Faith Matures

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Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: JER 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22; PS 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 AND 22-23; MT 14:22-36
Notes: Faith matures. I am always impressed by those who gain faith and never deviate or question. Very cool As to the rest of us:

  1. FIRST READING: Sometimes faith grows by first rejecting the relational rightness with God and others.
  2. GOSPEL PORTION: Sometimes faith grows because we see the good effects upon others.
  3. GOSPEL PORTION: Sometimes faith grows because we are scared out of our minds and utter the most honest prayer of all: God save me!

In our continuous reading Jesus finally got an opportunity to be alone and pray for a little while.

Yesterday
After John the Baptist was executed.
Jesus healed the sick.
Fed the 5,000 men and innumerable women and children.

Today
Now, he wants to take the disciples to the other shore, to Gennesaret.
They recognized him there too as well they should.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.

Walking on Water
There was a grandfather who every year on his birthday would go off the dock and walk on the water.
His son too every year on his birthday he would go off the dock and walk on the water.
The grandson, not to be outdone, attempted the same on his birthday. He sank to the bottom.

Perplexed, he asked grandfather why!

Well, grandfather was born in January, your dad in February and you my, grandson, in August.

Faith Matures!

First reading
You shall be my people,
and I will be your God.

In the first reading the hope of the future is reassured to the people.

The Restoration will occur.

In Jewish theology the covenant cycle of is made known here:

  • Divine promise
  • People break promise response
  • Trouble comes
  • People beg restoration
  • Divine restoration

The sacred scripture is always written in the voice of divine control but we know our misery is often (not always but often) of our own making.

Sometime faith grows by first rejecting the relational rightness with God and others.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.

Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”

Alleluia Verse
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;
you are the King of Israel.

Gospel Portion
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.

But when [Peter] saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the men of that place recognized him,
they sent word to all the surrounding country.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

The Yoke of Kindness

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor Church
Readings: JER 28:1-17; PS 119:29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102; MT 14:13-21
Notes: Which Yoke is for you?

No Yoke? Anchorlessness seems appealing to some especially in the face of such disappointment in government and religion, and, even family life. It seems to them almost right we are but animalistic beings with little moral thought to guide us.

Learn the lesson from the Alligator. Alligators naturally watch over their hatchlings. They are very protective. But with the encroachment of man, the modern practice is to abandon them once humans come into contact as a way of protecting the hatchlings and the mother herself. This is an example of brokenness.

Wood Yoke – the moderate and gentle yoke of the Lord.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matt 11:29-30).

At times it may not be what we want at the level of human impulse but it is the perfect guide in life in every way.

Iron Yoke – the world’s domination of mind, body and if you allow your soul.

We celebrate Saint Alphonsus who preached and taught moral theology giving us a model of moderation and gentleness.

Reflection

Saint Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a practical model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all. From:
https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-alphonsus-liguori

First reading
Previously – The Wood Yoke

The LORD said to me: Make for yourself thongs and yoke bars and put them on your shoulders. To Zedekiah, king of Judah, I spoke the same words: Bend your necks to the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, so that you may live. (Jer 27:2, 12).

Disobedience (with the natural consequences)

Now – The Iron Yoke

Thus says the LORD:
By breaking a wooden yoke, you forge an iron yoke!
For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
A yoke of iron I will place on the necks
of all these nations serving Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
and they shall serve him; even the beasts of the field I give him. (Jer 28:13b-14).

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, teach me your statutes.

Remove from me the way of falsehood,
and favor me with your law.

Alleluia Verse
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel Portion
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over– twelve wicker baskets full.

Let us learn from the lesson of the Two Yokes.

Jesus, tired, grieving, and heavily burdened remained as the Divine person he is: gentle and kind.

His yoke is better.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Toil and anxiety of the heart – Vanity!

Season of Harvest

Greetings on this the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23; Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17; Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21
Notes: Do not work for food that will perish, but for food that lasts to eternal life.

This is a question of the heart not of the body.
Yes, we must eat.
Hunt, gather and harvest.
But in the matter of the heart we should be at rest in the Lord.

Today, July 31st, 2022, is an interesting day of transition.

July ends the growing season for many crops.
August-September is called the Season of Harvest (August 5 to September 22, traditionally).

First reading
For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart
with which he has labored under the sun?
All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;
even at night his mind is not at rest.

  • Does this mean we shouldn’t work?
  • Does this mean we shouldn’t worry?

No, this is about the Vanity of Human Toil.
Vain: two definitions.

  1. Having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth.
  2. Producing no result; useless

In our responsorial we sing: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Toil and anxiety of the heart.
The second reading gives us the toil we should avoid.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly (vain):
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices.

This is the vanity of which the first reading speaks.

Responsorial Psalm
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!

This is the harvest of Love.

Second reading
Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

And for all.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Gospel Portion
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”

Anxiety of the heart in this gospel portion:

  • Get a lawyer and sue your brother.
  • Hoarding your bountiful harvest of the Earth.

Pathway Forward:

  • Interior conversion yields exterior righteousness.
  • Sometimes to begin we start with the external and work toward the internal.
  • Sometimes to begin we start with the internal and work toward the external.

But it always arrives at the same place:

Reliance up on the Lord for all things.
Acting rightly among one another.

Vanity is putting emphasis on things that are of lesser value or even useless.

Reflecting the image of God and called to the likeness of God is of the highest value and greatly useful.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Say Something!

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: JER 26:11-16, 24; PS 69:15-16, 30-31, 33-34; Mt 14:1-12
Notes: My Mom used to say, if you have nothing good to say about someone, don’t say anything”

This will be a short homily.

  • The death of John the Baptist was recorded in all three Synoptic gospels.
    • Matt: This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.
    • Mark: John, him I beheaded, has been raised.
    • Luke: Perplexed, John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things? And he sought to see him.

Herod finally meets Jesus in the gospel of Luke during the arrest sequence before Pilate (LK 23:6-12).
For he had long desired to see him:

  1. He heard about him.
  2. Hoped to see some sign from him.
  3. Jesus did not ablige.

First reading
“This man deserves death;
he has prophesied against this city,
as you have heard with your own ears.

Jeremiah spoke about his calling and the Elders testified to the purpose of all prophets.

Thereupon the princes and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve death; it is in the name of the LORD, our God, that he speaks to us

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Gospel Portion
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus.

Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.

None of the guests of Herod spoke up for John the Baptist.

Speak up for holiness!

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Everlasting Hills

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
Readings: Jer 26:1-9; PS 69:5, 8-10, 14; Jn 11:19-27
Notes: The beginning of the Babylonian exile. Seventy Years of Exile.

Shiloh: an important sanctuary where the ark of the covenant was kept, according to the Books of Joshua, Judges, and 1 Samuel. In response to the corrupt behavior of the priests serving there, God allows the Philistines to destroy Shiloh and take the ark of the covenant. Cf. 1 Sm 1:9; 4:3–4; Ps 78:60, 68–69. From:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/jeremiah/7?12=#30007012

First reading
The loss of Shiloh would be the equal in our times to the sacking of Rome and the loss of the Basilicas and sanctuaries. A truly tragic outcome from the eyes of those living in that time and in our time.

It is an important reminder that losing the edifices of the faith is painful but our mission and our hope is for eternal life and a place in the everlasting hills.

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Alleluia Verse
I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel Portion
What is a greater loss?

  • Shiloh or the Vatican?
  • Life or Eternal Life?
  • Damnation or Salvation?

Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Plasticity

Know Thy Self, Socrates

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: JER 18:1-6; PS 146:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB; MT 13:47-53
Notes: In the general sciences and in medical science, including psychology, the term plasticity has a very important meaning.

In short, the ability to adapt and change.

The first reading and the gospel reading share the same message.

Your plasticity is a gift from the Lord to redirect and realign one’s ways (righteousness) regardless of the mistakes of the past. The Kingdom of Heaven is here. One of the gifts of the Kingdom is plasticity and with plasticity, the divine aid to grow.

First reading
In the first reading today, the reading that the Lord can change and remold a person anyway He wishes is a particular way of describing the gift of freedom and of the divine concern for you. It is not a description of your helplessness in the hands of a foreign power. It is the plasticity or freedom to find a good path forward, even after making such terrible mistakes.

Said another way: God is not limited by our mistakes. We have the plasticity to learn, adapt and change per the divine plan for us.

Can I not do to you, house of Israel,
as this potter has done? says the LORD.
Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter,
so are you in my hand, house of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.

Alleluia Verse
Open our heart, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to the disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.

The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

It is for the Angels to decide when the opposite of plasticity is present.

The opposite: (Eek!)

  • hardness
  • roughness
  • harshness
  • bias
  • discrimination
  • acrimony
  • bitterness
  • rage
  • anger
  • bitterness
  • animosity
  • resentment
  • grimness
  • strictness
  • severity
  • sternness
  • austerity
  • discourtesy
  • bloodlust
  • grouchiness

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Precious without the vile

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Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jer 15:10, 16-21; Ps 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18; Mt 13:44-46
Notes: If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.

The challenge for Jeremiah is our challenge too. Having received the good news (the precious) we must bring it forth without the vile (sin). That is: abandon sin and keep the kingdom.

The gospel portion today and tomorrow are the last three parables of the Matthew chapter 13 series of parables. Together they detail the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old. Just like Jeremiah, each abandons the lesser for the greater.

  • Find – a surprise discovery but realize with Joy the supreme value. This is the ‘old”, the law, revealing the ‘new’, the Messiah.
  • Search – a deliberate effort to find a pearl and having done so preserve it. This is the ‘new’, the gospel. Perhaps a good reference for the gentiles.
  • Catch – the angel net catching all men and separating the just from the unjust. This is the end times.

First reading
If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.

Responsorial Psalm
God is my refuge on the day of distress.

Alleluia Verse
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

How do you catch a monkey?

Cut a hole in a gourd large enough for the hand of a monkey.
Inside the gourd, place favorite treats the monkey likes.

He will grab a fistful of treats but will be unable to withdraw the hand because the fistful has the treats is wider than the hole to get in the gourd. He is trapped by his own greed.

If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.
Make sense?

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Delusions

Colonialism is a delusional basis.

The departure of the American Catholic Church from the leadership of the Church is a product of delusional reasoning. The Church seems to be running toward law as solution rather than the beatitudes.

Have we lost confidence in love? Have we fallen into reductionist reasoning that love is equal to impotence?

Conversion of love is the only valid Christian message. As I say time and again, Conversion not Coercion. Conversion of every christian heart in solidarity and common good with all human hearts.

Contrast Pope Francis.

In this time, Pope Francis is apologizing for the deplorable acts of individual Christians and the whole of the Church’s participation in the catastrophic Canadian assimilation policies against the indigenous people.

National Catholic Register

https://www.ncregister.com/news/full-text-pope-francis-apology-to-the-indigenous-peoples-in-canada link

Whatever the social issue the answer is respect, compassion, sensitivity, friendship, welcoming, participation, common orderliness, and a journey to holiness.

Modern colonialism exists, is expanding and even within our own cities.

We must bring from our own treasures quiet discourse, familial love, virtues, chastity, Sacrament and baptism. Not as instrument but as gift and gift alone. Bearing rejection gracefully and respectfully.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Quiet Saints

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Greetings this Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Readings: Sir 44:1, 10-15; Ps 132:11, 13-14, 17-18; Mt 13:16-17
Notes: From time to time you will read my complaint about the overemphasis of Heroes, Saints and Martyrs as the focus of the Church and, for that matter, secular society. Mostly because we expect the Other to be a hero, saint or martyr but of our own household we are not held to such a standard.

  1. The mantra of “Good guy with guns will protect us” has failed disgracefully as an example.
  2. The demand that women with ectopic pregnancies should be Saints in facing certain doom, even if their religious tradition does not expect that of them, is an absurd misuse of the terms Saint and Martyr. This is only truly possible by conversion not coercion.

But, we do have heroes, saints and martyrs. They are remembered for their self-gift of life itself. They are our ideal and our model for our own behaviors. They are the huge crowd from every nation and race, people and tongue, before the Lamb dressed in white robes and holding palm branches (abb Rev 7:9-12).

Then we have the quiet Saints. Who faithfully worship God and obey the commandments and seek the consolation of Israel and of their own household.

Franciscans have a beautiful write-up on the quiet heroism of the parents of Mary. Below is their reflection part.

Reflection

This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-joachim-and-anne

First reading
Now will I praise those godly men [and women],
our ancestors, each in his/her own time:
These were godly men [and women]
whose virtues have not been forgotten;
Their wealth remains in their families,
their heritage with their descendants;
Through God’s covenant with them their family endures,
their posterity for their sake.

Responsorial Psalm
God will give him the throne of David, his father.

Alleluia Verse
They yearned for the comforting of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit rested upon them.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry