Life Gate

Life Gate

Greetings on this the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Readings: ACTS 2:14A, 36-41; PS 23: 1-3A, 3B4, 5, 6; 1 PT 2:20B-25; JN 10:1-10

Special Circumstances

Note: Mass for this 4th Sunday of Easter will be done via live streaming.

However, I will not be there this week. Instead I will be assisting Father John Perez at the Veteran Administration Medical Center. Father John asked me to preach this Sunday. It is televised in the VAMC CCTV system but not on the internet. I will be dividing my time between the Guatemalan Mayan Center and the VAMC for the next few months. One really bright spot. I will be ministering the Rite of Infant Baptism at Sacred Heart in a restricted attendance early morning Mother’s Day. Very excited to add to the Body of Christ through Baptism.

You can view the Sacred Heart Mass on-line at one of these two places:

YouTube Link: sacredheartcatholichurchoflakeworth

Facebook Link: sacredheartcatholicchurchlakeworth

Gates

It comes as no surprise that gates and gating are a common architecture and practice in the ancient world.

I thought it would be fun to list out a sampling of the types of gates there were besides the obvious category of a gate to a city. There are so many!

Sheep gate – major entry Muster gate
Fish gate – major entry Valley gate
Dung gate Spring gate
Water gate Gate of inspection
Horse gate Prison gate
Royal gate King’s gate
East gate Guard’s gate
North gate West gate
Closed gate South gate
House or Tribe (name tribe of Israel) gates Foundation gate

As Veterans we can particularly relate to the Muster gate. I recall as you do too, how often we were called into action with a Muster command. Quickly you would check your appearance, grab your weapon and assemble at the muster location in formation for inspection. Woe to those who showed up without their weapon! Mustering is a calling account for who you are and how you are in respect to your responsibilities and community.

Mustering we know well.

Being called to account we know well too. On active duty we know what is expected of us.

In our faith tradition we know mustering as:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

Sheep Gate

In today’s Gospel reading we begin the discourse of Jesus Christ known as the Good Shepard discourse. We focus on this teaching and revelation of Jesus Christ today through the Sheep gate dialog.

The Sheep gate and Fish gate are the two named gates leading to the Temple area. Unlike the Dung gate, we shouldn’t assume that the commerce of fish and sheep are restricted through these gates. These names are symbolic and religious names invoking the providential care of the Lord. The Mustering gate and Dung gates we may assume have a particular practical purpose.

Jesus uses the practice of gating as a teaching tool in understanding the true path forward and the passage a gate brings about.

Gates then firstly are a place of taking account as already mentioned in the Mustering gate. Gates offer a before and after realization: before I am here and now I am there.

Gates as used by Jesus can be authentic or false.

Gates can have a bountiful purpose or a nefarious purpose.

Gates need to be evaluated before going through them. Just like in the horror movies! You know what I mean. Who hasn’t yelled out, ‘Don’t open that door!’ as the actors play out scenes in a suspense thriller!

Jesus Enters the Gate

Jesus is describing a very important point here. Jesus himself has lived the life in the incarnation. He has faced every important test and temptation of life as we do. He has passed through this gate himself. He bore the ills and pains of the many. He lived without sin. He mustered through the Sheep gate and he is testifying to the account of his life. He is the first to enter the gate of death and to return again resurrected. He therefore is the worthy Shepard. One to be followed.

He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.

There is no doubt he is comparing his behavior to those of the leadership who act as thief and robber by comparison.

Jesus is the Standard Jesus is the Gate

“Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. A worthy one to follow who offers not what thieves offer and not what robbers offer. They offer misery and grief. They steal and slaughter and destroy.

Jesus instead offers life, abundant in this life, security and peace in everlasting life.

He Calls you by Name

Jesus calls you by name and offers to lead you through the pathways of life. He offers as a Shepard the sacred bread for you to sustain you so you may…

have life and have it more abundantly…

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Graduation Joy

Graduation Joy

An open Graduation message to the Class of 2020.

Celebration

This is a season of celebration. Graduation from High School is a notable achievement and one that should be celebrated!

There can be little doubt that the expectation of the High School graduate of today is way beyond the Class of 1975, my graduation year. You are tasked with far more in respect to skills attainment, personal emotional growth and social responsibility.

Challenge

You have persevered through some very difficult events and circumstances. School shootings, a rarity, now a norm. Political and economic upheaval regionally and nationally. Weather events of size and scale never before seen.

And now Coronavirus COVID-19. This last one encompassing the difficulties of all the others yet on a worldwide scale and in each of our families.

There can be no doubt in my mind that these events impacted your development and family harmony in a variety of ways. Events such as these test our understanding of personal autonomy, family unity, community cohesion and national identity.

Celebration

In this season we celebrate you in this bittersweet historical time. You’ve mastered what we asked you to, completed assignments, challenged your thinking process and garnered an openness to the wider world that now awaits you.

We do without hesitation nor reservation celebrate you and your success!

May I outline for you what you have accomplished? And our greatest hopes for you as one in the same!

Knowledge

You have proven you can think for yourself. You patiently (sometimes not so much) allowed us to pour into you data, history, and content in massive quantities. As you absorbed this voluminous knowledge base we asked you to assess, calculate, extrapolate, interpolate, evaluate and dissect what we are telling you. Critical thinking became your best ally. You rightly questioned: What is factual? What is true? What is verifiable? What is reasonable?

Charity

You have proven you can be charitable. Although some counter currents exist (and strong currents at that) you have accepted that acceptance of what is different from you is a core competency of charity. Speaking out against injustice, however you have grown to see it, is a part of you now. Accepting what you should, tolerating what is difficult, and resisting what is beyond the boundaries of charity. To borrow a phrase, ‘you can see the holy in the practice of another’.

Arête

You have proven you have excellence within you. Did you think you would escape Aristotle in this graduation address? Never! The most obvious examples of your arête is your voluntary participation in sports, music, arts, and social clubs. Having decided there is something in you beyond how you know yourself you allowed your innate desire for excellence to compel you to the fine arts, clubs and being a member of a sport teams. Here you combined knowledge and charity with your inner desire to excel and produced what only you can produce. Producing a new sound with personal flourish, a disciplined athletic sculpting the body/mind in a specialized unity, and bringing forth an expression of the theater that is a reflection of the divine drama.

Combo Meal

Isn’t it something?! You can think with charity and act with excellence!! Is there any greater compliment? I think not. This is the hallmark of a High School graduate. This is your foundation to encounter life in all its glory and all its difficulty.

Congratulations Class of 2020

Don’t let the inconvenience of virtual ceremonies and distanced parties bring too much sadness. Rejoice in your achievement. Rejoice in the achievement of your classmates and friends.

Last Thought

Think with clarity.

Act with Charity.

Excel in doing.

Each of these modifies the other. All must be present. And they are present… within you!

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

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