Ostracism

T. S. Eliot classic The Waste Land
Photo by Jievani on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Lv 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37; PS 81:3-4, 5-6, 10-11ab; Mt 13:54-58
Notes: The axiom “You don’t know what you have until you lose it” certainly can describe the gospel story today.

First reading
These are the festivals of the LORD which you shall celebrate at their proper time with a sacred assembly:

  • Passover.
  • Feast of the Unleavened Bread (later combined together with Passover).
  • Pentecost or Feast of Weeks.
  • Feast of Booths.
  • Day of Atonement.

Each feast brings about a particular memory, recalling an historical event, invokes gratitude and praise for the Lord.

It is a recalling of:

  • what the Lord has done,
  • what the Lord is doing and;
  • what the Lord has planned for us.

Responsorial Psalm
Sing with joy to God our help.

Take up a melody, and sound the timbrel,
the pleasant harp and the lyre.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our solemn feast.

Alleluia Verse
The word of the Lord remains forever;
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

Gospel Portion
The Rejection at Nazareth.

The Synoptic Gospels all report the Rejection at Nazareth but with distinct focuses. It is a great portion of scripture to study and compare and contemplate the focus each gospel writer had in writing the version they way that they did. Why not read them and share your thoughts in the comment section.

  • Matt 13:53-58.
  • Mk 6:1-6.
  • Lk 4:16-30.

Feasts Jesus kept:

  1. Feast of Weeks, Pentecost (x-ref Jn 5).
  2. Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  3. Feast of Passover (Jn 2:13 and 6:4).
  4. Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Booths and Sukkot (Ex 23;16 Dt 16:13-16).
  5. Feast of Dedication (Lights) (Jn 10:22).

So taking together we can compare how the people responded to Jesus and how people could respond to Jesus. At this point in the gospel, the people of Nazareth are already quite familiar with Jesus’ miracles and teachings in the greater Galilee and beyond.

  • Pentecost – Jesus ushered in a new Pentecost with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus is the Passover Lamb.
  • Jesus is and the giver of the Bread of Life.
  • Jesus accompanies us on our Exodus journey.
  • Jesus provides for all our needs even the miraculous and forgiveness of sin.

So we can choose to ostracize him or accept him.
Before you ostracize him consider in your own life, a particular memory, recalling an historical event, that invokes gratitude and praise for the Lord.

Do you remember:

  • what the Lord has done for you,
  • what the Lord is doing for you and;
  • what the Lord has planned for you.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Plain Sight

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
Readings: Ex 40:16-21, 34-38; PS 84:3, 4, 5-6a and 8a, 11; Jn 11:19-27
Notes: On the national scene the House of Representatives is investigating what has happened in plain sight: an Insurrection on January 6th, 2021. It was in plain sight instigated by then President Trump to disrupt the process of a democratic government. It was in plain sight Republicans abetted the President in his endeavor. It is in plain sight FoxNews and other right wing news outlets mock and discount the truth.

But.

It was all in plain sight.

First reading
The Lord’s presence was in plain sight.
By night and day the people knew the Lord was with them.
Not that they could see him but that He made his presence known by signs and wonders.

For the Jewish people, there was no confusion whether the Lord was with them and whether they were safe in His care. The Lord made his dwelling place with his people.

Responsorial Psalm
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!

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

Gospel Portion
The gospel of John is written using the Seven Signs of Jesus.
The raising of Lazarus is the seventh and final sign.

For the disciples, there was no confusion whether the Lord was with them and whether they were safe in His care. The Lord made his dwelling place with his people.

The Lord took them even further into the life, life after death.

Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, is put to death because of the raising of Lazarus. It is very hard to make false what was in plain sight of all the people. The promise of resurrection was for one and all who believe in him.

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.”

It was in plain sight.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Glowing from love

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Ex 34:29-35; PS 99:5, 6, 7, 9; Mt 13:44-46
Notes: I pray you know the glow of love in your life. Divine love, marital love, brotherly and sisterly love. May your love be both hidden and public.

First reading
As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the LORD.

Being veiled around the people and unveiled in the presence of the Lord is of itself worthy of contemplation. But then when you read more closely you discover:

Moses took the veil off when speaking to the people about and on behalf of the Lord. After he had spoken, he would put the veil on.

Love is like that.

Some aspects of love are meant to be shared with all. The joy, the radiance, the purpose and the shared destiny.

Some aspects are meant only for the beloved. The hidden part of love that belongs to he beloved alone. The inner essence that is reserved for you and you alone. It is the place of intimacy that is yours and yours alone.

Responsorial Psalm
Holy is the Lord our God.

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
Love makes you glow.

There is no doubt about it.
You can see it in a person’s eyes, the twinkle.
You can see it in a person’s posture, confident.
You can see it in a person’s smile, ear-to-ear.
You can see it in a person’s face, an interior glow that has no origin but itself.

In today’s gospel portion Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven in two ways using two parables. Both are expressions and reactions to love.

Hidden Treasure
[As] 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.

The deep, hidden and personal divine love that is meant for you and you alone from the Lord. It is for you to remain hidden in your heart. So fulfilling this love you abandon the ordinary good to keep and protect this divine love. This is your ultimate treasure.

Public Pearl
[As one searches for fine pearls], when he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

This pearl is not to be hidden. It is to be shared. A shared Joy. A shared testimony. A shared hope.

Hidden and public.

I remember a retreat I participated in that was a watershed spiritual experience for me. Later, sharing the experience with a woman’s group, I invited them to attend the next iteration of the woman’s retreat.

There was a woman there who doubted interiorly. On that day, my spirit was open and I could hear her inner thoughts. I looked straight at her and said, “Yes, Jesus wants you to come. Stop doubting and believe”.

I wanted her to have the hidden treasure meant only for her. I shared my pearls.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Essence

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Ex 33:7-11; 34:5b-9, 28; PS 103:6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13; Mt 13:36-43
Notes: A little bit of theology today.

First reading
The First Commandment of the Ten in its fullest:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

You shall not have other gods beside me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

When you consider how many different ways the Lord could have inspired the writing of the commandments, he chose to reveal his essence in his actions:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord is kind and merciful.
This is, for me, the most beloved of all statements of who the Lord “is”.

We have heaps of similes of the Lord:

  • like a lion
  • like the sun

We have lots of attributes we use to describe the Lord:

  • Jealous
  • Just
  • Strong
  • Compassionate

All pointing to the essence of the Lord:

Love

  • Love as it is expressed as kindness and mercy.
  • Here we see no distance between some attributes and essence.

The Lord is Love – completely self-giving for the benefit of the Other of the Self.
He ordered all his essence to our freedom from the house of slavery.
All his actions, whether easy or difficult on us, are ordered to the same first commandment.

  • I free you.
  • I love you.
  • Love me back.

Alleluia Verse
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.

Gospel Portion
All kindness finds its origin in the Lord.

Jesus explains the parable that the seed is the word of God.
It is our call to the likeness of God.

When planted well, it transforms the one who accepts it.

Never assume you know the state of any soul but your own.

Never assume worthiness of any, including yourself.

Accept simply: the Lord is Kind and merciful.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

As for the man

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Readings: Ex 32:15-24, 30-34; PS 106:19-20, 21-22, 23; Mt 13:31-35
Notes: We celebrate Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We have some confidence these are their names according to some extra biblical writings. How blessed their lives must have been. The Blessed Mother, with Immaculate Conception, had the singular grace of being untainted by original sin. We know so little of her parents. We know so much about their daughter!

As for the man… we do not know what has happened to him (Ex 32:23).

Some simply go invisible.

First reading
Far be it from me to criticize Moses.
He was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

And the people forgot him. They forgot him and the Lord who rescued them.

Some simply go forgotten.

Responsorial Psalm
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt.

Alleluia Verse
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Gospel Portion
Those who follow Christ are reminded to be visible yet invisible and remembered yet forgotten.

The power of all evangelization is in the person of whom we speak, namely Jesus Christ.

And no matter what you do or say, people must make up their own mind.

It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”

Paradoxically, a bird sitting in a tree is never afraid in a branch breaking, because her trust isn’t in the branch, it’s in her own wings.

Regarding what I expect from the deacons of Rome, … dimensions to cultivate. Firstly, I expect you to be humble. It is sad to see a bishop and a priest showing off, but it is even sadder to see a deacon wanting to put himself at the centre of the world, or at the centre of the liturgy, or at the centre of the Church. Be humble. Let all the good you do be a secret between you and God. And so it will bear fruit (Pope Francis, Saturday, 19 June 2021).

Some simply go alone.

I hear mothers and widows and grandparents lament this way. I am invisible, forgotten and alone.

Grandparents https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2021-07/world-day-grandparents-elderly-pope-prayer-released-dicastery-la.html

  • It is important to try and remember our parents, grandparents.
  • It is important to try and remember the patriarchs and saints of our life.

Even in your own spiritual life – Who baptized you? Who was your sponsor?

None of us birthed ourselves. None of us self-administered the Sacraments. None of us are able to live without some kindness of even strangers.

As for the man… remember (her/him/them)…

  • Who planted the seed of faith in you?
  • Who allowed themselves to be a branch for you?

Who have we made feel invisible, forgotten and alone?

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Knitting it together

Knitting the story together

Greetings on this the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 2 Kgs 4:42-44; PS 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18; Eph 4:1-6; Jn 6:1-15
Notes: It’s summertime!! So I get to be a little creative. In today’s homily I am using props. I have a ball of yard and two knitting needles. After a quick lesson or two on how to knit, I am going to play-act knitting as I preach. Hidden in my knitting bag is a embroidered image of Jesus. I will show them the ‘completed’ image after I complete the knitting together. Get it?

You see we can knit together our understanding of Jesus from the ones who came before him and the story of him and our getting to know him.

Our gospel portion for the next FOUR of FIVE weeks (Assumption of the Blessed Mother takes priority over #4 otherwise five weeks) is about a SINGLE chapter of one Gospel. Chapter six of the Gospel of John is so important, we dedicate five weeks to it. It’s a short chapter with universal importance:

The Bread of Life Discourse.

The FIVE WEEK series of notes are here: Five Week Grid of Notes.

First reading
Elisha: Elisha who succeeded and exceeded Elijah.
Miracles evidenced through him include:

  • Poisoned Well cured with salt.
  • Drought water when no water can be found.
  • Widow’s Oil enough enough to pay off debt to save children from slavery.
  • Shunammite’s Son revived.
  • Poisioned Stew cured.
  • Barley Loaves 20 loaves 100 men.
  • Naaman Leprosy.
  • The Lost Ax retrieved. Matt 17:27 The two coins for the temple tax.
  • Invisible Army seen. Transfiguration.
  • Cured even after his death. US!!!!
  • and more!

John the Baptist is Elijah: Matthew 11:14 [Jesus said] And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.

Elisha exceed Elijah with a double portion.

Jesus is more than but succeeds Elijah, not two fold but infinite fold.

  • 20 Loaves/100 Men.
  • 5 loaves/5,000 Men.

You do the math 🙂 John is to Elijah as Jesus is to Elisha.

Responsorial Psalm
The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

Second reading
One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.

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

Gospel Portion
I have a knitting project that I really need to finish so fi you don’t mind I am going to knit while I preach. OK?

You see we are always knitting together our understanding of Jesus. We learn of his life, his relationship to the Father and his commitment to us. We listen to him and follow him.

But not perfectly.
But not all.

Let’s start with week five: the ending of the series.

Jesus having completed the Bread of Life discourse has one last challenge.

John 6.

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

We have the same challenge:

  • Do we believe Jesus in his discourse of the Bread of Life or not.
  • And even if we struggle, do we walk away?

OR do we profess like Peter, even if we still have questions…We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

That’s our journey.

  • Exceeding Elijah:
  • 5 Barley Loaves/2 Fish
  • 5,000 men/Women and children
  • Gather fragments/12 wicker baskets
  • Prophet/King

Exceeding Moses:

  • Bread and Quail by Moses request.
  • The Lord has given you bread to eat.
  • All the gifts: ten commandments, water from rock, serpent on pole, etc.
  • Exceeding Elijah:
  • Elijah flight from Horeb, given food and water to eat from an Angel. (Also given food from Ravens earlier). Get up and eat for the journey will be too much for you.
  • Elijah sees the Lord (from the cave).
  • Called down fire from heaven.
  • Exceeding Joshua:
  • Having completed the subduing of the promised land.
  • Joshua gives the witness. It is the LORD who freed you from slavery in the land of Egypt. It is the LORD who performed great signs and protected you. It is the LORD who we should worship.
  • As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.

so that… we believe in One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.

Our deepest desire to be one with Jesus.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Let them grow together

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Ex 24:3-8; PS 50:1b-2, 5-6, 14-15; Mt 13:24-30
Notes: None.

First reading

The sacrifice of the Lamb. The blood upon the altar and the blood upon the peoples.

Responsorial Psalm
Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

Alleluia Verse
Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

Gospel Portion
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Let us be clear.

ISN’T

  • It is not the job of humans to decide who is weed and who is wheat.
  • It is not the job of humans to collect the weed for burning nor the wheat for the barn.

IS

  • It is our job to grow together.
  • And be kind to one another.

It is our job to…

  • humbly welcome the word that has been planted [with]in you and is able to save your souls.
  • offer to God praise as your sacrifice and fulfill your vows to the Most High.
  • to call upon [Him] me in time of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.

Let us do everything he has taught us (righteousness and justice and mercy) then…

Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people,
who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.”
Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his.”

As the old spiritual song goes, a favorite even if not in my tradition,

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Interfaith Chaplaincy

The Covid-19 spike, the 4th wave, has begun. Florida has 1/5 of all these new infections. Volunteer Chaplaincy becomes a much needed commodity.

Here are some photos of the Chapel at JFK Atlantis, FL. A great place to have difficult conversations.

Chady Elias. Artist. Sometimes, I use the artwork to begin conversations.

https://www.chadyart.com/

Mask up.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Not a Potted Plant

Greetings on this the Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Ex 20:1-17; PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11; Mt 13:18-23
Notes: None.

First reading
The Ten Commandments.
Beautiful in their simplicity.
Deep implicitly.

The greatest challenge in the commandments is to not be simplistic in following them.
We must ever be aware of the situation and circumstances people face when applying them.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Pt 3:8-9).

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.

Key: a generous heart.

Gospel Portion
We are not potted plants.

The parable today describes what the effects the word of the Kingdom have on people in different circumstances.

But we can change circumstances.
We are not potted plants.

Move.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry