Known Unknown

Sunset

Greetings on this the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19; Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; Jn 1:35-42

Dark of Night

Light follows darkness in the very beginning of the book of Genesis where it says Evening came, and morning followed—the first day. Darkness, in a manner of speaking, gave birth to the light.

Night time brings two themes with it:

  1. Fear and danger. It is said, in ancient lore, that Adam was frightened by the first sunset. He did not know or understand the cosmic situation of light/dark, night and day.
  2. Night is a time for prayer, rest/sleep and the renewal of strength.

Night is the time to Know the Unknown.

Samuel

Samuel was sleeping at night when the Lord called him.
Samuel was unsure who was calling him but Eli after being awakened by Samuel three times, reassured Samuel the Lord is beckoning Samuel, instructing him to reply: “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”

As to morning, with light, comes all the blessing of creation.

Samuel’s calling began in the night and in confusion and uncertainty. But he trusted the Lord. He trusted Eli and began his apostolate. Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to go unfulfilled.

What did Samuel come to know? To know God’s will (for him, for his apostolate).

Responsorial

What is God’s will?
What did he call Samuel and all of us to do?

  1. Sing praise with new song.
  2. Ears open to hear his word.
  3. To do his will and to allow his law to be written on our hearts.
  4. To proclaim boldly the Lord’s justice.

From John to Jesus

Behold, the Lamb of God.
John’s description of Jesus is the first time we hear Jesus/Messiah described as a Lamb.
The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

It was about four in the afternoon.
The beginning of darkness as light follows.

Peter’s calling was as like Samuel and like the first day of creation, light follows darkness.
It also began with the same characteristics.

He didn’t know the Lord yet. You see his friends thought Jesus was simply Rabbi, Teacher. The title Lamb of God would be unfamiliar. So they called him Rabbi. As Andrew walked to get his brother, he realized this is the Christ/Messiah. There is a transition between knowning Jesus as Rabbi (Andrew) and Christ (Peter). Andrew is the Eli to Samuel. It is Peter who professes later in John 6: Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have already believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

For Peter

He was entering into the first night and day of the new Creation.
A time of fear and danger.
A time of prayer, rest and restoration of strength.

At the same time.

Pope Francis asks us to enter into this same Known Unknown.
He is convinced we are in our own Samuel moment in the dark.
He is convinced we are in our own Rabbi to Messiah moment in the dark.

The Body of the Church, us, are in the darkness period. A time of prayer, rest and restoration of strength. We must be bold in allowing not knowing to be the beginning of knowing. It isn’t as if we already don’t know anything. Yet we don’t know tomorrow.

A newness of encounter with the Messiah is the gift of every dark night. How the Church thinks, acts and promotes the Truth Jesus and the truth practicum must be ever refreshed.

Come receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. This is your Samuel/Peter moment. Stay with Jesus. Learn anew how to do as the Psalmist says:

  1. Sing praise with new song.
  2. Keep our ears open to hear his word.
  3. To do his will and to allow his law to be written on our hearts.
  4. To proclaim boldly the Lord’s justice.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Two-edged Sword

Greetings on this the Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 4:12-16; PS 19:8, 9, 10, 15; Mk 2:13-17

Two-edged

Two-edged or double-edged sword idiom in literature means the reality in question has both a positive and negative aspect to it.

As we continue the reading of the Letter to the Hebrews the many aspects of this saying come to focus.

  1. God sees all things, good and bad.
  2. God’s word penetrates between soul and spirit.
  3. God sympathizes with our weakness.
  4. God offers the confidence to trust Him to receive mercy and grace.

He sees

His intent is to refresh us.
What he offers is perfect, trusthworthy, clear and pure.
His laws are true and just.

Taxing Business

Did Levi listen to John?
The gospel of Luke recalls ‘even the tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”

Levi, son of Alphaeus, A/K/A Matthew came to his senses when Jesus called him.
He gathered all the tax collectors who worked for him into a single banquet to meet Jesus. Some were already followers of Jesus and some meeting hi for the first time.

Did Zacchaeus listen to John?
Zacchaeus another tax collector (Luke 19) promised half his possession to the poor and if any were defrauded he will pay back 4 times the amount.

The Positive and the Negative

The positive is eternal life and joy in this life.
The negative is the loss of worldliness and following the allure of the appetite.

Doctor Us!

If we allow the two-edged sword to challenge us we’ll be able to act rightly.
All are sinners, all are in the image of God and all are called to the likeness of God.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Be On Guard

Gospel of Mark chapter 2

Greetings on this the Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 4:1-5, 11; PS 78:3 and 4bc, 6c-7, 8; Mk 2:1-12

Letter to the Hebrews

This week the Church has been reading from this letter. This anonymous sermon touches upon Psalm 2, 8, 20, 22, 23, 45, 102, 104, and 110 in the first three chapters alone! Blending them with the Old Testament the writer illustrates the unity of the theme of sacred Scripture, how they are interconnected and reinforcing.

In chapter four, the writer of this letter provides an extended commentary on Psalm 95. Psalm 95 has two basic messages deserving of deeper reflection: (1) God’s kingship (2) Man’s response.

God’s kingship and Man’s response has been our theme all this week.

Would you take a few moments to read Psalm 95? https://bible.usccb.org/bible/psalms/95
I hope you do, the Church reads this Psalm every day.

As a reminder:

  1. Eternal God is above all gods.
  2. He made the depths of the earth and the height of the mountains.
  3. He is the rock of our salvation.

Let us be on our guard

Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed.

Still some have failed in obvious ways. For they were not united in faith with those who listened. God responds, As I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest.”

As the letter says, “Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

Responsorial Psalm

In the daily responsorial the selection is PS 78 themed: Do not forget the works of the Lord!
This psalm is a review of the history of Israel specifically the wilderness period.

Recurring theme:

  1. God has delivered
  2. Man rebels.
  3. Man falls into trouble.
  4. God saves.

Rebellion and Divine Response is a recurring theme in biblical history. It is a recurring theme in our lives. Ye we are reminded – Remember the work of the Lord!

The Paralytic

In the gospel reading today four men went to great lengths to bring a paralytic to Jesus even so much as to go upon the roof and lower him down through an opening in the roof.

God delivers: When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

Man rebels: Who but God alone can forgive sins?”

Man falls: Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?

God saves: Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once.

Remember the work of the Lord!

There were five men who entered into ‘my rest’ that day.

The four who carried in faith the burden of the paralytic and the paralytic.

Remember means to Do

Remember the work of the Lord!
Do the work of the Lord!
Enter into His rest.
And glorify God.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

At the Rebellion

Mt Horeb

Greetings on this the Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 3:7-14; PS 95:6-7c, 8-9, 10-11; Mk 1:40-45

Lack of Trust

In the first reading we are reminded that the people revolted against Moses at Massah and Meribah (translated testing and contention, respectively).

They wanted demonstrable evidence that G-d is with them because they were camped at Rephidim (“rests” – an oasis) and there was no water to drink. The Lord told Moses to go a little bit further to Mt. Horeb and tap the rock for fresh water.

The letter to the Hebrews alerts the reader that in difficulty and trials, if you are not careful, can have the effect on you to grow hardened by the deceit of sin primarily the sin of not trusting G-d.

Sometimes you have to go a bit further.

Sometimes that place that APPEARS peaceful and bountiful, Rephidim, is not the place for you and you need to go a little farther. One way to know is your angry revolt seeing the situation only as Trial and Contention.

God Acts Man Reacts

The Lord always planned to give water at Mt Horeb. The people wanted it at Rephidim, the ordinary place. But G-d moves from the ordinary to the extraordinary – sharing the divine life.

Our reactions aren’t always the best.

Healing of the Body

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Healing of the Spirit

Warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”

Healed in the body and following the prescripts of the law he would receive reception in the community and give Glory to G-d by following the law. He would be made spritually whole.

But he didn’t want to go that far.

Instead he fomented. Causing great difficulty for everyone including the Lord.

Why Rebellion

It would go well to trust the Lord has been active and moving us forward. Rather than anger, trust. Trust that we will get through this. Even if we wind up in a place different than what we planned for ourselves.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Who Are You – Why Do You

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church

Readings: 1 Jn 2:22-28; 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4; Jn 1:19-28

Who Are You

John the Baptist was asked to make account of himself. Who are you asked the priests and Levites. This is a proper question.

The priests and Levites are responsible for the faith tradition and regulation of the religious teaching and liturgical actions of all within the community.

John who dressed like a prophet (see Zech 13:4 and 2 Kings 1:8) and led an eclectic lifestyle like Elijah (see 2 Kings 1:9 and 2 Kings 4:25) but in humility did not equate his actions and identity with Elijah.

He reassured he was not the Messiah, Prophet, nor Elijah.

So, then, what do you have to say for yourself?

I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

The ‘way’ (which later is the first name given to Christianity: The Way) is using the most implausible path imaginable. Instead of returning from the Babylonian exile via the Fertile Crescent path (the well watered and well traveled way), the path will be through a desert which will become a well watered path. This is figurative language of The Way.

Someone new. Something new.

Why Do You

Next questioners are the Pharisees. Their question wasn’t liturgical or spiritual but of power. Why do you – by what authority? This too is a proper question.

John the Baptist answers basically, I am doing my part, call to right living and repentance, the one coming after me is the one who has the authority to have me do these things.

The humility of his answer is unassailable. Who would argue against right living? Who would deny water purification as invalid? But it is easy to miss the deeper meanings and they did miss it.

The Implausible Path

We are called to an implausible path. Not a path based on the power of Armies nor of civil law. It is impossible without the authority of the Messiah. It is impossible by human effort alone. It is implausible because all the levers of government, finance, politics and control are useless for the implausible path, The Way.

Teaching about Martyrdom …
… [were] used to encourage individual self-improvement through ascetic discipline as well as to awaken the Church to the danger of civil and heretical authority masquerading as the instrument of a Christian establishment (Rouseau, BASIL of CAESAREA, 184).

Conversion is a path of love experienced not law imposed rather a baptism of water and spirit.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Dawn of Christ Mass

I don’t write very much for Christmas because I enjoy instead each of your reflections on Christmas, the person, the season and the shared hope of Glad Tidings for People of Good Will.

So be assured fellow bloggers I read your posts and the hopes therein. Then pray your deepest desires be made manifest.

Merry Christmas!

Deacon Gerry

Four Years – Knowing the World Better

Four years ago at a Diaconal meeting, the presenter reminded us the new marketplace is online.

He, also a Deacon, encouraged us to think about being present and using this new technology to be formed & informed, and to provide solace whenever we can.

It has been remarkable the different platforms: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, to name a few.

It has been an honor and privilege. I hope that the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ came through without judgement just acceptance.

My only foes in this space is the continuing counter-revolutionary Catholics: Catholicvote and The Remnant.

These reactionary forces want the Church of their imagination severed from reality, past and present. It is beyond my capacity to imagine the objectification of women using the Gospel message. But such is their path. Saint Thomas Aquinas must be mortified his systematic theology would have the unintended consequence of stripping mercy from every day life.

My joy is meeting so many diverse people from all over the world. Especially women who recount struggles that we incorrectly in the USA attribute to the distant past.

Keep writing ladies!

The Church and Pope Francis listen. I listen and constantly refactor the expression of faith to be relevant based upon your stories and lived experiences.

Pope Benedict XVI said we cannot encase the faith in amber. May we resist that reactionary instinct. Faith in amber isn’t faith, it’s a museum.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry