Whoa! Woes!

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Rom 2:1-11; PS 62:2-3, 6-7, 9; Lk 11:42-46
Notes:

The woes today are not the woes of the Sermon on the Plain (Luke chapter 6).
The woes of chapter 6 are centered on the ‘great divides’ much like the ones we have today.

Sermon on the Plain:

  • Poor – rich.
  • Hungry – sated.
  • Grieving and weeping – laughing.
  • Flattery with false religious history.

The woes today are different.
These are criticisms of the leadership of Pharisees and Scholars:

  • “Tithe the trivial” while ignoring the weightier matters of judgment and love of God.
  • “Seat of Honor” while being dishonorable.
  • “Unseen Grave” means you lead others into sin.
  • Impose burdens which are impossible to carry but you offer no aid.

First reading
Saint Paul takes us ‘to the mat’ today.

You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.

Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Alleluia Verse
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

Gospel Portion
How can we not offer self-criticism?
How can we participate in the Synodal process?
https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2021/september/documents/20210918-fedeli-diocesiroma.html

It is a good time to remind everyone who is obsessed with making laws to regulate everyone and everything:

Saint Paul: For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself,
since you, the judge, do the very same things.

Jesus: And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

Just saying.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Give Inside Alms

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Rom 1:16-25; PS 19:2-3, 4-5; Lk 11:37-41
Notes: The question of Alms is usually reduced to the giving of money.

It goes like this (simplified):

  • Tithe is the 10% you owe to the Church.
  • Alms is the free-will offering above that amount and for any good purpose.

Far from it.
But it is understandable the confusion as the question is often posed in monetary forms.

Loans and Wages.
Deuteronomy
24:1-15

12-13:
If the person is poor, you shall not sleep in the pledged garment, but shall definitely return it at sunset, so that your neighbor may sleep in the garmentg and bless you. That will be your justice before the LORD, your God.
14:
You shall not exploit a poor and needy hired servant, whether one of your own kindred or one of the resident aliens who live in your land, within your gates.
15:
On each day you shall pay the servant’s wages before the sun goes down, since the servant is poor and is counting on them. Otherwise the servant will cry to the LORD against you, and you will be held guilty.

These are prescribed but also indicative of a path of righteousness.
A way of life.

It would be helpful to read the added text (at the bottom of the blog post) to the Sunday homily: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/10/10/naked-before-the-lord/

First reading
The one who is righteous by faith will live.

  • Righteous – who does the divine work of restoration.
  • Faith – faith in the one who is faithful in love, trust and Sabbath. The first three commandments.

Paul describes these things in one sweep the positive by using the negative image.

they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. (1st commandment).
Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, (2nd commandment).
and their senseless minds were darkened. (3rd commandment).

Responsorial Psalm
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

Alleluia Verse
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Gospel Portion
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.

When one reorders their interior to righteousness and restoration, the world becomes a new place. All things become clean in that they are made by God who made all things good.

Then the “what to do” and “how to act” become simplified and pure and divine.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

A Slave’s Blessing

Greetings on this the Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Rom 1:1-7; PS 98:1bcde, 2-3ab, 3cd-4; Lk 11:29-32
Notes: The beauty and elegance of sacred scripture really shows itself this morning.

Consider how last week we used Jonah, Joel and Malachi the Prophets to express the moral dimension of our difficulties. Each first reading from the old testament called us to consider the moral nature of our failures to worship sincerely and to act justly with one’s neighbors.

Then yesterday’s Sunday Mass, the book of Wisdom (attributed to Solomon) is the prayer for the greatest gift, wisdom.

Today, Monday, in the gospel portion, Jesus wants us to see even more deeply.

  • Jonah is a sign to the Ninevites.
  • Jesus is a sign to them (us).
  • Solomon sought wisdom.
  • Jesus is even greater than Solomon and Solomon’s wisdom.

Jesus is enlightening us that the entire Old Testament as a Sign of himself.

First reading
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, Apostle and set apart for the Gospel says:

You are called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

Alleluia Verse
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

Gospel Portion
We live in a privileged age.

We can say this on every level and every dimension.

  • Wealth.
  • Health.
  • Food, water, wine.
  • Travel and communications.
  • Education and natural wisdom.
  • Science and the Arts.
  • Spiritual knowledge that surpasses any other age and all ages combined.

AND.

We must know we will be judged according to that reality.

At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.

You are called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Naked before the Lord

Greetings on this the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Wis 7:7-11; Ps 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30
Notes:

Wednesday-Friday readings this past week were a short series on prayer.

  1. Pray, especially in community (Wednesday).
  2. Pray with persistence, without ceasing (Thursday).
  3. Pray with power, especially in the Holy Spirit (Friday).

Todays readings focus on the third aspect again.

Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit as an outcome of prayer was a reflection topic early this week. https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/10/07/holy-gifts/

The gift of the Spirit is the highest of the gifts as Jesus described.

First reading
Wisdom, the greatest of gifts, that is the Holy Spirit.

  1. I prayed.
  2. I pleaded.
  3. I preferred her for she is greater than scepter and throne, nothing compares.

And the other things (Fish and Eggs and other good things), yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.

That reference only makes sense if you read the other blog entries (ha!).

Responsorial Psalm
Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Second reading
The gift of the Holy Spirit brings a deep penetration that brings healing.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is like that too.

Indeed the word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Gospel Portion
MAKE NO MISTAKE: God reveals to heal. Period.

There is no other purpose but to bring harmony, unity and peace with salvation.
Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

(Jesus is about to reveal the hidden obstacile)

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

It is in wisdom that brings liberation.

At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Popular piety says he returned in the gospel of Mark as follows 14:51-52:
Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.

We are naked before the Lord.

And that’s OK.

That is the beginning of wisdom.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

A SECOND HOMILY GIVEN AT THE 11 AM MASS, SAME READING.

Summary: in the gospel reading today Jesus asks the young man if he follows the commandments. He repeats the six/seven commandments that are concerning the right relation between people. The first three commandments he does not list.

These he recreated for the young man in plain sight.

The first commandment is given as I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me.

We know that the Lord LOOKED and SAW and SPOKE to Moses as to the plight of the Hebrews at the hands of Pharaoh. And He loved them and he spoke to them. Again: showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him.

The second commandment is to not worship in vain. You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. To not take the Lord’s name in vain is, at core, to TRUST him.

You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven.

The third commandment is to Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy.

then come, follow me.

The three first commandments:

  1. LOVE and love me.
  2. TRUST and trust me.
  3. SABBATH and sabbath in me.

Then I merged into the same line of reasoning as the other homily.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Yes, and

Precious Rain Drops

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jl 4:12-21; PS 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12; Lk 11:27-28
Notes: You are the AND in the ‘Yes, and’ of Jesus’ reply today.

For many of my readers agriculture is a hazy distant reality.
Weather and climate are but a measure of my comfort and my transportation.

The agricultural communities in the USA can relate to the perspective of Joel.
Some places in the daily newspaper would measure the moisture in hundredths of inches.

For example, October rainfall to-date in Elgin, Nebraska is only 0.03″

So in Elgin, Nebraska, the annual rain and annual harvest are real and in-your-face realities.

First reading
Joel brings us an agricultural motif of the divine response to both unrighteous and righteous.

Unrighteous
Apply the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe;
Come and tread,
for the wine press is full;
The vats overflow,
for great is their malice.
Egypt shall be a waste,
and Edom a desert waste,
Because of violence done to the people of Judah,
because they shed innocent blood in their land.

Yes, and…

Righteous
Then shall you know that I, the LORD, am your God,
dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain;
Jerusalem shall be holy,
and strangers shall pass through her no more.
And then, on that day,
the mountains shall drip new wine,
and the hills shall flow with milk;
And the channels of Judah
shall flow with water.

Responsorial Psalm
Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are those who hear the word of God
and observe it.

Gospel Portion

Blessed is the Blessed Virgin Mary

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”

Yes, and…

He replied, “Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Knock Knock

Greetings on this the Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jl 1:13-15; 2:1-2; PS 9:2-3, 6 and 16, 8-9; Lk 11:15-26
Notes:

Yesterday we are reminded to ask, seek and knock.

And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

First reading
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all who dwell in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming;
Yes, it is near, a day of darkness and of gloom,
a day of clouds and somberness!

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord will judge the world with justice.

Alleluia Verse
The prince of this world will now be cast out,
and when I am lifted up from the earth
I will draw all to myself, says the Lord.

Gospel Portion
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday focused on prayer.
Today: the power of prayer.

The lasting impression should be that if you submit anything to the Lord in prayer He will hear and answer and sometimes answer in ways unseen before!!

So pray in community, persistently and in power!

Jesus had driven out a demon.

  • This power beyond power over earth and body!
  • The power over the unseen spirits as well!!

Some doubted.
Jesus reminds them that it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
[and therefore] the Kingdom of God has come upon you.

Serious references here!!

During the Exodus event. Exodus 8:12ff and following (ff).
Third Plague: The Gnats

Exodus 8:15a and the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”

And again

Daniel 5:5ff
The Writing on the Wall.
Suddenly, opposite the lampstand, the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace. When the king saw the hand that wrote, his face became pale; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked.

Jesus is making it clear that just as in Exodus Pharaoh refused to believe he was encountering the Lord and in Daniel, Belshazzar (a king) was also unable to comprehend the encounter, we too are warned.

These who doubted were every bit like the Pharaoh and the king – accustomed to being in control and the sole source of power. The warning in the gospel portion today brings us back to the ignoble end of Pharaoh and Belshazzar both.

The Lord is all powerful.
The Lord’s power is for healing and return.
The power of men is certain doom.

Knock knock.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Holy Gifts

Prayer – Communal, Persistent, Powerful

Greetings on this the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
Readings: Mal 3:13-20b; PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; Lk 11:5-13
Notes: We will use the daily readings today.

Reflection (from the Franciscans)

The purpose of the rosary is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus—his birth, life, death, and resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The Glory Bes remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity.

The rosary appeals to many. It is simple. The constant repetition of words helps create an atmosphere in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life. We grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever. From: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/our-lady-of-the-rosary

Daily readings are found here: https://bible.usccb.org/

First reading
The Need to Serve God

In this old testament portion today, we see the very age old argument against doing right and worshiping God (rich people are blessed, poor are without the Lord’s favor the saying goes).

Hint: Next Sunday’s gospel takes up this theme too. Jesus dispels the myth that rich people are automatically blessed of the Lord and those in poverty are in disfavor.

Argument:

You have said, “It is useless to serve God;
what do we gain by observing God’s requirements,
And by going about as mourners
before the LORD of hosts?
But we call the arrogant blessed;
for evildoers not only prosper
but even test God and escape.”

Response:

Then those who fear the LORD spoke with one another,
and the LORD listened attentively;
A record book was written before him
of those who fear the LORD and esteem his name.
Then you will again distinguish
between the just and the wicked,
Between the person who serves God,
and the one who does not.
But for you who fear my name, the sun of justice
will arise with healing in its wings;
And you will go out leaping like calves from the stall.

As to those who are rich by way of unrighteousness:
For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
And the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

Alleluia Verse
Open your hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.

Gospel Portion
Persistence in prayer. This is the second theme of the three day theme on prayer. Jesus’ example that even ordinary human friendship can be moved with persistence to render aid.

Then he says:
And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

God answers prayer. Richly and abundantly:

  • Fish.
  • Eggs.
  • Good gifts.
  • and… even Himself, in the Holy Spirit source of all wisdom and strength.

How do we distinguish between bad RICH and good RICH, if you will allow.

Ah, yes.

The final gift is the key. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the highest gift.

Keep asking (for His Friendship, for His Spirit, for daily needs).
Ask with sincerity.
Receive Fish and Eggs and other good things.
But most of all, be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Prayer

VAMC Chapel Mass at Noon

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jon 4:1-11; PS 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10; Lk 11:1-4
Notes: Today begins a three part gospel portion on prayer.

There are three distinct points to be made:

  1. Prayer in community – Wednesday.
  2. Persistence in prayer – Thursday.
  3. The power of prayer – Friday.

First reading
Jonah is so angry at his enemies that he wants G-d to deny himself and make vengance.

Accusation:
I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God,
slow to anger, rich in clemency, loath to punish.

Reply:
Should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city,
in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons
who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left?

If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself (2 Tim 2:13).

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, you are merciful and gracious.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.

Alleluia Verse
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons
through which we cry: Abba! Father!

Gospel Portion
When Jesus finished they requested the same for themselves.

I wonder how inspiring Jesus was in his prayer?

  • Was it his calm?
  • Was it his aura?
  • Was it what he said?

Clearly Jesus was modeling prayer for the disciples.
John the Baptist modeled prayer as well.

Communal prayer is a common prayer said in common.
When you say the Our Father, you pray for everyone!
Pray!

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
    your Kingdom come.
    Give us each day our daily bread
    and forgive us our sins
    for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
    and do not subject us to the final test.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Inspiration

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jon 3:1-10; PS 130:1b-2, 3-4ab, 7-8; Lk 10:38-42
Notes: Here today we might reengage the Vatican II sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful).

  1. There is a genuine equality of dignity among all the faithful, because through their baptism they are all reborn in Christ. ‘Because of this equality they all contribute, each according to his or her own condition and office, to the building up of the Body of Christ.’ Therefore, all the faithful ‘have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church’. ‘They have the right to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reference to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.’Accordingly, the faithful, and specifically the lay people, should be treated by the Church’s pastors with respect and consideration, and consulted in an appropriate way for the good of the Church.

https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_cti_20140610_sensus-fidei_en.html

Perhaps we can slice the readings today with the vector of inspiration.

Book of Jonah

It is the people of Nineveh first who realize the moral danger they are in and repent.
Jonah spoke truth (begrudgedly):

  1. The people responded,
  2. then the King repents,
  3. then the nobles repent,
  4. then the recalcitrant prophet Jonah actually faces his cold heartedness.

It is so: truth can be spoken without conviction but truth convicts one to act and speak.

Conclusion: Listen to the people. Watch what they do in faith. Lead by following at times.
Weird, huh?

Gospel of Luke
Martha and Mary.

  • Martha preparing for the people to celebrate the return of Jesus, in the formal sense.
  • Mary sitting at his feet, in the intimate sense as disciple, unique position for a woman at that time.

Mary has chosen the better and it will not be taken from her.
Conclusion: Relation over norms.
Weird, huh?

By the way, the introduction to the book of Jonah is so very compelling. Here is a link to read the eye popping introduction:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/jonah/0

First reading
The people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small,
put on sackcloth.

Responsorial Psalm
If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?

If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are those who hear the word of God
and observe it.

Gospel Portion
There is need of only one thing.

Repent and believe the gospel which is Jesus.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry