I myself did not know him

Greetings on this the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Is 49:3, 5-6; Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; 1 Cor 1:1-3; Jn 1:29-34
Notes: John said this twice in the account of the baptism of the Lord.

I myself did not know him.

There is a mystery in this statment worthy of today’s consideration.

John did know Jesus certainly.
Elizabeth was visited Mary and John leapt in the womb at the sound of Mary’s voice.
Mary helped Elizabeth birth John (sympathetic reading of the scripture).

Taking a step back.

The baptism of the Lord is accounted for in each of the four Gospels.

We celebrated the Baptism of the Lord in Guatemala City on Sunday and in the USA on Monday past.
On this second Sunday of Ordinary Time we encounter the Gospel of John’s account of the baptism.

There are slight variations between the accounts each giving a more profound accounting theologically than the one written before. Using progressive elaboration is a common theme in the divine-human exchange and most delightful when seeing the process play out over the development of the gospel accounts themselves.

One example to illustrate. ok?


  • Gospel of Mark – the first of the gospels – the Spirit descended upon him like a dove.
  • Gospel of Matthew – the second gospel – the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighted on him.
  • Gospel of Luke – the third gospel – the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove.
  • Gospel of John – the last gospel – I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him.

There are many such examples in this very brief but impactful sacred scripture.


  • All four indicate the Trinity by the Father’s voice, the Sonship and the Spirit.
  • This is my beoved Son, with whom I am well pleased (three accounts, slight and important differences).
  • The Spirit, the Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit.

This is why we can make summary statements about the baptism taking into account the totality of the baptism accounts provided. For today, let us look at just one more and it will be the basis of the homily.

Where From?

  • Gospel of Mark – the first of the gospels – Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee.
  • Gospel of Matthew – the second gospel – Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordon to John.
  • Gospel of Luke – the third gospel – Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized.
  • Gospel of John – the last gospel – After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me (eternal).

The gospel of John adds:

  • Lamb of God.
  • Son of God.
  • Witness to divinity (preexistence).
  • Jesus is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit.
  • I did not know him.

What follows?

  • Mark – Tempation of Jesus.
  • Matthew – Temptation of Jesus.
  • Luke – Genealogy of Jesus and the temptation of Jesus.
  • John – Calling of the disciples and the ‘conclusion’ of the temptation Heavens open and Angels (See Jn 1:51)

First reading
The Servant of the Lord (Salvation for the Jew and Gentile alike)

It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of and restore the survivors of Israel;


I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm
Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!”

Second reading
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Alleluia Verse
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him, he gave power to become children of God.

Gospel Portion
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

I did not know him.
I did not know him.

the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.

Just like Simeon in the Gospel of Luke, John received insight as to how to know him.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

God reveals.

  • John knew Jesus as man and as Lamb of God – though he wondered what that meant.
  • John knew Jesus as Suffering Servant, The Ideal Davidic King, and Messiah after his visitation.

There are seven weeks in Ordinary Time before we begin Lent Season.

Now is the perfect time to come to know Jesus:

  • Know him as a man walking the Earth.
  • Know him as friend and join his pilgrimage.
  • Know him as Lamb.
  • Know him as King.
  • Know him as Messiah.
  • Know him as suffering.

Let the Lord speak to you of him.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Letter to the Editor

Provided by Father Frank O’Laughlin (he picks good articles to read)

Benedict’s legacy will be a contested one. “Your wonderful and at times heartbreaking edition of 7 January confirmed everything I felt for this very holy, peaceful, gentle but strong human being. Thank you for a rare, moving and honest series of features”, writes John Elder in our Letters pages this week. “Through his writings he set out in search of lost sheep, lifted me on to his shoulders, and carried me home,” adds Paul Hammond; “His legacy is of a timid man burned by the experience of Nazism then blinded by the glare of modernity who sought guidance by looking in the rear-view mirror”, offers Dominic Kirkham. 

One – imperfect but not unhelpful – way the papacies of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict are characterised is as an echo of the contrasting visions of two of the great theologians of the last century, Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Rahner saw the grace of God at work in the world, thick with anonymous Christians; Balthasar saw a world of totalitarian nightmares, of nuclear arsenals, labour camps and torture chambers crying out for the abrasive medicine of the Gospel. As we write in our leader this week, “The Balthasar/Rahner debate, the dialogue between Benedict and Francis, is something the Church needs constantly to ponder – without trying to bring it to a simple resolution and without one side demonising the other. For they were both right. Humankind is simultaneously both redeemed and fallen.”

The other link: Why the dialogue between Benedict and Francis is something the Church needs constantly to ponder.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Frozen Ground – Empty Bellies

Deep Freeze. Harvest Lost. Courtesy Fr Frank.

Fr Frank asks that I remind you (and myself) of the difficulty of the migrant harvest workers.

When the freeze comes no aid is available for the harvest workers. Or hurricane, or tornado, or drought.

While the State of Florida provides financial assistance to farmers for crop failures as a result of freezes and other agricultural disasters, the migrant worker does not receive unemployment or financial assistance to bridge to the next planting season. It can be a very hard life.

The Gleaners. Finding a meal when the harvest is gone.

The migrant worker is every bit as part of our common economic life as any USA citizen. Whether here on visa, green card, or undocumented, they are an important part of our economic life and our social life. We are in fact one family.

We should as a part of our systematic care for all members of the common life provide assistance specific to the harvest workers when such impacts occur. Out of Christian charity, yes. But in a sense more so out of Solidarity and in our common humanity. You don’t have to be Chrisitan to see yourself in their plight.

Humanism and Christian Humanism share many common goals. This should be one of them.

Donate to: https://www.guatemalanmaya.org/

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

2017 Guatemala orphanage fire

Orphanage Fire Memorial

The memorial on the night day we were in the city photos.

The tragedy is the poor care for the orphan and the effects of social injustice have a cascading effect. Even righteous protest can be disastrous. It is wise to keep our eyes on Jesus and our behaviors in the Beatitudes.

Background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Guatemala_orphanage_fire

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Happy New Year 2023!

A Reply to a Priest friend.

My recap.

Merry Christmas, holy Father!

I pray for Benedict XVI and his peaceful journey. I read everything he ever wrote so plain speaking and genuine his faith. Sad the Curia exhausted him their intrigue and power.

Pope Francis equally worn down but the advantage is his street-bishop smarts kept him from being overwhelmed. I think the pasta and pastries at the Vatican did more harm than these.

Pastor Quesnel leaves us in a few weeks. The administrator to come will have little interest in my eclectic spiritually. Such is life. If St Thomas More hadn’t seceded from the faith through schism, I would be happy to finish my service in the shadows of Dcn George Collins and Bill Cresswell, whom you would have loved.

As it is I insisted to accompany Fr Quesnel to Guatemala this Monday for the Three Kings Mission, ten days. Since coming to Sacred Heart I have protected him from harm, why would I stop now. Once he is boarded USA bound, I told him I will pray Simeon’s praise.

Oddly enough I am doing substitute service to the Altar at Miracle House tomorrow. I pray for the Mom’s and babies. It’s distracting to pray through the fog of power and politics. The women understand my prayers and reflection. The men want to interrogate for republican orthodoxy. Happily a newly ordained Priest is the presider so the Lord in his cosmic humor places him in my care if for a moment.

I feel so blessed to be near holy men.

I am still working your must read list from 2011. It’s comprehensive.

2023. Camino de Santiago via France. If I were to enter monastic life it would be as a perpetual pilgrim. Passing through every place of diaspora bringing Christ’s blessing. One tunic, one cloak, and a pair of sandals. GPS, too. My angel antenna is bent.

Every good wish and blessings,

Dcn Gerry

Diaspora Earth

Greetings on this the Feast of The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Readings: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14; Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
Notes: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is lucid, conscious and stable but his condition remains serious, the Vatican said Thursday… at age 95 the retired Pope is entering his final days, his final journey home.

The Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to save Jesus’ life. On their return they had to divert to Galilee for Judea was unsafe for them. The course of our lives is filled with the unexpected and the dangerous.

But the Lord is always guiding: (three times the angel helped Joseph decide what to do)

  • the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to flee (refugee).
  • the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt to return.
  • and because he had been warned in a dream (to divert), he departed for the region of Galilee (internally-displaced).

Today about 68 million people are in forced migration.
Refugees, migrants, and internally-displaced persons all make up these numbers.

Source: https://www.concernusa.org/story/forced-migration-causes/

  • Secure national borders are rational.
  • Impenetrable national borders are a grave moral disorder especially when it is caused by dysfunctional governing.
  • International aid to nation-states that struggle with food, employment and political insecurity is a priority response.

List of Popes: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/feb/13/popes-full-list#table

The world has changed so very much. Yet the fatherly care of the popes continues in the line of Saint Peter, the Apostolic Succession. Who was Pope when you were born? I have lived under the fatherly care of these popes:

  • Francis I
  • Benedict XVI
  • John Paul II
  • John Paul I
  • Paul VI
  • John XXIII
  • Pius XII

Formative Guidance (in my life)

Paul VI

And what is more, the Church has the firm conviction that all temporal liberation, all political liberation- even if it endeavors to find its justification in such or such a page of the Old or New Testament, even if it claims for its ideological postulates and its norms of action theological data and conclusions, even if it pretends to be today’s theology- carries within itself the germ of its own negation and fails to reach the ideal that it proposes for itself whenever its profound motives are not those of justice in charity, whenever its zeal lacks a truly spiritual dimension and whenever its final goal is not salvation and happiness in God.

-Paul VI. 1975.

(11) Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of illhealth; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood.

—John XXIII.Pacem In Terris. 1963.

Pius XII

It is not too much, We are sure, to expect that in the process of restriction, Christian charity and the sense of human solidarity existing between all men, children of the one eternal God and Father, will not be forgotten. Immigration can help in solving one of Europe’s saddest human problems, – a problem which is being aggravated inhumanely by the enforced transfer of helpless, innocent populations.

PIUS XII. 1946.

First reading
God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored.

Alleluia Verse
Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Gospel Portion
And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Rachel weeps

Greetings on this the Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Readings: 1 Jn 1:5—2:2; PS 124:2-3, 4-5, 7cd-8; Mt 2:13-18
Notes: Jesus Christ the righteous one. Perfect righteousness.

Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.



First reading
Beloved: This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you:

  • God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
  • The Blood of his Son, Jesus, cleanses us from all sin.
  • We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.
  • We have fellowship with one another.
  • Forgive [ness of] our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
  • Expiation for our sins.

Responsorial Psalm
Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.

Alleluia Verse
We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as Lord; the white-robed army of martyrs praise you.

Gospel Portion
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.

Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
    sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
    and she would not be consoled,
    since they were no more.

Abortion is about the powerful not the woman and not her child.

Come learn the meaning of this mystery.

The LORD has created a new thing upon the earth: woman encompasses man (Jer 31:22).

Listen to Rachel.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

To turn the hearts

Greetings on this the Friday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Readings: Mal 3:1-4, 23-24; PS 25:4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14; Lk 1:57-66
Notes: John the Baptist, Elijah, has come. His mission continues each generation.

John, like Mary, always points us to Jesus and the Father.

He has other specific goals as well. John has come and continues his mission. Remember, John never married. John never had children. But he understood and was motivated by the turning of hearts.

To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Mal 3:24).

Recently, aiding a family with their gift giving, it was a joy to watch them in joy wrapping their carefully picked selections for gifts for their children. These gifts are outward signs of an inward turn, to the heart and wellbeing of the children. And children for their parents.

  • Turn hearts to love.
  • Be introduced to the Horn of Salvation.
  • Know, accept, and turn for and toward the forgiveness of sin.

Inseparable things.

Elizabeth, righteous, names John in harmony with the vison of the Angel Gabriel to her husband Zechariah.

Twin tasks of John:

  1. Prepare the way of Jesus as the Horn of Salvation.
  2. Prepare his people by knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin.

Three Songs of Advent: https://gerrypalermo.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/threesongsofadvent.pdf

John. John the Baptist.

First reading
Thus says the Lord GOD: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.

Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, Before the day of the LORD comes, the great and terrible day, To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.

Responsorial Psalm
Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.

All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees. The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him, and his covenant, for their instruction.

Alleluia Verse
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church; come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Gospel Portion
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son.

When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”

So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.

The Canticle of Zechariah (tomorrow).

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

The Ancient Prayer

Greetings on this Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Readings: 1 Sm 1:24-28; 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd; Lk 1:46-56
Notes: The stories of Adam and Eve, Hagar and Ishmael, Sari and Abraham, Manoah and Samson, Hannah and Samuel present to us a recurring theme of the Lord’s intercession for the wellbeing of women and through them the wellbeing of all peoples.

In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping freely (1 Sam 1:10).
For the LORD has heeded your affliction (Gen 16:11).

Adam again had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. “God has granted me another offspring in place of Abel,” she said, “because Cain killed him.” To Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to invoke the LORD by name (Gen 4:25-26).

Is it any wonder then the Lord God decided to hear the deepest prayers of humanity from of ancient times to bring a Son who will set them free through a woman, righteous and sinless?

At that time people began to invoke the LORD by name (Gen 4:26b).

First reading
Hannah Presents Samuel to the Lord.

Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said: “Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” She left Samuel there.

Hannah’s Song (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/1samuel/2?1) is the basis for the responsorial.

And Hannah prayed.

  • Manoah was supportive (Samson).
  • Elkanah was supportive (Samuel).


Responsorial (from Samuel)
My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

Alleluia Verse
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Gospel Portion
The Canticle of Mary.

We pray the canticle of Mary every evening.

See in particular the O Antiphones the seven days before Christmas: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2021/12/17/o-antiphons-2021/

December 22
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Reflection: We are dust and to dust we shall return. But not just dust. Breath. Rûaħ. You, O God, have made this dust with your own breath. Save your breath so closely knitted and integrated within us as Emmanuel is knitted within Mary.

My Soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord….

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Open wide your arms

Photo by Marina M on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Readings: SG 2:8-14; PS 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21; LK 1:39-45
Notes: All week we contemplate righteous men and woman at the Advent of the Lord (full 4th week Advent).

At the Homily this past Sunday, I asked this question:

Q: How do you receive a hug?
A: You have to open your arms wide.

Emmanuel comes to you a baby. Open wide your arms to receive him!

Mary, the proto-deacon, faithful exemplar, Mother of God, her first act is to act in charity!

  • Righteous Mary, dispenser of divine charity. For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
  • Righteous woman Elizabeth, gratitude and humility in her hour of need.


The biblical Greek word for service. As such it applies to all manner of ministry (official) or assistance (unofficial) that a person may perform or render either to the Church in general or to some private individual.

From: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33072

First reading
“O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, Let me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely.”

Responsorial Psalm
Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.

Alleluia Verse
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!

Gospel Portion
Set-up: And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren.

Today’s gospel portion:
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Service, humility and gratitude.

Open wide your arms to receive the baby Jesus!

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry