Clear Conscience

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops
Readings: 2 Tm 1:1-8; PS 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10; Mk 3:31-35

Clearing the Conscience

In our first reading today, Paul speaks about his clear conscience.

Naturally, we are happy for him. Yet we cannot forget what it took to get him from breathing murderous threats and executions to a man with a clear conscience.

He had to take on his own rigidity of understanding Jewish law, his zealous, myopic view of what faith and religion consists of and his willingness to perpetuate violence on others.

I read a lot of far right Catholic blogs and sites. I am shattered by their willingness to foment violence both physical and spiritual upon anyone who deviates from their specific understanding of Church teaching. There isn’t even room for a change in strategy when clearly the ‘Law First’ approach is failing to move the country toward reversing the Culture of Death. In fact in some ways it is perpetuating the Culture of Death witnessed by the reflex responses the ‘left’ are conducting.

It is a failed strategy.

Some even refuse to read encyclicals of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or Pope Francis nor engage any of the books they write. How can it be that to say you are a faithful Catholic but discount the leadership of the seat of Peter?

Return to your sincere faith. Even if you think you are right bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.

Pope Francis proposes using a Contrapostioning concept, open sincere dialog to allow space for the Holy Spirit to bring forth a gushing of insight and pathways to the Culture of Life.

Civil war and strife within the Church is not a pathway to the Culture of Life.

Responsorial Psalm

  1. Sing to the LORD a new song – you have grown stale in your praise of the Lord.
  2. Announce his salvation, day after day.
  3. God proposes we govern the peoples with equity.

Gospel

Who are my mother and my brothers?

Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.

It isn’t what you are doing.

Jewish Talmud – Learning to Change

Borrowing from the Jewish Learning center…

The Talmud records the voices of those who were on the margins of Jewish life during the late Second Temple and post-Temple periods — those who were both critiquing a Judaism that was failing and creating one that would work better. To do so, they invented and put into practice a system of mechanisms, principles, and rules-of-change that would guide them and future generations in the project of upgrading the tradition according to their new insights and lived experiences, one which might better serve the world of the future.

To paraphrase the philosopher Moshe Halbertal, the Talmud is not a normative document, but a formative document. It is designed not to tell us what our behavioral norms should be, but rather to form us into a certain kind of human being.

The core innovation that made this new system possible was the concept of svara — moral intuition. The sages of the Talmud named svara a source of Jewish law equal to the Torah in its power to overturn any aspect of the received tradition that violated their moral intuition or that caused harm that they could no longer justify, rationalize, or tolerate — even if it was written in black-and-white in the Torah itself.

Text from https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-to-read-the-talmud/

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Breathing Murderous Threats

Cyber Penance (on wordpress.com) Image Yes No

Greetings on this the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle
Readings: Acts 22:3-16; PS 117:1bc, 2; Mk 16:15-18

Note: On the approach of the 2nd Impeachment trial of former President Trump, zealots are threatening violence again against the duly elected Senators of our Congress. Twice in 30 days violent men look to pursue what they see as righteousness.

Saul to Paul

Paul addressed the people in these words (abbr): I was zealous for God, I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.

Saul Meets Jesus

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

Paul Meets Ananias

Go (Ananias), for this man (Saul/Paul) is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.

Paul is Baptized

Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

Paul proclaims Christ

Conversion changes everything.
Bear fruit that will last.

Those threatening violence as the Senate brings its constitutional duty to try former President Donald Trump are the Sauls of this age.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Freed Women

Greetings on this the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
Readings: Heb 8:6-13; PS 85:8 and 10, 11-12, 13-14; Mk 3:13-19

Note: Today is the anniversary of the Supreme Court Roe v Wade decision permitting nationwide abortion. Vestments are violet (purple) to signal the need for restoration and penance. It is the desire of the Church to give the unborn legal status as persons in order to protect their life in the womb. The Church teaching is the protection of human life from conception to natural death.

In 313 AD, the Emperor Constantine and Emperor Licinius issued the joint Edict of Milan, which legalized Christianity. During the reign of Theodosius I (A.D. 379-395), Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, and declared other religions illegal.

While law is always helpful and certainly can result in peace, the compelling growth of the Church during the period between 100 CE and 313 CE is not the law (Anno Domini, the year of our lord).

The amazing growth of the Church during the persecutions wasn’t that is was easiest. It was the way in which women were treated. The Church offered protection for women and their children. Christian men acted rightly toward women and did not engage in abuse and enslavement of women and their children as was common in the pagan culture/religions of the day.

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The Church freed women from oppression. Women grew the Church.
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God our Creator;
we give thanks to you,
who alone have the pwoer to impart the breth of life
as you form each of us in our mother’s womb;
grant, we pray,
that we, whom you have made stewards of creation,
may remain faithful to this sacred trust
and constant in safeguarding the dignity of every human life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your SOn,
who live and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

THE FEVER LEFT

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Readings: Heb 2:14-18; PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9; Mk 1:29-39

Note: This reflection written during the most controversial times in fifty years maybe longer depending on the aspects you are considering.

Fever is not Fervor

The fever of our times are (to sum them up)

  1. consistent lying;
  2. false Victimhood; and
  3. Excesses in the concepts of freedom.

Peter’s Mother-In-Law

She was sick with fever.

They immediately told him about her.

He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.

Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

That evening and all through the night he healed all who were brought to him.

First Priorities

  1. Prayer – Intercessory prayer is a method of bringing people to Him, Jesus.
  2. Healing Arts – The medical sciences are a gift from God to be used quickly.
  3. Food/Rest – The body has needs that should be attended.
  4. Everyone – Should either be getting help or helping another but not a mere spectator.

The followers of Jesus leave no aspect outside of their competencies and outside of their scope. All of the supportive. None of the judgmental.

Do you have Fever?

Watching the news it is clear some have a very high fever. Come to Jesus. Be cured.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

After John had been Arrested

Greetings on this the Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Heb 1:1-6; 97:1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9; Mk 1:14-20

John was Arrested

Royal marriages were instruments of international politics. John’s prophecy against Herod Antipas’s marriage to his brother wife Herodias, alienated the Nabatean king Aretas IV, father of his first wife, and deemed by John to be was politically incendiary. (NRSV Oxford Bible notes on John).

Tetrarch, popularlly known as king, Herod had John the Baptist beheaded.

Later, King Herod and Herodias were sent into exile due to his poor leadership of the people.

Note: You just can’t make this stuff up.

Jesus Begins Ministry

Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:

“This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

Then he started to gather followers, his disciples, later to be known as Apostles demarked when he specifically sends them (Mk 6).

Response

Repent, return to God’s way, is in RESPONSE to the good news of God’s plan.

The Gospel is both person and message.

The Gospel is both thought and action.

The mission of Christians is to be fishers of men.

The action is to aid men and women to become peacemakers by lives of the Beatitudes.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Baptism and Chaos

Baptism and Chaos

2018

Greetings on this the Baptism of the Lord

Readings: Is 42:1-4, 6-7; Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10; Acts 10:34-38; Mk 1:7-11

Note: The photo is not the USA but it just might well have been. The chaos of these days remains with us as we enter the joyful feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We remain stunned with the coldness of the human heart. Both those who acted in the first instance and those who continue to support President Trump in the second instance.

Exousia

The Gospel of Mark uses a specific literary tool to set apart a portion of sacred scripture as have a unity that may escape the simple linear reading of the text, intercalation and bracketing.

Today’s reading gives us an example of bracketing. The bracketing gives us a more powerful understanding of divine Exousia. Exousia is the power of choice, or liberty of doing as one pleases and in this case the Divine choice.

The Divine choice to:

  1. End the separation between heaven and earth.
  2. Begin the communication in the flesh (incarnation).
  3. Cleave the gap between God and Man.

Bracketing

The heavens rent – opening of heaven symbolizes the end of separation from God and the beginning of communication between heaven and earth (ISA 64:1 and Bar 22:1)

Mark 1:10 Baptism

  1. Heavens torn open – divine communication.
  2. Spirit Descends – divine communication.
  3. Baptism.
  4. You are my Son whom I am well pleased – divine communication.

Here Jesus accepts the divine mission of Baptism leading to our own baptism of repentance, Holy Spirit and fire for the forgiveness of sins.

Gospel Life of Jesus

The life of Jesus Christ in-between doing good works and healing those in the grip of the devil. He came to baptize to restore the old man to new life, heal our sinful nature and clothe us with unfailing holiness.

We are encouraged by the psalmist to draw water joyfully from the font that is Jesus Christ.

Mark 15:38 Death

  1. Jesus breathes his last – divine communication.
  2. Curtin of the Temple torn in two from top to bottom – divine communication.
  3. Centurion said – Truly this man was God’s Son – man’s response.

It is most important to note that the Centurion response is the completion of the divine communication in the bracketing of the Gospel of Mark. God’s word does not go forth without completing his mission.

A Wondrous Mystery

Father’s voice – my beloved Son, listen to him.

Reversal of the tragedy of original sin.

The invitation to have a human exousia – a free decision to accept the divine gift of baptism, forgiveness and the path to holiness.

Creator of the Universe washed away our sins in the Jordan River and by the pouring out of his blood. The Baptismal event is made full in the last breath of Jesus.

Holy Communion

As we go to receive the Eucharistic gift may we repeat the trinity response of repentance, prayer (communion) and an openness to suffering.

Chaos

I have not been shy on writing about the failing of the faithful to detect the wholly ill-suited and disqualifying characteristics of Donald Trump in the first election and certainly by the second election. But those who remain bound to Trump and his message of hate I dare say reconsider the formation of conscience should have been strong enough to detect the more excellent decision for Biden even in his deficiency. You failed the basic test – being anti-abortion isn’t a function of law it is a function of heart. There are many ways to help women find the excellent answer. You refuse to see but one, law.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Children Be On Guard Against Idols

Greetings on this the Saturday after Epiphany
Readings: 1 Jn 5:14-21; Ps 147 Jn 3:22-30

Note: This reflection is after the horrendous assault and insurrection on the form of government and the Capitol building of these United States. Even still people persist in their self-righteousness.

Idol of Violence

Children, be on your guard against idols the 1st letter of John states. We know this can come in many forms. Some are more present than others. Some are reflex results of others.

But for a Catholic Christian violence is not something we support. Rather as John states again, We have this confidence in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Taking matters into your own hands is the oldest of Satan’s tricks. Satan used sacred Scripture to lure Jesus into unrighteousness. Did we not learn anything from the temptations in the desert that Jesus endured (Lk 4)?

Jesus’ three responses are:

  1. One does not live by bread alone.
  2. Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.
  3. Do not put the Lord your God to the test.

We know the one who is true is not the one who mimics sacred scripture like Satan did but lives out the Beatitudes. You should have been able to see the difference.

Epiphany Violence

On the day of Epiphany (traditional) – Christian Violence? Is this what you have me believe? Are you pretending not to see Donald Trump gleefully watching the violence with his family and the Vice-President having to intervene.

Our Alleluia

The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death. Indeed the contrast is stark. The silence of the Church is deafening. Jesus is present and he illuminates all of this. The darkness, the pretend sacredness and the true path of right living in him.

The Way of John the Baptist

He must increase; I must decrease. John understood making room for Jesus is the quintessential change in us. Making room for Jesus is Justice!

Quote of the week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered blistering remarks Wednesday afternoon against President Trump and his Republican colleagues who are objecting to the Electoral College results, saying of Congress:

“We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids.”

“We’ll either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the results or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebears showed, not only in victory, but in defeat,” he said.

Only minutes later…. the Capitol building was invaded.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Nazareth Truth

Greeting on this the Thursday After Epiphany

Readings: 1 Jn 4:19–5:4; PS 72:1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17; Lk 4:14-22

Note: I write this reflection on the morning after the insurrection instigated by the President of the United States to disrupt and prevent the legal and official final ceremonial step in validating the election of Joseph Biden, to be the 46th President of the United States which is mandated for January 6th, 2021. The traditional date for the Epiphany – an experience of a sudden and striking realization.

Jesus returned to Nazareth and we read today the sacred scriptural mission statement. A few verses later those same people he proclaimed his mission, they tried to kill him.

Jesus’ Mission

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Power Response

They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” which means who is he to cite scripture to us? Given further explanation it became too much for them.

They rioted. They insurrected against God.

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.

Rejecting Jesus

Rejecting Jesus is to reject the Spirit of the Lord. The work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, 2nd and 3rd persons of God, is to bring freedom to truly oppressed people. He didn’t come to riot and grab power. He came to heal and help those who have none to help them.

Yesterday, January 6th, Epiphany is in fact a Great Awakening.

The Catholic Church has self-inflicted wounds having supported a megalomaniac for election and then again for reelection. In plain sight he was known to be foundationally ill-suited for the Presidency.

We’ve forgotten our mission statement. The Christian Church has become more like the Nazareth Leadership who riot and attempt murder.

The Anointed Bearer of Glad Tidings

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God; To comfort all who mourn; to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.

Should Have Known – No Love There

Beloved, we love God because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his  brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen  cannot love God whom he has not seen.  This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Exodus Shadow

What should chill our Catholic hearts is Jesus’ response. While they tried to throw him off the cliff, instead we have a mirror of the Moses Exodus Event.

But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Love or Leave the Church

In the end either you must love Jesus and his mission or you need to leave the Church.

There are all sorts of moral evil in this world. We shall always teach the way of righteousness. We must live the same righteousness. Correction comes by way of acts of love and understanding. I’m gonna walk with Jesus. I suggest you leave you MAGA monster behind.

Today is truly an Epiphany.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Peace Is A Decision – Love is the Motive

Greetings on this the Wednesday after Epiphany

Readings: 1 Jn 4:11-18; PS 72:1-2, 10, 12-13; Mk 6:45-52

First reading speaks to the necessity to love and the power to love is from love itself.

Loving in the midst of chaos is the quintessential expression of love. Love without the challenges of ‘the test’ is but a potentially only emotionality.

But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them,
“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”
He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.  They were completely astounded.

It is very challenging to resist demanding others be like yourself. But we are called to do just that and the test. Whatever the differences of opinion, religion, policy, and taste finding a common ground based on love is to preserve life in its entirety.

A Christmas message from Bethlehem…

Peace is a Decision