Greetings on this the Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
Readings: IS 11:1-10; PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; LK 10:21-24
Dishonest financial advisors looking for new clients sometimes use the following technique.
He calls 100 people at random and tells 50 of them the stock XYZ will go up today and the other 50 he tells them the stock XYZ will go down today. Let us say the stock XYZ closes up on the day.
The next day he calls the 50 to whom he ‘predicted’ the stock would rise.
Now he tells 25 of them the stock ABC will go up today and the other 25 he tells them the stock ABC will go down today. Let us say the stock ABC closes up on the day.
The next day he calls the 25 to whom he ‘predicted’ the stock would rise.
Now he tells 12 of them the stock EFG will go up today and the other 13 he tells them the stock EFG will go down today. Let us say the stock EFG closes up on the day.
The next day he calls the 12 to whom he ‘predicted’ the stock would rise.
Now he tells 6 of them the stock QWE will go up today and the other 6 he tells them the stock QWE will go down today. Let us say the stock QWE closes up on the day.
The next day he calls the 6 to whom he ‘predicted’ the stock would rise.
He doesn’t give them another stock recommendation. Instead he asks them to make him their stock broker. After 4 perfect ‘predictions’ do you suppose the 6 potential clients think he is a stock picking genius?
Six new marks sign up for his services turning over their fortunes for him to manage and steal from at will.
Do I need to tell you the outcome? Can you spot the dishonesty and the motivations?
Today Jesus talks about the honor to know the things he has to say. He says that the Father has chosen the ‘childlike’ to hear first the good news. Childlike isn’t childish. Childlike is a person how trusts in the Creator and the benevolence in which he acts in good time and bad. Childlike don’t have such exaggerated claim on the world and on their own wisdom as to miss the simple and holy.
Childlike don’t fall for the chicanery of the stock broker because they aren’t motivated by the lure of gain and the laziness of not attending to an authentic intellectually sound dialog. Childlike aren’t confused by disordered mathematics and cryptic connections.
Our Prayer for Being Childlike
From the Liturgy of the Hours intercessions today…
Prepare a path in our hearts for the coming of your word, and let his glory be revealed among us.
Bring low the mountain of our pride, and fill up the valley of our weakness.
Bring down the walls of hatred that divides the nations, make level for mankind the paths to peace.
Non Con Job
Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Jesus is now speaking to you. This is an historical statement and it was preserved for you -preserved publicly and offered within the privacy of your own heart.
His Cross, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven historically attested in sacred scripture is no stock pick for greed but a pathway to holiness. May you be able to proclaim: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
People, humans, need hope. We are a people of hope.
During Advent our Old Testament readings focus on the hope of the really big things. The Old Testament hopes for peace, tranquility, sufficiency of foods/provisions and an end to suffering.
This hope is brought to us in the story of the desert journey to a fertile land and later the gathering in of a scattered people. The hope in the miraculous is expressed in the promise that the blind will see, the deaf will hear and the lame will walk.
In our time we look for the same things as the long standing hopes but with two reassurances to strengthen our hope.
Jesus Christ has been revealed (the Incarnation manifests the salvific plan in the person of Jesus – God saves).
God is in our midst (Emmanuel).
This new hope, the good news, is first known by the Blessed Virgin Mary and John the Baptist.
For our Advent journey this year, let us contemplate Mother Mary and John the Baptist – the first to know the new hope that we maintain even today.
Mary – the interior life. The life of prayer and holding close all things good and bad deep within the heart and glorifying God. Mary draws us into the hope of peaceful expectations and trust in the Lord.
John the Baptist – the exterior life. John helps us realize the world we live in, the world we operate in, needs reform and correction. If Mary calls us to the interior hope of prayer then John calls us to the actions and methods of a life lived in the rightness with God and man. He clearly prepares the way of the Lord, for us.
Mary and John are our guides to living an Advent life. A life of the hopeful expectation.
Each of these, Mary and John, each with his own work (MK 13:34) the first workers of the New Testament. Jesus tells us to ‘Be Alert!’ Be alert – each to his own work.
Christ the King
In the readings leading up to Advent the Church draws from the Book of Revelation.
The purpose, using the theme of Christ, King of the Universe, reassures us that there will be an end to injustice and a new beginning of peace in the Kingdom. These readings affirm the hope of an all-powerful God bringing that which we can only hope for.
Advent Week One
Now this week, following today, 1st Sunday Advent, the readings are focused on Jesus building out his Church. The Church to become the vehicle of the new Kingdom and the peace we so deeply desire.
Call of the Apostles.
Praising God after the return of the 72.
Healing and feeding the many.
Foundation of rock is the Gospel.
Heal the two blind men.
Key part to relate to each with his own work: ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
Grace Given Grace Received
Don’t sleep! Each of us has work to do. Mary work and John work. You are among those Jesus prayed for and who instructs us to pray for laborers for his harvest!
Don’t worry either. He has given you all the free gift you need, his grace:
You are adopted children and you are sanctified to share the divine love and be in friendship with God which is sanctifying grace.
You have habitual grace that is strengthen during the Advent journey.
You have actual grace to help us conform our lives and will to God’s.
You have Sacramental grace, especially today, the Eucharist to strengthen you.
You have your own special grace, Charism, to carry out that only you and you alone can do.
Advent is a hopeful period where we look to two events.
The memorial of the first Christmas and the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The promise of his second coming.
Both at the same time. The first to strengthen our hope in the second. He will return. Maranatha!
Do you know this Greek philosophical paradox? Plutarch asked whether a ship that had been restored by replacing every single wooden part remained the same ship.
If a ship sets sail on a long journey and along the way, slow but surely, every plank of the wooden ship is replaced. When the ship returns to port from which it came years later, is it still the same ship?
Yes and No.
No, because the wood is new but that is an inferior truth to the Yes.
He went further and further on the variety of things one can do to move beyond apparent difficulty and disadvantage but that changing the world happens by commitment to the right things and good outcomes.
I just wanted to add that as we encounter Christ the King.
Ezekiel speaks the oracle voice on what Lord will do. Ezekiel assured the people that the Lord has not forgotten them.
Give them rest.
The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back.
The injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.
The sleek and the strong I will destroy.
I will judge between between rams and goats.
After we make our beds today and worship the Lord together which of these can we do? Which can we accomplish? Which can we help accomplish?
Christ the King not only binds up and tends his sheep, but he also destroys death. No longer do we need fear our eternal future. The Lord has provided and defeated every obstacle in our way.
But we have to make our bed.
Jesus makes certain what is expected of those who profess Christ.
Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.
And it all starts with making your bed. I suppose the spiritual sense of making your bed is prayer. Don’t you think? Asking for help to keep going forward is the way.
Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.
In politics, I wouldn’t try to improve upon this scripture application in sacredness or artwork.
As we near the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Thus this Gospel is a good preparation for the celebration!
house of prayer
My End of Liturgical Year reflection.
Is my house a house of prayer?
Do I drive from myself things that are for sale?
Have I put myself up for sale?
Do I teach Christ crucified and resurrected?
Am I willing to be put to death?
What is my purpose?
Diakonia means service among others for their benefit alone.
2020 A Year of Examination
When I preach on Sunday it will be the simple test Jesus provides:
Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.
That’s it. That’s the measure.
Crazy year indeed. Love lost, friends in crisis, entire throngs of people searching for food and work. And so many stepped up! I have never seen such generosity in years!! Bravo!!
I mingle with multiple communities of Lake Worth Beach, Florida. With 100% certainty I can say God is at work and the conversion of hearts from stone to flesh is on full display.
May your cup of water be for your eternal refreshment.
Greetings on this the Thursday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time Readings: RV 5:1-10; PS 149:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B; LK 19:41-44
Presumptive President-Elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr is still waiting for the official GSA ascertainment of his election. While many are impatient as to the designation others are gleefully urging the latest possible date of such recognition.
Still others in the Catholic community continue their unabated attacks on Joe Biden labeling him as unfaithful and a person of false faith. Even still, the USCCB leadership in particular calling for his conversion from his errors.
Maybe a slight pause is in order.
Who is Worthy?
Who is worthy to open the the scroll secured with seven seals?
A Lamb that seemed to have been slain.
Worthy are you to receive the scroll and break open its seals, for you were slain and with our blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.
Made to Rain Peace
If this day you only knew what makes for peace– but now it is hidden from your eyes.
Shattering to listen to Catholic Bishops place their hopes on political change. It’s as if the idea of merciful assistance to women is from a bygone era. Instead law alone. How did you allow the Church to be coopted by this false argument?
We are to reign as a Kingdom of Peace, ministers and priests of mercy.
Christ the King
The King and the Lamb.
Opens the seals and declares the victorious.
But you, USCCB, do not did not recognize the time of your visitation.
Hear then the words you ignore.
Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.
Woman and Child
You cannot save one without the other. Foolish men.
You should be encouraging daycare, prenatal care, family support and sex education anew.
I don’t think you remember who you should be anymore.
Even as the pandemic occupied our thoughts and regulated our activities I did not lose sight of my continuing education requirements for continued certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP).
The certification organization did not skip a beat with the situation and completely adjusted the educational offerings and professional meetings to online venues. Shout out to the South Florida PMI and the international PMI in this regard. They went above and beyond to make sure professionals continue to grow and thrive in the change itself. It shows clearly that change management and adaptive mental framework are key attributes of healthy organizations.
Adaptive Mental Framework – A Key Leadership Quality
In the first reading today (Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious) the Lord speaks to the Angel of the Lord who are the leaders of these communities:
To the angel of the Church in Sardis – Remember how you accepted/heard; keep, and repent. You have a core mission. Stick to it. In our faith tradition it is conversion and salvation.
To the angel of the Church in Laodicea – you say, ‘I am rich/affluent/have no need of anything,’ You have a core way of being/operating. Building wealth and self-reliance are not the building blocks of the mission. Rather being healthy oneself and the health of others are core ways of being. Share what you have for the wellbeing of others.
Sardis forgot what brings Joy that is to follow to completion the work the Lord has given you.
Laodicea forgot that wealth and comfort are not the same as being spiritually healthy and properly clothed in righteousness.
Psalmist gives adaptive techniques:
Walk blamelessly before the Lord
Do justice in all your business
Think in truth of heart
Slander not with your tongue
Harm not your fellow man
Do not take up a reproach against his neighbor
Lends not your money at usury
Accept no bribe against the innocent.
Zacchaeus figured it out.
Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
Trust the Lord. Keep to your core. Attend to the details.
In all your doing, do justice.
He has told you, mortal one, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Current Events: A shout out congratulations to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, first, and President-elect Joseph Biden, second, because today’s homily is for women only.
That is right I told the men to go to sleep while I give the homily for the women.
Steubenville Conferences Florida 2019
It seems an eternity ago but in 2019 we took a group of teens to the Steubenville Conference Orlando Florida.
It was a great conference and I encourage attendance next year assuming the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is at a low point by July 2021.
During the conference there was a separated conference talk for boys and a separate conference talk for girls.
When we regathered the next day for open discussion for just our parish teens we were each asked to make note of the conference so far.
I made the comment that the boys separate conference was about picking good role models.
Then I asked, ‘What did the girls talk about in their separated conference?’
The response was a shocked expression. They couldn’t imagine that I would ask ‘that’ question. I was shocked at their shock. But they told us anyway.
The girl’s conference was about being supportive of one another, expanding to say too often teen girls are very disrespectful and downright harmful to one another.
It was my turn to be shocked. I did not know that was the dominate problem at least in 2019 south Florida.
The Ten Virgins
Try to set aside cultural differences or any trigger thoughts you may have. The message is a simple one: Today’s gospel reading is a singularly important reading for women.
Parables are meant to sense deeper spiritual meanings and build reflective spirits for the purpose of conversion which brings righteousness.
One should note that in the four Gospels this is the ONLY story where women, as a group, are specifically called out.
Most of the stories regarding women are specific and particular issue. This is a global story regarding women. It is one of the stark ‘Lord, Lord’ dialogs.
Jesus is using the parable technique to teach something really critical: Women must take care of one another and build each other up. The Steubenville event came to mind as an excellent modern example of the teaching of this story. The necessity of being positively focused is timeless.
The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
It is important to note that all ten of the women were virgins. This observation is made to simply state that all 10 women were virtuous and good people! This is not a question of evil verses good. The dividing line is being wise or foolish. Jesus specifically is keeping us out of the judgment mindset of womanhood itself and sexual purity in particular, a universal standard.
The number five denotes disciples of a teaching. It takes five followers to be described as Rabbi. So these are five women that follow a good teacher and five that follow a bad teacher.
The wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. The Oil is at the same time the teachings of their Rabbi and the divine gift of Presence. The foolish did not have enough oil. Their teacher did not prepare them and they did not know the divine source of Oil.
The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied, ‘No’…. ‘Go’.
Do you need me to expand this? I hope not with all the preparation comments already made.
Were they actually wise, then? Would really they be rejected for sharing their Oil? Do we not have enough description in the Old Testament of Oil lasting a longer time than expected?
His audience would have known the stories of Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath, Elisha & the widow and the Oils of Hanukkah.
Forgetting Oil is a mistake.
Not sharing Oil is another more consequential mistake.
Jesus is denoting two essentials in one story. You must have sacred Oil of the presence of God. You must share your sacred Oil portion.
Share your oil.
Do not let the occasion of following a poor teacher be the reason you allow another to walk this life in darkness without the Oil to light their lamps.
Build each other up. Do not tell them to ‘Go away’.
We celebrate all those who have gone to Heaven. We (the Militant Church) praise the Lord together with the Triumphant Church (Saints in Heaven).
We intercede together for those who suffer on this Earth or in Purgatory.
The 31st Sunday readings are replaced by this special day. The 32nd Sunday in Ordinary time continues next week.
One more note: In this piece I am writing with the male ‘he’ only. Please for the sake of my limited literary skills wherever I typed he will you please read He and She.
There was a certain town that had two neighborhoods named Taintwater and Sweetwater. These names came about because of the quality of water each neighborhood received. Sweetwater has a reservoir that pumped water from a sweet well. The water was clean, safe and crisp and a delight to drink. On the other hand, Taintwater had a reservoir that had tainted water from a tainted well. It too was clean and crisp and a delight to drink but it seemed there was an element in the water that was deadly! It wasn’t always deadly but sometimes deadly especially for the very young. It was fairly unpredictable when the deadly elements would be present in the water. Usually everything was OK. But sometimes, sometimes, it was very deadly.
So the Town had a meeting. People from the Sweetwater neighborhood came to the meeting. People from the Taintwater neighborhood came to the meeting.
There is a problem that needs to be solved. Taintwater has a reservoir that pumps from a tainted well. People, especially little children, are dying.
Some immediately cried out, ‘Shut the water off!’ Well, that would be devastating effects as there is only one piping system to Taintwater so then there would be no water at all.
Some cried out, ‘Connect the two systems!’ Well, the tainted water should not be commingled with the sweet water as the deadly elements would remain.
Some asked, ‘Why don’t we filter the water?’ The deadly elements are too small for any type of filtering system.
Others said, ‘Let us build a piping from the Sweetwater reservoir to the homes in the Taintwater side of town?’ Immediately people cried out that this would be way too expensive. We can’t spare our reservoir water there are too many of them.
Still Others said, ‘Let us build another reservoir and tap a new sweet water well and then cut over to this new source of water!’ The protests got even louder since that would be expensive and besides there is a limited amount of sweet water they claimed. We can’t share the source of sweet water because there isn’t enough to fill two reservoirs!
The cries got louder and louder, ‘Shut the water off! Shut the water off!’
The people of Taintwater knew if they shut the water off, that the risk of some dying would become instead a case of many more dying.
So the Taintwater people kept the tainted water flowing.
And the Sweetwater people hurled abuse at the people in Taintwater and said, ‘Let us see whether Elijah will come to save them.’
And the people continued to drink the tainted water in the Taintwater neighborhood.
And the little children continued to die.
Thankfully there were the Blessed who lived in Sweetwater and who lived in Taintwater.
Blessed Poor in Spirit
In Taintwater there was a man Blessed Poor in Spirit. He was happy because despite the difficulties the people experienced they are subject to Divine love. God has special care for them and especially those who drink from a tainted well and while we are in a sorry condition the presence of God is known to him so he continues on hoping for better days and better ways.
In Sweetwater there was a man Blessed Poor in Spirit. He was happy not because he is morally better than anyone else but because of God’s special care for them. In that special care, not by merit, but by the benevolent love of God. He wants others to feel such love as well but not because of moral change but recognition of from whom blessings come and the blessings need to come! Sweetwater Blessed Poor in Spirit prefers divine service to financial advantage. He lives with humility and detachment from wealth. He exercises voluntary poverty.
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
In Taintwater there was a man who was Blessed Mourning. He mourned the dead even those of his own family. He mourned the pain of burying the young, so young. Sometimes they buried them in secret as to not offend those around them. So much shame. So much judgment to bear because they drank from tainted water. Like Rachel, He cried because he had so desired children that he considered himself dead without them.
In Sweetwater there was a man who was Blessed Mourning. He mourned to see evil reign on Earth. He mourned those who died, of course, but by degree distant, still it was a pain of mourning. He could see the reign of evil not in the water itself but in the souls of those who have no compassion to provide sweet water.
Blessed Are the Meek
In Taintwater there were men and women who were meek. They have limited resources and constraints of every kind. But they rely upon the Lord to see the true plight. They rely upon the Lord that He will see what others refuse to see which is the broken-hearted that think there is no option but to drink tainted water.
In Sweetwater there were men and women who were meek. They understood that the priority is to care for the poor and the poor should come first in preferential allocation of resources. Even in the judgment of the residents of Taintwater being gentle with them in a certain form of charity of heart.
Blessed Hunger and Thirst Righteousness
In Taintwater there was a man Blessed Hunger and Thirst Righteousness. He could see the need for change. The people of Taintwater are hungry and thirsty in the body and in the soul. They have needs sometimes too subtle for our limited capacity to understand. They are focused on the body alone and shelter their soul because it is too difficult to bear. The people of Taintwater can’t bear the cries of the soul.
In Sweetwater there was a man Blessed Hunger and Thirst Righteousness. He could see the need for change. The difficulty and the work isn’t in the obvious but in the subtle needs that cry even louder than thirst or hunger of the body alone. The people of Sweetwater cannot hear the cries of the soul.
In Taintwater there was a man Blessed Merciful. He could see the destructive effects of tainted water. But he was determined to pardon his neighbors of their mistakes. These were his friends and family. They drink because they think there are no other sources of water because, well, that is the case in a very real way.
In Sweetwater there was a man Blessed Merciful. He saw those who insisted in providing and drinking from the tainted water as his enemy. But even still, he knew the only answer was to love them and forgive them and look beyond the immediate to a future hope of sweet water for everyone.
Blessed Clean of Heart (in Spirit)
In Taintwater there was a man Blessed Clean of Heart. He saw the injustice and the hardships. He too suffered and witnessed the suffering of others. Yet he was not vengeful. He counselled his neighbors in Taintwater to be patient and understanding. ‘It is a lot to ask for help’, he would say, ‘Be patient, be patient of their distain’.
In Sweetwater there was a man Blessed Clean of Heart. He was loyal to God and His commandments. He would counsel Sweetwater that Love of Neighbor is greater than all the Laws and Prophets.
In Taintwater there was a man who was Blessed Peacemaker. He understood that peace is a many-sided concept involving total well-being. Peace cannot be with only Taintwater as a source but to shut off the tainted water is to seem as though the people of Taintwater are valueless.
In Sweetwater there was a man who was Blessed Peacemaker. He understood that peace is a many-sided concept involving total well-being. Peace cannot be with only shutting off tainted water as a source but a new source must be provided.
The Blessed of Sweetwater and Taintwater had better get together and work this out.
For My Evangelical Brothers – Beatitudes Echoed in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans 12:13-21
From the Prayers of the Church
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.
If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.
Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”
Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.