God made his choice

Greetings on this the Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 15:7-21; PS 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 10; Jn 15:9-11
Note: Mother’s Day is fast approaching in the USA, May 9th, 2021. While we honor our own Mother, we too honor all Mothers, Mothers-to-be, and woman of all ages who share the amazing maternal gift found in Genesis 3:16:

Yet your urge shall be for your husband.

Taken narrowly you would miss the greater gift.

It is in Woman that the urge for peace and unity lives and despite all including Adam’s abandonment of Eve before the Lord, Woman is given this deep and abiding urge, imperative, need, and primal instinct beyond instinct of any other type… urge for another’s well-being.

Happy Mothers Day!

Now to today’s Gospel.
God has decided and he has a deep and abiding urge, imperative, need, and primal instinct beyond instinct of any other type… urge for another’s well-being. Adam abandoned Eve, Jesus embraces Eve and all his children.

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.

“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”

And it is that simple.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Breaking Through

Photo by Raphael Brasileiro on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 15:1-6; PS 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5; Jn 15:1-8
Note: Today’s Gospel portion is the same from the 5th Sunday of Easter, only three days ago. The focus has changed by way of the supporting scripture given in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.

It is instructive for us to imagine that the same scripture portion has multiple divine messages for us. We are humans and we are capable of many types of revelation and directions from the Lord.

Regarding Circumcision
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
“Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved.”

This was an early and core theological point being made by multiple factions within the Church.

Background
Circumcision is from the covenant of the Lord with Abraham. We find it in the Book of Genesis Chapter 17 for its inauguration. After the initial circumcisions of the 99 year old Abram, its reach begins with every 8 day old male including house-born slaves and those acquired by money who are not of your descendants. Therefore it encompasses everyone under the authority of the nations.

In regards to the importance of circumcision we consider Moses. After his accepting of his mission to free the people he started his journey back to Egypt and:

On the journey, at a place where they spent the night, the LORD came upon Moses and sought to put him to death. But Zipporah took a piece of flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and, touching his feet, she said, “Surely you are a spouse of blood to me.” So God let Moses alone. Circumcision begot “A spouse of blood” Exodus 4:24-26.

There are two schools of thought. The first explanation is the literal circumcision of the son of Moses. The second explanation it is the circumcision of Moses himself (a son, bridegroom of blood).

We are fairly confident that Moses was not circumcised at 8 days old. It is very likely Zipporah saved her husband from the wrath of the Lord by circumcising Moses (using the son and forehead pretext as polite talk). By the way, it is the only circumcision recorded in sacred Scripture made by a woman.

Circumcision is then a mark of covenant and of conversion.

  • Abram becomes Abraham.
  • Moses becomes the servant of the Lord.

First reading and conflict
It is necessary to circumcise them
and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.”

The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.

Responsorial Psalm 122
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

We of course see the Church in the same ways.

Editor note from RNAB: A song of Zion, sung by pilgrims obeying the law to visit Jerusalem three times on a journey. The singer anticipates joining the procession into the city. Jerusalem is a place of encounter, where the people praise God and hear the divine justice mediated by the king. The very buildings bespeak God’s power. May the grace of this place transform the people’s lives.

Tomorrow’s reading brings the conclusion that Gentiles are not required to be circumcised.

Gospel Portion
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.

Jesus is changing (as this is an ongoing effort) the metrics by which we understand and evaluate the practice of the faith. It is by the fruits we are to be known, not by acts of law.

Repeating what I said on Sunday, Gal 5:22-23
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

All our practices and teachings of our core beliefs must be measured by fruits in primacy:

  • Social Justice
  • Beatitudes
  • 10 Commandments
  • Precepts
  • ‘non-negotiables’
  • Neo-Puritanism
  • Nationalistic Catholicism
  • Political Catholicism
  • Modernism
  • Postmodernism
  • Evangelicalism

Read that again.

What I am saying is as equally challenging as telling believers that circumcision is no longer required. It is a massive shift. By itself unsettling. But by breaking through the theology of grace and mercy become the manifestation of the cornerstone, Jesus.

David’s Census; the Plague
The LORD’s anger against Israel flared again, and he incited David against them: “Go, take a census of Israel and Judah.” 2 Sam 24:1

Actually the response of David was NOT orderred by the Lord. It was an IMPROPER sympathetic response to the Lord’s anger.

See another version: A satan rose up against Israel, and he incited David to take a census of Israel. (1 Chr 21:1)

Afterward, however, David regretted having numbered the people. David said to the LORD: “I have sinned grievously in what I have done. Take away, LORD, your servant’s guilt, for I have acted very foolishly.” 2 Sam 24:10

The outcome was the loss of 70,000 people to a plague.

Editor note from RNAB: The narrative supposes that since the people belonged to the Lord rather than to the king, only the Lord should know their exact number. Further, since such an exact numbering of the people would make it possible for the king to exercise centralized power, imposing taxation, conscription, and expropriation upon Israel, the story shares the view of monarchy found in 1 Sm 8:4–18. See also Nm 3:44–51, where census taking requires an apotropaic offering.

Temptation to Measure
We are always tempted to measure things (somewhat repeating the Sunday homily).

It is the Lord’s to measure.
We are to be fruitful with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Where the Catholic Church ventures into the public discourse, as well it should, she must be painfully aware of:

  • Abraham – going from fear to leadership, marked by a sign of faith.
  • Moses – saved by his wife’s urge for her husband, marked by a sign of faith.
  • David’s Census – making decisions based on money, power, influence and comfort of the comfortable.

We too are marked by a sign of faith, our baptism into the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Not by power or counting but by fruits are we to be known.

Culture Wars
The culture war in the United States continues to rage. Everyone has good points. Everyone has a portion of the truth. All of these must coalesced into a unity.

Lost in the dialog

  • Permissive Will of God is beyond our grasp in the sense of reduction or expansion. Yet it exists and we must accept that this love has a sort of primacy in our thinking. The Lord counts, we are not to count.
  • Moral Permissiveness is not a core value for the Church. It must always be our intention to guide to true freedom. We must always teach the truth. We must lead by example. We must lead by giving pathways to truth and the freedom that is in the Lord.

There is tension between these ideas. There is even disquiet in dealing with these issues.
The Lord is angry we are not dealing with these questions properly.

Let us not perform an IMPROPER sympathetic response to the Lord’s anger.

All our politics inside and outside the Church proper must be guided by the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such there is no law.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Love is Pain

Greetings on this the Tuesday of Fifth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 14:19-28; PS 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 21; Jn 14:27-31a

First Reading
Paul’s missionary journey was not without painful difficulty.

They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing that he was dead.

In instructing others about the trials ahead for the leadership of the faith, they said,

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Responsorial Psalm
But your task is so urgent and real, the Psalmist reassures:

Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Gospel Portion
Knowing the immediacy of the passion, Jesus reassures them, that since you love me:

(Since) If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father.

and again

I am going away and I will come back to you.

Passion
The passion of Jesus Christ (trial, punishment, crucifixion, death) is the path chosen by the Father. It is a painful path. We know it is for the forgiveness of sin, the reparations, and propitiation.

He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”
(Matt 26:39, 42)

Jesus Sets His Path
The ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

It is a most beautiful expression of love to abandon all one’s strength to the opposite of all that is good. Yet not to cooperate with Evil but to dismantle Evil once and for all.

Wuthering Heights
If you never read the novel it would be good summer reading.

Not to ruin it for anyone moved to read the story, let me say things this way.

Love is pain but not all pain is love.

(definition: careful effort; great care or trouble).

Our careful efforts are to heal and uplift, to provide aid in this life and assurance of eternal life. This was the Christ mission. This is our mission.

And its a pain.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

I am going to the Father

Greetings on this the Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles
Readings: 1 Cor 15:1-8; PS 19:2-3, 4-5; Jn 14:6-14
Note: Late entry, very tired today. Exhausted even.

Today we celebrate a Feast in honor of two Apostles, Philip and James.
The first reading Paul is discussing the appearance to Cephas (Peter), James, and the Apostles.
We also read in the Gospel portion the interactions of Jesus with Thomas and Philip.

So we could say today the readings take on a characteristic of dialog with Jesus and a dialog between believers about the most important things in accordance with the Scriptures.

I don’t know if you remember the Four Last Things?

  1. Death
  2. Judgment.
  3. Heaven.
  4. Hell.

Jesus tells them clearly the coming trial, death and resurrection: I am going to the Father.

He reminds them to believe that death is certain, judgment is unavoidable and Heaven (the Father’s place) is our preferred destination.

The reading from 1st Corrinthians reasserts the same.

Where am I going?
In baptism the promise of the Father, through Jesus.

In the life, acting in harmony with that outcome, to the best I can.

I am going to the Father, too, by the mercy of God.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Deed and truth

Greetings on this the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Readings: Acts 9:26-31; PS 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8
Note: Yesterday at the Vigil Mass, the Bishop confirmed 24 of our teens.

Early Church
In the early Church, allowing someone to join was a life and death decision for the entire community. Unknowingly adding spies or a ne’er-do-well would cause a disaster and the death of many believers. Christians were a hunted group.

Saul was such a hunter.

Barnabas was his Sponsor to the faith giving testimony as to Saul’s theophany experience, community actions and preaching of Christ. Barnabas gave witness to the admonishing of Saint John’s letter:

Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

They accepted Paul (Saul) and eventually sent him on his way to Tarsus. Tarsus is the place of Paul’s youth, education and misguided zeal for the Lord. He was returned to the place that malformed him. This time to correct the error and bring reform.

Responsorial Psalm
I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

We are given to continue worship in community. Paul did not want to live outside of community but be a part of it. A healthy part of it. Certainly, the Church honors him by often referring to the Church as the Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

Deed and Truth
Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.

How we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit
We use this as a standard list of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Mission of the Holy Spirit
Luke 4:18-19, Jesus proclaims Isa 61:1-2a.
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,
BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.
HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,
AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,
TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,
TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”

Fruits of the Spirit
Gal 5:22-23
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Branchedness
Jesus is the Vine, the Father the Vine grower.
We are branches – unique, different, and in unity. Each of us on our own mission in harmony and our strength sourced from the Vine itself, Jesus.

We are given gifts. We are given mission.

Above all, we are to be fruitful in the Spirit. The fruit is not outcomes. The fruit is the expression of the essence of who we are, day in/day out, bringing witness to the goodness of the Lord.

God is responsible for outcomes!
We are to accept the gifts, make the spritual fruitfulness of these gifts.

Let the Lord count the numbers of conversions, the Sunday attendance, the quantity of Sacraments given today (excluding practical considerations).

Let the Angels reap and gather the wheat to the barns and the chaff to the firepit.

Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

That will be enough

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Also the Feast of Joseph the Worker
Readings: Acts 13:44-52; PS 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4; Jn 14:7-14

Dayenu: It Would Have Been Enough – a Passover song.

  • If He had taken us out of Egypt and not made judgements on them; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had made judgments on them and had not made [them] on their gods; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had made [them] on their gods and had not killed their firstborn; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had killed their firstborn and had not given us their money; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had given us their money and had not split the Sea for us; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had split the Sea for us and had not taken us through it on dry land; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had taken us through it on dry land and had not pushed down our enemies in [the Sea]; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had pushed down our enemies in [the Sea] and had not supplied our needs in the wilderness for forty years; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had supplied our needs in the wilderness for forty years and had not fed us the manna; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had fed us the manna and had not given us the Shabbat; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had given us the Shabbat and had not brought us close to Mount Sinai; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had brought us close to Mount Sinai and had not given us the Torah; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had given us the Torah and had not brought us into the land of Israel; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had brought us into the land of Israel and had not built us the ‘Chosen House’ [the Temple; it would have been] enough for us.

For the Lord, Our God, it is never enough but to give everything that is the Father.

A beautiful Passover song of gratitude. A beautiful song of cherishing the Lord’s love. Yet, like Philip, it is but a fraction of what the Lord has in store for us.

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Sabbath after Sabbath

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

In our first reading today Paul eviscerates the religious leadership for reading the oracles of the prophets sabbath after sabbath yet failing to recognize him in the scriptures.

The resurrection changed everything. It is the ultimate Sign of Moses.
And by change we mean the change from within, knowing:

  • The WAY we are.
  • The LIFE we live.
  • The TRUTH of our need.

It is by divine mercy and patience of the Lord that we are able to understand.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

Passivity before the Lord brings conversion and new life.

Don’t fall into the emptiness of religiosity. Live life in the divine.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Speak Up

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Readings: Acts 13:13-25; PS 89:2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27; Jn 13:16-20

Note: The first readings have completed the tracking of Peter last week and now focus on the tracking of Paul and his first missionary journey.

From a web site: https://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_catherine_of_siena.html

Quoting from the site:

She traveled through Italy, reducing rebellious cities to the obedience of the Holy See, and winning hardened souls to God.

Long had the holy virgin foretold the terrible schism which began before she died. Day and night she wept and prayed for unity and peace. But in spirit she saw the entire city of Rome full of demons, who were tempting the people to revolt and even to slay the Vicar of Christ. With intense earnestness Saint Catherine begged Our Lord to prevent this enormous crime. Their seditious temper was subdued by her prayers, but they vented their rage by scourging the Saint herself, who gladly endured all for God and His Church. She died in Rome in 1380, at the age of thirty-three.

The worldwide “RAD TRAD” phenomenon and the American Republican-Catholic juggernaut, which I call the Usurpers of the Faith, are precisely the people Saint Catherine of Siena was addressing. They have placed themselves at the center of the faith. They have placed SIN as their focus and not the soul in need of help.

Quoting from the site:

How deeply do the troubles of the Church and the consequent loss of souls afflict us? How often do we pray for the Church and the Pope?

In regards to Saint Catherine of Siena we may rightly quote Our Lord Jesus who said,
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send
receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Grow

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 12:24—13:5a; PS 67:2-3, 5, 6 and 8; Jn 12:44-50

I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.

Planting
I brought home some Easter Lilies remaining from the parish Easter celebration.
Planting is tricky here. The sun is blistering hot and humidity ranges from very dry to soaking wet.
If I do it right, I will have a cluster of eight lilies to enjoy next springtime.

Growing
The Church grew by way of worshiping the Lord, alms giving (relief giving) and fasting.

In that healthy environment the Holy Spirit is able to communicate to us clearly and forcefully the will of the Father. And being so attentive to the Lord, great adventure and the salvation of souls far and wide.

Believing
Whoever believes in me believes not only in me
but also in the one who sent me,

Seeing
and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.

Hearing
And if anyone hears my words (should obey because) I know that his (Father) commandment is eternal life.

Being Sent
Go therefore! Do worship the Lord, do alms giving (relief giving) and do fasting.

Reject Him
Let us not tarry here. We know rejecting truth is living in darkness and heaps judgment upon ourselves. Let us try. Just try. The Holy Spirit will aid you!

Jesus cried out and said,
So what I say, I say as the Father told me.

Go therefore, worshiping the Lord, alms giving (relief giving) and fasting.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry