Monthly Archives: March 2010

“You Be the Bad Guy in this Plan!” – Jn 13:21-26†


Happy Holy Week!!
 

Some may know today, not only as “Holy Wednesday,” but also as “Spy Wednesday.”  This is traditionally the day the Judas plotted with the Chief Priests of the Temple to have Jesus arrested.
 

Today’s reflection is Judas’ role in salvation.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” – Mother Teresa
   

Today’s Meditation:
   

When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”  The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.  One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side.  So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.  He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?”  Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and (took it and) handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot.  (NAB Jn 13:21-26)
   

The phrase “one whom Jesus loved” is mentioned several times in the bible (I believe all of them are in John’s gospel.)  I specifically remember hearing this expression with Jesus’ hanging on the cross of death.  It is there that Jesus’ tells “this person” that he is now in charge of Mary’s welfare and safety: she is now his mother.  Scholars pretty much unanimously agree that “this individual” is John.

I have a dualistic view of this phrase.  I also believe it is John from a historical, and physically viewpoint.  But, from a conceptual view, could Jesus have been referring to US as the “the one whom He loved?” 

Put your name in the place of this phrase.  In this reading, we are looking at others (and at ourselves) thinking, “Am I betraying Jesus?”  After all, we are sinners, and with every sin we are betraying our Lord in heaven.

Now picture us at the foot of Jesus ‘cross, and being told, “(your name), this is your mother.  Woman, this is your son.”  Wow!!  What a powerful statement.  We relive Jesus’ last meal at every mass: and we must have Mary in our hearts, as our mother in heaven.  Jesus has told us to take His mother as our own.  I truly believe the phrase “the one whom He loved” was for this specific purpose.  How awesome is that!!

Being the Passover Meal, the morsel mentioned by Jesus in this reading, per bible scholars, was probably a bitter herb, dipped in salt water.  All present there were devout Jews, and followed the Jewish laws and regulations strictly.  Jesus never changed any of these regulations: He added, or refined the Jewish laws and regulations as He saw needs, or human errors. 

Now, let’s think about the “betrayer.”  Where did Judas come from?  Nothing is mentioned about how he was selected as an Apostle, or his ministry as an Apostle.  All we know is that he held the “purse,” and was thus probably the one that handled any monetary matters.  “Iscariot” indicates his place of birth.  It is a Hebrew word meaning, “a man of Kerioth” (or Carioth), which is a city of Judah.  His city of origin separates him from the other Apostles, who were all Galileans.

Why would Judas, after seeing all that Jesus did, want Him captured with an assured death sentence if caught?  Was he upset that Jesus was passive, and not a “kingly warrior” that could take over in a militant way?  Did he believe Jesus was acting too slowly?  Did he want only to scare Jesus into performing actions that Judas wanted, but Jesus said no to doing? 

We don’t know.  All we do know is that Judas was an Apostle, a trusted disciple of Christ (at one time, anyhow); that he did give up Jesus to the Sanhedrin for some unknown reason; and that he felt a terrible sorrow, pain, and depression afterwards, for what he did to Jesus.

Judas’ actions were paramount in the passion story; starting the process of salvation for us all.  God has a reason for everything.  Jesus knew what Judas was going to do, and allowed it to happen.  Yet, I still don’t know why it had to happen in this particular way?  This situation is definitely on top of my list of discussion questions for when I am in front of Jesus!

“Jesus, I love you.  I pray that you have forgiven me any time I have betrayed you.  I never want to dishonor you, and with your help I will try to sin no more.  Amen.”
   

Pax et Bonum 
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Benjamin
  

St. Benjamin, Martyr (Feast Day – March 31) The Christians in Persia had enjoyed twelve years of peace during the reign of Isdegerd, son of Sapor III, when in 420 it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of Abdas, a Christian Bishop who burned the Temple of Fire, the great sanctuary of the Persians. King Isdegerd threatened to destroy all the churches of the Christians unless the Bishop would rebuild it.

As Abdas refused to comply, the threat was executed; the churches were demolished, Abdas himself was put to death, and a general persecution began which lasted forty years. Isdegerd died in 421, but his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with great fury. The Christians were submitted to the most cruel tortures.

Among those who suffered was St. Benjamin, a Deacon, who had been imprisoned a year for his Faith. At the end of this period, an ambassador of the Emperor of Constantinople obtained his release on condition that he would never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.

St. Benjamin, however, declared it was his duty to preach Christ and that he could not be silent. Although he had been liberated on the agreement made with the ambassador and the Persian authorities, he would not acquiesce in it, and neglected no opportunity of preaching. He was again apprehended and brought before the king. The tyrant ordered that reeds should be thrust in between his nails and his flesh and into all the tenderest parts of his body and then withdrawn. After this torture had been repeated several times, a knotted stake was inserted into his bowels to rend and tear him. The martyr expired in the most terrible agony about the year 424.

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

   

Secular Franciscan Order Motto:
  

Pax et Bonum
(Peace and All Good)

“Yo, Listen to Me Boys!” – Jn 12:23-26†


Happy Holy Week!!

Tomorrow starts the “Easter Triduum.”  This is a time for prayer & other devout practices, individually & in public.  There are special intentions associated with attending all the Triduum services.  What a great way to bring in the Easter Season, but as a community with God.

Today’s reflection is about a “YO, LISTEN TO ME” statement from Jesus Christ.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
  

“When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” — Indian Proverb
 

Today’s Meditation:
     

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.  (NAB Jn 12:23-26)
  

Powerful, powerful statements and prophesies made in these few verses.  “The hour” is Jesus’ culmination of his mission on earth.  He knows His time is coming to an end, and He is reflecting on His life till now; and His life to come.

Jesus is extolling to us one of those “YO, LISTEN TO ME” moments, when He said, “Amen, Amen.”  He is comparing our need to die in Christ in order to obtain salvation, with a grain of wheat’s need to die in order to grow into a new life.

As a seed must die in order to bring a new life, Jesus’ death makes salvation and eternal life with Him in heaven possible for us.  With His death, we will grow in unity with Him and with our Father in Heaven.

Jesus seems to suggest that only after the crucifixion could the gospel encompass both Jew and Gentile.  This implies that through his death, Jesus will be accessible to all believes.  Faith in God, through Jesus will be a universal faith, the Greek word “Kathlicos,” from which the word “Catholic” comes.

His life” refers to a person’s natural life.  It does not mean “soul.”  Hebrew anthropology did not postulate body/soul dualism in the way that is familiar to us today.  Our physical life is a temporary Temple for the Holy Spirit as we live our lives in exile from Heaven.  Our soul dwells within us, and will live, with God’s mercy, in heaven eternally.

There is a strong hint of future suffering for the Catholic community addressed in Jesus’ statement.  With hindsight of what happens later in history, it is well known that the Catholic Church has suffered through many persecutions, internally and externally.  Scandals, wars, and abuses have happened, are happening now, and will happen in the future, for the Catholic Church.  If Jesus had to personally deal with these obstacles during His lifetime on earth, why would we not also have to follow in His footsteps, and deal with these issues now?

Jesus, in this reading, states that He will deny before God, anyone who has denied Him.  With present thoughts of abortion and euthanasia, priest abuse scandals, “Obamacare,” deceit in politics, and even in our own church by a small group of nuns wrongly claiming authority to approve the present healthcare bill; I wonder how He is going to react when He sees these individuals on judgment day!?  I also wonder how He will react when He sees me!?  I pray He is smiling!

“Jesus, I am that acorn that has fallen to the ground to die, in order to grow.  Please allow me, this nut, to become a mighty oak of faith in you, my Lord!  Amen.”
 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:   St. Peter Regaldo
 

Saint Peter Regaldo, a Friar Minor and reformer, born at Valladolid, 1390; died at Aguilera, 30 March, 1456. His parents were of noble birth and conspicuous for their wealth and virtue. Having lost his father in his early youth, he was piously educated by his mother. At the age of ten years Peter begged to be admitted into the Seraphic Order, which favour was granted him three years afterwards in the convent of his native town. In 1404 he became one of the first disciples of Peter de Villacreces, who in 1397 had introduced into Spain the reform of the Observance of which he became one of the most zealous propagators. In the newly-founded convent at Aguilera Peter found the life of solitude, prayer, and eminent poverty, which had always been the greatest object of his desire. In 1415 he became superior of the convent at Aguilera and, on the death of Peter de Villacreces (1422), also of that at Tribulos or del Abroyo. He observed nine, fasting on bread and water, and was endowed with the gift of miracles and prophecy and of every virtue. When his body was exhumed thirty-six years after his death, at the instance of Isabella the Catholic, it was found incorrupt and placed in a more precious tomb. He was beatified by Innocent XI, 11 March, 1684, and canonized by Benedict XIV, 29 June, 1746. His feast is celebrated 13 May, the day of the translation of his body. In art he is represented with flames bursting from his heart.

(from Catholic Encyclopedia Online Edition © 2003 by K. Knight)
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
 

 Prologue to Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:
 

… “Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24).

“What is the Name of That Great Perfume You Have On? It Is Just ‘Salvation #3’ foot oil!” – Jn 12:1-8†


Happy Holy Week!
  

The Knights of Columbus was founded on this day, 128 years ago.  
   

On the news this morning, it was reported that the insurance companies are denying children with pre-existing illnesses, even though this portion of “Obamacare” is now being enforced as of today.  The reason: It is a new law, so it is not retrograde, and does not include anyone with pre-existing conditions, born before today!  Don’t you love laws passed rapidly, and without severe scrutiny?!
  

Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ dirty feet!?

Quote or Joke of the Day:
  

“God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission.” –John Henry Cardinal Newman 
 

Today’s Meditation:
  

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.  Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.  Then Judas the Iscariot, one (of) his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?”  He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.  So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.  You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”  (NAB Jn 12:1-8)

   

Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were strong friends of Jesus.  Jesus’ only time He cried, that I can remember was at the death of Lazarus; but He also performed a sign (miracle) in restoring Lazarus back to life.  These three disciples were with Jesus, even at the cross.  I believe the “other Mary” at the foot of Jesus’ cross, was this specific Mary.

There are some slight differences in this story, between the three synoptic gospels (see Mk 14:3-9, Mt 26:6-13).  In Matthew 26:6, Mary anoints Jesus’ head as a sign of a regal, messianic anointing.

Washing and anointing the feet has a specific message in it, itself.  In just a few days, Jesus will, Himself, wash the feet of the Apostles.  To the Jewish people, the feet seemed to be the dirtiest part of the body.  The feet touch the ground, and were always in contact with dirt, bugs, human and animal excrement and feces, and who knows what else: I don’t believe they had “boots” back then, so the feet got pretty dirty!

To wash someone’s feet was the lowliest of positions one could assume.  Mary, and Jesus in a few days, place themselves in this position of the lowest of servants, in order to praise and honor those they serve.  This gospel reading alludes to Mary being a true friend and disciple; whereas, Judas appears as a false disciple, and thief.  I wonder if Judas would wash anyone’s feet?

Nard was used as a perfume, and as scented oil for burial purposes.  It was made from the roots of a plant grown in the mountains of northern India.  Nard had to be imported, which was a major factor in its high price.  A denarius was a day’s wage, and it took 200 denarius to purchase a liter of nard.  So this oil cost the buyer more than a half-year of pay.  I wonder if Judas even smelled the fragrance of that perfume that most assuredly filled the house!?  A physically sweet smell that accompanied the physical and spiritual presence of God, in your sight!

The poor will always be with you, but I won’t!  Jesus made a prophetic statement of fact.  Jesus knew what His role on earth was.  I think it was apparent He was not happy, and was probably even fearful, about what was going to happen at the end of this week; but He was obedient to His role as our “Savior!”   How hard it is to follow in His footsteps!  How much He did love us; but to give up His life in a horrible and humiliating way!

“Lord, I wish to wash your feet.  I am giving my “self” to you, to use as you will.  I am your servant for you to do with as you wish.  Please allow me to work through you to save others.  Amen.”
  

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Berthold
   

Considered by some historians to be the founder of the Carmelite Order. He was born in Limoges, France, and proved a brilliant student at the University of Paris. Ordained a priest, Berthold joined his brother, Aymeric, the Latin patriarch of Antioch, in Turkey, on the Crusades. On Mount Carmel he found a group of hermits, joined them, and established a rule. Aymeric appointed Berthold the first Carmelite superior general. Berthold tried to reform the Christian soldiers in the region, having had a vision of Christ, and headed the Carmelites for forty-five years.  Feast day is March 29th.

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
 

Prologue to Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:
  

… Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and Holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.  

Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying: …  

“Well Done, My Son“ – Phil. 2:6-11†


Today’s second reading is my reflection material.  I was not sure why I picked it, but I did.  I thought, at most, I could write maybe four or five sentences.  So I asked God to help me, and then prayed to Him and to Mary, my heavenly Queen and mother.  When the Holy Spirit hits you, he can hit hard!!  I honestly believe this is one of the best reflections I have ever had.  What a way to start Holy Week!
  

Today is “Palm Sunday.”  Mass was super, and the kids did not complain at all.
  

Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ relationship with God.

Palm Sunday

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
  

Today’s Meditation:

  

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, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.  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, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father.  (NAB Phil. 2:6-11)
  

To me, this particular part of the second reading for today had a lot of verbal tongue twists.  Unless read slowly, and intentionally, this reading could be fairly confusing.  Basically, for me, I read it as, “Jesus did not believe equality with God could be achieved, as God is so superior to us sinners.  Jesus came as a poor, lowly laborer that was humble and obedient.  Jesus was obedient to God regardless of what was asked for Him to do: an unconditionally obedience.  God loved Jesus; and all believers will grow to love Him as they love God in heaven.  All will declare Him our Lord, Jesus Christ!”

In the first part of these bible verses, the subject of every verb is Jesus Christ; and in the last verses, the subject is God. It has a rhythmic quality with a general pattern of Jesus Christ first being humiliated, by being crucified; and then exalted by all creation as divine.

There is an obvious reference to Jesus’ pre-existence noted, and to certain aspects of divinity that He gave up, to serve in human form.  Taking the form of a “slave,” and coming in human likeness is a statement of faith for us Christians.  For us to believe in Jesus as totally divine AND totally human is a hard concept to grasp.  No one can be 200% of themselves.  No one, of sane mind, can be two actual people in one body.  Schizophrenia is the condition when one thinks they are two people.  Jesus did not THINK He was two people; He knew He was human and divine!      

 The name “Lord,” reveals the true nature of Jesus.  Jesus is the “Incarnate Word” of God.  Let’s go back to Genesis:  “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God.”  Jesus, being the incarnate WORD, places Jesus with God from the beginning.     

Are you starting to feel like you’re watching a ping-pong game: BOING, BOING, and BOING?  What came first, the chicken or the egg?  Let me use water to explain this basic tenet of Catholicism.  H2O is water, regardless of its state in nature: fluid, ice, or steam.  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have all, ALWAYS, existed!  Three separate forms of one God!

A reference to the three levels in the universe, according to ancient belief, is address in this reading as well.  Every knee in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will bend at just a mention of the name “Jesus Christ.”  And every tongue will declare that Jesus, the Christ (Messiah), is “Lord” of heaven and earth since the beginning, and forever!

“God, you are my heavenly Father.  Lord Jesus, I love you with all my heart and soul.  I wish to follow in your footsteps forever.  May the Holy Spirit reside in me all my days, and guide me in your love always.  Amen.”
  

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Venturino of Bergamo
   

Dominican preacher and missionary crusader. A native of Bergamo, Italy, he joined the Dominicans in 1319 and soon distinguished himself as a brilliant preacher, attracting huge crowds throughout northern Italy. Pleased with his ability to reach large numbers of believers, he announced in 1335 his intention to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. When Pope Benedict XII (r. 1334-1342) learned of the pilgrimage, he feared Venturino might be planning to crown himself pope, and so forbade the friar to proceed. This decree was joined by one issued by the Dominicans themselves at the Chapter in London (1335). Ignorant of these bans, Venturino proceeded to Rome and then to Avignon where he was arrested and imprisoned until 1343. He is also known for helping to organize a crusade, at the behest of Pope Clement VI (r. 1342-1352), against the Turks who were then menacing Europe.  Feast day is March 28.

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
  

Prologue to Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:
   

… Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and Holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.  

 Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying: …  

“Who is the Pain in the @#$!”-Jn 11:45-48†


The battle of Iwo Jima ended today in 1945.  About 22,000 Japanese troops were killed or captured in the fighting and more than 4,500 U.S. troops were killed.  I still question the need, or want, for war and death through violence.  What a waste of God’s creations!

Little known fact:  Today is the feast day of Rupert of Salzburg (660? – 710) in the Roman Catholic Church.  He is a saint in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, and a founder of the Austrian city of Salzburg. 

Today’s reflection is about the jealousy the Temple elders had towards Jesus.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else.
 

Today’s Meditation:

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.  But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.  So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs.  If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.”  (NAB Jn 11:45-48)

The Sanhedrin was the high court for the Jewish race in ancient Palestine.  They ruled over the people of the area as a government function.  During the time of Jesus, the chief priest of the Temple was also the head of the Sanhedrin, and was responsible to the Roman authorities for the actions of the Jewish people in that city.  The Temple had a “police force” of sorts, called the Temple Guard.  They carried weapons, but were no match for the Roman soldiers stationed within the city.

The Chief Priest of Jerusalem at this time was named Caephus.  The Roman Official for the area of Judea (that included Jerusalem) was called the Procurator, or Roman Governor.  At the time of Jesus, this man was Pontius Pilate.

The Sanhedrin did not want any commotion within their ranks, or among inhabitants of the city, for fear of retribution from the Roman officials.  The Roman Governor could remove anyone from the Temple leadership if they upset the balance of affairs.  Literally, they could lose their income, home, and prestige if Pilate became mad at them.  Pontius Pilate also had concerns equally stressful.  Historians believe he was not in a good light with the Tetrarch (Ruler), Herod Antipas, and did not want any uprisings to be made aware to Him.   

The Temple elders devised a plan to have the “antagonist,” Jesus, brought up on charges, and then executed.  This was the only way to keep the Romans from coming; and to safeguard their positions and prestige.  With an ironic twist, this is exactly what does happen.  The Romans do come, after Jesus’ death. 

According to Wikipedia, the Sanhedrin was dissolved after continued persecution by the Roman Empire.  The last binding decision of the Sanhedrin was in 358, when the Hebrew Calendar was adopted.

I believe Jesus would have welcomed all the temple priests with an open heart.  Because they had “closed” hearts and eyes, they could not see or feel Jesus’ love.  Greed overtook their souls.  I see this today in many people that are supposed to be our leaders: some in politics, some in religion, and some in our own families and offices.  We need to open their eyes, so they can open their hearts to the love of God, and the need to love all others with the same intensity.

“Father, give me open eyes and an open heart to feel your love.  Please allow me to work through you, so others can know your love as well.  Amen.”
  

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Rupert
   

Bishop and missionary, also listed as Robert of Hrodbert. A member of a noble Frankish family, he was appointed bishop of Worms, Germany, and then dedicated himself to spreading the faith among the Germans. With the patronage of Duke Thedo of Bavaria, he took over the deserted town of luvavum about 697, which was renamed Salzburg, Austria. Rupert founded a church, a monastery, and a school; brought in groups of missionaries; and established a nunnery at Nonnberg with his sister, Eerentrudis, serving as the first abbess. He died at Salzburg and is venerated as the first archbishop of this major diocese in the West. Rupert is revered as the Apostle of Bavaria and Austria.  Feast day is March 27.

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
  

Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:

All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.

 Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).

“Mommy Dearest: Literally!” – Lk 1:26-35†


Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord!
 

April showers bring May flowers: wait, it is only March.  March showers brings, um, … er… wet children walking to school?!
 

Today’s reflection is Mary’s acceptance to be the mother of God.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” – Amy Carmichael
 

Today’s Meditation:
 

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”  And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  (NAB Lk 1:26-35)

  

The announcement to Mary of the birth of Jesus parallels that of the announcement to Zechariah, about the birth of John (the Baptist).  In both, the angel Gabriel appears to a woman (one elderly and the other barely teenage) who is troubled by a vision of an angel appearing before them.  They are both told by Gabriel “not to fear.”  After the announcement, they object to the announcement (the first stating impossibility, and the later out of humility) and a sign is given to confirm the announcement (Zechariah was made deaf and mute, and Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit).

Mary’s questioning of her pregnancy, by denial of sexual relations, leads to Gabriel’s declaration about the Spirit’s role in the conception of Jesus.  The conception of Jesus takes place through the grace of the Holy Spirit, and by the power of God.  Therefore Jesus has a unique relationship to Yahweh, the “Most High” of all creation.  He IS the “Son of God!”

The primary focus of the announcement of the birth of Jesus is on His identity as the “Son of David,” and the “Son of God.”  Jesus is referred to as the “Son of the Most High” by Luke, the writer of this gospel reading.  If you remember, he also referred to John the Baptist as the “prophet of the Most High.” “Most High” is a title used frequently by Luke for God.

Mary obviously had an important role as well in the life of Jesus, which was predestined, even before her own birth.  Mary was born without original sin; a condition of the soul only shared with one other: her son, Jesus.  When Mary accepted to be the mother to our Lord, she also accepted the entire human race as her children.

Sinners, lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and even laborers and fishermen (including the Apostles) had a mother in Mary’s heart.  Mary probably even had these sinners in her abode eating with Jesus, as He wished to be with the lowliest of the lowly in society.

If God can make a young girl, barely a teenager, and make her the mother of us all on earth; the mother of our Church on this world; and the Queen of the Universe, with her body and soul in heaven, imagine what can be done with us!

“Mary, thank you for saying ‘yes.’  You are my mother, my intercessor, and my Queen in heaven.  Amen.”

  

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Dismas
 

All that is known of Dismas is that he is the Good Thief crucified with Christ on Calvary. The other thief is known as Gestas. A completely unsubstantiated myth from the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy that enjoyed great popularity in the West during the Middle Ages had two thieves who held up the Holy Family on the way to Egypt. Dismas bought off Gestas with forty drachmas to leave them unmolested, whereupon the Infant predicted that they would be crucified with Him in Jerusalem, and that Dismas would accompany Him to Paradise. His feast day is March 25th.

(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #25:
 

Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils.

“♬I’m the Son of a Sinning Man!♬“ – Jn 8:31-37†


Today is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Servant of God Archbishop Óscar Romero.  He died a martyr’s death while literally holding the precious body of Jesus in his hands held high.
 

Today’s reflection is about having a relationship with God.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession” ~St. Isidore of Seville†
 

Today’s Meditation:
 

Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.  How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”  Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.  A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains.  So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free.  I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. 
(NAB Jn 8:31-37)

  

This is an interesting gospel reading with some irony intertwined.  Jesus is talking to the people around Him, most of which “believed in Him;” and then goes on to describe them as also trying to kill Him at a later time in this gospel reading.  All I can think of is the old proverb, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” 

We need to put this reading into a historical and geographical perspective.  Jesus is at the Temple at this time.  He had just been tested and accused extensively by the Pharisees.  They are not sure how to address this man that they cannot find fault with, but still want to kill Him!  Jesus is a threat to the Temple priest’s livelihood and authority.  He is talking about a new “covenant” with God that will surpass the power of the temple elders!

The Jewish people were enslaved almost continuously throughout their history.  This verse, though seemingly ironic, is probably about them (and us) being slaves to sin.  Sin traps us, and keeps from having a relationship with God.  Sin has a terrible stench that makes us repulsive to God.  We need to remove our sins through baptism, the refreshing spiritual washing away of sin through confession, and in Jesus’ body and blood of the Eucharist.

Amen translates to “let it be” or “so be it.”  Whenever the phrase “Amen, Amen” is used in the bible; we should think of it as saying, “Hey listen; this is important!”   So Jesus, in this reading, is saying, “Hey Listen Yahoos; don’t be a slave to sin.  Be a son to my Father!

 “A slave . . . a son” may allude to the tradition of releasing slaves after six years of service (see Exodus 21:2 and Deut 15:12).  I wonder if He meant that anyone that is a slave to sin can be released from their sins, and that a person in a good and sin-free relationship with God is assured a place at His table, for the final great feast. 

Filled with ironies and twists, this gospel reading can be summarized in a simple sentence: “The Truth will free us from sin and death.”  Knowing the truth found in being in relationship with God; following in the way of faith shown us by Jesus; and receiving all the sacraments as often as possible (especially the Eucharist), we can be assured of eternal life with Christ in heaven.

How can we go about having this relationship?  Just start with a prayer life, and then build on this basic and important step.  Prayer opens up the communication lines.  The Rosary is a great weapon against the evil of sin; try it.  Eucharistic adoration is awesome!  Just sitting or kneeling in front of the precious body of Christ, meditating on why Jesus is there can be mind-opening.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is essential for all of us.  No one will bite your head off, and no lightening will strike you if you enter a confessional.  If you haven’t been to confession in a while, and are afraid of not knowing what to do: no problem.  Just go in and tell the priest exactly that.  He will be more than kind and helpful in guiding you through a great experience.

Finally, frequent attendance at Mass; and frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist is the top of the mountain of faith.  And it’s an awesome view on top of the mountain.  Jesus wants to share this view with everyone.  Please, go up that mountain to Him.

“Lord, I am a sinner, but through you mercy, I can achieve eternity in your presence.  I give myself to you entirely.  Please be my advocate, my guide, and my all.  Amen.”
 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Bl. Ludovico of Casoria
 

Blessed Ludovico of Casoria was a man who saw the face of Christ in those around him.  He was born in Naples in 1814, and became a priest when he was only twenty-three.  In the Franciscan friary he served, he began a Pharmacy as an outreach to the poor, as well as in other places.  Also, infirmaries, to assist the poor.

(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #24:
 

To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.