Tag Archives: Egypt

♫“We’re Off To See the Desert, the Wonderful Desert of Egypt!”♫ – Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23†


 

 

Today is “Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph”

 

 

 

73 Days till Ash Wednesday and the Start of the Lenten Season!

& only 364 days till Christmas
I had too – sorry (kinda)!

            

Today in Catholic History:


    
†   268 – Death of Dionysius, Pope/saint
†   418 – St Zosimus ends his reign as Catholic Pope with his death
†   795 – St Leo III begins his reign as Catholic Pope with his death
†   1350 – Death of Jean de Marigny, French bishop
†   1574 – Death of Charles of Guise, French cardinal (b. 1524)
†   1751 – Birth of Clement Hofbauer, Austrian hermit, missionary, and patron saint of Vienna; known as the second founder of the Redemptorist Congregation (d. 1820)
†   1862 – Four nuns serving as volunteer nurses on board USS Red Rover are the first female nurses on a U.S. Navy hospital ship.
†   1948 – Cardinal Mindszenty (March 29, 1892—May 6, 1975) is arrested in Hungary and accused of treason and conspiracy.
†   St. Stephen’s Day, a public holiday in Alsace, Austria, Catalonia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Ireland.
†   Synaxis of Theotokos and feast of St. Joseph, King and Prophet David and St. James the Just (Orthodox Christianity).
†   The first of the twelve days of Christmas in Western Christianity.

 (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:

 

Franciscans are called not only to change themselves but also to be agents of change in the larger community.

Francis began his conversion in the Church of San Damiano, when he heard the crucifix challenge him, ‘Francis, repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin.’  Throughout the course of his life, he realized that the ‘house’ that was in need of repair was his own contemporary society and Church.  Today Franciscans are still called to evangelize by their example, both in society and in the Church.  Following the examples of those who have gone before us, we accomplish this task in a spirit of service and humility, giving ‘testimony in word and work that there is no all-powerful one but the Lord’ – (Letter to the Whole Order, 9).

(From the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) website:
http://www.franciscanaction.org)

 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about God telling Joseph in a dream to flee Israel, and his going to Egypt in order to protect Jesus from King Herod the Great.

  

13 When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”  14 Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.  15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”  19 When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”  21 He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.  22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there.  And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.  23 He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”   (NAB Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23)

 

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  Joseph was given a unique task as the guardian and protector of Mary and Jesus.  But as a Dominican Priest (unknown to me) said of their escape and journey to Egypt with the infant Jesus, “What they guarded, guarded them.”  This Gospel reading encourages us to consider Jesus’ step-father’s protection of his “adopted” child who was brought forth into this world – and immediately placed in the face of danger from a cruel and ruthless King.  Just as happened with the announcement of Jesus’ birth (the Annunciation of Joseph), the archangel Gabriel appears to Joseph in yet another dream.  Gabriel warns Joseph of Herod’s plan to kill the infant Jesus if he can find Him.  Joseph follows Gabriel’s command and escapes with Jesus and Mary, taking flight to Egypt some 250 (or so) miles away.  They only return to their homeland after receiving word in yet still another dream telling him that it was now safe to do so.

The “Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” has always been a part of the Christmas season liturgical celebrations for as long as I can remember.  As such, we should look at today’s Gospel about the “Holy Family” in the context of what Holy Scripture tells us about Jesus’ birth.   Today’s reading directly follows the story of the Magi’s visit, and continues with Joseph (and not Mary) as the primary character in Matthew’s infancy narrative story.  So, what can we learn from the example, witness, and faith of Joseph?

Among several themes in Matthew’s infancy story, Jesus being the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in regards to the “Messiah” is paramount.  In Matthew’s approach to chronicling the Holy Family’s “flight to Egypt” story, he is also figuratively recalling, and renewing, the exodus story of Moses found in the Book of Exodus.

Traditions about Moses applies to the child Jesus in the in today’s reading presented here, though the vital or essential  focus of the Old Testament “Biblical typology” – – (a method of biblical interpretation wherein an element or verse found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament) – – is not Moses, but instead on “Israel” itself.

Other than because of being told to do so by the Archangel Gabriel, why does the Holy Family “flee to Egypt”?  Well, I can think of two.   Egypt was known as the “long-established” area of sanctuary and a safe haven for anyone escaping from danger in Palestine.  Examples in Old Testament Scripture can be found in the books of 1 Kings and Jeremiah:

“When Solomon tried to have Jeroboam killed for his rebellion, he escaped to King Shishak, in Egypt, where he remained until Solomon’s death.”  (1 Kings 11:40)

“When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and princes were informed of his words, the king sought to kill him. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt.”  (Jeremiah 26:21)

 However, the primary reason why the Holy Family is told to go to Egypt is because Jesus (and us) must relive and experience again the “Exodus” incident of Israel.  Remember, the Old Testament lives in the New Testament, and the New Testament fulfills the Old (something a lot of Catholics either forgot or was never taught).  The fulfillment reference in verse fifteen (15) is taken directly from Hosea 11:1; the basic experience of salvation, the exodus from Egyptian bondage.

“When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1)

The nation of Israel, God’s “chosen son”, was called out of Egypt at the time of the Great Exodus through Moses.  Jesus, the true “Son of God”, was similarly called out of that same Egypt in a “NEW” Exodus: a new migration.  The father-son relationship that exists (still today) between God and the nation of Israel was taken to a far higher and more divine level of importance with the relationship of God to Jesus – – (His Only Son) – – who even still today represents the beginning of the return, and the renewal of all Israel for all times (The Alpha and Omega).

 “Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  (Matthew 19:28)

 “Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”  (Matthew 21:43)

Here the “son” is not a nation adopted as a “son of God,” – – but the child Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit in a unique and especially divine relationship to and with God.  Jesus is a son of David, and of Abraham, and of Mary, and of Joseph, BUT, – – above all, – – is THE Only Son of God!  Solely in Jesus Christ, the history, the people, and the institutions of all Israel (of all faithful followers)are concentrated and condensed, taking aim and beginning on the next (and final) era of salvation.  The flight of the infant Jesus with the Holy Family is a new exodus – – with a new and greater Moses found only in Jesus Christ.

In Exodus 2:15, Moses fled from Egypt because the Pharaoh sought to kill him.

“Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put him to death.  But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian.”  (Exodus 2:15)

In Exodus 4:19, He was told by God to return to Egypt, ‘for all the men who sought your life are dead.’

“In Midian the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go back to Egypt, for all the men who sought your life are dead.’”  (Exodus 4:19)

 

After Herod (the Great’s) death, his kingdom was divided between his three sons.  With the agreement of the Roman Emperor Augustus, “Archelaus” received about half of his father’s kingdom which included Samaria, Edom, and Judea.   He had been given the titleethnarch” (a national leader of a province) and named as Herod the Great’s successor.  His reign was from 4 B.C. to 6 A.D., with him dying about 18 A.D.

His brothers “Antipas” and “Philip II” were given the lesser titles of “tetrarchs” (similar to a governor).  Antipas ruled over Galilee (north of Jerusalem) where Jesus was brought up and carried out most of His public ministry.  Antipas also had charge over the east bank of the Jordan River.  Philip II ruled over the “Golan Heights” area northeast of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis.

 

The Holy Family did not want to be around the ruthless Herod Archelaus in Judea/Samaria, so when they settled in Galilee (the area ruled by Antipas), they set up their household in a small, obscure, and easily unnoticed village of about 200 people, called Nazareth.    

Jesus “shall be called a ‘Nazorean’”.  The tradition of Jesus’ residence of youth is firmly established by scholars as being in the town of “Nazareth.”  His public ministry “headquarters” though (at least His human one on earth) was in the seaside town of Capernaum instead.  In recently watching a special on EWTN, I learned that his headquarters was actually in a “back room” of the Apostle John’s (and John’s mother) home.  Jesus was literally a “back room” Prophet-Priest-King- Savior!! (Doesn’t that little tidbit just put a smile on your face?)

Matthew sees the quaint town of “Nazareth” as being in synchronization with God’s plan, though Nazareth is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament – even once.  Nor can any such prophecy regarding Nazareth be found in the Old Testament either.  Matthew may have perhaps inserted this little “detail of residence” here in his Gospel, to provoke his readers to consider several possibilities or elements:

T   First, simply just as a reference to a little town that just so happens to have never been mentioned in the Old Testament (though it had existed since at least the 7th century B.C.), or,

T   As a reference to the Messiah as the “branch” (neser) found in Isaiah 11:1, or finally as,

T   A reference to Jesus as a “nazir”, a “consecrated person”, in the same line as that of Samson and Samuel.

The seemingly vague expression “through the prophets” (verse 23) may be due to a connection Matthew saw between Nazareth and other texts having words remotely similar to the name of “Nazareth”.  In Isaiah 11:1, the future “Davidic king” will be “a bud”, and that this bud will blossom from the “root of Jesse.” 

“But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”  (Isaiah 11:1)

The connection between “Nazareth” and Isaiah’s verse above is that “neser” (pronounced nay-tser) is the Hebrew word for branch or sprout.   It could sound like the name Nazareth – – if said fast, and with a ton of crackers in your mouth – – I guess.   Matthew saw the connection anyhow (even if I don’t).  Isaiah’s prophecy about the sprout (neser) could definitely be interpreted to mean that Jesus the “Messiah” would have a simple and humble beginning.   

To Matthew the very word “neser” from Isaiah’s prophecy finds its true and totally full meaning and realization in Jesus being a “Nazarene”.  Read the rest of Isaiah 11, to its end, for further proof of this fullness and realization.  To paraphrase Isaiah 11, this lowly “Nazarene” is prophesized to become a great and righteous King, empowered by the Holy Spirit, yet ruling in a simple and peaceful way of, and with, LOVE! 

 

In Judges 13:5 and 7, the future deliverer of Israel will be one who is consecrated (a “nazir”) to God.

“As for the son you will conceive and bear, no razor shall touch his head, for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.  It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines.  But he said to me, ‘You will be with child and will bear a son.  So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.  For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb, until the day of his death.’”  (Judges 13:5, 7)

A Nazirite (an alternative spelling is “Nazarite”), from the Hebrew word, “nazir” means “consecrated”.  The term refers to individuals who consecrated their lives to God; taking ascetic vows (someone who is self-denying and lives with minimal material comforts).  In taking these vows, it required of them to abstain from wine, refrain from cutting their hair, and avoiding any contact with the dead, graves, and tombs in any manner (see Numbers 6:1-21).  Three well known “Nazirites” found in Holy Scripture include Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist, (and some say perhaps Jesus himself).  In taking Nazirite vows, Jesus could be called a “Nazarene”, which may be derived from the word “Nazirite” rather than “Nazareth”. 

I see “nazir” as people who would be very strong, very direct, and very demanding in stature and speech – – such as the aforementioned Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist.  Though the word nazir is closer to the word Nazareth than neser (for me anyway), I am having some difficulty seeing Jesus (even though He was consecrated to God’s service) in an “expectedly direct” role of this type.  Remember Jesus broke the mold for being unconventional in His abilities, ways, and nature.

In reality, the Holy Family probably settled in Nazareth because Joseph could find abundant work in the neighboring city of Sepphoris (about 4 miles from Nazareth), which Herod Antipas was rebuilding as his capitol at the time.  I have been given unconfirmed information that Herod Antipas was revitalizing Sepphoris – using “tax increment financing funds” (TIFF’s) to build many inns, restaurants, and Wal-marts.  It seems Antipas liked to dabble in cooking and he was well known for his “Caesar” salads & “Antipas-tas”!

 

It should also be realized that today’s reading from Mass skips over, – – totally omits – – verses 16, 17, and 18, that relates Herod the Great’s order for the massacre of the “Holy Innocents”, the infant boys (2 years of age and under) living in and around Bethlehem around the time of Jesus’ birth.  This sad event will be remembered in the Catholic Church on the “Feast of the Holy Innocents” occurring this year on Tuesday, December 28 (in just two days).

 

Today’s Mass readings should remind all of us of the complex reality and yet simple truth of Jesus’ human birth.  While the story of the Magi’s visit will be recalled at Masses on the “Feast of the Epiphany” (Sunday, January 2nd), our Christmas celebration is tempered by recognizing the fact that not everyone in Jesus’ time period (and sadly still today – I believe) received Christ’s birth with joy,celebration, respect, or submission.  

Herod’s profound greed, jealousy, and hatred fully contrasts with Joseph’s humble generosity, trust, and love for God, as well as for his obedience to God’s words relayed to him by Gabriel – the archangel messenger.  The Holy Family’s escape to Egypt – – and from the massacre that Jesus is saved from in his infancy – – could, and should, remind us that struggles and sacrifices are often required as part of the preparation for God’s salvation.  If God (in the second person of the Godhead, and divinely human nature of Jesus) is not immune from trials, persecutions, and sufferings, why do we think we should be?!

 Joseph courageously and valiantly sets aside his own preconceived plans when God called him to “get away – escape now”.  Without hesitation or question, he leaves his familiar surroundings and home lands: his home, friends and relatives.  Joseph also left behind his trade and business, his self-assured security in a livelihood of known work.  He leaves all of this, solely in order to pursue a hidden mission that God Himself entrusted to Joseph: becoming the “guardian” of the long awaited newborn King and “Messiah”!  

 

The infancy narrative, – – the birth story of Jesus Christ, – – comes to an end here.  After this Gospel reading, Joseph simply disappears, never to be seen or mentioned again.  Joseph is the only “main character” in Holy Scripture (that I know) who does not actually speak a single word in the entire Bible.  Yet he still makes his relationship, his love, his trust, and his dynamic obedience to God’s plan known without speaking “that single” word.  St. Francis most certainly had to love Joseph, for St. Joseph “preached” the Gospel without using any words!  God bless St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

Do you want to know something uniquely special?  God has a specific goal, plan, and task for each one of us!  With your individual action plan, God also gives you the grace and the assurance of His guidance and His loving trust and support.  Do you trust God’s plan for your life?  Are you willing to sacrifice your own private and/or public plans for God’s plan?  Are you willing to give God your total faith, trust, and service (Your ALL) to follow whatever mission or task He gives to you, without hesitation or questioning

On this beautiful Sunday, it is quite apropos that we are asked to linger for a short time and think about the Holy Family, – – and to do this only one day after Jesus’ birth celebration.  Today, we reflect on how Joseph protected his step-son, Jesus, from imminent danger by relocating the Holy Family to Egypt; and doing so in absolute and trusting obedience to God’s word.  

Using the “Holy Family” as a perfect model for all families, we should use this feast day to recall the responsibility each family member has for each other in the family as a whole, and for your responsibility to contribute to the “good” and “needs” of the family individually.  Use today’s message in the Gospel reading as a way to recommit yourself to each other in your immediate and extended families.  After all, to be present is the greatest “Present” one can give to anyone else.

 

A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

“Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.  Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.  Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake.   Amen.”

http://www.prayerguide.org.uk/christmas.htm

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Stephen (d. 36 A.D.?)

 

All we know of Stephen is found in Acts of the Apostles, chapters Six and Seven.  It is enough to tell us what kind of man he was:

At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenist (Greek-speaking) Christians complained about the Hebrew-speaking Christians, saying that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.  So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.  Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit…. (Acts 6:1-5)

Acts says that Stephen was a man filled with grace and power, who worked great wonders among the people.  Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen but proved no match for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke.  They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy against him.  He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin.

In his speech, Stephen recalled God’s guidance through Israel’s history, as well as Israel’s idolatry and disobedience.  He then claimed that his persecutors were showing this same spirit.  “[Y]ou always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors” (Acts 7:51b).

His speech brought anger from the crowd.  “But [Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God….’  They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him…. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…. Lord, do not hold this sin against them’” (Acts 7:55-56, 58a, 59, 60b).

Comment:

Stephen died as Jesus did: falsely accused, brought to unjust condemnation because he spoke the truth fearlessly.  He died with his eyes trustfully fixed on God, and with a prayer of forgiveness on his lips.  A “happy” death is one that finds us in the same spirit, whether our dying is as quiet as Joseph’s or as violent as Stephen’s: dying with courage, total trust and forgiving love.

Patron Saint of: Bricklayers; Deacons; Hungary

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 25 & 26 of 26:

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 


 

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“Don’t Piss-Off God” – Ex 32: 7-10†


I am wearing shorts today, for the first time this year.  Spring is near.  That’s the good part; now the bad part: the damn mocking bird outside my bedroom window every morning.  I’ve tried the “St. Francis thing of asking it to stop singing; alas without success.  Maybe its now time to get my BB gun out! 
 

Today’s reflection is on God’s wrath to those that break their covenant with Him!

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

With that, the LORD said to Moses, “Go down at once to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved.  They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’  I see how stiff-necked this people is,” continued the LORD to Moses.  “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.” (NAB Ex 32: 7-10)

 

No one is happy when mom is not happy!  How much worse can it be, when the only entity greater than “mom,” is mad.  Making God angry will have some serious consequences associated with it.  Time-out for God is for these people,  forty years in a barren desert.  I love the beach, but forty years of sand in your pants can get old. 

Moses was up in the mountain for forty days.  The people at the base of the mountain had no idea what was happening for these many days without Moses.  They probably thought that Moses had abandoned them, or that he even died on the mountain. 

Have you noticed that forty days is associated with a times of trial?  Moses forty days in the mountain; Jesus in the desert for forty days with the devil; raining for forty days and nights with the great flood; and the Philistine giant tempting the Israelite army twice daily for forty days prior to fighting David, just to name a few. 

Did the Israelites turn away from God?  Making a molten calf seems to support this; or does it?  Maybe the golden calf was intended as an image, and not a false god.  The calf may have represented the LORD himself, with his strength being symbolized by the strength of a young bull.  Whatever the case, the Israelites had been forbidden to represent the Lord under any visible form (See Exodus 20:4). 

God had a covenant with the Israelites.  A covenant is like a contract, but it has a stronger bond that is without any end.  God was pissed-off.  He had destroyed human society several times in the bible: the great flood, Sodom, Gomorrah.  What could stop Him from burning everything down, and starting over? 

Moses does!  Moses will go on to plead for His people.  In a sense, He saves the Israelite nation, by coming back into a true relationship with God.  They take their “time-out,” and are eventually given a great place to make as their homeland.  It only took a short time in the relative scheme of things with God.  They passed their test! 

“Lord God, please help me on my journey to your homeland; heaven.  Please stay with me on my journey.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Salvator of Horta

  

Saint Salvator of Horta, d. 1567. Franciscan confessor. Born at Santa Colomba, Gerona, Spain, he was orphaned as a child and became a shoemaker before joining the Franciscans in Barcelona as a lay brother. He worked for many years as a humble cook in the friary of Horta, near Tortosa, dying at the friary of Caliari, Sardinia. During his life, he was known for his many and severe austerities and his miracles. He was canonized in 1938.

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

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #18:

 

Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High,” and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.

“Hey, Don’t Kill the Messenger; Yet!!” – Lk 4:24-30†


What a beautiful weekend.  Our SFO Fraternity had its monthly meeting yesterday, and I think it was one of the best meetings we have had since I started.  I truly love my SFO brothers and sisters.  I am learning so much, every time I am with them. 
 

Today I reflect on Jesus’ being chased out of His hometown. 

"Bible Study"

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt. — George Sewell

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

And Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.  Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land.  It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.  Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.  They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed through the midst of them and went away.  (NAB Lk 4:24-30)

  

The references to Elijah and Elisha serves a couple of purposes in this gospel reading: they emphasize a portrait of Jesus as a prophet similar to Elijah and Elisha, in that they all help to explain why the initial admiration of the people turns to rejection.  And it also provides the scriptural justification for the future Christian mission to the Gentiles, after His ascension to heaven.  The widow of Zarephath, in the land of Sidon; and Naaman the Syrian are non-Israelites, and the object of the two prophet’s (Elijah and Elisha) ministries.

Elijah and Elisha were rejected prophets.  Now so is Jesus, in the town of His youth.  How dejected I would be if chased out of my neighborhood, out of fear of life and limb, from the people that know me best!  Seems like a cruel joke of hypocrisy.

What this gospel reading does show, is Gods boundless compassion, as He continues to send prophets to a rebellious people, both in the Old and in the New Covenants.

There is a theme between the three: the prophets, the chosen people of God, and God himself.  This theme usually starts with rebellion, and possibly even the killing of a prophet.  Then a punishment ensues, most often in the form of captivity or exile.  God sends new prophets to His people to show mercy, and to encourage them during their time of trial.  They sin again and reject the new prophets, and then the cycle repeats, until His people finally get their acts together; for a while.  Then the theme repeats itself again, over and over.

Realizing this, the rejection to Jesus is thankfully not Gods final answer to Israel.  Jesus continues His journey on earth, for our salvation, and according to Gods plan for our redemption.  Jesus’ escape by literally walking unharmed, through the center of the angry mob, points ahead to His victory over sin, for us on Easter Sunday.

“Lord, I trust you with all my heart and soul.  I never wish to reject You.  Please be with me always.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. John of God

 

At eight years old, John heard a visiting priest speak of adventures that were waiting in the age of 1503, with new worlds being opened up. That very night he ran away from home to travel with the priest and never saw his parents again. They begged their way from village to village until John fell sick. The man who nursed him back to health, the manager of a large estate, adopted John. John worked as a shepherd in the mountains until he was 27. Feeling pressure to marry the manager’s daughter, whom he loved as a sister, John took off to join the Spanish army in the war against France. As a soldier, he was hardly a model of holiness, taking part in the gambling, drinking, and pillaging that his comrades enjoyed. One day, he was thrown from a stolen horse near French lines. Frightened that he would be captured or killed, he reviewed his life and vowed impulsively to make a change.

When he returned he kept his spur of the moment vow, made a confession, and immediately changed his life. He begged his way back to his foster-home where he worked as a shepherd until he heard of a new war with Moslems invading Europe. Off he went but after the war was over, he decided to try to find his real parents. To his grief he discovered both had died in his absence.

As a shepherd he had plenty of time to contemplate what God might want of his life. A priest advised him to leave for Spain at once. In Spain he spent his days unloading ship cargoes and his nights visiting churches and reading spiritual books. A vision at age 41 brought him to Granada where he sold books from a little shop. (For this reason he is patron saint of booksellers and printers.)

After hearing a sermon from the famous John of Avila on repentance, John rushed back to his shop, tore up any secular books he had, gave away all his religious books and all his money. Clothes torn and weeping, he was the target of insults, jokes, and even stones and mud from the townspeople and their children.

Friends took the distraught John to the Royal Hospital where he was interned with the lunatics. John of Avila came to visit him there and told him his penance had gone on long enough — forty days, the same amount as the Lord’s suffering the desert — and had John moved to a better part of the hospital.

John of God could never see suffering without trying to do something about it. And now that he was free to move, although still a patient, he immediately got up and began to help the other sick people around him. The hospital was glad to have his unpaid nursing help and were not happy to release him, when one day he walked in to announce he was going to start his own hospital.

At night he took what little money he earned and brought food and comfort to the poor living in abandoned buildings and under bridges. Thus his first hospital was the streets of Granada.

Within an hour after seeing a sign in a window saying “House to let for lodging of the poor” he had rented the house in order to move his nursing indoors. Once there he cleaned them, dressed their wounds, and mended their clothes at night while he prayed.

When he was able to move his hospital to an old Carmelite monastery, he opened a homeless shelter in the monastery hall. Immediately critics tried to close him down saying he was pampering troublemakers. His answer to this criticism always was that he knew of only one bad character in the hospital and that was himself.

His impulsive wish to help saved many people in one emergency. The alarm went out that the Royal Hospital was on fire. He rushed into the blazing building and carried or led the patients out. When all the patients were rescued, he started throwing blankets, sheets, and mattresses out the windows. At that point a cannon was brought to destroy the burning part of the building in order to save the rest. John stopped them, ran up the roof, and separated the burning portion with an axe. He succeeded, but fell through the burning roof. All thought they had lost their hero until John of God appeared miraculously out of smoke. (For this reason, John of God is patron saint of firefighters.)

John was ill himself when he heard that a flood was bringing precious driftwood near the town. He jumped out of bed to gather the wood from the raging river. Then when one of his companions fell into the river, John without thought for his illness or safety jumped in after him. He failed to save the boy and caught pneumonia. He died on March 8, his fifty-fifth birthday, from the same impulsive love that had guided his whole life.

John of God is patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters and is considered the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers.  Feast day is March 8.

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

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #8:

 

As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do.  Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist. Let them join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ.

“Keep Your Friends Close, & Your Enemies Closer!” – Mt 5:43-48


 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Truths that little children have learned:

You can’t trust dogs to watch your food!
Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair!
Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time!

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?  So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NAB Mt 5:43-48)

  

Did you notice this series of verses left out the end of the quote from the first sentence.  There was no “as yourself” at the end of the quotation.  There is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy.  The “neighbor” of this “love” commandment was understood as one’s fellow countryman.  Both in the Old Testament, and in the Qumran (1QS 9:21), hatred of evil persons is assumed to be permitted and all right.  Jesus extends the love commandment to the enemy, and the persecutor.  As children of God, we must imitate the example of the Jesus.  Christianity is purposely not aggressive by nature and intent.  Aggression displayed is transformed into a strategy of winning through the wisdom of love.

 Jesus distinguishes between earthly rewards, and Godly rewards.   The tax collectors were Jews of the region, who were engaged in the collection of indirect taxes such as tolls and customs.  Such tax collectors paid a fixed amount of money for the right to collect customs duties within their districts.  Whatever they collected above this amount was profit to them.  The abuse of extortion was widespread among tax collectors. Hence, tax collectors were regarded as sinners and outcasts of society, and were disgraced, along with their families.  Tax collectors were a symbol of low morality, being often associated with extortion and collaborating in the Roman occupation of Palestine.  Tax collectors were hated publicly, verbally, and sometimes violently.  It would have been difficult to be hated more than a tax collector.  Jesus ate with tax collectors frequently, during His ministry.  He instructs that loving those that hate you, increases God’s love for you.  Loving our enemies is a must for all Christians.  Remember, all people are God’s creation, and we should see Jesus in everyone we meet.  If you don’t see Jesus in everyone,  get your vision checked in the confessional, and at mass.

Jesus’ disciples must not be content with the usual standards of conduct in society.  In the time of Jesus, the “greeting” mentioned above, was a prayer of blessing on the one greeted.  In the last sentence of this reading, the word “perfect” was used.  In the gospels this word occurs only in Matthew; here and in Matthew 19:21.  In Luke’s gospel, the parallel verse (Luke 6:36) demands that the disciples be merciful.  The idea of perfection for the Jews of that time, was a man who observed the whole law without exception.  We need to transform ourselves to be like Christ, and follow His whole laws.  The Franciscans’ have a saying: “commit yourself to daily conversion.”

“Lord, I love you above all.  Help me to love all others as much as I love you.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Franciscan Saint of the Day: Bl. Sebastian of Aparicio

 

Sebastian lived from 1502 to 1600, and he was a bridge builder mostly in Mexico. At age 72, he distributed all he had among the poor and entered the Franciscans as a brother. He is known as the “Angel of Mexico” and is the patron of travelers.

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

 

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

 

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

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

“Why We Need a Sign; or Do We?!” – Mk 8:11-13


Monday morning, and I am up earlier than normal.  The cats, one dog and I have the quiet house to ourselves (for a few minutes).  I think I’ll cherish the moments.

  

On this day, in the year 1764, St. Louis was founded as a French fur-trading post.  I love history, but if my children ever read this blog: “No, I was not there, and I did not help at the trading post!”

  

Today is a discussion about the Pharisees, and signs of faith.  Thanks for being with me on my journey of finding the truth in the Bible.  If you haven’t, please put my blog on your favorites list.  God Bless. 

"Bible Study"

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched – they must be felt with the heart ~ Helen Keller

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.  He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”  Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.  (NAB Mk 8:11-13)

  

The Pharisees were one of the three major religious groups of Judaism at the time of Jesus.  They were often the most vocal and influential of the three.   The name “Pharisee” is translated from Hebrew to mean “the separated ones;”  and were probably the most bitter and deadly, of Jesus’ opponents, and the message He was giving to all that listened to Him. 

The Pharisees meant to obey God, but eventually they became so devoted and extreme in “The Law,” and all that they added to it, instead of the meaning and intent of the law.  They could not recognize the Messiah when He was in their midst.  They saw His miracles.  They heard His words, and His teachings.  But instead of receiving it with joy, they did all that they could to stop Him. Eventually, they plotted to get Him killed because He claimed to be the Son of God. 

What kind of sign did they expect to see in order to change their preconceived notion of  God’s return.  By history, training, and culture, the Pharisees had a hard time thinking outside the box.  They would make great politicians today!  The Pharisees believed that Jesus’ miracles were not satisfactory in proving the arrival of God’s kingdom.  There boldness and ignorance compares to the request of the crowd, in John 6:30-31, for a sign: “So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?  Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”   

Jesus’ angry and frustrated response shows that a sign, “by demand”, will not be tolerated or provided.  In  Numbers 14:11, 22, it is written, “And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? How long will they refuse to believe in me, despite all the signs I have performed among them?  All the men who have seen my glory and the signs I worked in Egypt and in the desert, and who nevertheless have put me to the test ten times already and have failed to heed my voice.” 

We need to learn from our mistakes.  Limiting ourselves to a narrow scope of preconceived ideas about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit may limit our ability to see the arrival of Jesus, and thus be left out of his majestic vision. 

“Lord, keep my eyes open wide, looking for your return with great attention.   Do not allow me to have preconceived ideas of the future with you.  I know this is a mystery, and as with any gift, the best part is the discovery.  Amen” 

  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Franciscan Saint of the Day: Transfer of the Body of St. Anthony of Padua

  

When St. Anthony died on June 13, 1231, his body was buried in the little Franciscan Church of St. Mary in Padua.  By 1263, the building of the present great basilica was advanced far enough so that his remains could be placed beneath the high altar.  When the coffin was opened on the occasion, it was found that the saint’s body had been reduced to ashes except for a few bones, but his tongue was intact and life-like.  St. Bonaventure, who was present as minister general of the Friars Minor, took the tongue reverently into his hands and exclaimed, “O blessed tongue, which has always blessed God and caused others to bless Him, now it appears evident how great were your merits before God!”  The tongue of St. Anthony was placed in a special reliquary, and can still be seen today in a separate chapel on the epistle side of the basilica.  In 1310 the basilica was almost finished, and the remains of St. Anthony were transferred to a tomb in the middle of the nave.  The final transfer of the relics of St. Anthony to their present chapel on the Gospel side of the basilica took place in 1350.  It is the latter transfer that is commemorated on February 15. 

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.,
© 1959 Franciscan Herald Press 
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #15:

  

Let them individually and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives. Especially in the field of public life, they should make definite choices in harmony with their faith. 

“Do Clouds Have Bose Speakers?!” – Mk 9:35-36


NO SCHOOL?!!!  God definitely has a sense of humor.  3-4 inches of snow on the ground, and the coldest weather for the past decade, in the area coming today, and staying for a week.  Yoo-Hoo; I love global warming.

Jesus, Moses & Elijah

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

 God doesn’t want shares of your life – He wants a controlling interest.

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”  After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.  (NAB Mk 9:35-36)

  

This verse is from when Moses and Elijah came in clouds, to Jesus; as witnessed by Jesus’ disciples.  This is not the first time a voice came from a cloud.  God not only talked to Moses via a cloud, but also led the Israelites on the exodus from Egypt by a cloud during the day, and fire at night.  The clouds opened up and flooded the earth, starting over with Noah.  And, smoke from sacramental fires created a type of cloud, to send prayers to God.  And later in the scriptures, clouds overtook the scene of the crucifixion of Jesus, signifying His death for our sake. 

This voice coming from the cloud in this verse that identified Jesus as the ‘chosen Son,’ also spoke at his baptism just prior to his undertaking His earthly ministry.  The voice says, “listen to him” and Moses and Elijah leaves while Jesus remains.  The Old Testament leaders give way to the leader of the new leader and teacher of God’s people: the Messiah, Jesus Christ.   

My question is why did the witnesses to this event wait until after the resurrection of Jesus, before telling others of this magnificent scene?  Were they sworn to secrecy?  Did they doubt their own faith?  Were they afraid of the temple authorities, if found out?  There is a reason, but I would have hard-pressed to be silent! 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Blessed Angela of Foligno 1248-1309

  

Angela was born in 1248 of a prominent family in Foligno, three leagues from Assisi.  As a young woman, and also as a wife and mother, she lived only for the world and its vain pleasures.  A ray of the divine mercy touched her soul and so strongly affected her as to bring about a conversion. 

“I gathered courage to confess all my sins to him, and I did this immediately after the sermon.  With zeal and perseverance I performed the penance he imposed, but my heart continued to be full of bitterness and shame.  I recognized that the divine mercy has saved me from hell, hence I resolved to do rigorous penance; nothing seemed too difficult for me, because I felt I belonged in hell.  I called upon the saints, and especially upon the Blessed Virgin, to intercede with God for me. 

About this time God harkened to the earnest desire of the penitent: her mother died, then her husband, and soon afterwards all her children.  These tragic events were very painful to her; but she made the sacrifice with resignation to the will of God.  Being freed from these ties, she dispossessed herself of all her temporal goods with the consent of her confessor, so that being poor herself, she might walk in the footsteps of her poor Savior.  She also entered the Third Order of St. Francis, and presently found herself the superior and guide of others who followed in her path.  Many women joined her, even to the point of taking the three vows.  She encouraged them in works of charity, in nursing the sick, and in going personally from door to door to beg for the needs of the poor. 

Meanwhile, Angela became still more immersed in the contemplation of the Passion of Christ, and she chose the Sorrowful Mother and the faithful disciple John as her patrons.  The sight of the wounds which her Lord suffered for her sins urged her to the practice of still greater austerities.  Once our Lord showed her that His Heart is a safe refuge in all the storms of life. She was soon to be in need of such a refuge. 

God permitted her to be afflicted with severe temptations.  The most horrible and loathsome representations distressed her soul.  The fire of concupiscence raged so furiously that she said: “I would rather have beheld myself surrounded with flames and permitted myself to be continually roasted that to endure such things.”  Still, she called out to God, “Glory be to Thee, O Lord!  Thy cross is my resting place.”  These painful trials lasted over two years; but then the purified and tried servant of the Lord was filled with great consolation.  She obtained a marvelous insight into divine things and was very frequently found in ecstasy.  For many years Holy Communion was her only food, until at last, completely purified, she entered into the eternal joy of the Supreme Good on January 4, 1309. 

Pope Innocent XII approved the continual devotion paid to her at her tomb in Foligno. He beatified her in 1693. 

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.,
© 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #7:

  

United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.  On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace. 

“Ding Dong, the Wicked King is Dead Dorothy!” – Mt 2:19-23


Monday morning, and the wind chill is -12 degrees F.  That is almost unheard of in St. Louis.  Plus, it is going to be this cold all week.  One of the benefits of being a retired paramedic, is that I don’t have to go outside.  We need to pray especially for those people that have no home to warm themselves:  the poor and indigent, the homeless, and anyone else without heat.  Let’s also pray for those that work outside, especially the public safety people, EMS, fire, police, tow operators, street and water workers, etc.  

Return from Egypt

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

 It can not be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!

 http://thinkexist.com

Today’s Meditation:

  

When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”  He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.  But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.  He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”

  

This is the third dream Joseph had received from God, through an angel.  Each of these dreams started a ‘road trip’ for Joseph, Mary, and the newborn King.  The first started the trip to Jerusalem, the second to flee Palestine, and this to return to Palestine after three years.  The verse, For those who sought the child’s life are dead” is also related to the exodus of Moses, who had fled from Egypt because the Pharaoh sought to kill him (Exodus 2:15), was told to return to Egypt, “for all the men who sought your life are dead” (Exodus 4:19). 

Joseph knew that the regions had been split in two.  With the agreement of the emperor Augustus, Archelaus received half of his father’s kingdom, including Judea, after Herod’s death.  He had the title “ethnarch” (“ruler of a nation”), and reigned from 4 B.C. to A.D. 6.  Joseph went to Nazareth, knowing that it was not in Archelaus’ territory, and thus no fear to Jesus. 

The town of Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and no prophecy can be found in the Old Testament.  The expression “through the prophets” may be due to Matthew’s seeing a connection between Nazareth and certain texts with remotely similar words to the name of that town: Nazareth.  In Isaiah 11:1, the Davidic king of the future is called “a bud” (neser) that shall blossom from the roots of Jesse; and in  Judges 13:5, 7Samson is called one who shall be consecrated (a nazir) to God. 

Jesus is home, but problems for Him probably did not stop.  Remember, all male children around His in Nazareth were killed.  There may have been resentment and jealousy from other families.  Reputations could have preceded their return.  Many in the town see Mary and Joseph as ‘normal’ and definitely not a “Holy Family’ with a messianic king as their child.  I wonder what it was like for them, and how did they handle the problems they encountered? 

  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #4:

 

 

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.