Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- Today in Catholic History
- Quote or Joke of the Day
- Today’s Gospel Reading
- Reflection on Today’s Gospel
- New Translation of the Mass
- A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
- Franciscan Formation Reflection
- Reflection on part of the SFO Rule
Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:
Just a few days till the start of the Lenten Season. Lent is a time to prepare and meditate on the Passion of Christ, His crucifixion/death on the Holy Tree, and His Resurrection on a Sunday morning we now call Easter. This is a season of reflection, alms-giving, prayer, and sacrifices (abstinence and fasting).
For me, I will try to pray more each day (my family says that is impossible for I am always praying, which is not true in reality). I will also be sacrificing in multiple ways (traditional Friday abstinence as an example) and by specifically giving up my daily diet sodas (NO Diet Mt. Dew will be devastating. Can we say withdrawal?)
Anyone following this blog for some time has noticed a new format. I wanted to reorganize this page for easier reading and to categorize everything together: news items, quotes, and jokes are grouped together; the Gospel reading and reflection, plus a prayer associated with the reflection, are closer together; and Franciscan materials are all together. Let me know what you think, please, and thank you.
Today in Catholic History:
† 766 – Death of Chrodegang, church reformer/bishop of Mainz, about 50 years of age
† 1205 – Aken, [Philips van Zwaben], is crowned Roman-Catholic German King
† 1252 – Death of Saint Rose of Viterbo, Italian saint (b. 1235)
† 1447 – Tommaso Parentucelli (Nicholas V) succeeds Pope Eugene IV
† 2008 – Death Peter Poreku Cardinal Dery, Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Tamale, Ghana
† Memorials/Feasts: Saint Chrodegang; Saint Fridolin; Saint Colette (aka Saint Coleta of Ghent); Saint Olegarius
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
“When GOD solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities; when GOD doesn’t solve your problems HE has faith in your abilities.” (unknown)
In today’s reflection, Jesus is teaching about building a foundation of faith and making a life which is firm and solid.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ 24 “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. 26 And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (NAB Matthew 7:21-27)
The “Sermon on the Mount” is about how to be a true follower of Jesus. This discourse is coming to an end with a reflection on what OUR words and deeds really mean. We can say “we are followers of Jesus” all we wish, and cry out “Lord, Lord” till hoarse in the throat; but, in fact, that does not mean we are true followers of Jesus Christ. We may even do powerful deeds “in Jesus’ name”, but does that mean we are following Him? Ultimately, it is not our decision that we believe we are truly His followers. We don’t get to choose what it means to believe in Jesus; we only get to see, listen, and believe completely in Him! At the Parousia (the Day of Final Judgment), Jesus reveals the “word” is the “real” judge, of who was, and is, a true follower, and who was, and is, not. At the Parousia, Jesus reveals our likeness to Him, acquired by our believing and acting upon His words.
Jesus’ rebuke of false followers in verses 23 and 26 is now expanded to include “disciples” who perform works in the name of Jesus (“Lord”), yet live improper and evil lives (cf., 1 Corinthians 3:1-4). (Just like some Catholics going to Mass only at Christmas and Easter. Or, Catholics who go to Mass devoutly each and every week, without fail, yet live a non-Christian lifestyle at work, home, or play.) (These folks do a good job of imitating the behaviors of non-believers.)
Jesus repeats many, many times throughout Holy Scripture that the kingdom of God is solely for those who do the will of the Father, at all times, without any need or desire for reward; – – for those doing the “will” of God, simply and purely out of love for Him. At the Parousia, those claiming to be prophets and miracle workers, yet morally corrupt will be “rejected by Jesus”.
This is an awesome thought. Please consider the following:
A. “Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.‘” (Matthew 7:23)
B. “But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 10:33)
And, from the Book of Psalms:
C. “My eyes are dimmed with sorrow, worn out because of all my foes. Away from me, all who do evil!” (Psalm 6:8-9)
I wonder whether Jesus was remembering this verse when He used them in Matthew 7:23 (See “A” above – today’s reading).
These strongly worded “negatives” led me to ask: “What does being a ‘true follower’ of Jesus Christ actually mean?” – – I have come to believe that it is not a question of just hearing Jesus’ words but of acting on them in our lives.
In the final parable today, two people “building a house” have heard Jesus’ words. Yet, only the one who hears and acts correctly, building on “rock” – – has a firm and strong foundation.
The people listening to Jesus that day were very familiar with the effects of building houses with, or without strong foundations, in a flood prone area. The described situation in today’s reading is very typical for the Palestine region. During the dry season, when rain is non-existent, the ground becomes dry and extremely hard. However, when the rain does come, it comes in torrents and rivers seem to appear out of “nowhere”. Flash floods swoop down the dry valleys in the region, and any houses built on sandy soil, without a strong foundation, are easily washed away. Only those houses diligently and carefully built on solid rock foundations have any chance of survival.
The type of “foundation”, (the basis of faith, the groundwork of understanding, and our charity toward others), we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the “storms” – – the depressing, dark, and lonely times – – that are sure to come in our earthly lives.
My late father was a builder. He planned, created, and built many types of foundations in his life. I learned from him that it is best to “lay out” a foundation when the weather and soil conditions are at their best: dry and settled. It takes insight, prudence, and forethought to know how a particular foundation can be made to withstand hostile and opposing forces. You do not have to be a contractor, builder, or engineer though, to know that building a house on a foundation set in a flood plain, such as in a “dry” river-bed, is a sure bet for a violent and total destruction of anything associated with that foundation and house!
What kind of foundation are you “laying out” in your life? On what base are you building your eternal life, your relationship with God? When Jesus told today’s parable of the two builders, He must have had the following Old Testament proverb in mind:
“When the tempest [fancy word for storm] passes, the wicked man is no more; but the just man is established forever.” (Proverbs 10:25).
So, what is the meaning, implication, importance, and impact of this particular parable for each of us, both individually and communally? Keep reading on.
In today’s reading, an interesting difference in emphasis is noted between verses 21-22 and verse 24: I found the relationship is not between “saying and doing”, as earlier in verses 21-22:
21“Not everyone who SAYS to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who DOES the will of my Father in heaven. 22Many will SAY to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not DO mighty deeds in your name?’” (Matthew 7:21-22)
Jesus focuses on the relationship between people “listening” and people “doing”. Notice His change of emphasis in verse 24:
“Everyone who LISTENS to these words of mine and ACTS on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
Jesus reveals He values every person who listens to His word, and then acts upon them. For centuries, Christians have been studying, pondering, and listening to His word, and trying to live by them. Did Jesus really mean for all His parables and teachings on this Palestinian hill to be taken seriously? What does it actually mean to be “poor in spirit”? Are we truly supposed to “turn the other cheek”? Does God expect us to actually give “our coat to someone who asks for our shirt”? Yes, Yes, and definitely YES!
In the end, each of us needs to work out the details of how to be an effective, successful follower of Jesus Christ. For me, and I believe for anyone who is truly listening to our Lord’s words, it is much more than just saying “Lord, Lord.” It is also much more than just performing “great acts” in Jesus’ name. It begins always with faith first, and then working; acting upon Jesus’ words in a spirit of humility and greatness. I think Paul put it this way: “Following and acting on His word is ‘faith working through love.’”
“For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
This formula – – listening, and then doing, – – is much more than a simple plan of protection and security through salvation. Jesus wants not only to just shield us from falsehoods and evil, but also for us to be with Him, every single day of our two lives (both human and eternal). He wants to bless us; He wants His blessings to flow in, and through, us as we “build” our lives on, in, and with His word by our listening attentively to all His words. God bestows many blessings on each of us, individually. Three come to my mind immediately: His unconditional love, His forgiveness, and His Mercy. There are many more though. Can you think of others?
God loves us no matter who we are, or what we do. He never leaves us; we sometimes separate ourselves from Him. Yet, He eagerly awaits our return to him with open arms. His depth of forgiveness cleanses our consciences, hearts, and souls from all guilt, shame, and sins. He has the largest spiritual “eraser” ever known:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
We also have God’s mercy. His mercy is far deeper than even His forgiveness. His mercy – – His compassion, steadfastness, and faithfulness – – for us is beyond human description or understanding. His entire disposition is one of forgiveness, mercy, and love for each of us – – individually!
There is only one way in which a person’s love, trust, and sincerity toward God and other’s can be shown. That is by one’s practice – – one’s deeds. Fine, beautiful, and exquisite words can never replace good deeds. Present day politicians are very excellent orators, and literally talk the coins out of our pockets with very little pressure (squeezing blood out of the proverbial turnip). I believe most would agree all their talk is not producing many fruits. On the other hand, there are many, many people servicing others daily with a genuine love, and producing a great harvest in, and for, God’s kingdom.
So, what makes a true disciple of Christ if not words or actions?! It starts with building our life on a solid foundation, “the rock”, of Jesus Christ himself and our faith in Him. It’s in Him, with Him, and through Him that the Messianic Law and the prophets were (and still are) fulfilled completely, fully, and totally. In, with, and through Him, the “will” of God, God’s plan for OUR salvation, is fully revealed to us.
All families go through difficult times. Recall some of the difficult times that you have had in your life. Can you think of the most difficult situation or time that you faced? Examples could be a sickness, death of a loved one, trouble in school, loss of your job. We sometimes refer to these difficult periods as “storms.” In today’s reading, Jesus talks about storms – – rain, floods, and wind – – and how we can stand firm in the face of them? Only with a strong foundation of faith can we stand firm.
What does it means for you to build your house on “solid rock”? How has your faith helped you to get through difficult times and situations? Our character is revealed in what we choose to do in our lives, especially when we choose between truth and falsehood, good and evil. On a daily basis, pray for the strength and grace to remain strong in your personal relationship with Jesus.
Do you cheat when completing tests or income taxes? Do you lie, directly or indirectly (through omission, evasion, and/or diversion)? A true disciple of Jesus Christ is one that is honest and reliable – – before God, neighbor, and oneself. Please remember, when honest and reliable in all you say and do, your word can be taken as trustworthy and true!
In closing, what keeps one from falsehoods, evil, distrust, and spiritual disasters? Answer: our faith! If we make Jesus Christ, and His word, the “rock and foundation” (the basis, groundwork, and charity) of our lives, nothing can unsettle us, or prevent us from God’s saving love, manifestation, and assistance. Are Jesus Christ, and his word, the solid basis, groundwork, and love – – “the ‘ROCK’ FOUNDATION” – – of YOUR life? (cf., 1 Corinthians 10:4) He is mine!!
Today is a great day to thank God for laying such a strong foundation for you. And, also to tell Him that you want and desire to follow Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and body. Give Him your entire and total life today, and every day, and watch how the blessings start to flow!
“An Act of Faith”
“O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
New Translation of the Mass
In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass. It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist. The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades. It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.
The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text. At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning. At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand. Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole. It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.
In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.
A second option for the “penitential rite” (the “Confiteor” being the first option) has been revised. This second form had been little used in recent years. The second option is presently:
Lord, we have sinned against you:|
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your mercy and love.
And grant us your salvation.
May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
It will now read as follows:
The priest says, “Have mercy on us, O Lord.”
The people respond, “For we have sinned against you.”
Then the priest says, “Show us, O Lord, your mercy,”
and the people respond, “And grant us your salvation.”
Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: Servant of God Sylvester of Assisi (d. 1240)
Sylvester was one of the first 12 followers of St. Francis of Assisi and was the first priest in the Franciscan Order. A descendant of a noble family, Sylvester once sold Francis stones which were to be used to rebuild a church. When, a short while later, he saw Francis and Bernard of Quintavalle distributing Bernard’s wealth to the poor, Sylvester complained that he had been poorly paid for the stones and asked for more money.
Though Francis obliged, the handful of money he gave Sylvester soon filled him with guilt. He sold all of his goods, began a life of penance and joined Francis and the others. Sylvester became a holy and prayerful man, and a favorite of Francis—a companion on his journeys, the one Francis went to for advice. It was Sylvester and Clare who answered Francis’ query with the response that he should serve God by going out to preach rather than by devoting himself to prayer.
Once in a city where civil war was raging, Sylvester was commanded by Francis to drive the devils out. At the city gate Sylvester cried out: “In the name of almighty God and by virtue of the command of his servant Francis, depart from here, all you evil spirits.” The devils departed and peace returned to the city.
Sylvester lived 14 more years after the death of Francis and is buried near him in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.
Sylvester probably would have asked a higher price for his stones if he had thought Francis had the money. In today’s world he might have written the difference off on his taxes as a charitable contribution, but that wasn’t an option in his day. Quite understandably, he asked for payment from the money Francis was handing out so freely. So why did he later feel guilty? Perhaps he realized that, like many of us, he placed a higher value on lesser things.
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Franciscan Formation Reflection:
TIME – – TALENT – – TREASURE
When you give of your time, talent, and/or treasure are you giving some of yourself as well? How?
What priorities have you developed in regard to Franciscan poverty?
How do you share of yourself with, and for, others in these three areas of life? Can you do more?
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 6 & 7 of 26:
6. They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.
Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.
7. United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.
On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.