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♫“‘Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Jesus-Son Gone? Oh Where, Oh Where Can He Be?’ ♫ – – Well, He’s In the Temple, Listening And Asking!!” – Luke 2:41-52†


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Feast of the Holy Family:
Jesus, Mary, & Joseph

. 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:

 

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions For January 2013. pencil

 

Pope Benedict illustrationFor the faith of Christians: that in this Year of Faith, Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in Him.

For Middle-Eastern Christians: that the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.

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Mike depue, OFS is a dear friend of mine, a brother in the  Secular Franciscan Order, and the St. Clare OFS Region’s JPIC Coordinator.  He wrote this beautiful piece on the Christmas “Caroling” tradition.  Surprising (to me), Christmas Caroling was started by St. Francis and other Franciscans.  I hope you enjoy this bit of historical CHRISTmas trivia from Mike:

Blessings to all!

Did you know that Francis of Assisi began the Christmas caroling tradition in the early 1200s?  Francis wanted people to be able to express their joy at Christmas by singing simple songs themselves, wherever they happened to be, such as in their own homes or even while walking around outside.  Francis also wanted to present the Christmas story in a way that ordinary singing-christmas-carolspeople could best understand.  Priests had been singing formal Christmas hymns in church worship services since AD 129, when a bishop called for a song called “Angel’s Hymn” to be featured in a Mass in Rome, Italy.  However, these Christmas hymns were in Latin, which wasn’t a commonly spoken language by the 1200s.  Francis decided to add religious lyrics to popular tunes of his time, creating the style of song called a Christmas carol.  The word “carol” derives from the French word “caroler,” which means “dancing around in a circle.”  It refers to the pagan tradition of people dancing around in a circle during the Winter Solstice.  Francis wanted people to express their joy in Christ in a similar, uninhibited style.

It was almost certainly through the Franciscans that Christmas carols came to the British Isles. The earliest extant English Christmas carol, “A child is boren” (given below), is found in a set of sermon notes written by a Franciscan friar before 1350.  Collections of poems produced by friars in Scotland in 1372 contain lullabies to the infant Jesus.

A child is boren” in the English of today:

Let us gather hand in hand / And sing of bliss without an end: / The Devil has fled from earthly land, / And Son of God is made our friend. / A Child is born in man’s abode, / And in that Child no blemish showed. / That Child is God, that Child is Man, / And in that Child our life began.

I wish you all a peaceful and blessed Christmas!

Mike [DePue] ofs

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Qu. thought2ote of the Day:

 

Do you really know the living Jesus – not from books but from being with Him in your heart?  Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you?  Ask for the grace; He is longing to give it.  Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart, you will not be able hear Him saying, “I thirst” in the hearts of the poor.  Never give up daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person – not just the idea. ~ Taken from When Did We See You, Lord?”  by Bishop Robert J. Baker & Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R.

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Today’s reflection: The boy Jesus is found in the Temple, with the Temple teachers, listening and asking.  When was the last time you truly listened and asked? 

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(NAB Luke 2:41-52)  41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 42 and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.  43 After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  44 Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.  46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, 47 and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.  48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”  49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.  52 And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

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. ReflectionGospel Reflection:

 

Today we celebrate the “Feast of the Holy Family”.  We should place today’s Gospel in the context of what LFamily-12uke tells us about the birth of Jesus during.  Luke has been answering the question “Who is Jesus?” through his stories of the births of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (Chapters 1 & 2).  Today’s Gospel reading continues this same theme: “Who Jesus IS”.  

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are presented as a faithful Jewish family.  In today’s story, they are participating in the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the “Feast of Passover”, an event shared each year with family and friends.  When Jesus is 6ddfb299120a9ca051e900744975446afound, Luke describes Him as seated “in the Temple in the midst of the Jewish teachers”. Although He is young, Jesus seems to NOT need teaching about His Jewish religion and traditions.  In His dialogue with these “learned” teachers (Rabbi’s), Jesus “astounds” them with His insight and understanding.  This event was the important turning point in Jesus’ earthly life when He shifted the name “father” from Joseph, addressing it to God, His Father in heaven instead. 

With this Gospel reading, the infancy narrative ends – – just as it began – – in the setting of the Jerusalem Temple.  This particular story today, is about an incident from Jesus’ youth, and is unique in, and to, Luke’s Gospel.  Luke’s Gospel is the only Gospel to report of Jesus being “lost in the temple”.  Thus, Luke assumes and presents Jesus in the role of a faithful Jewish boy, raised in the traditions of Israel, fulfilling all that the Mosaic Law requires of a boy His age for Him to become a Jewish “man”.  

Today’s story starts with the Holy Family in Jerusalem for the “Feast of the Passover”, a high holy day (days) in the Jewish religion:

Each year His parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when He [Jesus] was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom (Luke 2:41-42). 

This Jewish holy feast was prescribed from the time of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.  The reason for this feast wJesus_as_boy_jpg_w300h300as to remember and celebrating God’s interaction in the Jewish “chosen” people’s lives, allowing the Jewish faithful to escape their oppressive captivity:

You will keep this practice forever as a statute for yourselves and your descendants.  Thus, when you have entered the land which the LORD will give you as he promised, you must observe this rite.  When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’ you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice for the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he delivered our houses.’  Then the people knelt and bowed down” (Exodus 12:24–27);

And, also in Exodus, the time when this feast is to take place each year:

You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread.  As I have commanded you, you must eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for it was then that you came out of Egypt.  No one shall appear before me empty-handed” (Exodus 23:15);

Abib” is the time of the year, the name of the month, in which the barley harvest happened.  “Abib” translates to “ear of grain, or, ripe grain” and corresponds to our present months of March and April.  At a later time, the month of “Abib” became known as the Babylonian name of “Nisan” instead.

Only males aged 12 and over were required to make this yearly journey of faith.  This clearly puts Jesus at this age, since this is His first time going to Jerusalem for the feast.  How far did they have to travel? Well, Nazaretdirect-map-nazareth-to-jerusalem2h is about 60 miles from Jerusalem (in a straight line on a map).  However, with the “hilly” nature of the country, this trip would actually be about 85 miles.  This is definitely a long way to walk, especially for women and children, every year.

On pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the Jews used to travel in two linked-groups: one of men, followed closely by another of women.  Children could go with either group, probably depending on age and sex of the child.  No wonder Mary and Joseph travelled for a full day’s journey before discovering the child Jesus missing.  They probably “discovered” Him gone when regrouping to camp for the night, each thinking Jesus was with the other group.

Just try to imagine the anxiety and fear Mary and Joseph were experiesimpsons_scaredncing.  Mary certainly was crying, with both of them running to the various family camps, searching for, and inquiring about Jesus’ whereabouts in each of the camps; discovering He is NOWHERE to be found!  I personally have had the anguish of “losing” one of my kids for just a few minutes.  I cannot even imagine the fear of realizing a child of mine was left behind in a strange and very threatening environment of a “big city” like Jerusalem.  

Hmm, here’s a notion or thought for you about “concern for Jesus”.  The concern Mary and Joseph had in “looking for” Jesus might, and should, encourage each of us to personally, and always, seek out Jesus in our own daily lives.  This idea is especially true if we “lose” Him through our sins.

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Jesus was probably found in the courtyard area of the Temple; this is where the “teachers” – – the “rabbi’s” – – taught.  “Listeners” used to sit on the ground at their feet, asking questions, and responding to questions untitledasked of them.  The four “Rabbinic” ways of teaching are:

  • ·        exegesis” – – literal, plain teachings and interpretations; following “hints” in words, phrases, and other elements of truth;
  • ·        eisegesis” – – an allegorical or homiletical application of a text, searching or reading one’s own thoughts into the text, and then expounding on them;
  • ·        finding the “secret” “mystical or hidden meaning” of Jewish Scripture by using the numerical values of the Hebrew letters in Scripture, noting unusual spellings, by transposing letters, and so on;

And finally,

  • ·        through parables:
    • o   as an illustration to help grasp a concept or teaching;
    • o   as a “secret speech”, to deliberately minimize or conceal a concept;

and, 

  • o   as a rhetorical narrative in order to draw a parallel between a fictional story and one’s reality in life.    

The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC) says of Jesus’ teaching through parables and secrets:

“Jesus’ invitation to enter His kingdom comes in the form of ‘parables’, a characteristic feature of His teaching.  Through His parables He invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but He also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.  Words are not enough, deeds are required.  …  Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables.  One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to ‘know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.  For those who stay ‘outside’, everything remains enigmatic [mysterious]”  (CCC, paragraph 546).

One third of Jesus’ teachings consisted of parables.  It is importance for us to not only try to understand the “Rabbinic ways of teaching” – – especially the parables – – from OUR viewpoint, but to understand them in their cultural, historic and linguistic context of Jesus’ time as well.

So, Jesus was sitting at the Rabbi’s feet, listening, and asking questions.  However, His questions and answers attc06racted a great interest from the “teachers”!  Jesus was obviously well informed and well taught, in the eyes of these religious men.   If they only realized the truth about this “boy” sitting among them!!

Not only were the “teachers” astounded, so were Jesus’ parents when they saw Him sitting and conversing with the learned religious men:

When His parents saw Him, they were astonished” (Luke 2:48).

Ever since the Annunciation, Mary (and Joseph) knew that her (their) child, Jesus, WAS GOD!!  Mary’s pure and true faith is the foundational bedrock for her generous fidelity to00007803_h her Son, Jesus, throughout her entire life.  There was no reason for Mary to know every detail about the sacrifices Jesus – – her Son, her GOD – – would ask of HER!  Nor, did Mary have reason to know how Jesus Christ would go about His mission of redemption and salvation.  The revelation of Jesus’ mission would be “discovered” as time went by, and while living and contemplating her Son’s life, death, resurrection, and assumption as it happened, and remembered.

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Mary and Joseph asked Jesus why He stayed behind when their group departed for Nazareth:

Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety” (Luke 2:48). 

Iuntitleda am pretty sure I would NOT have been as stoic (showing patience and endurance) as Mary and Joseph was upon finding MY son, in this situation.  If my twelve year son purposely stayed behind, and not told anyone, I probably would have been augmenting my questions with unique “actions” as well: first, a hug and kiss – – then, “something else”. 

Jesus’ reply is His explanation of why he did such a “foolish” thing:

Why were you looking for meDid you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

These are the very first “Words” Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel.  In His saying, “I must be in my Father’s house”, Jesus is referring to God the Father as HIS Father!!  It also shows Jesus’ divine “Sonship”, His defirstwordsforiphonetermination, and His obedience to fulfilling His Eternal Father’s “will”; a “Sonship” which will take precedence over His ties to His earthly family.  Jesus does not chastise Mary and Joseph for searching for Him.  But He does raise their attention, their souls, to understanding and appreciating what He owes to His Eternal Father, whose Eternal Son – – He is!!  Jesus’ parents must have realized that His reply contained a deeper meaning they could not grasp (at that time):

But they did not understand what he said to them” (Luke 2:50).

They did grow to understand the revelation of their Son’s life, as it unfolded – – as it was revealed – – before their eyes.  Mary and Joseph’s faith, and their reverence to their incarnated child, led them to not ask any further questions.  Instead, they “reflected” Jesus’ “Words” and “actions” in this occurrence, and as they will d7%20Sorrowso on many other occasions in His and their lives:

Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Jesus, in His youth, recognized He had been given a “call” by His heavenly Father.  While Jesus recognized His unique call, He, nonetheless, submitted Himself – – with love and obedience – – to Joseph and Mary, waiting for the time when His “call” would be fulfilled.  

Our Heavenly Father also calls each of us to a unique task and mission in this earthly life.  We may not discover or understand it fully, but if we cooperate with God, He will use us for His righteous purpose and plan.  With any call, God also gives a grace – – a grace to say “yes” to His will, and a grace to persevere through any obstacles and trials we encounter.  It is truly an awesome feeling to recognize God’s “call” in one’s life.  It is also an awesome feeling to trust in His grace.  Give it a try the next time He “calls” YOU!!  I cannot even describe the AWE and JOY of answering His calling!!

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Today’s Gospel sums up Jesus’ life in Nazareth in a few simple words of the second to last verse:

[He] was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).

Jesus, the “Second Person” of the Holy Trinity, came to earth to “obey” God tlove-obey1he Father – – and to obey His earthly “beings”, though Mary and Joseph are very special “beings” indeed!  We have to love God so as to love His will and desire in responding to His calls.  God’s will and desire comes to us through our ordinary daily duties: family, friends, work, private, public.  His will and desire come to us through our own – – and other’s – – difficulties and relationships, and in our eagerness to do what is right and just in life.

ThJesusGrewe final verse of today’s reading is insightfully interesting for me:

And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:52).

A similar phrase, “growing in spirit”, is used two times in Luke’s Gospel:

The child [John the Baptist] grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel” (Luke 1:80);

The child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).

Luke is the only Gospel writer to connect John the Baptist – – who also “grew in age and favor” – – establishing John’s early direct-relationship to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, some thirty years before Jesus’ public ministry.  The key element in these three verses above is that both of these two great “beings” grew in age, spirit, wisdom, and favor before God the Father.  I personally believe we can also add Mary and Joseph to this extremely unique twosome of people – – models for how to live a “Christ-like” life.

Jesus lived like other people in Nazareth, working in the same trade as His “earthly” father, Joseph.  Just as any other tradesman, Jesus learned His living by the “sweat of His browthehomelifeofjesusluke2-51”.  Details of Jesus’ life are blank – – to us – – for nearly twenty years.  However, Jesus’ ENTIRE life is an example of how to be a Christian.  We are to sanction – – to SANCTIFY – – our unique and individual vocations, our paths in life, through years of our quiet, often humdrum, and mostly unspectacular living – – in, with, and through Him!  Being in the midst of our individual “ordinary” lives does not mean God has forgotten about any of us.  Being in the midst of our individual “ordinary” lives does not mean God hasn’t called you or me for an important role in His kingdom.  God wants us to know that each of us, in our own personal vocations, professions, and talents, are not absent from His divine plan.  Instead, with God – – in our lives – – has sanctified them, making them a more acceptable offering to Him.  WOW!!

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T. summarize titlehe dialogue between Mary and Jesus contains many references to family relationships.  Interestingly Mary and Joseph are never identified by name.  (I bet you didn’t catch this fact.)  Instead, they are referred to by their relationship to Jesus.  Ultimately, this style of writing emphasizes Luke’s point about the identity of Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is asked a poiwords-hurt-feelingsnted question, “Why?”  Jesus responds with an equally pointed response, “I must be!”  Jesus did not intend to cause his mother and step-father any distress.  However, His actions most-likely provoked that type of response.  When Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple, they question Jesus, expressing their anxiety.  Jesus replies in “Words” that many of us may believe to be disrespectful.  Jesus, in fact, is saying He was never lost; He is God’s Son; and He was at home in God’s “house”.  Luke will continue throughout His Gospel to suggest that faith in Jesus establishes “new” family relationships as He describes Jesus’ public ministry in his later chapters.  Luke is also telling us, through his Gospel, that Mary’s importance is even greater than her role as Jesus’ mother.  Remember, Mary is the first disciple, also present with Jesus’ other disciples after His Resurrection at Pentecost.

In the Holy Family, we see the face of God’s love.  As Jesus told us – – and as my Order’s founder, Saint Francis of Assjs2isi lived – – we need to see the face of God in every single person we encounter, not just in the one’s we love.  If we see fear instead of love in others who are different from us, we are not seeing God!!  

We need to be in the presence of God every second of every minute of every day, not just for one hour on Sundays, and not just with people who are like us.  If we do not see the face of God in the marginalized – – the sick, the homeless person, the unborn child – – then God will not dwell within us.  Others will look at us, seeing fear instead of God’s love.

So, let us sing with great joy (Re-JOY-SING) at the celebration of the our Lord’s birth and the gift of the Holy Family to each of us, who are inviting each us into God’s – – HIS – –  family forever and ever.  Let us also renew our commitment, on a daily basis, to do as Jesus told us: to take up our cross and follow Him.  Let EVERYONE who sees us see also the face of God, knowing His love through us.

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T. conclusionoday’s Gospel describes a time of anxiety in the life of Jesus’ family.  We can imagine their panic and worry as Mary and Joseph discoveJesus in the temple discussing his Father's business Luke 2:46-49red Jesus was not with the caravan of people returning to Nazareth.  The Holy Family journeyed with family members and friends because traveling alone was dangerous.  When they found Jesus at the Temple, it appears Jesus spoke like a typical adolescent, unsympathetic to His parents’ concern.  But, His “Words” teach an important lesson about reducing anxiety in our family life.  In essence, Jesus says to them:

“If you had remembered who I am, you would have known where to find me.”

In their panic, Mary and Joseph had forgotten what had been told to them before Jesus’ birth, their son was the Son of God.  Knowing a person well helps reduce our anxieties for them because we can better predict how they will behave, and we know their capacity to handle the challenges that life might present to them.

Recall times when you learned something, even something trivial, about your close friend and/or family members.  Recall times when YOU told others something which possibly “startled” or “surprised” them.  Now, recall how you felt in each of these “revealing” “revelations”. 

Torange_man_thinking_questionake what you have learned from this simple exercise you just reflected on, and reread the questions and answers in today’s Gospel, placing yourself in the roles of the one asking AND the one being asked: 

Son, why have you done this to us?”  (Luke 2:48);

Why were you looking for me?”  (Luke 2:49);

Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  (Luke 2:49).

Hmm, the one thing about “true” relationships is that we come to eventually learn to know each other well.

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R. prayer sfeflection Prayer: 

 

A Relationship Prayer

 

“Lord, teach me how to love in a way that would be pleasing to You.  Open my eyes and heart so as to be receptive to the needs in my life, and not just for my wants.

Grant me wisdom, direction, purpose, confidence, discernment, and any other tool n06-07-buildingrelationships[1]eeded by me for this great journey with, in, and through You.  Wipe away any and all fears, tears, and doubts, created by my sometimes tumultuous relationship past.

Create in me a new heart filled with a deep and abiding love for You above all else, then for others, and finally for myself.  When the right person comes along, bless me with clarity of vision to see that this is indeed the right person for me.  When this person does come, I will never forget who made it all possible.  In each day, I will strive to exhibit a love that would make You proud.

With a fullness of heart, and a sincerity in my spirit, I ask this all in your name.  Amen.”

Based on a prayer at the following website:
http://www.flyguychronicles.com/2011/02/a-relationship-prayer/

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“Wow, It’s Raining ‘Justice’ and ‘Salvation’ Out There; AND It Is SOooo Heavenly!” – Luke 7:18b-23†


            

Today in Catholic History:

    
†   687 – St Sergius I begins his reign as Catholic Pope, succeeding Conon
†   1124 – Chancellor Haimeric selects pope (Lamberto becomes Honorius II)
†   1945 – John J “Cardinal” O’Connor, ordained as a priest
†   1952 – Pope Pius XII publishes encyclical Orientales Ecclesias
†   1996 – Deaath of Gerald Moverley, priest, at age 74
†   1996 – Death of Guiseppe Dossetti, politician/priest, at age 83

 

 

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 Franciscans are heralds of peace and reconciliation.

 

“In his Admonitions, Francis explained that “those people are truly peacemakers who, regardless of what they suffer in this world, preserve peace of spirit and body out of love of our Lord Jesus Christ” (#15). His greeting to all, still repeated by Franciscans today, was “Pax et bonum,” “peace and all good.”  Franciscans are called to build peace in their personal lives and in society.  As mentioned above, such a lifestyle involves an attitude of active non-violence.”

“Let Franciscans love one another, as the Lord says: This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.  Let them express the love they have for one another by their deeds.”  Earlier Rule, Chapter XI

 

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Today’s reflection is about today’s first reading at Mass; God’s “Decree” to His “Chosen” People.

 

 

6c I am the LORD, there is no other; 7 I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well-being and create woe; I, the LORD, do all these things.  8 Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.  Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up! I, the LORD, have created this. 

18 For thus says the LORD, The creator of the heavens, who is God, The designer and maker of the earth who established it, Not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in: I am the LORD, and there is no other.  Who announced this from the beginning and foretold it from of old? Was it not I, the LORD, besides whom there is no other God? There is no just and saving God but me. 

22 Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other!  23 By myself I swear, uttering my just decree and my unalterable word: To me every knee shall bend; by me every tongue shall swear, 24 Saying, “Only in the LORD are just deeds and power. Before him in shame shall come all who vent their anger against him.  25 In the LORD shall be the vindication and the glory of all the descendants of Israel.”  (NAB Isaiah 45: 6c-8, 18, 21b-25)

 

Since I wrote about today’s Gospel reading this past Sunday, I have instead chosen to reflect on today’s first reading of the Mass.  The great prophet, Isaiah, is often referred to by Jesus Himself throughout His ministry.  Isaiah offered an immense amount of wisdom, love of God, and prophesies in his words of hope and trust.  I though, struggle at times with understanding Isaiah’s verses at more than just a cursory level.  Hopefully, I have accomplished relating my thoughts on these verses without too many “Blunders.”  But hey, what is the name of my blog site after all?!

Most Scholars believe the book of Isaiah was actually written by two different people, 150 years apart.  Today’s first reading was written by the “Second” (Deutero-) Isaiah.  And, it was probably written during the Jewish Babylonian captivity.  There are even some disputes and discussions among scholars that chapters 56-66 of Isaiah were written by a “Third” (Trito-) “Isaiah.”

The first part of today’s reading is a poem of “firsts and lasts,” “beginnings and ends,” “alphas and omegas.”  It is classified by bible scholars as a “servant song,” wherein the servant is the beloved and chosen “One” of Yahweh; with a mission.  To paraphrase: the servant is “the chosen ‘ONE’ sent by God for a specific mission.”  Hmm; Who does that sound like to you?!

In verse seven (7), a strange comment is made: “create woe.”  God is not “stirring the pot!”  (A talent I excel at, at times.)  God is permitting evil for the sake of a greater good.  Although God is said to be the author of both good and evil, evil should not be perceived as our notion of an arrogant and overconfident monster boastfully moving callously throughout the world. (Wow that was descriptive!)  God allows evil via His permissive will, just as He allows us to experience, receive, and offer evil via our free-will.  Several Old Testament books prophesizes such evil for the Israelites:

Amos 3:6: “If the trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened? If evil befalls a city, has not the LORD caused it?

Amos 4:13: “You shall go out through the breached walls each by the most direct way, and you shall be cast into the mire, says the LORD.”

Isaiah 10:5-20 writes about Israel being an “impious nation”.  In this case God uses Assyria merely to punish, but not to destroy His “chosen” people.

 Finally, in Judges 2:6-3:6, the Israelites offend God by choosing to serve the “Baals”.

Somehow, the “servant” that this particular reading is relating to, is to be sent by God with the intent to accomplish God’s will and plan for Israel.  Many centuries later, we discover His entry into humanity, through the new “Eve”, and the new “Ark”: the Blessed Virgin, Mary. 

The Vulgate is the late fourth (4th) century bible as translated by Saint Jerome, from the original Hebrew and Greek, into Latin.  It is known as the “commonly used translation” for all other bibles.  The Vulgate Bible, in due course, became the definitive and only official Latin version of the Bible in the Roman Catholic Church.  Jerome’s Latin translation is well known in the Advent hymn used during Mass and in the Divine Office: “Rorate coeli desuper.  This “hymn” expresses the world’s longing for the coming of Christ:

“Mystic dew from heaven
Unto earth is given:
Break, O earth, a Saviour yield —
Fairest flower of the field”.

Saint Jerome’s interpretation (instead of the NAB used today) actually gives a more precise messianic sense in verse eight (8) by using proper names in writing “just one” and “savior” instead of the NAB’s “justice” and “salvation.”   For many reasons, including this example, I actually prefer the Douay-Rheims Bible (the English translation of the Latin Vulgate) over other translations, except for the original Greek of the New Testament.  (You know you’re a “Bible Geek” when you take courses in the “Kenoi” (ancient Greek of the Bible) Greek.

Historically, verse eight (8) is also a prayer or hymn used to bring to a close the anointing ceremony for Cyrus (the Great; c. 600 BC – 530 BC.)  This prayer song urgently begs, implores, God to bring salvation out of their (the Jewish people) exile and captivity in Babylon. 

God always listens to His people.  In Isaiah 11:1 it says, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”  Historically, after the Babylonian Exile there existed only a “stump” of the Davidic line remaining.  From this stump arose the “new shoot”, the messianic King – – Jesus Christ!  In Isaiah 55:10-11, it is written:

For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”

Verse eighteen (18) [and 21b-25] is part of “The Lord’s Decree” (Verses 14 through 25).  It is in a hymnic style echoing with participles (verbs used to form complex tenses, and may also be used as an adjective) that are cut off with “victorious” acclamations.

God is stating that He made the earth NOT to “waste” it, but to live in it fruitfully and reasonably with each other.  God has to be an active member of the “Franciscan Action Network” (FAN), whose mission, in part, is to make aware how NOT to waste earthly resources.  God is also stating that there is NO OTHER god than He!  Our heavenly and almighty Father gives an allusion to the beginning of creation, when the earth was a waste and void – in verse eighteen (18), and as He did in Genesis:

The earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)

The same Hebrew word, “tohu”, is used in both passages just mentioned (Isaiah 45:18 and Genesis 1:2).  The further allusion God is making here is to Palestine, which God wishes again to be inhabited by the returning exiles.  Why did it actually takes till the major conflict and war, in 1968 Israel, and still is being fought over till this day?

In verse twenty-five (25), God’s chosen people, Israel, is being summoned away from the false Babylonian gods, and who never anticipated the future collapse of their own cities, as prophesized.  When God foretold the future through his prophets, He set in motion the means and plan of fulfillment (salvation).  This is overtly implied in the phrase “survivors from among the Gentiles.”  In Isaiah 10:21-22, it is written:

“A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.  For though your people, O Israel, were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return; their destruction is decreed as overwhelming justice demands.”

For me, “remnant” is a difficult word and principle to define in this particular case, for “remnant” is not to be decided numerically as God’s prophets were never impressed by externals; or by an interior state of lowliness for the prophets were too realistic in their mission.  The word “remnant”, in this case very likely meant the involvement in destruction – – with only a few survivors.  The survivors became the hope for the future; and out of whom God reconstituted a “new” Israel.  The word “remnant” goes much further though.  It declared that God is not only the source of all life, but also the “ONE” who brings this life out of lowly origins, and an attitude of faith.  Evidence can be found elsewhere in Old Testament Holy Scripture:

 “Thus says the LORD: As the shepherd snatches from the mouth of the lion a pair of legs or the tip of an ear of his sheep, So the Israelites who dwell in Samaria shall escape with the corner of a couch or a piece of a cot.” (Amos 3:12)

Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate; then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:15)

 “But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD.” (Zephaniah 3:12)

 “And take from his mouth his bloody meat, and his abominations from between his teeth: He also shall become a remnant for our God, and shall be like a family in Judah, and Ekron shall be like the Jebusites.” (Zechariah 9:7)

Verse twenty-three (23), – – “By myself I swear, uttering my just decree and my unalterable word: To me every knee shall bend; by me every tongue shall swear” – – inspired an early Christian hymn to Jesus.  Philippians 2:10-11 declares:

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Interestingly, inserted in this particular verse from Philippians is a reference to the “three levels” of the universe, according to ancient thought: heaven, earth, and under the earth. 

Philippians is not the only New Testament book referring to today’s first reading of the Mass.  Romans 14:11 also announces:

For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’

In verses 22-25, God says, “ends of the earth” meaning the descendants of Jacob/Israel.  It directs the poem or hymn to the “chosen people” of God.  But, it must not be read as a call to or for a “universal salvation” of all the Jewish people!”  Rather, today’s reading refers to Israelites scattered throughout the Babylonian empire and that have already surrendered to apostasy (the renunciation of a religious or political belief or allegiance).  The fulfillment of prophecy, and of Israel’s finest hopes, is to be found onlyin the Lord.

 

The 23rd Psalm

 

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures:
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul:
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.

Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For You are with me;
Your  rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Blessed Mary Frances Schervier (1819-1876)

 

This woman who once wanted to become a Trappistine nun was instead led by God to establish a community of sisters who care for the sick and aged in the United States and throughout the world.

Born into a distinguished family in Aachen (then ruled by Prussia but formerly Aix-la-Chapelle, France), Frances ran the household after her mother’s death and established a reputation for generosity to the poor. In 1844 she became a Secular Franciscan. The next year she and four companions established a religious community devoted to caring for the poor. In 1851 the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis (a variant of the original name) were approved by the local bishop; the community soon spread. The first U.S. foundation was made in 1858.

Mother Frances visited the United States in 1863 and helped her sisters nurse soldiers wounded in the Civil War. She visited the United States again in 1868. When Philip Hoever was establishing the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, she encouraged him.

When Mother Frances died, there were 2,500 members of her community worldwide. The number has kept growing. They are still engaged in operating hospitals and homes for the aged. Mother Mary Frances was beatified in 1974.

Comment:

The sick, the poor and the aged are constantly in danger of being considered “useless” members of society and therefore ignored—or worse. Women and men motivated by the ideals of Mother Frances are needed if the God-given dignity and destiny of all people are to be respected.

Quote:

In 1868, Mother Frances wrote to all her sisters, reminding them of Jesus’ words: “You are my friends if you do what I command you…. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another” (John 15:14,17)

She continued: “If we do this faithfully and zealously, we will experience the truth of the words of our father St. Francis who says that love lightens all difficulties and sweetens all bitterness. We will likewise partake of the blessing which St. Francis promised to all his children, both present and future, after having admonished them to love one another even as he had loved them and continues to love them.”

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

 
    

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

 

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.

 

 

 

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

“I Told You So Before, & I’ll Tell You Now; Don’t Break the Law! Now, Go Teach All Those Fools” – Mt 5:17-19†


I want to congratulate five friends and brothers/sister in Christ that are celebrating a Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order tonight.  These good Catholic men and women have studied hard, and had a large amount of reflection, meditation, and prayer to get to this point.  They are already great Franciscans, and are ready to travel this much further on their journey of faith, peace, love, and desire to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as St. Francis of Assisi demonstrated.

        

Today in Catholic History:

        
† 373 – Death of Ephrem the Syrian, Christian hymnodist
† 597 – Death of St. Columba, Christian missionary (b. 521)
† Liturgical feasts: Saint Alexander, martyr; Saint Columba; Blessed Columba, abbot, confessor; Saint Diomedes; Saint Edmund, bishop of Canterbury, confessor (Translation day); Saint Efrem (Saint Ephraim), deacon, Doctor of the Church; Saint Liborius, bishop (of LeMans), confessor; Saint Primus and Felicianus, martyrs; Blessed Richard, bishop of Andria, Apulia; Saint Vincent, deacon, martyr; Saint Pelagia, virgin, martyr; Blessed Diana d’Andalo

Quote or Joke of the Day:
       

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. –  St. Augustine

            

Today’s reflection is about the need to follow the laws of old, still present with Jesus.      
     

Jesus said to His Disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (NAB Matthew 5:17-19)

Jesus did not come to change, tinker with, amend, or even abolish the Mosaic laws; nor the words and prophesies of the prophets that came before Him.  Jesus came out of a need to literally fulfill the all the laws and ALL prophesy spoken about the “Messiah” and a new kingdom to come!  I know (there may be more) of about sixty (60) prophesies from the Old Testament, which was written between 400 and 1500 years before the birth of Jesus.  To fulfill ALL prophesy is a statistic improbability, except for the true “Messiah!”

In a somewhat bizarre but realistic twist, the “new kingdom” is a direct “child or offspring” of the old.  Catholics, in my opinion are a “second” generation or cousin of the Judaic religion.  Jesus extols this when He said that the smallest tidbit of the law will stay intact for eternity.  Jesus requires us to follow the laws and “the commandments,” which Moses received from God. 

Maybe this is the key to what Jesus is wanting understood: the Laws were given to us by God via Moses, on Mt. Sinai; and since God cannot create anything naturally imperfect, the laws He gave us are indeed perfect in nature; and of no need to be amended, changed, or deleted.

Those who break any of the commandments, even in the smallest of ways; or teaches others to do so, are guilty of a moral evil (sin) that affects the entire body of Christ; the human Church (us), along with the divine Holy Trinity.  The slightest “sin” of any type affects the entire Church, and separates that individual with sin from God. 

Whoever obeys and teaches the commandments are truly walking in the path of Christ.  The greatest gift one can give another is “of themselves!”  Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:25-28); and do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law” (Mt 7:12).  Peace, love, and humility were the gifts God gave to us, and a must for us to share with all people we come into contact.  A talent or gift not shared is a talent or gift wasted!

To fulfill the Mosaic Law appeared at first, for me, to mean literally following each of the laws according to the slightest detail, until the end of time.  After a time of reflection, I believe that maybe this “passing away” of heaven and earth is not necessarily the end of the world as most one would think, but the dissolution of our understanding and knowledge of the existing universe for a more divinely inspired understanding.  Maybe, we are living in the new and final age now, as prophesied by Isaiah as the time of “new heavens and a new earth.”  In Isaiah 65:17; 66:22, He declares, “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind; As the new heavens and the new earth which I will make Shall endure before me, says the LORD, so shall your race and your name endure.)

Jesus’ ministry on earth was the cusp of this “new kingdom,” and His mission did not deviate from previous Old Testament prophesy, and remained within the framework of Mosaic Law; BUT with a significant anticipation of a new age and kingdom to come.  In this new kingdom, He calls ALL of us to witness and teach.  We are all responsible to help others gain knowledge, and to help “shape” the souls of others, as well as our own. 

We remember more through our eyes than we ever will by what we read or hear.  We need to show all others how to live a proper Catholic lifestyle, by demonstrating a proper Catholic lifestyle at all times.  St. Francis was definitely right when he said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”

Just For Today

“Oh, God, give me grace for this day.  Not for a lifetime. Not for this week. Not for tomorrow, but just for this day.

Direct and bless everything I think and speak and do for just this one day, so that I have the gift of grace that comes from Your presence.

Oh God, for today, just for this day, let me live generously & kindly, in a state of grace and goodness that denies my many imperfections, and makes me more like You.  Amen.” – unknown

  

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Ephrem (circa 306-373)
      

Poet, teacher, orator and defender of the faith, Ephrem is the only Syrian recognized as a doctor of the Church. He took upon himself the special task of opposing the many false doctrines rampant at his time, always remaining a true and forceful defender of the Catholic Church.

Born in Nisibis, Mesopotamia, he was baptized as a young man and became famous as a teacher in his native city. When the Christian emperor had to cede Nisibis to the Persians, Ephrem, along with many Christians, fled as a refugee to Edessa. He is credited with attracting great glory to the biblical school there. He was ordained a deacon but declined becoming a priest (and was said to have avoided episcopal consecration by feigning madness!).

He had a prolific pen and his writings best illumine his holiness. Although he was not a man of great scholarship, his works reflect deep insight and knowledge of the Scriptures. In writing about the mysteries of humanity’s redemption, Ephrem reveals a realistic and humanly sympathetic spirit and a great devotion to the humanity of Jesus. It is said that his poetic account of the Last Judgment inspired Dante.

It is surprising to read that he wrote hymns against the heretics of his day. He would take the popular songs of the heretical groups and, using their melodies, compose beautiful hymns embodying orthodox doctrine. Ephrem became one of the first to introduce song into the Church’s public worship as a means of instruction for the faithful. His many hymns have earned him the title “Harp of the Holy Spirit.”

He preferred a simple, austere life, living in a small cave overlooking the city of Edessa. It was here he died around 373.

Comment:

Many Catholics still find singing in church a problem, probably because of the rather individualistic piety that they inherited. Yet singing has been a tradition of both the Old and the New Testament. It is an excellent way of expressing and creating a community spirit of unity as well as joy. Ephrem’s hymns, an ancient historian testifies, “lent luster to the Christian assemblies.” We need some modern Ephrems—and cooperating singers—to do the same for our Christian assemblies today.

Quote:

Lay me not with sweet spices,
For this honor avails me not,
Nor yet use incense and perfumes,
For the honor befits me not.
Burn yet the incense in the holy place;
As for me, escort me only with your prayers,
Give ye your incense to God,
And over me send up hymns.
Instead of perfumes and spices,
Be mindful of me in your intercessions.

(From The Testament of St. Ephrem)

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #9:
     

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

 

“Jesus, Do You Need a Hearing Aid?!” – John 21:15-19†


My Franciscan Fraternity has its monthly meeting today.  I so look forward to them, and to the fellowship with each gathering.  If anyone is interested in what the Secular Franciscans are; or their role in the Roman Catholic Church, just contact me and ask. 

Today in Catholic History:
† 1506 – The cornerstone of the current St. Peter’s Basilica is laid.
† 1909 – Joan of Arc is beatified in Rome.
† 2007 – The US Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-4 decision.
† In the Roman Catholic Church: Saint Apollonius (d. 185/6), Saint Galdino (d. 1176), Saint Perfecto (d. 850), Saint Laserian, Saint Emma

Today’s reflection is about Jesus forgiving Peter for his denial of Him.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

“You will be consoled according to the greatness of your sorrow and affliction; the greater the suffering, the greater will be the reward” ~ St. Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi†

Today’s Meditation:
     

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”  (Jesus) said to him, “Feed my sheep.   Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”  (NAB John 21:15-19)
  

This section constitutes Peter’s rehabilitation for his denials of Jesus, and emphasizes his role in the church.  The threefold confession of Peter is meant to counteract his earlier threefold denial (see John 18:17, 25, 27).  The First Vatican Council cited these verses in defining that Jesus after his resurrection gave Peter the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over the whole flock.  Peter “ate crow,” and not only has been forgiven and redeemed by Jesus.  His faith has been cemented into the strong “Rock” needed to lead the Church of Christ on earth.

When Jesus said “more than these,” did He mean “more than you love fishing, or some other item or activity?  Or did Jesus mean “Do you love me more than you love them: the other disciples?”  I cannot be certain, but I think Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Jesus “more than these disciples, or any other does.” This last option; the one I think is the correct understanding, emphasizes Peter’s love for Jesus as being so great, that Peter’s love is far stronger than any others love towards Jesus could ever be.  As the Vicar of Christ on earth, Peter’s love had to be of such a supernatural strength, so that he could continue with Jesus’ mission: to bring all to the beauty and magnificent love of Jesus.

Jesus uses a parable as a figurative reference to the crucifixion of Peter.  In essence, He says, “YO, LISTEN UP PETER!!  You used to take care of yourself, and only had to worry about you, and no others.  You could do as you wish, and come and go without concern.  Now, you are responsible as I was, for the truth of the “word.”  You must take the path that I have taken!  Your life is no longer yours, but our heavenly Father’s to do with as He wishes.  Your happiness is reserved for heaven, but not for this earth.  Prepare yourself for the role you have inherited from God.”

“Lord Jesus, I love you, I love you, I love you.  Do with me as You wish always.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Apollonius the Apologist
    

Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered one of the most priceless documents of the early Church. Apollonius was a Roman senator who was denounced as a Christian by one of his slaves. The Praetorian Prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perennis, arrested him, also putting the slave to death as an informer. Perennis demanded that Apollonius denounce the faith, and when he refused, the case was remanded to the Roman senate. There a debate took place between Perennis and Apollonius that clearly outlines the beauty and the value of Christianity. Despite his eloquent defense, Apollonius was condemned and beheaded

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #18:
      

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

“Is the Church Serving Beer at Mass Today?” – 1Cor 5:6-8†


It is Easter Sunday!  ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!

For 40 days, we have been meditating and reflecting on the cross, and all that Jesus did, by suffering on it for us.  Now is the time for celebration and joy.  For the next 50 days, it is EASTER.  During this Easter season, show that new life Jesus has bought for us.

Today’s reflection is about Yeast.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the priest was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands.  He grabbed my friend by the hand and pulled him aside.  Father said him, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!”  My friend said, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Father.”  The Priest questioned, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?”  He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.”

http://www.oneliners-and-proverbs.com/
 

Today’s Meditation:
    

Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?  Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  (NAB 1Cor 5:6-8)

    

I LOVE to eat food of any type.  That’s probably why I am so “gravity challenged!”  Per the charts, I should be 9 foot, 10.5 inches; but alas, I am not.  I HATE gravity: it’s such a curse.  Here’s the problem: my absolute favorite food is any baked item.  Carolyn B., that’s a hint if you get my meaning, and I’m ever in your area! (Only joking).

Yeast is a great organism.  It is a living molecule that eats starches (like in dough and especially beer), and creates air bubbles through metabolism.  If I was gross, I would compare its function to a man that had recently eaten White Castle Hamburgers with cabbage and a great glass of beer (Woo!).  Here is the politically correct description of what yeast does: (a very tiny amount) induces “fermentation” (Not as much fun described this way; is it?). 

Paul, the author of this letter, is using yeast, and its reason for its usage, as a natural symbol for sources of corruption that becomes all too pervasive in society then, and now.   The “old yeast” is the remnants of our sinful past, which needs to be purged.  If not, one risks infecting all others.  This is a very conceptual way of talking about sin, which to me can be hard to understand.

Every sin has a social dilemma.  Sin is not a private matter at all.  When you sin, you are separating yourself from God.  In separating yourself, you are causing damage to the Church and its members, as each one of us makes up the body of the Church.  Sin hurts everyone; not just yourself. 

In the Jewish calendar, Passover is followed immediately by the “Festival of Unleavened Bread.”  In preparing for this feast, all traces of any old bread are removed from the home.  During this time, only unleavened bread is eaten. The sequence of these two feasts provides an image for our Christian existence.  Christ’s death, during the Passover celebration, is followed by the new life of “Christ’s” community.  It is marked by a newness, purity, and integrity towards our faith.  We celebrate a visible perpetual feast of unleavened bread in the unleavened host of Jesus’ body and blood, consumed at Mass.  

I would like to end with a little trivia on this beautiful Easter.  Paul was probably writing at Passover time, so this part of the letter may be from an Easter homily; possibly one of the earliest in Christian literature.  I enjoy reading all of Paul’s letters.  He, for me, was definitely the “Gentiles Apostle!”

“Lord, allow me to learn and love as Paul did.  Please knock me of that horse.  Amen.”
 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Isidore of Seville, Doctor of the Church
  

Isidore was literally born into a family of saints in sixth century Spain. Two of his brothers, Leander and Fulgentius, and one of his sisters, Florentina, are revered as saints in Spain. It was also a family of leaders and strong minds with Leander and Fulgentius serving as bishops and Florentina as abbess.

This didn’t make life easier for Isidore. To the contrary, Leander may have been holy in many ways, but his treatment of his little brother shocked many even at the time. Leander, who was much older than Isidore, took over Isidore’s education and his pedagogical theory involved force and punishment. We know from Isidore’s later accomplishments that he was intelligent and hard-working so it is hard to understand why Leander thought abuse would work instead of patience.

One day, the young boy couldn’t take any more. Frustrated by his inability to learn as fast as his brother wanted and hurt by his brother’s treatment, Isidore ran away. But though he could escape his brother’s hand and words, he couldn’t escape his own feeling of failure and rejection. When he finally let the outside world catch his attention, he noticed water dripping on the rock near where he sat. The drops of water that fell repeatedly carried no force and seemed to have no effect on the solid stone. And yet he saw that over time, the water drops had worn holes in the rock.

Isidore realized that if he kept working at his studies, his seemingly small efforts would eventually pay off in great learning. He also may have hoped that his efforts would also wear down the rock of his brother’s heart.

When he returned home, however, his brother in exasperation confined him to a cell (probably in a monastery) to complete his studies, not believing that he wouldn’t run away again.

Either there must have been a loving side to this relationship or Isidore was remarkably forgiving even for a saint, because later he would work side by side with his brother and after Leander’s death, Isidore would complete many of the projects he began including a missal and breviary.

In a time where it’s fashionable to blame the past for our present and future problems, Isidore was able to separate the abusive way he was taught from the joy of learning. He didn’t run from learning after he left his brother but embraced education and made it his life’s work. Isidore rose above his past to become known as the greatest teacher in Spain.

His love of learning made him promote the establishment of a seminary in every diocese of Spain. He didn’t limit his own studies and didn’t want others to as well. In a unique move, he made sure that all branches of knowledge including the arts and medicine were taught in the seminaries.

His encyclopedia of knowledge, the Etymologies, was a popular textbook for nine centuries. He also wrote books on grammar, astronomy, geography, history, and biography as well as theology. When the Arabs brought study of Aristotle back to Europe, this was nothing new to Spain because Isidore’s open mind had already reintroduced the philosopher to students there.

As bishop of Seville for 37 years, succeeding Leander, he set a model for representative government in Europe. Under his direction, and perhaps remembering the tyrannies of his brother, he rejected autocratic decision- making and organized synods to discuss government of the Spanish Church.

Still trying to wear away rock with water, he helped convert the barbarian Visigoths from Arianism to Christianity.

He lived until almost 80. As he was dying his house was filled with crowds of poor he was giving aid and alms to. One of his last acts was to give all his possessions to the poor.

When he died in 636, this Doctor of the Church had done more than his brother had ever hoped; the light of his learning caught fire in Spanish minds and held back the Dark Ages of barbarism from Spain. But even greater than his outstanding mind must have been the genius of his heart that allowed him to see beyond rejection and discouragement to joy and possibility.  His feast day is April 4th.

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #4:
  

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

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

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