Greetings on this the Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time Readings: 1 Tm 6:2c-12; PS 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20; Lk 8:1-3 Notes: Today’s reading highlights one of the Beatitudes:
Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs.
The women in today’s gospel never sought the limelight.
They focused on the needs of those who serve so those in need are served.
First reading Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows (defenseless and oppressed) in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world (Jas 1:27).
Responsorial Psalm Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Alleluia Verse Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
Gospel Portion In today’s gospel portion three women, and others, are called out for working with and providing for Jesus with his Twelve and the proclamation of the gospel.
I don’t know how to say this exactly without someone reading it wrong.
I thank God for the faithful women of faith.
Women who despite their ‘invisibility‘ tend to the Kingdom of God and the anointed.
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others
who provided for them [the Twelve] out of their resource.
Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Saint Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs Readings: 1 Tm 4:12-16; PS 111:7-8, 9, 10; Lk 7:36-50 Notes: I promise to stop using so much of the Franciscan charism in my daily posts. But they are so good!
It seems fairly true to say that almost every possible false doctrine has been proposed at some time or other in the history of the Church. The third century saw the resolution of a problem we scarcely consider—the penance to be done before reconciliation with the Church after mortal sin. Men like Cornelius and Cyprian were God’s instruments in helping the Church find a prudent path between extremes of rigorism and laxity. They are part of the Church’s ever-living stream of tradition, ensuring the continuance of what was begun by Christ, and evaluating new experiences through the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before. https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cornelius
First reading Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate. Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
When we teach the truth in purity our understanding of truth deepens and becomes more loving, compassionate and merciful. When I teach, I am changed by the word I transmit. When I listen, I understand why.
Responsorial Psalm How great are the works of the Lord!
Alleluia Verse Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
Gospel Portion He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
So often we struggle with the discernment between rigorism and laxity. Certainly today’s gospel portion implies that, for the religious leaders of the day, the sinful woman’s life was simply unforgiveable.
But Jesus explains that those who know their problems and seek the face of God will not be denied. The Pharisee does not know his sin, so it remains.
The Law “You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13; Dt 5:17); the entire Law of the Lord serves to protect life, because it reveals that truth in which life finds its full meaning.
EV 26, 58 and 59 contain the roots of the pastoral response to abortion. This part of EV is woefully under-prescribed.
It is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the family. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.
If we are stuck in the first point (the Law) we miss the second of the pastoral response.
Cross referencing Evangelium Vitae with Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2005, 37(3):110–118 we find the following connections of thought:
These below are common to both documents in about 30-45% of women respondents:
Father who directly pressures the mother
Fathers who abandon the mother
These below are noted in 75% of the responses by women:
Insufficient governmental support / social policy for work
Insufficient governmental support / social policy for financial
Insufficient governmental support / social policy for educational
Insufficient governmental support / social policy for dependent care
Many centres in support of life, or similar institutions, are sponsored by individuals and groups which, with admirable dedication and sacrifice, offer moral and material support to mothers who are in difficulty and are tempted to have recourse to abortion. Increasingly, there are appearing in many places groups of volunteers prepared to offer hospitality to persons without a family, who find themselves in conditions of particular distress or who need a supportive environment to help them to overcome destructive habits and discover anew the meaning of life (EV, 26).
Pope Francis recently added:
“Whenever the church, in order to defend a principle, didn’t do it pastorally, it has taken political sides,” Francis said. “If a pastor leaves the pastorality of the church, he immediately becomes a politician.”
Greetings on this the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows Readings: 1 Tm 3:14-16; PS 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Jn 19:25-27 Notes:
John’s account of Jesus’ death is highly symbolic. When Jesus gives the beloved disciple to Mary, we are invited to appreciate Mary’s role in the Church: She symbolizes the Church; the beloved disciple represents all believers. As Mary mothered Jesus, she is now mother to all his followers. Furthermore, as Jesus died, he handed over his Spirit. Mary and the Spirit cooperate in begetting new children of God—almost an echo of Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception. Christians can trust that they will continue to experience the caring presence of Mary and Jesus’ Spirit throughout their lives and throughout history.https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/our-lady-of-sorrows
First reading I hope to visit you soon.
Paul knows to be in community is an essential part of the Christian way of living.
Even when we are introverts, we need community.
Even when we are rich, we need community.
Even when we are self reliant, we need community.
Even when everyone disappoints us, we need community.
You were born of community (Mom and Dad), you thrive in community, don’t neglect community. In community we share the joys and sorrows of all. In community we find relief from our suffering.
Responsorial Psalm How great are the works of the Lord!
Sequence At the cross her station keeping, Stood the mournful Mother weeping, Close to Jesus to the last.
Alleluia Verse Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary; without dying you won the Martyr’s crown beneath the Cross of the Lord.
Gospel Portion In todays gospel portion, we are invited to the family as sons and daughters of the Blessed Mother.
Jesus gives the invitation. We give the yes. Jesus calls us brother and sister in the most profound way.
Greetings on this the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Readings: Nm 21:4b-9; PS 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38; Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17 Notes: I think, an opinion, that Christians of other traditions should have these distinct liturgies added to their practices of faith (if they don’t have already).
Sign of the Cross – In the Name of …
Veneration of the Cross – the symbol of salvation.
Good Friday – passion of Jesus and crucifixion.
Ash Wednesday – need for restoration.
They are power expressive moments in the life of a Christian. These liturgies allow us to get close to Jesus in a communal and tactile way.
A Franciscan reference (I quote them a lot lately) The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome’s authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine’s edict of toleration. https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/exaltation-of-the-holy-cross
First reading The people suffered from their lack of faith. The manna and the water from the flinty rock was not enough for them. They complained and the consequence was that seraph serpents were able to inflict harm.
Repenting, they asked for relief.
Moses, by the Lord’s direction, made a pole with a seraph of bronze. When the people gazed upon it, they were healed, their faith reinforced.
This divine action prefigures the divine action of Jesus upon the cross.
Responsorial Psalm Do not forget the works of the Lord! But he, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not; Often he turned back his anger and let none of his wrath be roused.
Second reading The second reading today is thought to be a Christian hymn that Paul is referencing. A song that the reader would know and easily enter into and contemplate its meaning and purpose.
Humiliation of Christ
Not exercise his equality with God.
Humbly accepting death, even on a cross.
Exhaultation of Christ
God greatly exalted him.
His name above any other name.
All should kneel before him.
All should confess his Lordship.
All should confess Jesus is the glory of God.
Alleluia Verse We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
Gospel Portion We venerate the cross because it is God’s chosen way to resolve our need for salvation.
The cross is a real instrument of death and a disgraceful way to die.
The cross is used as a method of control upon those who witness the death.
The cross is painful and torturous penalty contrasted with beheading.
But it is the cross, the worst we could use, becomes the sign and instrument of Salvation.
It is personal, the holy Son of God.
It was tactile.
It was God most present in our world, the closeness of the divine to the suffering of sin.
We venerate the cross every day. We recall the trinitarian God who reveals himself for us.
We cross ourselves with our hand and say: (head, heart, left shoulder, right shoulder)
In the Name of the Father, And of the Son, And of the Holy Spirit.
Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church Readings: 1 Tm 2:1-8; PS 28:2, 7, 8-9; Lk 7:1-10 Notes: Change is hard to make sometimes. Rejecting Jesus’ command to be reflective is in itself a reflex response. But we can change our perspective to be reflective and have reflexes that respond to God appropriately.
First reading Beloved: First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.
Paul says further, It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.
Responsorial Psalm Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer. Hear the sound of my pleading, when I cry to you, lifting up my hands toward your holy shrine.
Alleluia Verse God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
Gospel Portion The gospel portion today reinforces the idea that prayer is the critical component to relationship with Jesus. Jesus did not need to come to the Centurion’s home. The Centurion knew that honest requests to the Divine are answered, even remotely. The Centurion’s power and authority are nothing in the face of real human needs.
If it is not difficult for Jesus to heal remotely a fatal medical situation, then we should not hesitate to intercede for every need, for everyone.
So Paul’s words have an even deeper meaning now:
It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.
Greetings on this the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Readings: Is 50:5-9a; Ps 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9; Jas 2:14-18; Mk 8:27-35 Notes: It’s canning season.
In Florida it is always canning season, but for the rest of the country canning is in full swing.
We can fruits and vegetables to preserve what we can from the harvest to be enjoyed as much of the year as possible. After we preserve the natural goods we store them on a shelf in a cool and dark place. At the ready for when we want them.
First reading The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
Does this sound like someone who wants to be a preserve or jello or jam?
Responsorial Psalm I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
Second reading Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
Alleluia Verse May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.
Gospel Portion And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly.
Peter would have none of it. He wanted to preserve Jesus. He wanted to can him.
We want to store up for ourselves everything that is good.
But Jesus’ life was a life of being poured out.
He, paradoxically, offers us more life than if we simply want to just can him. That is, to put Jesus in a category, a moment. To put Jesus in a special place, in a cool and dark storage place, hidden in our hearts. At the ready for when we need him.
We can’t can the gospel. We shouldn’t even try.
But Jesus’ life was a life of being poured out and served in the now. Not later.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
I will be in the College of Deacons, double masked.
On the Twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks we are reminded how disastrous our impulses can be. The cycle of attack and revenge is not the way of God. May we remember with hearts filled with compassion and mercy.
First reading Beloved: This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.
Insert my name at the “I”.
Everyone you are called to a good life, the Great Commandment and the Golden Rule.
Remember, God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.
Responsorial Psalm Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
Alleluia Verse Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him.
Gospel Portion “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?
I tell you my life is filled with good people, helpful people, in the real and on-line.
Shout-out to the Twitter family!
People with goodness in their hearts.
People who produce good fruit.
People who do what the Lord commands.
So, yes, it can be done.
Remember: God makes good happen when I try to do good.
Of Sinners I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Greetings on this the Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time Readings: 1 Tm 1:1-2, 12-14; PS 16:1b-2a and 5, 7-8, 11; Lk 6:39-42 Notes:
As I near my tenth year, this resonates with me deeply: I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.
It is in the series of letters to Timothy that we learn of the qualifications for bishops and deacons.
Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain, holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Moreover, they should be tested first; then, if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons (1 Tim 3:8-10).
A link for complaints at the bottom of the reflection.
First reading What a beautiful world we would create if we greeted one another this way!
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul/Apostle = you/believer. Timothy = every person you know in faith.
I don’t mind if you call me child in the faith. It is to the childlike the kingdom of heaven belongs.
Responsorial Psalm You are my inheritance, O Lord. I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Alleluia Verse Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth.
Gospel Portion This gospel saying of Jesus is about leadership. Who is competent and faithful in leading the people in worship of God? Who should we follow? See cross references Mt 15:14; 23:16–17, 24.
Spoiler alert: A Tree Known by Its Fruit dialog is right after this reading today (Lk 6:43-45).
But let us stick with today, today.
Does the letter of Timothy help out?
This saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the church of God? He should not be a recent convert, so that he may not become conceited and thus incur the devil’s punishment. He must also have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, the devil’s trap.
Plenty to work from here! I gave away tomorrow’s gospel message and Timothy’s qualifications lists but, ready? None of that matters as much as the key question:
KEY Who is his TEACHER? The psalmist gives the best answer of who should lead and who isn’t blind:
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.
I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.
Greetings on this the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Readings: Mi 5:1-4a; PS 13:6ab, 6c; Mt 1:1-16, 18-23 or 1:18-23 Notes: Who would admit to that question? Come on now, you know it.
Every baby as they develop eventually realizes they are themselves of mother.
Every child as they mature realize: Mommy was born too!
In infant development Mother and Child are as one. For the baby there is no distance or distinction between Mother and Child. They are one. I am told this is why babies cry. They are slowly learning that they are unique individual and the gradual realization Mom is Mom and I am I takes some struggle.
Shared Memories (zerotothree.org) Another way young children learn to think about themselves is through the memories others share with them. It’s called the remembered self by child development experts and is the internal picture, or model, children construct over time based on the personal stories and memories of events that they have been part of that adults recall with them. Have you ever noticed how much toddlers and preschoolers love seeing pictures of themselves when they were babies and hearing stories about when they were younger? Their fascination reflects their growing understanding of their own history. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2648-who-am-i-developing-a-sense-of-self-and-belonging
First reading This tiny little part of Israel, too small to be numbered among the clans of Judah, will come:
and A Son
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD, his God; And they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.
Responsorial (Isaiah 61:10) With delight I rejoice in the Lord. Let me sing of the LORD, “He has been good to me.”
Alleluia Verse Blessed are you, holy Virgin Mary, deserving of all praise; from you rose the sun of Justice, Christ our God.
Gospel Portion We certainly know a lot about the birth of Jesus. It is both prophesized in the Old Testament (Mi 5:1-4a & Is 7:14 LXX) and accounted for in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, chapter 1 and 2, respectively.
We can never forget his Mother too.
We reconstruct, poetically, the truth of the birth of Mary: (from the Liturgy of the Hours)
We celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary, let us worship her Son, Christ the Lord.
We commemorate the birth of the blessed Virgin Mary, a descendant of Abraham, born of the tribe of Judah and of David’s seed.
When the most holy Virgin was born, the whole world was made radiant; blessed is the branch and blessed is the stem which bore such holy fruit.
Let us joyfully celebrate the birth of the blessed Mary so that she may intercede for us before Jesus Christ the Lord.
Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, proclaims joy to the whole world, for from you arose the glorious Sun of Justice, Christ our God; he freed us from the age-old curse and filled us with holiness; he destroyed death and gave us eternal life.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (Jn 19:26-27).