Model to follow

Washing of the Feet America Magazine

Greetings on this the Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Readings: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; PS 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15

Note: COVID precautions preclude the washing of the feet tonight. We are so close to the end of the crisis we’d prefer not to make things regress.

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

What are you willing to give me?

Greetings on this the Wednesday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 50:4-9a; PS 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34; Mt 26:14-25

Note: In Christ, I love you. Yesterday’s reflection contained the Judas betrayal so I will not go there today.

Servant Salvation

Today’s old testament reading is from the section of Isaiah known as the Salvation Through the Lord’s Servant.

The chapter begins with the direct challenge to the charge that God has abandoned them. This section precedes the reading today.

  • Did I write a bill of divorce?
  • Did I sell you into slavery?
  • Did you not hear me calling out to you?
  • Do you think I cannot ransom you from your slavery to sin?

Moreover… today’s Isaiah portion (1st reading)…

  • I know and answer the weary. This is my Messianic mission.
  • I allow you to beat me and to tear out my beard.
  • I am not disgraced but these disgraceful actions.

Servant Anguish and Distress
Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Here the Lord joins the lament.
He personifies the lament.
The Lord…

  • bears insults, shame, being outcast, no compassion.
  • tolerates gall and vinegar for food and drink.

Never the less…
Zeal for your house consumes me (see John 2:17).
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.


What are you willing to give me?

He was offered 30 pieces of silver. The price of a slave.

God offers himself. A slave to love.

Choose well.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Deeply Troubled

Judas Franciscan Media

Greetings on this the Tuesday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 49:1-6; PS 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5ab-6ab, 15 and 17; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

On Palm Sunday we read, “For the Son of Man is going away just as it is written about Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born (Mk 14:21).

Jesus is making a reference to the book of Ecclesiastes directly and by inferrence in conclusion.

Again I saw all the oppressions that take place under the sun: the tears of the victims with none to comfort them! From the hand of their oppressors comes violence, and there is none to comfort them! And those now dead, I declared more fortunate in death than are the living to be still alive. And better off than both is the yet unborn, who has not seen the wicked work that is done under the sun (Ecc 4:1-3).

Whatever is, was long ago given its name, and human nature is known; mortals cannot contend in judgment with One who is stronger (Ecc 4:10).

Judas Victim and Victimizer

Jesus came to save. Jesus knows the deepest thoughts, pains and mistakes – intentional and unintentional.

Jesus came to save Judas too. I cannot imagine the difficulty in loving Judas and giving permission for him to betray at the same time. But Jesus knows our plight in its entirety.

Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once.

We have no defense but the defense of the one whom we cannot contend in judgment. He has decided you are worthy of his love and you are worthy of salvation.

The passion is soon. Come and settle accounts with a loving God. We fail, yes, but his love never fails. He knows. Jesus knows.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

A Bruised Reed Smoldering Wick

Smoldering Wick courtesy Catholic Net

Greetings on this the Monday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 42:1-7; PS 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14; Jn 12:1-11

Note One: I cannot give high enough praise to Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg a teacher and theologian committed to educating Christians and removing anti-Semitism from the Christian faith. I recommend his book The Jewish Gospel of John.

Note Two: Interfaith prayer service for the Farmworkers who died from COVID-19. Quakers (Religious Society of Friends), Iman, Rabbi, Priest and Deacon offering prayers for these bruised reeds.

See news coverage…

A Bruised Reed

A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.

To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

When the Lord speaks about us it is always in terms that have a twin meaning.

We are in a bind and we are in need of compassion.

The verse before the gospel says it well:

Hail to you, our King;
you alone are compassionate with our faults.

Objection, Your Honor

Careful reading the gospel message today, our objections are made clear and we are in need of divine compassion.

A dinner for Lazarus and Jesus – a large crowd wanted to see the spectacle of Lazarus and a taste of a good meal. The Romans call it Bread and Circus.

A potential for pocketing money – Judas the Iscariot wanted the gift to be converted to cash so he could take a portion. Helping the poor can be a vehicle for riches and fame. I guess there is a tax collector in all of us. The gospel of Mark goes deeper into this bruised reed problem and our misuse of the poor in a myriad of ways.

Only One

Anointing Jesus – only Mary. In the gospel of Mark it is written wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. She got it.

Here is a nice interfaith write-up on spikenard.

In preparation for the departure of the spirit to the heavens, Spikenard allows us to release our fears of the unknown, to have the courage to step forward. Spikenard helps to reconcile all that has happened to us in this lifetime upon the earth, and to make peace with those who have hurt us.

Our Help is in the Lord

…who made heaven and earth.

Hold his hand and journey with the Lord.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

It is better

West Palm Beach

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Readings: Ez 37:21-28; Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12abcd, 13; Jn 11:45-56

Note: Saturday before Holy Week. I am not certain if I will write any of the days of Holy Week. One thing is certain, a LIKE isn’t a read, sadly. Does anyone actually read these? I will still post as it is a good exercise to prepare homilies and my own spiritual journey.

Right but Wrong

Caiaphas is right of course: do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.”

That one would be the Suffering Servant and the Messiah, in one person. Suffering in obedience and propitiation. Messiah in leading the people to true freedom.

Here you have the double meaning. He prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, but his intended message was Jesus is a worthless pawn in the scheme to hold power and keep the Romans at bay.

Is it better?

Really a multi-part question.

In the ordinary life the Lord offers not exemption from grief and hardships, rather he offers the co-journey of the divine and human, he being within and among us.

Sin remains but is a defeated foe, lashing out and attempting to harm as many as possible before the final end for evil.

We have Hosanna! The Lord has come to save us. We are always joyful in his presence. We are surprised by his plans.

They looked for Jesus

What do you think?
That he will not come to the feast?

Actually, he goes to prepare a feast to which you are invited.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

You are gods (Judges)

Greetings on this the Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Readings: Jer 20:10-13; PS 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7; Jn 10:31-42

Note: This is our last Friday of Lent. Lent liturgy isn’t over until Wednesday next week where Thursday begins the Triduum. Lent fast and abstinence continues until the Easter Vigil.

The seven signs of Jesus in the Gospel of John are the proofs and antagonists are to judge rightly.

The gospel focused on a set of Seven Signs that progressively reveal the authority of Jesus to speak in God’s name, as well as the seeds for the sacramental system to later be established.

Wedding Cana 2:1-11
Royal Official Son 4:43-54
Paralytic at Pool 5:1-9
Multiply Loaves 6:1-5
Walk on Water 6:16-25
Man born blind 9:1-41
Lazarus 11:1-44

  • Jesus performs the work of the Father – the Signs.
  • Jesus was consecrated and sent by the Father.
  • Jesus is a son of the Father (disciple).
  • Jesus is Son of the Father (divinity).

You are gods (Judges) – Autonomy

In the end we must all decide lots of things.

  • Who to marry?
  • How many children to have?
  • Where to work?
  • What profession to practice?
  • Who are to be my friends?

The list is very long.

We are dignified autonomous humans with the power to decide.

Your will is yours alone.

You are gods (Judges) – Responsibly

Jesus taught us to judge rightly. When you judge others, he is telling them, look at the works. Are the works healing and elevating people? Do the works move people toward God or away from him?

When judging between people decide on what is right and just encapsulated in mercy with an eye to conversion and the right path.

You are gods (Judges) – Reflectively

You trying to stone me, he reminded them. Jesus asks them to look deeper as to their self motivations.

  • Fear> What frightens you?
  • Hope> What has taken hope from you?

You are gods (Judges) – Image and Likeness

Jesus taught us to judge rightly means to be merciful and with eyes wide open about the problems of the people.

Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?”
The Jews answered him,
“We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God.”

You are made in the image of God and called to be the likeness of God.

Controversial sentence: The detractors are not wrong on a certain level. Certainly they are right to wonder about blasphemy, that is their right and responsibility. Jesus is saying judge rightly.

In the least we are called to be like God in mercy and forgiveness. At the simplest they should have recognized that in his teachings.

In the least we are to use our charisms to bring the healing power of God to the people in need. At is simplest they should have recognized that in his Signs.

Weighing those things, they should have in the least been in a suspension between:

  • Jesus is a son of the Father (disciple).
  • Jesus is Son of the Father (divinity).

Having not the willingness to realize and understand for what it was and unable to legitamely conclude…

Then they tried again to arrest him;
but he escaped from their power.

He escaped because the power of the world is not able to overcome the power of the divine.

But he also escaped as a further proof and openness to their possible future conversion.

Because God is merciful.

Fold yourself into the loving mercy of God.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Model Mary

Watching over Humanity with the Blessed Mother

Greetings on this the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Readings: Is 7:10-14; 8:10; PS 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11; Heb 10:4-10; Lk 1:26-38

Note: The following reflection is taken from the one given last night at Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction on the eve of the annunciation. For those who pray the rosary this should be fairly easily identified.

Annunciation – The Blessed Mother said yes to the Lord for a specific request he made of her to be Mother of God, Theokosis.

Resp: The Lord has a specific request for you. May you also give your fiat to the Lord. His request is only for you as only you can uniquely complete it.

Visitation – Without prompting Mary went to the aid of her cousin Elizabeth.

Resp: When we are open to the Lord we see the world differently. Now the needs of others become clearer and of greater importance to us. The Lord doesn’t even need to ask, we simply do because we can see with the light of the Lord.

Nativity – Mary shares her relationship with the Lord with all who gathered, shepherds and Magi.

Resp: May you share your life with Jesus with others. All your charisms are for sharing.

Jesus in the Temple – Mary worries for Jesus and his Temple. Mary worried for Jesus who worried for the Church/Temple.

Resp: May we worry and pray and help purify by our own lives the Church given to us.

Coronation of Mary – Mary is given the title of Queen (the Kings Mother). Now she prays over the entirety of humanity.

Resp: May we worry and pray and help purify by our own lives the Human Family given to us.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Once Believed but No More

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Readings: Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; PS Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; Jn 8:31-42

Note: Yesterday with the 5th graders was great. It is good to see children getting a good education both secular and religious at the same time and in the same place. A very happy class to have a retreat day and I was honored to talk with them about Holy Eucharist.

Today’s gospel is plain talk. If you agree with me that every word Jesus uttered and every movement/emotion was ordered toward the salvation of others than this dialog takes on a much higher significance than at first.

Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:31-32).

The word believed in this sentence is meant to describe those who once believed but no longer believed. This is a shattering concept to some my evangelical brothers but one that must be encountered. They believed, then they didn’t.

Editors are tempted to say this is an editorial suture alone. A tool to continue the dialog. Not good enough explanation, sorry.

Reencountering sacred Scripture with this in mind it is easy to see that these followers were content to be entertained by John the Baptist and mesmerized by the miracle producing Jesus up until a point.

What Changed?

Keeping the textual order of events it is clearly a result of the Bread of Life Discourse John 6. The idea that Jesus is bread to be eaten was too much for them.

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it? As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied them.” (Jn 6:60, 66)

Descendants of Abraham

Line of reasoning followed.

We are descendants of Abraham. In our current time, the answer might be “We are baptized”. For pseudo-Christians you would substitute the modern version of the same denials. Why?

Allow the text to inform.

If I had a table format here it would help.

Jesus list the facts.
1s Remain with my word: know truth and freedom.
2s You commit sin and enslaved by it.
3s Let the Son of the Father free you.
4s You are trying to kill me.
5s My word has no room in you.
6s You are doing the work of your father (devil).
7s You do not love.

Former Believers list their retort.
1r We were never enslaved.
2r no response.
3r Our Father is Abraham.
4r no response.
5r no response.
6r We are not born of fornication (no original sin nor actual sin).
7r no response.

Faith Grace Response

The dialog is one of faith, grace and human response.

I don’t want to get into the false argument of Faith and Works. Your ears may be dead to that dialog.

I don’t want to describe the false religion of Law over Love. Your ears may be dead to that dialog.

But response is critical. They once believed Jesus. They once followed Jesus.

Then they stopped. Why did YOU stop believing Jesus?

I say, don’t stop believing Jesus even when what he asks seems impossible or even illogical. With God all things are possible.

We are about to celebrate the Paschal Mystery.
Jesus died and Resurrected.

Live and be alive in Jesus.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Can You See the I AM

Our Lady of Florida Retreat Center

Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Readings: Nm 21:4-9; PS 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21; Jn 8:21-30

Note: After Mass, instructing the Sacred Heart School 5th grades on the Mass.

Does the Sun always shine?

Yes. It does. Even when dark and forbidding clouds fill the sky above, above those clouds the Sun shines. Even if we cannot sense the Sun because a storm rages, the Sun is still there, shining bright.

Jesus’ passion and resurrection reveal the Father’s work, the Father’s love and the Father’s true teaching. Jesus reveals the Father in Heaven, who has been always shining on us spiritually even though the dark storm clouds gather.

Where do we belong?

We belong with Jesus. Although Jesus’ crucifixion is entirely and absolutely his and his alone, he invites us to share in the life of giving and participate in his sacrifice.

Jesus belongs to what is above. We want to belong to him and be where he is.
We live in this world, but we do not belong to this world.
We want to die to sin so as to not belong to the world.

We believe the I Am of Jesus, that is his divinity as the second person of the Trinity. Love incarnate.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry