Following on from homily.
Tibelon, Haiti school.
SVdP local food pantry.
Following on from homily.
Tibelon, Haiti school.
SVdP local food pantry.
Greetings on this the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: WS 9:13-18B; PS 90:3-6, 12-14, 17; PHMN 9-10, 12-17; LK 14:25-33
When I was a young man and establishing my life outside of the family, in a conversation with my Mom I made mention of the different insurances being sold out in the marketplace. Car insurance, renters insurance, health insurance, life insurance, on and on the list went. She listened carefully to my descriptions of each and the relative merits each provides. When I was done she answered simply,
“You don’t want to be Insurance Rich and Premium Poor”.
She went on to explain that there are many insurance products out there. Many more, in fact, than I listed above. But only some do you really need. And even then only in restrained quantities. You don’t want fear to be the primary motivator of your actions. You don’t want preservation of material goods to be your principle concern. Moms can be smart that way.
Rather the focus should be on loftier and more valuable things: relationships and behavior. Jesus offers discipleship that has us not focus on insurance of what we have and how to retain it but rather on that which we can share and bring the Kingdom of God to all in need.
Jesus compares three things (or four depending on how you count).
Jesus makes clear that loving God and bearing your cross is ‘The Way’. Building a Tower and Marching off to war are illusions of insurance. They are really impossible tasks that lead to no good outcome.
Choose – choose wisely. Choose to carry a cross for the Kingdom and the wellbeing of not just your own but for all.
Greetings on this the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: IS 66:18-21; PS 117:1, 2; HEB 12:5-7, 11-13; LK 13:22-30
The Gospel reading for today has Jesus speaking of the narrow gate (or narrow way). In the Gospel of Matthew version the narrow gate is evaluated or realized by the fruits of the works of the person. In the Luke version the narrow gate is determined by the effort or striving one attempts. Heaven it seems in not merely a creed or profession but a reflection on how we think and what we do.
I am not sure if this is common where you live but here we use off duty policeofficer to perform traffic control at our local houses of worship. The efficient movement of many vehicles into and out of a given house of worship requires an authoritative traffic control person and who better than a police officer.
Usually this work is pretty straight forward. Maybe a 15-20 minute effort in total and it can be done without a great deal of effort. But this one Sunday there were many, many cars. The traffic control policeman really struggled to keep up with the volume and the duration of the traffic control effort. We knew it would be a more difficult day so after it was over we walked over to the police officer to thank him. Before we could say a word he blurted out: ‘Father, you must tell me in advance when you are going to have a big event! This was much too hard to do all alone and I should have had help.’ Father responded, ‘Are you Christian’ The police officer replied, ‘Yes.’ Father said, ‘Today is Easter.’
Back to the Gospel story.
The people were clearly worried. Seeing and hearing the differences between the leadership and their teaching and Jesus and his teaching would naturally create some serious thinking: ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ Spiritual neglect (we used to call it lukewarm) is a reasonable understanding of this teaching of Jesus. What exactly do we need to think/do/say? Is wealth a sign of God’s approval or a product of sin?
Jesus instead points to the contrast – the opposite of a life of salvation. In other words, Jesus does not answer the question directly. Instead he offers the example of exactly what we should NOT be like.
In the dialog of arriving at the narrow gate and wanting access some are turned away, ‘I do not know where you are from.’
To which they reply: ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Jesus repeats his statement, ‘I do not know where you are from.’
The ‘ate and drink’ statement needs to be unpack. Jesus deliberately wants us to do that. The statement is concerned with the worldly good of life and is missing the spiritual good of life. It contains the three basic forms of obsession for worldly good and becomes the evidence about those who are denied entry.
The three are:
Jesus’ warning is that worldly good can have such a powerful influence over us as to put our eternal soul at risk of eternal exclusion.
Depart from me, all you evildoers, he said. Doing evil is the problem. Attending to your spiritual good is the way to the narrow gate.
Jesus is the gate. Following in his path, making your way to your personal Jerusalem is a truly fulfilling life with eternal benefits.
Peace be with you,
Greetings on the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: DT 30:10-14; PS 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37; COL 1:15-20; LK 10:25-37
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus.
He followed all the commandments or so he thought. Jesus affirmed his understanding. But he went a step too far.
He couldn’t resist. He knew that of all the commandments there was one that he was not quite comfortable with or perhaps we can say he wanted to limit its scope to fit his idea of what it means.
And who is my neighbor? Or more accurate – Who is NOT my neighbor? Who can I treat differently/poorly?
Jesus answered with a story. He wanted to shake this young man out of his bias and self-justification and into the justice of God – mercy.
The priest and the Levite passed on the opposite side. Why?
In contrast the Samaritan worried about none of these things rather worried he did not leave the inn keeper enough deposit to finish the healing work and promised to pay any balance due upon his return. Talk about a different perspective!
This unworthy enemy of the people was the one who obeyed the commandment.
Some additional commandments:
Tonight, July 13th into the 14th, ICE covers the land, desecrates the Sabbath, violates the commandments and ignores all the ancient warning regarding aliens in our midst. And our leadership is happy to oppress the Samaritans among us.
Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ (Matt 9:13a).
This ICE raid campaign is a great stain on the nation and a for-shadowing of what we are becoming.
We are drawing to the conclusion next Tuesday July 30th. I have already posted the Final Gospel of John outline which now includes he web page with weekly outlines, notes and discussions.
By August 12th I intend to post a polished version to allow easier transition between the topics but this version is content complete.
I hope your summer is berry, berry good!
All the best!
Greetings on this Fourth Sunday of Easter
Readings: ACTS 13:14, 43-52; PS 100:1-2, 3, 5; REV 7:9, 14B-17; JN 10:27-30
President of the United States Donald J. Trump: We can’t take any more. Sorry. Can’t have it. So turn around. That’s the way it is.
Fake apology. Fake problem. Fake Christianity.
The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
The Synod Fathers recalled that “the Church in America must be a vigilant advocate, defending against any unjust restriction the natural right of individual persons to move freely within their own nation and from one nation to another. Attention must be called to the rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration” (65).
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.
A good deacon friend of mine said, ‘Deacon Gerry, how can you find social justice context in just about everything Jesus said? I think you are shoe-horning sacred scripture.’ This was said with honest and pure intent. He is a gentle soul who lives the gentleness of Jesus on a daily basis and I take his concern seriously. Upon reflection my response is that I relate more to Sister Aloysius Beauvier in Doubt.
The desire for self-serving peace is a non-Christian response to the Diaspora problem.
May I borrow a quote from Sister Aloysius Beauvier?
You just want things to be resolved so you can have simplicity back.
Simplicity over essential truth not the trivial.
Hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (MT 23:23).
Father Brendan Flynn: You haven’t the slightest proof of anything!
Sister Aloysius Beauvier: But I have my certainty! And armed with that, I will go to your last parish, and the one before that if necessary. I’ll find a parent.
The desire to lead by falsehood is a path of destruction.
A Christian hears the voice and we follow Jesus who led by example.
I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (JN 13:15).
We gather, protect and share the divine life with the stranger and wanderer of this world.
Peace be with you,
Greetings on the Third Sunday of Easter
Readings: ACTS 5:27-32, 40B-41; PS 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13; REV 5:11-14; JN 21:1-19
On this third Sunday of Easter we see the scene in the Gospel of John of just how broken and dejected the disciples were.
The defeat in Jerusalem with the crucifixion of Jesus cast a deep sense of desolation upon them.The writer of John places them back as fishermen not to the Sea of Galilee but to the Sea of Tiberias. It’s the same body of water but the Tiberias name is in honor of the second emperor of Rome, Tiberius. It is a not so subtle way of saying the disciples did not return to their Jewish roots but to the slavery of the domain of the roman overlords.
So they restart the old business returning to their former occupation being fishermen.
Failure has a tendency to do that to a person. We are tempted to regress to a former way of living. Not that the former way was bad or anything but after having been a part of this radical revolution of man’s encounter with God it simply an empty life.
SO THEY WENT OUT AND GOT INTO THE BOAT, BUT THAT NIGHT THEY CAUGHT NOTHING.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. This former honorable life is not for them now.
It is good to note that Jesus has already appeared to the disciples twice already and now the third time. Yet even still they are slow to recognize him. How was this a differential appearance?
CHILDREN, HAVE YOU CAUGHT ANYTHING TO EAT? (NO) CAST THE NET OVER THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BOAT AND YOU WILL FIND SOMETHING.
Tradition holds the 153 fish caught were equal to the number of species of fish in the Sea of Galilee signifying an abundant world-wide catch.
Jesus asks them to bring some of the fish to commingle it with the fish he has already prepared. It is the divine-human cooperation of participating in the divine salvific plan.
Yet, it cannot yet continue. Something must happen first.
Do you love me?
Jesus addresses Simon not as Peter – the name he gave him – but with the birth name he was given. He is meeting Peter where he is being stuck in the natural life without hope.
But love beacons. You know I love you.
Feed my lambs.
Tend my sheep.
Feed my sheep.
And so Peter is forgiven his betrayal and all at once is also renewed in the love that calls him forward to radical love.
The embarrassing activities of the Attorney General of the United States and the entire Department of Justice has lowered the Barr indeed. The tragic truth is not for the purpose of the salvific needs of the human family, not for the beacon of love, and not for encouraging a Peter-like great confession and profession.
The country has been bruised by Attorney General Barr because he is excusing a betrayer and offering him unlimited power.
The Barr is lowered not toward radical love but the unleashing of monstrous hatred and self-interest.
Tiberius was just such a brooding, sexual monster. He set the tone for what was about to happen in the empire. We might want to learn from history.
Jesus beacons. He beacons with fish, bread and love.
He calls you to the work of forgiveness, salvation and love.
Choose well the Barr you go over.
Greetings on the Fourth Sunday of Lent
Readings: JOS 5:9A, 10-12; PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7; 2 COR 5:17-21; LK 15:1-3, 11-32
It is fitting that this year is the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. One of Rembrandt’s most compelling pieces, his final painting, was the Return of the Prodigal Son. So much has been written about this invocative piece and the story of Rembrandt’s life. A very good read on the matter would be by Henri J. M. Nouwen with a title of the same name.
The centrality of the parable is the merciful forgiveness of the Lord and His call for our salvation and reconciliation with the divine and one another. The story does not end as fables do with a perfect and happy ending but rather with a moral dilemma. How will the younger son treat the older son? How will the older son treat the younger? The younger now safely in the house and celebrating while the older brother outside brooding over past wrongs.
The parable of the Prodigal Son is about salvation and the family life with its intertwined reality in the salvation of both sons. It is a question of superficiality. The older son is suddenly aware of his discontent. The younger son is oblivious to the older son and caring for only his own restoration. It’s a disaster in the making. And, yet, the Father knows and works to reconcile and embrace both his sons.
And, now, what of the others namely the Servants, Hired Workers and Friends?
It is noteworthy that it is a servant who breaks the news to the older brother.
Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry…
Editorial note: no, he gave motion to his seething anger.
Pity the poor servant who had to break the news to the older brother. He no doubt knew the older sons true feelings. Or do you think everyone is fooled by his stoic mask? I am sure the servant hoped beyond hope the news would be accepted gladly. The servant wears the disinterested mask worn by those who know the pain of the older son’s violence. The servant was happy too for the master who is father-like to the hired workers giving more than enough food to eat.
Pity the friends of the older brother. Friends, true friends grieve over his estrangement from both his father and brother. True friends want to correct him but are fearful of his response. Consider his anger rage-fill response to the fathers pleading. ‘LOOK, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.’
Servant, hired worker and friend alike can see the mercy and forgiveness but for the movement of the soul of the older son.
Consider Rembrandt’s painting! See the drama of older and younger brother unfold before you. Clearly this is the central theme. Both father and son share the left center and the older brother commands the right center of the frame. The light is from an interior source – the hands and face of the father. The light embraces the younger son and casts a hopeful ray upon the older son who will have none of it.
But who else is in the frame. Who else sees but small flickers of light that they are visible at all.
Four onlookers stare at the scene. Henri Nouwen sees spectators. I see hearts pleading silently behind their frozen masks that the young son and the elder son would say yes to love. Two women looked at in faith are pining the scene before them is real not a fantasy and that this love light is for them too. It is generally understood that one is a daughter Cornelia and the other his spouse Saskia – who both preceded him in death.
Actually all his children save one daughter preceded him in death (son Rumbartus 1635, 1st daughter Cornelia 1638, 2nd daughter Cornelia 1640, wife Saskia 1642, unnamed son 1652, son Titus 1668). Rembrandt died in 1669. The servant with a vacuous look and relaxed pose of spectator is hiding behind the servant’s mask worn by those who have been abused by the elder son standing, no, Lording over him. And the flute player frozen in the wood work hoping this live will bring life to him as well.
The story of the Return of the Prodigal Son is about two Sons….. Plus everyone in the frame. This merciful love of the father taken with reconciliation would light up all the people in the frame.
Salvation has both a horizontal and vertical axis, yes?
And so we conclude with the question. Who is in your frame?
What does your life portrait look like?
Who is in your darkened shadows?
How many are searching your eyes, hands, face for any sign of the love light that remains when one receives forgiveness with the heart of reconciliation.
Paint a new picture.
Homily Sunday, March 24, 2019 (major points borrowed from Saint Pope John Paul II March 22, 1992)
Can you imagine this happening to you or me?
In 1888, a man’s brother named Ludvig died in France from a heart attack. Thanks to poor reporting, at least one French newspaper believed that it was Alfred who had perished, and it proceeded to write a scathing obituary that branded him a “merchant of death” who had grown rich by developing new ways to “mutilate and kill.” The error was later corrected, but not before Alfred had the unpleasant experience of reading his own death notice. The incident may have brought on a crisis of conscience and led him to reevaluate his career. This is the one and the same Alfred Nobel – inventor of dynamite. In his last will he established the Nobel Peace prize for advancements that bring practical use and peace for humankind. Today we call it the Nobel Peace Prize first issued in 1901.
‘I AM sent me to you'” (cf. Ex 3:13-14). This word, “I am”, which is also expressed in the word Yahweh, says that God is the existent and transcendent One. Everyone receives existence from him. From this we are given to understand that Yahweh is none other than one, the only God.
All this takes place within us through continuous conversion. In fact, conversion means eliminating the obstacles between us and him, between us and his grace, and letting his life be instilled in us.
Being converted means taking on a new mentality by which we see as Jesus sees, we want what Jesus wants and we live as Jesus live. Living from him and like him is the goal of the Christian, to the point of being able to say with St. Paul: “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
In the passage from the gospel of Luke, we see how Jesus takes his starting point from that day’s current events to teach the people and to preach conversion: the news involved the ferocious murder of a group of Galileans (what we do to others) and the sudden collapse of a tower which had killed 18 people (what we build).
Concerning the first episode, Jesus says: “Do you think that these Galileans were the greatest sinners in Galilee just because they suffered this?” (Lk:13:2). With these words he wants to eliminate the notion that misfortune is necessarily a punishment for sin.
Concerning the second episode Jesus warns: “But I tell you, you will all come to the same end unless you begin to reform” (Lk:13:5). Here the topic is more clearly expressed: Jesus wants to make us reflect on the fact that a catastrophe has symbolic meaning too; it is a reminder to examine one’s own state of conscience. When it is a question of hardened sinners who meet a tragic fate, it is even more tragic than the events described because the ultimate destiny of each person is concerned with eternity – our Final End.
However, even though the warning is a harsh one, Jesus is patient, full of love and mercy. We see this in the parable of the fig tree that does not yield fruit. After three years the owner ordered it to be cut down. But the vinedresser asked for a reprieve. The vinedresser is Jesus who, in his great love, offers us still more time to mend our ways, to be converted and live as true Christians.
St. Paul, too, in today’s passage from the First letter to the Corinthians, urges us not to fool ourselves: it is not enough to be baptized and nourished at the same Eucharistic table if we do not live well and keep watch! (cf. 1 Cor 10:3-4).
Let us contemplate this mystery which inspires the Third Sunday of lent. God revealed his name to us. God has offered us his profound mystery: the mystery of divinity and then the mystery of communion, of the Trinity. Let us remain then in contemplation of this mystery of the Name of God in order better to understand the mystery of lent, conversion, but conversion through Christ’s sacrifice, through his paschal mystery. Praised be Jesus Christ!
Note: On Monday, 22 March, the Holy Father made a Pastoral Visit to Rome’s St. Leonard Murialdo Parish. During his visit he celebrated the Mass of the Third Sunday of Lent; after the Gospel he preached the homily based on the readings.
Peace be with you,