Tolerance – Guest Speaker

Intolerance – Our Kryptonite

A Reflection

By Tihut Tefera with commentary by Deacon Gerry Palermo

Tolerance

Faith, Unabashedly

I am a faithful Greek Orthodox Christian who is not in the habit of announcing that to all that I encounter as a way of validating my membership but rather worship privately and try my very best to live my life in keeping of the scripture.  I am also UNAPPOLOGETIC about my faith and have ZERO tolerance to those who will either try to ridicule my belief system as nothing but a cult or attempt to silence my expression of it to appease THEIR disdain for it.

Liberty of Conscience

As a fierce defender of liberty, I would picket with the best of them any day of the week to defend one’s RIGHT to not believe and to be free of any discrimination in the name of religion or any law/governing impositions as a derivative of MY religious beliefs – secularism.

Friend to All

I am an ally to all citizens of the world that chooses to live their authentic self in a way that is true to them than what is agreeable with my chosen way of being or believing.  This is not a lack of conviction but rather an introspective understanding that the vastness and wonder of the world God created for us is quite sufficient to host ALL of us to live exercising the freewill HE conferred onto us. To me this is the very tenet, the “Golden Rule” of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Matthew 7:12. This maxim is NOT an exclusively Christian concept so where is the reciprocity from none-believers or disillusioned ones being extended in kind to the faithful ones?  Now that the framework for this article is somewhat established let me delve into my observations.

Disclaimer

Just to set the tone from the start, I am not sitting on some soapbox like someone who is above it all (i.e. the subject of intolerance to be discussed at length below). No, in fact I am painfully cognizant of the fact that when a finger points, three points back. So I am not lecturing as if am the “Master” – as contrary is true for me in that I am an eternal work in progress – but my approach here is more a call (or an invitation if you will) for reflection & for the obvious need of self-evaluation & subsequent awareness.  It is my unprofessional but rather observant diagnosis that MOST of us suffer the consequences of insufficient reflection.  These consequences are both detrimental and generational if not remedied in time.

Small Event – Big Impact

A negligible and in truth an inconsequential, i.e. on personal front, encounter on Tweeter inspired me to make this post because it is a microcosm of the human phenomenon we are and have been experiencing on a more profound & consequential way. Therefore, I feel it is worth my penny.

Intolerance – Our Kryptonite 

Though the encounter that inspired this article was an intolerance to expression of faith, my observations of prejudice is an all-encompassing of the many facets of our lives. We are incredibly and almost startlingly INTOLERANT of one another.  We are so entrenched and dangerously encapsulated in our way of thinking, believing & being bubble that anything remotely different becomes almost an existential threat that is poised to POP our protective bubble into nothingness.

Primal Fear – A Root

This primal fear & paranoia; born almost exclusively out of intolerance, is leading us into the madness we see spilt on to the streets, in our work place/market, schools, place of worship or non-worship, politics (election, SCOTUS hearing, policies, governing) etcetera. It is in effect driving us into the abyss! We cannot seem to stand or have respect for those who think differently than us, love differently than us, worship differently than us, or not worship at all and live differently than us. YET we beat our chest in a feigned “social activism” for “Equality and Justice” and fancy ourselves to be among the #WOKE.  

Superiority – A Menagerie

We regard ourselves as being enlightened and among the “elite” and looked down on others that differ from us because we have fancy titles that validates for us of our presumed “superiority”. Our unfortunate historical precedents have given us false notion of our “supremacy” so we climb over those less privileged without so much us a pause to consider what it means to walk in their shoes.  YET all the while, we scream for “UNITY” while we are as divided as we have ever been.  YET we want and demand change and say “VOTE for the change you want to see” every four-year election cycle while we remain STUCK in our ways of INTOLERANCE.   While it is a catchy slogan that fits nicely in a bumper sticker, how many of us are we doing the real substantive work that embodies and supports the passion behind these catch phrases in a more significant & meaningful way?

We Are the Change We Want To See

Well here is the hard reality of it, WE ARE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE.

No single elected official, party or governing body is going to magically make the world fairer and more just.  It is the collective US.  It is in how we treat our neighbors & strangers; it is in how we raise and teach our kids to treat their neighbors & strangers.  It is in the moral values, beliefs & principles we hold dear that forms & informs and ultimately is responsible for how we interact with one another, how we live with one another. 

The Fruit of Introspection

So, to me the ONUS & WORK IS ON US.

BUT we cannot begin to work on that which we have yet to acknowledge its omnipresence. We MUST first sufficiently CONFRONT and REFLECT on our acquired & learned intolerant behaviors in order to shift to our awareness of moral truth that both demands & deserves our understanding & acceptance of the inherent good in almost all humans NO MATTER OUR DIFFERENCES. To ignore this essential work would be to perpetuate the very misgivings we decry about and it will be a perilous journey that ultimately puts us at risk of rejecting our very humanity. I am as guilty as anyone of all accounts stated above, perhaps the difference is I have long begun the inward look a while ago, though I continue to stumble & tumble…the journey is on a continuum.  What if you??? I hope the answer is to either begin anew the wonderous journey of sufficient reflection or to continue its exploration to its fulfillment. Our HUMANITY depends on it.

End of Reflection.

Commentary by Deacon Gerry

I am so grateful to Mrs. Tefera for her thoughtful reflection and willingness to expand her reach beyond the immediate of her Twitter community. It isn’t our first go at navigating differences of opinion, the Great Schism of 1054 notwithstanding, so her words have the power of conviction.

Rejecting the Christian Message of Old

It isn’t the first time. In the beginning of the faith tradition was not warmly received by some. How many of these still exist?

  • Atheists – (no imperial worship)
  • Incest – (misuse of Brothers and Sisters)
  • Cannibals – eat the Eucharistic bread/wine
  • Pretentious poor! (social class uprising)
  • Bad Citizens (no military service), rejection of Emperor Worship
  • Unreasonable (you guys are nuts)

Modern Rejection of the Christian Message

  • Enlightenment arguments – traditional (reason, individualism, and skepticism)
  • Enlightenment arguments – modern (liberty, human rights, faith in scientific reason, secularism, and the freedom of public debate)

Cross Currents

All participants in the public space find themselves with reflection to the contradictions of their own arguments.

  • The arguments of reason can be unreasonable.
  • The arguments of morality can be a trap.
  • The arguments of liberty / human rights can be itself self-contradictory.
  • Secularism and freedom of public debate clash at times.

Reflection is Key

I think Mrs. Tefera is right to point out that it is in reflection that we find our answers.

Co-existence and Tolerance as working frameworks are being redefined. What do these words mean by definition and what do these principles mean in practice?

Are we forever stuck in a tribal view of history and destiny?

At the same time have we completely discounted the wisdom of the ages as irrelevant in the digital age?

Fraternity of Adam

However we came to be, do we not have a fraternity of Adam, the first to know of himself?

What should that fraternity include? What is permissible to exclude?

  • Noahide Law suggests some baselines.
  • Greek philosophers suggest another set of guidelines.

Are we free to abandon any concepts of moral baseline? No, pray God, no.

Fraternity of Christians

From the first of those at Antioch to be known as Christians, have there not been a constant struggle on the definition and implementation of the dogma and the praxis of faith?

What should that fraternity include? What is permissible to exclude?

Forbearance

In either of these spheres of thought (Adam and Christian) forbearance is critical. Yet it is a beginning.

Forbearance presupposes my answer is right and I am to patiently await your awakening.

Eek.

Seeking Truth in Imperfection

Pope Francis is proposing that we being a new chapter of seeking truth from each any every expression of truth. But to do so requires we make the journey together. Somehow I must and you must be able to hear the deepest meaning of the opinions and feelings of the other before we can have a governing praxis that is filled with peace – a functional peace not based on conquest of thought.

Profess

For myself, you know but I state for clarity. I profess Christ crucified and resurrected. I try to live the Beatitudes. I adhere to the Creed as profession of faith. My demands are on myself and those of my tradition. In the public space I want only to have the right speak and live out my profession. I want to not be forced to live out conditions laid out by the State as anathema to me. My obligation to you is not to create artificial conditions of accepting me and my way of life. My obligations is to accept you as you are and not impose anymore observations and conditions that violate our fraternity of Adam.

I invite you (the reader) to the Fraternity of Christians as observer or convert, either way. And even there the battle continues for definition so there is no simplistic answer.

Saint Augustine in his Confessions, Book One, Early Years: Hating Greek and Loving Latin.

[The truth is] that free curiosity has greater power to stimulate learning than rigorous coercion. Nevertheless, the free-ranging flux of curiosity is channeled by discipline under your laws, God. By your laws we are disciplined, from the canes of schoolmasters to the ordeals of martyrs. Your laws have the power to temper bitter experiences in a constructive way, recalling us to yourself from the pestilential life of easy comforts which have taken us away from you.

Discipline

  • To listen.
  • To learn.
  • To share.
  • To debate.
  • To accept.
  • To decide.
  • To adhere.

Peace

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

  • The peace of the world is domination. I do not want to dominate you.
  • The peace of the world is coercion. I do not want to coerce you.

I do ask you to see the way of the Beatitudes as an invitation to journey together. But if you make me choose. I choose martyrdom.

End of commentary.

Right of Conquest

Today is Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

European Explorers
Native Americans

Yesterday was a day of mixed celebrations. Two traditions at odds with one another. Columbus Day is a national holiday is the USA celebrated on the second Monday of October. On the same day Indigenous Peoples’ Day which is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures.

Some are hysterical mad. Literally hysterical in their defense of Christopher Columbus. They choose only to remember the positive aspects of the exploration of trade routes which morphed into a conquest of an entire continent.

Since I am of European origins I certainly would prefer to remember only the most positive of accounts of my forefathers and their discoveries. I especially like the versions I was taught as an Elementary and Middle School student. I tolerated the High School version. Then, when of age, I was taught the more accurate version in College and beyond. Eyes wide open.

Some it would seem we want only the first accounts to be the only accounts. As difficult as it might be we cannot stay in such a vacuous bubble. While addition and subtraction are essential math concepts it isn’t long before we were obliged to master multiplication and division and still further math and logical concepts that, while informative in the first effect, have the ultimate effects of re-forming and improving our understanding of life and truth.

It is a imperative we continue to grow and expand our understanding of truth. We may get it wrong from time to time but we are not flies in amber – we must move and change and live! The gospel message must be reapplied again and again to the current state of life and respond to the Sign of the Times (Pope John XXIII in the Bull Humanae salutis).

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery (GAL 5:1-6). The direct reference is to the insistence of performing and receiving circumcision. Instead we need to grow – but not law rather only faith working through love.

Myth and sanitized stories are OK of themselves. Yes, we must always find the virtue in our ancestral Other and try to remember the best of them. In the same way the memory of sin, of plotting the wrong course, remains even after forgiveness! Why? Because the memory of sin is the forewarning of the future. We have done and but for the grace of memory will do again.

We must break out of this awful habit. Now to be sure, it takes effort to create a retelling that can incorporate the truth from multiple perspectives. Very painful at times. Extremely painful if you love your forefathers but recognize the unintended and nefariously intended consequences and actions.

But it is a journey we must take with openness and honesty. Accounting for the disparate viewpoints which will include an accumulated sense of disenfranchisement, disrespect and subjugation. How can one say ‘Sorry’ without knowing the harm inflicted at some reasonable level of detail?

Returning specifically to the gospel today and relating it to the Right of Conquest and the education of our young to believe a half-truth permanently – a state of perpetual mythology.

Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?

But Jesus provides for a balm that heals the victim and the perpetrator.

But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

National Reconciliation must include that which is ‘within’ – a changed heart and ‘wthout’ the Alms of reparation.

Blessings!

Deacon Gerry

Casual Love

Casual Love

Greetings on this the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: IS 25:6-10A; PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6; PHIL 4:12-14, 19-20; MT 22:1-14

Final Things

No doubt you were taught the Four Final Things which are:

  • Death
  • Judgment
  • Heaven
  • Hell

Even if you weren’t taught them in the natural order of things and intelligibility we have a primal sense of the facts:

  • Our mortality (we die), and
  • that we have authentic and true judgment of our actions in life, and
  • that the consequences of our actions are either:
    • Peaceful (Heaven) or
    • Negatively impactful (Hell).

Divine Love

The Divine Love in the gospel parable today is given a marriage motif. The Father, delighted at his Son’s marriage invites all to the feast.

Some ignored the invitation and tended to either farm or business.

Still others reject the invitation out of malice for the Father and the Son.

It isn’t if they don’t know the Father. They know Him. They are simply casual about Him.

They actively reject the invitation of Divine Love. They reject the idea that there is a judgment and/or consequences for their actions.

Finally, the others are invited as well. Some good. Some bad. All invited.

Marriage

Maybe these days the idea of marital love being special seem to some to be a weak argument!

But taken by its intended meaning the marital love is an lifelong, all encompassing, all enduring, love that places the needs of the bride above that of the groom.

Family

Marriage is the making of and accepting of the family.

The center of married life is the family – those before us and after us. As well as those who are near and those who are far either in distance or in sentiment. We are to journey with the family from here to there. From birth to death.

Pope Francis Encyclical

In Fraternity and Social Friendship the Pope urges us to think broadly as to who is a member of our family. To think more deeply as to the responsibility we have for one another. To consider our relativistic tendencies to judge rather than journey with each other. He expresses the disappointment at the failure to transcend a simplistic view of the Commandments and the purposefully ignoring the Beatitudes Jesus taught quoting: without charity, strictly speaking do not fulfil the commandments “the way God wants them to be fulfilled (FT, 91).

Marriage

And in a way that transcends basics of ordinary human marriage we can derive the fact that Jesus has married each of us. And some do not want that divine marriage.

Baptism

In the ordinary sense Baptism is the time when we receive our wedding garments. We are to keep them unstained for the wedding feast. There can be no question that the moral life is a core part of living out that commandment.

Come to the Banquet of the Lord

Feast.

Be a bride who is loved, cherished and honored by the Groom who is the Son of the Eternal Father.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Planting

Planting

Greetings on this the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: IS 5:1-7; PS 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20; PHIL 4:6-9; MT 21:33-43

Corn, Beans and Squash

Note: This homily will be preached at the 7:30 AM Mass, Sunday, October 4th, 2020.

Three Crops

The Iroquois legend of the three plants is an interesting story.

This ancient practice prescribes a particular way to plant these crops in pattern of a tight formation.

You first plant the corn. Once the corn raises to about 4 inches above the soil you then plan the beans and squash in alternating points within a circle around the corn stalk.

The corn provides a climbing ladder for the bean vine. The squash provides protection from insect/animal pests and leaves shade upon the mound and holding moisture in the soil for the corn and beans.

Each planted according to the proper time. Each providing an essential component for a bountiful harvest.

All one need do is watch over the crops from the watchtower and keep the crop safe from thieves and large animals.

Singing Dirge

In our first reading today the psalmist sings the divine dirge of the destruction of his vineyard.

A song. He sings a song. It is an ancient practice to put the unspeakable into song so it can be spoken without the worst edges.

He recounts the poor condition of the crop and the wildness of the fruits.

How can this be since the vine master so carefully planted and created such a perfect environment?

The people of Judah are his cherished plants (corn, beans and squash).

Moses was the corn who brought the law upon which the beans (the people) grew leaning upon the stalk. The prophets were the squash who provided protection for the beans.

But all of it ruined.

The Lord looked for right judgment, but instead bloodshed!

The Lord looked for justice, but the outcry of the people reached the heavens.

Nowhere to be found

The gospel reading today speaks to the disbelief and greed of the tenants who had responsibility of the vineyard.

They do not expect the owner to return. When the owner’s son comes to gather the produce, they decide to kill him so as to acquire his inheritance. If a Jewish proselyte dies without an heir, the tenants will have final claim to the property. Of course murder is not a valid reason.

Doubting God

Jesus makes clear that although those who are ruining the vineyard and who will ultimately kill him, they are not in control. Their goals are not attainable. The vineyard will be assigned to a new set of tenants who will be loyal to the master. They will meet the violent end in similar way to those they abused. The vineyard has been given to us. We are members of the body of Christ would enlivens and illuminates us.

Tending A Garden

We are the new vineyard tenants. We are obliged to follow right judgement and act with justice.

 The corn (Beatitudes), the beans (Church) and the squash (Canon) must be arranged properly and in the proper times/proportions.

We must be especially careful to balance the law as to be a supporting structure not an oppressive structure and the squash as to be a protective structure not a smothering structure.

Decide well.

The stone that has become the corner stone.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Grief Burst

They happen.

Bereavement is not a linear experience. It ebbs and flows. Usually it follows a declining slope with occasional spikes.

It started with a dream. Searching for her room to room. Calling out her name asking, “Where are you?”

She’s not there. She’s not here. My intellect knows. My heart springs tears.

Each room was empty. There was nothing. The rooms were dark, unadorned. Nothing to indicate she even was ever there.

A grief burst.

After morning coffee I take the high level inventory. Am I sleeping and eating? Am I dehydrated? Do I have symptoms of depression or delibrate isolation? Am I getting enough exercise?

None of those are out of range.

Sometimes it is a day, date, or time of year association. What happened on October 1st, early Fall, in the past?

Possibly. Fall (September to December) has always been a special time. I am not drawn to either a sad or joyful story. No, not timing.

Physical activity has a very positive effect on the body and essential body chemistry. Time for a walk.

Off to the beach. The walk is from Gulfstream Park yo Boynton Beach Inlet and back. About six miles plus round trip. Some soft sand but thankfully mostly low tide firm sand.

On the walk I consider allowing any story to come to mind. Sad, happy, joyful, any story that would explain the grief burst.

Boynton Beach Inlet in far distance.

Story telling is an amazing curative medicine. Even with none to listen it is an important process.

There are three major types. Sad, joyful and near-death. Near-death story comes to mind but only in a cursory way. This is not the source point.

The beach is beautiful. On low tide lots of fish caught in the tidal eddies. Lots of gulls, terns at the ready as the shore sand traps get shallower.

Calm Seas

No impact. I turn instead to scripture. Today’s reading includes Jobs famous declaration, “My Vindicator lives!”

Job is the highest interior example of the suffering of the innocent. Other suffered, yes. But we have his thoughts and the thoughts of his friends.

Innocent as he was he placed his trust in his vindicator, also translated Redeemer.

Trust in the essential. The rest is drama.

Pier in the far distance

It is true, she is gone but I trust the Vindicator.

I feel a little better now so I continue.

I recall the story of creation. Not hard to do walking along side the Atlantic Ocean. Each time, each “day”, the Lord declares, “It was good”. Everything, everyone contains the good of the Eternal. We are not alone.

Even the Noah story speaks how the Lord will have compassion on “all mortal things”. Bait fish jumping crazy as predator fish chomp after them.

I love science. All of it. As I walk today, I think about all these new scientific discoveries. Every category of science brims with discovery!

Onshore winds hold back offshore thunderstorms as I walk

I can’t wait to travel the Universe in the next life. And even now watch humanity yearn forward to travel the Universe in this life!

It is so comforting to see nature and engage the natural world.

My walk is done. Tired. The grief has abated but not gone. That’s OK.

It was a grief burst. It doesn’t need an explanation. It just is.

I miss her. I love her. But she is one with the Vindicator, dancing among the vastness of the Universe.

Off to eat something healthy.

Bereavement is something we experience. We don’t need to suppress it. We use the major categorical approaches.

1. Self care.

2. Story Telling.

3. Embracing the eternal as our tradition allows.

I hope this blog entry of my grief burst helps you too.

All the best,

Deacon Gerry

Outcast or Cast Out

Outcast or Cast Out

Greetings on this the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mother of Tears

Readings: EZ 18:25-28; PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; PHIL 2:1-11; MT 21:28-32

Note: This homily will be preached at the Vigil Mass, Saturday, September 26th, 2020.

Saturday

The gospel reading for Saturday was the Second Prediction of the Passion.

How this applies to today’s Gospel is simply these points:

  1. Jesus warned the Son of Man is to be handed over.
  2. The apostles did not understand
  3. It was hidden from them.
  4. They were afraid to ask.

They were afraid to ask.

This is a big deal because the Lord is dialogical. In the entire expanse of sacred Scripture is not one of God speaking and we only listening. It is actually a case of God asking man questions about what they are thinking.

He is dialogical. He speaks, of course, but he listens too.

Ezekiel

In the reading today from Ezekiel the people exclaim ‘The Lord is not fair!’

The Lord response with His perspective on the same situation.

Then he asks them, “Whos way is not fair?

Dialogical.

Psalms

The Psalms reading today Psalms 25 the psalmist is pleading with the Lord to dialog with him.

  • Twice he asks the Lord to guide.
  • Three times he asks the Lord to remember.
  • Four times he asks the Lord to teach.

Pleading, “Talk to me Lord”, he says, but talk remembering how fragile I really am.

Philippians

The Lord speaks indeed. The song Paul quotes in the letter to the Philippians tells volumes of how the Lord responded, humbly.

Original text Philippians 2:1-11 (minus 8c, 10c, 11c):

ONE

Who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God, something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.

TWO

Coming in human likeness

 and found human in appearance, he humbled himself,

becoming obedient to the point of death

THREE

Because of this, God greatly exalted him,

and bestowed on him the name that is above every name

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Gospel

The most reassuring words of the Lord of all that speak to me, ‘What is your opinion?

How many don’t care about your opinion?

How many times have you been shut out for what you think or what you hold to be true?

But that is not the Lord’s way.

What is your opinion? He humbly asks and responds to the real not the hypocritical. He knows as soon as we talk to him like the psalmist has done it is not long before we are asking the right questions and questioning the wrong ways.

Two sons… repeat the gospel reading regards to the two sons.

Prostitutes and tax collectors respond to Jesus and these outcasts are entering the kingdom of God. Those who presume to be in the kingdom are cast out.

What is the question prior to the opinion ‘question’?

Which of these did the Father’s will?

Those who do likewise as the Lord does.

That is to say,

  1. Humble yourself. We have to head the voice of God in sacred Scripture and in daily life.
  2. Empty yourself of yourself. We need to see the world as the Lord sees it. My advantage and alliance are inferior to the purposes of the Lord.
  3. Obedient that is listen to God speak. We must model ourselves after the Lord’s only Son. He isn’t asking us to do anything he hasn’t done himself.

Decision Time

Casting out others is not our calling.

Calling the outcast is our work.

How will be approach the days ahead? Casting people out because they are ‘not as holy as we are?

Or reaching out to the outcast – the ones who see less of themselves than the Lord wants for them (prostitutes and tax collectors).

Jesus offers the Eucharistic gift to the outcast. Let us not be cast out.

Come to the banquet of the Lord.

What is your opinion?

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Depth of Our Debts

Depth of Our Debts

Greetings on this the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: SIR 27:30—28:7; PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12; ROM 14:7-9; MT 18:21-35

Note: A/C fixed in Church. I did not preach this weekend. So I can take certain liberties in these homiletic notes. Next Sunday 9 AM, 20th September I will preach on the livestream. It happens to be the Gospel reading of my first homily. I wonder how 9 years later the context has changed. We shall see.

Be Holy

There can be no confusion as to the direct and specific teaching Jesus is applying in this analogy.

There also is the necessity to carefully express the analogy of the faith and the Tradition of the Church as taught by the Church (Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis).

We can say clearly that forgiveness is a central nature to the Divine and is a required and acquired nature by baptism that we are to apply in our Christian life.

We forgive that which is trivial in relation to the size of the eternal debt sin has earned us. There can be no confusion as to the scales applied in this analogy.

Forgiving in the way of the Divine requires… divine assistance. There is no other way. We must bring our gift of un-forgiveness to the Lord that He might help us transform this into true forgiveness.

Here then we understand we are made in the image of God and we are called to the likeness of God. The first is an essential truth. The second a decision.

There is NO peace in this life without peace among brothers.

Pope Pius XII further wrote in Divino Afflante Spiritu which most chillingly was the day before Hitler issued Directive No. 7, Preparations for Attack in the West in 1939.

In this encyclical, Pope Pius XII reflecting on the peace accord resulting from the First World War and, unknown to His Holiness, the midwife of the Second World War:

81. No, Venerable Brethren, safety does not come to peoples from external means,

from the sword which can impose conditions of peace but does not create peace.

Forces that are to renew the face of the earth should proceed from within, from the spirit.

Pandemic Debt

We are indebted to one another on so many levels. Your sin, my sin and social sin.

This common human problem, sin, is paired with this common human problem, infection.

At this point there is no disconnecting them. We can try. We can blame China.

But we wind up in the same place. A problem that requires cooperation and mutual forgiveness.

Meanwhile we are the causal factor for the inattention to the effects of our own inaction and our lack of attentiveness to the situation among the family of nations.

Have Pity

Pity = the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of other.

In our context not merely a feeling but a call to action. You see a feeling without action is not a true feeling but a simple transient state of emotion.

Forgive

Peace and Forgiveness
among the Family of Nations

https://gcap.global/news/a-debt-jubilee-to-tackle-the-covid-19-health-and-economic-crisis/

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

For What Shall We Pray

For What Shall We Pray?

Greetings on this the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: EZ 33:7-9; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; ROM 13:8-10; MT 18:15-20

Note: The air conditioner is broken in the Church. So we have to limit our homilies to be very short as the temperature is very high and dangerous for human health. So my written notes will be short as well.

Ezekiel

Ezekiel is sometimes referred to as the Watchman. Twice in the Book of Ezekiel he is referred as the watchman calling out.

The first and second share these basic qualities:

  1. A watchman scans the horizon for the actions of God.
  2. He knows what God is about to do (in Ezekiel’s case allow Jerusalem to be captured); and
  3. He is obligated to stir up the people to respond to the alert.

It isn’t much different from a fire alarm in a building or at home. When that alarm goes off, does it not alert you and stir you to do something? Anything? Don’t you check here and there to see if a fire has started or someone or something is in danger?

Each of us has a responsibility to be watchman. It is an individual responsibility and corporate responsibility.

In Ezekiel’s case he is to alert the wicked. The Wicked are a group of people who do not believe in the presence of God or the consequences of their actions in this life nor in an eternal way. The Wicked see no need to seek right relation with God nor Man. The Wicked need to hear of the love of God.

Pray for the Wicked.

Responsorial Psalm 95

Daily we pray the Invitatory.

Psalm 95 contains the alert to not repeat the error of our fathers where at Meribah and Massah (testing and quarreling with God and one another).

The short version of the story. While journeying from place to place in stages through the desert of Sin they came to a place without water. They were thirsty, really thirsty. They began to complain to Moses and also about God. And they really got to it.

How can you lead us here to die?! In Egypt (the place of slavery and oppression) we at least had water and cucumbers. Now we have nothing. Well, God heard their prayer and provided water from the rock.

Here we have believers who under trial fail to trust God. We pray daily, literally, that we are strengthened to not repeat the weakness of the desert and succumb to our trials.

Pray for the Weak in Faith.

Paul to the Romans

Paul makes clear that we are to have no debt but the debt of Love for one another. Taking the people back to the Torah and the laws of Leviticus 19:18-19.

The law is fulfilled in love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Specifically, now these are believers who desire to follow God more deeply than those at Meribah and through the law. Paul describes the law in terms of love. He lists the most potent of the four major ‘do not’ laws (within the 10 commandments) as it pertains to one another. Then he specifically says to those who follow the law are not to do two things that are contrary to the law of love:

  1. Do not take revenge.
  2. Do not cherish and nurture a grudge.

Pray for those who hold onto their pain.

Gospel

So when we arrive at the gospel message of Jesus we can see he proscribes an order of normalized confrontation. How to orderly navigate disagreements and mutual mistrust and personal harm.

Then he says, PRAY.

  1. Pray to become a watchman.
  2. Pray for those who have no faith in God.
  3. Pray for those who fail under duress.
  4. Pray for those who nurture revenge and hold grudges.

Pray and Partake

Pray in community for all of us who fail and fall and don’t always live the life meant for us, in unity with God and man. Pray and be my people.

Pray and receive the Eucharistic gift of Christ.

Be a praying people for all who hurt.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

God Forbid!

God Forbid!

Greetings on this the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: JER 20:7-9; PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9; ROM 12:1-2; MT 16:21-27

Note: The air conditioner is broken in the Church. So we have to limit our homilies to be very short as the temperature is very high and dangerous for human health. So my written notes will be short as well.

Jeremiah Laments

Jeremiah acknowledges the contradiction right off and blames the Lord for it.

You tricked me!

Well, if you have ever fed a baby who doesn’t want to eat you can relate to both the one feeding and the one eating. Jeremiah accuses the Lord of beguiling him.

He was seduced by the beauty of the divine word to speak but he recoils at the bitterness of the people’s reply which of course Jeremiah shares a version of that bitterness but for a different reason.

Even still, Jeremiah notes that so persuasive, so important, so high an imperative the word of the Lord is, he cannot contain it but must blurt it out.

Paul Advises

Elsewhere, Paul struggled in the body as we know from his writings. Some propose the problem is bodily weakness such as epilepsy and/or eye sight and/or old age. Never the less Jesus advised him to accept his insufficiency because his perfection comes from Jesus anyway. Just do what you should and the divine purpose will be fruitful.

In today’s reading Paul is focused on the body-spirit continuum. I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.

Paul makes known the priority for us is not the physical health of the body (lacking whether by deterioration or by misuse) but the perfection of the soul. Be a living sacrifice where we give up the inferior goods of the natural world for the superior good of being a living and holy sacrifice. Illness of the body is not an impediment to being holy and pleasing to God. The work of subordinating the natural bodily needs in harmony of the soul is work, but the holy work that pleases God.

Peter is Horrified

God forbid, Lord!

Now, one might think Peter is referring to Jesus alone. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe he is as much thinking of himself too. After all, where he goes and what happens to him happens to us.

To which Jesus replies, ‘Yep’. Or more exactly: You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

Jeremiah had a problem thinking like God. Paul confessed the work of thinking like God. Peter did too.

Two Part Disconnect

We can describe the spiritual warfare this way:

  1. My body wants to do it but my soul says No!
  2. My soul wants to do it but my body says No!

I propose Jeremiah, Paul and Peter each describe a particular expression of these two contradictions.

There is a two part reply.

  1. The psalmist today’s reading helps us and is the first among the psalms: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. We cannot set aside an essential truth that we thirst and yearn for God more than all things. Every time we resist such a love we find ourselves in contradiction.
  2. Jesus offers new life. Perfected life. But the cost is to place the natural world’s good and goodness in a subordinate place and place the spiritual likeness of God in the higher priority.

It isn’t just because it is a good idea. It is a necessary idea, eternally.

Our calling, Our Answer

We account who we are by the decisions we make.

The Cross is the denying the body and listening to the deepest urgings of the soul. The soul is listening to Jesus and finds fulfillment in him alone.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Go Forth, the Mass has Ended


Greetings on this the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: IS 22:19-23; PS 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8; ROM 11:33-36; MT 16:13-20

Ideal, Acceptable, Tolerated, Needful
Every year at this time we start a new journey. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Everyone has a different starting point.

Everyone who wants to try the Christian journey comes with every virtue and it’s twin vice.

From now until the Rite of Acceptance, the first decision point, the hope for change is given primacy.

No judgement. No corrections. Just the Gospel message revealed in nature, oral tradition, sacred Scripture and, finally, in the practice of a faithful people.

We don’t present ourselves perfect, rather we engage the perfect and become like him.

Imperative
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

So much is written on this sentence. For me it isn’t the diametric of rewarding the good and punish the guilty.

No!

The imperative is to bind up the wounds of the wounded and loosening those in bondage. And most of all, to loose none the Father has given.

None.
Zero.
Zilch.

Temporary Missionary Approach

Spontaneous acceptance of the Gospel is always preferred. Yet, continuous conversation is the reality most often. The enlightenment of the apostles is obvious in the presence of Jesus. Even after Pentecost, continued maturation and development.

We are mission territory even among the Baptized uncatechized.

Catechumanate
In this period we study how the Promise is made, given and lived. The life of the historical Jesus is fulfillment of the promise and brings about a new promise.

In this period faith is incarnate. Faith is made palpable and relatable.

Binded and Loosened
Who among us are perfect in promise and action? Do you not recall the story of the ungrateful Servant? Forgiven a large debt, he cannot forgive the smaller debt of his contemporary.

Or are we like those who … Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

Rite of Elect
In this phase we learn of the Sacramental economy. The blessings to support us through our life journey. What, how, form/matter, who. Clarity on the specific blessings given to bind and loosen.

Here we practice the faith in great anticipation of the Easter Vigil and the reception of these Sacraments.

Even Now, Even Now
Even now we remain in the tension of the Ideal, Acceptable, Tolerated, and Needful.

Sometimes in one person, all four.

Neophyte
Here, empowered and strengthened in Sacraments is the promise of perfection as a consistent movement into the inner life of God.

Cast the Net
Catch every fish. Bind and loosen them. Which will be in the end to be lost is not our work. It is not our judgment.

It is only the judgment of the Divine and the work of the Angels.

Or do we mock St Paul who says, Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

Go Forth, the Mass has Ended
Mass is the empowering event where the imperative is reenforced.

Bind.
Loose.
Be the embodiment of the Divine presence.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry