Mission and Renewal, not Habit

Nazareth Moment!

Greetings on this the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15; 1 Cor 12:12-30; Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
Notes: The Church uses an interesting technique in the gospel portion today.

  1. Proclaim opening statement of Luke regarding his intention in writing the gospel.

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.

  1. The gospel proclamation of the words of Jesus:

He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

First reading
Rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!

Responsorial Psalm
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life (cf John 6:63c).

Second reading
After reading the second reading, you should have no doubt any longer as to how important YOU are to the salvation plan of God for all persons. You play a role in responding for yourself and the calling to others for their best end. Not by preaching so much as by example and by compassion and empathy and assistance.

Alleluia Verse
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
and to proclaim liberty to captives.

Gospel Portion
Mission and Renewal, not (mere) Habit is the title of this reflection.

Jesus came to Nazareth where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day.

He was intentional about his purpose that day.
By way of the sacred scripture, he applied them to himself.

  • Declare his mission (proclaim and fulfill).
  • Declare his authority (anointed of Spirit).
  • To provide: Glad tidings, Liberty, Recovery, Freedom and Joyful Worship.

Early in the readings of Ordinary Time we have cause for the need for renewal.

To accept once again the mission of Jesus, the authority of Jesus and the objective outcomes desired by the Divine Heart.

  • Good News
  • Liberty
  • Recovery
  • Freedom
  • and Joyful worship.

This can only happen if we step out of simple habit, a repetition that becomes a mere shadow of its purpose. We are called to enter into the Nazareth moment and to be present with him in the Synagogue.

We are called to enter into the deepest meanings and purpose of his mission.

In a General Audience, Wednesday, 23 September 1998, Pope John Paul II said:

With the eyes of faith we can see history, especially after the coming of Jesus Christ, as totally enveloped and penetrated by the presence of God’s Spirit. It is easy to understand why, today more than ever, the Church feels called to discern the signs of this presence in human history, with which she — in imitation of her Lord — “cherishes a feeling of deep solidarity” (Gaudium et spes, n. 1).

As the first-born among many brethren (cf. Rom 8:29), Christ was the first to overcome in himself the diabolic “temptation” to use worldly means to achieve the coming of God’s kingdom. This happened from the time of the messianic testing in the desert to the sarcastic challenge flung at him as he hung upon the cross: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Mt 27:40). In the crucified Jesus a kind of transformation and concentration of the signs occurs: he himself is the “sign of God”, especially in the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. To discern the signs of his presence in history, it is necessary to free oneself from every worldly pretense and to welcome the Spirit who “searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor 2:10).

From: https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/audiences/1998/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_23091998.html (No 1 and 4)

Breaking Through – for a way of renewal

So how does one break through mere habit and into mission and renewal?

  1. Prayer and, if you are able, fasting.
  2. Sacramental Life, especially Eucharist and Reconciliation for the baptized.
  3. Scripture, Eucharistic Adoration, and sacred writing.
  4. Retreat.
  5. Pilgrimage.

The Bishops of the USA entered into a period of prayer and reflection after the Communion statement debate. Why? Because in a certain way, the Communion statement mirrored the objectification of the sacred. That by itself could be a scandal which they wanted to avoid!

At a news conference after the meeting, Bishop Andrew Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis was asked how months of apparent divergence ended with a fast, overwhelming vote. Bishops, he said, recognized there is a “great crisis” in people not embracing the Eucharist. “There is great passion to do something. That spurred unity.”

Some bishops said the mood at the five-day meeting was changed by more prayer. The bishops usually end their meeting with prayer but instead began it that way. They also had 24-7 “Eucharistic adoration,” which is when the Communion wafer that Catholicism teaches is Jesus is displayed for prayer, and is attended to day and night.

From: https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/11/17/catholic-bishops-communion-vote-biden/

How will 2022 go for you spiritually?

It depends on how much we are willing to enter the mission and to accept anew the anointing and to be renewed in the Spirit.

Let’s do this!

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

The Third List

The first book on my list is The Brothers Karamazov. When Dorothy Day is canonized, you will be glad that you took her word for it.

The second that I jotted down immediately on hearing from you: An Interrupted Life.
This is the autobiography of Etty Hillesum and I believe that a biography published recently is thought to be a great piece of work, but I have yet to see it. This most secular woman’s entry into prayer is a beautiful progress in a Nazi era that can stand for our debased society.
Etty Hillesum was Jewish and the next title I scribbled was by Rabbi Abraham Heschel,
The Prophets. I would love to introduce a stronger student to the writings of another Jewish woman, thought by some to be the great intellectual of her time, Simone Weil.

I’m sending the list by the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, because you will enjoy the fact that you are not alone in your quest for a top ten of books, but also because I got a kick out of the fact that neither of my two selections made his list.

In the role of teacher, the Deacon should know The Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire. Educators know more elaborate (and less accessible) understandings of the science but, after Freire, people can go to them.

The Cost of Discipleship is Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Church-reforming masterpiece, but the reflections in Letters and Papers from Prison have a special power.

Give all your friends a CD of Alec Guinness or Paul Scofield reading the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Their reservations about understanding Eliot will dissolve if the Catholic convert Sir Alec or the A Man for All Seasons star reads along with them. The Wasteland, which first set the world on its ear, and The Four Quartets, which is jam-packed with mystical theology of Saint John of the Cross, are shamelessly quoted by preachers like myself.

The Thomas Merton that took America by storm and is still a world-wide seller is The Seven Storey Mountain. He wrote a hundred works, as he moved through his thirties and onwards during twenty six monastic years. The Sign of Jonas journals his first happy years in the monastery. Then comes New Seeds of Contemplation. Choices very much depend on how someone is moving. You do well to remember that while much beautiful Catholicism is heavily influenced by Desert Fathers and monastics, the secular world is given to the deacon as his mission. Merton importantly wrote Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.

I would have to say that the little book on the Scriptures that resounded for me was Walter Brueggeman’s The Prophetic Imagination. I made him rich, giving copies to all and sundry. What is the thread that connects all those diverse documents that comprise a bible? Is it Presence? Is it …. You have your own answer. This little book suggests it is an understanding that we call prophecy. If you become Brueggemann-influenced, there is Praying the Psalms, which is meanigful for those who are committed to the office. You may remember that I gave The Bible Makes Sense, one chapter at a time, to the  Christ Renews meetings.

Well, that makes eight choices. I hold two in reserve.

Reading List for a new Deacon

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

From Fr Frank, 2013:
“The Confessions”, St Augustine

“The Spiritual Exercises”, St Ignatius Loyola

“The Emerging Diaconate: Servant Leaders in a Servant Church”, William Diteweg

“The New Testament”, Raymond Brown

“Lectures on the Christian Sacraments”, St. Cyril of Jerusalem

“Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man”, Henri de Lubac

“Models of the Church”, Avery Dulles

“The Ecclesiology of the Constitution of the Church, Vatican II”, L’Osservatore Romano, Joseph Ratzinger

“Ten Building Blocks of Catholic Social Teaching”, America Magazine, William Byron

“Seven Steps of the Ladder of Spiritual Love”, Jan Van Ruysbroeck

“Contemplative Prayer”, Thomas Merton

“The Ecclesiology of the Constitution of the Church, Vatican II”, L’Osservatore Romano, Joseph Ratzinger

“The Spirit of the Liturgy”, Romano Guardini

“Preaching the Just Word”, Walter Burghardt

Turbulent Sea

I didn’t take photos of the number of police, military road blocks, inspections, and document checking. All necessary.

All the southern states under close guard. Campeche, Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Veracruz and the Yucatán live in a different Mexico.

Indigenous and migrants are the population. A bit of a two world situation, I wish not to offend or be critical. When anyone practices separate but equal, has no equality nor equitable society in mind.

Right on the Usumacinta River, Mexican Civil Service has permanent presence to offer aid and comfort. Perhaps some years with kindness, other years with contempt.

The American resistance to acknowledging institutionalized racism (critical race theory) is abandonment of millions here in Mexico and millions more in the USA.

There are 87 million people on the move worldwide. We must not forgo our imperative. Comfort, comfort my people, says the Lord (Isa 40:1). Do we read it only or live it fully?

The Walking on the Water.

Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith,* why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God (MT 14:22-33).

I cannot stress enough my concern that Peter (the Church) is afraid. Afraid to do her mission of love beyond self and be the very help she is meant to be. Christ is our help! We too are to be help!

We cannot drown in fear!

You’ve seen Fr Rick’s guest newsletters on this block and pages. He stands in the breach in Haiti.

Fr Frank O’Loughlin stands in the breach for the Guatemalan among us.

We must come to the aid of those who do drown for no one to help them. Truth is the foundation.

Who can we stand in the breach for?

Quoting (paraphrase) Father Frank:

The immigration problem will not be solved with another program, another initiative. No, it can only be be solved with the imagination of faith. A conversion of sorts from Mine and Yours to Us and We, the family of humans.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Who am I, Lord, that you account for me?

Birds of Palenque.

Audio file:

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? (Matt 6:26)

When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor (PS 8:4-6).

The Lord will not fail you in hardship. Hardship is not a reflection of dignity. Our dignity comes from the Lord.

The Lord comes to our aid. Each of these birds he knows and loves. He hears them sing. He hears you too.

As for our own listening and hearing?

Failing to aid or oppressing one in hardship is a reflection of your lack of expression of your human dignity.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Call upon the name of the Lord

To Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to invoke the LORD by name (Gen 4:26).


The agonies of man started a long time ago. Ever since we have called into the Lord for help and he responds most generously. In love.

The whole lifetime of Enosh was nine hundred and five years; then he died (Gen 5:11).

Enosh had a great, great, grandson named Enoch.

(This) Enoch “walked with God: and he was no more; for God took him” (Gen 5:24).

First they walked together. A lifetime. The Lord walks with those who seek him without a doubt. We can learn from Enoch.

He pleased God by sharing his life with God.

The whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years (Gen 5:23)

365 years of 365 days signifying for all times. A year of years.

When his days were numbered he was taken up to God. God heard. God answered Enoch’s deepest desire which is to be with the Lord forever )a year of years).

Parroquia Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Palenque, Mexico


Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Pilgrimage End

Every journey comes to an end. Finished all major objects so husband available time for the next journey.

Attending Mass at Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a fitting end.



Psalms 122:1 NASB1995
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

At the most dangerous and difficult moments of this trip and there were several. I knew, with trembling knees nevertheless, the Lord was near

You too. You too.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry