Fire from heaven, Maya Lin

Listen and Ask Questions

Greetings on this the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21; Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; Gal 5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62
Notes: The Apostles James and John wanted to send down fire from heaven. They envisioned that these enemies of the Word and of the Jewish people deserve nothing less than fire. A terrible and horrible death.

Jesus turned and rebuked them (Lk 9:55).

They no doubt were thinking Elijah (our Prophet of recent reading sequence, another).

Elijah answered the captain, “Well, if I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men. Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And divine fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men (2 King 1:10, 12).

Indeed Jesus wanted fire but not a destructive fire a restorative fire.

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! (LK 12:49).

News: Roe v Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States, June 24, 2022, Friday past. I will write separately on the topic. I have a rule that I follow. In any big event that analysis is critical, I insist on finding three good things and three not so good things about the event. Forcing myself to go beyond my own bias and instinct and really enter the question. Not yet ready.

Maya Lin

I will preach on Maya Lin, a young woman, who won the design concept for a memorial. A block of black granite slashed into the Earth, “The Wall” it is referred to by many. It’s in a V shape. V for the peace sign. V for victory. One blade pointing to the Lincoln Memorial. One blade pointing to the Washington Memorial.

She endured insult, a Chinese American. Of Chinese ancestry she was called an “Egg Role”. Some saw her design as an affront to them. Others saw as it affront to them, too, the other them. Some bemoaned the simplicity. But no.

Quoting her:

an opening or wound in the earth to symbolize the pain caused by the war and it’s many casualties.

Names engraved like a journal’s pages (L->R ascending). Top down, left and right the names. Now number over 58,320. Arranged by Date of Casualty. The date of death.
You can see the escalation and de-escalation by the height of the wall, the number of names.

Beginning in 1959.
Ending in 1975.
The first and the last names in time because of the arrangement are both in the center of the memorial.

The panels crack in pain.

The time spans six Presidents:

  • Eisenhower
  • Kennedy
  • Johnson
  • Nixon
  • Ford
  • Carter
  • Reagan

A place of pilgrimage.
A place to visit lost loved ones and lost unit members. Like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, little sleeves of paper wedged near the etched names. Some make pencil rubbings to get the name onto a piece of paper.

  • 1965, First Marines based in Vietnam.
  • 1967, War protests.
  • 1968, Tet Offensive.
  • 1970, Kent State deaths.
  • 1973, Paris Peace Treaty
  • 1975, Saigon Falls
  • 1975, Mayaguz incident – personal to me, active duty.
  • 1982, Vietnam Memorial

First reading
The LORD said to Elijah:
“You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah, as prophet to succeed you.”

Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Responsorial Psalm
You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.

Second reading
Brothers and sisters:
For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.

Alleluia Verse
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel Portion
On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”

Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

Paul in the letter to the Galatians
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.

The nation was devouring itself in anger, revenge and self-pity.

Until the fire from heaven.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Forced Migration

Greetings on this the Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: 2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18; PS 60:3, 4-5, 12-13; Mt 7:1-5
Notes: Ancient scripture has a variety of focal points. There are several ways to encounter the stories of old because they resonate in many different ways.

Today I will focus on forced migration.

Forced migration can come about by war, famine, or greed. Human history is filled with these stories as are the sacred writings. For people of faith we frame the events in the divine-human exchange. While that is good, it is not sufficient and sometimes childish and without good purpose.

  • The Hebrews needed rescue and became wanderers in the desert preferable to the mistreatment of Egypt.
  • Israel suffered their end and a diaspora into Assyria due to military conquest.
  • The people of Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim likewise were forced deported to Samaria as occupiers.

Regarding the Book of Kings: Judah’s kings, on the other hand, follow a cyclic pattern of infidelity followed by reform, with each reformer king (Asa, Joash, Hezekiah, Josiah) greater than the last (NASRE).

BTW: Excellent introduction to the book of Kings (1 and 2) https://bible.usccb.org/bible/1kings/0

Knowing all this we would do a very bad disservice to not account for the behaviors of man toward the fellow man. Puppeteering theology (we are merely puppets to the divine consequences of our actions) is woefully inadequate.

These

  • Cause
  • Consequence
  • Action

are not tightly wrapped concepts.

There are vectors of approach and multiplicity of cause.

But ALL of them are often encountered with judgment and a superior moral and ethical façade. Our gospel pericope today, blasts through our bias and judgement.

Jesus wants us to come to the aid of all without the baggage of judgment, for we too are lamentable in our action and purpose at times.

First reading
They rejected his statutes,
the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and the warnings which he had given them, till, in his great anger against Israel, the LORD put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left.

Responsorial Psalm
Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.

Alleluia Verse
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Friends

Greetings on this the Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle
Readings: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; PS 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Jn 15:9-17
Notes: I can think of no greater compliment than to be described as a Friend of God.

Both because He sees you that way and you see yourself that way.
Really nice.

We are human/imperfect. Our perfection is our intention to be good friends to the Lord.
Be a good friend to the Lord and to others.

Last year reflection on this scripture: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/05/07/god-says-lets-be-friends/

Franciscans:
https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-matthias

Reflection Franciscans

What was the holiness of Matthias? Obviously, he was suited for apostleship by the experience of being with Jesus from his baptism to his ascension. He must also have been suited personally, or he would not have been nominated for so great a responsibility. Must we not remind ourselves that the fundamental holiness of Matthias was his receiving gladly the relationship with the Father offered him by Jesus and completed by the Holy Spirit? If the apostles are the foundations of our faith by their witness, they must also be reminders, if only implicitly, that holiness is entirely a matter of God’s giving, and it is offered to all, in the everyday circumstances of life. We receive, and even for this God supplies the power of freedom.

First reading
Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers and sisters

Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people.

Alleluia Verse
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Do not let your hearts be troubled

Greetings on this the Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 13:26-33; PS 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11ab; Jn 14:1-6
Notes: As difficult as life can become, it is not the final story.

Our final end is in the loving hands of God. Loved and received.

First reading
We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you
that what God promised our fathers
he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus,
as it is written in the second psalm,
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

Responsorial Psalm (the Second Psalm)
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.

Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice

Alleluia Verse
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.

Gospel Portion
Often used in the Funeral Liturgy is todays gospel portion. We use it because the summit of our faith is to believe in the Resurrection unto the Righteous.

  • Faith the Lord will raise us.
  • Faith the Lord prepares a place for us.
  • Faith he will come back for us, each by name, and bring us hand-in-hand to our new home.
  • Faith for “dwelling places” – a place for you.
  • Faith for “Houses” – a place for all families, tribes, and nations (alt translation).

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Blessed are you if you do it

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 13:13-25; PS 89:2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27; Jn 13:16-20
Notes: I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.

Unworthy, yet called to be like him in ministry to others.

Blessed be God forever.

First reading
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.

Responsorial Psalm
For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Alleluia Verse
Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead,
you have loved us and freed us from our sins by your Blood.

Gospel Portion
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master
nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.
If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

From now on I am telling you before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.
(Note: this is the high prophetic utterance of Jesus. In the discourses to follow he predicts his resurrection).

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Tell? Why not See?

Fr Damien – We Leapers

Greetings on this the Memorial Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i
Readings: Acts 11:19-26; PS 87:1b-3, 4-5, 6-7; Jn 10:22-30
Notes: (readings are from the Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter because I don’t have a lectionary at home).

Optipnal Memorial: Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i

Franciscan Reflection
When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy, Hansen’s disease. By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-damien-de-veuster-of-molokai

Read the opposition and response to the work here. The first link is the original and most compelling of all the abstractions below it.

Full Text Open Letter: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/281/281-h/281-h.htm

A plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honour—the battle cannot be retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested. It is a lost battle, and lost for ever. One thing remained to you in your defeat—some rags of common honour; and these you have made haste to cast away.

Abstractions (shorter but less precise)

https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/opinion/columns/2022/03/the-father-damien-letter/

and

http://robert-louis-stevenson.org/works/father-damien-an-open-letter-to-the-reverend-doctor-hyde-of-honolulu-from-robert-louis-stevenson-1890/

First reading
It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

Responsorial Psalm
All you nations, praise the Lord.

Alleluia Verse
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

Gospel Portion
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

To Whom Do I Belong

Photo by Kateryna Babaieva on Pexels.com

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

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar with faith in the Lord no matter the earthly outcome. They understood who they are and who they belong to, the Lord.

In today’s gospel portion those challenging Jesus had a false understanding of who they are and who they belong to.

  • We were never slaves – but you were in Egypt a slave and even now slave to sin.
  • We are children of Abraham, he is our father – yes, descendants, but you act in contradiction to the ancestor.
  • We have one father, God – no! You have no relation to God because you cannot see Him at work in His Son.

First reading
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.

“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”

Responsorial Psalm
Glory and praise for ever!

Verse Before the Gospel
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.

Gospel Portion
“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.”

  • Free from slavery to sin.
  • Free to know God as Father.
  • Free to know God in His Son.
  • Free to know truth as person.

In this gospel portion Jesus makes the distinction between being descendants and being children. Descendants by Ancestry is not being children of which in this case is closely understood as disciple or at least one who is righteous.

Trying to kill me because your father is the father of sin, Satan.
They are expressing:

  • spiritual fornication.
  • children or disciples of evil.
  • actions of evil.

Take heart in this Lent!
Reject Satan and seek good.

We don’t have to rationalize and make elaborate intellectual arguments of who we are and to whom we belong like those arguing with Jesus.

Strive for good. Strive to live in truth.
And you will be free.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Below or Above

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
Notes: We are fast approaching The Hour.

In the gospel portion today Jesus is referring to the two basic points of reference.

  • Below – that is to say – the here, myself and now.
  • Above – that is to say – everywhere, everyone and always.

The Above includes the Below but the Below ignores the Above.

First reading
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

The manna was very miraculous food in the sense of timing, availability, quantity, nutrition, flavor, and as gift. It was divinely appointed.

They began to loathe it (always remember the people here are a sign of us all, not unique in their troubles).

Prefiguring the Christ to come, the Suffering Servant.
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live.”
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Moving our sight to the Above.

Responsorial Psalm
O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.

O LORD, hear my prayer,
and let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
in the day when I call, answer me speedily.

Verse Before the Gospel
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.

Gospel Portion
He said to them, “You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.

So Jesus said to them,
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM.

Let us move our sight to the Above.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

No Condemnation

Greetings on this the Fifth Sunday of Lent Year C Readings
Readings: Is 43:16-21; Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6; Phil 3:8-14; Jn 8:1-11
Notes:

Cross reference: Exodus 31:18 and Deuteronomy 9:10,

When the LORD had finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant, the stone tablets inscribed by God’s own finger.

The LORD gave me the two stone tablets inscribed, by God’s own finger.

The Law of the Lord.

  • Lev 20:10 both share face the consequence.
  • Deut 22:22 both share face the consequence.
  • Ez 33:11 I take no pleasure.

Answer them: As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! Why should you die, house of Israel?

First reading
See, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches,
for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink,
the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

The return from Exile is an outward sign of the forgiveness of sin.

Second reading
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God.

Verse before the Gospel
Even now, says the Lord,
return to me with your whole heart;
for I am gracious and merciful.

Gospel Portion

For my homily today, I will be blindfolded and have a walking stick.

Tell the story of the ex-official of a repressive regime that came upon hard times having been shot through the temple, blinded and left to die by the same regime officials.

The Lord had other plans.

What did Jesus write?

Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

What did Jesus write?
See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry