Special guest page has a new message of alarm and hope.
Please read: Special Guests – FR Rick Frechette – A floating hospital and a sinking country
Special guest page has a new message of alarm and hope.
Please read: Special Guests – FR Rick Frechette – A floating hospital and a sinking country
Greetings on this the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 2 MC 7:1-2, 9-14; PS 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; 2 THES 2:16-3:5; LK 20:27-38
In the first reading from the 7th chapter of the 2nd book of Maccabees we receive the martyrdom story of a woman and her 7 sons. Previously in chapter 6 is the example of martyrdom of Eleazar, a holy scribe of advanced age.
All of them being slaughtered for obeying the prohibition from eating pork (see Leviticus 11:7).
I don’t want to spend too much time on this aspect but rather refer the reader to excellent articles on how to understand the necessity of placing humanity first with this short article and/or the book:
The four examples (of the 7) are made for our instruction regarding what each expressed as having primacy over obeying this wicked king.
I shall find Contentment in the sight of God (Shekhinah – presence).
The story is told of Jesus cleansing the temple as fulfilling the scripture passage I will have zeal for the Lord. When confronted Jesus offers this prediction of a Sign:
Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
A sign of his power and predicting as a Prophet would do and as Moses taught.
The Gospel notes that Apostles remember Jesus words about rebuilding temple in 3 days (himself/resurrection). Thus they discerned that Scripture is believable and the words of Jesus (later known as the NT) is also believable.
Jesus is the first born of the dead. His is the first resurrection. Jesus reminds the Sadducees that this they should already know as Moses revealed this in the story of the burning bush. God is the God of the living here on Earth and there in the afterlife.
The Sadducees exemplify the exaggeration of our problem of faith. You see the example they gave is not merely a mocking of the resurrection theology but of the very activity of God in this life. Such a dire example is given in many accounts in the OT (7 Sons, 7 Husbands). But in every other account revealing not the despair of life but embracing the life given by the divine.
Here the Sadducees link the futility of marrying seven times to assure descendents to the (for them) the ridiculous promise of an after- life. The Sadducees are attacking acts of faith in this life and the promise of life after death. They are questioning the Good Work of God.
Saint Paul gives us some encouragement to persevere in faith. He says the Lord Jesus Christ provides everlasting encouragement and the grace to do good.
Pray, he says.
PRAY FOR US – that the evangelization of the good news will grow and continue.
Do acts of righteousness and continue to do good until the very last.
Do not worry that with your heart pointed to God, you will have the endurance of Christ.
Remember Jesus’ words as the apostles did.
Peace be with you,
Greetings on this the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: WIS 11:22-12:2; PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14; 2 THES 1:11-2:2; LK 19:1-10
The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, last week, the gospel reading was about a tax collector.
Today in the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time the gospel reading was about a tax collector, in fact, the Chief Tax Collector.
Last week the contrast was between the prayer of a Pharisee and a Tax Collector.
This week culminates Jesus’ engagement with tax collectors. It is also the culmination of another important thread: the cherished place of Jericho.
Review on Tax Collectors (for Pharisee interactions – see last week’s homily):
|Ch 3:12ff||John the Baptizer (JB) – firm advice
TC – what should we do?
JB – Collect only what is prescribed.
|JB offers the way of repentance which must include acts of repentance before they can avoid the Day of Wrath.|
|Ch 5:27-30||Jesus calls Levi the tax collector.
(also becomes Apostle)
|Jesus reassures TC Levi those who are sick need the Great Physician.|
|Ch 7:29-34||The tax collectors baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledge the righteousness of God.||TC’s got the message of JB. JC is witnessing to the fact they did go through John’s baptism after amending their ways.|
|Ch 15:1ff||Parable of Lost Sheep – TC’s are listening.||TC identify with the Lost Sheep, now found.|
|Ch 18:10-13||Parable of Prayer – TC – sits in back, O God be merciful to me a sinner.||TC moving from repentance to full reconciliation with God.|
|Ch 19:1ff||Zacchaeus – Top Guy – Chief TC.||Today’s gospel. Zacchaeus finding his humility, repentance, and restitution in Christ.|
When we see this as a TC continuum the words of Wisdom make all the more sense:
Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!
Zacchaeus was the Chief Tax Collector. Whatever cheating the lower level TC’s did Zacchaeus would have:
Nevertheless, Zacchaeus also knew and John the Baptizers warning of the Day of Wrath, the need for restitution and repentance.
Zacchaeus knew that Jesus was the source of the forgiveness and mercy. He promises:
Zacchaeus was defiant no more. The walls of his defiance came down with the blowing of JB’s trumpets and the joyful cry of the lower TC’s.
|Ch 10:30ff||Parable of the Good Samaritan||‘Who is my neighbor’ reply. Includes TC’s too.
|Ch 18:35ff||Healing of the Blind Beggar.||Keep Crying Out (prayers) God will hear you!
|Ch 19:1ff||Zacchaeus – Top Guy – Chief TC.||Jesus seeks and saved who is lost.
He too is a descendant of Abraham.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell after being encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with the disobedient, for she had received the spies in peace.
The impossible is possible, (enemy, blindness, tax collector) you can find God’s righteousness.
(Spies = messengers).
Are you a Chief Tax Collector? Take heart. Even the walls of Jericho fell by faith.
Peace be with you,
Greetings on this the Solemnity of All Saints
Readings: RV 7:2-4, 9-14; PS 24:1BC-2, 3-4AB, 5-6; 1 JN 3:1-3; MT 5:1-12A
In the RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) we go through the process of helping the Candidates (Confirmandi) select a Confirmation Name. The name is selected from the thousands of names of men and women who have been recognized by the Church to have been Saints. Early in Church history this was done by a community acclamation – a strong voice of the people to declare – ‘This One Served God In Life and In Death Now Lives in Heaven’. Today the Congregation for the Cause of Saints is responsible for the process while the canonization decision sits with the Supreme Pontiff. It is from these names the Seal is used.
During Confirmation a Confirmandi by name is sealed by the laying of hands and the anointing of the sacred chrism.
I usually start with the known hierarchy of prayer warriors (to use the current language). The Blessed Mary is considered the premiere intercessor for humanity by virtue of her saintly life, relationship to her Son, and her being given over to the Church. Even today she intercedes with the Father for your needs.
After Mary comes her husband, Joseph. Joseph was honored with the patriarchal patron of the universal church.
Then in order the glorious Apostles, the noble prophets, the army of martyrs and the full body of saints who sing with joy. This entire company of saints live in heaven, praising the Lord and working side by side with the Creator for the benefit of the human family and all creation.
As we say in the Mass: On whose constant intercession in your presence we rely for unfailing help
We go further and talk about ways in which to pick while always being guided by prayer and the aid of the Holy Spirit. I ask them to consider these questions when selecting a saint name:
After they consider all the above I ask them to process their answer through the Beatitudes. In the end, and our gospel reading today, it is the Beatitudes that describe the Saintliness of a person. How closely or verifiably a person lives the beatitudes is the greatest indication of their closeness to and living out the image of God. For the beatitudes describe the activity of God.
If they really struggle I ask them to read through the beatitudes and pick the one beatitude that either they most want to be or need to most help becoming. Then look again at the list of saints that fit that perspective.
It’s a great journey to take.
Which beatitude do you most want to be or most need help with?
Pray for intercessors to aid you on your way.
Peace be with you,
Greetings on this the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: SIR 35:12-14, 16-18; PS 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23; 2 TM 4:6-8, 16-18; LK 18:9-14
In today’s gospel we listen to a parable story told by Jesus where Jesus speaks in contrasts not in opposites. He is contrasting two men and their worship. His audience and purpose is plainly written in the gospel:
He spoke to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
Both the Pharisee and the tax collector come to the temple area to pray. Jesus contrasts the content of the prayers each makes.
Side note: Pharisees in the Gospel are not all Pharisees but the few who are religious leaders and are those who have power and exert influence upon other.
The Pharisee praying to himself took up his position (perhaps a place of honor and prominence) and gave thanks to God. He listed out from his perspective what he is not (greedy, dishonest, adulterous) and what he does (fast, prayer, almsgiving). Basically, he gave God a report card on how he followed the 10 commandments and the practice of faith.
In contrast, the tax collector stood off at a distance unwilling to raise his eyes to heaven, beat his breast, and prayed, O God, be merciful to me a sinner.
God does perceive and respond to both men. The humble tax collector went home justified. The Pharisee did not.
Jesus explains the Lord’s reasoning: exalting oneself leads to the need for humility and humility leads to divine praise of one’s taxing effort.
Let’s take a second look. Tax collectors and Pharisees do not have the same social standing. Tax collectors are usually distained for their work and their behavior. They apply the Roman tax upon the people and sometimes they do so with greedy intentions extorting extra.
The treatment of tax collectors and Pharisees are kept in parallel throughout the Gospel of Luke.
Let’s take a walk through leading up to Jesus’ story.
John the Baptizer having gathered such a large following receives a visit from the Pharisees (Lk 3:7-9 and Lk 3:12-13)
John is none too happy and speaks out and can be reduced to these two points:
The tax collectors having heard this exchange, who wished to be baptized, ask with trepidation:
Still later in Luke 7:29-30 it is written how the tax collectors did in fact receive the baptism of repentance and the Pharisees did not.
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
Already we see a formative difference. A desire to be close to God and a desire to repent of sin. Repentance is most assuredly an act of humility. When challenged by John the Baptizer some did what he prescribed (resolve to change) and then came for their baptism. Perhaps the tax collector read Sirach’s understanding of the justice of God? The voice of the weak, orphaned, widow and the lowly reach the ears of God. Not only reach but the prayer is continuous echoing in the ears of God until the Most High responds.
Remember: Your prayer is continuous echoing in the ears of God until the Most High responds.
Both the prayer of those we offend and those who wish forgiveness. Those who need forgiveness are indeed crushed in spirit.
It is taxing to repent.
Back to the gospel today.
Let me ask you, would you agree the tax collector in the temple that day was likely one of the tax collectors that heard John the Baptizer? One of those who repented and reformed their lives and came back to receive the Baptism of Repentance from John?
Going further, it is possible that the tax collector Jesus is referring to is Zacchaeus? You remember (Lk 19:2ff) where this very short man in the Sycamore tree repented of any misdeed and welcomed Jesus into his home?
Now in the temple, he prays a humble prayer unto the Lord?
We are called to a continuous conversion. Catholics are asked to each evening do an Examination of Conscience and Act of Contrition to make present again and again the saving act of the Lord.
We are saved by the action of the Holy Spirit bringing Grace through the passion of Christ to invoke in us faith and to strengthen our conversion and thus our Justification which is accepting of God’s righteousness and gifts of faith, hope and charity.
It is not simply our exterior obeying the commandments and principles of piety. It is our interior conversion that brings about these things.
Perhaps, in some way, we are both Pharisee and tax collector. And Jesus is talking to us when we miss the mark and be convinced of our own righteousness and despise everyone else.
Peace be with you,
Greetings on this the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: HAB 1:2-3; 2:2-4; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; 2 TM 1:6-8, 13-14; LK 17:5-10
The Gospel reading today has the apostles in an awkward position in which they request the Lord to use his power to increase their faith.
Just what are they thinking?
The reading does comes right after the teaching about the very personal and grave impact of leading others to sin. On top of that Jesus then says you most forgive anyone who asks forgiveness even if they are the ones leading others to sin (see Luke 17:1-4).
The apostles are feeling their insufficiency. Who can possibly never lead others to sin and who can always forgive all the time!
Increase our faith so we never lead others to sin and we always forgive others. Problem solved.
Not so fast.
Jesus is rebutting this concept in a manner of speaking as to what is prohibiting the health of their faith life.
Jesus is making clear that your faith as small as it is contains the potentiality of becoming a great tree where many find comfort and protection. Jesus is saying further that the fruitfulness of your faith will come even in the most difficult of places and situations. Fruitfulness can be abundant even when planted in the sea.
How can this be they are asking?
Faith in Jesus is literally this: trusting in the action of the Lord to provide the sufficiency in our insufficiency when we act.
“When we act” – This is Jesus’ point. Faith that is not put into action will never realize the potential and the power give to you.
The psalmist urges us on, ‘If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’
Harden not your hearts referring back to the journey through the desert as a part of the Exodus experience.
Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.
Thirst and fear were the trial and the contention being their lack of faith in the Lord. Yet the Lord provided water from the rock at Horeb.
The Lord acted and so should we. It was in this trial that the sanctity of the Lord is revealed (Num 20:13).
Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy tells us we have a role in increasing our faith.
Stir it into flames!
Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.
It is in the acting and doing (opposite of cowardice) that hardship comes and in that hardship the sanctity of God is revealed and strengthened within us.
Jesus tells us that my Father is at work until now, so I am at work (Jn 5:11). Therefore the commandment to work is not something we should brag about rather it is in participation in the work the Father does as Jesus taught us to do.
Do faith. Be a mustard tree. Be a mulberry tree.
And know the Lord works through you in your trials!
Peace be with you,
Greetings on this the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: AM 6:1A, 4-7; PS 146:7, 8-9, 9-10; 1 TM 6:11-16; LK 16:19-31
Yes, we did indeed. The readings on the 26th Sunday in ordinary time are taken from all the same books and letters as the readings on the 25th Sunday in ordinary time. It has the same type of theme as well which simply stated is how we act matters the most.
The Prophet Amos’s ministry was during the time of the reign of Jeroboam II, a gifted warrior and commander. It was a wealthy time. Military might was supported by Assyria powerful over-lordship and military dominance of the region. Israel focused on rooting out all foreigners and reestablishing their national boundaries (yes, their version of the Wall). Everything was great. The Northern Kingdom was very prosperous and they thought themselves the blessed of God because they possessed both material wealth and religious dominance of the Jewish people.
Amos interrupted their self-congratulations in two ways.
Again we are reminded by the psalmist that God’s work is that which we should follow.
Like the Lord, we should:
But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
When I talk to police officers and paramedics about car accidents they tell me the most often spoken words are:
He came out of nowhere.
He came out of nowhere is the most often said refrain when interviewing someone who had a car accident and, in particular, the one who hit another’s car.
We say things like that but in our heart we know that is not true. Nobody fell out of the sky right in front of us. Somehow, somehow, we did not see them. In driver’s education classes they talk about ‘blind spots’. They train new drivers on how to be, first, aware you cannot see everything and, secondly, how you can see everything so as to avoid an accident. It takes effort. Do you recall how? Do you practice ‘seeing’ when you cannot see at first when driving your car?
In today’s Gospel reading we learn of the great blindedness of the Rich Man. Like in Amos’s time, he was very rich. He had all the finest things. He even went to Church/Shrine to worship, externally. Yet internally he was greatly blind. He knew of Lazarus, his situation and poverty. He simply chose to be blind to it.
Even still this is not the blindedness we refer to in this Gospel. His blindedness is that he knew his religion and followed it externally but he did not know the internal truth of the Lord. He lacked the desire to be like the Lord.
He believed that it is God’s fault he was blind.
You see he dialogs well with Abraham. He knew Abraham as Father. He knows mercy and kindness (his water request). He knows of Moses and the Prophets. He even has foresight of compassion for his brothers. The 5 brothers symbolize those who follow the same teachings and ways of life the Rich Man followed and now he wants to warn them so they do not fall into his same condition. He is implying that God did not provide enough guidance to avoid this outcome!
He had no repentance for ignoring Lazarus. He reflected not on his refusal to do the things of God that the psalmist described for us today.
He wanted for his family the sign of a resurrected Lazarus to return and warn his brothers. Yet Abraham warns him and Jesus is telling us that even a Resurrected Lazarus/Jesus will not be convincing for some. And, Rich Man, you already had heaven within your grasp if you only followed Moses and the Prophets.
It’s not the teaching it the seeing that is the problem.
The message is clear. Know we are blind. Pray you can see what matters to God. Pray you do like God does. Avoid the accident.
Peace be with you,
This post points you to a piece written by Father Rick Frechette which describes the terrifying effects of unethical and unverified media reporting, This is worth the read and reflection on how we (all of us) and pull back from this type of abyss.
Greetings on this the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: AM 8:4-7; PS 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8; 1 TM 2:1-8; LK 16:1-13
When I was a young man as a part of the SCUBA training process they would teach this very simple lesson.
Follow the Bubbles
Unless you live in one of the Gulf Coast States you will usually be SCUBA diving in turbid waters where even sunlight doesn’t penetrate. Initially when you enter the water your orientation is no problem. As you explore and spend time twisting and turning, rising and falling, moving forward and backward, under and over you begin to get disoriented. Sometimes this causes anxiety and even panic. Where am I in relation to the surface? How do I know for sure the way back?
The Instructor would go on to say if you rely upon your instincts alone or even your intellect to reason out where you are, you will likely be in grave danger of loss of your life! Instead, as a part of your analysis, release some air! Release air and watch the direction in which it goes. Where the bubbles go, so should you. Follow the bubbles.
As any kid that drinks with a straw knows if you blow air into a straw immersed in chocolate milk you get … chocolate bubbles on the top!
(If you plan to attend the 9:00 AM Mass at Sacred Heart, Lake Worth Beach, FL you will get demonstrations of this SCUBA principle using chocolate milk. Since literally nobody reads this I am safe in this advanced notice).
In our first reading today the Prophet Amos warns use that the Lord sees all of these actions we want to bury and hide like bubbles under water:
The truth of these activities bubbles up to the Lord.
Second reading: In the letter to Timothy the writer makes clear although the actions noted by the Prophet Amos are truthful realities there is yet another buried truth. We fail to pray for those who are the perpetrators of these offenses. The bubble up is that we sharing in the responsibility of those who fail in these ways. We own them our prayers for them because:
This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.
It is a mistake to mock the bubbles of another while we offer no help in finding another way. Pray for President Trump and his troupe even if you hate him. Pray for the resistance even if you disagree with them and their sometimes quite objectionable ways.
A rich man comes to understand a steward of his is stealing from him. He demands an accounting and informs of the stewards dismissal.
The steward attempts to bury more dishonest acts by making more deals:
He desperately wants to bury more things because he is not strong enough to dig and he is ashamed to beg.
But the truth bubbles up and it gets even more interesting here.
The master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
Imagine that will you? Why did he say this and what does this bubble reveal?
The Master (rich man) is revealing HIS OWN METHODS and BURIED TRUTH of how he amassed his own fortune.
Even this Master has the bubble effect of truth. The Master and the Steward are of the same thinking mode.
The Master only objects to stealing from him not from stealing from others.
Jesus goes on to explain that our honesty in small things is a pathway forward in the profound things. Dishonesty is disastrous.
He goes on to say the possession of your future in this life and for eternal life does not even belong to you if you trade it for ill-gotten gain and dishonest.
Literally he is saying you risk the mastery of your own life path following the logic of the Master and Steward.
No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.
You are best served by following the bubble logic. Follow the bubble of truth and find the liberation of God’s love!
Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 TM 3:14-16; PS 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; LK 7:31-35
Usually I do not write in the middle of the week.
Yesterday’s testimony from the congressional hearings urges a dialog. Corey Lewandowski says,
I have no obligation to speak truthfully.
Those of you who support the President will come quickly to his aid and protest the trim of his statement.
To which I reply, you have been selectively trimming the teachings of Jesus Christ for years now and suddenly you have a problem with selective quotes?
You should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth. 1 TIM 3:15b
Lewandowski went on to say:
Such difficult and twisted logic!
They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another LK 7:32
This Administration and his friends are deliberately misleading the public, you.
We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep. Lk 7:32b
Simply, truth is unimportant to them. Trust is not a factor in their thinking, their actions, and their performance as public servants.
When it is time to Dance – you refuse. When it is time to sin a Dirge – you don’t care.
Do you need examples? Do you really need examples?
Jesus reminds us that wisdom is vindicated by all her children LK 7:35.
John the Baptizer called us to repentance for how we think, what we do and what the performance of public servants should be.
Read Luke 3:10-14. It’s pretty clear.
Jesus called us to re-imagine what it means to Love God.
Wisdom, the presence of the Holy Spirit, vindicates and illuminates. The list, the very long list, of those who would lie and deflect on behalf and in deference to the President will find the burning light of Christ bringing to light their thinking, actions and performance.
Peace be with you,