Fire from heaven, Maya Lin

Listen and Ask Questions

Greetings on this the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21; Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; Gal 5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62
Notes: The Apostles James and John wanted to send down fire from heaven. They envisioned that these enemies of the Word and of the Jewish people deserve nothing less than fire. A terrible and horrible death.

Jesus turned and rebuked them (Lk 9:55).

They no doubt were thinking Elijah (our Prophet of recent reading sequence, another).

Elijah answered the captain, “Well, if I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men. Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And divine fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men (2 King 1:10, 12).

Indeed Jesus wanted fire but not a destructive fire a restorative fire.

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! (LK 12:49).

News: Roe v Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States, June 24, 2022, Friday past. I will write separately on the topic. I have a rule that I follow. In any big event that analysis is critical, I insist on finding three good things and three not so good things about the event. Forcing myself to go beyond my own bias and instinct and really enter the question. Not yet ready.

Maya Lin

I will preach on Maya Lin, a young woman, who won the design concept for a memorial. A block of black granite slashed into the Earth, “The Wall” it is referred to by many. It’s in a V shape. V for the peace sign. V for victory. One blade pointing to the Lincoln Memorial. One blade pointing to the Washington Memorial.

She endured insult, a Chinese American. Of Chinese ancestry she was called an “Egg Role”. Some saw her design as an affront to them. Others saw as it affront to them, too, the other them. Some bemoaned the simplicity. But no.

Quoting her:

an opening or wound in the earth to symbolize the pain caused by the war and it’s many casualties.

Names engraved like a journal’s pages (L->R ascending). Top down, left and right the names. Now number over 58,320. Arranged by Date of Casualty. The date of death.
You can see the escalation and de-escalation by the height of the wall, the number of names.

Beginning in 1959.
Ending in 1975.
The first and the last names in time because of the arrangement are both in the center of the memorial.

The panels crack in pain.

The time spans six Presidents:

  • Eisenhower
  • Kennedy
  • Johnson
  • Nixon
  • Ford
  • Carter
  • Reagan

A place of pilgrimage.
A place to visit lost loved ones and lost unit members. Like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, little sleeves of paper wedged near the etched names. Some make pencil rubbings to get the name onto a piece of paper.

  • 1965, First Marines based in Vietnam.
  • 1967, War protests.
  • 1968, Tet Offensive.
  • 1970, Kent State deaths.
  • 1973, Paris Peace Treaty
  • 1975, Saigon Falls
  • 1975, Mayaguz incident – personal to me, active duty.
  • 1982, Vietnam Memorial

First reading
The LORD said to Elijah:
“You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah, as prophet to succeed you.”

Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Responsorial Psalm
You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.

Second reading
Brothers and sisters:
For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.

Alleluia Verse
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel Portion
On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”

Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

Paul in the letter to the Galatians
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.

The nation was devouring itself in anger, revenge and self-pity.

Until the fire from heaven.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Forced Migration

Greetings on this the Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: 2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18; PS 60:3, 4-5, 12-13; Mt 7:1-5
Notes: Ancient scripture has a variety of focal points. There are several ways to encounter the stories of old because they resonate in many different ways.

Today I will focus on forced migration.

Forced migration can come about by war, famine, or greed. Human history is filled with these stories as are the sacred writings. For people of faith we frame the events in the divine-human exchange. While that is good, it is not sufficient and sometimes childish and without good purpose.

  • The Hebrews needed rescue and became wanderers in the desert preferable to the mistreatment of Egypt.
  • Israel suffered their end and a diaspora into Assyria due to military conquest.
  • The people of Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim likewise were forced deported to Samaria as occupiers.

Regarding the Book of Kings: Judah’s kings, on the other hand, follow a cyclic pattern of infidelity followed by reform, with each reformer king (Asa, Joash, Hezekiah, Josiah) greater than the last (NASRE).

BTW: Excellent introduction to the book of Kings (1 and 2)

Knowing all this we would do a very bad disservice to not account for the behaviors of man toward the fellow man. Puppeteering theology (we are merely puppets to the divine consequences of our actions) is woefully inadequate.


  • Cause
  • Consequence
  • Action

are not tightly wrapped concepts.

There are vectors of approach and multiplicity of cause.

But ALL of them are often encountered with judgment and a superior moral and ethical façade. Our gospel pericope today, blasts through our bias and judgement.

Jesus wants us to come to the aid of all without the baggage of judgment, for we too are lamentable in our action and purpose at times.

First reading
They rejected his statutes,
the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and the warnings which he had given them, till, in his great anger against Israel, the LORD put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left.

Responsorial Psalm
Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.

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

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry


Greetings on this the Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle
Readings: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; PS 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Jn 15:9-17
Notes: I can think of no greater compliment than to be described as a Friend of God.

Both because He sees you that way and you see yourself that way.
Really nice.

We are human/imperfect. Our perfection is our intention to be good friends to the Lord.
Be a good friend to the Lord and to others.

Last year reflection on this scripture:


Reflection Franciscans

What was the holiness of Matthias? Obviously, he was suited for apostleship by the experience of being with Jesus from his baptism to his ascension. He must also have been suited personally, or he would not have been nominated for so great a responsibility. Must we not remind ourselves that the fundamental holiness of Matthias was his receiving gladly the relationship with the Father offered him by Jesus and completed by the Holy Spirit? If the apostles are the foundations of our faith by their witness, they must also be reminders, if only implicitly, that holiness is entirely a matter of God’s giving, and it is offered to all, in the everyday circumstances of life. We receive, and even for this God supplies the power of freedom.

First reading
Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers and sisters

Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people.

Alleluia Verse
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Do not let your hearts be troubled

Greetings on this the Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 13:26-33; PS 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11ab; Jn 14:1-6
Notes: As difficult as life can become, it is not the final story.

Our final end is in the loving hands of God. Loved and received.

First reading
We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you
that what God promised our fathers
he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus,
as it is written in the second psalm,
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

Responsorial Psalm (the Second Psalm)
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.

Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice

Alleluia Verse
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.

Gospel Portion
Often used in the Funeral Liturgy is todays gospel portion. We use it because the summit of our faith is to believe in the Resurrection unto the Righteous.

  • Faith the Lord will raise us.
  • Faith the Lord prepares a place for us.
  • Faith he will come back for us, each by name, and bring us hand-in-hand to our new home.
  • Faith for “dwelling places” – a place for you.
  • Faith for “Houses” – a place for all families, tribes, and nations (alt translation).

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Blessed are you if you do it

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 13:13-25; PS 89:2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27; Jn 13:16-20
Notes: I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.

Unworthy, yet called to be like him in ministry to others.

Blessed be God forever.

First reading
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.

Responsorial Psalm
For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Alleluia Verse
Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead,
you have loved us and freed us from our sins by your Blood.

Gospel Portion
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master
nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.
If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

From now on I am telling you before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.
(Note: this is the high prophetic utterance of Jesus. In the discourses to follow he predicts his resurrection).

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Jesus cried out

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 12:24—13:5a; PS 67:2-3, 5, 6 and 8; Jn 12:44-50
Notes: People cry out when the message is urgent or te need is urgent.

Jesus cried out too (but not often but specifically):

  • In the Temple – Messiah has come.
  • At the Feast – Completeness of relation satisfaction in the Lord.
  • On the Cross – Redemption.

John the Baptist cried out in the wilderness about Jesus.
Elizabeth cried out in her home about Mary.

So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true (Jn 7:28).

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink (Jn 7:37).

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me (Jn 12:44)

And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”* which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46).

First reading
So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm
O God, let all the nations praise you!

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.

Alleluia Verse
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel Portion
Jesus cried out and said,
what I say, I say as the Father told me.
In the Temple – Messiah has come.
At the Feast – Completeness of relation satisfaction in the Lord.
On the Cross – Redemption.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Tell? Why not See?

Fr Damien – We Leapers

Greetings on this the Memorial Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i
Readings: Acts 11:19-26; PS 87:1b-3, 4-5, 6-7; Jn 10:22-30
Notes: (readings are from the Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter because I don’t have a lectionary at home).

Optipnal Memorial: Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i

Franciscan Reflection
When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy, Hansen’s disease. By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease.

Read the opposition and response to the work here. The first link is the original and most compelling of all the abstractions below it.

Full Text Open Letter:

A plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honour—the battle cannot be retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested. It is a lost battle, and lost for ever. One thing remained to you in your defeat—some rags of common honour; and these you have made haste to cast away.

Abstractions (shorter but less precise)


First reading
It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

Responsorial Psalm
All you nations, praise the Lord.

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

Gospel Portion
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

What are you willing to give me?

Greetings on this the Wednesday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 50:4-9a; PS 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34; Mt 26:14-25
Notes: It is a Christian axiom to live a self-giving life.

We speak often of servant leadership and lead by example.
Total self-giving is a model of life with real intent and meaning.

BUT Acedia.

The word Acedia means – a form of spiritual laziness due to relaxed vigilance and a lack of custody of the heart (CCC).

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

We are obliged to be diligent of our own spiritual life and attend our own salvation.
Not by measuring the sins of others, but being good custodians of our own souls.

What are you willing to give me?

  • Jesus offers eternal life.
  • Or take 30 pieces of silver.

First reading
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Verse Before the Gospel
Hail to you, our King;
you alone are compassionate with our errors.

Gospel Portion
Contrasting Judas, Peter and Jesus (yes, we should do so if only for a moment).
Judas suffered from Acadia in the worst of all ways. Betrayal.
Peter suffered from fear.

  • Judas lost his soul.
  • Peter regained custody of his soul.
  • Jesus never lost control of his custody of soul.

Don’t lose yours either.

What are you willing to give me? Is a good question.
But it depends on who you are asking.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Master, who is it?

Greetings on this the Tuesday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 49:1-6; PS 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5ab-6ab, 15 and 17; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
Notes: This morning in my Diocese we have our Chrism Mass. Tonight the practice for the Easter Vigil for those entering into the faith by Baptism.

A very exciting time.

Master, who is it? Everyone wanted to know.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.

Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”

The Gospel of Matthew adds a particular reality:
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
The Gospel of Matthew adds a particular response:
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”

First reading
The Lord called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.

Responsorial Psalm
I will sing of your salvation.

Verse Before the Gospel
Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father;
you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.

Gospel Portion
Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.

Men play games with words.
Once a man has set his heart on a particular outcome or a particular point of view it is very hard to change his own mind or be convinced by another to reconsider. A man will do anything to bend and weave language to fit a particular dialog or narrative. It is very dangerous thing to do. It forces us to follow a false path. To act contrary to the good goal and better outcomes.

  • Peter had a bad case of it (the three denials).
  • Judas had the ultimate case of it.

Jesus doesn’t get off track. He stays the course knowing even how difficult it is to follow. He models the right relation between man and God and man with one another.
Most of all, Jesus kept his heart with the Father and the mission without distractions.
Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

Don’t manipulate language. Mean what you say, say what you mean.
Be open to change.

It is in honest dialog, open to the fullness of communication, that we make real progress.
The Synod of Synodality called by the Pope is just such a model.

  • Speak.
  • Speak plainly.
  • Speak with honesty.
  • Listen.
  • Listen openly.
  • Listen with honest integrity as a listener.

The most non-listening arguments out there, over abortion, finds truth being hidden behind narrative cleansing and strict interpretation to reinforce positions. This is a grave error against truth (by all sides of this public dialog).

In particular for my Church readers, a Canonical “Legal Fiction” is just that, an agreed to assumed or created fact that allows us to move forward toward a workable solution. BUT we must first understand it is an intentional fiction (or unprovable fact) in order to navigate the seemingly impossible. It is used sparingly and with great caution because of its ‘step toward evil’.

In a salpingostomy, the ectopic pregnancy is removed and the tube left to heal on its own. In a salpingectomy, the ectopic pregnancy and the tube are both removed.

Even the Church hierarchy struggles with these cases dividing the procedures between licit and illicit due to the direct nature of the first and the indirect nature of the second. Both have the double effect principal but both are not accepted by the Church (in some cases neither are accepted). All removals of pregnancies are abortions. That is foundational nature of the word. Fighting that prevents us from making workable solutions on licit and illicit situations. Even then we must encounter the intended will and permissive will of God.

  • Spontaneous abortion – miscarriage.
  • Elective abortion – based on decision without specific medical rational.
  • Medical abortion – medical necessity.

Yes, Jacob, that means you too. Your outbursts on IG are unteathered to truth.

We will only make progress when we acknowledge one another.
The same is true about war.

If we refuse truth, we refuse peace.

Life is messy.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry