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“Are You The Wheat, Or Are You the Chaff? Got Me, I Grew Up In The City!” – Luke 3:10-18†


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3rd Sunday of Advent

. table_of_contentsToday’s Content:

 

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:. pencil

 

The history of the Christmas tree has many stories of origin, and has had quite of few adaptations to its usage throughout history.  In my research of the Catholic aspect to Christmas tree history and origin, I left no [xmas] “leaf” unturned.  I hope you enjoy.

 

The Christmas Tree

 

Despite many historians’ attempts to link the Christmas tree to an ancient pagan practice, it is actually “Christian” in origin.  Whoa, how is that fact for a baited hook to get you to read on?!

Although it is highly unlikely that the Christmas tree – – as we know it today – – was first used in the 8th Century, some people believe the idea for the tree was invented by St. Boniface at that time.   Legend holds that St. Boniface 14was the first to co-opt the “tree” tradition for Christianity in the 8th century.  He was attempting to convert the Druids who worshipped oak trees as the symbol of their idol.  He instead offered the balsam fir tree, using its triangular shape to describe the Trinity and the fact that the evergreen branches pointed to heaven, as a symbol of God.  These new “converts” then began worshiping the Balsam fir tree as a Christian symbol. 

There are also claims that the first proper Christmas tree was erected in Riga, Latvia (one of the Baltic States) in 1510.  Today, there is a plaque in the Town Hall Square, in Riga, that is engraved with the text “The First New Year’s Tree in Riga in 1510“.  It is believed that this tree was possibly decorated with paper flowers, and then burned during the New Year’s celebration. 

Another legend has Martin Luther as being credited with bringing the popularity of the Christmas tree to Germany.  2011-11-13_10-48-16_573_288x287Out on a winter evening one night, while composing a sermon, he was awed by the beauty of the stars.  When he returned home, he attempted to recreate the beauty for his family by putting candles on an evergreen tree in his home.

We do know with certainty that the Christmas tree goes back to medieval German mystery plays.  One of the most popular “mysteries” was the “Paradise play”, representing the creation of man, the sin of Adam and Eve, and their expulsion from Paradise.  It usually closed with Christmas-Fir-Branches-2457977the consoling promise of the coming of the Savior, and referencing to His Incarnation.  These plays were performed in the open, on the large town squares in front of churches, or, sometimes even inside the house of God.  The Garden of Eden was indicated by a fir tree with apples hung on the branches.  It represented both the “Tree of Life” and the “Tree of KNowledge of Good and Evil”, which stood in the center of Paradise:

“Out of the ground the LORD God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9).

When the pageant was performed in church, the “Paradeisbaum” (German for “Tree of Paradise”) was surrounded by lighted candles.  Inside a ring of lights surrounding the tree, the play was performed. 

In the 15th century, after the suppression of the “mystery plays” in the German churches, the symbolic object of the play, the tree itself, found its way into the homes of the faithful, and the Christmas tree then became a symbol of christmas_tree_albert2-747156the “Tree of the Savior”.  During this same time, the custom of a “tree” in the home developed into decorating the “Paradise Tree”, already bearing apples, with small white wafers representing the Holy Eucharist.  These wafers were later replaced by little pieces of pastry cut in the shapes of stars, angels, hearts, flowers, and bells.  Finally, other cookies were introduced to this tradition, bearing the shapes of men, birds, roosters and other animals.

The first known documented use of the fir tree as a Christmas tree is found in a description written by a German traveler visiting the city of Strasbourg (in the Alsace region of France, but formerly part of Germany) in 1605.  In this description, he tells of trees being planted in rooms, and that they were ornamented with “roses of colored paper, apples, tinsel, sugar cubes, and cookies”.

Until the 17th century the “Christbaum” (as the tree is called in German, meaning “Christ tree”) had no lights.  The Christmas candles, generally used in medieval times, were placed on a Christmas “pyramid”, made of graduated wooden shelves.  As time went on, the tree replaced the pyramid in its function of representing Christ as the “Light of the World”.  The candles and glittering decorations were eventually transferred from the pyramid to the tree.  

In the 1700’s the Christmas tree custom had spread throughout northern Germany.  People began decorating the tree with candles that were lit on Christmas Eve, a practice still done today in many homes across Europe.  As the 108n-grChristmas tree custom spread through Germany, the Roman Catholic Church eventually recognized the tradition in the early 1800’s.  It was introduced to Vienna in 1816, quickly spreading across Austria, and in 1840 to France by the duchesse d’Orleans.

German immigrants were most likely to have set up the first few Christmas trees in America, as early as 1710.   During the Revolutionary War, Hessian (German) soldiers were responsible for rapidly disseminating the practice throughout the entire US Eastern seaboard.  However, the Christmas tree did not become the principal symbol of Christmas in America, and was not used generally throughout American homes until late in the 19th century. 

treeIn 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (who was actually German) were pictured in the London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree.  As a result of this picture, the popularity of Christmas trees soared both in England and America.  By 1920, the custom of having a Christmas tree was almost universal.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, pioneer families who settled in areas where evergreen trees were scarce made Christmas trees out of bare branches, painting them green, or wrapping the branches with green paper or cloth.  Sometimes a “tree” would be made by drilling holes in a broomstick and inserting branches of cedar or juniper into it.  Often the only Christmas tree in the community would be in the Church or school.  In the absence of a Christmas tree, presents were often hung by ribbons from a decorated clothesline strung across the corner of a room.

While many Christmas trees are set up in the home around the first of December (or earlier!), and are in the dumpster by January 2, many Catholic families often delay decorating the tree until Christmas Eve, still today.  It is thCAGLANJNappropriate, and a popular custom, to delay lighting the tree and to put gifts under the tree until Christmas Eve when we celebrate the coming into the world of the infant Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

On Christmas Eve, parents might adorn the tree after small children are asleep, so that the first sight of Christmas morning is the gloriously adorned tree.  Families with older children could even make the decorating of the tree a family affair.  Many families bless their Christmas trees.  A Blessing for the Christmas tree could be said on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Through the use of the Christmas tree, we are reminded that our first parents (Adam & Eve) were not allowed to eat from one tree, and that Christ paid the great price for our redemption – – by hanging on a tree.  Being reminded that Christ is the “Light of the World” and that His light is everlasting, bringing joy and light into our dark world – – a christmas_angel_tree1-150x150blessing truly appropriate for this great Christian symbol of faith.  Here is a simple blessing for your Christmas tree:

“Holy Lord, we come with joy to celebrate the birth of your Son, who rescued us from the darkness of sin by making the cross a tree of life and light.  May this tree, arrayed in splendor, remind us of the life-giving cross of Christ, which we may always rejoice in the new life which shines in our hearts.  Lord God, may the presence of this tree remind us of your gift of everlasting life.  May its light keep us mindful of the light You brought into the world.  May the joy and peace of Christmas fill all our hearts.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

Information obtained from the following sites:
http://www.wf-f.org/04-4-Traditions.html
http://www.christmastreehistory.net/christian
http://catholicexchange.com/the-history-of-the-christmas-tree/

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. thought2Quote of the Day:

 

“Let us submit ourselves to His guidance and sovereign direction; let us come to Him that He may forgive us, cleanse us, change us, guide us, and save us.  This is the true life of saints.” ~ Blessed John Henry Newman, “Life’s Purpose”, Pauline Books & Media

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Today’s reflection: John the Baptist teaches the path of repentance and announces Christ.  Did you hear what I heard?

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(NAB Luke 3:10-18) 10 And the crowds asked him [John the Baptist], “What then should we do?”  11 He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none.  And whoever has food should do likewise.”  12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”  13 He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”  14 Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?”  He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”  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, “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.  17 His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”  18 Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.

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. ReflectionGospel Reflection:

 

This Sunday’s Gospel continues last week’s focus on John the Baptist and his role in preparing “the way” for Christ.  Recall last week’s reading describing John’s appearance in the desert and establishing his connection with the prophetic tradition of Israel.  If we were to read Luke’s Gospel continuously, we would learn about John the Baptist challenging the crowds who came to him, and John’s calling upon them to show evidence of their repentance.  

With this in mind, I am starting with a few verses prior to this week’s reading (and also situated between last Sunday’s Gospel and 1211-gospel-lthis Sunday’s, Luke 3:7-9).  In this way, I would like to describe to you the three types of preaching by John the Baptist: (1) eschatological, (2) ethical, and (3) messianic.  An eschatological preaching (1) concerns the human soul (the person) in its relation to His death, judgment, and destinies – – either heaven or hell.  John the Baptist urges the crowds present around him – – getting their feet wet in the faith (and maybe their entire bodies as well) – – to reform their lives in view of the coming “wrath” expected with the appearance and coming of the Lord:

“He said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.  Therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:7,9).

John tells his listeners that they cannot rely on their lineage as Israelites.  Why (?): because true, authentic “children of Abraham can be raised up from stones” (Luke 3:8).  Rather, repentance must be observable in one’s actions.  So, the crowds, probably now questionfrightened by his words, ask John the Baptist:

What then should we do?” (Luke 3:10)

Hmm, I wonder how often I ask this same question: What am I to do Lord?  I know the answer, and sadly, I don’t like my answer.  Forgive me Lord, please!!  I will try to do better in the future with your help.  Amen.

John answers the crowds by drawing attention to, and preaching on, concrete ethical standards (2) (principles of correct moral conduct) for reforming their social behavior:

He said to them in reply, ‘Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none.  And whoever has food shoul03advientoC3d do likewise.’  Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’  He answered them, ‘Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.’  Soldiers also asked him, ‘And what is it that we should do?’  He told them, ‘Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages’” (Luke 3:11–14).

Interestingly, Luke mentions in particular two groups of people who came to John the Baptist for spiritual advice: tax collectors and Roman (some even Jewish) soldiers.  Both groups were regarded as “dangerous” by the Jewish authorities – – and society as whole.  They were treated as outcasts among both the Jews and the Romans.

John, in his instructions, is saying we must do six seemingly simple, but rather complex, things in order to have a true conversion of heart, body, and soul:

  • ·        SHARE what we have with others: wealth and food;
  • ·        STOP  doing wrong: don’t cheat, extort, or make false accusations;
  • ·        BE SATISFIED with what you have; 
  • ·        BE CHARITABLE;
  • ·        BE JUST; and,
  • ·        BE HONEST.

John does NOT tell them to adopt his desert way of life. He does NOT tell them to make sacrificial offerings or wear sackcloth and ashes.  John the Baptist doesn’t try to purposely upset the existing social order.  However, John DOES call for a real concern for a person’s “neighbor”.LetsBeHonest

The concern for justice is a hallmark of Luke’s Gospel and for John the Baptist.  John tells the soldiers to make no false arrests, to be content with their pay, not to take bribes, and not to bully anyone.  When talking to the tax collector, he knew that they were outcasts among the Jewish people, though Jewish themselves.  John knew they were detested as “traitors” by the Jewish people and as nothing more than “robbers” approved by the Roman Government.  As for as the Roman government was concerned, if the tax collectors wanted to collect a little bit more than the government required, that was fine with them.  They could keep the extra money for themselves; all the Roman government was concerned about was getting their tax money!!  

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John obviously knew how to get his message across to these groups of people.  Through his divinely-inspired words – – and witness – – to God the Father and to others around him:

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

The people recognized John as an extraordinary man of God and a prophet for their times.  John broke the prophetic silence of the pJohn_the_Baptist%20imagerevious centuries when he began to speak the “Word” of God.  His message was similar to the message from the earlier Jewish prophets who scolded the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who cried out BOLDLY to awaken true repentance within them.  

John proclaims his water baptism of his followers to be clearly in immediate preparation for the coming of the actual, true Messiah.  John the Baptist knows his place and role in God’s plan of salvation.  He announces to the crowds his messianic preaching (3) (relating to the Messiah instituting of the promised golden age of peace, truth, and happiness), the coming of the “ONE” mightier than he:e0274

John answered them all, saying, ‘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 fireHis winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’  Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people” (Luke 3:16–18).

When John the Baptist talks about someone coming who is “mightier and more powerful than he”, John is ultimately speaking NOT of the “earthly” Jesus (though he may not have realized this fact), but the Risen Christ, third_advent_cgrwho baptizes us with the Holy Spirit in a very personal and intimate way.  When John says “He [the Messiah] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16), he is contrasting his prophetic baptism – – just with water – – to Jesus’ additional messianic baptizing with both the Holy Spirit and with the Holy Spirit’s “refining fire”.   When this Gospel was written decades after the Pentecost event, the early Christian community’s point of view understood,  “the Holy Spirit and fire” to be seen in light of the “fire symbolism” found in the “pouring out of the Holy Spirit” at Pentecost:

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).

Jesus’ “baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire” fulfilled John’s “water baptism” mission on earth.  Jesus’ baptism will also be accomplished by an “immersion”, an immersion of the repentant in water, and in the cleansing power of the Spirit of God.  There will also be an immersion the unrepentant in the destroying power of God’s wrath and judgment of them!! 

John’s preaching of the “Holy Spirit and fire” is revealed in, and related to, the purifying and refining characteristics found in Jewish Scripture (our Old Testament):  First, from Ezekiel – –

“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 fleshI will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them” (Ezekiel 36:25–27);

Now, from Malachi – – refiners-fire-c

“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’ lyeHe 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” (Malachi 3:2–3).

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John the Baptist goes on to describe the actions of the coming Messiah Savior in terms this “well entrenched urban city” boy just cannot understand:

“His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:17).

Iwinnowing_fork_2 am pretty certain I know what wheat is, but a “winnowing fan” (?), “threshing floor” (?), and “chaff” (?) – – what the heck are these??!!  I definitely had to  research these items, and the why and how they are related to the actions of the coming Messiah Savior.

A “winnowing fan” was a forklike shovel with which the “threshed” (separated) wheat was thrown into the air.  The wheat kernels fell to the ground – – to the “threshing floor” to be picked up later – – while the light “chaff” (the dry covering bracts [modified leafs] of grains being separated by the process of threshing) were “blown off” by the wind, gathered later, and then burned in a nearby fire.

Fire” in Old Testament times was associated with God and with His purifying action in the world, His cleansing actions in the lives of His people.  God sometimes manifested His presence by use of fire, such as in the example in the story of the “burning bush” burning_bushwhich was not consumed when God spoke to Moses:

“The angel of the LORD appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush.  When he looked, although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed (Exodus 3:2). 

John, in describing the procedure by which a farmer separates wheat and chaff, is using the image as a comparison for what will happen to the “good” and the “bad” in this world by God when He returns with His judgmental and saving actions in the person of the RISEN CHRIST!

In the New Testament, the image of fire is also used with regard to the Holy Spirit, who comes to cleanse us from sin and to make utongues-of-fires holy:

 “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them” (Acts 2:3).

God’s fire purifies and refines.  This refining purification, through baptism, confirmation, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also increases our desire for holiness and for the joy of meeting the Lord when He comes again.  Our baptism in Jesus Christ by water and the Holy Spirit results in a “new birth” and entry into God’s kingdom as His beloved sons and daughters:

Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5). 

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John the Baptist ends his preaching in today’s Gospel with a message of hope:

Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people” (Luke 3:18)

For me, God’s “Word” ALWAYS offers hope, even in the most dismal of circumstances characters in the bible seem to get into.  After all, they enter those bad circumstances, usually, not because of God Himself, but because of them turning their backs on BIBLEHim!!  God was (and is) always with them, even in the BAD times; they just did not believe in his “word”, nor could they realize His presence!  So, read the Bible, re-read the Bible with YOU as the character in these stories, and then re-re-read the Bible so that you realize that the 73 books which make up this great “Bible” (in the Catholic edition) are truly “instructions” on how to live as a Catholic Christian and an honorable son or daughter of God in the world!!

The third Sunday of Advent is also called “Gaudete Sunday”.  “Gaudete”, a Latin word – – meaning “rejoicthCA2A51IGe”, with its form being a “command” – – is another way of exhorting hope.  This command to rejoice is taken from the entrance antiphon for Sunday’s Mass, which is also echoed in today’s second reading from the Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God (Philippians 4:4-6).

The Catholic Church obeys this command by lighting a pink candle instead of another purple one already on the Advent wreath.  In doing so, it is a reminder that the Advent season is a “Season of JOY” and “Re-Joy-Sing” [rejoicing] because our salvation is truly already at hand.

John the Baptist’s message of “good news” inspired many to believe God was about to do extraordinary things in their midst.  John the Baptist’s task – – his mission – – was simply to awaken the interest of his people to God’s “Word”, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough “good will” to recognize and receive the Messiah when He appearance on the scene.

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. summarize titleToday, Luke is continuing to set up two important themes of his Gospel message: (1) the Christian faith is expressed in one’s actions, and (2) the call to salvation is extended to everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike.

John the Baptist knows his place and role in God’s redemptive plan of salvation.  John’s teaching to the crowd suggests that each person has a role to play in God’s salvation.  He is encouraging them to follow his model of faith and hope in their own personal Horizontal_Logo9life’s positions and status.  It is our personal, human cooperation in His divine plans that is THE great mystery of God’s initiative to empower and to encourage each of us to participate – – through our believing and rejoicing – – in His plan.

John the Baptist basically called the people to turn back to God and to walk in His way of love and righteousness.  Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed it has the power to awaken the faith in people, thepathofsinandrighteousnessand to change their lives for good.  John’s baptism was for repentance; a turning away from sin and taking on a new way of life according to God’s “Word”.  

Hmm, my life has its own temptations, and its own opportunities to take advantage of others, using them for my own personal gain.  Does yours?  As I prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas, I will consider my own life situation, my own temperament, and my own personality in heeding John the Baptist’s words from today’s reading.  I believe I may need to make some adjustments.  How ‘bout you?

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. conclusionThe theme of the season for Advent is sometimes described as “a period of waiting for the birth of Jesus Christ”.  However, today’s Gospel reading suggests something much different.  John the Baptist did not tell the crowds to wait for the Messiah.  Instead, he told them to prepare for the Messiah through acts of repentance.  If RepentBelieveTheGoodNewsBwAdvent is a time of waiting, it is not the “sitting in waiting room or office lobby” kind of waiting.  It is a busy time of preparation, more like the waiting we might do when “preparing for dinner guests”.  Our challenge as Catholic Christians is NOT to make this season a frantic, disordered, and/or apathetic time, but rather a time of “joyful anticipation”, making ready for God who comes to dwell among (and in) us, changing our lives with His gift (grace) of redemptive salvation.

Think about the preparations you are making during this season of Advent period.  Reflect on these activitiechanges, not only on what you are doing but WHY you are “choosing” to do these things.  Remember, Advent is a time for making ourselves ready to receive Jesus Christ – – anew and more – – in our personal lives.  Could you make some changes in your Advent activities so that you are MORE prepared to celebrate the gift of salvation at Christmas?  Hmm, I think I can for sure.  Pray that you, and your family and friends, will be able to live the “spirit” of Advent as it should be, and not as a secular time of the year.  Heck, why not sing an Advent song, such as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” as you light the third candle on your Advent wreath this evening at dinner.  I will, and I’ll possibly report on the interesting looks I receive from my family members who ALL say I have a voice made for paper!!

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R. prayer sfeflection Prayer: 

An Advent Prayer

 

“Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever faithful to your promises and ever close to your Chuprayerrch: the earth rejoices in hope of the Savior’s coming and looks forward with longing to His return at the end of time.  Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which His presence will bestow, for he is Lord for ever and ever.  Amen.”

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“5 Loaves + 2 Fish = 5000+ Meals?! It Just Doesn’t Add Up!, OR, Does It? This Sounds Fishy To Me!” – John 6:1-15†


Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions For August, 2012

General Intention (For Prisoners):

For prisoners, that they may be treated with justice and respect for their human dignity.

Missionary Intention (Youth Witness to Christ):

For young people, that they may be called to follow Christ, and willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel “to the ends of the earth”.

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I just finished reading a new book on prayer (for me at least).  I conscientiously try to read at least one or two books on prayer, church history, liturgy, peace and justice, the various religious orders, or so on each month.  My all time favorite book (not including the Holy Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church) is “7 Secrets of the Eucharist” by Vinny Flynn.  I have literally given away at least 50 copies, at my own expense, in the past few years.

This “new” book, which I have just completed, is by Bruce Wilkinson and David Kopp, titled:

“Prayer of Jabez: Break Through the Blessed Life”

I was awed and captivated by this inspiring, scripturally based, and motivating book of faith and prayer.  Though it is not a book written by a Roman Catholic, it was truly a work of inspiration from the Holy Spirit.  It is an easy book to read and not full of what I call “those 10 dollar words” which have a tendency to turn people off.

Jabez is the name of a person listed in the long list of people from the genealogy of the kings’ tribe of Judah.  The author of 1 Chronicles paused in this long list to give Jabez a place of honor in this very long list of Kings and their associated lineage.  Jabez prays to God for blessing and was answered.  It is said God answered his every prayer when using his unique prayer:

 

Please do not take my word for the great message of this book.  Take some time and either get on-line and search for this book, check it out from the library (if available), or buy a copy (you will eventually anyway; you won’t want to read it just once!), and READ IT.  It is transformative and will “enlarge” your capabilities.

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Today in Catholic History:

†   1099 – Death of Pope Urban II [Odo van Lagery], French Pope (1088-99)(b. 1042)
†   1179 – Lando Sittino proclaimed (anti-)pope Innocent III
†   1644 – Death of Pope Urban VIII [Maffeo Barberini], Pope (1623-44), (b. 1568)
†   1968 – Pope Paul VI, in an encyclical entitled “Humanae Vitae” (Of Human Life), declares any artificial forms of birth control prohibited
†   Feasts/Memorials: Saint Eugenius, king [Magdeburg]; Saint Felix I, pope, and companions (Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrix, (siblings)), martyrs; Saint Ladislas, king, confessor [Hungary];  Saint Lupus, bishop of Troyes, confessor [Cologne, Constance, Metz, Paris, France]; Saint Olaf II of Norway, king of Norway, martyr, patron of woodcarvers [Sleswig, Scandinavia] – celebrated in Norway as Olsok (St. Olav’s Day); Saint Pantaleon [Paris]; Saint Beatrice of Nazareth; Saint Martha, host of Christ, sister of Lazarus, patron saint of cooks, domestic staff and dieticians; Saint Serafina

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

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 Joke of the Day:

  

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Today’s reflection: Jesus feeds the crowd of more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish (and they were hungry – – physically and spiritually).  Christ physically fed them with food in the form of bread and wine.  Scripturally, Christ was revealing (and still reveals today) the special nature of His love and power.

 

(NAB John 6:1-15) 1 After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee [of Tiberias].  2 A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.  3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.  4 The Jewish feast of Passover was near.  5 When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”  6 He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.  7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit].”  8 One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”  10 Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.  So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.  11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.  12 When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”  13 So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.  14 When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”  15 Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

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Gospel Reflection:

 

Over the past two Sundays, in Mark’s Gospel, we heard how Jesus sent His disciples to share in His mission on earth.  We leave Mark’s Gospel for the next several weeks and instead present events from the Gospel of John, starting with a great fish story.  Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is presented as a sign of His authority and divinity, signifying the multiplication miracle as a sharing of Jesus’ “Body and Blood”: the true Eucharist.  For this reason, John’s sixth chapter is sometimes called the “Bread of Life Discourse”.

In many important ways, John’s Gospel uses the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes to teach about the Eucharist.  Like the Last Supper, this miracle occurs near the time of the Jewish feast of Passover.  Also, Jesus’ language in today’s reading is similar to the language He used at “the Last Supper” as reported in the three Synoptic Gospels:

Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them” (John 6:11).

John’s description of this event anticipates the Messianic banquet of heaven, with the crowd reclining and all hungers satisfied, with an abundance remaining.  This connection of Jesus and the Messianic banquet is further amplified by the response of the crowd, who wants to make Jesus a “king”.  John, through today’s reading, is teaching us that each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are truly anticipating the eternal banquet of heaven.

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Today’s story of the multiplication of the loaves is the fourth of seven signs or miracles found in John’s Gospel attesting to Jesus’ divine nature and His claim to be Israel’s true Savior Messiah:

1. Turning water into wine in Cana (John 2:1-11);
2. Healing an official’s son in Capernaum (John 4:46-54);
3. Healing an invalid at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (John 5:1-18);
4. Feeding the 5,000 near the Sea of Galilee (John 6:5-14);
5. Walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee (John 6:16-21);
6. Healing a blind man in Jerusalem (John 9:1-7); and:
7. Raising dead Lazarus in Bethany (John 11:1-45).

Today’s related sign (or miracle) is the ONLY “miracle” story found in all four Gospels (and occurring twice in the Gospels written by both Mark and Matthew).  The principal reason for this sole “sign” being told in all four Gospels can be seen as an anticipation of both the “Holy Eucharist” and the “final banquet in the kingdom” and is the central core common belief among all disparate (different or distinct) Christians:

“I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven … I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.”  (Matthew 8:11; 26:29).

Today’s story not only looks forward, but backward as well: to the feeding of Israel in the desert, with the heavenly supplied manna, at the time of the Exodus (cf., Exodus 16).  The feeding with “manna” was a miracle, which in some contemporary Jewish expectations would be repeated in the “Messianic age” (to come):

** “And it shall come to pass at that self-same time that the treasury of manna shall again descend from on high, and they will eat of it in those years, because these are they who have come to the consummation of time” (2 Baruch 29:8).

**(2 Baruch, “THE BOOK OF THE APOCALYPSE OF BARUCH THE SON OF NERIAH”, is a Jewish text believed to have been written in the late 1st century AD or early 2nd century AD, after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD.  It is attributed to the Biblical Baruch, and thus associated with our Old Testament.  Yet, it is not regarded as scripture by Jews or by most Christian groups; however, it is included as part of the Bible of the Syriac Orthodox tradition.)

The feeding of the 5000, in today’s reading, may also be meant to recall Elisha’s feeding of a hundred men with very small provisions:

A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barley loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear.  Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people to eat.’  But his servant objected, ‘How can I set this before a hundred?’  Elisha again said, ‘Give it to the people to eat, for thus says the LORD: You will eat and have some left over.’  He set it before them, and when they had eaten, they had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.” (2 Kings 4:42–44).

The loaves of bread remind us that God the Father feeds and nourishes us, fulfilling our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs.  So, the “loaves and fish” in today’s reading symbolize the “food” really available through Jesus, both physically and spiritually.  The miracle of multiplication of the loaves of barley bread and fish truly signals the NEW Exodus; definitely having Eucharistic overtones meant for all of God’s people.

John’s Gospel notes a significant detail; the loaves of bread – – blessed and shared with the crowd – – are “barley loaves”, a food of the poor.  So, the New Exodus and the Eucharist is given to us for Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, man and woman alike.

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Today’s reading reveals the second of three times John mentions the “Passover” in his Gospel:

The Jewish feast of Passover was near (John 6:2).

The other two are found in the following two verses:

“Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (John 2:13);

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.  He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

Taken from a literal viewpoint, these three specific “Passovers” prove that Jesus’ earthly ministry was at least two years in length chronologically.

In the Synoptic Gospels, the disciples take the initiative of asking about feeding the crowd.  In John’s Gospel however, Jesus takes the initiative:

He [Jesus] said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?’” (John 6:5)

For many of the crowd present with Jesus at this sign, He was the embodiment of the “New Moses” returning for a “New Exodus”:

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world” (John 6:14)

However, this time, the Exodus will not be physical in nature necessarily, but spiritual instead.  It won’t cost anyone money for this travel; it will only cost your life, given up to God instead.

Speaking of money, a day’s wage (mentioned in verse 7) during Jesus’ time was a “denarii”, a Roman coin:

After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard” (Matthew 20:2).

So, for Jesus and the disciples to feed all the people present there on this mountain (or hill) – – the bare minimum: just “a little [bit]” – – would cost more than half a year’s wages for this ONE meal!  Wow, that is even more than the taxes the IRS takes in today’s time (but barely)!!

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This 10th verse relates “5000” men were present at this event:

“Jesus said, ‘Have the people recline.’  Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.  So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.” (John 6:10).

This number of 5000 only included adult males, and not females or children.  I personally believe there were probably at least double that number present (anecdotally), making the true number somewhere in the area of 10 – 12 thousand actually present.  That is a LOT of people Jesus preached to, taught to, and ultimately fed.  An attendance of this magnitude of people – – present at one event – – is rare, only occurring within the Catholic faith at such major events such as a Pope’s visit, major conferences such as the annual youth conference, and Eucharistic conventions, wherein people travel from area to area and/or country to country.  (Jesus, in Bethsaida where this event took place, truly had the first recognized “mega-church” EVER!!)

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To change the subject (and miracle) slightly, please recall from the Lenten Season that John’s Gospel tells the story of “the Last Supper” differently than the three Synoptic Gospels.  Instead of describing the meal and Jesus’ actions with the bread and cup, John describes how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.  In both stories about the Eucharist in John’s Gospel – – the washing of the disciples’ feet and the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes – – Jesus (through John) teaches us that the true Eucharist is “an action” – – an active and living Sacrament of the Church.  Our word “Eucharist” is actually taken from the Greek, describing an action: “to give thanks.”  In the Eucharist, we are fed by Jesus Himself, AND we are also sent to serve othersIn the Eucharist, “WE” are sent to serve the poorest among us!!  (Whoa, how many knew this part of our faith?  I bet, not many!)

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Verse 14 of today’s reading talks about Jesus being “truly the Prophet” as prophesized by Moses:

“When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world’” (John 6:14).

They saw Jesus as being a prophet like Moses.  Their seeing Jesus as the “prophet” reminds me of an earlier verse in John’s Gospel:

So they asked him, ‘What are you then?  Are you Elijah?’  And he said, ‘I am not.’  ‘Are you the Prophet?’  He answered, ‘No.’” (John 1:21).

So, is He (?), or isn’t He, the promised “prophet”? 

On top of calling Jesus a “prophet”, by saying that He was “the one who is to come into the world”, they became more specific, stating He was “Elijah”, as promised in Malachi:

“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.  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 3:1; 4:5).

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Finally, the last verse tells of the crowd wishing to make Jesus their “king” after this miraculous “multiplying” sign was revealed to them.  However, it was not yet His time or place to be “king”.  Jesus will not be the worldly “king” they expected!! 

“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world.  If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not here.’” (John18:36).

Jesus will be “king” of heaven, including His heaven on earth; however, not in a worldly, governmental, or materialistic way.  He is a “king” of something much greater and grander than found in these human limits.  He is the “king” of the paradise called heaven, constantly with God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, the angels, the celestial court, and the community (communion) of saints.  His kingdom is truly, totally, and fully AWESOME indeed!!!

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To summarize, the story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes recalls a particular aspect of our Catholic Mass, the Eucharist.  In today’s Gospel miracle, Jesus transforms a young boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish into a “meal” for ALL.  In the offertory at our Mass, we present the fruits of our labors, represented by the bread and wine given to the priest at the altar.  These gifts, given to us first by God as grain and fruit, are transformed and now returned to God by our offering of thanksgiving.  God, in turn, transforms our gifts, making the gift of bread and wine the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ Himself.  At the same time this happens, we also offer ourselves in a divine exchange (A transformation of us individually and in communion, at the very moment of the  transubstantiation, by the miraculous changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ!).  We are, in fact, transformed by the Eucharist we receive, thus making us fully-filled, with the grace of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ Himself, for a unique moment of time – – thus experiencing a supernatural heaven on earth here and now!!  This is why the “Eucharist” is truly the “Source and Summit” of all our experiences we can have on this earth – – (and in heaven).

Later on in this sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus makes a claim only God the Father can make:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heavenI am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:32,35)

Jesus is the “true bread of heaven”, satisfying the deepest hunger we can ever experience.  The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God AND His great care and kindness towards us.  When God gives, He gives abundantly!!  He gives more than we ever need for ourselves so that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what is needed in their lives.  God takes the little, the miniscule amount we have and multiplies it multifold for the good of others.  God’s provision for you is enough to always share freely with others, especially those who lack!! 

While inadequate food seems to be the cause of hunger, solutions are provided by a providential God, a God not of scarcity, but a God of abundance.  With what people have to offer, insufficient as it may be – – through a willingness to share and trust in God’s compassionate power – – there will not only be enough, but more than enough to share.  Our abundant God teaches us to give from our own abundance, even if it is only five loaves and two fish:

The hand of the Lord feeds us; God answers all our needs” (cf., Psalm 145:16).

In today’s world, if we focus on scarcity, we will be tempted to hoard and not share.  However, if we are generous in sharing with a neighbor in need, or with hungry people across the world, there IS enough for all to be fed.  Of course we must address the challenges of poverty (along with that of violent conflicts, climate change, and refugees) in our society and world; however, at the same time, we need to trust in God’s abundance, care about the hungry in the world, and act to share what wehave with others.

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In conclusion, I think we can all empathize with the disciples’ protests about feeding the humungous crowd when Jesus asked where food might be bought.  I believe we can actually empathize with Philip’s and Andrew’s feeling of inadequacy as they assessed their meager and limited food resources, especially in the face of such great need.  We sometimes share these same feelings when facing of our family’s and friends’ needs, in regards to our own material possessions, and our emotional and spiritual resources.  For me, John is a Gospel of “hope” in times of inadequacies, which is all too frequent in today’s parenting/family life.

As Jesus made the “five barley loaves and two fish” sufficient to easily meet the needs of more than five thousand people (with leftovers), He also will work with what “we have” in order to provide for our personal needs.  When we offer our efforts to God, we are asking Him to transform these efforts, and thus become more than adequate for the tasks and needs at hand in our lives.  Think about the things you need, starting with the basics – – food, shelter, safety, and so on.  Continue by naming other things needed to be happy and healthy – – time together with friends and family, cooperation, patience, and so on.  Reflect that sometimes we can feel as if we don’t have enough of the time and things we need or want.  Remember, Jesus provided plenty of food for the crowd with just five barley loaves and two fish.  With faith, Jesus will take what we have and make it enough to satisfy and fill all our needs and the needs of others.  While praying your morning prayers, ask for a personal blessing when offering to God the work and words of each day.  Ask God to make fruitful your works and words (and ours) each and every day.  (You can use the “Jabez Prayer” I mentioned at the beginning of this blog today as a good starting place.)  (I hope you do!)

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Reflection Prayer:

 

“O God, protector of those who hope in you,
without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance your mercy upon us
and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”

(Prayer for the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time)

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 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 who 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, Laying on of hands for 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

I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) RSV.

I and my Father are one” (John 10:30) KJV.

**

“For in him [Christ] the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians. 2:9) RSV.

“For in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians. 2:9) KJV.

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Martha      

 

Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus.  He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee.  The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death.

No doubt Martha was an active sort of person.  On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner.

Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.”  The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “…[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a).

Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death.  “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?’  She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.  I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).

Comment:

Scripture commentators point out that in writing his account of the raising of Lazarus, St. John intends that we should see Martha’s words to Mary before the resurrection of Lazarus as a summons that every Christian must obey.  In her saying “The teacher is here and is asking for you,” Jesus is calling every one of us to resurrection—now in baptismal faith, forever in sharing his victory over death.  And all of us, as well as these three friends, are in our own unique way called to special friendship with him.

Quote:

“This great company of witnesses spurs us on to victory, to share their prize of everlasting glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Preface of Holy Men and Women I).

Patron Saint of: Housewives, waiters, waitresses

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)

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Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance

In the name of the Lord!

Chapter 1

Concerning Those Who Do Penance

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).

We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).

We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).

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:

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

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“Go, Get Out of Here! Go Get Some Fish For Me To Clean!” – Mark 6:7-13†


 

Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s Content:

 

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

I love today’s readings immensely.  For me, it’s proof that Jesus not only wanted, but insisted on each of us to go out to the masses – – the very people we meet on our daily journeys through life – – and preach the Gospel, and to spread the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (the charisms, from which the word “charismatic” originates): Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and the Fear of the Lord [an awe confirming hope in the Lord].  This last charism is a hard one to understand for most of us.  Simply speaking, “fear” is not the fear of being harmed.  Biblical fear is the desire not to offend God, an awareness and certainty that God will supply us with the grace (the gift) which we need in order to keep from offending Him (Some call it “piety”).

The seven gifts (charisms) of the Holy Spirit are spelled out in the prophetic Old Testament book of Isaiah:

“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, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.  Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide” (Isaiah 11:2-3).

(Per NAB Bible footnote: The Septuagint and the Vulgate read “piety” for “fear of the Lord” in its first occurrence, thus listing seven gifts.)

These graces, gifts, or charisms, are present in their fullness in Jesus Christ Himself.  However, these special gifts from God the Father are found in all Christians who are in a state of grace.  We receive them when infused with “sanctifying grace”, the life of God within us, at the moment of each Sacrament!!  You can read more about charisms of the Holy Spirit throughout the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” especially paragraphs 688, 798 – 800, and 2003 specifically.  To learn more about “sanctifying grace”, read paragraphs 1266, 1999-2000, and 2023-2024, among others.  There is a whole section in the catechism dedicated solely to the Holy Spirit; please review.

If you do not own a copy of the catechism, my question is, “WHY NOT?!!”: it is the Catholic “rule book”, a living part and parcel with the Catholic “instruction manual”, the Catholic Bible (73 book edition).  However, to save the day, there is an online edition available here: http://old.usccb.org/catechism/text/.

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Today in Catholic History     

†   1099 – First Crusade: Christian soldiers take Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem after the final assault of a difficult siege.
†   1205 – Pope Innocent III states Jews are doomed to perpetual servitude and subjugation due to crucifixion of Jesus.  (This was corrected by John XXIIII)
†   1274 – Death of John F Bonaventure, Italian/French Theologian. A Dominican and a Saint of the Catholic Church
†   1823 – A fire destroys the ancient Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
†   1850 – Birth of Francesca Xavier Cabrini, [Mother Cabrini], 1st US saint
†   1898 – Death of Jean Baptiste Salpointe, the first Bishop of Arizona and the second Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico. (b. 1825)
†   1944 – Death of Marie-Victorin, French Canadian  De La Salle Christian Brother and botanist (b. 1885)
†   1953 – Death of Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios, founder of the Bethany Ashram order of monks [India]. (b.1882)
†   1992 – Pope John Paul II hospitalized for 3 weeks to have tumor removed

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

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Quote of the Day:

“Once you become a good steward of the graces God has given you, then you are in a position to extend them to others.  There is no better way to live your life.  It will then be said of you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21).” ~ Sr. Anne Shields, S.G.L., “To Be Like Jesus“, Servant Books

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Today’s reflection: Jesus instructs His disciples, and then sends them to preach repentance.

 

(NAB Mark 6:7-13) 7 He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.  8 He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts.  9 They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.  10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.  11 Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”  12 So they went off and preached repentance.  13 They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

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Gospel Reflection:

 

The readings at Mass tell a story about God calling His “prophets”, and later “apostles”, to go out and spread the good news, the Word of God, and the Gospel of the Lord.  In the first reading, the Lord appears to Amos, and commands him to go and prophesy to the people of Israel in Bethel, under the authority of Amaziah, the priest of Bethel.

I find it truly interesting that like most of the men and woman whom God “calls”, Amos did not consider himself a prophet or even worthy of God’s grace.  It is often said:

“God does not call the qualified but God qualifies the called.”

That’s why Amos declares to Amaziah:

I am not a prophet, nor do I belong to a company of prophets.  I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores, but the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” (Amos 7:14-15).

This week’s Gospel, and the one for next week (cf., Mark 6:30-34), relates to us the “how” Jesus sends and commissions His twelve disciples to minister – – in His name – – and of their return to Jesus afterwards.  Interestingly, these two passages (this next week’s) are not presented together in Mark’s Gospel.  Inserted between these two stories is the report of Herod’s fear that Jesus is actually John the Baptist himself, somehow reincarnated back from the dead.  (Did Herod believe in zombies?) 

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ ministry is presented in connection with the teaching of John the Baptist – – and John’s rejection and death.  Jesus’ public ministry begins after John the Baptist is arrested.  So, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ – – the Savior Messiah – – who preached the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God which John the Baptist heralded during his prophetic ministry of baptizing as a sign of a true conversion and repentance (a “metanoia”).

While we do not read the details about John the Baptist in our Gospel this week or next week, our Lectionary sequence stays consistent with Mark’s theme: the close connection between John’s and Jesus’ ministries.  Recall that last week we heard how Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth (cf., Mark 6:1-6).  Mark’s insertion – – NOW – – of a reminder about John the Baptist’s ministry, and his death at the hands of Herod, makes a similar point: John was also rejected, imprisoned, and murdered for his faith and obedience to the “Word”!  Mark reminded his readers about this dangerous context of rejection with regard to Jesus’ ministry for Himself AND for His disciples: preaching, metanoia, repentance, and the Kingdom of God, was a dangerous business for both.  Mark wanted his readers to remember that we, too, may (and will) find resistance as we choose to be disciples of Jesus, following our own personal “Way of the Cross”.

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Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus sent out specifically the “Twelve”.  These twelve were selected from among all of Jesus’ disciples; they are named by Mark in chapter three of his Gospel:

Simon, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot. 

Mark notes that these twelve are also called “apostles” (meaning “one who is sent”).  But why did Jesus choose “twelve”?  Well, the number twelve is a symbolic number, representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  By naming “twelve apostles”, Jesus is showing His mission to be in continuity with the intention, will, and plan of God the Father for His “chosen” people, Israel.

This preparation for the mission of Jesus’ “Twelve Apostles” is seen in the two-fold call:

(1) They are the first disciples, called to be “fishers of men” – – “sent out” to preach and heal in His name:

“As He passed by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.  Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’  Then they abandoned their nets and followed Him.  He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.  They too were in a boat mending their nets.  Then He called them.  So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed Him” (Mark 1:16–20);

and:

(2) The “Twelve Apostles” are set apart – – to be with Jesus in a new, unique, and intimate way – – to receive authority to preach and expel demons:

“He went up the mountain and summoned those whom He wanted and they came to Him.  He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with Him and He might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: [He appointed the twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom He named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.” (Mark 3:13–19). 

Now these twelve closest and most intimate disciples of Jesus Christ are given the specific mission to exercise God’s authority – – in word and power – – as representatives of Jesus during the time of their formation.

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Jesus’ instructions to the apostles are very specific.  He repeats that mission to “preach”, “to share His authority”, “to heal”, and “to drive out demons” (No easy task – – then – – or NOW!).   Jesus sends them in pairs, establishing His mission as a communal endeavor.  There are NO “independent” Catholics.  We ALL make up the ONE, Holy, Catholic (Universal), and Apostolic Church; we are ALL part of Christ’s body.  When one sins, it literally affects every other part of the body of the Church, just as an injury affects the entire human body.  When one part is “redeemed”, the body is healthier.

Interestingly so, in Mark, the use of a walking stick (Mark 6:8) and sandals (Mark 6:9) is permitted, but not so in Matthew nor in Luke:  

Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.  The laborer deserves his keep.” (Matthew 10:9-10);

Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.” (Luke 10:4).

Mark does not mention any prohibition against visiting pagan territories or entering Samaritan towns.  These differences indicate a certain adaptation to the unique conditions of Christian communities in and outside of Palestine; they also suggest in Mark’s account a later activity in his particular church.  

Jesus also instructed the “apostles” to travel lightly, without the customary food, money, and extra set of clothes normally taken on trips.  These instructions obliged the Twelve to be dependent on the hospitality of others they met along their journey of faith, preaching, and healing.  They were to do no more than that of Jesus Himself, for Jesus also depended on others to provide for His needs.

Jesus required His “apostles” (and other disciples) a total and absolute desire for, and dependence upon God the Father for food and shelter, which He would provide through other people and the Holy Spirit:

“By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, ‘This is a deserted place and it is already very late.  Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’  He said to them in reply, ‘Give them some food yourselves.’  But they said to him, ‘Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?’  He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?  Go and see.’ And when they had found out they said, ‘Five loaves and two fish.’  So He gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass.  The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties.  Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to [His] disciples to set before the people; He also divided the two fish among them all.  They all ate and were satisfied.  And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish.  Those who ate [of the loaves] were five thousand men.” (Mark 6:35–44);

And,

“In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, He summoned the disciples and said, ‘My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.’  His disciples answered him, ‘Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?’  Still He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ ‘Seven,’ they replied.  He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.  Then, taking the seven loaves He gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to His disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd.  They also had a few fish.  He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also.  They ate and were satisfied.  They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets.  There were about four thousand people.” (Mark 8:1–9).

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These twelve men, sent in pairs,  were also instructed to remain in the same house where they were accepted, and stayed as guests as long as there was a need (Mark 6:10).  This instruction kept them from moving to another home offering greater comfort, better food, and more luxurious shelter; this helped them avoid any impression of seeking advantage for themselves, and prevented dishonoring any host.  

“Shaking the dust off one’s feet” (Mark 6:11) functioned as visual and external sacramental act of sorts, testifying against those who rejected the call to repentance, those who rejected an internal belief, and the redemption offered through faith in, through, and with Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.

By “shaking the dust frpm one’s feet”, these apostles of Christ were indicating a complete disassociation – – a disclaimer of any connection or involvement — with such unbelievers.  These non-believers did not want to have what these apostles of Christ had to offer to them; Christ is never to be forced on anyone.  After all, not everyone is going to be open to accept or believe what the Apostles came to say and to perform in their midst.  However such refusals did not – – could not – – stop their (Christ’s) mission on earth.

Interestingly, this concept of refusing to accept or believe is not only for strangers with whom we come into contact in our lives; it very well (and often) does include neighbors, coworkers, fellow parishioners, and even those within our own immediate families.   I recall personally, my attempts to get men and women I KNOW who would love the experience and divine encounter from attending an ACTS retreat (a type of Catholic “Cursillo” retreat).  I, at times, became SOooo frustrated at the lack of enthusiasm and outright refusal by others, (sometimes even indignantly), at my invitation to this time of fellowship, community, spirituality, theology, and enjoyment.   I must add no one who has attended, ever was disappointed by participating in an ACTS retreat.  It wasn’t I making their experience and encounter so awesome and enjoyable; it was the Holy Spirit awakening and being set free within them which creates all the joyful emotions, and renewed faith, one encounters on such a retreat. 

It has taken me a few years of such bad exposures and experiences while evangelizing to realize that, when we “rub someone the wrong way”, when we fail to “connect” with someone the first time when evangelizing, I learned the need for giving them some time and space to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through them for a change of heart.  After all, we are ultimately on God’s time, not ours.

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Jesus sent these brave and devoted men out to drive off demons as they:

Anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:13).

Using oils of various types was a common medicinal remedy during Jesus’ time on earth.  However, the use of oil as an instrument (a sacramental) to facilitate a cure, is seen – – in this particular case – – as a vessel of divine power, a divine grace, for healing.

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In Summary, when Jesus spoke of power and authority, He did something truly unique: He married “power” and “authority” with “love” and “humility”.  The “world” and the “flesh” seek power for selfish gain; However, Jesus teaches us to use it for the good and welfare of our neighbors – – our communities.  

Jesus, today, still continues to send us into the world as His disciples – – His little apostles.  However, like the first disciples, we are not, nor ever will be, sent out alone.  Jesus gave us a great gift, a great grace, the community of the Church.  The Church (not the building, but the people) strengthens our life and desire for discipleship.  The Christian message can only be authentically proclaimed in, with, and through the community of faith – – and faith-full – – the true Church of Christ.  In our work and words with others, we build this community of faith; and we should be inviting others to share in this great gift from God the Father Himself!  I challenge you to ask someone to attend Mass with you this week, next week, and so.  As any “fisherman” knows, you throw in the hook and sometimes nothing happens; and occasionally a great catch is “taken home”!

Why does Jesus tell the apostles to “travel light” – – with little or no provisions needed for their journey?  Why did Jesus want them to live in poverty?  Answer: to live in His Holy Spirit: “Poverty of spirit” freed them (and frees us) from greed, materialism, and preoccupation with possessions, thus making more than enough room for God’s wants, needs, and provisions to fill us completely and fully.  Jesus wants His disciples (still today) – – US – – to be dependent UPON HIM and not on one’s self.  Jesus wants to work in, with, and through, each of us for His glory.

Every day we are called to prophesy (to encourage) and to preach (to testify).  By right and power of our Baptism we are called to be priest and prophet.  Many times when I felt unqualified when asked to perform a task, I felt inadequate for the task at hand.  However, I learned that, if I just said “yes”, surrendering to the Holy Spirit, God the Father would “qualify” me, the unqualified.   He would give me the tools and knowledge to complete the task He has called me to complete in His name. 

So how do we spread the good news?  St. Francis made it very clear:

“Preach the Gospel and use words only when necessary”.

St. Francis also made it clear that we should preach the Gospel to all of God’s creation.  (So, talk to your dogs and cats about today’s Gospel.)

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In conclusion, families who work together, accomplishing the humdrum, routine household tasks, know the benefits of cooperation are more than simple efficiency.  In sharing daily tasks, we accomplish more; AND, we also build lasting, enjoyable, relationships.  So, Jesus sent His disciples in pairs to preach, teach, and heal in His name.  Perhaps the work of the apostles was accomplished more effectively in pairs; and more importantly, Jesus’ own mission was actually accomplished – – more authentically! – – (Whoa, think on this last statement.  It is pretty heavy theologically and philosophically).  Jesus’ message can only authentically be proclaimed in, with, and through His/OUR “community” of faith – – a Universal (“Catholic”) Church [in the singular].  

Think about some household tasks which are more easily accomplished when done with two or more people working together.  Why does working together not only make the job easier, but also make the task more fun?   Well, probably because you and the others helping are able to spend time together in “community”.  

Knowing the advantages and capabilities of “community”, why do you think Jesus sent out His disciples in pairs?  Jesus STILL continues to give us “communities” with which we intimately share our life of discipleship: our family AND the community of the local and universal Church.  The Lord Jesus Christ entrusts us with His gifts and talents.  Are you eager to place yourself at His service (?), to do whatever He bids of you (?); to witness His truth and saving power to whomever and wherever He sends you?

Please pray we ALL continue to rely on the support of the community of the Church in our life of discipleship.  The Holy Spirit is the oxygen for our souls, and for the living universal Church community, breathed into us by Christ Himself!  Wow, let me finish with this UNIQUE analogy of the community of the universal (Catholic) Church:

The Catholic Church is a:

SOLE             (meaning “singular” or “ONE”, and, a type of white “fish”)
COMMUNITY
OF

SOULS
           (meaning “fishers of men”)!!

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Reflection Prayer:

 

“O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary to
the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.  Amen.”

(Prayer for the Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time)

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 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 who 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, Laying on of hands for 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

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’” (Isaiah 9:6) RSV.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) KJV.

***

“Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven’” (Matthew 16:16-17) RSV.

“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-17) KJV.

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Bonaventure (1221-1274)

 

Bonaventure, Franciscan, theologian, doctor of the Church, was both learned and holy.  Because of the spirit that filled him and his writings, he was at first called the Devout Doctor; but in more recent centuries he has been known as the Seraphic Doctor after the “Seraphic Father” Francis because of the truly Franciscan spirit he possessed.

Born in Bagnoregio, a town in central Italy, he was cured of a serious illness as a boy through the prayers of Francis of Assisi.  Later, he studied the liberal arts in Paris.  Inspired by Francis and the example of the friars, especially of his master in theology, Alexander of Hales, he entered the Franciscan Order, and became in turn a teacher of theology in the university.  Chosen as minister general of the Order in 1257, he was God’s instrument in bringing it back to a deeper love of the way of St. Francis, both through the life of Francis which he wrote at the behest of the brothers and through other works which defended the Order or explained its ideals and way of life.

Comment:

Bonaventure so united holiness and theological knowledge that he rose to the heights of mysticism while yet remaining a very active preacher and teacher, one beloved by all who met him.  To know him was to love him; to read him is still for us today to meet a true Franciscan and a gentleman.

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)

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Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) Rule
Article #’s 15 & 16 of 26:

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.

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Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community.

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“Judge Me Not – – Um, – – Actually, Please Judge Me Lord!” – Matthew 25:31-46†


 

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

Last Sunday of Ordinary Time for Liturgical Year

 

 Today’s Content:

 

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

  

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

One week to the beginning of the Advent Season.  What are your plans to make this Advent personally special and more faith fulfilling for you?  Let me know.

 

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 Today in Catholic History:

    

†   284 – Diocletian was chosen as Roman Emperor.
†   1168 – Giovanni di Struma elected “anti-Pope”
†   1342 – Pope Clemens VI names John IV of Arkel as Bishop of Utrecht
†   1437 – Death of Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham, cardinal and lord chancellor; excommunicated, reinstated by anti-pope John XXIII (b. 1363)
†   1529 – Death of Karl von Miltitz, papal nuncio to Germany and envoy of Pope Leo X to Martin Luther
†   1621 – Birth of Avvakum, Russian priest and writer (d. 1682)
†   1761 – Birth of Pope Pius VIII, [Francesco S Castiglioni], Italy, 253rd Pope (1829-30)
†   1778 – Death of Francesco Cetti, Italian Jesuit Jesuit priest, zoologist and mathematician (b. 1726)
†   1890 – Pope Leo XIII publishes encyclical on slavery in missions
†   1934 – Birth of Valentine J Peter, Omaha Nebraska, priest (Boy’s Town 1985- )
†   1942 – Birth of Paulos Faraj Rahho, Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Bishop (d. 2008)
†   1947 – Pope Pius XII publishes encyclical “Mediator Dei”, suggesting new directions and active participation instead of a merely passive role of the faithful in the liturgy, in liturgical ceremonies and in the life of their parish.

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

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 Quote of the Day:

 

“Every time a parent and child ‘express their love and care for one another,’ wherever that may happen, our world has become a little more perfect.” ~ Chris Lowney, “Heroic Living”, Loyola Press

  

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching that when the Son of Man comes in glory, He will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.  (Judgment of Nations)

  

(NAB Matthew 25:31-46) 31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him.  And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  34Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.  Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’  37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’  40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’  41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’  44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’  45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’  46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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 Gospel Reflection:

 

Today’s Gospel passage is the conclusion of Jesus’ teaching discourse with His disciples.  The topic is about the “end of time”, – – the coming of the Son of Man, – – and the Final Judgment: the “Parousia”.  We are hearing today, this description of this “changing” event, at the conclusion of our present liturgical year, “the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King”.  Next week starts a new Liturgical year in the Catholic Church (Cycle “B’, using Mark’s Gospel predominately).  With the ending of Matthew’s Gospel, today’s passage might also be read as a wrapping up of Matthew’s account and testimony on Jesus’ life and ministry as well.  The remaining chapters go on to tell the events of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection.

Do you remember last Sunday’s parable of “the Talents”?  It goes along with today’s narrative.  The “Talents” parable, along with today’s reading, teaches us that the gifts and graces we have been given are intended to be used for the service of others, especially the least among us.  Our final judgment before God will be based not only on how we have used these gifts and talents, but also on how we have extended ourselves in service to these least ones of His creations.  In fact, Jesus tells us that whenever we have served “these least ones”, we have served Jesus Christ Himself.  How awesome is that fact!!  (As much as we might like to judge the parables, the parables, nonetheless, judge us as well.) 

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Today’s narrative of Jesus, which is distinctive only to Matthew’s Gospel, portrays the “Final Judgment” that will accompany the “Parousia”.  Although most people call today’s reading a “parable,” it really isn’t a parable, per se.  The only elements of a parable are the 1) depiction of the “Son of Man” as a “shepherd”, and 2) of the “righteous” and the “wicked” as “sheep” and “goats” respectively (Matthew 25:32–33).  

In today’s reading, Jesus describes to His disciples the scene of the Final Judgment of the “Son of Man”, Jesus Christ.  “All the nations” will be assembled before Him, and He will separate them as a shepherd separates sheep and goats upon their return from the pasture.  The “Final Judgments” made by Jesus Christ, will be based upon the acts of mercy shown to the least ones: the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned.  Without a doubt, Jesus Himself, – – who suffered through His scourging, and who died a painful death on the Holy Cross, – – identified (and still identifies) Himself with the “least ones” of His flock.  The decisive factor of “judgment” will be the deeds of mercy that have been done for the least of Jesus’ brothers (Matthew 25:40).  

A difficult and important question is how we identify these “least brothers”.  Are they “all people” who have suffered hunger, thirst, etc. (Matthew 25:35-36) or a particular group of such sufferers?  Bible scholars even seem to be divided in their response to this question.  Arguments can be realistically made for either side of the question.  For me, it seems a stronger case can be made for Matthew’s view being that the sufferers are his “Christians”, and probably Christian the missionaries whose sufferings were the result of their preaching of the Gospel.  The measurable criterion of judgment for “all the nations” (verse 32) is revealed by their treatment of those who have heard the message of Jesus Christ, and their ultimate acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ Himself:

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40).

So, I think Jesus meant, by saying, “all the nations will be assembled before him”, a reference to the time before the Parousia event when ALL will hear (and thus be responsible) for God’s message:

This Gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14).

Wow!  This means the “Gentiles and Samaritans” will be judged on their response to His “Word” as well.  The phrase “all the nations” includes the Jewish people AND non-Jewish peoples who will be brought to His throne at the “Final Judgment”:

 “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.” (Mt 16:27).

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Goats are animals that will consume ANYTHING.  Jesus states that the “Goats”, will be placed to the left – – not an honorable position.  In verse 41, Jesus says:

Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”  (Matthew 25:41) 

The “accursed” (Matthew 25:41) – -the “goats” of today’s reading, will be surprised and dumbfounded that their neglect of “the sufferers” was also – – at the same time – – neglect of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Furthermore, they will receive – – from Jesus Christ Himself – –  a similar response at the “Final Judgment”:  separation from His kingdom.

 

Jesus’ story about the separation of goats and sheep must have unsettled His audience, nearly everyone either being shepherds or related in some way to shepherds.  In the barren and parched lands of Palestine, goats and sheep often grazed together during the day because green pasture was sparse indeed.  These animals were only separated at night, as goats apparently need shelter.  Goats were also less submissive and meek; more often “on edge” than sheep are.  Goats even came to symbolize evil, and the expression “scapegoat” has become a common expression for someone who is made to take the blame for others. 

There is even an Old Testament passage eluding to this “scapegoat” expression, and of the ritual expulsion of the “sin-bearing” goat on the Jewish “Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur):

When he has finished purging the inner sanctuary, the tent of meeting and the altar, Aaron shall bring forward the live goat.  Laying both hands on its head, he shall confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and their trespasses, including all their sins, and so put them on the goat’s head.  He shall then have it led into the wilderness by an attendant.  The goat will carry off all their iniquities to an isolated region.” (Leviticus 16:20-22)

Jesus is telling us that separation is an inevitable consequence of His judgment.  The Day of “Final Judgment” will reveal who showed true compassion and mercy toward their neighbor (the sheep), and those who have not (the goat).  

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At any banquet of Jesus’ time, the preferred place of honor was ALWAYS to the right of the host.  In today’s reading, the “sheep” will be placed in the place of honor at God’s heavenly banquet.  This expression of the “place of honor” can be seen throughout Holy Scripture, and medieval art.  In the famous painting of the last supper, Simon Peter was immediately to the right of Jesus.  St. Dismas, the good thief, is shown crucified to the right of Jesus Christ.  And Jesus’ throne in Heaven is to the right of God the Father:

“From this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (Luke 22:69)

This right hand “place of honor” is so important of a position that ONLY God the Father can grant such a place hold:

My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left [, this] is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

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So, what are we to “DO” to gain entrance to His kingdom?  Jesus gives more than a hint in verse 35-36:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36) 

The Church calls the actions that Jesus described in today’s Gospel the “Corporal Works of Mercy”.  These works are:

  1. Feed the hungry
  2. Give drink to the thirsty
  3. Clothe the naked
  4. Shelter the homeless
  5. Visit the sick
  6. Visit those in prison
  7. Bury the dead

The “righteous” will be amazed to know that in caring for the needs of “sufferers”, they were actually ministering to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as well.  We have to remember the famous verse from Matthew 10:

Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42).

 Jesus Christ is going even further in saying:

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

Not only are we to see Jesus in all who we meet, we also “DO” to Jesus whatever we “DO” to each and every person we see.  Hmm, what does that mean when you curse at someone, “flip the bird” at another, or do something immoral or inappropriate toward a neighbor, friend, or family member? (You know the answer!)

Jesus is teaching us a very important lesson about loving our neighbor and taking responsibility for others as a role we should endeavor in as faithful Catholics.  God will judge us not only for the wrong we have done, but also for what we have failed to do!! 

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Verse 41 of today’s reading has a scary and prophetic message for all of us, especially thegoats” among us.  I personally do not like the hot weather of St. Louis summers, so this image of a “fiery” hell truly scares me.  This image scared the Jewish people as well.  1 Enoch 10:13 (an ancient Jewish religious work, traditionally attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah) says of the evil angels and their leader:

When their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgment and of their consummation, till the judgment that is forever and ever is consummated.  In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined forever.  And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all.” (1 Enoch 10:12-14)

I highly recommend a book titled, “23 minutes in Hell”, written by Bill Wiese.  It is an extremely eye opening personal account of someone given the “grace” of being placed at the entrance to hell for a very short period.   Not an enjoyable “read”, but well worth the time.  It may literally scare “the hell” out of you!!

Is there an example of how to live this “doing” to others?  Well, when Saint Martin of Tours, a young Roman soldier from the 4th century AD, met an unclothed man begging for alms in the freezing cold, he did an unbelievable thing for that time period.  He stopped at the man, cut his coat in two, and gave half to the stranger.  That night he dreamt he saw the heavenly court with Jesus robed in a torn cloak.  One of the angels asked Jesus, “Master, why do you wear that battered cloak?”  Jesus replied, “My servant ‘Martin’ gave it to me.”  Martin’s disciple and biographer, Sulpicius Severus, states that as a consequence of this vision, Martin “flew to be baptized”. 

 

In the chapters that follow, in Matthew’s Gospel, we learn the great and boundless extent to which Jesus Christ identifies with the least ones; to the point of giving up His life for the least among us.  In accepting a horrible and excruciating death on the cross, Jesus Christ shows Himself to be one of the hungry, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned.  To accept Jesus IS to accept Him – – who suffered and died on the Cross –as one of the least ones.

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To conclude, in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that we will be judged on only one thing: one’s acts of mercy, which we have shown to the least among us.  Knowing the answers will not suffice; “DOING” the answers is all that counts!!  Jesus identifies with the least ones; thus we serve Him whenever we serve one of the least ones!!  In these actions, these “Corporal Works of Mercy”, we show God’s compassion and mercy to those “least one’s” in need of faith, hope, and love.

God’s boundless love compels us to treat others with mercy and kindness.  When we do something for one of Christ’s least and marginalized ones, we do it for Christ Himself.  Do you treat your neighbor with mercy and love – – as Jesus Christ has treated you?

Reread the list of the “Corporal Works of Mercy” mentioned earlier.  What are some concrete examples of how you might “DO” these actions in your community?  Why is it important that we “DO” these things, especially for others?  Why does Jesus say we ought to – – need to – – DO these works of mercy?  (The answer is simply because whenever we show mercy to another person, we are also showing mercy to Jesus himself.)  Choose one “Corporal Work of Mercy” to “DO” this week; then add to it each week.  Pray that you will always see, and always serve, Jesus Christ in the least and marginalized ones among us.

 

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 Reflection Prayer:

 

Act of Love

“O my God, I love you above all things with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of those whom I have injured.  Amen.”

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

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

The Gloria

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

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

 

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 A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Edmund Rich (1175 – 1240)

 

Archbishop of Canterbury England, who battled for discipline and justice, also called Edmund of Abingdon.  Edmund was born in Abingdon, Oxfordshire on November 30, 1180.  He studied at Oxford, England, and also in Paris, France.  He taught art and mathematics at Oxford and was eventually ordained to the priesthood.  

He spent eight years teaching theology and became Canon and treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral.  An eloquent speaker, Edmund preached a crusade for Pope Gregory IX and was named archbishop of Canterbury.  He became an advisor to King Henry III and presided in 1237 at Henry’s ratification of the Great Charter.  When Cardinal Olt became a papal legate with the patronage of King Henry, Edmund protested.  

A long-lasting feud between Edmund, the king, and his legate led him to resigning his See in 1240.  He went to Pontigny, France, where he became a Cistercian Priest.  He died at Soissons, on November 16, 1240.  Edmund was canonized in 1246 or 1247.  A hall in Oxford still bears his name.

Patron of: Abingdon, Oxfordshire; Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth; St Edmund’s College, Cambridge

Information from Wikipedia

 

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 Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Saint Francis and His Message

 

If Saint Francis were writing a letter to your local SFO Fraternity, what do you think he would include in that letter? – Make a list.

Using this idea, can you make up a letter from Saint Francis to your Fraternity?

What inspiration(s) have you found in the letters of St. Francis?  (If you haven’t. you should.)

  

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Subsection #’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.

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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.

“Your Faith Is Not For The Dogs!” –Matthew 15:21-28†


 

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Tomorrow is SOooo special for me.  It is the “Feast of the Assumption”, a Marian Feast Day, and also the Day when I will renew again my “Consecration to Jesus through Mary”, as created and popularized by St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1720).  His “consecration” is a special devotion lasting 33 days before the actual pledge or consecration of one’s total abandonment to Jesus through Mary, as a means to live my Baptismal promises.

This particular Marian devotion was loved greatly, and commented about often, by Blessed John Paul II, “the Great”.

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Next weekend, I will be on my annual SFO Regional Retreat at “King’s House” in Belleville, Illinois.  Franciscans from Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois, and all over Missouri are getting together to rejoice, pray, and interact with, in, and through the Holy Spirit, and in the Seraphic presence of Sts. Francis and Clare.

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    

†   1464 – Death of Pope Pius II (b. 1405)
†   1740 – Birth of Pius VII, [Luigi B Chiaramonti], bishop of Imola/Pope (1800-1823)
†   1941 – Death of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Polish martyr (b. 1894)
†   1961 – Death of Henri-Edouard-Prosper Breuil, priest/archaeologist, dies

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

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

 

“No cloud can overshadow a true Christian but his faith will discern a rainbow in it.” ~ Bishop Horne

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus healing the daughter of the Canaanite woman because of her great faith.

 

(NAB Matthew 15:21-28) 21 Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  22 And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”  23 But he did not say a word in answer to her.  His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”  24 He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  25 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”  26 He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”  27 She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”  28 Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”  And her daughter was healed from that hour.

 

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Gospel Reflection:

 

 

Last week we read about Jesus walking on the water and the disciples’ “confession” of faith: Jesus is the “Son of God”.  Today we move ahead in our reading of Matthew’s Gospel.  If we were reading Matthew’s entire Gospel, we would have read about Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees in relation to Jewish “purity laws”. Jesus argues that it is not what goes into us which makes us unclean; He is referring to the strict Jewish dietary rules created from the Scribes own interpretations of Mosaic Law.

Instead, our words and our actions – – what emit from us – – make us truly unclean, because our words and actions emerge from a heart which is truly unclean through our previous sins and iniquities.

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Today’s Gospel reading describes the only occasion in Holy Scripture when Jesus ministered outside of Jewish territory.  (Tyre and Sidon are fifty miles north of Israel and still exist today in modern Lebanon.)  

Tyre is a city in what is the Southern part of Lebanon today. The city juts out from the coast of the Mediterranean and is located about 50 miles south of Beirut. The name of the city means “rock” after the rocky formation on which the town was originally built.  Tyre is an ancient Phoenician city having many historical sites, including its famous “Roman Hippodrome”.   

 Sidon is also on the Mediterranean coast of present-day Southern Lebanon, about half-way between Tyre to the south and Beirut to the north.  Its name means “a fishery.”  Hmm; I wonder what the main occupation was in Sidon!

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Knowing about Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees helps us to understand today’s Gospel.  In fact, the unread story leading up to today’s reading would heighten the revelation and awe we feel as we “hear” Jesus’ exchange with the “Canaanite woman”.  The woman, who is not Jewish, approaches Jesus with a request that He heal her “demon-oppressed daughter” (I often feel that my teenage son’s are “demon-oppressed”).  At first, Jesus ignores her; He says nothing.  Besides, the disciples ask Jesus to send her away (They love to send people away, don’t they), and Jesus, at first agrees, remarking that He was sent to minister to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” – – “only”.

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A similar story to todays is related earlier in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 8:5-13):

“When He entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.’  He said to him, ‘I will come and cure him.’  The centurion said in reply, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.  For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me.  And I say to one, “’Go,” and he goes; and to another, “Come here,” and he comes; and to my slave, “Do this,” and he does it.’  When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those following Him, ‘Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.  I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’  And Jesus said to the centurion, ‘You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.’  And at that very hour (his) servant was healed.” (Matthew 8:5-13)

As in Matthew’s earlier story of the “daughter of a Centurion” above, Jesus breaks with His usual practice of ministering, teaching, and preaching to Israelites only, and in doing so, prefigures the Apostles and the Catholic Church’s mission to the Jews and Gentiles alike.

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Today’s reading has a “Canaanite woman” as the solicitor of help.  Canaanites’ (Gentiles) were a despised race by the Jewish people.   Canaanites, like the woman in this Gospel reading, were inhabitants of a region in the area of what is the present-day Gaza Strip, Israel, West Bank, and Lebanon.  “Canaan” predates the ancient Israelite territories described in the Bible, and describes a land with different, yet, overlapping boundaries.

This Canaanite woman, a non-Jew, is identifying Jesus as her “Lord” and “Son of David”!  By saying these two phrases, she is exclaiming publically that Jesus is the one having power and authority over all others as the divine ruler by hereditary right and ascendancy from God the Father in heavenFOR Jew AND Gentile as well!  She is also declaring her faith – – openly and publically – – that Jesus is the “true” Messiah of the Jewish people; and  as such, He is due our love, worship, and obedience.

 

Jesus tells this Canaanite lady, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (verse 24).  What did He mean by this?  Didn’t He come for the entire human race?!  I believe His “Word” is a foretelling of a future mission Jesus will give to His Apostles, and through them, to the growing Church to come.

Like Jesus Himself, the Twelve Apostles were initially sent only to Jewish territories and people; a way to “get their feet wet”:

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, ‘Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.  Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” (Matthew 10:5-6)

 

The statement, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Verse 24)   may reflect an initial early Christian refusal of missions to the Gentiles.  Or, it could just have been an expression of the limitation – – Jesus Himself – – observed during His ministry, by never travelling any further than about 100 miles from His birthplace.

 

However, the woman persists, paying homage to Jesus, and yet He denies her request again.  Jesus even appears to insult her, using a Jewish word of disrespect for Gentiles (including Canaanites): “dog”:

It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:26). 

In a rather quick-witted reply, the “Canaanite woman” cleverly turns Jesus’ “insult” into an affirmation of a deep and “true” faith:

Even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Matthew 15:27).

This witty quip of hers really got Jesus’ attention; it showed the strength of her faith and her persistence.  Only then does Jesus grant her request and heal her daughter.

This woman reminds me of my wife: she won’t take “no” for an answer.  The woman in this story keeps calling out after Him, to the point of annoying the Apostles.  Jesus finally relents, and not only listens to her pleas, but acts on her pleas immediately.

In recalling Jesus’ encounters with women, this seems to be a normal pattern for Him: swiftly relenting to the women in His life.  Mary, His mother asks Jesus to help the wine stewards at the feast in Cana; Margaret asks Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead; and Mary Magdalene had seven “spirits” removed after asking Jesus.  (Jesus obviously learned early on, the first mantra of every married man: “Yes dear”!!)

 

Now, here’s a little secret!  Jesus does the same thing – – still today – – for both men and women!  All we need to do is ask Him for help, and He will help.  His intervention may not be swift enough for you, and may not even be the way you wanted something carried out.  To be quite honest, you may not recognize that Jesus interven at all, but He always helps anyone who asks.  The divine wisdom of God has no earthly boundaries such as time and space.  Every action He takes has a purpose and reason, maybe ever known to us.  How He acts on a specific request is always for the best outcome of the person making the request, the people involved, and for future circumstances.

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Jesus’ words are specific and purposeful then, now, and in the future.  What did Jesus mean by the phrase “throwing bread to the dogs“?  Jewish custom often spoke of “Gentiles” with conceit and disrespect as likened to “unclean dogs”.  For the Jewish people of this time, Gentiles were excluded from God’s covenant and favor with Israel.  Earlier in Matthew 7:6 records this expression:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs ….” (Matthew 7:6).

And now, I however, believe Jesus spoke to this Canaanite woman with a calm and reassuring voice rather than with an insult.  Why?  Simply because she immediately responded with a quick wit and deep faith:

Even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Matthew 15:27)

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The children” Jesus was speaking of, were the people of Israel: the Jewish people.  The term “dogs” on the other hand, was (along with the word “swine”) a Jewish term of scorn for Gentiles by the Jewish people: 

Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

As stated earlier, dogs and swine were Jewish terms of contempt for Gentiles.  This saying may originally have derived from a Jewish Christian community opposed to preaching the Gospel (what is holy, the pearls) to Gentiles.  Some believe Matthew may have taken this concept and belief as applying to a Christians dealing with stubbornly unremorseful, unapologetic, and/or brazen fellow Christians, as in Matthew 18:

If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:17)

I do not believe this was Matthew’s intent or meaning.  My reasoning is in light of what is written in the very last chapter, the very last verses of Matthew’s Gospel:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

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Let’s get back to Jesus’ reaction to this woman.  Jesus’ unresponsiveness to her may appear to us as uncharacteristic or possibly even shocking for Him to do to another.  Yet, we need to know and remember that in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ ministry is directed primarily to the people of Israel – the Jewish “Catholic” people.  Only in a very few times, such as this one, do we find Jesus anticipating the later “Catholic (Universal)” Christian ministry to the rest of the world.

Behind Matthew’s written text, we can hear his early Catholic Christian community’s struggle to understand how God’s selection of Israel is unfailing after two recent, specific, and very important events: Israel’s rejection of Jesus by the formal “Leaders” of the Temple (His arrest, scourging, and crucifixion), and the Gentile peoples acceptance of Jesus.  Just as Jesus was surprised by the deep faith of the “Canaanite woman”, so too were the first Catholic Christians surprised that the Gentiles would also receive the salvation God the Father offered to the Jews first, and then to the Gentile world through Jesus Christ.

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Faith is not for the Jewish people alone; it is for ALL mankind and for individual persons as well!  As in the case of the cure of the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:10):

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” (Matthew 8:10),

In both instances of the “Centurion” and the “Canaanite Woman”, Matthew attributes Jesus’ granting of the request to both as His response to their GREAT FAITH.

 

Jesus praises both the “Canaanite woman” and the “Centurion” for their faith, trust, and love.  They made the suffering of their children their own, and were willing to suffer refusal and rejection in order to obtain a healing for their children.  THEY BOTH possessed a “determined persistence” in their request to Jesus Christ; beginning with a request, they both ended on their knees in worshipful prayer and gratitude to the living “Messiah”.  No one who ever sought Jesus, with faith – be they Jew or Gentile – was ever refused His help.  Do you seek Jesus with a confident and “persistent” faith?

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In conclusion, the figure or symbol of a household in which children at a table are fed first, and then their “leftover” food is given to the dogs under the table, is used effectively to acknowledge a prior claim of the Jews to Jesus’ earthly ministry, but not an exclusive claim, as some Jews believed.  However, Jesus Himself grants the Gentile “Canaanite” woman’s plea for a cure for her afflicted daughter, solely out of her strong, confident, and persistently “true” faith in Him as the promised “Son of David”: the “Messiah” who saves both Gentile and Jew.

 

Even when spurned by Jesus, the faith of the “Canaanite woman” makes her both strong and bold enough to confront and ask again for what she needs from Jesus Christ, in order to receive a healing for her daughter.  Her persistence and great confidence, knowing Jesus could heal her oppressed daughter, reminds me of the confidence with which our children bring to us their own needs.  In their “child-like” faith and trust we can find an example of how we might approach God in prayer – – with humility, piety, love, perseverance, and most importantly, simple, child-like FAITH!!.

Let us remember: we don’t pray to change God’s mind; we pray that our minds be changed.  If we got everything we ask for, then WE would be God, and we would have no need for faith in anyone!  There would be no opportunities for other doors to open, and no need to see Jesus in others with whom we come into contact.  I believe, that without faith, there would no longer be any anticipation, wisdom, miracles, sharing, trust, or gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Then, how sad would be the world!

Recall a time when a request for something was presented to you by a friend or family member with confidence and persistence.  If the request was denied, why was it denied?  If the request was granted, what led to a change of heart?  

Were you surprised by Jesus’ initial negative response to the Canaanite woman?  Why or why not?  What made Jesus change His mind and heal the woman’s daughter?  When we pray, God wants us to be  confident in His mercy.  Identify things you need from God (not things you “wish” for).  Pray these “prayers of petition” with a confidence God will hear and answer your prayers.  He always answers ALL prayers, one way or another, and on HIS time (not ours).

 

The faith the Canaanite woman had for the divinity of Jesus Christ is an affirmation of, and confidence in, God’s abundant mercy to all His creation.  Yes, salvation comes through Israel, but it overflows for the benefit of all who believe, live, and journey on Jesus’ pathway to paradise.

 

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Reflection Psalm:

 

 

Psalm 67

All the nations will praise God.

 

May God be gracious to us and bless us; may God’s face shine upon us.  So shall your rule be known upon the earth, your saving power among all the nations.  May the nations be glad and shout for joy; for you govern the peoples justly, you guide the nations upon the earth.  May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you!  May God bless us still; that the ends of the earth may revere our God.” (Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8)

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

The memorial acclamations that we currently use

have all been changed.

The one that is most familiar to us (“Christ has died, Christ is risen …”) has disappeared completely.  The three remaining ones are similar to those in the current missal, but the wording is different in each case.

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

 

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941)

 

“I don’t know what’s going to become of you!”  How many parents have said that?  Maximilian Mary Kolbe’s reaction was, “I prayed very hard to Our Lady to tell me what would happen to me.  She appeared, holding in her hands two crowns, one white, one red.  She asked if I would like to have them—one was for purity, the other for martyrdom.  I said, ‘I choose both.’  She smiled and disappeared.”  After that he was not the same.

He entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans in Lvív (then Poland, now Ukraine), near his birthplace, and at 16 became a novice.  Though he later achieved doctorates in philosophy and theology, he was deeply interested in science, even drawing plans for rocket ships.

Ordained at 24, he saw religious indifference as the deadliest poison of the day.  His mission was to combat it.  He had already founded the Militia of the Immaculata, whose aim was to fight evil with the witness of the good life, prayer, work and suffering.  He dreamed of and then founded Knight of the Immaculata, a religious magazine under Mary’s protection to preach the Good News to all nations.  For the work of publication he established a “City of the Immaculata”—Niepokalanow—which housed 700 of his Franciscan brothers.  He later founded one in Nagasaki, Japan.  Both the Militia and the magazine ultimately reached the one-million mark in members and subscribers. His love of God was daily filtered through devotion to Mary.

In 1939 the Nazi panzers overran Poland with deadly speed.  Niepokalanow was severely bombed.  Kolbe and his friars were arrested, then released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In 1941 he was arrested again.  The Nazis’ purpose was to liquidate the select ones, the leaders.  The end came quickly, in Auschwitz three months later, after terrible beatings and humiliations.

A prisoner had escaped.  The commandant announced that 10 men would die.  He relished walking along the ranks.  “This one.  That one.” As they were being marched away to the starvation bunkers, Number 16670 dared to step from the line.  “I would like to take that man’s place.  He has a wife and children.”  “Who are you?”  “A priest.”  No name, no mention of fame.  Silence.  The commandant, dumbfounded, perhaps with a fleeting thought of history, kicked Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek out of line and ordered Father Kolbe to go with the nine.  In the “block of death” they were ordered to strip naked, and their slow starvation began in darkness.  But there was no screaming—the prisoners sang.  By the eve of the Assumption four were left alive.  The jailer came to finish Kolbe off as he sat in a corner praying.  He lifted his fleshless arm to receive the bite of the hypodermic needle.  It was filled with carbolic acid.  They burned his body with all the others.  He was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982.

Comment:

Father Kolbe’s death was not a sudden, last-minute act of heroism.  His whole life had been a preparation.  His holiness was a limitless, passionate desire to convert the whole world to God.  And his beloved Immaculata was his inspiration.

Quote:

“Courage, my sons.  Don’t you see that we are leaving on a mission?  They pay our fare in the bargain.  What a piece of good luck!  The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible.  Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes”  (Maximilian Mary Kolbe, when first arrested).

Patron Saint of: Addicts, Drug addiction

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

 

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

SFO Fraternity Life

 

In what ways does an SFO Fraternity show SHARING on the part of the members?

How is this manifested in your daily life?

In what ways does a SFO Fraternity show CARING on the part of the members?

How is this manifested in your daily life?

 

 

ТТТ

 

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 14 & 15 of 26:

 

14.  Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively.  Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.

Т

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.

  

“The Restaurant Is Now Open. Please Come In and Be Saved!” – Matthew 14:13-21†


 

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

 

ТТТ

 

Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Today is day nineteen of St. Louis de Monfort’s “Consecration to Jesus Through Mary”.  We are more than half-way done with this special grouping of prayers.  How are you doing?  Please let me know.

 Т

Let us all please pray for those among us suffering greatly from this prolonged heat-wave. Many have died, and sadly, many more will die due to lack of air conditioning.  What a pity in today’s “modern” society.

 

ТТТ

 

    

Today in Catholic History:

    

†   432 – St Sixtus III begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   768 – [Philip] begins & ends his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1498 – On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus (a Third Order Franciscan) becomes the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.
†   1556 – Death of Ignatius Loyola, Spanish priest and founder of the Jesuits
†   1702 – Birth of Jean Denis Attiret, French Jesuit missionary and painter (d. 1768)
†   1811 – Death Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Mexican hero priest, executed by Spanish
†   1892 – Joseph Charbonneau, French Canadian Roman Catholic Archbishop of Montreal (d. 1959)
†   Feasts/Memorials: Saint Germanus (d.448), bishop of Auxerre, confessor [Bruges; Paris]; Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits

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

 

ТТТ

 

 

Quote of the Day:

 

 

“We cannot live without joining together on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist.  We would lack the strength to face our daily problems and not to succumb.  Christ is truly present among us in the Eucharist.  It is a dynamic presence that grasps us, to make us His own, to make us assimilate Him.  Christ draws us to Him, He makes us come out of ourselves to make us all one with Him.  Communion with the Lord is always also communion with our brothers and sisters.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI, “Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI”, Magnificat

 

ТТТ

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus feeding the crowd with five loaves and two fish.

 

 (NAB Matthew 14:13-21)  13 When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.  The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.  14 When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.  15 When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”  16 (Jesus) said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”  17 But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”  18 Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” 19 and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  20 They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full.  21 Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

ТТТ

 

 

Gospel Reflection:

 

Last week we heard Jesus conclude His sermon and teachings, with “the crowds’, about the Kingdom of Heaven.  In Matthew’s narrative, Jesus then leaves the crowds and returns to His home town, Nazareth, where he is rejected by the people who knew Him since birth.  Matthew then recounts the story of John the Baptist’s arrest and execution at the hands of Herod.  Today’s Gospel reading begins at this point.

Upon hearing the news of the death of His cousin and friend, John “the Baptist”, Jesus seeks to withdraw, probably to reminisce and pray for the last prophet before the appearing Messiah.  However, the crowds continued to follow Jesus earnestly.  Jesus then reaches out to them in compassion, even healing the sick among them.  

Т

How do you treat those who make unexpected demands on you?  When Jesus and the disciples sought a lonely place to regroup and rest, they instead found a crowd of more than five thousand people waiting for them!  Did you think they resented this intrusion on their hard-earned need for rest and privacy?  At the end of this very long and overwhelming day, His disciples encouraged Jesus to send the crowds away so they can find provisions “for themselves”.  

However, Jesus welcomed the crowds with open-arms.  Jesus put their (and our) human needs ahead of everything else including His, and the Apostles, desire for privacy.  His compassion showed the depths of God’s love for the “crowds”, and a concern for all who are truly needy.  Inspired by God the Father’s compassion for the crowd before Him, Jesus tells His disciples to provide food for the crowd of “5000 men”, plus women and children.  They reply to Jesus with a concern about the meagerness of their own provisions: only “five loaves and two fish”.  The miraculous outcome of this event, as demonstrated in this story, is the very familiar “miracle or sign” of the multiplication of the loaves and fish.  All were completely satisfied, and there were leftovers.

 

Here is a real awesome bit of trivia: the feeding of the five thousand men (plus women and children) is the only miracle of Jesus recounted in all four Gospels.  The principal reason is the anticipation of the Holy Eucharist in the eternal banquet we will experience in God’s kingdom:

I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.  I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.”  (Matthew 8:11; 26:29).

However, the “miracle” or “sign” looks not only forward, but also backward, to the feeding of Israel with manna in the desert during the Exodus (cf., Exodus 16).  Today’s reported miracle is one which some contemporary Jewish believers anticipate would be repeated in the “Messianic age” (- – and even some contemporary peers of our day still anticipate this coming miracle of the Messiah):

And it shall come to pass at that self-same time (in the days when the Messiah comes) that the treasury of manna shall again descend from on high, and they will eat of it in those years.” (*2 Baruch 29:8).

(*) 2 Baruch 29:8 is used in this reflection because it is found as a footnote in the NAB-CE Bible.  “2 Baruch” is a Jewish text thought to have been written in the late 1st century AD or early 2nd century AD, after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.  It is attributed to the Old Testament book of Baruch, but not regarded as Holy Scripture by Jews or by most Christian groups.  It is, however, included in some editions of the Peshitta, the official Bible of the Church of the East, and is part of the Bible in the Syriac Orthodox tradition.   “2 Baruch” is also known as the “Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch”.

This miracle/sign may also have been meant to recall Elisha’s feeding a hundred men with relatively small provisions:

A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barley loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear.  “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.  But his servant objected, ‘How can I set this before a hundred men?’ ‘Give it to the people to eat,’ Elisha insisted. ‘For thus says the LORD, “They shall eat and there shall be some left over.”’  And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the LORD had said.” (2 Kings 4:42-44).

Т

Why did Jesus command His disciples to do what seemed impossible?: to feed such a large and hungry crowd with no adequate provisions in sight?  Jesus, no doubt, wanted to test their faith and to teach them to rely upon God for their provision.  The miraculous signs which Jesus performed, including the more than sufficient feeding of the five thousand, signified that God the Father was indeed fulfilling His promise in this man Jesus Christ as the anointed Messiah, Prophet, and King for His Jewish people.  In Jesus, God the Father was leading the Apostles to see, in Jesus Christ, the “Word” of God who would heal them physically as well as spiritually.

Т

Have you noticed that all of Jesus’ miraculous signs all started with a “Word” from Jesus?  Peter was to say later:

Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).

So, Jesus’ taking the bread and fish, saying the blessing, breaking, and giving the fish and bread to the disciples (verse 19), brought about a miraculous occurrence; just so His words and actions here correspond to His actions over the bread at the “Last Supper” just prior to His capture, scourging, and death on the Holy Cross:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Matthew 26:26).

Since “fish” and “bread” were typical at any Jewish meal, this connection does not necessarily indicate a Eucharistic reference directly.  While Matthew’s silent about Jesus dividing the fish (he reports only the “breaking of the loaves”) among the people, Mark’s Gospel is perhaps more significant in this action:

“Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to (his) disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all.” (Mark 6:41).

 

Jesus’ “Words” were His blessings bringing abundance from the meager provisions found by the disciples.  In this action, Jesus offers us a “sign” of the Kingdom of Heaven He had been teaching about in His parables (from the past three Sunday’s Gospels).  A “feast” results from the smallest of portions, as recalled in the earlier parables of the “mustard seed” and the “yeast”.  In this miracle or sign, we witness an example of what Christian life and ministry truly is meant to be.  Even the smallest of offerings can produce an immense result when placed in the service of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Nothing is TOO MEAGER to help bring about the kingdom of heaven on earth when done, “In the name of Jesus”.

Т

The phrase in verse 20, “fragments left over”, seems to bring back to me Elisha’s “miracle” when food was left over after all had eaten their fill, and still there were leftovers.  Interestingly, the word “fragments” are related to the “broken bread’ of the Eucharist as reported in the Didache*:

And concerning the broken bread: We thank you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you made known to us through Jesus Your servant.  To you belongs the glory forever.  As this broken bread was scattered over the mountains, and was brought together to become one, so let your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your Kingdom, for the glory and the power are yours through Jesus Christ forever.” (Didache 9:3-4).

(*)The “Didache” or “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” (“Didache” is the Greek word meaning, “The Teaching“) is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century. It is the Catholic Faith’s first Catechism.  The first line of this catechism is “Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles (or Nations) by the Twelve Apostles“.

 

So, what is the significance of this miracle or sign for us today?  The miraculous feeding of such a great “crowd” points to God’s provision of the Old Testament “manna” in the wilderness for the people of Israel, then under Moses’ leadership.  For Matthew, the provision of bread and fish prefigures the “true” heavenly bread which Jesus would offer His followers during His last Passover meal.  

 Т

In summary, we find the story of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fish in each of the four Gospels (cf., Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-13).  In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus performs this same miracle on two separate occasions (Matthew 15:32-39; and Mark 8:1-10).  The story of this miracle or sign is an anticipation of the Holy Eucharist in which we are fed by the abundantly immense grace of God Himself.  The importance of the Holy Eucharist has been a defining element of Catholic life from the very beginning, and will continue for all times and eternity.

 

To conclude, in our own life we can sometimes hear echoes of the disciples’ excuses: “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”  Sometimes this echo is heard from our children (and even ourselves) bickering about the last piece of cake or about power struggles at work.  Sometimes it is made evident in our anxiety and worry about limits of personal income or possessions.  Sometimes this echo is shouted out, loudly, in our unheard complaints about the seemingly endless demands for our time, money, and attention.

Jesus understood these feelings and is teaching us, not only to see beyond our limitations, but also to yearn to serve God in His people and their needs.  Jesus shows us compassion, a reaching out to others, even when we would rather withdraw into ourselves.  Jesus teaches us about God’s blessing and compassion offered to others through His grace.  Today’s Gospel reminds us: with God there is not only enough, there is a true and awesome abundance!  (And that is truly “true”!!  So, bring your own “wicker basket”.)

 Т

Now, what are some of the stresses and demands for time and attention you might have or feel from time to time or oft times.  Acknowledge to yourself that we all have to make difficult choices about how to use our time, talents, and treasures.

Did you notice how much Jesus cared for the crowds by healing the sick, even though He, Himself, wanted to withdraw to a quiet place to rest and pray?  Did you notice how the disciples responded to Jesus’ instruction to feed the crowd by noting their limited and meager supply of food?  Jesus blessed this limited and meager supply of food; and then it was enough to feed the entire crowd of more than 5,000 people (not including women and children), and there were leftovers!  Pray for Jesus to grant you compassion like His, so you can offer your time, talent, and/or treasure to others with His same compassion and generosity.

Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience!!  The feeding of the five thousand (plus) shows the remarkable and immense generosity of God, and His great love, kindness, and mercy towards us.  When God gives, He gives abundantly.  He gives more than we need for ourselves so we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need.  God takes the little we have and multiplies it, seventy times seven times, for the good of others.  Do you trust in God’s provision for you?  Do you share freely with others, especially those who need?

 

ТТТ

 

Reflection Psalm:

 

Psalm 145

The Lord provides for His people

 

“The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and abounding in love.
The LORD is good to all, compassionate to every creature.
The eyes of all look hopefully to you; you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
You, LORD, are just in all your ways, faithful in all your works.
You, LORD, are near to all who call upon you, to all who call upon you in truth.  Amen.”
(Psalm 145:8-9,15-18)

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

ТТТ

 

 

 

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.

 

When the Eucharistic Prayer begins, we will again respond:

And with your spirit

to the first line of the opening dialogue.  The last line of that dialogue also changes.  We presently say, “It is right to give him thanks and praise,” but with the new text, we will say:

It is right and just.”

This will lead more clearly into the opening of the prefaces, which will commonly begin with the words:

It is truly right and just.

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

 

 

ТТТ

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

 

 

The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg.  Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints.  His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began.  Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat (near Barcelona).  He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying.  After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples.  There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance.  At length, his peace of mind returned.

It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.

He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks.  He spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child.  Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.

In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others (one of whom was St. Francis Xavier) vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land.  If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope.  The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent.  The new Society of Jesus was approved by Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general.

When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens and penitents.  He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.

Ignatius was a true mystic.  He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist.  His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, ad majorem Dei gloriam—“for the greater glory of God.”  In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men.  All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.

Comment:

Luther nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517.  Seventeen years later, Ignatius founded the Society that was to play so prominent a part in the Catholic Reformation.  He was an implacable foe of Protestantism.  Yet the seeds of ecumenism may be found in his words: “Great care must be taken to show forth orthodox truth in such a way that if any heretics happen to be present they may have an example of charity and Christian moderation.  No hard words should be used nor any sort of contempt for their errors be shown.”  One of the greatest 20thh-century ecumenists was Cardinal Bea, a Jesuit.

Quote:

Ignatius recommended this prayer to penitents: “Receive, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me.  Give me only your love and your grace.  With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.”

Patron Saint of Retreats

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

 

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

 

Humility

 

“Sincere love leads to humility.” Can you explain this?

Why does humility seem to be so hard for us humans to acknowledge?  

How important is true humility?

Is there a place for “just pride”?

What do you think of this description: “Humility is truth”?

 

 

ТТТ

 

 

Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order
(SFO) Rule:

 

Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers & Sisters in Penance

In the name of the Lord!

Chapter 1

Concerning Those Who Do Penance

 

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).

We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).

We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).

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:

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

“Is Catholic ‘Communion’ sanctioned with ‘PETA’?!” – John 6:51-58 †


 

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

Т

 

Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

This weekend, I will be away at my fourth “ACTS” retreat weekend.  This is my third experience being “on team”: presenting the retreat to others.  ACTS is an acronym meaning: Adoration, Community, Theology, & Service.  With many retreat experiences under my belt, I honestly believe the ACTS Retreat movement is the most “Spirit Filled” encounter I have undergone.  I offer to each of you a personal invitation, if one ever becomes available in your area.  You can more information on the ACTS Retreat movement at the following website:

http://www.actsmissions.org/

 

 

Т

 

  

Today in Catholic History:

    

†   684 – St Benedict II begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1409 – Council of Pisa selects Petros Philargi as 3rd Pope: Alexander V
†   1870 – Christmas is declared a federal holiday in the United States
†   1936 – Birth of Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal
†   1967 – Pope Paul VI names 27 new cardinals
†   1975 – Death of St. Josemaría Escrivá, Spanish Catholic priest (b. 1902)

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

 

Т

 

Joke of the Day:

 

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus saying, “I am the living bread.”

 

 (NAB John 6:51-58) 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.  57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.  58 This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

 

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This Sunday we celebrate a second solemnity at this Second Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar.  Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  (Last week’s was the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.)  This day was once called Corpus Christi (Latin for “Body of Christ”) in the Catholic Church.  In the revised Lectionary the name of this solemnity, “Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ”, is expanded to more completely reflect our unique and true Eucharistic theology.

 

Today’s reading is taken from the Gospel according to John.  The reading relates a discourse between Jesus and a crowd of Jews.  Today’s discourse comes shortly after the miracle of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes.  In John’s Gospel, “miracles” are identified and mentioned as “signs” through which people come to believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God.  These signs are always followed by a dialogue, or discourse, that interprets and explains the miracle (“sign”).

In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves is said to have occurred near the time of Passover.  Jesus chose the time of the Jewish Feast of Passover to fulfill what He had announced at Capernaum:

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  So they said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’  Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’” (John 6:32-35)

In doing this, John links it to the Exodus story and God’s saving action toward the Israelites.  Even the representation of Jesus coming from heaven as a life giving bread is a manifestation and revelation of the “manna” stories of the Old Testament Exodus stories.

The recollection of the manna in the wilderness evokes to the Israelite people that they live – – not by earthly bread alone – – but by the “bread” of the Word of God:

“He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.  (Deuteronomy 8:3)

In the Old Covenant (Old Testament), bread and wine were offered in a Eucharistic (thanksgiving) sacrifice as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to God the Creator as being the true life giver and the true giver of life’s nourishment.  Melchizedek, both a priest and king, offered a sacrifice of bread and wine, as Christ also will:  

“Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words … “. (Genesis 14:18);

And,

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings and ‘blessed him.’  And Abraham apportioned to him ‘a tenth of everything.’  His name first means righteous king, and he was also ‘king of Salem,’ that is, king of peace.  Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.  See how great he is to whom the patriarch ‘Abraham (indeed) gave a tenth’ of his spoils.”  (Hebrews 7:1-4).

 

Melchizedek’s offering foreshadowed the offering made by Jesus Christ, our high priest and king in the “new” covenant of God’s everlasting kingdom.

“It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens.  But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creationBut this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 7:26; 9:11; 10:12).

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Having seen Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes, the crowd pursued him, perhaps to seek more food, but I believe also to look for other signs (miracles).  Jesus told the crowd that “He is the bread of life”.  He explains that just as God gave the Israelites manna to sustain them in the desert, so now God has sent “new manna” giving eternal life.  It is in this context that Jesus repeats those same words and tells all again (both then and now) that He is TRULY the living bread that came down from heaven.

At the last supper when Jesus blessed the cup of wine, he gave it to his disciples saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”:

This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28).

Jesus, in blessing the cup of wine at the “last supper” was pointing to the sacrifice He was about to make on the cross, shedding His blood for us, pouring Himself out and giving Himself to us as a sacrificial atonement for our sins, and the sins of the world.  Jesus made Himself an offering and sacrifice; a gift that was (and is) truly pleasing to God the Father.  He “offered himself without blemish to God”

“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14). 

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After witnessing the life and miracles of Jesus Christ, why did many Jewish followers get so upset?  Some even asked:

How can this man give us (His) flesh to eat?” (John 6:52)

Many left disappointed in Jesus’ words about eating flesh and drinking blood.  Probably because both are prohibited by Jewish law. 

“Many of His disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’  As a result of this, many (of) His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.” (John 6:60, 66)

These individuals choose to return to their old lives, instead of “the Jewish sin” of consuming the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  They took the words on an absolutely literal basis!  These poor souls believed they had to actually eat the skin of Jesus.  They envisioned acts of cannibalism.

This literal concept of “cannibalism” is revolting, even to me.  But yet, we are eating the actual body and blood of our divine Jesus Christ at every Mass in the Catholic Church.  I am not being hypocritical in any way.  To non-Catholics (and even some Catholics), this concept of “transubstantiation” is hard to understand.  The bread (host) and wine does not change physically, or even molecularly; yet both change “substantially” into the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Non-believers (including most Protestants) don’t understand or believe in this concept of “transubstantiation.”  How wrong they were (and are).  I will hope to offer proof in this reflection.

Jesus said to His disciples:

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53)

Another Amen, amen – – “YO, LISTEN TO ME” – – moment for the people He is talking to and teaching.  He goes on to say:

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (John 6:54)

Notice that Jesus did not say “eat a representation or simulation of my body.”  He also did not say “reminder of my body… ”.  Jesus said in no uncertain terms:

“… EATS my flesh and DRINKS my blood …” (John 6:54)

Jesus goes on to declare that only through Him, can one obtain salvation.  Only through Jesus Christ can we obtain the grace to overcome our sins and iniquities.  Only through Jesus can we obtain the grace of eternal life in paradise with the Holy Family, the angels, the Saints, and the entire celestial court.

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The verb “eat” used in verse 54 of today’s reading is not the classical Greek verb used for human eating, but rather that of animal eating.  A proper translation for this verb would be instead:

To “munch” and “gnaw.”  

John may have purposely used this verb in order to emphasize the true reality of the flesh and blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist (Body and Blood).  However, this same verb eventually did evolve to become the ordinary verb in Greek to mean “eat.”  

I believe John’s reference to the word “eat” is for the “Bread” of the Eucharist used in the celebration of the Mass.  Further proof is in verse 56:

“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink..” (John 6:55) 

Did you notice that the word “eats” is plural?  Hmm, one may eat the “flesh” of Jesus multiple times!!  I love that as a Catholic Christian, I can do as Jesus Christ specifically wanted His follows to do: to come to Him daily.  In participating in the Holy Eucharistic celebration, I bring Him in me AND me in Him.  

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:56)

And, I can encounter this celebratory event DAILY!!  I can renew my love for Him, and dedicate myself to Him anew each day.  WOW!!  The Franciscans call this daily conversion:

“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.” (Rule #7 of the Secu;lar Franciscan Order)

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Saying “the living Father” (verse 57), Jesus is referring to the “living bread” of the Holy Eucharist.  The little pad or morsel of dead flour becomes, – – through the grace and action of the Holy Spirit, – – the living body of Jesus Christ sent to give life to all who believe in and consumes (“eats”) it.

In a way, it is the true bread that came down from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ, and unlike our ancestors who ate the bread of life, “manna,” (cf., Exodus 16:12-36) in the desert, and still died.  Whoever eats Jesus’ “bread” will live forever.

“This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  (John 6:58)

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Jesus’ words were not well understood by the crowd; they argued that He was not from heaven but only born of human parents: Mary and Joseph (and not from God’s).  The crowd also had trouble understanding how Jesus could give them His flesh to “eat”.  He tells them that when they eat His flesh and drink His blood, they will remain forever connected to Him in a very intimate and personal way.  

Jesus’ words may be difficult words for some to hear, yet, they are important words because they seek to show us our intimate connection with Him.

 This is the “mystery” at the center of our unique and true Eucharistic theology.  In the elements of bread and wine, Jesus’ Body and Blood are truly present.  When we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus Himself comes to dwell within us and us in Him.  This “communion”, this personal and intimate contact with the Lord Jesus Christ makes us one body, brings us eternal life, and sends us forth to be Christ’s Body in the world.

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Our faith teaches us that when we gather to celebrate Mass, Jesus is present to us.  The bread and wine truly becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.  This is what we mean by the word “transubstantiation”.  Jesus truly makes himself present to all who receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

 

Do you have memories of your First Holy Communion?  Reflect on what Jesus meant when He called Himself the “living bread”.  Recall that every time we receive the Holy Eucharist, Jesus, Himself, keeps the promise He made in today’s Gospel:

Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  (John 6:58)

 

Jesus’ passing over to His Father by His death, resurrection, and ascension – the new Passover – is anticipated in the Last Supper and still celebrated in the Holy Eucharist, thus fulfilling the Jewish Passover and anticipating a final Passover of the Catholic Church in the glory of God’s eternal kingdom.  When the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He also invited us to take His life into the very center of our being.  The “life” He offers is the very life of God Himself.  I think I am hungry for some bread; How ‘bout you?

 

Jesus, I believe

 

“Jesus, I believe in the true body and blood of our Holy Eucharist. You gave up your life for us, and continue to give us life through the Holy Eucharist, and the actions of the Holy Spirit.  I love you forever.  Amen.”

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

A second option for the “penitential rite” (the “Confiteor” being the first option) has been revised.  This second form had been little used in recent years.  The second option is presently:

Lord, we have sinned against you:|
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord, show us your mercy and love.
And grant us your salvation.

May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.

 

It will now read as follows:

The priest says, “Have mercy on us, O Lord.”
The people respond, “For we have sinned against you.
Then the priest says, “Show us, O Lord, your mercy,”
and the people respond, “And grant us your salvation.”

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

 

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer (1902-1975)

 

An estimated 300,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square on October 6, 2002, for the canonization of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei. His canonization came only 27 years after his death, one of the shortest waiting periods in Church history.

Opus Dei, which means Work of God, emphasizes that men and women can become holy by performing their daily duties with a Christian spirit. In his homily, Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of every believer following God’s will, as had the newly sainted founder of Opus Dei. “The Lord has a plan for each one of us. Saints cannot even conceive of themselves outside of God’s plan: They live only to fulfill it.”

Born in Barbastro, Spain, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer sensed early in life that he had a vocation to the priesthood. Following his ordination in 1925, he briefly ministered in a rural parish. He moved to Madrid, where he obtained a doctorate in law. At the same time Father Escriva was beginning to envision a movement that would offer ordinary people help in seeking holiness through their everyday activities. It was officially founded in 1928.

As Opus Dei grew, Father Escriva continued his studies and his priestly work among the poor and sick. During the Civil War in Spain he had to exercise his ministry secretly and move from place to place. Only after the war did he return to Madrid and complete his doctoral studies. He later moved to Rome and obtained a doctorate in theology. Pope Pius XII named him an honorary prelate and a consultor to two Vatican congregations. All the while, Opus Dei grew in size and influence.

When Msgr. Escriva died in 1975, Opus Dei could be found in dozens of places around the globe. Today its membership includes approximately 83,000 laypersons and 1,800 priests in 60 countries. It is a “personal prelature,” a special jurisdictional entity within the Church.

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)

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Creation & Ecology

 

What is the result when some individuals accumulate large amounts of wealth created from this world’s resources at our disposal, when at the same time there are other humans suffering a lack of the basic needs means to live humanely?

What balance is required in order to be Franciscan in regards to ecology issues?

Are all creatures of equal value — the inanimate, the plants, animals, human?  How does the Church prioritize them?

In SFO Rule #18, what is meant by “the Franciscan concept of universal kinship”?

What means do I use to show reverence for all creation?

What is the moral error in the economic principle that indicates the price of an item should be set by “what the market will bear”? (cf., CCC p.2424)

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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.

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

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