Tag Archives: beloved

“Is ‘Baptism’ By ‘FIRE’ As Painful As it Sounds? For Some, It Just May Be! We Call Them Martyrs” – Luke 3:15-16,21-22†


  the-Baptism-of-Jesus

“The Baptism of the Lord”

 

. table_of_contentsToday’s Content:

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Joke of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer  

ТТТ

 

Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Postures and Gestures at Mass: Catholic Calisthenics

So, why all the exercising at Mass: genuflect, kneel, sit, stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel, stand, kneel, stand, bow, kneel, sit, stand, and finally, genuflect?  Wow, I’m tired just writing the sentence!  Well, in the celebration of Mass we are to raise our hearts, thoughts and voices to God.  Being creatures composed of “body” as well as 00000000000000063560“spirit”, our “prayers” are not confined to solely our thoughts, hearts and voices; it is also expressed by our bodies as well.  When our bodies participate in praying – – we truly and fully pray with our “whole person” – – as the embodied spirits God created us to be.  This engagement of our whole being in prayer helps us to pray with greater attention

During Mass we assume different postures: standing, kneeling, sitting, and make a variety of gestures.  These postures and gestures are far from being merely ceremonial in nature.  They truly have profound meaning, and can certainly enhance our personal participation in Mass.  In fact, these actions ARE the way in which we engage our entire self, body and soul, in the prayer that we know as “Mass”.  Each posture underlines and reinforces the meaning of the action in which we are taking part during that specific moment in our worship.  

Standing is a sign of respect and honor, so we stand as the celebrant who represents Christ enters and leaves the assembly.  This posture, from the earliest days of the Church, has been understood as the stance of those who are risen with Christ and seek the things that are above.  When we stand for prayer we assume our full stature before God, not in pride, but in humble gratitude for the marvelous thing God has done in creating and redeeming each one of us.  By Baptism we have been given a share in the life of God, and the posture of standing is an acknowledgment of this wonderful gift.  We stand for the Gospel, the pinnacle of revelation, the words and deeds of the Lord, and the bishops of the United States have chosen standing as the posture to be observed in this country for the reception of Communion, the sacrament which unites us in the most profound way possible with Christ who, now gloriously risen from the dead, is the cause of our salvation.

The posture of kneeling signified penance in the early Church: the awareness of sin casts us to the ground!  So thoroughly was kneeling identified with penance that the early Christians were forbidden to kneel on Sundays and during the Easter Season when the prevailing spirit of the liturgy was that of joy and thanksgiving.  In the Middle Ages kneeling came to signify the homage of a vassal to his lord, and more recently 00000000000000063360this posture has come to signify adoration.  It is for this reason that the bishops of this country have chosen the posture of kneeling for the entire Eucharistic Prayer.  

Sitting is the posture of listening and meditation, so the congregation sits for the pre-Gospel readings and may also sit for the period of meditation following Communion.

Gestures too involve our bodies in prayer.  The most familiar of these is the Sign of the Cross with which we begin Mass and with which, in the form of a blessing, the Mass concludes.  Because it was by his death on the cross that Christ redeemed humankind, we trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads, lips and hearts at the beginning of the Gospel.  But there are other gestures that intensify our prayer at Mass.  During the Confiteor the action of striking our breasts at the words through my own fault can strengthen my awareness that my sin is my fault.  

In the Creed we are invited to bow at the words which commemorate the Incarnation: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.  This gesture signifies our profound respect and gratitude to Christ who, though God, did not hesitate to come among us as a human being, sharing our human condition in order to save us from sin and restore us to friendship with God.  This gratitude is expressed with even greater solemnity on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord and on Christmas when we genuflect at these words.

The Our Father is followed by the Exchange of Peace, the gesture through which we express a prayerful greeting of peace, that we are at peace, not enmity, with others.  This exchange is symbolic.  The persons near me with whom I share the peace signify for me, as I do for them, the broader community of the Church and all humankind.

Finally, with the new General Instruction for the Roman Mass (GIRM), we are asked to make a sign of reverence, to be determined by the bishops of each country or region, before receiving Communion standing.  The bishops of this country have determined that the sign which we will give before Communion is to be a bow, a gesture through which we express our reverence and give honor to Christ who comes to us as our spiritual food.

In addition to serving as a vehicle for the prayer of beings composed of body and spirit, the postures and gestures in which we engage at Mass have another very important function.  The Church sees in these common postures and gestures both a symbol of the unity of those who have come together to worship AND a means of fostering that unity.  We are not free to change these postures to suit our own individual piety, for the Church makes it clear that our unity of posture and gesture is an expression of our participation in the one Body formed by the baptized with Christ, our head.  When we stand, kneel, sit, bow and sign ourselves in common action, we given unambiguous witness that we are indeed the Body of Christ, united in heart, mind and spirit.

http://old.usccb.org/romanmissal/resources-bulletins3.shtml

ТТТ

            

. Joke laughingJoke of the Day:

 Luke03v15to17&21to22_2010

ТТТ

 

Today’s reflection: Jesus is baptized by John.  What is the difference between John’s and Jesus’ Baptisms?

 the-Baptism-of-Jesus

(NAB Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)  15 Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah.  16 John answered them all, saying, l “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.  I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.  21 After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

ТТТ

 

. ReflectionGospel Reflection:

 

Today we celebrate the “Feast of the Baptism of the Lord”.  In today’s the other Gospel accounts of Je040111_ssus’ baptism, we hear “John the Baptist” address, and correct the confusion of the people who thought that he might be the “Messiah”.  In his response, John contrasts the baptism that he performs with that of the Baptism which Jesus inaugurates – – with water AND the Holy Spirit.  The type of Baptism that John performed during his ministry mission was not yet a full Christian Baptism.  Instead, it was the preliminary foundation for the Christian Baptism of, through, and in Jesus Christ – – through which OUR sins are forgiven AND the gift of the Holy Spirit are received.

The baptism of Jesus is reported in each of the three Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke (but not in John’s).  Noticeably, the three Synoptic Gospels report the same event is quite rare and revelational. 

Both Mark and Luke report the story from Jesus’ perspective, with “the voice from heaven” addressed to Him.  However, Matthew’s Gospel has instead “the voice from heavenspLOI-Voice-of-Godeaking to everyone.  Also, in Luke, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus during His time of “prayer” – – after His “baptism”.  Through His Gospel today, you will notice Luke shows Jesus to be a person of prayer who withdraws regularly from the crowds AND His disciples as well, in order to pray to His heavenly Father privately.  Jesus goes on to teach His follows “HOW” to pray.

T

Today’s reading begins with the people at the scene of the event wondering and questions whether JJohn_the_Baptist%20imageohn the Baptist may actually be the promised “Savior-Messiah”:

“Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah (Luke 3:15). 

And so, John knew their questions, and he responded to their inquiries by saying:

I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is comingI am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandalsHe will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). 

Luke even reiterates John the Baptist’s response in his other book, “The Acts of the Apostles”:

“John heralded his [Jesus’] coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am?  I am not He.  Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of His feet’” (Acts 13:24-25).

So, what does John mean by saying about Jesus:Through_Water_and_Fire_MAIN

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16).

Well, John is stating that he only gives a “baptism with water” representing repentance.  Jesus, however, will “baptize with the Holy Spirit AND with fire”.  From the point of view of the early [1st Century] Catholic-Christian Community, the “Holy Spirit and fire” was understood as a representation of the “fire” poured out from the Holy Spirit in the desert, in the Temple, and finally, in the upper room at the time of Pentecost (the Jewish remembrance  of the “fire” and brimstone on Mt. Sinai):

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.  And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2:1–4).

There are two core symbolisms in these four verses from the above passage from Acts (Acts 2:1-4); I’ll cburning_bushomment on both.  I’ll start with “fire”.  Fire” in biblical times was associated with God and with His action in the world AND , His personal presence in the lives of His people during their exodus, and during His enduring personal presence in the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (the Holy of Holies) of the Temple.  God sometimes manifested His presence by use of “fire”, such as in the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (cf., Exodus 3:2). 

The figure of “fire” was also used to represent His holiness (cf., Deuteronomy 4:24), His protective presence (cf., 2 Kings 6:17), God’s glory (cf., Ezekiel 1:4, 13), His wrath against sin (cf., Isaiah 66:15-16), and His righteous judgment (cf., Zechariah 13:9),.  

So, writers of the New Testament books were inspired by the Holy Spirit to use “fire” to represent the actions of the Holy Spirit – – Himself (cf., Matthew 3:11 and Acts 2:3).  God’s “fire” both purifies and cleanses; and it inspires a reverent fear of God – – and a reverence for His “Word”.  

The second core symbol is the “strong driving wind”.  The sound of the “strong driving wind” heralded a “new action of God” in His history of, and plan for, the salvation of all the human race.  tonguesThe “tongues as of fire” symbolizes the presence of God initiating again – – renewing – – His covenant on Mount Sinai:

Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke, because the LORD had come down upon it in fire.  The smoke rose from it as though from a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently” (Exodus 19:18).

At Pentecost, the “Holy Spirit” acts upon the Apostles, preparing them to “proclaim” the spirit-of-pentecost-the_t_nvNEW covenant, with its unique gift from the Holy Spirit, “to speak in different tongues”.  This gift of “speaking in tongues” is a grace of ecstatic prayer – – in praise of God.  This gift of the Holy Spirit is appreciated (cf., in Acts 2:6, 11) through a speaking in foreign languages, and thus symbolizing the worldwide mission of the Catholic Church.

However, as part of John the Baptist’s preaching, the “Holy Spirit and fire”, he is relating them to their Jewish Scripture references about their “purifying” and “refining” natures:

“I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them.” (Ezekiel 36:25–27);

 “But who can endure the day of his coming?  Who can stand firm when he appears?  For He will be like a refiner’s fire, like fullers’ lye.  He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the Levites, Refining them like gold or silver, that they may bring offerings to the LORD in righteousness” (Malichi 3:2–3).

So, as a quick summary of the differences and representations between Jbaptism_of_jesusohn the Baptist’s and Jesus Christ’s Baptism’s is that the “water baptism” of John the Baptist will be followed by either an “immersion” of the repentant in the “cleansing power” of the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) – – OR, an “immersion” of the “unrepentant” in the devastating fiery wrath of God at their final judgment.  

T

Today’s event in Luke’s Gospel focuses on the heavenly message identifying Jesus as God the Father’s “Son” – – AND, through a reference by “Isaiah”, as being the “Servant of Yahweh”:

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased.  Upon him I have put my spirit; He shall bring forth justice to the nations (Isaiah 42:1).

Three other passages have also popularly been called “Servant of the Lord” verses (cf., Matthew 49:1–7; 5pbwu-servant0:4–11; 52:13–53:12).  Ultimately however, the description of the “mission” of the “servant” has been applied ONLY to Jesus Christ:

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.  He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory.  And in his name the Gentiles will hope (Matthew 12:18–21).

I can’t help but think of the Passion narratives when thinking of Jesus as the “sent” “Servant”.  Jesus proclaimed the “Word”; He never was contentious or cried out; He was struck many times with reeds; and He brought justice into our world.  WOW!!  With all this (plus many other connecting verses from Holy Scripture), who can deny the divine “Servant-hood” of the man, Jesus Christ!!

T

Through the life-giving “baptism with water and the Holy Spirit”, Jesus has been, and is still creating a NEW people of God, both Jew AND Gentile alike.  In doing so, Jesus identifies Himself with the pebranch2ople of Israel by submitting to John’s “baptism of repentanceAND in His bearing, on their behalf, and OURS, the burden of God’s decisive judgment:

“He [John the Baptist] went throughout [the] whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sinsAfter all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened” (Luke 3:3, 21).  

In His humble submission to John’s “baptism”, we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” found in His ge0274ruesomely bloody death upon the Holy Cross of Redemptive Salvation.  Jesus’ “baptism” signifies His acceptance to, and the beginning of, His earthly mission as God’s “suffering Servant”.  Jesus allowed Himself to be numbered among sinners, and to die as one, without being one!!  Jesus submitted Himself entirely to His Father’s will of redeeming His human creatures, Jews and Gentiles alike.  Out of love, Jesus consented to this “baptism” of death – reflections on Christ - crucifixion– “baptism” by “fire” – – for the remission of OUR sins. So, please realize, understand, and know the JOY of trust and submission Jesus had to His heavenly Father, God, even to that of a known death in His name, a Martyrdom of Salvation.   

At the Jordan River, in the desert of Sinai, in the wilderness of Judea, “Israel’s” Sonship with God is to be renewed through JesuthCAW7PLKLs’ “baptism”.  And, the “descent of the “Holy Spirit” on Jesus Christ anoints Him for His public ministry:

The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD … Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased.  Upon him I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations … The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners … in their every affliction.  It was not an envoy or a messenger, but his presence that saved them.  Because of his love and pity the LORD redeemed them, Lifting them up and carrying them all the days of old (Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1; 63:9).

T

Luke regularly presents Jesus “at prayer” during important points in His public ministry:

  • ·        Here, in today’s reading, at His baptism; jesus-at-prayer
  • ·        Jesus’ choosing of the Twelve (cf., Luke 6:12);
  • ·        Before asking His disciples “Who do the people say that I am?”, and “Who do you say that I am?”(cf., Luke 9:18);
  • ·        On the Mountain of the Transfiguration (cf., Luke 9:28);
  • ·        When teaching His disciples to pray (cf., Luke 11:1);
  • ·        During the Last Supper (cf., Luke 22:32);
  • ·        In the garden on the Mount of Olives (cf., Luke 22:41); and finally,
  • ·        On the Holy Cross of Redemption and Salvation (cf., Luke 23:46).

A uniqueness found in Luke’s Gospel, and not in any other Gospel, is Jesus praying immediately following His Baptism:

“After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened” (Luke 3:21). 

Jesus’ actions and prayers are answered in a unique, intimate, very personal – – AND often times PUBLIC – – ways:

Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a doveAnd a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22)

The Father proclaimed His entire delight in His “Son”, speaking audibly for all present to hear.  The HLOI-Voice-of-Godoly Spirit was also present as He “anointed” Jesus for His public ministry beginning on that day – – as He rose from the waters of the Jordan River.   

Jesus’ Greek brethren publically were aware of a previous declaration of God, through David, concerning not only David himself, but also of the future “King of the Jews”, revealed as God’s “Servant Son”, today “begotten” by God the Father:

“I will proclaim the decree of the LORD, he said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you’” (Psalm 2:7).

God the Father acknowledges Jesus as His divinely unique Son, the object of His love.  His expressing of His delight in, approval of, Jesus Christ is the assurance that He, Jesus, will fulfill His messianic mission of redemption and salvation – – for ALL people – – Jew and Gentile alike!!

Luke goes on to write:Desceding Dove b_w

The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22). 

The “dove” is a symbol of the NEW creation in the flood, talked about in Genesis, and well-known in Jesus’ community of “Israel”:

“He [Noah] released a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth” (Genesis 8:8);

“Out of Egypt they shall come trembling, like birds, like doves, from the land of Assyria; And I will resettle them in their homes, oracle of the LORD” (Hosea 11:11).

T

T. summarize titlehe “baptism” of Jesus is considered a “manifestation” of God in Jesus HIMSELF – – another “epiphany.”  Today, on this last day of the Christmas Season, our Gospel reveals to us Jesus’ true relationship to God the Father.  The “son” (little “s”) of Mary and Joseph is also God’s OWN “Son” (big “S”)!!  

Jesus came to give us the “fire” of His Spirit so that we may radiate the JOY and truth of His Gospel to a world desperately needing God’s lightpenti and truth.  His “Word” has power to change and transform our lives, making us “flaming lights” pointing others to Jesus Christ.  We are called to follow Jesus in His public ministry of teaching, healing, and loving.  We are also called to oppose unjust and violent powers in the world today.  Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ in all of our endeavors.  Let Jesus Christ’s power, grace, and love burn brightly in your life!  Ask Him to “fill” – – “fulfill” – – you with His Holy Spirit.  As we follow Jesus into the Catholic Church’s Season of “Ordinary Time”, identify what needs to be “filled” – – “fulfilled” – – in your life, and in others.  Amen; Amen!!  (“Selahi”, which means “Take breath, relax, rejoice, and saver what you just read – – the truth.)

In today’s Gospel, notice that all three “persons” of the Holy Trinity are manifested:  God the Father in the voice, th1983254601_3cd17489a9_oe Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and Jesus the Son in the one being “Baptized” and “Anointed” for His unique public ministry.  

Luke is communicating to us the crucial information about the true identity of Jesus Christ.  In verses following today’s reading, Luke lists the genealogy of Jesus, tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to thbrazzers-adam-evee first person of creation, Adam, who is also identified as the “son of God” (cf., Luke 3:23-38).  We – – the children of Adam and Eve – – are again made children of God – – made NEW – – through Jesus’ Baptism.

Examine Jesus’ humility in today’s Gospel reading.  Ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude of humility in your own heart.  As you do so, “heaven will open” for you as well.  The Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to renew and refashion each of us th2012-LT-Theme-Wallpaper-1600x900rough His Holy Spirit, AND also to anoint us for OUR special and unique mission – – as His ambassadors.  The Lord wants His love and truth to shine through us so that others may see the goodness and truth of God’s message of Redemptive Salvation.  Ask Jesus Christ to “fill” you with His Holy Spirit, allowing YOU to radiate the JOY of His Gospel to ALL those around you.

T

Every. conclusion person has a unique identity which is defined by their behaviors, attitudes, and expectations governing their daily lives and existence.  Each aspect of our identity is influenced by our personal history; eaidentity_52205ch expression is unique within him/her self.  In today’s Gospel, we learn that Jesus’ behavior, attitudes, and expectations were governed by His identity as God’s beloved Son.  In our personal “Baptism”, we were made from above, were made true, and are made children of this very same heavenly Father.  So, your individual identity – – as a living member of the “family of God”, and as a “brother or sister” of Jesus – – also shapes your own daily life and existence.  Think about this!  Selahi!!

Identify some of the expectations and behaviors that govern your life by answering the following question: “What are some of the things that make your life unique?”  Once you know the answer, once it is revealed to you, celebrate these things about your life.  How does this identity as a member of the family of God govern and shape your life?  Conclude today’s reflection with a prayer that we ALL will remain faithful to our baptismal identity as children of God and as brothers or sisters of Jesus Christ.  Amen!!

ТТТ

 

Reflection Prayer: 

 

Our Father

 

Our Father,
Who art in Heaven, pray-lord-teach-us-to-pray-e1347301783151
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

ТТТ

 Our%20Father2

“Just Like a Popular Detergent – – Jesus Gets the Stains Out!” – Mark 9:2-10†


Second Sunday of Lent

Today’s Content:

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Today in Catholic History
  • ·        Quote or Joke of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer or Psalm
  • ·        Catholic Apologetics
  • ·        A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • ·        Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

ТТТ

Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions for March, 2012

March 2012: 

General Intention: Contribution of Women; that the whole world may recognize the contribution of women to the development of society.

Missionary Intention: Persecuted Christians; that the Holy Spirit may grant perseverance to those who suffer discrimination, persecution, or death for the name of Christ, particularly in Asia.

ТТТ

Today in Catholic History:

†   251 – Death of Pope Lucius I
†   303 – Martyrdom of Saint Adrian of Nicomedia.
†   480 – Death of Saint Landry, bishop of Sées
†   561 – Death of Pope Pelagius I
†   932 – Translation of the relics of martyr Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, Prince of the Czechs.
†   1215 – King John of England makes an oath to the Pope as a crusader to gain the support of Innocent III.
†   1303 – Death of Daniel of Moscow, Russian Saint, Grand Prince of Muscovy (b. 1261)
†   1484 – Death of Kazimierz, the Saint, Polish ruler/saint, dies at age 25
†   1484 – Death of Saint Casimir, Prince of Poland (b. 1458)
†   1493 – Explorer Christopher Columbus (a Third Order Franciscan) arrives back in Lisbon, Portugal aboard his ship Niña from his discovery voyage to America. He returned to Spain on March 15.
†   1595 – Death of Robert Southwell, English poet, hanged for becoming a Catholic priest
†   1798 – Catholic women force to do penance for kindling sabbath fire for Jews (cannot find reference in wikipedia or elsewhere)
†   1853 – Pope Pius IX recovers Catholic hierarchy in Netherlands
†   1888 – Birth of Knute Rockne, Notre Dame Universities football player and coach (d. 1931)
†   1931 – Birth of William Henry Keeler, American Roman Catholic Archbishop and Cardinal
†   1934 – Birth of Gleb Yakunin, Russian priest and dissident
†   1979 – The first encyclical written by Pope John Paul II, “Redemptor Hominis” (Latin for “The Redeemer of Man”) is promulgated less than five months after his installation as pope.
†   2010 – Death of Bishop Hilario Chávez Joya, Mexican Roman Catholic prelate due to natural causes (b. 1928)
†   Feasts/Mmeorials: Saint Casimir, patron saint of Lithuania; Humbert III of Savoy; Saint Adrian of Nicomedia, bishop of Saint Andrew’s, and his Companions; Saint Basil and his Companions; Saint Basinus; Saint Efrem; Saint Lucius I; Saint Peter of Pappacarbone; Commemoration of Saint Lucius I, pope, martyr.

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

ТТТ

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Q: Why shouldn’t Christians watch TV?
A: At the transfiguration, Jesus said, “Tell-the-vision to no one.”

ТТТ

Today’s reflection is about Jesus being transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

 

(NAB Mark 9:2-10) 2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.  4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.  5 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!  Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.  7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”  8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.  9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

ТТТ

Gospel Reflection:

 

The context for Mark’s Transfiguration story, from today’s Gospel reading, is similar to the stories found in both Matthew’s (Matthew 17:1-8) and Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9:28:36).  The “Transfiguration” occurs after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the “Messiah”; and after Jesus’ prediction about His future “Passion”.  Soon to take place, in each of these three “Synoptic” Gospels, is a discussion of the “cost” of Apostleship (and discipleship) to Jesus Christ.  (NOTHING is free!  There is ALWAYS a price!)

Jesus took three of His Apostles’—Peter, James, and John—to a high mountain (Some believe it is Mt. Horeb – see last Sunday’s reflection blog for more information on Mt. Horeb).  While Jesus and His “notable” Apostles are on this “notable” mountain, Elijah and Moses appear to Jesus and converses – – “face-to-face” – – with, Jesus Himself.  Per Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospel, this dialogue is unknown to the reader.  However, in Luke’s Gospel, the detail of this tête-à-tête is accepted to be about what Jesus will accomplish in Jerusalem: His Arrest, Scourging, and Crucifixion.

Т

Both Mark and Matthew place the “Transfiguration of Jesus” six days after the first prediction of His “Passion” and death.  

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves” (Matthew 17:1);

Hmm, how many days did God the Creator take to form the world and all things on it?  I believe SIX!  I wonder if there is a connection of some sort between the two events.

The “Transfiguration” counterbalances the prediction of Jesus’ “Passion” by affording a certain group of His Apostles’ (I like to call them “the inner ring”) insight into the divine glory Jesus truly and fully possessed.  His glory will overcome His death, that of His Apostles’, and ALL who fully believe in Him:

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18);

And,

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majestyFor he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, ‘This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’  We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain.  Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.  You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:16–19).

Т

The “heavenly voice” (Mark 9:7; and 2 Peter1:18 immediately above), heard “worldly” by the three Apostles of Christ, starts the preparation for THEM to understand God the Father’s divine plan: Jesus must die in a dreadful and appalling way before His Messianic glory is made gloriously revealed – –  made  manifest – – to all who believe:

He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are!  How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’  Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures.” (Luke 24:25–27).

The account of the “Transfiguration” confirms to Peter, James, and John that Jesus is truly the Son of God the Father:

“Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, ‘This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.’” (Mark 9:7); 

The “Transfiguration” itself, points to a fulfillment of the prediction that He will come in His Father’s “glory” at the “end of the age”:

The Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Matthew 16:27).

The “Transfiguration” event has been explained by some biblical scholars as a “resurrection appearance” – – actually retrojected – – into the time of Jesus’ ministry beginning.   Instead, I believe this reading probably draws upon Old Testament and non-canonical Jewish literature in order to express the presence of divinity and heaven, such as those images conveyed in today’s reading: brilliant lights, white garments, and the overshadowing cloud.  Who knows for sure which belief on its origin is true (other than God Himself); does this point truly matter?

Т

What can “blind” us, keeping us from recognizing God’s “glory” in our individual lives?  Well, the obvious answer is sin and unbelief!  It is unquestionably awesome for ALL of us – – His disciples’ – – that having a “true faith” enables us to see what is hidden or unseen to our worldly blinded and naked eyes.  Through the eyes of “faith”, Abraham recognized God and His call for his future life.  With “faith”, Abraham saw not only what God intended for him, but also what God intended for his descendants: an everlasting covenant with the true, living, and eternal God.  Abraham is OUR father of faith; he put his hope, love, and trust in the infinite promises of his heavenly God.  “Faith” truly allows each of us to taste, in advance, – – individually, uniquely, and personally, – – the light of God’s glory, when we shall see Him “face-to-face”:

“At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face.  At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12);

AND!; as He truly and fully IS – – IS – – IS the light of glory:

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2).

God is eager to share this glory – – HIS glory – – with each of us!  We get a glimpse of His burning eagerness to share His “glory” when the three Apostles’ see Jesus “Transfigured” on the mountain.  What happened for them to recognize His “glory”?  Well, Jesus’ face changed in appearance and His clothing became dazzling white.  In sorts, Jesus is re-living what happened to one of the other “heavenly witnesses” present with Him on that mountain.  When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of His face “shone” because he had been talking with God “face-to-face” as well:

 “The Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.” (Exodus 34:35).

Paul, in regards to the Moses event, relates that the Israelites at the foot of the mountain when Moses came down could not even look at Moses’ face because of its brightness:

The Israelites could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade” (2 Corinthians 3:7).

Т

In today’s event, Jesus appeared in glory WITHMoses”, the great “giver of the law” to Israel, AND, with “Elijah”, who for me is the greatest of all the prophets (Isaiah is a close second though).  These two great figures from “Israel of old” appear with Jesus Christ, in the presence of three of His “most loved” Apostles.  Why did this happen?  Hmm…!  Let’s think this out!  Jesus went to the mountain knowing already what was in store for Him in Jerusalem: His betrayal, rejection, trial, scourging, and crucifixion.  I see Jesus discussing this devastating choice – – “to die for OUR redemption” in a horrendous and painful death on the Holy Cross – – with Moses and Elijah; maybe to get advice, maybe to get some comfort in His decision.

 Why are these two particular men of Holy Scripture coming as “witnesses” to Jesus’ “Transfiguration”?  Elijah and Moses are significant figures in the history of Israel.  Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and received from “Yahweh” the Ten Commandments (the Biggies), among other Mosaic Laws.  In appearing with Jesus at His “Transfiguration”, Moses represented the Mosaic Law of “old” guiding the ways, rituals, and entire lives of the “chosen” Jewish people in the “new”..  

Elijah is certainly remembered by the Jewish people as one of the most important prophets of Israel.  He helped the Israelites stay faithful to “Yahweh” and not to pagan gods.  Some (and I believe most) Jews believed “Elijah’s” return would be the signal of the coming of the true “Messiah” returning to save the Jewish people.  This belief is evidenced in the question posed by Jesus’ Apostles’ after they have witnessed the Transfiguration:

Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” (Matthew 9:11)

The appearance of Moses and Elijah, both crucially important and central figures from Israel’s history, – – with Jesus Christ – – signifies Jesus’ continuity with Mosaic Law and with the prophets.  Their appearance with Jesus also signifies His being the true fulfillment of ALL of God promises to His “chosen” people and nation, Israel – – old and new.

Т

Moses and Elijah represent law and prophecy respectively in the Old Testament AND each are linked to Mount Sinai, possibly Mt. Horeb (covered in last week’s reflection) in regards to covenants created between God the Father, Moses, and Elijah (cf., Exodus 19:16–20:17; 1 Kings 19:2, 8–14).

Now Moses and Elijah surprisingly appear on this mountain with Jesus as divine “witnesses” to the fulfillment of God’s law and plan, and what had been foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament, taking place – – in the person – – of the divine Jesus Christ as He radiates in magnificent glory.  Imagine the sight of this taking place in your actual presence.  Keep in mind; these three men were raised as devout and pious Jews.  They knew the prophets words in a reasonable (if not thorough) detail.  No wonder Peter, and the others, were so “terrified”, and did not know what to say:

He [Peter] hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.”  (Mark 9:6)

Т

On seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses, and having witnessed Jesus’ “Transfiguration” before ALL their very eyes, Peter offered to construct “three tents” for them.  Peter’s reference to making “tents” refers to the Hebrew Feast called “Sukkot” (also called the “Feast of Booths” or “Feast of Tabernacles”).  This well-known first-century Jewish Feast (it is actually still a recognized Jewish Feast day to this day, yet not celebrated regularly) is a “biblical holiday” traditionally  celebrated in late September to late October (per our current day Gregorian calendar).  Sukkot is one of three mandated festivals wherein the Jewish people were “commanded” to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem(the other two being “Passover” and “Weeks” [Shavuot]).  There are many biblical references to Sukkot-type dwellings or tents in Holy Scripture, other than in the “Transfiguration” narratives:

Three times a year you shall celebrate a pilgrim feast to me… You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread [Passover]  … You shall also keep the feast of the grain harvest with the first fruits of the crop [Shavuot], … and finally, the feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you collect your produce from the fields [Sukkot].  Three times a year shall all your men appear before the LORD God. (Exodus 23:14-17);

“Tell the Israelites: The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the LORD’s feast of Booths, which shall continue for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:34);

“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month you will declare a holy day: you shall do no heavy work. For the following seven days you will celebrate a pilgrimage feast to the LORD.(Numbers 29:12);

Three times a year, then, all your males shall appear before the LORD, your God, in the place which he will choose: at the feast of Unleavened Bread, at the feast of Weeks, and at the feast of Booths.  They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed, but each with his own gift, in proportion to the blessing which the LORD, your God, has given to you. (Deuteronomy 16:16?);

And,

The Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.” (John 7:2).  

A “Sukkot” was a “booth or tabernacle”: a walled structure covered with some plant material such as leafy tree overgrowth or palm leaves. The structure was intended to remind its inhabitants of the fragile and easily erected dwellings, in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years in the desert after their Exodus from slavery in Egypt.  

According to Zechariah, in the “Messianic” era, Sukkot will become a universal festival and ALL nations will make pilgrimages annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there:

 “Everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to bow down to the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the feast of Booths.  Should any of the families of the earth not go up to Jerusalem to bow down to the King, the LORD of hosts, then there will be no rain for them.  And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, upon them will fall the plague, with which the LORD strikes the nations that do not go up to celebrate the feast of Booths.  This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the feast of Booths.” (Zechariah 14:16-19). 

(Here is a little “side-line” trivia; there are Messianic Scholars who believe that Jesus was born on the “first day of Sukkot” in the year 4 BC.  If interested in learning how they came to figure this out, using math, astrology, and Holy Scripture, please go to the following website:

http://www.bereanpublishers.com/Jesus_Christ_Who_is_%20He/Messiah’s_Birth_at_Sukkot.htm.)

Т

God the Father chose this time to speak with Jesus, with the witness of others from both old and new covenants.  God gave His approval of Jesus and His public ministry:

This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.” (Mark 9:7)

The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and His Apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews: when the “Messiah” came to save His people, the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again, and Jesus was the fulfillment in this cloud on that mountain top.  

At this moment of the event, with emotions high, a cloud comes upon them “casting a shadow over them”.  It was now time for God the Father to throw a little divine twist into this event; something that had happened only ONCE before (and is the last time in Holy Scripture this will happen).  God the Father SPEAKS!!  God tells all present that Jesus Christ is truly His Beloved Son, and that we are to LISTEN to Him:

This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.” (Mark 9:7)

Mark reports that the Apostles are “terrified” by what they had witnessed – the vision, the weather change, and the VOICE  from heaven!!  I feel certain that Peter’s offer to make these tents was made out of bewilderment and confusion on his part.  Peter was definitely confused at this point.  Have you noticed that Peter, in this reading, reverted from his earlier declaration that Jesus is “the Messiah”:

“And He [Jesus] asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Peter said to him in reply, ‘You are the Messiah.’” (Mark 8:29).

Peter is instead, now calling Jesus “rabbi” (verse 5)!  What do you believe the reason is (?); is it simply a symptom or reaction of his bewildering confusion?  There is NO confusion on God’s part however!  A “voice” [from heaven] speaks from the lofty clouds, affirming Jesus as God the Father’s Son, AND ALSO commands the three Apostles’ to obey – – both this heavenly “voice” (implicitly) AND Jesus Christ Himself (literally)!!  This “voice” from heaven recalls the voice that was heard at Jesus’ baptism: 

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.  On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.  And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:9-11).

These three Apostles had to be confused and perplexed; according to rabbinical interpretation of Messianic prophecies, Elijah was to come prior to the Savior:

Now I am sending my messenger — he will prepare the way before me; and the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; the messenger of the covenant whom you desire — see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)

My question: Could this voice have been a heavenly response to Peter’s bewilderment and confusion?  Or, was it to further reiterate what Moses, Elijah, Jesus, and God had already known: that Jesus Christ IS the true and only “Messiah”!!

Besides these two great people from “Israel old”, the three Apostles also enter into the “mystery” of Jesus’ glorification.  They most surely became what we call “Charismatic”.  They witnessed a gift, a grace from God, by co-witnessing holy figures from the Old Covenants relating and surrendering themselves to a holy and divine figure.  They all witnessed the bringing in of the new and fuller Covenant of His heavenly Father. 

Т

In the Old Testament, the “cloud” covered the meeting tent, the dwelling place of God during the Exodus, indicating the Lord’s presence in the midst of His people:

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Moses could not enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34–35).

Again, in the Old Testament, the “cloud” also came to rest upon the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of its dedication, making this structure the dwelling place of God in His chosen land:

When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:10).

And now, the “cloud” has come to rest upon the new dwelling place of the full and NEW Covenant for ALL the worlds’ people and lands: no longer in a structure created by man, but in a structure created by God the Father Himself: Jesus Christ.

 Т

Then, another twist happens.  In verse 8, Moses, Elijah, and the clouds disappear “suddenly” and unexpectedly.  I am sure these three “fishermen” wondered if they experienced a dream, and/or saw a mirage of sorts.  Actually, these three fishermen, – – Peter, James, and John, – – have simply not realized yet that “Elijah” had already come, – – in the form and person of a special individual known to ALL of them that inspiring day:

Then they asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’  He [Jesus] told them, ‘Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things, yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt?  But I tell you that Elijah has come and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.’” (Mark 9:11-13)

Yes, Elijah was to (and had) come first!  Jesus’ response showed that Elijah truly had come in the person of John the Baptist, in order to prepare for the day of the Lord.  WOW!!  Just like a “good book” (excuse the pun), I love a great mystery, especially when I know the ending already: God the Father WINS!!!

Т

To summarize, in Jesus’ “Transfiguration”, we see a future anticipation of the “glory” found in, and from, Jesus’ Resurrection.  In each of the three Synoptic narratives covering the “Transfiguration”, Jesus instructs the three Apostles’ “to keep secret” what they have seen that day, on that mountain, until after the Son of Man had “Risen” from “the dead”.  The Apostles’ bewilderment and confusion continued (and probably grew) as they wondered what Jesus meant by “rising from the dead”.  

The Apostles could – – in NO WAY possible – – understand Jesus’ “Transfiguration” until they also witnessed His passion and death later; future events, the details of which they cannot comprehend at this point.  In our understanding of Jesus’ “Transfiguration”, we truly have the opportunity to anticipate – – to look forward to – – Jesus’ Resurrection as we prepare to remember Jesus’ passion and death in a few short weeks.

I wonder, do we miss God’s glory, graces, and action because we are perhaps “numb or dead” spiritually?  There are many things and ways challenging our minds to become “numb or dead” to God: Mental weariness, and our own “materialistic” priorities and values, can keep us from thinking through our choices and facing our own internal doubts.  Even our “easy to get anything” life may hinder us from considering the “personal cross” Jesus Christ has for each of us to carry.  

Are you spiritually numb or dead?!  Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the “glory” of Jesus Christ.  As disciples’ of Christ, WE TOO are called to be witnesses of His glory NOW!  We are capable of being changed – – “Transfigured” – – into His likeness and glory:

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Lord wants dearly to reveal His face, His glory, and His LOVE to each of us – – His beloved disciples – – personally, uniquely, and intimately!!  Do you seek His presence, His affirmation and approval, His kingdom, with a faith, trust, love, and reverence worthy of HIS faith, trust, and love?!!   

Т

To conclude: everyone has moments they remember in a special and fond way on a regular basis.  The meaning and importance of these special moments of life possibly even deepen in “feeling and passion” over time.  I believe this is how the three witnessing Apostles’ remembered Jesus’ Transfiguration for the rest of their earthly lives.  The festival of the harvest, “Sukkot”, has now taken on an intimate, unique, and personal meaning to each of them.

The full significance of what they had seen and experienced could only be understood after Jesus’ death and Resurrection.  Yet, they still KNEW something special had indeed happened before their eyes.  Can you imagine how they told Jesus’ other disciples about this event, and their recollections and feelings while recording this experience – – for us – – in their  letters and books?  Because of them, OUR understanding of what it means to call Jesus Christ, – – the ‘true’ Messiah, and God the Father’s own Only-Begotten Son – – has also deepened (at least for me).

The Holy Bible is filled with many important memories about Jesus (both old and new) – – so richly and intimately unique in each account – – so that WE CAN believe that Jesus Christ is truly God the Father’s Son.   What can (and do) we learn about Jesus from this Gospel reading?  For me, Jesus fulfills the promises God made to Israel through two sources: Mosaic Law AND the prophets.  God the Father, in speaking these few “Words” – – heard by earthly Peter, James, and John, – – truly “glorified” Jesus in His Resurrection.  JESUS CHRIST IS – – IS – – IS, God the Father’s true and only-begotten” Son.

I pray you continue to delve into the Holy Bible passionately.  It will definitely deepen your understanding of, and your love for, Jesus Christ.  After all, if it can change MY heart and understanding, you’re a shoe-in for finding that deepening meaning just under the layer you are on right now!  Just like a fragrant and sweet tasting onion, peel back the layer to find out what gets exposed in your search for the Lord God in your life!! 

ТТТ

 

Reflection Prayer:

 

Prayer for Transfiguration

“Father of mercies, you glorified your heavenly Son and revealed yourself in the bright cloud, grant that we may listen in faith to have a love for the word of Christ.  Amen.”

(http://www.ewtn.com)

ТТТ

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.

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)

ТТТ

 Catholic Apologetics:

 

My reason and purpose for this section on my blog is to provide “scriptural confirmation” for our beliefs and doctrines, not to cause dissention or opposition with my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, yet not in union with the Roman Catholic Church.  Whether God speaks to us through the “Bible”, or through “Tradition”, it is the Holy Spirit that inspires the “Word” from which all authentic tradition flows.

Tradition can be separated into two aspects: oral and behavioral.  Oral tradition includes written forms.  After all, it ALL started with oral tradition.  Behavioral tradition includes Baptism, Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, Lying on of hands or healing, Intercessory prayer, and Ordination. 

All Scriptural verses are taken from both the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

Christ’s Divinity, Part 3:

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power …” (Hebrews 1:1-3) RSV

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high …” (Hebrews 1:1-3) KJV

**

But of the Son he says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom.  … And, “Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands.” (Hebrews 1:8, 10) RSV

 

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.  … And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.” (Hebrews 1:8, 10) KJV

     ТТТ

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule Article #’s 4 & 5 of 26:

04.  The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.

Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.

Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.

Т

05.  Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity.  The faith of St. Francis, who often said, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood,” should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.

“It Just Goes To Figure – – No, TRANSFIGURE!” – Matthew 17:1-9†


 

“Second Sunday of Lent” 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • 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

 

Т

 

 

Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Only in St. Louis can one’s children shovel snow on one day, and wear swimming trunks and playing in the sprinklers the very next.  I love the St. Louis area. 

Т

I hope everyone had a great (and safe) St. Patrick’s Day and Feast of St. Joseph (Yesterday); I did.

 

  Т

  

 

Today in Catholic History:


†   687 – Death of St. Cuthbert, patron saint of Northumbria (born 634)
†   1191 – Death of Clement III, [Paolo Scolari], Pope (1187-91, 3rd crusades), dies
†   1393 – Death of Johannes Nepomucenus, [Jan Nepomucky], Czech saint, killed
†   1619 – Death of Matthias II, Holy Roman Catholic emperor (1611-19)
†   Feast/Memorials: Feast of St. Cuthbert; Abdon and Sennen at Soissons; Saint Herbert; Saint Wulfram; Saint Alexandra

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

 

  Т

 

Joke of the Day:

  

(from http://thebackpew.com)

 

 Т

 

Today’s reflection is Matthew’s account about Jesus’ Transfiguration.

 

 

 

(NAB Matthew 17:1-9) 1 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  2 And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.  4 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  6 When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.  7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”  8 And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.  9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

 

Wow, we are at the second Sunday of Lent already.  We move from Jesus’ forty day “retreat” in the beautiful and warm Palestinian desert, to His “Transfiguration” on a “cloudy” mountain top.  Today’s story of Jesus’ Transfiguration is told in each of the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  And, in each of the three Gospels, the Transfiguration follows Jesus’ initial prediction of His death, and His teaching about the cost of being His disciple such as temptations from evil and from worldly influences.  

While praying on a mountain top (High Prayers?), a voice pronounces that Jesus IS God’s “Son” in words not unlike those heard “from the heaven’s” at Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River.  In addition, the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus on the mountain connects this “Transfiguration” story with God’s relationship to the people of Israel – – His “chosen” people.  Moses and Elijah represent the “Law” and the “Prophets”, respectively.  Together with Jesus, they represent God’s “complete and fulfilled ‘Word’”.

Jesus very likely discussed with Moses and Elijah His crucial and earth-shattering (and creation saving) decision to go to the Holy Cross – – the Holy Tree – – of salvation and redemption. 

Т

The Transfiguration occurs in the presence of just three of Jesus’ disciples.  Peter, James, and John always seemed to be with Jesus.  Matters of fact, in Matthew’s Gospel, these three disciples are among the first whom Jesus calls to be His Apostles.  These men had a very special relationship among Jesus’ chosen group of men – – The Apostles – – who, as a group, all had a uniquely special relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  These twelve particular men – – the Apostles – – are identified as the “inner circle” among Jesus’ disciples. 

Peter, James, and John were obviously Jesus’ “BFF’s” (Text talk for “Best Friends Forever”) as these three Apostles were also with Jesus at a later [important] date, while He was at prayer on another hilltop – – Gethsemane, just prior to His arrest:

“He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress.” (Matthew 26:37).

The “Transfiguration” confirms to the three Apostles accompanying Jesus (and all who believed and still believe) that Jesus is truly the “Son of God”.  The Transfiguration also points to a fulfillment of prophesy that “He will come in His Father’s glory at the end of the age”:

“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Matthew 16:27).

Jesus goes up “a high mountain” (verse 1).  This mountain has been identified with Mount Tabor, or possibly Mount Hermon.  The meaning of “a high mountain” may be a theological, rather than geographical, statement.  Some scholars say “a high mountain” may have been used in a literary way to recall the revelation of God given to both Moses and Elijah (at separate times) on Mount Sinai; and linking that relationship to the New Covenant brought in by Jesus.  The Lord was with both on their mountain tops, and is now again with them on His mountain top:

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and, while you are there, I will give you the stone tablets on which I have written the commandments intended for their instruction.’  So Moses set out with Joshua, his aide, and went up to the mountain of God.  The elders, however, had been told by him, ‘Wait here for us until we return to you.  Aaron and Hur are staying with you. If anyone has a complaint, let him refer the matter to them.’  After Moses had gone up, a cloud covered the mountain.  The glory of the LORD settled upon Mount Sinai.  The cloud covered it for six days, and on the seventh day he called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.  To the Israelites the glory of the LORD was seen as a consuming fire on the mountaintop.  But Moses passed into the midst of the cloud as he went up on the mountain; and there he stayed for forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:12-18)

And,

“He got up, ate and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb [Sinai].  There he came to a cave, where he took shelter.  But the word of the LORD came to him, ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’  He answered: ‘I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.’  Then the LORD said, ‘Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.’  A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD–but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake–but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was fire–but the LORD was not in the fire.  After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.  When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.  A voice said to him, ‘Elijah, why are you here?’  He replied, ‘I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts.  But the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.’  ‘Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus,’ the LORD said to him. ‘When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram.  Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.  If anyone escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill him. If he escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill him.  Yet I will leave seven thousand men in Israel–all those who have not knelt to Baal or kissed him.’” (1 Kings 19:8-18).

Т

I have been embarrassed a few times, and sunburned many, many, times in my life (I never seem to learn).  My face has glowed red with anger a few times as well.  But, never has my face been described as “shining like the sun”!  This physical description reminds me of two events in the Old Testament; Moses on Mount Sinai, and Daniel’s prophesy:

Then the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to converse with the LORD. (Exodus 34:35)

 “His body was like chrysolite, his face shown like lightning, his eyes were like fiery torches, his arms and feet looked like burnished bronze, and his voice sounded like the roar of a multitude.” (Daniel 10:6).

Jesus’ garments became glistening and intensely white.  Jesus’ face shined and “His clothes became white as light”.  Just as Jesus is manifesting God now, Moses skin shined when he met with God on Mount Sinai as he experienced God directly:

As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the LORD.” (Exodus 34:29). 

White clothes are a prominent image associated with God’s manifestation.  Daniel’s prophecy (about 600 years earlier) states that the clothing of God appeared “snow bright”:

“As I watched, Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne.  His clothing was snow bright, and the hair on his head as white as wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire.” (Daniel 7:9)

The Evangelist Paul said the Jewish people could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness after spending time with God:

“Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the Israelites could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade.” (2 Cor. 3:7).

And, even the book of Revelations is fairly active with “white garments” for heavenly beings:

“Surrounding the throne I saw twenty-four other thrones on which twenty-four elders sat, dressed in white garments and with gold crowns on their heads.”  (Rev 4:4)

“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.” (Rev 7:9)

“The armies of heaven followed him, mounted on white horses and wearing clean white linen.” (Rev 19:14)

 Т

The cloud which eclipsed Jesus, His apostles, Moses, and Elijah fulfilled the Jewish peoples prophesy of God’s presence, when the true “Messiah” came to His “chosen” people, in the form of a cloud.  This cloud would again fill the temple, as the cloud did in the Old Testament:

“When Aaron announced this to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud!  (Exodus 16:10).

The LORD also told him, ‘I am coming to you in a dense cloud, so that when the people hear me speaking with you, they may always have faith in you also.’  When Moses, then, had reported to the LORD the response of the people.” (Exodus 19:9). 

As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses.”  (Exodus 33:9). 

“When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:10). 

“Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the Place might be gloriously sanctified.”  (2 Maccabees 2:8). 

Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus Christ as God’s representatives and witnesses to the fulfillment of the Old Covenant laws and prophecies.   These laws and prophesies are being fulfilled in the person of Jesus as He appears in glory before theses two Old Covenant representatives, His three much loved Apostles, and His magnificent Father in heaven.

Т

Peter asked Jesus if he should make “three tents”.  “Tents” were places in which the Israelites lived during the “Feast of Tabernacles” while in their travels to Jerusalem from their home towns; in essence biblical era mobile homes.  The reference to “tents” in today’s Gospel reading is meant to recall the Jewish ancestors’ living in tents (also called “booths”) during the Exodus journey from Egypt to the “promised land”.  The words “tents” is a translation of the original Greek word, “skene”.  It is used interchangeably with the word “booths” which is sometimes used instead in reference to the “Feast of Tabernacles”. 

Per “Bible-truth.org”, the “Feast of Tabernacles”, also called “Sukkoth” or “Booths”, starts on the fifteenth of “Tishri”, the seventh month of the Jewish (biblical) calendar (sometime in the Gregorian calendar month of September or October).  This feast is the third of seven Jewish feasts in the Hebrew calendar year.  The “Feast of Tabernacles” required a pilgrimage of the Jewish peoples to Jerusalem in order to worship in the Temple, and to offer sacrifices and offerings to the Lord.  The Feast of Tabernacles is explained well in the book of Leviticus, and is also vaguely mentioned in John’s Gospel:

“On the fifteenth day, then, of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate a pilgrim feast of the LORD for a whole week.  The first and the eighth day shall be days of complete rest.  On the first day you shall gather foliage from majestic trees, branches of palms and boughs of myrtles and of valley poplars, and then for a week you shall make merry before the LORD, your God.  By perpetual statute for you and your descendants you shall keep this pilgrim feast of the LORD for one whole week in the seventh month of the yearDuring this week every native Israelite among you shall dwell in booths. (Leviticus 23:39-42).

And,

The Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.” (John 7:2)

Т

Jesus went to the mountain in full knowledge of what awaited Him in a short amount of time in Jerusalem: His betrayal by Judas, His rejection by all His Apostles, His scourging and humility, and His crucifixion on the Holy Tree of redemption. 

Jesus was in prayer on this mountain top when a “cloud cast a shadow over them” and the “Word” emanated from the clouds.  (I wonder if they brought umbrellas and a tape recorder.)  The Gospel of Mark parallels Matthews account in a nearly identical way:

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, ‘This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.’” Mark 9:7.

Jesus’ most loved and closest friends – – three of His Apostles – – enter into the mystery of Jesus’ glorification on that mountain top.  (Wow!  Can you just imagine their feelings?!)  

Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Jesus Christ.  Remember though, we too, as followers of Jesus Christ are also called to be witnesses of His glory in today’s world.  In witnessing to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, we change into His likeness little by little, as this possible as a grace from our Lord, – – and in, with, and through the Holy Spirit:

“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18).  

Why a cloud, and “words” coming from the cloud?  Well, in the Old Testament, a cloud covered the “meeting tent” during the 40 year exodus (had to be high quality tents), indicated the Lord’s presence in the midst of His people.  This same “cloud” came to rest upon the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of its dedication.  Verses from the Books of Exodus and 1 Kings are being revealed again:

“Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.  Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.” (Exodus 40:34-35)

And,

“When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:10).

 

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” is identical to Matthews’s earlier statement of God’s word at the time of Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River:

“And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:17).

In both cases, God the Father’s voice speaking from the “heavens” is a reflection of God’s words heard in several Old Testament encounters:

“Then God said: ‘Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah.  There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.’”  (Genesis 22:2);

“Then speaks to them in anger, terrifies them in wrath: ‘I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’  I will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, ‘You are my son; today I am your fatherI will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, ‘You are my son; today I am your father”.  (Psalm 2:5-7);

And,

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1)

The voice of God heard by Peter, James, and John not only repeats the baptismal proclamation about Jesus; it adds the commandlisten to him”.  “Listen to Him” makes reference to a particular verse from the book of Deuteronomy:

“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen.” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

The command “’listen’ to Jesus” is a simple and generally academic command.  However, in the context of today’s Gospel reading, it may apply particularly to the past prophesies of His “Passion”, His “Resurrection”, and of His coming again – – IN GLORY!  Matthew exemplifies this belief later on in his Gospel:

“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21);

And,

“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.  Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28).

Т

How powerful is this statement from verse 7: “Rise, and do not be afraid“?!  The Old Testament typography found in this verse is amazing and comforting for me.  I use a very similar verse from the book of Daniel quite often, especially when stressed.  Please write down these verses from Daniel, and use them as a prayer and meditation when in need of comfort, courage, and strength: 

“When I heard the sound of his voice, I fell face forward in a faint.  But then a hand touched me, raising me to my hands and knees.  The one who looked like a man touched me again and strengthened me, saying, ‘Fear not, beloved, you are safe; take courage and be strong.’”  (Daniel 10:9-10, 18-19).

For me, it is apparent that Jesus was not only well-versed in this particular book of the Old Testament (Daniel), He internalized, loved, and emitted this beautifully “prophetic” book. 

 

Matthew is the sole Gospel writer using the words, “the vision” to describe the ‘Transfiguration’.   It was impossible for these three men (the Apostles) to fully understand the importance of the “Transfiguration” event that happened before their very eyes UNTIL the “Son of Man” – – Jesus Christ – – had been raised from the dead on that one Sunday morning!  Only in the light of, the illumination of, and the radiance of Jesus’ “Resurrection” can the true and full meaning of His life and mission on earth be completely and justly understood.  Prior to Jesus’ Resurrection, – – happening three days after His horrific torture and demise on the Holy Tree, – – NO testimony, declaration, or evidence to the “vision” presented to these three Apostles would be able to lead people wholeheartedly to faith in Jesus Christ, as the “Messiah”, without the works of the Holy Spirit.

Т

I am certain the Apostles’ had questions about the appearance, – – the return to earth – – of the Old Testament’s law giver – Moses, and the Old Testament’s leading prophet – Elijah.  In addressing any questions, Jesus unravels the mission and actions of the “greatest” Law-giver and prophet from the Old Covenant.

  Through Moses, God brought His law to His “chosen” people.  Jesus is not only continuing the law of God, but through Jesus Christ, the law is completely and fully revealed.  Elijah’s expectations and prophecies are brought about and fulfilled in Jesus Christ when baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.  God’s “Law” is fulfilled, and ALL the “Messianic” prophesies are fulfilled – – Through Jesus Christ!!

I find it interesting that the role in salvation history which John the Baptist played, – – and revealed many centuries before in Elijah’s prophesies – – was not suspected by those individuals who vehemently opposed John’s message, and also those individuals whom ultimately had him killed. 

Jesus ends this Gospel reading with a fact yet unknown, yet to berevealed, to man. He tells of a human fate for Himself, similar to Elijah and John the Baptist – – death.

 

Have you ever been able to use the memories of previous “good times” and “positive experiences” to sustain you in the difficult times?  Jesus’ Transfiguration was certainly an event from which Peter, James, and John drew courage when facing the difficult events of Jesus’ Passion, and in their own personal “passions” later in their lives.  

Are you prepared to see God’s glory?  Do you seek, search out, His presence with faith and reverence in all we do, we experience, and we see?  The Lord wants to reveal His glory to us, His much loved disciples.  Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the good times and experiences that you have had in your life.  Pray to use these experiences to sustain you during the difficult times.  

Т

 

Psalm 33”
(from today’s Mass)

 

“For the LORD’S word is true; all his works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.
But the LORD’S eyes are upon the reverent, upon those who hope for his gracious help, delivering them from death, keeping them alive in times of famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and shield.
May your kindness, LORD, be upon us; we have put our hope in you. Amen.”

Psalm 33:4-5,18-20,22

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

Т

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Salvator of Horta (1520-1567)

 

A reputation for holiness does have some drawbacks.  Public recognition can be a nuisance at times — as the confreres of Salvator found out.

Salvator was born during Spain’s Golden Age.  Art, politics and wealth were flourishing.  So was religion.  Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in 1540.

Salvator’s parents were poor.  At the age of 21 he entered the Franciscans as a brother and was soon known for his asceticism, humility and simplicity.

As cook, porter and later the official beggar for the friars in Tortosa, he became well known for his charity.  He healed the sick with the Sign of the Cross.  When crowds of sick people began coming to the friary to see Salvator, the friars transferred him to Horta.  Again the sick flocked to ask his intercession; one person estimated that two thousand people a week came to see Salvator.  He told them to examine their consciences, to go to confession and to receive Holy Communion worthily.  He refused to pray for those who would not receive those sacraments.

The public attention given to Salvator was relentless.  The crowds would sometimes tear off pieces of his habit as relics.  Two years before his death, Salvator was moved again, this time to Cagliari on the island of Sardinia.  He died at Cagliari saying, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”  He was canonized in 1938.

Comment:

Medical science is now seeing more clearly the relation of some diseases to one’s emotional and spiritual life.  In Healing Life’s Hurts, Matthew and Dennis Linn report that sometimes people experience relief from illness only when they have decided to forgive others.  Salvator prayed that people might be healed, and many were. Surely not all diseases can be treated this way; medical help should not be abandoned.  But notice that Salvator urged his petitioners to reestablish their priorities in life before they asked for healing.

Quote:

“Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.” (Matthew 10:1).

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)

 

Т

    

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.

 

During the Preparation of the Gifts, the prayers of the priest has several changes, but the only change for the assembly is the addition of the word “Holy” to the response just before the Prayer over the Offerings.  Where we now say, “for our good and the good of all his Church,” the new text will say, “for our good and the good of all His Holy Church.

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

 

Т

 

 

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Prayer III

Read the explanations about contemplative prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?  Does this help your understanding of contemplative prayer?

How many paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are devoted to instructing us about prayer?  Have you we read these pages, and reflected on them?

Why do you think the Catholic Church has devoted this amount of space to publish the aforementioned section on prayer in the Catechism?

 

Т

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 20 & 21 of 26:

 

20.  The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels — local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.

Т

21.  On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.

Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.

Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the guidance of their respective council.  

“You May Walk On Water In The Future, But Now You Have To Go Under!” – Matthew 3:13-17†


 

Today in Catholic History:


    
†   1428 – Pope Martinus V declares Jacoba van Beierens (Duchess of Bavaria-Straubing, Countess of Hainaut and Holland from 1417 to 1432)  marriage invalid.
†   1431 – Judges’ investigations for the trial of Joan of Arc begin in Rouen, France, the seat of the English occupation government.
†   1522 – Adriaan F Boeyens elected only Dutch pope (Adrian VI – 1522-23)
†   1554 – Birth of Gregory XV, [Alessandro Ludovisi], pope (1621-23)
†   1856 – Birth of Adriaan Aškerc, Slavic priest/poet (Primoz Trubar) (d. 1912)
†  1902 – Birth of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, Spanish Catholic priest and founder of Opus Dei (d. 1975)
†   1958 – Birth of Mehmet Ali Ağca, Turkish attempted assassin of Pope John Paul II

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

 

 

 

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

 

 

 

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

  

This is a thirteen (13) part reflection on a letter from the SFO International Council website.  It is titled “An exhortation of the Church to the Secular Franciscan Order” by Benedetto Lino, OFS.  It can be read in full at http://www.ciofs.org/Y2009/a9ENrodelet.html

 (Continuation from Previous blog)

Part 03 of 13 Parts

 

“The Church expects from the unique Secular Franciscan Order great service to the cause of the Kingdom of God in the world today. She wishes your Order to be a model of organic, structural and charismatic union at all levels, in such a way as to present itself to the world as a “community of love” (Rule SFO 26). The Church expects you, Secular Franciscans, to give a bold and consistent witness of Christian and Franciscan life, with the aim of building a more fraternal and evangelical world and so bringing about the Kingdom of God.”  (John Paul II, Message to the General Chapter of the SFO, 22 November 2002)

“We expect, in short, this Fraternity to grow in the Church as a living body  based on communion, providing, in contemporary contexts, forms of social, cultural and spiritual commitment.” (Letter of Card. Rodé)

 

(Continued on next published blog)

From “An exhortation of the Church
to the Secular Franciscan Order”
A commentary on Cardinal Franc Rodé’s letter
By:
Benedetto Lino OFS
SFO International Council Website
http://www.ciofs.org/Y2009/a9ENrodelet.html

 

 

 

  

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ Baptism by John in the Jordan River, and the Spirit of God coming upon Him.

 

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  14 John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”  15 Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then he allowed him.  16 After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him.  17 And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  (NAB Matthew 3:13-17)

 

This Sunday marks a transition from the Christmas season to Ordinary Time.  What have we learned and experienced through these past 43 days of the Advent and Christmas Liturgical Seasons?    We learned that (1) before Jesus’ birth, Gabriel announced to Mary and to Joseph (individually) who Jesus would be.  At the nativity – – The Word of God’s human birth, – – the shepherds and the Magi (2) recognized Jesus as the true “Messiah and King of the Jews”.  And today, at His baptism, (3) God the Father proclaims publically that Jesus is His Son and inaugurates Jesus’ public mission on earth.

Today, we celebrate the start of Jesus’ public ministry.  The baptism of Jesus is the happening when Jesus is equipped by the Holy Spirit for His special role and ministry, and when His heavenly Father proclaimed Him to be His “Beloved” Son.

Matthew’s Gospel is the only account of the baptism of Jesus to include a dialogue between Jesus and John the Baptist.  The baptism which John performs at the Jordan River foreshadows our present day Catholic Rite of Baptism.  Why did Jesus, – – who is totally free of sin and divinely perfect, – – present Himself at the Jordan River for John to baptize Him?  Think about this for a little while; I’ll answer in just a bit.

John baptizes for repentance from sin and in accepting this baptism from him, Jesus unites Himself with all sinners – – even though He is without sin.   The conversation between John and Jesus is distinctive to Matthew’s Gospel.  This dialogue shows John the Baptist’s knowledge and understanding of Jesus’ divine superiority to him as well as to everyone on earth.  John recognized Jesus as the mighty “Messiah” who was to come and who will baptize with the Holy Spirit, as distinguished from his practice of baptizing only with water:

“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).

From the point of view of the 1st century Christian community, the Holy Spirit and fire were understood to be external signs of cleansing and strengthening believers.  This was experienced by the Apostles at Pentecost, fifty (50) days after Jesus’ Resurrection.  The early Christian community recognized John’s prophetic description in what Jesus would do, and which was experienced by the Apostles at the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. 

 “I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.  I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears?  For he is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye.  He will sit refining and purifying (silver), and he will purify the sons of Levi, Refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.” (Malachi 3:2-3)

I believe Jesus didn’t just show up like He made an appointment, arriving at a designated time to get baptized.  I am sure He arrived much earlier, maybe even days or weeks earlier.  Jesus listened, watched, conversed, and ate with John the Baptist (His cousin).  Jesus probably even watched people come and go, being baptized by John in the Jordan River.

Jesus overcomes John the Baptist’s reluctance to admit Jesus among the sinners whom he is baptizing.   Jesus says to John: “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”, referring to the “fulfillment” of messianic prophecies, and “righteousness” referring to proper conduct in agreement, compliance, and obedience with God’s will and plan for the salvation of not only the Jewish people, but also all peoples.  Jesus would explain this, or proclaim this, during His ministry when He taught:  

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,  for they will be satisfied.”  (Matthew 5:6)

But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33)

To fulfill all righteousness” meant Jesus had to submit – – to surrender – – to the God’s plan for the salvation of the human race.  This entailed Jesus being identified with the lowly of society: the sinners and the marginalized.  Thus, Jesus’ acceptance and participation in John’s baptism was appropriate and absolutely necessary, not for Him, but for us! 

Jesus allowed Himself to be counted among sinners.  Jesus submitted Himself entirely to his Father’s will.  Out of love He consented to this baptism for the remission of our sins.  In Jesus’ humility, obedience, and surrender, one can perceive a foreshadowing of the “baptism by fire” for the remission of our sins by His Passion and bloody death upon the Holy Tree some three years later.  Do you personally know, live, and show Jesus’ example of love, trust, and submissive obedience to God?

Today’s reading says, “the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him.”  I love the saying about the Old Testament living in the New, and the New Testament fulfilling the Old.  It is so true here in this reading, and in Isaiah:

 “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, Upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations.”  (Isaiah 42:1)

God the Father speaks directly to His people through Jesus and the Holy Spirit in Holy Scriptures, in both the first and second Testaments.  There is a distinct difference between Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels with regard to this particular reading.  In Matthew, God declares in a public statement that Jesus “is my Beloved Son”.  In Mark (and Luke), God proclaims directly to Jesus that He is His Beloved Son:

“And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”  (Mark 1:11)

God’s voice and message reflects several Old Testament prophesies.  Isaiah would prophesy:

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations.”  (Isaiah 42:1)

And David would proclaim:

 “I will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, “You are my son; today I am your father.”  (Psalm 2:7)

And earlier, Moses had written:

 “Then God said: ‘Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.’”  (Genesis 22:2)

Just imagine yourself standing on the river bank when God spoke to Jesus and the crowd.  What an experience that would have been.  Can you picture a loud booming voice while a pure white and beautiful dove descended upon Jesus and resting on Him gracefully? 

At that very moment, the people there actually “SAW” the Trinitarian Godhead in totality – – the Father (the voice), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit (the Dove) – and revealed to all!!  God showed Himself in a very unique, special, powerful, and “NEW” way.  The “Trinitarian Godhead” is something that not even the most faithful Jewish believer would have conceived as being possible.  God wanted to make it really clear to those present at the time that something new and awesome was about to happen in salvation history!

This same voice was heard out from the heavens is also saying the exact same thing to each of us, “This is my Beloved child, and I am well pleased!”  We are, in fact, members of God’s Royal Family!  We, who believe, are all children of God!

With God’s affirmation, Jesus was able to resist the temptations found in the next chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (40 days in the desert with temptations by Satan).  Also with God’s affirmation, Jesus began his public ministry with a “joy” of truly knowing His loving heavenly Father.   

For the sake of the joy that lay before Him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken His seat at the right of the throne of God.”  (Hebrew 12: 2)

The Holy Spirit was also present at His baptism when He entered into Jesus.  The Holy Spirit “anointed” Jesus for his public ministry – – which began at that very moment in the Jordan River.  This same Holy Spirit works not only in and through Jesus, but also in and through us.  Jesus IS the emanating source of the Holy Spirit for all the faithful then, now, and for all eternity.  (See Hebrews 12: 22-24)

At His baptism, the waters (of the river) were consecrated by the descent of the Holy Spirit into Jesus as He descended into the living and flowing waters of the Jordan River.  This action signified the beginning of a new creation in Jesus – the “Savior Christ”.   From the waters of Jesus’ baptism another manifestation, – – another “Epiphany”, – – becomes apparent!  (Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Son of David and the future suffering servant of Isaiah.)

Jesus Christ’s baptism ushered in His public mission on earth.  At our baptism, we too are “anointed” with consecrated water, and become a new creation with and in God.  In a similar way to Jesus, our baptism inaugurates our mission as Catholics.   At our baptism, the exact same Holy Spirit came to each individual one of us, just as He did with Jesus Christ! 

At our baptism, we were gifted by God!  No matter who we are, how old we happen to be, how healthy or sick we are, how rich or poor we are, how smart or “dumb” we are, we can do something with the gifts – – be it a time, talent, and/or treasure – -that God has given us.

Look at Jesus’ humble attitude and love for all creation.  Ask the Holy Spirit to form and build this same attitude in your heart and soul.  If you do, heaven may open up for you as well; and you may actually “hear” or “experience” God talking to or in you.  There is a mission or task that God has anointed you to initiate and complete.  (So do it!)  

Is the Holy Spirit living in you and emanating through you?   Do you radiate Jesus’ attitude, love, and joy to those around you?  God wants His love, joy, and truth to emanate in and through us so that others may see, hear, and experience the goodness, truth, and beauty of God’s message and meaning of salvation. 

Through the Holy Spirit entering into us in the Sacrament of Baptism, we can support each other on our Catholic journey of faith by “affirming” the importance of each other not only in our eyes – – but also in God’s eyes as well!  Through our baptism we too were made children of God along with Jesus Christ!  Through our baptism, we too can resist temptations, and share in Christ’s mission!

 

Saint Francis’ Prayer Before the Crucifix
 

 

“Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me
true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.  Amen.” 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Adrian of Canterbury (d. 710)

 

Though St. Adrian turned down a papal request to become Archbishop of Canterbury, England, Pope St. Vitalian accepted the rejection on the condition that Adrian serve as the Holy Father’s assistant and adviser. Adrian accepted, but ended up spending most of his life and doing most of his work in Canterbury.

Born in Africa, Adrian was serving as an abbot in Italy when the new Archbishop of Canterbury appointed him abbot of the monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul in Canterbury. Thanks to his leadership skills, the facility became one of the most important centers of learning. The school attracted many outstanding scholars from far and wide and produced numerous future bishops and archbishops. Students reportedly learned Greek and Latin and spoke Latin as well as their own native languages.

Adrian taught at the school for 40 years. He died there, probably in the year 710, and was buried in the monastery. Several hundred years later, when reconstruction was being done, Adrian’s body was discovered in an incorrupt state. As word spread, people flocked to his tomb, which became famous for miracles. Rumor had it that young schoolboys in trouble with their masters made regular visits there.

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)

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 9 & 10 of 26: 

9.  The Virgin Mary, humble servant of the Lord, was open to His every word and call.  She was embraced by Francis with indescribable love and declared the protectress and advocate of his family.  The Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.

 

 

10.  United themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed His will into the Father’s hands, let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to their various circumstances of life. Let them also follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and persecutions.

“Do You Need a ‘Green Card’ for Heaven” – Phil 3:20-4:1


A large earthquake struck in Haiti 47 days ago, and an even larger one exploded in Chile yesterday.  Many people have died, or are now homeless and hurt physically and/or mentally.  Let us pray that here spirit has not been shaken as well.  They, and all of us, need the divine intervention of God at this time of trial.  Please remember that all happens for a purpose.  We may not ever know the purpose, while on this earth; there is still one, and it will be revealed to us when God chooses.
  

Our citizenship in heaven, and the ticket on how to get there, is the subject of my reflection today.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Truths that little children have learned:
  

You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk!
 
Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts!
 
The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandma’s lap!

  

Today’s Meditation:

 

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.  NAB Phil 3:20-4:1)

 

Citizenship for the Christians of Philippi was the colony of heaven, just as Philippi was a colony of Rome. Christians are already enrolled as citizens of heaven, through the grace of God.  Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God’s.”  We have to live as Jesus showed us how to live in this world, in order to attain our entrance to His world of heaven.

Our mortal bodies cannot enter the final glory without a transformation.  Most of us will need to go through the heavenly divine “carwash” of purgatory.  Many non-Catholics (and sadly some Catholics) do not believe in purgatory, because the word itself is not written in the bible.  To them, I say show me the word “Armageddon.”  What all of us can agree on, is that the risen Christ is our example for how to live a true Christian life. 

The hope Paul expresses in these few but powerful sentences from this letter, involves the final coming of Christ, and NOT what was already attained.  Our future with Him in heaven, is what we live for today.  It is never to late to say yes to God, and to start living a “perfect” life. 

“Lord, I will keep this short.  Please help me to perfection through you.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Hilary, Pope
 

Pope from 461-468; and guardian of Church unity.  He was born in Sardinia, Italy, and was a papal legate to the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449, barely escaping with his life from this affair.  Hilary was used by Pope St. Leo I the Great on many assignments.  When Leo died, Hilary was elected pope and consecrated on November 19, 461.  He worked diligently to strengthen the Church in France and Spain, calling councils in 462 and 465.  Hilary also rebuilt many Roman churches and erected the chapel of St. John Lateran.  He also publicly rebuked Emperor Anthemius in St. Peter’s for supporting the Macedonian heresy and sent a decree to the Eastern bishops validating the decisions of the General Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon.  Hilary consolidated the Church in Sandi, Africa, and Gaul.  He died in Rome on February 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: …  

 

“I Have the Secret for Sinning!” – 1 Jn 2: 1-2


Fifty years ago today, the “Music Died!”   Buddy Holly, Ricky Valence, and the “Big Bopper” died in a plane crash.  My kids did not know who any of these great performers were!  I feel so old.

Today’s reflection is about sin, and how we can deal with it. 

Bible Study

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

A quarrel is like buttermilk: once it’s out of the churn, the more you shake it, the more sour it grows. — Irish Proverb

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.   (NAB 1 Jn 2: 1-2)

 

I may consider this the most important verse I have read in the bible so far.  I am a sinner, and I know of no one alive that is not a sinner.  Both of my parents were sin free, but have left this earthly presence to be with God in heaven?!  OK; maybe not sin free, but close to it!

Some people, including me, have used the term “human nature” when it comes to our tendency to sin.  This statement is wrong.  Our human nature was to be without sin, and our bodies were to be immortal.  Due to the sin that occurred in the Garden of Eden, known now as original sin, we lost our immortality.  We also became susceptible to the urges of the devil in the desires of body, vanity, and wealth.

God obviously loves his creations.  He did not destroy the third of His angels that mutinied, but only evicted them from heaven.  After the devil corrupted  Adam and Eve, he still did not destroy the prince of darkness, but created obstacles for them, and made man’s will capable and strong enough to defeat the devil.

Adam and Eve were not immune from Gods wrath with regards to disobedience.  Because of their sin, they also were evicted from their home, but given the knowledge and means to live a mortal life.  God also decided to come to earth in human form, to redeem us from sin, and to give us hope for our eternal future.

Jesus did not come for another 5000+ years after Adam and Eve’s incident.  Why did God wait so long?  Only He knows for sure: anything else is speculation.  God does not handle time the way we do.  I know somewhere in the bible is the phrase something like, “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.”  Eternity has no start or end time, and neither do we!

What I do know is this:

Jesus was born to a virgin free of sin;
He came to save us from original sin;
He was scourged, and crucified on the cross for our sins;
He died and was burried;
and on the third day He rose from the grave and ascended to heaven.

Our slates our cleaned if we believe in Jesus Christ as our advocate and savior from sin.  We still have tendencies to sin, but we also have the capabilities to ask for forgiveness.  God loves us so much that He will forgive us of anything if only we ask!

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #3:

 

The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.