“Let Us Walk and Talk Together!” –Matthew 21:28-32†


 

 

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

 Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Gospel Reflection
  • Reflection Psalm
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

 

It is exactly 3 months till CHRISTinMASS today.  I love this season more than any other season of the year (Easter comes close, with Halloween being a distant 3rd).  The reason is because I believe more people live a life of “thinking” about Jesus, and are more open to hearing His message than any other time of the year.  It is so sad that a secular aspect of this beautiful time of the year has to be used to draw people back to what should be a daily event: celebrating Christ in our lives.

December is the Christmas Season per any wall calendar.  However, we need to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” every day of our existence.  I pray that we can all celebrate Christ in all aspects of our lives.  Let us “Walk the Talk” together on our individual paths of righteousness, leading to eternal joy and paradise in paradise.  Let us all keep “CHRISTinMASS”!!

 

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 Today in Catholic History:

    

†   303 – On a voyage preaching the gospel, Saint Fermin of Pamplona is beheaded in Amiens, France.
†   1392 – Death of Sergius van Radonesj, Russian saint, at age 78
†   1534 – Death of Clement VII, [Giulio de’ Medici], Italian Pope (1523-34), at age 56 (b. 1478)
†   1617 – Death of Francisco Suarez, Spanish Jesuit, philosopher/theologian (b. 1548)

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

 

 

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 Quote of the Day:

 

 

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.  The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards those who are victims of exploitation, corruption, poverty, and disease.  Love has to be built on sacrifice.  We have to give until it hurts.”  ~ Mother Teresa, “Where There Is Love, There Is God”, Doubleday

 

 

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus posing a question to the “Chief Priests and Elders” on the meaning of obedience; the Parable of the “Two Sons”.

 

 

 

(NAB Matthew 21:28-32) 28 “What is your opinion?  A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’  29 He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went.  30 The man came to the other son and gave the same order.  He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.  31 Which of the two did his father’s will?”  They answered, “The first.”  Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.  32 When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.  Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.

 

 

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 Gospel Reflection:

 

What kind of future are you preparing for?  Jesus encourages us to think about the consequences of our choices, especially those decisions which will count not just for now, but for eternity as well.  The choices we make now can, and WILL, affect and shape our future, both our human future on earth as well as in our eternal life in the age to come.

 

The background for today’s Gospel concerns the mounting tension between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees and Scribes.  Jesus has already entered Jerusalem and overturned the money changers’ tables in the Temple:

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” (Matthew 21:12).

 Jesus obliviously caught the attention of the religious authorities.  The “learned men”, (the chief priests and elders), approach and question Jesus about the “source” of His authority.  

Jesus refuses to name His source of His authority to these religious leaders.  Instead, He questions the “Chief Priests and Elders” through the parable we “hear” in today’s Gospel reading.  The religious leaders answer is essentially and humanly correct, but their answer, at the same time, convicts them.  Their failure to take note of the call for repentance from John the Baptist and for their inability to recognize the Kingdom of God is their downfall.

The example Jesus posed in today’s Gospel could have been taken directly from any of our personal experiences.  Each of us can recall instances in which someone spoke one thing, and then did another.  The reason for Jesus’ parable is to illustrate that our “actions” speak louder than “words”, even with God.  (And even “by” God.)

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Today starts a series of debates in Jesus’ public ministry.  His message is directed to the Jewish people about their misinterpretations of their Scriptures.  This message is highlighted by today’s first of three parables on the judgment of Israel, as found in Matthew’s Book (Matthew 21:28 – 22:14).  Future parables will include, “The Parable of the Tenants”, (Matthew 21:33–46), believed to originate from Mark 12:1–12, and, “The Parable of the Wedding Feast”, (Matthew 22:1–14) which is very similar to a parable found in Luke 14:15–24, concerning their readiness to accept invitations from God, and about proper attire, both external and internal.

In today’s reading from Matthew, the “two sons” respectively represent the religious leaders and the religious outcasts who followed John the Baptist’s call to repentance, in contrast to the religious leader’s choice NOT to respond to John the Baptist’s call for repentance to them as well.  The chief priests and elders condemned themselves by their choice not to follow the example of conversion and repentance of the tax collectors and prostitutes.

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Matthew’s first parable, (today’s parable), if taken by itself, would point simply to a difference between “saying and doing”, – – talking the talk versus walking the talk – – a theme of much importance throughout his Gospel:

“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.” (Matthew 7:21);

And also,

“For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50).

This theme of the importance of one’s actions (or lack of actions) in response to a call to repentance is probably the parable’s “original” point.  However, the theme is given a more specific application by the addition of the very last two verses:

“’Which of the two did his father’s will?’  They answered, ‘The first.’  Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.  When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.  Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.’” (Matthew 21:31–32).

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Jesus states:

“Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew21:31).

I take His words, “entering the kingdom of God before you”, as meaning “THEY (the “sinners”) enter AND YOU do not.”  (Do you see any correspondence to today’s Church situations?!)

Now, listen to Luke’s version, and notice the similarities:

“All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.” (Luke 7:29-30).

Pretty interesting declaration, don’t you think?!

 

Also in verse 32, when Jesus said, “When John came to you in the way of righteousness …”, several meanings are possible.  First, that John the Baptist himself was “righteous”; or, that he “taught ‘righteousness’” to others; lastly, that John the Baptist had an important place in God’s “plan of salvation”:

John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?  Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him” (Matthew 3:14–15).

I see meaning in all three reasons.  John is aware of Jesus’ superiority to him – – as the mightier one – – who is coming and who will baptize with the Holy Spirit:

 “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.  I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11).

John’s reluctance to allow Jesus among “the sinners” whom he is baptizing, is strongly affected by Jesus’ prophetic response.  To “fulfill all righteousness” is a two-fold reference to 1) the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and 2) the righteousness of moral conduct in conformity with God’s will.  These are God’s expectations for ALL – – both leaders and laity.  Here, however, “righteousness” seems to refer to “the saving activity of God the Father”. “To fulfill all righteousness” is to submit to “the plan of God (the Holy One of Israel)” for the salvation of the whole human race, His loving creation in His image and likeness.  God the Father’s plan involves Jesus’ true and real identification with sinners; hence the spiritual appropriateness of His accepting John’s baptism (… to “fulfill all righteousness”)..

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To Summarize: the situation Jesus posed, through today’s parable, is rather clear-cut and straightforward.  Given the same task by their father (to go out and work in the vineyard), one son declares his disobedience in words, yet then eventually obeys in his actions.  The second son obeys with his words, yet disobeys in his actions.  The question which Jesus poses is insightful and direct:

 “Which of the two did his father’s will?” (Matthew 21:31)

  All would agree that “actions speak louder than words” and that even if his words were disobedient, the son who did the work as ordered did the father’s will.  Remember how Jesus gave a revealing definition of who is truly His brother:

“For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50)

Jesus’ is just as insightful and direct- – TO US – – as well.  The chief priests and elders, the ones who speak most often about God, did not act accordingly.  They did not respond to the message of repentance announced by John the Baptist with a change of heart, a conversion.  Instead, John’s message was listened to by those one would not expect to repent – – tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. However, because of their choices and actions, these sinners will enter the Kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders.

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In conclusion: Jesus tells a simple story, a parable, of two typical and imperfect sons, to illustrate the attitude and desire of God, and the way of God’s kingdom on earth.  The father sufficiently provided for his sons: food, housing, and everything else they needed.  Everything the father had and owned was shared with his children.  The father also accorded his two sons with work in his own vineyard.  He expected them to show him some respect, loyalty, and honor by doing their fair share of the daily work.  The first son told his father, face-to-face, that he would not work for him. However, he soon changed his mind and did what his father asked of him.  The second son said he would work for his father, but didn’t carry through his promise.  He acted contrary to his father’s will and his own best self-interest.  So, who really was the good son among the two?  Both sons disobeyed their father; however, one repented and then did what the father told him.

Jesus makes His point clear though this parable: Good intentions are not enough.  Also, promises don’t count unless they are acted on.  God wants to change our hearts so that we will show by our words and actions that we respect His will.

God the Father offers each of us the greatest treasure possible: unending peace, joy, happiness, and life with Him in His eternal, everlasting, joyful kingdom.  We can lose that treasure by refusing the grace – – the gift – – God the Father offers us by following His way of truth and righteousness.  How well are you doing in respecting the “will and plan” of our heavenly Father?

Jesus asks us the same question, “Who did his Father’s will?”  Do your words indicate your obedience to God?  If not your words, do your actions?  God desires a full and daily conversion of heart so that our actions (and our words as well) will give evidence of our total love for, trust and faith in God.  Remember what is written in Hebrews:

Without faith, it is impossible to please him [God].” (Hebrews 11:6)

Did you notice that Jesus “condemned” the religious leaders for not allowing John the Baptist’s message of repentance to change their hearts and actions?  Recall a time when a family member or friend said one thing and then did another.  Acknowledge that sometimes the action taken demonstrates a “true” change of heart, a true conversion of heart and soul.  Jesus wants us to do more than just to pay lip service to, to only recognize, and to make some concession to, the Gospel.  Jesus wants ALL of us to be transformed – – converted – – by His “Word”!!  WALK the TALK!!  Experience a true conversion to and for God by showing evidence of your change of heart in both actions and words.

 

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 Reflection Psalm:

 

Psalm 25

A prayer to God for mercy.

 

“Make known to me your ways, LORD; teach me your paths.  Guide me by your fidelity and teach me, for you are God my savior, for you I wait all the day long.  Remember your compassion and your mercy, O LORD, for they are ages old.  Remember no more the sins of my youth; remember me according to your mercy, because of your goodness, LORD. 

Good and upright is the LORD, therefore He shows sinners the way, He guides the humble in righteousness, and teaches the humble His way.  Amen” (Psalm 25:4-9)

 

 

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

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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.

 

The Glory to God (Gloria) has been significantly changed, with more words and many lines rearranged.

The Gloria

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of
the father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One.
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the Glory of God the Father.
Amen.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

 

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 A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Finding the Body of St. Clare

For some six centuries the body of St. Clare laid buried deep under the high altar of “Santa Chiara”, a church in Assisi built in her honor.  In 1850 Pope Pius IX granted permission for excavations to be made to find and exhume her body.

After seven days, the stone coffin containing the body of the saint was found.  When it was opened, it was discovered that the body of St. Clare, though blackened with age, was still incorrupt.  It was put into a crystal coffin, and placed in a crypt of the church, after it was completed in 1872.

The feast of the Finding of the Body of St. Clare, instituted by Pope Pius IX, is celebrated by the all three branches of the Franciscan families.

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

 

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 Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

 

Sacraments

 

How prominent a role did the Catholic Church and her practices (such as Sacraments) play in Saint Francis’ thinking and advice?

How many of “blessings” and “helps’ from God are many non-Catholics totally unaware of?

 

 

 

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 Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Subsection #’s 25 & 26 of 26:

 

 

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.

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26. As a concrete sign of communion and co-responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance.  They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.

To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.

  

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