Good Morning People of Christ. Is everyone refreshed from their EXTRA hour of sleep today? You know God has a sense of humor: We will find this out next spring when we LOSE that hour of sleep.
Today is the first Sunday of the Month, and the day of my Secular Franciscan Fraternity to meet in prayer and mirth. I so love being in the Secular Franciscans. St. Francis and St. Clare were so down to earth, and humble, that it is hard to even come close to their holiness towards God and His earthly creations. I pray everyone has a great day. Pax et Bonum.
Today in Catholic History:
† 1225 – Death of Engelbert II of Berg, Archbishop of Cologne
† 1550 – Jon Arason (b. 1484), the last Roman Catholic bishop of Iceland prior to the reformation, is beheaded in Skalholt with his two sons Are and Bjorn.
† Feast Days: Saint Willibrord; Prosdocimus; Herculanus of Perugia; Vicente Liem de la Paz
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Teachers are those who use themselves as bridges, over which they invite their students to cross; then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own. — Nikos Kazantzakis
Today’s reflection is about Jesus answering a question about the resurrection of the dead directed to Him from some Sadducees. Jesus teaches that His Father is the God who gives and sustains life beyond the grave.
27 Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him, 28 saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. 30 Then the second 31 and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” 34 Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; 35 but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. 37 That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; 38 and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (NAB Luke 20:27-38)
The Sadducees in today’s Gospel reading are shown as opponents to a belief in resurrection. In the dialogue between Jesus and the Sadducees, we witness a method of dispute used toward Jesus and His teachings that was common during His time of ministry. This method was an attempt to trap Jesus with clear reasoning based on scriptures and its interpretations.
Most Catholics know very little about the three different types of Temple leaders of Jesus’ time: the Pharisees, the Scribes, and the Sadducees. The Pharisees believed in divine origin of the scriptures called the “Torah.” They also believed in the oral tradition received from Moses, Joshua, and the Elders. Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead.
The Scribes were a Temple faction believed to be the “experts” in Mosaic Law and were responsible for copying the sacred texts and the variety of interpretations of these Laws. In doing so, the Scribes developed volumes of regulations, traditions, and rituals, thus making a true devotion to Mosaic Law nearly impossible (sounds like our countries current IRS and fiscal regulations). For the most part, Scribes were almost always believed to be closely aligned with the Pharisees.
The Sadducees, on the other hand, were a priestly faction of very aristocratic men who were found exclusively in Jerusalem during Jesus’ time. The Sadducees historically and religiously descended from the priestly family of Zadok, a “High Priest” in the time period of King David (2 Sam. 20:25), and King Solomon (1 Kings 4: 2, 4). Zadok took part, with King David, at Hebron; fighting for David’s reign over Judah (1 Chr. 12:27, 28).
The Sadducees accepted as authoritative scripture only the first five books of the Old Testament (the Torah or Pentateuch), and followed only the literal, written letter, of Mosaic Law. They rejected any oral legal traditions, and were close-mindedly opposed to any religious teachings not found in the Pentateuch, such as the teachings on “resurrection of the dead.”
The Sadducees believed only in an “earthly” image of heaven. The Sadducees had no belief in immortality, angels, or anything else NOT found in the Torah (as they interpreted the Torah). Once you died – well, you essentially became “worm food” – with NO hope for another life in heaven. I guess that is how they got their name: their beliefs made them “Sad – You – See!” (I could not resist this one; a Big thanks goes to Jeff Cavins.) The pitiful thing is that many people today, including some probably reading this reflection, with their minds focused on this “earthly” existence, are just like them!
Though the Sadducees often disagreed with the other Temple leaders and were often at odds with the Pharisees and Scribes, all three of these temple factions considered themselves adversaries of Jesus and His teachings for different reasons. The Temple Leadership had forgotten the real reason for Holy Scripture: to foster and grow a trust in a personal and loving relationship with God. All three temple leadership factions became followers of laws and traditions – – instead of followers of God!
The Sadducees’ question to Jesus: “whose wife will that woman be?” is based on the law of levirate marriage recorded in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The Sadducees purpose in asking this question was solely for ridiculing the notion of a “resurrection” after bodily death. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 relates a law that requires a woman – that has not given birth to a son prior to her husband’s death – to marry her brother-in-law for the purpose of bearing a son to carry on the family line. Jesus rejected their naive understanding of death and resurrection, and then taught about life after resurrection.
The true reason for this unusual law in Deuteronomy was strictly for the purpose of property holdings. Relatives of the same clan, who lived together, held their property in a communal form of what we would consider a “trust”. It was only in this specific instance that this unique law was to be observed, since the law’s purpose was to keep the property of the deceased within the same family or clan. Marriage of a widow to her brother-in-law was known as a “levirate” marriage from the Latin word “levir,” meaning “a husband’s brother.” (Some resources spell levirate as “levirite.” Each spelling appears interchangeable.)
Jesus understood the true meaning for this scripture verse; and He also knew the reason for the Sadducees’ asking this particular question. In answering their question, Jesus teaches them and us that sexual relationships of this world will be transcended in the next. We will rise above the need, or want, for sexual relationships with each other in heaven. The gloriously risen body will be a work of the creative power of God for which marriage will no longer be needed. (As Jesus revealed, they will be like the angels.)
Jesus argued with authority in interpreting Mosaic Law. He used the EXACT same method and Scriptures the Sadducees used in order to show that there truly is a resurrection. Using passages from the Book of Exodus (Exodus 3:2, 5-6) relating Moses’ encounter with God – – in the burning bush, – – Jesus showed God is a God of the living, and not of the dead! Jesus showed that the “Patriarchs”, who died in body hundreds of years prior to Jesus and the Sadducees, are STILL alive – and, in God’ grace and presence! All are alive to Him and in Him! Jesus demonstrated His faith and confidence in the life-giving power of the God He proclaimed in the Temple.
As this Gospel passage revealed, Jesus beats them at their own game! Don’t you just love it when a plan back fires! I wonder if the Scribes and Pharisees present, who maintained a belief in the resurrection of the body, were pleased with Jesus’ arguments towards the Sadducees?! (I bet they were!)
Jesus shows to the Sadducees (and us) the miniscule limits of our beliefs, thoughts, and imaginations when it comes to eternal life. The Sadducees argued against resurrection because of their minds focus on this world only, their mental limits, and their experiences. They could not appreciate, nor imagine, another possibility for existence and relationship with God. It either had to be this or that, black or white, and with no gray areas for the Sadducees. God is not confined by space, time, or other “earthly” restrictions and limitations! Jesus suggests in today’s reading that a resurrected life is greatly beyond our limited imaginations and abilities of thought. (Maybe that is why it is a matter of FAITH!)
When a tree is alive it needs water, soil, and sunlight. When the tree is used to make a table, a toy, or something else – it has a whole new purpose. The tree, as a table, no longer has a need for water, soil, or sunlight. Jesus tells us that after we die, we will not have the same needs as when we were alive, except for our continuation, want, and need to have a personal relationship with God.
Change is inevitable. How we handle change is what marks us as Catholics. We must be ready to step outside the “box” – our comfort zone – without fear. We can only step outside our comfort zone through a firm trust in God’s providence. With this in mind, please remember God’s presence when your parish is assigned a new priest. Accept him with a loving and warming attitude, and thank God for His gift. Pray for the health of a young woman experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, and welcome her, and her new creation of God, with open arms. Praise the Lord for His magnificence, and ask for His help, when suddenly unemployed due to circumstances beyond your control. The Gist: Do you see Jesus in all faces and situations you encounter daily? (I hope so, for He is actually there to be seen – – by FAITH!)
Humans in general, and especially children, often know and/or experience very little in regards to death and dying. I believe we, as a whole, know very little about the concept of “eternal life” as well. What are your thoughts, beliefs, and even “fears” about death and dying? Are you ready for any “tests” you may have to encounter to reach eternal paradise with God? Do you truly TRUST God?
Food for thought: Decisive evidence of eternal life was shown to us with the resurrection of Jesus Christ on that first Easter morning. His victory over “death” was literally for all of us when He arose from that borrowed hewed tomb. As Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he exclaimed: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25). This He said prior to His own scourging, crucifixion, and death.
With a hope and faith in the resurrection of the body and eternal life with God, we need to pray for those we love, and even for those we do not yet know. They may have died in body; however, we know by faith they are experiencing eternal life with God while their souls are being cleansed and perfected in Purgatory.
A relationship with God CANNOT cease with bodily death. We need to remember that God identifies Himself in relationship to us. Because of our relationship with Him — the living God — we too are alive! God will be with us – to guide and teach us – no matter what we do, or what circumstances we experience. As Psalm 73:23-24 states: “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.” The real question today is: “Are you taking aim for heaven?”
“The Glory Be”
“Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Didacus (1400-1463)
As a young man in Spain, Didacus joined the Secular Franciscan Order and lived for some time as a hermit. After Didacus became a Franciscan brother, he developed a reputation for great insight into God’s ways. His penances were heroic. He was so generous with the poor that the friars sometimes grew uneasy about his charity.
Didacus volunteered for the missions in the Canary Islands and labored there energetically and profitably. He was also the superior of a friary there.
In 1450 he was sent to Rome to attend the canonization of St. Bernardine of Siena. When many friars gathered for that celebration fell sick, Didacus stayed in Rome for three months to nurse them. After he returned to Spain, he pursued a life of contemplation full-time. He showed the friars the wisdom of God’s ways.
As he was dying, Didacus looked at a crucifix and said: “O faithful wood, O precious nails! You have borne an exceedingly sweet burden, for you have been judged worthy to bear the Lord and King of heaven” (Marion A. Habig, O.F.M., The Franciscan Book of Saints, p. 834).
San Diego, California, is named for this Franciscan, who was canonized in 1588.
We cannot be neutral about genuinely holy people. We either admire them or we consider them foolish. Didacus is a saint because he used his life to serve God and God’s people. Can we say the same for ourselves?
“He was born in Spain with no outstanding reputation for learning, but like our first teachers and leaders unlettered as men count wisdom, an unschooled person, a humble lay brother in religious life. [God chose Didacus] to show in him the abundant riches of his grace to lead many on the way of salvation by the holiness of his life and by his example and to prove over and over to a weary old world almost decrepit with age that God’s folly is wiser than men, and his weakness is more powerful than men” (Bull of Canonization).
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 7 & 8 of 26:
7. United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.
On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.
8. As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do.
Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist.
Let them join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ.