Law and Bread

Emmaus

Law and Bread

Greetings on this the Third Sunday of Easter

Readings: ACTS 2:14, 22-33; PS 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; 1 PT 1:17-21; LK 24:13-35

Special Circumstances

Note: Mass for this 3rd Sunday of Easter will be done via live streaming. The public will be unable to attend due to the necessity of physical separation during the rolling waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since I will be preaching this Mass I thought it might be good to share my notes and research. As I continue to pray and discern the content of the Homily and await the gift of the Holy Spirit in the moment of diaconal ministry, you can compare and contrast the written text in this blog entry and oral proclamation after posted on Sunday afternoon. I find the process interesting and I hope you do too. Please feel free to comment on the blog entry. In terms of presentation I already see my sometimes weak transitions and too broad focus and other such technical observations. I invite you to do likewise. But alas, I cannot do anything about the baldness.

After Sunday, April 26th, 2020, you can view the Mass on-line at one of these two places:

YouTube Link: sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

Facebook Link: sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

Thank You Father

Ever get a really cool gift? I mean one that speaks volumes about how the gift giver obviously thought through the gift and your needs and with great consideration places a symbol of their love for you in a package with a bow and wrapping paper.

Do you ever notice how the gift giver has a great expectation on the way you receive that gift? Their eyes are wide open watching you open the gift and hoping that the interior gift will rise higher than the actual thing presented?

We celebrate Easter as a seven week celebration. A celebration of Resurrection.

From Easter Sunday to Pentecost with Ascension of the Lord the week prior, we celebrate exuberantly, joyfully, with songs on our lips and within our hearts.

We celebrate the gift of Resurrection. During Lent we contemplate the necessity of the Crucifixion and the propitiation of sin. During Lent we accept our need for a Messiah.

During Easter Season we have opened the gift and have seen with our own eyes through the eyes of the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus the real and bodily Resurrection. Ultimately too the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Second Week Leading to the 3rd Sunday

In the week leading to the 3rd Sunday of Easter the cycle makes certain to include multiple Gospel readings form the period of Resurrection to Ascension. This week it was Mark 16 and Luke 24.

The 2nd Week also reads the entire chapter 3 of Gospel of John – a must beloved and quoted chapter!

Making Sense of Senses

So one thing we have to be certain to establish is there is a literary sense to the sacred Scriptures. There is also a spiritual sense. The spiritual sense cannot be derived without first going through the literary sense.

Sense of Scripture:

  • Literal Sense – all scripture has a literal sense (what is meant), not a LITERAL account but a narrated story with a purpose.
  • Spiritual Sense – three types
    • Spiritual as Allegory (figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another),
    • Moral (what ought to be)
    • Anagogic (future sense, usually the Eternal sense or concepts in regards to the Eternal)

Both the literary and spiritual senses are presented using Literary Forms.

(A document with some additional teaching points here: Notes for Background of Scripture Updated Blog Version).

Supporting Research

The beautiful and beautifully presented story of The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus is worthy of our Joyful embrace of the Resurrection and the KEY purpose of the story.

It is worthy study to engage the use of etymology – word roots and usage. The story contains many possible references that make for the potential of deeper meanings.

It is worthy study to engage the use of numerology – the hidden use of numbers with symbolic meanings. The story contains many possible references that make for the potential of deeper meanings.

But it can fall off the rails sometimes. For example, one aspiring researcher lamented that if the two disciples traveled 7 miles from Jerusalem he questioned that scripture observation. He used google maps to map out all cities that claim today or in the past to be the city know in scripture as Emmaus. I think we can applaud the researcher and also gently encourage him to step off that line of inquiry as it is so difficult a path and not likely to yield additional literal or spiritual meaning.

Since the number 7 is used (a perfect number) on the first day of the week (Sunday, for us we see that as the new Sabbath) there is a hint to a meaning here of a spiritual dimension as the researcher is trying to discern.

Some suggest the distance they are traveling is the maximum allowed in a day or on a Sabbath. But that would be over reach. Not supported.

So what are we to derive from this at first review? We have to wait to use other techniques first and then come back to it.

Literary Structure

It is often easier to simply ask the twin questions, ‘What is the narrative?’ and ‘What is the technique?’

In linear fashion we can see:

  1. ON the SAME Day as the Resurrection two disciples were traveling to Emmaus – which is 7 miles away.
  2. Jesus accompanied them incognito in some fashion they were unable to recognize him.
  3. After prompting, they relate their concern to Jesus.
  4. Then they relate their disappointment and surprise by the testimony of the women as to the empty tomb.
  5. Jesus, gently corrects them.
  6. Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets he relates to them what is revealed about him in sacred Scripture.
  7. The disciples encouraged Jesus to stay with them out of their concern for Jesus, a stranger (so it seemed).
  8. Jesus sat at table, broke the bread: blessing, broke it and gave it to them.
  9. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
  10. But he disappeared from their sight.
  11. They rushed back to Jerusalem to add their account to the other accounts about the appearances of Jesus Resurrected.
  12. How he was made known in the Breaking of the Bread.

Some key components of the narrative highlighted.

  1. ON the SAME Day as the Resurrection two disciples were traveling to Emmaus – which is 7 miles away.
  2. Jesus accompanied them incognito in some fashion they were unable to recognize him.
  3. After prompting, they relate their concern to Jesus.
  4. Then after they relate their disappointment and told their surprise by the testimony of the women as to the empty tomb.
  5. Jesus, gently corrects them.
  6. Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets he relates to them what is revealed about him in sacred Scripture.
  7. The disciples encouraged Jesus to stay with them out of their concern for Jesus, a stranger (so it seemed).
  8. Jesus sat at table, broke the bread: blessing, broke it and gave it to them.
  9. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
  10. But he disappeared from their sight.
  11. They rushed back to Jerusalem to add their account to the other accounts about the appearances of Jesus Resurrected.
  12. They relayed how he was made known in the Breaking of the Bread.

The disappearance is a binding supernatural event that binds the Breaking of the Bread with the Proclamation of the Breaking of the Bread (lines 8-9 and 11-12 – not verse numbers). This supernatural literary bridge between the Bread Breaking and the Knowing and Professing (an actual event used for a narrative purpose here) makes them

The Resurrection if TIGHTLY linked to the Breaking of the Bread.

The Old Testament is used as proof text to the authenticity of Jesus by Jesus.

The Last Supper is a supernatural event and the central point of the narrative.

This Bread is what is preeminent in the conclusion of the story: We know him in the breaking of the bread.

I understand some of you are challenged to accept the Real Presence and the Sacramental theology. Let us set that aside for a moment.

In the literary and spiritual sense (anagogic) it is the bread breaking (blessing and breaking) presence that is primary conclusion of this narrative.

And to borrow from a brother, it is all three tenses past, present and future.

How? Look at the simplest level of literary sense. We don’t even need more sophisticated theological understanding.

This is about the Resurrection – the great manifestation of the promise of the Messiah – freedom form death.

In the past the Old Testament speaks in diffused terms and is now made clear by Jesus what it means.

In the present the disciples said ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke on the way and opened the scripture for us?

In the future the disciples proclaim as we do today and continue until the end of time, that he is made known to us in the breaking of the bread.

Now the Homily….

Law and Bread

The Easter season is a seven week celebration of the Resurrection.

The story of the Road to Emmaus distinctly celebrates the Resurrection in the context of the Last Supper.

These disciples made tracks to Emmaus a seven mile journey. They must have been quite upset. I mean the missing from the narrative…. They didn’t even wait for the funeral.

On the day of the Resurrection the women went to prepare the body of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, were all thinking to prepare Jesus for a proper burial and the prayers of the faithful. Even Peter and the apostle Jesus loved ran to see for themselves.

At the same time, Cleopas and another hit the trail.

How deep the disappointment. How challenged the love to not even do the respectful thing. Did not even Lazarus get prayers and dirge songs when he died?

This happened in the current time too. I have seen people skip out on funerals for their love was so bruised.

Yet Jesus did not abandon them. If we are faithless he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself (private note: see brother I remember your teaching!).

He journeys with them and their basic question. Did sacred Scripture lie to us? Is this promised Messiah (which we want to believe he is) really a lie actually?

Did you break the promise of the psalmist (PS 16): you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld.

Is the psalmist wrong in PS 17: The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

It doesn’t seem that way.

Ah, but Jesus is with them.

He explains and shows them the truth of sacred Scripture.

Then he reveals what has happened that brings the fullness of the sacred Scriptures these disciples are questioning. The blessing and breaking of the bread.

Later they recount how when he taught that to them their hearts grew stronger and peaceful.

The Law perfectly points to the Bread that is Jesus. The Resurrected Jesus.

Jesus has always accompanied those who followed the Law for they are offered the fullness of Law in his person.

Sacramental Memorial

This narrative in both literary and spiritual senses reveals that the Breaking of the Bread is a supernatural event that is to be shared and proclaimed.

It has its mystery, yes. Just like the Old Testament did. Yet Jesus accompanies us in our journey reassuring us his presence in the sacred Bread and in our lives.

It times of crisis it is tempting to be a Cleopas. Let’s run away. It’s all an illusion. It’s all a lie.

But, no, know Jesus accompanies you even there.

And he beacons you back to himself. In scripture. In person. In bread.

Come celebrate the Resurrection. Share the sacred mystery of the Bread that is Jesus.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Pealing Back the Layers

Pushed back my face shield for the snapshot. Delivery for today is 4,200 lbs of rice, beans and corn meal.

Waiting to sort hygiene products for delivery too.

Afternoon schedule shopping for bins and containers. Up supply community leaders.

Tomorrow afternoon this space will be mfg zone for disinfectant and sanitizer.

Factory 😋

Friday we’ll resupply provisions as this will be gone.

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.

Personal Passover – Rabbi Amy

Rabbi:

It’s nice to address you that way.

I have been unable to write to you mostly because I didn’t want to burden you then and that period has passed.

So my Mom passed into glory February 5th 2020. I know you can appreciate this comment. As painful as it was it was wonderful to be with her nonstop for many months and to be her outer strength with her inner struggle. Only the last few days were difficult for her but too short to mention given what can happen to people.

So now it is grief bursts and sorrow/joyful memory events.

It is nothing by comparison to your loss and bereavement and attempts to commingle grief is treacherous territory.

Except for the common elements of our faith traditions we can relate anew. We are all on an Exodus wandering journey together moving toward the eternal places.

The Passover does not eliminate death but illuminate the One who is stronger than death. And this One loves us.

Every spiritual blessing this Passover and may you liturgy bring consolation.

My greeting to your congregation. Peace!

Yours,
Gerry

Image from: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/category/celebrate/passover/

Rabbi Amy References:

Rabbi Amy Grossblatt Pessah
Author, Parenting on a Prayer 
(Ben Yehuda Press, March 2020)

http://www.parentingonaprayer.com

For Our Sake – Christ

For Our Sake – Christ

Greetings on this the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Readings: MT 21:1-11; IS 50:4-7; PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24; PHIL 2:6-11; MT 26:14—27:66

Note:

Homilies on Palm Sunday are usually brief due to the length and complexity of the entire liturgy. Today is a big day and offers much for those present at Mass and from the live streaming to enter into the imminent drama of the Passion.

I referenced two homilies of Saint John Paul II as part of my research:

  • Palm Sunday homily of 04 April 1993, and;
  • Palm Sunday homily of 16 April 2000.

Promise Kept

The whole of the Church acclaims along the way to Jerusalem Jesus of Nazareth. Coming from the Mount of Olives and approaching the Holy City, palms are spread voices raise in a greeting to the Son of David.

Blessed is He who comes!

It is true we reenact this scene. Yet we should remember that this is not a far off and distant coming but rather the coming of the One, Jesus Christ – “The same yesterday, today and forever”. In a very real way we are experiencing the same as those living and breathing on that very day.

Christ enters Jerusalem for the final time as his earthly pilgrimage draws to a close. He is the fulfillment of the prophets’ messianic mission. He is King and Servant. God and Man. We celebrated his incarnate person even just a few short months ago.

We cannot ignore the covenant message of the centuries and generations awaiting this Messiah. We share the same hope and in a way the same disappointment. Who among us is not guilty of saying ‘Why me?’ Especially in these most trying days. In our Baptism we hope for an effortless, painless, seamless life on this earth. In a way similar to those glorifying God on that day. Jesus came to free us from a power far worse than the Roman overlords.

Interior Freedom

In this Triumphant entry we celebrate the Lord and the coming of his Messiah.

We celebrate also the deep mystery of salvation. The very center of our being yearns for this day: Peace with God.

Yes, Jesus comes as King and Servant. God and Man. And the lowest of Man.

God Highly Exalted

It is a mystery too how and why God exalts the obedient and humble Jesus even unto his death. It takes effort to understand this as the mystery of the Gift and the freedom that comes from within the interior of God.

It startles us that from the Triumphant entry deep movement and conflict. Conflict inside us and between us and between us and God. Yet it is this very conflict he has come to resolve. Abasement and Exaltation. Side by side. Intermingled, inseparable.

Abasement and Exaltation

Jesus emptied himself. He set aside even his own life for us. He gave visible expression to the buffets and scars we inflict upon the Creator. Psalm 22 gives the deepest of exclamations: My God My God why?

It is the question that Jesus breaks open for us and brings resolution to. Why?

Nothing we experience is outside of the very tender heart of God.He let us touch his heart even if my the point of a spear. Nothing is beyond, no pain, no fear, no hope, no bad or good thing is distant from Him.

Let us Praise God today. Let us see perhaps for the first time his bleeding and tender heart for us.

The imminent drama of the Passion is upon us. The Valley of the Shadow of Death is the path. The promise is our hope.

Lifted Up

We too will one day be lifted up in its second sense. Brought into the breast of God.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

 

 

Mutual Yes

Annunciation

Mutual Yes

Greetings on this the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Readings: IS 7:10-14; 8:10; PS 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11; HEB 10:4-10; LK 1:26-38

Now I See!

The 4th Sunday of Lent we celebrate Jesus as the Light of the World.

I wrote a homily on this gospel reading called Divine Light Beyond Sight of which there were 8 views and 6 likes which means it wasn’t read at all. J On LinkedIn another two Likes but well you get the idea. As the Divine Will would have it this year, the Annunciation (fixed to March 25th, 9 months before His birth because well pregnant for 9 months ya know 😉 falls within the week. So this week we contemplate that Jesus is the Light of the World and the Annunciation of his coming.

Two Lite Stories

Coloring Lite Story

A recent scientific and medical breakthrough allows people who are color blind to see in color. It is truly an amazing time this Age of Medicine. On several occasions I have seen videos of people who received these special glasses and their first experience seeing color with these glasses. For the moment allow me to suspend doubt and cynicism about these devices as I hear a variety of outcomes and conclude they are effective in about 20% of the patients who try them.

Yet we must marvel at the response of those 20%. How wonderful it must be to be able to see color for the first time. There are several YouTube videos you can be a spectator to the response to such a gift. In this case he could see but not completely and was given the gift of complete natural human sight.

Cataract Lite Story

I have my own version of this type of gift. I had cataracts in both eyes. The milking over the eyes takes many years so it was not noticed by me until my eye glasses were fogged over in only one lens but I was blind! Turns out the left eye was 100% blocked but the right eye and the brain compensated until it couldn’t. So into surgery I went for lens replacement and vacuuming out the cloudy substance.

What a joy and wonder to have such medicine! Not only was my sight restored but the colors, crispness, depth, and so forth… that I tell you I didn’t have to begin with or so long lost forgotten what colored sight should be!

In my case my sight was restored but more than restored, naturally perfected.

These are within the natural created world sight stories.

On the Spirit

Today there is a natural and spiritual story. You know it well. Gabriel comes to Mary and we celebrate Mary’s singular, perfect Yes to the Lord.

We celebrate her Yes in prayer (Hail Mary composed of sacred Scripture) and we celebrate her intercessory heart for Elizabeth and all of us as a integral part of her yes to the Lord:

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.

Celebrate the Mutual Yes

The Annunciation is also about the Yes of the Lord. Yes to our need. Yes to our predicament and hopeless case without intervention.

The Annunciation is completely about intervention! The Lord was intervening in the life of Mary. She, although without sin, also needed the savior. Mary is alson intervening in our life as well as evidenced in her rushing to Elizabeth’s side.

The Lord’s Yes or, as we say, His initiative is to act and invoke a response with the intention of the salvation of souls.

Ahaz Couldn’t See

Ahaz (735-715 BCE) ruled in uncertain times. He was guilty of child sacrifice to Molech (2 Kgs 16:3), imperfect construction and treatment of the Altar in the Temple and is attested to permitting social injustice by both Isaiah (3:13-15; 5:8-13) and Micah (2:1-10).

He had power but was constantly at the whim and victim to overlords. He had no vision. He had become a hapless victim.

I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!

Even still God provides. Even if Ahaz could not say Yes to the Lord, the Lord said Yes to Ahaz! He offered his Son:

Emmanuel, which means “God is with us!”

Mary Couldn’t See Either

Mary couldn’t see either by the way. She wondered aloud ‘How can this be?’

But the difference is Mary wasn’t a hapless victim. She was one who trusted the one who made her.

Can You See it

Can you see the Lord always says Yes?

Can you see the Yes of your own heart like Mary’s as an honest heartfelt surrender to love?

The Annunciation begins the salvific mission of Jesus incarnate (pregnancy by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit). It is our Yes too. It is our becoming sharers in the divine mission. It is most of all the Yes of God.

The Yes he was dying to give us.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Divine Light Beyond Sight

Catholic Org Light Photo

Divine Light Beyond Sight

Greetings on this the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Readings: 1 SM 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A; PS 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6; EPH 5:8-14; JN 9:1-41

Special Circumstances

Note: Mass for this 4th Sunday of Lent was done via live streaming. The public was unable to attend due to the necessity of physical separation during the rolling waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view the Mass on-line at one of these two places:

YouTube Link:
sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

Facebook Link:
sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

Born Blind

In today’s reading in the Gospel of John we encounter the 6th of 7 ‘signs’ of Jesus. Here Jesus cures the blindness of a young man who was blind from birth. Each of the seven signs of Jesus brings about the revelation of his divine power over creation is a primal way and the specificity of the symbolic meaning of the cure.

Note: the language of the Gospel of John would surely be improved in future translations to replace instances of ‘Jews’ with the more proper naming of ‘Leadership’. Jesus confronted an embedded leadership not the whole of the Jewish people, his very own.

Primal Power Over Creation

Jesus brings about sightedness to the young man. During this story it is attested to by the young man’s parents that in fact he could not see from birth. This is distinctly a revelation that Jesus can perform a radical sanation – to the root – which is the restoration of creation to its most perfect form.

Symbolic Meaning

Father Quesnel goes into depth about this point. The young man makes the journey from physical blindness to physical and spiritual sight. In an opposing way the Pharisees go deeper into their spiritual blindness even as they conduct their inquiry.

This is quite an interesting point. The investigation and the investigators were unable to hear and see the evidence presented to them. Such is our common plight. How often does the Lord present answer and data and example to all our existential questions and the heartaches we suffer and we need to listen and hear:

  1. Bruised Primal Creation – Who sinned that this man is blind from birth. It cannot be attributed to personal sin but to the damage made to creation by sin.
  2. Sabbath for the Man not Man for the Sabbath – this sign as well as so many others performed on the Day of Rest because this indeed is the rest of God.
  3. Necessity of Touch – Jesus shows us again and again the Lord desires to heal us through his touch, his personal and specific interaction with us.
  4. Challenge – There is no offense taken by Jesus to be challenged. We challenge the Lord all the time. Discernment and challenge are good with done in the proper spirit of seeking truth. Do we want to be able to see in the spirit?
  5. Witness – This young man goes through a very significant change and growth by reflection on the events, on the scripture, on their tradition and on his deepest restorative desire – one with God.
  6. Voice of Conscience – the Pharisees felt the prick of the conscience ‘are we’? It was a good question but asked with the bias perspective imbedded in it… Surely we are not also blind, are we? Their response to conscience was to try to rephrase the spiritual blindness as physical blindness which they clearly are not suffering from. No, Jesus replies, your sin remains because you reject any possibility of blindness within you.

Encounter Jesus in the 6th Sign

I hope you get a chance to reread the sixth sign of Jesus with contemplation and meditation. Encounter Jesus in the 9th Chapter of the Gospel of John.

Going Dark

Going dark is represented in this story by the investigation.

It begins with the basic error filled thought. Providing a cure on the Sabbath is sinful because there should be no work on the Sabbath.

  1. Doubling Down on What I know – isn’t this obvious. We take a position we are comfortable with and even more so derive our POWER from and do everything we can to reinforce it.
  2. Ignoring the Facts – The leadership wanted to make untrue what is true. He was born blind but they did what they could to manipulate and pressure these parents to deny this basic fact. Remember, they live the same culture. They are admitting, as it were, their own sin by the birth of a blind son (even as we have heard from Jesus that is not a sound thought for the parents to have – they too are healed).
  3. Rejecting Any Possibility of Change of Mind – A key weakness. We have our basis (Moses and the Elders and the traditions) and nothing will move us from these positions even as the same basis of argument is used by the young man to prove the truth. In other words, the young man spoke and used the logical process of the Pharisees to the Pharisees so they could  jump the gap in understanding. It was not enough.
  4. Voices Outside the Elite – The leadership could not imagine any teaching or insight from anyone but those of their own group and from their own wealth of learning.

Let’s Let Light do what Light Does

As we can see from today’s reading, we must let light do what it is meant to do. Break free from bias and limited understanding. Don’t clutch so tightly the folk teachings that stand in front of and block the light of truth.

It’s work but the best of work. It is Sabbath work.

Interreligious version

I hope you find this teaching link to be most helpful in these current times. You see, I do not claim ultimate authority. I am but a member of the human family and each of us discover new ways to bring light to the world inspired by the Divine.

Here: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-one-19th-century-rabbi-responded-to-a-worldwide-cholera-epidemic/

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Holy Isolation

Miriam

Holy Isolation

(For background – See A Short Teaching on Unclean from my perspective here: A Short Teaching on Unclean)

Leprosy

Leprosy has never really completely left us. In 2011, I had the privilege to visit and minister to a community of Lepers (I will resist telling you where).

It was only at night. We would never be able to find them in the day time but at night they would come to a designated meeting place. The population subject to rumor and prejudice are openly antagonistic and violent in abuse of the lepers.

We’d set up chairs and break out the musical instruments. It was an all night banquet. We shared plenty of food, music, preaching and fellowship. Injuries were attended to, physicals conducted and dental work performed in tents erected right in the middle of the street in the middle of a city in the middle of a regional Capitol.

But of all the things we did the fellowship and the exercise of our common humanity was the most precious to all of us. When the Sun began to rise, they people melted into the background. We broke camp and left no trace of the Holy Isolation.

We were in Holy Isolation.

Exodus Leprosy

Maybe we have forgotten the story of Miraim (Numbers chapter12). Well, she had a disagreement with Moses and maybe a bit jealous of him. She spoke out and the Lord was not at all happy about it. He descended in a cloud and when the cloud departed Miriam was a white-leper.  Aaron and Moses interceded for her and begged mercy. The Lord agreed but no until she spent 7 days outside the camp.

and the people did not start out again until she was brought back (Num 12:15b).

The Standard

This became the standard. Going forward there is an additional story about Miriam. It is told that one time Miriam was sick and unable to proceed. Yet the cloud rose from the dwelling tent signaling the time to go forward. But they did not go. They did not move. For Miriam was ill and could not travel.

And the Lord smiled. He lowered then He lifted the cloud again.

His children refused him because one of them was ill.

And the Lord cried tears of Joy.

Ever since, for as long as human kind chose to remember, any and all who had to be outside the camp were given everything they needed. They were kept as close as close would allow. It became the exercise of our common humanity which was the most precious to all of us.

Which Side of the Wall Are We?

Does it them matter which side of the wall we are on? Does it matter who is my favorite or most favored.

No, we settled this question three Millennia ago. If one is sick, we are all sick. No one journeys until we all can journey.

SAINT ONUPHRIUS

A Hermit and Confessor, c.400, the story goes…

Because of their isolation and their sometimes strange forms of self-denial and penance, the lives of these desert fathers gave rise to a number of fabulous tales, none more richly imaginative than that of Onuphrius and Paphnutius. It seems that Paphnutius was a fifth-century abbot who left his Monastery to go into the desert to see if the hermit’s life was meant for him. After wandering about for days, he saw a strange creature approaching him: it seemed to be a man, but he had hair and a beard that fell to his feet and was unclothed except for a band of leaves around his waist. Paphnutius was about to run from the sight in fear, when the old man spoke to him and assured him that he was a man and a servant of God. It was, in fact, Onuphrius, who took Paphnutius to his cell and there told the abbot his story: he had come to the desert sixty years before, and ever since had lived in complete solitude, suffering continually from hunger, thirst, heat, cold, and temptations. His only food was dates from the palm tree beside his cell, his only consolation the knowledge that he was doing the will of God. That night the two men prayed together, and in the morning Onuphrius died, after first assuring Paphnutius that he had been sent there precisely for the purpose of burying him. The abbot did this, whereupon the cell and the palm tree immediately vanished, a sign that he was not to remain in the desert.

We are meant in this current age to head to the desert. COVID-19 is taking us there, impelling us to go into the desert. We are meant to be there. We are meant to do something or one thing or another. Each of us to our own competencies. And we are called there but for a while and eventually a sign we are not to remain and the crisis will pass.

Holy Isolation – What will we do?

This is our desert time.

As God did not create man for life in isolation, but for the formation of social unity, so also “it has pleased God to make men holy and save them not merely as individuals, without bond or link between them, but by making them into a single people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness.” So from the beginning of salvation history He has chosen men not just as individuals but as members of a certain community. Revealing His mind to them, God called these chosen ones “His people” (Ex. 3:7-12), and even made a covenant with them on Sinai. (GAUDIUM ET SPES, 32).

Br Prudent, Be Holy

One does not exclude the other. Holy embraces the virtue prudence. Holy enlightens prudent to its best form.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

 

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Deeper Well

Jacobs Well

Deeper Well

Greetings on this the Third Sunday of Lent

Readings: EX 17:3-7; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; ROM 5:1-2, 5-8; JN 4:5-42

Binding Problem

What s the binding problem that all suffer from in these readings today?

  • The elders of Israel at the place called Massah and Meribah;
  • His disciples; and
  • The Samaritans of that town, Sychar?

Each of them were bound to their own idea of what to do, where to worship, the way to think of others and way to find God.

Each was trapped in their own context.

The Israelites and their Elders of the Exodus event were trapped in their desire for food and water. Ordinary elemental things became more important than relationship with the Lord. Moses satisfied the immediate need but that need was far deeper and more misdirected and there was no resolution. They simply complained and complained.

His Disciples / Apostles were just as self-absorbed. They couldn’t imagine why Jesus would talk to the Samaritan woman. She was Samaritan and a woman. If he wanted water or food he could have asked them not her. They were completely focused on themselves and their standing.

The men of the City of Sychar were just as self-absorbed. These Samaritans were begrudged and unwilling to hear out the woman but not for the truth but for the curiosity. Even after allowing Jesus to witness to them they refused to see her and her witness as valuable. One can say here that they barely made room for Jesus but to stay for two more days. They placed Jesus into a box too, along with their faith traditions.

Every other person gave Jesus very little time nor attention and most of all they did not bask and soak in the dialog with the Messiah.

The Woman Basks In the Love

It is the Samaritan woman who basked and soaked in the dialog with Jesus. Together they dive deeply into the worries, hopes and promises she holds. They discuss the deepest aspects of her personal life (one man without benefit of marriage), faith life (5 false gods), ancient traditions (sacredness of Jacob’s well as a driving tradition), and the division between Samaritans and the Jews.

Their conversation was far, wide and deep into her faith, culture and behavior. The five husbands or five gods of the Assyrians or Babylonians are no there’re ‘husbands’ but the false faith traditions. The ‘one you live with’ is her unmarried partner. Summer Study on the Gospel of John for a deeper look Page: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/home/summer-gospel/ Site: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/

Living Water

Jesus is able to bring her and through her also us to a more sustainable and holy thought.

Worship must be in truth and spirit. It isn’t a place as much as a relationship. It isn’t a rubric of format as much as a spirit of trust and truthfulness – in the seeking and in the listening.

The woman chose what we must choose. To have the truthful and open spirit before God, talking, listening and immersing into the infinite presence.

Then and only then will the living water not simply flow over us and then away from us… but into us and persisting within us because we invite the Living One to stay with us.

Put it Down

Put down your water jar.

Sit and immerse yourself in Jesus.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Transfiguration

Transfiguration

Transfiguration

Greetings on this the Second Sunday of Lent.

A late arrival. I’ve been busy but that would be half the story. The other half is taking the time to produce a helpful writing. It is never my intention to have a following, as it were, in the Internet space. I fit neither the classic book publisher style nor the modern pithy writing style common for the internet. I am here simply to write. It improves my own understanding of our faith. It improves how and what I communicate. It has on occasion and perhaps not often enough helped others in their faith journey directly.

It is also my own Transfiguration. Is that a scandalous comment to you? You don’t understand. In today’s language we would say my writing reveals my thoughts and my person. What I hold dear and worthy of instruction. Who I love and how I love. Jesus’ Transfiguration reveals the divine thought, divine person, divine instruction and the divine who and how to love.

Readings: GN 12:1-4A; PS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; 2 TM 1:8B-10; MT 17:1-9

The Transfiguration is a fixed part of the liturgical readings. It is always read on the 2nd Sunday of Lent using one of the three Synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is also celebrated as a Feast on August 6th of each year. One is free to think that the Transfiguration would be preached perhaps differently given the contrasts of the seasons Lent and Ordinary time.  It would be advantageous to read Exodus chapters 32-34.

Jesus Identifies with his Ancestors

The event on Mount Hermon (or traditionally Mount Tabor) is a recapitulation of Moses on the mountain.

The sequence of events on the mountaintop is meant to invoke the common memory of the Jewish people the experiences of Moses.

Jesus is the new Moses.

Further, one can make cross reference to Face glow of Moses (Ex 34.29), and the dazzling white clothes of the one human before the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9).

The invocation is clear. Jesus is the new Moses, the new Intercessor. Jesus is the Anointed One. Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus is identifying with the terrible circumstances confronting the people. The people had violated the Covenant. While Moses was receiving the Law tablets they have been making the golden calf. When Moses arrived with the tablets of the Law, the law was symbolically smashed to the ground as a sign not of God’s break but the effect of the people filial turning away.

After Moses intercedes things are restored in a most marvelous way. The Lord, not wanting to journey with the Israelites, is persuaded by Moses to accompany them. ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’ (Ex 33:14). Thus the journey begins and the meeting tent and the cloud descends and ascends according to the stages of the journey.

Moses begs ‘Let me see your Glory’ (See Exodus 33: 18-23 for this marvelous exchange). The Lord shows Moses goodness but only his back may he see and live. Later Moses speaks with the Lord in the meeting tent Face to Face as Friends speak to one another. They are breath to breath. And yet even then the people could not look at Moses. His countenance was of one who is aglow with the effects of being in the presence of God. He had to cover his face with a veil so people could approach him.

Jesus Joins the Human Exodus

Thus the Transfiguration is a joining together into the Exodus journey through the desert toward Canaan, which is the Promised Land. Jesus, in the current time, joins the journey of the human exodus. We were once in slavery in Egypt too, in a manner of speaking, but now journey to a New Jerusalem.

The challenges like that of Meribah and Massah are before us. Jesus is the new Joshua who will guide us and who will fight our battles for us.

Jesus Unites Heaven and Earth

Witness of the event includes members of Heaven and Earth, all living and numbered at five. This is a formula of authenticity.

Moses and Elijah witness and are disciples in Heaven. Peter, James and John are apostles on Earth making five in total. At the number of five followers we can say Jesus is Rabbi or teacher. Jesus is the binding agent of Heaven and Earth.

Jesus in his person is the giver of the Law in the fullest sense of the Law and Word. There are no tablets but voice alone. Jesus wrote nothing in his life. He read and taught from the Torah, Prophets, Wisdom and Psalms all written on scrolls. But Jesus, the final word, speaks. Law has become flesh.

Jesus is Attested by Theophany

The theophany (This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him) is the attesting of the Father. Jesus does not claim his Sonship rather he is attested to by the Father. God the Father covers the Meeting Tent again in a cloud and speaks.

Jesus reveals the face of God. If Moses saw his back, Peter, James and John saw his face and lived.

Filled with fear the apostles were overcome (just like the people at the mountain of old).

But Jesus touched them. Touched them! Get up and do not be afraid. When they looked up they saw only Jesus.

Only Jesus. Only Jesus.

The incarnation and the transfiguration bring about a double gift. Although we glow with the effects of being in the presence of Jesus we are no longer in need to hide our face. Rather the glow is approachable even as Jesus is approachable. Grace is no longer bound to mystery alone but mysteriously freed in the incarnation.

Jesus Renews the Tabernacle Life

The Lord God tabernacled with the People on their journey through the desert of Sin. Jesus is the renewal of that tabernacle life.

The Covenant is renewed. This renewal is to bring about the ultimate purpose of Covenant. To enter into the Eternal presence of God forever and to bring about the final victory over the desert experiences of Meribah and Massah (quarreling and testing). The Covenant is ultimately the attestation of the faithfulness and trustfulness of God in both the acts of mercy and the efficacious effects of mercy.

Just beyond the reading are these twin accounts. Jesus instructs the apostles that the Son of Man must suffer at the hands of the leadership and will raise from the dead (suffer = propitiation for sin and raise up = final effect of mercy). Then Jesus is recorded healing a possessed boy and teaching that our faith is perverse (and needing refinement). See Matthew 17:9-22 which immediately follow the Transfiguration.

We need to be accompanied on our journey. Our faith is weak and our trust is slight. We are wandering and wondering if any of this is real.

Tabernacle with Jesus

But all is well.

Jesus is tabernacling with us!

He is our Rabbi, King, Prophet, Moses. He’ll renew our faith, journey with us to our personal and corporate Jerusalem. He is our sacrifice and burnt offering which we cannot supply from the elements alone but only from the divine as source. He will strengthen our faith, reinforce our trust and make us glow like Moses in friendship face to face, breath to breath.

Come tabernacle.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

You have heard that it was said

Gossip

You have heard that it was said

Greetings on this the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: LV 19:1-2, 17-18; PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13; 1 COR 3:16-23; MT 5:38-48

Fake News

These past three weeks we have been reading the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon begins with the Beatitudes and continues on teaching for three chapters!

The Sermon on the Mount takes chapters 5, 6, and 7 to express.

It takes two Sundays alone to go through the correction of Fake News. Jesus talks about ‘You have heard that is was said’.

Of course the point is actually no. It is not what the Lord said. Not in the beginning. Not to Moses or the Prophets and not by Jesus. It is instead the product of the Deceiver, the Satan. [Note: some traditional reading of lex talionis, tit for tat, of Ex 21:24-25 is simply an error in reading scripture. Verse 24 must always be read with verse 26. Ex:21-24-26 as a continuous statement.]

But that is what makes Fake News so plausible. Lack of attention to detail.

As we progress toward the season of Lent (this Wednesday) let us be attentive to what Jesus has to say today.

Stop swallowing whole the Fake News of False Christianity.

Higher Standard

The Lord speaking to Moses set the standard of conduct for those who love God.

Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy (LV 19:2)

And again…

Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (LV19:18)

Be Holy. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Psalm Reading

I usually don’t list out the contents of the Psalm reading but today I will. Here are the ‘being holiness of the Lord’ as the Psalmist describes it:

Bless the LORD, O my soul – praise this loving God…

  1. Pardon neighbors iniquities.
  2. Doctor neighbors ills.
  3. Redeem neighbor from destruction.
  4. Crowns neighbor with kindness and compassion.
  5. Be Merciful and gracious to your neighbor.
  6. Be slow to anger and abounding in kindness in dealing with your neighbor.

Calculating Already?

I can sense the calculations already. But, not, I mean, how, why, no….

It’s an urge we need to avoid. It is the place Jesus describes as “You have heard that it was said”.

Do you not know that you (and your neighbor) are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (and them)? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

But, but, but…

God catches the wise in their own ruses, and again: The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Says St Paul to the Corinthians.

God knows our Fake News.

Gospel Standard

In today’s portion of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus describes the proper response to a variety of situations (strike, tunic, service, favors and loans).

The summit of these responses is Love. Jesus says love your enemies. Pray for those who prosecute you.

Jesus startles us with this paraphrase: Loving only those who love you is of little eternal consequence relative to the necessity to love toward the perfection of being holy as the Father is holy. This should be startling on so many levels!

And yet with divine help we can indeed make this transcendence. Love cannot be merely for self and immediate self (family/friends). Instead it must bridge the gap of difference and alien in order to be like the one who loves us though we deserve nothing. Isn’t that exactly how God loves us?

Come and share the divine love with any and everyone.

Perfect!

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry