and all his family were baptized at once.
He brought them up into his house and provided a meal
and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.

Responsorial Psalm
Your right hand saves me, O Lord.

Gospel Portion
Jesus is sending the Advocate.

The Advocate has a particular role in this revelation by Jesus:

when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me;
righteousness, because I am going to the Father.

Sin = mistakes.
Unbelief = discounting the Beatitudes and the New Law of Love.
Righteousness = right relation with God and one another.

I attached a meme visual to the post of the radical right.

  • How is this ever a reflection of the Father?
  • How is this ever a meeting of two worlds for conversion and salvation?

It is a meme not of praying and singing hymns to God but of fear.

The same fear that consumes the torturer.

It is a mirror response.

Very dangerous.

Fight/Flight is not the reaction of a Christian.

Rather we pray and sing of the One who frees mankind from hatred and fear.

Go the right way.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

What are you looking to do?

Greetings on this the Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 16:11-15; PS 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b; Jn 15:26—16:4a

First Reading
In our first reading a most tender and beautiful story of faith.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river
where we thought there would be a place of prayer.
We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there.

How wonderful a purpose.
How wonderful a journey.
To find people trying to find the divine and to testify to the person of Jesus.

A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, a worshiper of God, listened, she and her household had been baptized, …

she offered us an invitation,
“If you consider me a believer in the Lord,
come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.

Finding people where they are, how they are, and the deepest desires of their soul.

  • Peace.
  • Faith.
  • Unity.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord takes delight in his people.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.

It is critical that we understand the Holy Spirit has come to help us with the Truth.
Because we are to be focused on peace, faith and unity.

Yet…

In fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.

I cannot stress enough this is NOT a reference to other faiths that have been militarized.
This is a reference to the true faith that has been militarized.

Said another way, people do great harm in the name of Jesus.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.

Do you use your tradition for:

  • Peace.
  • Faith.
  • Unity.

Or

to kill thinking you are offering worship to God?

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Loving Being Friends Joyfully

Greetings on this the Sixth Sunday of Easter
Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; PS 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17
Note: The gospel reading from Friday 5th Week Easter and Sunday 6th Week Easter share in common the same gospel reading (John ch 15) with the Sunday starting a bit earlier (v9) and ending at the same point (v17). It could be helpful to understand today’s homily in the context of Fridays reflection: God Says Let’s Be Friends.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cornelius Event
The Cornelius Event is considered by Luke to be a major event in the formation of Christian truth. It receives several references including a contentious defense of it.

Now in Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Cohort called the Italica, devout and God-fearing along with his whole household, who used to give alms generously to the Jewish people and pray to God constantly.

The Italica were a battalion sized auxiliary unit of archers (numbering 1,000 archers). Professional and skilled warriors.

Peter visits him.

  • For Peter in fulfillment of his distinctive vision.
  • For Cornelius in fulfillment of his distinctive and different vision.

In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.

Peter and Cornelius, men from two different worlds, finding the divine will in the movement toward each other.

Responsorial Psalm
We can say with these two visions that: The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Second Reading
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God.

For the the Lord there is no distinction between Love and Friendship. To be described as a Friend of God is the highest compliment a person can receive.

Love is perfect friendship.

A summary from Friday’s reflection:

  • God created man in his image and established him in his friendship.
  • The Law of Love is friendship and adoption as sons and heirs of the kingdom.
  • God addresses men as his friends, and moves among them.
  • Grace is God sharing his divine life and friendship.
  • Salvation is the restoration of friendship with God.
  • Heaven, is to live with Christ forever in the friendship and presence of God.

Gospel Portion
As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.

The friendship of God is rooted in the commandment to love without reservation for even one’s own life. Such a relationship can only be encountered with faith and in the joy of friendship.

Neat paradox, no? Love, Friendship, and Joy being without separation even as love can be expressed as unreserved giving. Awesome!

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.

  • Loving Friends
  • Being Friends
  • Joyfully

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

GPS Works

LOTH Saturday Week One

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 16:1-10; PS 100:1b-2, 3, 5; Jn 15:18-21
Note: First Holy Communion today for our youngsters.

First Reading
These days we have GPS Global Positioning Satellite to tell us our exact position overlaid upon a map of the location. GPS has saved me many, many times from lost hours driving without good guidance. I still use paper maps when on hiking trails, for instance, but GPS is great.

Consider Paul and his travels. Alwys guided by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Jesus to go to ‘this place’ and avoid ‘that place’. Divine GPS.

Paul went to:

  • Derbe
  • Lystra
  • Iconium
  • Phrygian and Galatian territories
  • Troas
  • Macedonia

Paul avoided:

  • Guided by the Holy Spirit to avoid provinces of Asia.
  • Guided by the Spirit of Jesus in the region of Mysia to avoid Bithynia.

Responsorial Psalm
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Region to region, Province to Province, City to City that God has called them/us to proclaim the Good News to the people there.

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Gospel Portion
Preaching the Good News can be hazardous.

The world hates Jesus and therefore will hate you too. The world isn’t humans seeking righteousness. Rather the world is those people and spiritual forces wanting to dominate and subject creation to their will/appetites and not for the well-being of the other.

Following the divine GPS is the surest way that the dangers you face are the right ones and at the right time such that you are never feckless and without purpose.

Don’t worry. Many will kept my word, says Jesus, and they will also keep yours.

Be a voice of reason in a world without purpose or reason.

Reason reaches its fullness in love.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

God Says Let’s Be Friends

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
Note: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week

Friendship in the Catechism

  • God created man in his image and established him in his friendship.
  • The new Law of Love is friendship and the becoming adopted sons and heirs of the kingdom.
  • By his Revelation, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company. The adequate response to this invitation is faith.
  • Grace is God sharing his divine life and friendship with us by way of habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition.
  • Salvation itself is the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of friendship with God, which can be done by God alone.
  • Heaven, the state of those who live with Christ forever in the friendship and presence of God.
  • Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified forever with Christ. They are like God forever, for they ‘see him as he is,” face to face.

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

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:

  • “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
  • “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
  • “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.”
  • Friend, “It was …appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain”
  • Friend, “whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”
  • Friend, “This I command you: love one another.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry