My Way or the Highway

MYwayHighway

My Way or the Highway

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: JER 1:4-5, 17-19; PS 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; 1 COR 12:31—13:13; LK 4:21-30

The reading today brings into sharp focus the difference between the way God thinks and we humans tend to do something else (react). The first reading in Jeremiah recounts Moses and the Exodus (gird your loins). In Jeremiah’s time, how God will rescue them too and you should have faith in your deliverer. The responsorial psalmist recounts how we are known and knitted in the womb and the one who made us will surely not forget us.

Then in the Gospel reading it all falls apart. Right after Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah (the ‘Spirit of the Lord is upon me’) he is confronted with our demand: My way or the Highway.

Startling isn’t it that in Jesus’ home town exists in many living there such interior discord that when Jesus continued to speak they basically said, ‘My way or the highway’ or more specifically they try to throw him off a cliff.

Eek!

Interior Discord

The pairing of the Gospel with the letter of Paul to the Corinthians helps us frame the question well and therefore help us choose the better path.

Isn’t this the son of Joseph? –there it is. This is a hint to the interior thoughts. Who are you to tell us anything? Wow, from praise to derision in 10 seconds.

Jesus offers insight to their interior discontent:

  1. Physician, cure yourself – you think you are better than us?
  2. Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum – do what we tell you for us!
  3. Yet, no prophet is accepted in his own native place – you are a simple man, no Great Prophet are you, Jesus.

Jesus recounts the ancient story about God’s love for all. This reveals the deepest discontent of all. He told them the story to help them break out of their self-interest and interior discord and to think more broadly about Godly love.

  1. Elijah – sent only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
  2. Elisha the prophet – cleansed only Naaman the Syrian.

Ouch! Or Ouch? Therein is the interior response.

Paul to the rescue

The apostle Paul brings this great divide into focus. How are we focuses interiorly?

Everyone in the crowd had gifts from God. Some gifts are obvious and grand. Some gifts are subtle and sublime. Depends what you do with them!

Paul teaches without love as the centering purpose and source of strength it is worthless.

Then he does the side by side comparison.

  1. Love is patient and love is kind verses jealous and pompous.
  2. Love rejoices with the truth verses inflated, rude, seeking its own interests, quick-tempered, brooding over injury, rejoicing over wrongdoing.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Decide

The gospel message is kindness to the other, even your enemy. The Gospel is the power to do such things in love.

If you want to throw people over a cliff because they want to heal the sick, help the immigrant, feed the poor and tend to the widow and orphan… then know you are asking Jesus to pass through the midst of you and go away. And that brings tears to the eye of God.

Decide to love instead.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

 

 

 

Divine Transparency

transparency

Divine Transparency

I meant to post my homily notes before the Baptism of the Lord.

Readings: IS 42:1-4, 6-7; PS 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10; ACTS 10:34-38; LK 3:15-16, 21-22

Lukan Perspective

In the Gospel of Luke we have one of the four accounts of the baptism of Jesus. Each account emphasis is different. Each account has a slightly different perspective.

The Lukan perspective is centered on the prayer of Jesus which in the Holy Spirit reveals the interior dialog of Father and Son.

‘… and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying’

In very few instances of sacred Scripture can we use one of the alternate definitions of prayer in the Jewish tradition; here this prayer is an introspection and bonding.

In this prayer both Father and Son answer the question in the context of a deep judgment — ‘who am I’.

This baptismal prayer is a communal bonding of Father and Son. This prayer is a reciprocal and dynamic expression of communion. The Father’s love for the Son is not static or stale. Rather it is loving communion that is ever-dynamic and ever-fresh. In this case we see how this is so based on other known aspects of the divine life.

‘… The heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove’

The presence of the Holy Spirit in this prayer exchange would be understood in the context of known perspectives of the Spirit. As we see in 1 Corr 2:10:

This God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

In this baptismal exchange the Holy Spirit reveals the very depths of God. The Spirit searching everything that is God and the revelation of the mystery of God’s wisdom.

We humans cannot do this. Dominus providebit. The Lord will provide.

Who am I?

In the baptism of the Lord the question is asked and answered by the Father and the Son at the probing of the Holy Spirit. To the very depths of the Father we find him and He tell us directly.

You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

God is the very essence of beloved. Jesus is the beloved. God is love. Jesus is love. That is who they are.

Actually, to put it in modern terms and in parental terms we can all best relate.

This voice from heaven is the exuberant overflowing irresistible primal utterance coming from the very depths of a parent —- I Love YOU!

This inner life of God the Father and Son brought out to us by the Holy Spirit is the very life Jesus baptizes us into. This is the final end for us to be in the middle of this dynamic ever fresh love.

God’s love for you is never stale, never static and never unreflective.

Rather in every prayer you raise to God the Father allows the Holy Spirit to probe his depths and bring forward this eternal reality.

I love you, my beloved!

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Mission Accomplished

epiphany 3 wisemen

Mission Accomplished

On this The Epiphany of the Lord, I’d like to share with you the profound reality hidden in plain view regarding the Magi and their homage to the Lord.

Readings today: IS 60:1-6; PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6; MT 2:1-12

Generally the Christian community tends to focus on the mystical aspects of the star rising which is not a problem per se but does tend to mask over the basic truth: the Jewish people have fulfilled their mission. Mission accomplished: the Messianic message has been given to the Gentiles. For it is written (Isaiah 60:3):

“[The Gentiles] shall walk in the light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.”

We can say that Jesus is the visible sign of the consistent and ancient sharing of the good news by the Jewish people through the centuries prior to Jesus’ arrival. Jesus is both attesting to the work of his faithful people and to the future fulfillment of this work in himself.

From Summa Theologica:

I answer that, As stated above (A3,r 1), the Magi are the “first-fruits of the Gentiles” that believed in Christ; because their faith was a presage of the faith and devotion of the nations who were to come to Christ from afar. And therefore, as the devotion and faith of the nations is without any error through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, so also we must believe that the Magi, inspired by the Holy Ghost, did wisely in paying homage to Christ.

How does this come to be?

Throughout the Old Testament the Jewish people brought the good news of the saving power of G-d. Throughout their travels they would speak with faith the ancient stories of Genesis and Exodus of which you are familiar. They had two different audiences. Primarily, the diaspora or dispersed Jewish populations around the known world where they would teach them the ways of the Torah and right living. The secondary audience was the gentile communities. Here too they taught the same lessons. They would teach of the Exodus and how You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God (Lev 18:34).

The concept of righteous gentiles was well established from of old. The Gentles were further taught the 7 Noahide Laws which bind the children of Noah. Right living or righteousness were the central themes taught to the gentiles and that they too should expect the Messiah. Further during major inflection points in Jewish history the Lord uses a Gentile to bring about His will (a useful book reference: http://www.jewishlights.com/page/product/978-1-58023-364-4).

Trading Secrets

How did this all come about: trade. Jewish traders traveled far and wide long before the time of Jesus. The traders would supply and support the diaspora and trade with all those gentiles who wish to trade. Israel had products to trade as well as particular access to the Egyptian markets and products. Well established southern and northern trading routes were in existence centuries before the coming of the Christ.

The city of Palmira or Palmyra was built by King Solomon (1 Kings 9:18; 2 Chron. 8:4). It was situated about 140 miles northeast of Damascus, on the caravan route between Palestine and the Euphrates. Thus situated, the city was fortified by Solomon to protect his trade routes. In Hebrew, it is called Tadmor.

To the south more trade routes which included portions of sea-routes to India and south east Africa.

The title Magi is based on a Persian word. It is generally accepted that these Magi came from ancient Persia. They came a long way to see for themselves this King!

Witness and Inspiration

It is the diaspora and the Jewish trader who brought the good news (small ‘g’ and small ‘n’ to distinguish) that there is a loving God and He will send the Messiah. This witness together with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit compelled them to travel to Jerusalem to greet and pay homage to the King. I submit to you both are required. It is God’s plan to have us participate in the salvific message and no less so for the Jewish people to be the first to bear the Good News. I think the Magi knew Bethlehem was the place but they were simply asking directions to this suburb of Jerusalem. Herod was clueless.

Gifts

Gold, Frankincense and myrrh. Usually we associate the frankincense with the temple worship and incensing the Altar. However, from a Persian perspective, frankincense is a healing remedy. It is my opinion that the Persian influence allows us to view the frankincense as a healing remedy (Persian) and as incense for temple worship (Jewish). These three kings are declaring this new born to be a King, the healing remedy of God and the Suffering Servant. Wow! The righteous living of the diaspora and traders would be the witness that proves the promise.

Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph of Gospel fame was most likely a trader. Galilee while principally an agricultural region it s also perfectly situated for trade toward Damascus (east). It is understood that Joseph traded and traveled for and wide. While some would like the British version the more likely is Damascus, Babylon, the east coast of Africa and India. This is still evolving science and archaeology. Artifacts placing 1st century Jews in trade is well established. Jesus, between age 12 and his coming out in public ministry, very likely accompanied Joseph on these trading caravans. Poetically, it is even possible Jesus met the three Kings later in life in their home place (speculative).

Modern Take-Away

Application of the Epiphany in our time should include these observations:

1. Trade, free-trade, is critical.
2. Freedom of religion is critical.
3. Freedom of travel and immigration are critical.
4. Righteous living is essential. It is the preparation for the Messiah.
5. Sharing the promises of a loving God is a mandate for Jews and Gentiles alike.
6. The Messiah is the healing remedy for what ails humanity.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Christmas Was a Riot

Riot Fun - Identity

Christmas was a Riot

It couldn’t have been more prophetic now could it?

On the Saturday of the Third Week of Advent, December 22, 2018 the gospel reading of the day is LUKE 1:46-56.

My Soul Proclaims!

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

Why?

He has looked upon his lowly servant (and by extension all his lowly servants).

How?

He has mercy.

In what ways does he have mercy?

He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

Even now?

He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.

Quick Trip

I took a quick trip to Haiti to support a friend and serve the Funeral Mass for his Mother.

Nearly everyone would grieve the loss of one’s mother. For a priest it can often be exceptionally painful. As described to another prior to leaving:

For a priest and their life of celibacy the loss of a mother has two distinct characteristics. The last bit of the femininity of G-d and natural maternal relationship has now passed. It becomes a very lonely time and one of the greatest affronts to their faith. While none should stereotype this is the case for my friend. I go for our friendship. I go because I know her and love her too. I go because his faith needs me.

Luke Proclaims Liberation which requires the Struggle with Evils

Evil does not sit quietly as the proclamation of righteousness is made. Evil pride fights back. The mighty use their power to oppress. The rich continue to fill their stores without pause.

Evil resists the Gospel. We should resist evil.

On the evening of December 21st the well respected radio station Radio Kiskeya burned down. The radio station was respected for its championing of democracy and press freedom in Haiti. It is no more.

RadioStation

None are suggesting that the fire was arson at least not yet. Evil and natural evils abound in the creative space.

Miami Herald Reporting on Haiti Radio Station Destruction

Protests and anxiety erupt

Nearly immediately protests – well organized and large – protests began. So ingrained is mistrust that what most likely was a simple fire took on the character of oppression.

And the protests began with large scale blockage of Route 2 – the route we were taking and entered this space as we returned from the funeral.

Driving Route - Haiti

US Embassy Security Alert 22-12-2018

Embassy Alert

National Zealots verse zealousness for the Lord

For Men of Goodwill there will always also be the tension between nationalistic zealots and zealousness for the Lord. The Lord reminds us He judges rightly and not necessarily always for the poor in particular when in error of judgment and action. With that caveat noted the Lord is clearly most attuned to the widow, orphan, hungry, weak and dispossessed. Knowing the difference takes wisdom.

Maybe we can renew our Christian ardor by proclaiming as Mary did and acting as Mary acted.

Given the Message – She Went

After learning of her cousin Elizabeth being pregnant in her old age, Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. She tended to Elizabeth in her time of need.

Given the Need – She Remained

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.

Haiti is improving I believe. I saw lots of new construction and many at work. Roads are improving if at too slow a pace that suppresses development they are still improving. Good does not happen merely spontaneously – or only spontaneously. It is the action of Men of Goodwill (Humans of Goodwill) moved by the Holy One to get up and go!

TPS Extensions – By Virtue of the Good Fight

The Christ has come – and continues to come!

And the infant in me leaps for joy!!

A private trip goes public

My trip was intended to be private. Support between brothers and the immense weight of grief. But the fact is yesterday we celebrated the martyrdom of Saint Stephen and tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs. Evil does not give up easily. Innocence is the victim. Indifference is the fuel.

Let us all resolve to make 2019 the year of difference. Proclaim the goodness of the Lord! Do it in your actions. Live it in your politics.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

A Lost Soul

esp-lost-soulA Lost Soul

When one fears no God.
When one has lost the gift of hope.
When one sees only what is advantage or disadvantage.
Non Fui, Fui, Non Sum, Non Curo
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care.

Partial quote: we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world! https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/20/donald-trump-statement-saudi-arabia-khashoggi-killing-1008219

We have become the terror itself.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, not even one;  there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for god; all have turned aside, together they have become useless;  there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips;  whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of god before their eyes. Romans 3:9-18

For President Trump there is every advantage to ignore the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. He is after all a journalist in the way of Trump’s agenda.

This is pure evil and the alignment to evil.

How many Prophets does the Lord have to send to us? There will be no more.

But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ Luke 16:30-31

If we continue with this, we are all lost souls.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry