Depth of Our Debts

Depth of Our Debts

Greetings on this the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: SIR 27:30—28:7; PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12; ROM 14:7-9; MT 18:21-35

Note: A/C fixed in Church. I did not preach this weekend. So I can take certain liberties in these homiletic notes. Next Sunday 9 AM, 20th September I will preach on the livestream. It happens to be the Gospel reading of my first homily. I wonder how 9 years later the context has changed. We shall see.

Be Holy

There can be no confusion as to the direct and specific teaching Jesus is applying in this analogy.

There also is the necessity to carefully express the analogy of the faith and the Tradition of the Church as taught by the Church (Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis).

We can say clearly that forgiveness is a central nature to the Divine and is a required and acquired nature by baptism that we are to apply in our Christian life.

We forgive that which is trivial in relation to the size of the eternal debt sin has earned us. There can be no confusion as to the scales applied in this analogy.

Forgiving in the way of the Divine requires… divine assistance. There is no other way. We must bring our gift of un-forgiveness to the Lord that He might help us transform this into true forgiveness.

Here then we understand we are made in the image of God and we are called to the likeness of God. The first is an essential truth. The second a decision.

There is NO peace in this life without peace among brothers.

Pope Pius XII further wrote in Divino Afflante Spiritu which most chillingly was the day before Hitler issued Directive No. 7, Preparations for Attack in the West in 1939.

In this encyclical, Pope Pius XII reflecting on the peace accord resulting from the First World War and, unknown to His Holiness, the midwife of the Second World War:

81. No, Venerable Brethren, safety does not come to peoples from external means,

from the sword which can impose conditions of peace but does not create peace.

Forces that are to renew the face of the earth should proceed from within, from the spirit.

Pandemic Debt

We are indebted to one another on so many levels. Your sin, my sin and social sin.

This common human problem, sin, is paired with this common human problem, infection.

At this point there is no disconnecting them. We can try. We can blame China.

But we wind up in the same place. A problem that requires cooperation and mutual forgiveness.

Meanwhile we are the causal factor for the inattention to the effects of our own inaction and our lack of attentiveness to the situation among the family of nations.

Have Pity

Pity = the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of other.

In our context not merely a feeling but a call to action. You see a feeling without action is not a true feeling but a simple transient state of emotion.

Forgive

Peace and Forgiveness
among the Family of Nations

https://gcap.global/news/a-debt-jubilee-to-tackle-the-covid-19-health-and-economic-crisis/

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

For What Shall We Pray

For What Shall We Pray?

Greetings on this the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: EZ 33:7-9; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; ROM 13:8-10; MT 18:15-20

Note: The air conditioner is broken in the Church. So we have to limit our homilies to be very short as the temperature is very high and dangerous for human health. So my written notes will be short as well.

Ezekiel

Ezekiel is sometimes referred to as the Watchman. Twice in the Book of Ezekiel he is referred as the watchman calling out.

The first and second share these basic qualities:

  1. A watchman scans the horizon for the actions of God.
  2. He knows what God is about to do (in Ezekiel’s case allow Jerusalem to be captured); and
  3. He is obligated to stir up the people to respond to the alert.

It isn’t much different from a fire alarm in a building or at home. When that alarm goes off, does it not alert you and stir you to do something? Anything? Don’t you check here and there to see if a fire has started or someone or something is in danger?

Each of us has a responsibility to be watchman. It is an individual responsibility and corporate responsibility.

In Ezekiel’s case he is to alert the wicked. The Wicked are a group of people who do not believe in the presence of God or the consequences of their actions in this life nor in an eternal way. The Wicked see no need to seek right relation with God nor Man. The Wicked need to hear of the love of God.

Pray for the Wicked.

Responsorial Psalm 95

Daily we pray the Invitatory.

Psalm 95 contains the alert to not repeat the error of our fathers where at Meribah and Massah (testing and quarreling with God and one another).

The short version of the story. While journeying from place to place in stages through the desert of Sin they came to a place without water. They were thirsty, really thirsty. They began to complain to Moses and also about God. And they really got to it.

How can you lead us here to die?! In Egypt (the place of slavery and oppression) we at least had water and cucumbers. Now we have nothing. Well, God heard their prayer and provided water from the rock.

Here we have believers who under trial fail to trust God. We pray daily, literally, that we are strengthened to not repeat the weakness of the desert and succumb to our trials.

Pray for the Weak in Faith.

Paul to the Romans

Paul makes clear that we are to have no debt but the debt of Love for one another. Taking the people back to the Torah and the laws of Leviticus 19:18-19.

The law is fulfilled in love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Specifically, now these are believers who desire to follow God more deeply than those at Meribah and through the law. Paul describes the law in terms of love. He lists the most potent of the four major ‘do not’ laws (within the 10 commandments) as it pertains to one another. Then he specifically says to those who follow the law are not to do two things that are contrary to the law of love:

  1. Do not take revenge.
  2. Do not cherish and nurture a grudge.

Pray for those who hold onto their pain.

Gospel

So when we arrive at the gospel message of Jesus we can see he proscribes an order of normalized confrontation. How to orderly navigate disagreements and mutual mistrust and personal harm.

Then he says, PRAY.

  1. Pray to become a watchman.
  2. Pray for those who have no faith in God.
  3. Pray for those who fail under duress.
  4. Pray for those who nurture revenge and hold grudges.

Pray and Partake

Pray in community for all of us who fail and fall and don’t always live the life meant for us, in unity with God and man. Pray and be my people.

Pray and receive the Eucharistic gift of Christ.

Be a praying people for all who hurt.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

God Forbid!

God Forbid!

Greetings on this the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: JER 20:7-9; PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9; ROM 12:1-2; MT 16:21-27

Note: The air conditioner is broken in the Church. So we have to limit our homilies to be very short as the temperature is very high and dangerous for human health. So my written notes will be short as well.

Jeremiah Laments

Jeremiah acknowledges the contradiction right off and blames the Lord for it.

You tricked me!

Well, if you have ever fed a baby who doesn’t want to eat you can relate to both the one feeding and the one eating. Jeremiah accuses the Lord of beguiling him.

He was seduced by the beauty of the divine word to speak but he recoils at the bitterness of the people’s reply which of course Jeremiah shares a version of that bitterness but for a different reason.

Even still, Jeremiah notes that so persuasive, so important, so high an imperative the word of the Lord is, he cannot contain it but must blurt it out.

Paul Advises

Elsewhere, Paul struggled in the body as we know from his writings. Some propose the problem is bodily weakness such as epilepsy and/or eye sight and/or old age. Never the less Jesus advised him to accept his insufficiency because his perfection comes from Jesus anyway. Just do what you should and the divine purpose will be fruitful.

In today’s reading Paul is focused on the body-spirit continuum. I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.

Paul makes known the priority for us is not the physical health of the body (lacking whether by deterioration or by misuse) but the perfection of the soul. Be a living sacrifice where we give up the inferior goods of the natural world for the superior good of being a living and holy sacrifice. Illness of the body is not an impediment to being holy and pleasing to God. The work of subordinating the natural bodily needs in harmony of the soul is work, but the holy work that pleases God.

Peter is Horrified

God forbid, Lord!

Now, one might think Peter is referring to Jesus alone. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe he is as much thinking of himself too. After all, where he goes and what happens to him happens to us.

To which Jesus replies, ‘Yep’. Or more exactly: You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

Jeremiah had a problem thinking like God. Paul confessed the work of thinking like God. Peter did too.

Two Part Disconnect

We can describe the spiritual warfare this way:

  1. My body wants to do it but my soul says No!
  2. My soul wants to do it but my body says No!

I propose Jeremiah, Paul and Peter each describe a particular expression of these two contradictions.

There is a two part reply.

  1. The psalmist today’s reading helps us and is the first among the psalms: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. We cannot set aside an essential truth that we thirst and yearn for God more than all things. Every time we resist such a love we find ourselves in contradiction.
  2. Jesus offers new life. Perfected life. But the cost is to place the natural world’s good and goodness in a subordinate place and place the spiritual likeness of God in the higher priority.

It isn’t just because it is a good idea. It is a necessary idea, eternally.

Our calling, Our Answer

We account who we are by the decisions we make.

The Cross is the denying the body and listening to the deepest urgings of the soul. The soul is listening to Jesus and finds fulfillment in him alone.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Go Forth, the Mass has Ended


Greetings on this the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: IS 22:19-23; PS 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8; ROM 11:33-36; MT 16:13-20

Ideal, Acceptable, Tolerated, Needful
Every year at this time we start a new journey. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Everyone has a different starting point.

Everyone who wants to try the Christian journey comes with every virtue and it’s twin vice.

From now until the Rite of Acceptance, the first decision point, the hope for change is given primacy.

No judgement. No corrections. Just the Gospel message revealed in nature, oral tradition, sacred Scripture and, finally, in the practice of a faithful people.

We don’t present ourselves perfect, rather we engage the perfect and become like him.

Imperative
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

So much is written on this sentence. For me it isn’t the diametric of rewarding the good and punish the guilty.

No!

The imperative is to bind up the wounds of the wounded and loosening those in bondage. And most of all, to loose none the Father has given.

None.
Zero.
Zilch.

Temporary Missionary Approach

Spontaneous acceptance of the Gospel is always preferred. Yet, continuous conversation is the reality most often. The enlightenment of the apostles is obvious in the presence of Jesus. Even after Pentecost, continued maturation and development.

We are mission territory even among the Baptized uncatechized.

Catechumanate
In this period we study how the Promise is made, given and lived. The life of the historical Jesus is fulfillment of the promise and brings about a new promise.

In this period faith is incarnate. Faith is made palpable and relatable.

Binded and Loosened
Who among us are perfect in promise and action? Do you not recall the story of the ungrateful Servant? Forgiven a large debt, he cannot forgive the smaller debt of his contemporary.

Or are we like those who … Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

Rite of Elect
In this phase we learn of the Sacramental economy. The blessings to support us through our life journey. What, how, form/matter, who. Clarity on the specific blessings given to bind and loosen.

Here we practice the faith in great anticipation of the Easter Vigil and the reception of these Sacraments.

Even Now, Even Now
Even now we remain in the tension of the Ideal, Acceptable, Tolerated, and Needful.

Sometimes in one person, all four.

Neophyte
Here, empowered and strengthened in Sacraments is the promise of perfection as a consistent movement into the inner life of God.

Cast the Net
Catch every fish. Bind and loosen them. Which will be in the end to be lost is not our work. It is not our judgment.

It is only the judgment of the Divine and the work of the Angels.

Or do we mock St Paul who says, Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

Go Forth, the Mass has Ended
Mass is the empowering event where the imperative is reenforced.

Bind.
Loose.
Be the embodiment of the Divine presence.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Raising Cain

Raising Cain

Greetings on this the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: IS 56:1, 6-7; PS 67:2-3,5,6,8; ROM 11:13-15, 29-32; MT 15:21-28

This homily is live streamed and viewable at any time on the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Lake Worth Beach, FL) YouTube and FaceBook. Read or hear, up to you!

The Cain Problem

We come back to Cain and the Book of Genesis and the first murder.

Cain, having been disappointed in the Lord’s reception of his cereal offering relative to the gift of Abel is unable to master his passions. Despite the Lord’s warning (sin is a demon lurking), as such, he plots and kills his younger brother. It’s an easy read of chapter 4 of the Book of Genesis.

The part of the story I draw your attention to is the phase where the Lord confronts Cain and his evil deed.

Consequences

  1. You shall till the soil in vain as it will no longer give its produce.
  2. You shall be restless wanderer on the earth.

Reaction to the Consequences

My punishment is too great.

  1. You have banished me from the soil – I am disowned from the family of man.
  2. I must avoid your presence – you will no longer hear my voice* the key piece.
  3. I have become a restless wanderer – I have lost my root in you, O Lord.
  4. Anyone may kill me on sight – I am lower than a beast in the sight of men.

The Lord Replies

Not So!

  1. If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged seven fold.
  2. And, the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone kill him on sight.

Cain Leaves the Lord

A heart breaking verse. Cain leaves his unity with the family and is self-exiled to Nod (the wandering place).

Cain went away from the Lord. He did not ask for help with the lurking demon.

Great-Great-Great Grandson

Cain’s great, great, great grandson Lamech makes a confession generations later that he also has killed even perhaps a young boy. He extrapolates that if the Lord will avenge Cain seven times, he will avenge Lamech seventy-seven fold. This is establishing a long term, embedded way of life. A discordant line of reasoning. A drifting way of being relative to the Lord.

Canaanite Meaning

There are three distinct presentation of the Canaanite enemies of the Jewish people.

  1. Cain and his line. In a literalist reading of the OT this line disappears. Of course it doesn’t.
  2. The line of Noah and his son Canaan and after the tragic error of sin begets the lines of the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites and Hivites (etc, all enemies of the Jewish people).
  3. The line of Lot and his daughters and after the tragic error of sin begets the lines of the Moabites.

Basically, everyone that isn’t us is born of tragic sin. Unworthy.

Vilifying Your Enemy

It ordinarily isn’t the time or place to discuss the writing and redacting of sacred Scripture in a homily. The biggest reason is the function of time. It simply takes too long to discuss some of the themes hidden within the text.

For today let us simply note that:

  1. Cain’s line never evaporated. Recycling of the name Lamech is a big hint.
  2. The vilification of the enemies is a redaction of sacred Scripture to explain the current historical situation using the pre-history of the Genesis story.

Canaanite Woman

She finishes the story of Cain.

Her daughter, subject to the lurking demon present in Genesis and harming Cain is represented.

She correctly notes that Cain was not ignored by the Lord but rather walked away from the Lord.

She has come back to resolve the problem.

Jesus reveres the aspects of the open Cain issues.

  1. Matthew 18:21-22 – one must forgive seven times seventy (extending the understanding of Lamech’s avenging thoughts).
  2. The lurking demon has had its full effect and needs to be removed.
  3. The absence from the House of the Lord is canceled.

She correctly states that she was never taken out of the house and now reclaims a place in the House of the Lord.

Jesus is in complete agreement.

Come Home

The Canaanite woman represents all of us. We have exaggerated our distance from the Lord, allowed the lurking demon to have its way and we are in need.

The break of the table of course is the fullness of the Lord’s banquet which we were always invited but until now rejected.

Come taste the goodness of the Lord.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Feast of St Lawrence

Covid-19 preventing Deacons from gathering for the annual renewal of vows, Mass and dinner with the Bishop.

Here is my annual promise I make from home this year.

Renewal of Diaconal Ordination Promises

(addressing the assembly)

My brothers and sisters in Christ,
we are gathered here to pray for those
who serve as deacons in Christ’s name.


Many holy men have gone before these men in this ministry:
Saints Lawrence, Stephen, Ephraim, Philip, Francis of Assisi, and many others.

Let us join with them as we bring our prayers before the throne of God,

(addressing the Deacons)

Beloved sons, we chose you for the Order of the Diaconate. Continue to embrace the ministry to which you have been called. As deacons, and ministers of Jesus Christ, who came among his disciples as one who served, and not to be served, do the will of God from the heart: serve the people in love and joy as you would the Lord. Since no one can serve two masters, look upon all defilement and avarice as serving false gods.

Are you resolved to renew,
in the presence of God’s holy people,
the promises you once made?

Deacons: I am.

Are you resolved to discharge the office of deacon with humble charity in order to assist the Priestly Order
and to benefit the Christian people?

Deacons: I am.

Are you resolved to hold fast to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience, as the Apostle urges,
and to proclaim this faith in word and deed according to the Gospel and the Church’s tradition?

Deacons: I am.

Are you resolved to maintain and deepen the spirit of prayer that is proper to your way of life and,
in keeping with this spirit and what is required of you, to celebrate faithfully the Liturgy of the Hours
with and for the People of God and indeed for the whole world?

Deacons: I am.

Are you resolved to conform your way of life always to the example of Christ, of whose Body and Blood you are ministers at the altar?

Deacons: I am.

Lord, look kindly on your servants:
we send them as messengers of salvation and peace, marked with the sign of the cross.

Guide their steps with your mighty arm and with the power of your grace
strengthen them in spirit, so that they will not falter through weariness.

Make their words the echo of Christ’s voice, so that those who hear them may be drawn to obey the Gospel.

Fill the hearts of your deacons with the Holy Spirit, so that, becoming all things to all people, they may lead many to you, the Father of all, to sing your praises in your holy Church.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen

Say a prayer for me, please. May Christ dwell within.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry