I’ve been Framed!

loving-father-prodigal-son-rembrandt-768x986

I’ve been Framed!

Greetings on the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Readings: JOS 5:9A, 10-12; PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7; 2 COR 5:17-21; LK 15:1-3, 11-32

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

It is fitting that this year is the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. One of Rembrandt’s most compelling pieces, his final painting, was the Return of the Prodigal Son. So much has been written about this invocative piece and the story of Rembrandt’s life. A very good read on the matter would be by Henri J. M. Nouwen with a title of the same name.

The Return

The centrality of the parable is the merciful forgiveness of the Lord and His call for our salvation and reconciliation with the divine and one another. The story does not end as fables do with a perfect and happy ending but rather with a moral dilemma. How will the younger son treat the older son? How will the older son treat the younger? The younger now safely in the house and celebrating while the older brother outside brooding over past wrongs.

The parable of the Prodigal Son is about salvation and the family life with its intertwined reality in the salvation of both sons. It is a question of superficiality. The older son is suddenly aware of his discontent. The younger son is oblivious to the older son and caring for only his own restoration. It’s a disaster in the making. And, yet, the Father knows and works to reconcile and embrace both his sons.

Servants, Hired Workers and Friends

And, now, what of the others namely the Servants, Hired Workers and Friends?

It is noteworthy that it is a servant who breaks the news to the older brother.

Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

He became angry…

Editorial note: no, he gave motion to his seething anger.

Pity the poor servant who had to break the news to the older brother. He no doubt knew the older sons true feelings. Or do you think everyone is fooled by his stoic mask? I am sure the servant hoped beyond hope the news would be accepted gladly. The servant wears the disinterested mask worn by those who know the pain of the older son’s violence. The servant was happy too for the master who is father-like to the hired workers giving more than enough food to eat.

Pity the friends of the older brother. Friends, true friends grieve over his estrangement from both his father and brother. True friends want to correct him but are fearful of his response. Consider his anger rage-fill response to the fathers pleading. ‘LOOK, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.’

Servant, hired worker and friend alike can see the mercy and forgiveness but for the movement of the soul of the older son.

We’ve Been Framed

Consider Rembrandt’s painting! See the drama of older and younger brother unfold before you. Clearly this is the central theme. Both father and son share the left center and the older brother commands the right center of the frame. The light is from an interior source – the hands and face of the father. The light embraces the younger son and casts a hopeful ray upon the older son who will have none of it.

But who else is in the frame. Who else sees but small flickers of light that they are visible at all.

Four onlookers stare at the scene. Henri Nouwen sees spectators. I see hearts pleading silently behind their frozen masks that the young son and the elder son would say yes to love. Two women looked at in faith are pining the scene before them is real not a fantasy and that this love light is for them too. It is generally understood that one is a daughter Cornelia and the other his spouse Saskia – who both preceded him in death.

Actually all his children save one daughter preceded him in death (son Rumbartus 1635, 1st daughter Cornelia 1638, 2nd daughter Cornelia 1640, wife Saskia 1642, unnamed son 1652, son Titus 1668).  Rembrandt died in 1669. The servant with a vacuous look and relaxed pose of spectator is hiding behind the servant’s mask worn by those who have been abused by the elder son standing, no, Lording over him. And the flute player frozen in the wood work hoping this live will bring life to him as well.

The story of the Return of the Prodigal Son is about two Sons….. Plus everyone in the frame. This merciful love of the father taken with reconciliation would light up all the people in the frame.

Salvation has both a horizontal and vertical axis, yes?

Who is in your frame?

And so we conclude with the question. Who is in your frame?

What does your life portrait look like?

Who is in your darkened shadows?

How many are searching your eyes, hands, face for any sign of the love light that remains when one receives forgiveness with the heart of reconciliation.

Paint a new picture.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Facts

Tower of Siloam

Facts

Homily Sunday, March 24, 2019 (major points borrowed from Saint Pope John Paul II March 22, 1992)

How well do I know myself? How well do people know me?

Can you imagine this happening to you or me?

In 1888, a man’s brother named Ludvig died in France from a heart attack. Thanks to poor reporting, at least one French newspaper believed that it was Alfred who had perished, and it proceeded to write a scathing obituary that branded him a “merchant of death” who had grown rich by developing new ways to “mutilate and kill.” The error was later corrected, but not before Alfred had the unpleasant experience of reading his own death notice. The incident may have brought on a crisis of conscience and led him to reevaluate his career. This is the one and the same Alfred Nobel – inventor of dynamite. In his last will he established the Nobel Peace prize for advancements that bring practical use and peace for humankind. Today we call it the Nobel Peace Prize first issued in 1901.

(https://www.history.com/news/did-a-premature-obituary-inspire-the-nobel-prize)

God reveals his name to mankind

  1. On this third Sunday of the Lenten season, in the passage from Exodus, God lets us know his name.

    ‘I AM sent me to you'” (cf. Ex 3:13-14). This word, “I am”, which is also expressed in the word Yahweh, says that God is the existent and transcendent One. Everyone receives existence from him. From this we are given to understand that Yahweh is none other than one, the only God.

  2. Revealing to people his own name, that is, his intimate existence, is a sign of God’s great kindness. However, this is only the beginning!
  3. Prophets, psalmists follow with their message of God.
  4. Then from the Lord Jesus’ revelation we explicitly learned that God, although one in essence, exists in three equal but distinct Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We learned that the choice of the people of Israel in the Old Testament was meant to prepare for the coming of the Messiah but that, with the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, true God and true man, all of mankind has been called to the dignity of the People of God. Most of all we learned (and this is the greatest thing God said about himself through Christ) that God is love, that is, in him being and loving are the same thing, that he possesses unlimited love, that he has not received the ability to love from anyone else, but that everyone receives it from him.

  5. How much love God has poured out upon the earth and into our hearts! He has done so through the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, poured out at Pentecost upon the people gathered in the Upper Room and, since that day, upon all believers in the different forms in which grace has been given to souls.

Continuous Conversion

All this takes place within us through continuous conversion. In fact, conversion means eliminating the obstacles between us and him, between us and his grace, and letting his life be instilled in us.

Being converted means taking on a new mentality by which we see as Jesus sees, we want what Jesus wants and we live as Jesus live. Living from him and like him is the goal of the Christian, to the point of being able to say with St. Paul: “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

In the passage from the gospel of Luke, we see how Jesus takes his starting point from that day’s current events to teach the people and to preach conversion: the news involved the ferocious murder of a group of Galileans (what we do to others) and the sudden collapse of a tower which had killed 18 people (what we build).

Concerning the first episode, Jesus says: “Do you think that these Galileans were the greatest sinners in Galilee just because they suffered this?” (Lk:13:2). With these words he wants to eliminate the notion that misfortune is necessarily a punishment for sin.

Concerning the second episode Jesus warns: “But I tell you, you will all come to the same end unless you begin to reform” (Lk:13:5). Here the topic is more clearly expressed: Jesus wants to make us reflect on the fact that a catastrophe has symbolic meaning too; it is a reminder to examine one’s own state of conscience. When it is a question of hardened sinners who meet a tragic fate, it is even more tragic than the events described because the ultimate destiny of each person is concerned with eternity – our Final End.

However, even though the warning is a harsh one, Jesus is patient, full of love and mercy. We see this in the parable of the fig tree that does not yield fruit. After three years the owner ordered it to be cut down. But the vinedresser asked for a reprieve. The vinedresser is Jesus who, in his great love, offers us still more time to mend our ways, to be converted and live as true Christians.

St. Paul, too, in today’s passage from the First letter to the Corinthians, urges us not to fool ourselves: it is not enough to be baptized and nourished at the same Eucharistic table if we do not live well and keep watch! (cf. 1 Cor 10:3-4).

Let us contemplate this mystery which inspires the Third Sunday of lent. God revealed his name to us. God has offered us his profound mystery: the mystery of divinity and then the mystery of communion, of the Trinity. Let us remain then in contemplation of this mystery of the Name of God in order better to understand the mystery of lent, conversion, but conversion through Christ’s sacrifice, through his paschal mystery. Praised be Jesus Christ!

Note: On Monday, 22 March, the Holy Father made a Pastoral Visit to Rome’s St. Leonard Murialdo Parish. During his visit he celebrated the Mass of the Third Sunday of Lent; after the Gospel he preached the homily based on the readings.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unwinding

DeaconCross

Unwinding

I have had a quite unique experience.

During the period of my diaconal formation and continuing during the first 4 years of diaconal life, I have witnessed the then approaching death of two very holy deacons. Reverend Deacon George J Collins died on May 6th, 2011. Reverend Deacon William H. Cresswell died on May 27, 2015. In the case of Deacon Bill, I was honored to be present and praying for his safe passage even at his last breath.

Deacons George and Bill were dedicated to their ordination and public ministry.

Service during incapacitation – George

I remember once visiting Deacon George in the hospital. I cannot recall the reason for his hospitalization but I do recall the multiple IV bags hanging from the pole and running into his arm. In the years leading up to that day I had been working for Deacon George in the various ministries he was responsible for at the parish. Almost absent minded I asked George, ‘Do you think it is time to retire?’ George responded, ‘I am waiting for a sign from the Lord’. Without a pause I asked, ‘Don’t you think this is the sign – the person to be taking over your ministry is standing next to you with you in a hospital bed with an IV drip in your arm?’

I guess subtly is not my usual play.

We went on from there continuing to serve until it was clear it was time to stop. His daughter came to claim him and bring him home to her household to enjoy the time to come.

When George and were discussing his exodus he assured me he would continue to serve with holding bible studies and other home based ministry. He never stopped wanting to serve the Lord.

He died within a few months.

His last writing only weeks before he died can be found here: https://deacongeorgecollins.webs.com//Documents/To%20Pay%20the%20Debt.pdf

Service during incapacitation – William

Deacon Bill was a holy deacon as well. Deacon Bill serves without complaint even if there was a lot one could complain about!

Whenever he was asked how things were, he would always respond ‘Wonderful!’

Deacon Bill had Parkinson’s disease. If memory serves he suffered a decline that lasted about 5 years. It was difficult for him and his very supportive adult children. Time and again I would visit Bill and we would have long and private conversations about the gift of suffering and dedicating one’s suffering for Christ. He was uniquely called to devote his suffering for the world and I suspect great graces have been dispensed to us from his willingness to see his pain as something beautiful contained within the passion of the Lord.

Many times when he served the Altar he would lift the chalice during the elevation of the elements. His hand was uncertain at best and ire call praying most fervently for him and the Church that his hand and arm remain strong that no scandal would result from a spill. Always his hand would straighten like a bar of steel. To this day I recall his courage as service unto the end.

I was praying the prayer of commendation over Bill at 8:45 AM on May 27th 2015 and reciting the Hail, holy Queen… when I reached ‘that he may be made worthy of the promises of Christ’ he drew his last breath.

Tough Act to Follow

I don’t think I will do the same.

For me I see decisions to serve after being informed of serious health issues should contain a certain degree of discernment and discovery.

What can I do, one might ask? What is different than before? What is best for the transitions?

For me I see the infinite possibilities of diaconal service in non-traditional ways that break out of the existing framework and bring one to the marginalized that much more closely.

I don’t hold my diaconal ordination as a thing to be possessed but a gift to be dispossessed. In fact I will say the Permanent Diaconate is a bridge between the Church of the 21st century and the 22nd century. Not long after will we see the married priesthood and ordained deaconesses. I am certain that the permanent is in fact a different transitional diaconate based on the needs of the Church in a specific time of her history.

With that framework in mind what to do?

By the way, it’s not like I have a timeline in mind. That is the point. There is no timeline only capacity and competency. Knowing incapacity is coming what is the Spirit calling me to do?

For now I will keep my counsel. In fact since my blog is not actually read this is almost my personal diary at this point!

What should I unwind?

My first instinct is to complete the projects already in flight in the Philippine and Haiti. In each case ending them so to speak at a good place seems the tidy thing to do. Like Deacon George train and hand over my local ministry to competent parishioner lay persons. These steps seem fairly obvious.

I need to unwind some dreams too. Travel to Rome to study (not a big tourist person but rather to read and study in the bosom of the Church). Day dreams of various ministries that have always captivated my spirit and to stretch and expand my otherness with Christ. These too must be put aside.

I read Pope Benedict XVI Declaratio (10 February 2013) announcing his resignation of the Bishop of Rome hoping to gain some insights. It isn’t that same thing but it was worth a look.

What should I wind up?

Ah, the fun part!

Can we fail to quote the saying ‘When the Lord closes a door he opens a window’?

Returning to making Music as from my youth. I love music and making music. I plan to practice and perform where uplifting. This is fruitful living.

Deepening the Prayer and learning from Deacon Bill the necessity for a deacon to offer gift in suffering.

Continue teaching school as a profession. While still practical I think I would like to continue. What a great transition our teens need to witness less fear of the future and more embracing life as life.

Continue Clinical Pastoral Care as a practice. I am certain (as much as one can be at times like this) that Lord wants me to continue to minister to the sick and dying.

Silence

Most of all I will enjoy the silence that comes from ignoring the world and its distractions and seeing the kingdom already present among us.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

 

 

Broken Records and Jukeboxes

Broken RecordBroken Records and Jukeboxes

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: SIR 27:4-7; PS 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 1 COR 15:54-58; LK 6:39-45

A Needed Break

A long Ordinary Time between Christmas season and Lent this year. It allows us to enjoy the continuous readings of Sirach – a wisdom book offering time tested advice about friendship and relationship.

The time before lent is a time for listening to the wisdom of Jesus, Son of Eleazar, Son of Sirach. Listen to Jesus – listen.

One’s speech discloses the bent of one’s mind.

Of course this truth cuts both ways. What we hear others say reveals and what we say reveals about us as well.

When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks.

Under stress truth wiggles out. Truth tends to do that. Find its way to the mouth – even when we don’t want it to.

The body has similar strengths that are always interesting examples. How about the man who having been shot in the back years ago suddenly – twenty years later see the bullet coming out of the skin. Slowly ever so slowly the body expels what does not belong. I always found those stories interesting. But I digress.

There is another listen warning in today’s readings.

Gospel Listening

Judging is tricky business. Jesus recommends we look at the fruit of the one speaking. What do they say? What do they do?

Mostly it’s about the jukebox we have in our soul.

Jukebox

When difficult or uncomfortable conversations begin we have this really useful but dangerous habit. Play back the records form the Jukebox in our souls.

Some of these vinyl records are harmless and filled with joyful memories.

Yet most are filled with judgment and condemnations from past events. The problem is we don’t listen to the current event. We hear only the past and plat h appropriate broken record that applied then and is convenient now. It is a convenient process but untrue and hurtful.

Fruit Not Broken Records

Jesus calls us to produce good fruit. Good fruit come from within souls that cast away the jukebox of prerecorded responses and broken records of resentment.

Good fruit is producing new fruit founded on listening and engaging and being authentic in the moment.

The examples Jesus gives are when we actually do not engage the other but prescribe history and law alone to the situation.

Jesus says, provide good fruit.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Loser Leaven

Leaven

Loser Leaven

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings: GN 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10; PS 29:1A AND 2, 3AC-4, 3B AND 9C-10; MK 8:14-21

It was another example of the leaven of evil or as Jesus described it: Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod (Mk 8:15).

Donald Trump, Jr. proposing to the young conservatives to distain and forsake their teachers and their loser teacher indoctrination (Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/02/16/why-donald-trump-jr-loser-teachers-comment-was-a-chilling-moment-educators-around-world/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c354436ea825).

You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth.

The Leaven

Some basics on leaven are in order.

Leaven or leavening agents have a basic function.

When making bread the desired chemical reaction is to produce many tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. This causes the dough to rise and expand in every direction and make for a large and fluffy flavorful loaf of bread when baked. It is a yeast based fermentation process. The alcohol is gassed off in the process.

The leaven example is a way Jesus would compare and contrast the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of the divine one.

The Divine Leaven

Jesus describes his own leaven.

He cites the twice sharing miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000. He is referring to the restorative and supportive nature of the divine will when this leaven enters us. When we allow the Lord to be the leaven of our souls great and wonderful things happen. And all these things elevate and support the human experience.

Justice is a central theme of the divine. Loser teachers teach the same: There are no just structures without people who want to be just (CCC, 2832).

The Leaven of Evil

By comparison Jesus infers the inferior leaven of the Pharisees – the ones who hold the religious and political power (Pharisees and Herod, respectively). These do not produce the miraculous or restorative nor just and right relation. Rather they focus on wealth, power and control. Trump perverts the true conservative movement for one based on greed and fear.

Donald Trump Jr is selling the leaven of people like William Franklin Graham III and Jordan Ross Belfort, respectively, expressing self-interest in religion and business.

ISM Social

Donald Trump, Jr is right. Teaching needs to change. Here are some proposals for his charitable foundation to fund. Oh wait. He was permanently barred from running a charity in New Your due to his and the Trump family enormous greed. The family must pay back 2.8 million.

  • Philosophy – Essential understanding of a moral framework and the authentic search for the character of the person.
  • Ethics – Ethics should be a required course in High School and business ethics in College.
  • Humanities – How we come to believe and sense what we think.
  • Economics – Clearly Donald has very little understanding of economic theory. This can be said of so many so some more education is in order. The misuse of language has taken new and disturbing energy from the Trump family.

What Leaven will you eat?

If leaven can be thought to animate the human soul then what type of leaven do you want to eat: the leaven of the divine or the leaven of a ponzi schemsters like Bernard Madoff?

Which do you think Donald Trump, Jr is promoting? Justice or Greed?

Let’s eat.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Way or the Highway

MYwayHighway

My Way or the Highway

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: JER 1:4-5, 17-19; PS 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; 1 COR 12:31—13:13; LK 4:21-30

The reading today brings into sharp focus the difference between the way God thinks and we humans tend to do something else (react). The first reading in Jeremiah recounts Moses and the Exodus (gird your loins). In Jeremiah’s time, how God will rescue them too and you should have faith in your deliverer. The responsorial psalmist recounts how we are known and knitted in the womb and the one who made us will surely not forget us.

Then in the Gospel reading it all falls apart. Right after Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah (the ‘Spirit of the Lord is upon me’) he is confronted with our demand: My way or the Highway.

Startling isn’t it that in Jesus’ home town exists in many living there such interior discord that when Jesus continued to speak they basically said, ‘My way or the highway’ or more specifically they try to throw him off a cliff.

Eek!

Interior Discord

The pairing of the Gospel with the letter of Paul to the Corinthians helps us frame the question well and therefore help us choose the better path.

Isn’t this the son of Joseph? –there it is. This is a hint to the interior thoughts. Who are you to tell us anything? Wow, from praise to derision in 10 seconds.

Jesus offers insight to their interior discontent:

  1. Physician, cure yourself – you think you are better than us?
  2. Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum – do what we tell you for us!
  3. Yet, no prophet is accepted in his own native place – you are a simple man, no Great Prophet are you, Jesus.

Jesus recounts the ancient story about God’s love for all. This reveals the deepest discontent of all. He told them the story to help them break out of their self-interest and interior discord and to think more broadly about Godly love.

  1. Elijah – sent only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
  2. Elisha the prophet – cleansed only Naaman the Syrian.

Ouch! Or Ouch? Therein is the interior response.

Paul to the rescue

The apostle Paul brings this great divide into focus. How are we focuses interiorly?

Everyone in the crowd had gifts from God. Some gifts are obvious and grand. Some gifts are subtle and sublime. Depends what you do with them!

Paul teaches without love as the centering purpose and source of strength it is worthless.

Then he does the side by side comparison.

  1. Love is patient and love is kind verses jealous and pompous.
  2. Love rejoices with the truth verses inflated, rude, seeking its own interests, quick-tempered, brooding over injury, rejoicing over wrongdoing.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Decide

The gospel message is kindness to the other, even your enemy. The Gospel is the power to do such things in love.

If you want to throw people over a cliff because they want to heal the sick, help the immigrant, feed the poor and tend to the widow and orphan… then know you are asking Jesus to pass through the midst of you and go away. And that brings tears to the eye of God.

Decide to love instead.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

 

 

 

Divine Transparency

transparency

Divine Transparency

I meant to post my homily notes before 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; LK 3:15-16, 21-22

Lukan Perspective

In the Gospel of Luke we have one of the four accounts of the baptism of Jesus. Each account emphasis is different. Each account has a slightly different perspective.

The Lukan perspective is centered on the prayer of Jesus which in the Holy Spirit reveals the interior dialog of Father and Son.

‘… and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying’

In very few instances of sacred Scripture can we use one of the alternate definitions of prayer in the Jewish tradition; here this prayer is an introspection and bonding.

In this prayer both Father and Son answer the question in the context of a deep judgment — ‘who am I’.

This baptismal prayer is a communal bonding of Father and Son. This prayer is a reciprocal and dynamic expression of communion. The Father’s love for the Son is not static or stale. Rather it is loving communion that is ever-dynamic and ever-fresh. In this case we see how this is so based on other known aspects of the divine life.

‘… The heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove’

The presence of the Holy Spirit in this prayer exchange would be understood in the context of known perspectives of the Spirit. As we see in 1 Corr 2:10:

This God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

In this baptismal exchange the Holy Spirit reveals the very depths of God. The Spirit searching everything that is God and the revelation of the mystery of God’s wisdom.

We humans cannot do this. Dominus providebit. The Lord will provide.

Who am I?

In the baptism of the Lord the question is asked and answered by the Father and the Son at the probing of the Holy Spirit. To the very depths of the Father we find him and He tell us directly.

You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

God is the very essence of beloved. Jesus is the beloved. God is love. Jesus is love. That is who they are.

Actually, to put it in modern terms and in parental terms we can all best relate.

This voice from heaven is the exuberant overflowing irresistible primal utterance coming from the very depths of a parent —- I Love YOU!

This inner life of God the Father and Son brought out to us by the Holy Spirit is the very life Jesus baptizes us into. This is the final end for us to be in the middle of this dynamic ever fresh love.

God’s love for you is never stale, never static and never unreflective.

Rather in every prayer you raise to God the Father allows the Holy Spirit to probe his depths and bring forward this eternal reality.

I love you, my beloved!

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

Mission Accomplished

epiphany 3 wisemen

Mission Accomplished

On this The Epiphany of the Lord, I’d like to share with you the profound reality hidden in plain view regarding the Magi and their homage to the Lord.

Readings today: IS 60:1-6; PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6; MT 2:1-12

Generally the Christian community tends to focus on the mystical aspects of the star rising which is not a problem per se but does tend to mask over the basic truth: the Jewish people have fulfilled their mission. Mission accomplished: the Messianic message has been given to the Gentiles. For it is written (Isaiah 60:3):

“[The Gentiles] shall walk in the light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.”

We can say that Jesus is the visible sign of the consistent and ancient sharing of the good news by the Jewish people through the centuries prior to Jesus’ arrival. Jesus is both attesting to the work of his faithful people and to the future fulfillment of this work in himself.

From Summa Theologica:

I answer that, As stated above (A3,r 1), the Magi are the “first-fruits of the Gentiles” that believed in Christ; because their faith was a presage of the faith and devotion of the nations who were to come to Christ from afar. And therefore, as the devotion and faith of the nations is without any error through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, so also we must believe that the Magi, inspired by the Holy Ghost, did wisely in paying homage to Christ.

How does this come to be?

Throughout the Old Testament the Jewish people brought the good news of the saving power of G-d. Throughout their travels they would speak with faith the ancient stories of Genesis and Exodus of which you are familiar. They had two different audiences. Primarily, the diaspora or dispersed Jewish populations around the known world where they would teach them the ways of the Torah and right living. The secondary audience was the gentile communities. Here too they taught the same lessons. They would teach of the Exodus and how You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God (Lev 18:34).

The concept of righteous gentiles was well established from of old. The Gentles were further taught the 7 Noahide Laws which bind the children of Noah. Right living or righteousness were the central themes taught to the gentiles and that they too should expect the Messiah. Further during major inflection points in Jewish history the Lord uses a Gentile to bring about His will (a useful book reference: http://www.jewishlights.com/page/product/978-1-58023-364-4).

Trading Secrets

How did this all come about: trade. Jewish traders traveled far and wide long before the time of Jesus. The traders would supply and support the diaspora and trade with all those gentiles who wish to trade. Israel had products to trade as well as particular access to the Egyptian markets and products. Well established southern and northern trading routes were in existence centuries before the coming of the Christ.

The city of Palmira or Palmyra was built by King Solomon (1 Kings 9:18; 2 Chron. 8:4). It was situated about 140 miles northeast of Damascus, on the caravan route between Palestine and the Euphrates. Thus situated, the city was fortified by Solomon to protect his trade routes. In Hebrew, it is called Tadmor.

To the south more trade routes which included portions of sea-routes to India and south east Africa.

The title Magi is based on a Persian word. It is generally accepted that these Magi came from ancient Persia. They came a long way to see for themselves this King!

Witness and Inspiration

It is the diaspora and the Jewish trader who brought the good news (small ‘g’ and small ‘n’ to distinguish) that there is a loving God and He will send the Messiah. This witness together with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit compelled them to travel to Jerusalem to greet and pay homage to the King. I submit to you both are required. It is God’s plan to have us participate in the salvific message and no less so for the Jewish people to be the first to bear the Good News. I think the Magi knew Bethlehem was the place but they were simply asking directions to this suburb of Jerusalem. Herod was clueless.

Gifts

Gold, Frankincense and myrrh. Usually we associate the frankincense with the temple worship and incensing the Altar. However, from a Persian perspective, frankincense is a healing remedy. It is my opinion that the Persian influence allows us to view the frankincense as a healing remedy (Persian) and as incense for temple worship (Jewish). These three kings are declaring this new born to be a King, the healing remedy of God and the Suffering Servant. Wow! The righteous living of the diaspora and traders would be the witness that proves the promise.

Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph of Gospel fame was most likely a trader. Galilee while principally an agricultural region it s also perfectly situated for trade toward Damascus (east). It is understood that Joseph traded and traveled for and wide. While some would like the British version the more likely is Damascus, Babylon, the east coast of Africa and India. This is still evolving science and archaeology. Artifacts placing 1st century Jews in trade is well established. Jesus, between age 12 and his coming out in public ministry, very likely accompanied Joseph on these trading caravans. Poetically, it is even possible Jesus met the three Kings later in life in their home place (speculative).

Modern Take-Away

Application of the Epiphany in our time should include these observations:

1. Trade, free-trade, is critical.
2. Freedom of religion is critical.
3. Freedom of travel and immigration are critical.
4. Righteous living is essential. It is the preparation for the Messiah.
5. Sharing the promises of a loving God is a mandate for Jews and Gentiles alike.
6. The Messiah is the healing remedy for what ails humanity.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Christmas Was a Riot

Riot Fun - Identity

Christmas was a Riot

It couldn’t have been more prophetic now could it?

On the Saturday of the Third Week of Advent, December 22, 2018 the gospel reading of the day is LUKE 1:46-56.

My Soul Proclaims!

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

Why?

He has looked upon his lowly servant (and by extension all his lowly servants).

How?

He has mercy.

In what ways does he have mercy?

He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

Even now?

He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.

Quick Trip

I took a quick trip to Haiti to support a friend and serve the Funeral Mass for his Mother.

Nearly everyone would grieve the loss of one’s mother. For a priest it can often be exceptionally painful. As described to another prior to leaving:

For a priest and their life of celibacy the loss of a mother has two distinct characteristics. The last bit of the femininity of G-d and natural maternal relationship has now passed. It becomes a very lonely time and one of the greatest affronts to their faith. While none should stereotype this is the case for my friend. I go for our friendship. I go because I know her and love her too. I go because his faith needs me.

Luke Proclaims Liberation which requires the Struggle with Evils

Evil does not sit quietly as the proclamation of righteousness is made. Evil pride fights back. The mighty use their power to oppress. The rich continue to fill their stores without pause.

Evil resists the Gospel. We should resist evil.

On the evening of December 21st the well respected radio station Radio Kiskeya burned down. The radio station was respected for its championing of democracy and press freedom in Haiti. It is no more.

RadioStation

None are suggesting that the fire was arson at least not yet. Evil and natural evils abound in the creative space.

Miami Herald Reporting on Haiti Radio Station Destruction

Protests and anxiety erupt

Nearly immediately protests – well organized and large – protests began. So ingrained is mistrust that what most likely was a simple fire took on the character of oppression.

And the protests began with large scale blockage of Route 2 – the route we were taking and entered this space as we returned from the funeral.

Driving Route - Haiti

US Embassy Security Alert 22-12-2018

Embassy Alert

National Zealots verse zealousness for the Lord

For Men of Goodwill there will always also be the tension between nationalistic zealots and zealousness for the Lord. The Lord reminds us He judges rightly and not necessarily always for the poor in particular when in error of judgment and action. With that caveat noted the Lord is clearly most attuned to the widow, orphan, hungry, weak and dispossessed. Knowing the difference takes wisdom.

Maybe we can renew our Christian ardor by proclaiming as Mary did and acting as Mary acted.

Given the Message – She Went

After learning of her cousin Elizabeth being pregnant in her old age, Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. She tended to Elizabeth in her time of need.

Given the Need – She Remained

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.

Haiti is improving I believe. I saw lots of new construction and many at work. Roads are improving if at too slow a pace that suppresses development they are still improving. Good does not happen merely spontaneously – or only spontaneously. It is the action of Men of Goodwill (Humans of Goodwill) moved by the Holy One to get up and go!

TPS Extensions – By Virtue of the Good Fight

The Christ has come – and continues to come!

And the infant in me leaps for joy!!

A private trip goes public

My trip was intended to be private. Support between brothers and the immense weight of grief. But the fact is yesterday we celebrated the martyrdom of Saint Stephen and tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs. Evil does not give up easily. Innocence is the victim. Indifference is the fuel.

Let us all resolve to make 2019 the year of difference. Proclaim the goodness of the Lord! Do it in your actions. Live it in your politics.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry

A Lost Soul

esp-lost-soulA Lost Soul

When one fears no God.
When one has lost the gift of hope.
When one sees only what is advantage or disadvantage.
Non Fui, Fui, Non Sum, Non Curo
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care.

Partial quote: we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world! https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/20/donald-trump-statement-saudi-arabia-khashoggi-killing-1008219

We have become the terror itself.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, not even one;  there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for god; all have turned aside, together they have become useless;  there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips;  whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of god before their eyes. Romans 3:9-18

For President Trump there is every advantage to ignore the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. He is after all a journalist in the way of Trump’s agenda.

This is pure evil and the alignment to evil.

How many Prophets does the Lord have to send to us? There will be no more.

But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ Luke 16:30-31

If we continue with this, we are all lost souls.

Blessings,

Deacon Gerry