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“Jesus IS the ‘Word’ – – And His ‘Word’ – – IS!!” – Mark 10:46-52†


30thSunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Content:

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

Last Sunday, October 21st, Pope Benedict XVI added seven more saints onto the roster of Catholic role models, saying their example would strengthen the Church as it tries to rekindle the faith in places where it’s lagging.  Two of the seven were Americans:

Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint from the United States.  Known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” Kateri was born in 1656 to a pagan Iroquois father and an Algonquin Christian mother. Her parents and only brother died when she was 4 years old, during a smallpox epidemic that left her badly scarred and with impaired eyesight.  She went to live with her uncle, a Mohawk, and was baptized as a Catholic by Jesuit missionaries.  However, she was ostracized and persecuted by other Native Americans because her Christian faith.  She died in what is now Canada at 24 years of age;

And,

Mother Marianne Cope, a 19th century Franciscan nun who cared for leprosy patients in Hawaii.  Mother Cope led a band of Franciscan nuns to the peninsula to care for the patients, just as Saint Damien did in 1873.  

The other new saints are:

Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino teenager who helped Jesuit priests convert natives in Guam in the 17th century, and was killed by spear-wielding villagers who opposed the missionaries’ efforts to baptize their children;

Jacques Berthieu, a 19th century French Jesuit who was killed by rebels in Madagascar where he had worked as a missionary;

Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian who founded a religious order in 1900 and established a Catholic printing and publishing house in his native Brescia;

Carmen Salles Y Barangueras, a Spanish nun who founded a religious order to educate children in 1892;

And finally,

Anna Schaeffer, a 19th century German lay woman who became a model for the sick and suffering after she fell into a boiler, badly burned her legs.  These wounds never healed, causing her constant pain and suffering.

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Today’s reflection blog is my 450th to be posted.  I started blogging in late September, 2009.  During these three years, my writing style and format has grown and matured significantly. (So, please don’t read the early blog entries as they are embarrassing to me.)  My blog has been discovered, and read, by Catholics and non-Catholics (and even a few atheists) throughout the world, which for me is a marvelous grace from God.  I truly do have a deep and humbling gratitude to our magnificent Lord for imparting to me this spiritual grace. 

I wish to thank you, my readers, for looking at my thoughts and reflections on God’s “Way” to His kingdom.  I finally wish to thank a dear friend, a special confidant, and my “Spiritual Director”, all rolled into one dynamic individual, John Hough.  Without his help, my knowledge in biblical history, theology, and philosophy would still be at an undeveloped level.  He has earned a place in heaven solely for dealing with me on a weekly basis.

Some of you may ask how this blog is doing in “getting the ‘Word’ out” to others.  Well, in my first month of posting this blog (09/2009), I had 71 views or hits on my site, and only 500 views that entire first year.  As of this date, only three years later, I am averaging 314 views or hits DAILY, and I am on schedule to have over 66,000 views or hits for this year alone.  On my busiest day, 728 people visited my site (April 7th, 2012), and I have had over 108,000 total views of my site as of Friday, October 26th, 2012.  WOW!!  Thank all of you again for travelling with me – – and Christ – – on a magnificent journey in – – and to – – His kingdom.

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 Joke of the Day:

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Today’s reflection: Jesus restores sight to the blind man, Bartimaeus.  How well do you see Jesus?

(NAB Mark 10:46-52) 46 They came to Jericho.  And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.  47 On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”  48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”  49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.”  50 He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.  51 Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”  The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”  52 Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

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Gospel Reflection:

Today we continue to read from Mark’s Gospel.  In this reading, we find evidence of Jesus’ growing recognition, reputation, and celebrity by the “sizable crowd” accompanying Him as He continues His traveling to Jerusalem for Passover.  Jesus’ reputation as a healer has obviously preceded Him to Jericho, for a “blind man” was anxiously waiting for Jesus to pass by him on the road.  When the “blind man”, named “Bartimaeus”, hears of Jesus passing by, he calls out to Jesus, asking for His “pity”.

When Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus, the crowd around him tries to silence him.  However, this “blind man” is persistent, calling out even louder and with greater urgency in his voice.  He is strongly determined to NOT be silenced or deterred from getting Jesus’ attention.  Interestingly, the crowd’s reaction quickly changes to that of encouragement AFTER Jesus calls for Bartimaeus to come to Him.

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Jesus meets this poor “blind man” on the road to Jerusalem, but He is NOW going through Jericho.  My question: “Why did Jesus travel to Jericho?”  Let’s look at Jericho, from a geographical, biblical, and historical basis, in order to hopefully find the answer.

Jericho is about 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem.  This city is believed to be the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world.  In ancient times, long before Jesus’ birth, Joshua sent two “spies” into the walled city (Jericho), where they were aided by “Rahab, the harlot” (a prostitute).  Because of her assistance, she and her family were spared from injury and death when the Israelites attacked the city.  The Israelite army first surrounded the walled city, Jericho, and after seven days of circling the city continuously, with the Ark in tow, the entire Israelite army shouted and the great and strong walls of the city came crumbling down (cf., Joshua 2:1-22).  

Jericho was the first major conquest by the Israelites after they crossed the Jordan and entered into the promised-land.  However, by Jesus’ time, the “ancient” city of Jericho from Joshua’s time – – was largely abandoned.  However, there was a newer, more modern, metropolis called “Jericho”, just to the south of the old city, planned and built by King Herod.

There is a multitude of history, significance, and biblical references to the city of Jericho.  The representation of this city being a possible sign of Jesus’ “way” – – being one of “breaking down walls” so that we can “abandon” our old ways – – is an interesting concept to explore at a later date.  However, in reality, the reason Jesus traveled through this city with a “sizeable crowd” following Him, is that it was simply the path – – the way – – of getting to Jerusalem.

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On the “way” through Jericho, Jesus came into contact with a “blind man”, “Bartimaeus”, who yells out something very startling for ANY Jew to yell out:

Jesus, son of David, have pity on me” (Mark 10:47).

Bartimaeus was determined to get near the ONE person who could meet his need.  He knew who Jesus truly was – – the true “Messiah”.  He had heard of His fame for spiritual and physical healings.  Until now, he had no means of making contact with the “son of David”, a clear reference and title for this prophesized “Messiah”.  

How could Jesus be the “son of David”?  King David lived approximately 1000 years before Jesus?  Hmm, the answer is that Bartimaeus knew Jesus, the “Christ”, and the “Messiah”, is the fulfillment of the prophecy of “David’s seed”:

When your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom.  He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne foreverI will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.  If he does wrong, I will reprove him with a human rod and with human punishments; but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you.  Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

Jesus IS TRULY the promised “Messiah”; He was OF the David’s seed.  The genealogy in Luke, chapter 3, gives Jesus’ lineage through His mother, Mary.  This form of lineage is uniquely unusual as genealogies of this type were ALWAYS from the father’s side.

However, along with His blood-line through Mary, Jesus is also a descendant of David, by adoption, through Joseph, (a double whammy).  Above all though, when Jesus Christ is referred to as the “son of David”, it is referencing to His Messianic title in regard to Jewish Scripture (Old Testament) prophesies.  When this “blind man” cried out desperately to the “son of David” for help, the title of honor given to Jesus by this “blind man” declared Bartimaeus’ faith in Jesus truly being the true “Messiah” and healer prophesized in Jewish Scripture.  

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At the same time Bartimaeus is calling jesus the “son of David”, the crowd was annoyed with the blind man’s persistent shouts for Jesus’ “pity”.  Bartimaeus was disturbing their peace, and possibly interrupting Jesus as He talked while walking along the road through Jericho.  We need to realize that it was common for a “rabbi” to teach as he walked with others.  When the crowd tried to silence the blind man, Bartimaeus overwhelmed them with his emotional and enthusiastic outbursts, thus catching the attention of Jesus in the process.

Others covertly following Jesus, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, also understood what the implications of Jesus’ “way” were when they heard Bartimaeus calling out to Jesus as the “son of David”.  Unlike Bartimaeus, who cried out in faith, these people were so “blinded” by their own pride and lack of understanding of Jewish Scriptures, they couldn’t see what the “blind man” could see.  In front of them, in physical form, was the promised “Messiah-Savior” they ALL had been waiting for, to come in glory, their entire lives.  These “seeing” – – yet still “blind” – – people loathed Jesus, probably because He wouldn’t give the Temple Leaders the honor and worship they believed the Temple leaders deserved; Jesus wasn’t a “YES” man.  So, when they heard Bartimaeus hailing Jesus as the Messiah-Savior, they became angry:

Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent” (Mark 10:48). 

Jesus called this begging and “blind man” with His command to be “courageous” in coming to Him.  WOW!!  How often have I NOT been courageous in my life, when I was “called” by Jesus to do something?  How often have I been the one “rebuking” another, not being the humble and begging man asking for Jesus to intercede in my own life?

This poor “blind man” not only responded “courageously”, he “sprang up” in his response to Jesus’ “calling”!  Again, how often are the times when my “springs” are tied closed and unable to “spring open” when called upon.  I need to remember – – at these times in my life – – that Jesus Christ has the “Midas touch”, and can heal me as well, if I just ask Him:

Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’  The blind man replied to him, ‘Master, I want to see’” (Mark 10:51). 

And, Jesus’ guarantee is not for a lifetime, it is for ETERNITY!!

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In the last verse of today’s reading, I found a hidden message for me; something I had never seen before:

“Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.’  Immediately he received his sight and followed Him on the way” (Mark 10:52).

This once blind and now seeing Jewish man, Bartimaeus, was told to follow his “way” upon leaving Jesus’ presence.  However, this man decided to follow the “way” of Jesus (verse 52), instead.  Now, for me, what is so awesome about this particular word – – “WAY” – – is that Saint Paul later noted that followers of “Christianity” were called “followers of ‘the Way’” as an identity to their Christian faith (cf., Acts 19:1,9,23; 24:22)!  All I can say is, “WAY to go Paul!”

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Today’s Gospel event reveals something important and significantly relevant about how God interacts with us.  Bartimaeus was determined to get Jesus’ attention, and was persistent in the face of opposition.  Jesus could have easily ignored or rebuffed him, walking past him instead of stopping FOR him.  After all, Bartimaeus was certainly disturbing Jesus’ discourse with His followers.  However, Jesus showed that “acting” was more important than “talking”.  Jesus “walked the talk”!!  

Bartimaeus was in desperate need, AND Jesus was ready (He always IS), not only to empathize with Bartimaeus’ suffering, but also to relieve his torment of blindness as well.  You know, a great speaker can command attention and respect, but an individual with a helping hand and a big heart is loved so much more than anyone who talks, but does not follow-up with actions.  Saints Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa are prime examples for these great virtues of loving surrender and “servant leadership”. 

Jesus speaks well of Bartimaeus for recognizing Him with “eyes of faith”, granting him with physical sight in response to his faith-filled sight.  I believe we ALL need to recognize our need for God’s healing grace, and to seek out Jesus Christ, just as Bartimaeus did – – with a persistent faith and trust in Jesus’ goodness and mercy!

When Jesus restored Bartimaeus’ sight, no elaborate action was required on Bartimaeus’ part.  Let’s remember that in other “healing stories” from Mark’s Gospel, action was always accompanied with Jesus’ “Words”.  Jesus spoke the “Word”, and it happened.  Today’s reading is NOT the first time this has happened in Holy Scripture.  With His “Word”, water became wine, demons left people, and bread and wine became His true body, blood, soul, and divinity!!  Jesus Christ IS the “Word”, and His “Word” IS!!  John said it the best:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GodHe was in the beginning WITH God.  All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.  What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race” (John 1:1-4).

Jesus Christ – – IS – – the “Word” made flesh!!

It is worthy to note that the success of Jesus’ healing power is usually associated with the faith of the person requesting His help. As an example, it is because of her faith that the woman with the hemorrhage is healed (cf., Mark 5:24-34).  When faith is absent, Jesus is “unable” to heal, as seen with His rejection in His home-town of Nazareth (cf., Mark 6:1-6).  However, in this single instance in today’s reading, Jesus simply says that Bartimaeus’ “faith” had saved him from the darkness he had lived in for probably years, if not his entire lifetime.  Jesus’ “Word” becomes the “IS”:

“’Go your way; your faith has saved you.’  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10:52). 

Once his sight had been restored, Bartimaeus followed Jesus on His way to Jerusalem, probably witnessing first-hand the Passover, Passion, and Crucifixion events of His “Messiah”.  

(Here is a little trivial fact: In Mark’s Gospel, Bartimaeus is the last disciple called by Jesus before He enters Jerusalem.)  

Bartimaeus’ words to Jesus prepare us for the final episodes of Mark’s Gospel, which begins with Jesus’ preparation for the Passover and His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  As Mark’s Gospel has shown us over the past few Sundays, Jesus will be (and IS) the “Messiah” – – the “Word” – – in a way that will be difficult for many to accept, even today.  Why and how?  Jesus will show Himself to be the true “Messiah” through His suffering and death.

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Today’s Gospel offers us a powerful example of faith and persistence in prayer.  Those in the crowd rebuked Bartimaeus for his efforts to attract Jesus’ attention.  When silencing him was attempted by the crowd, Bartimaeus called out louder and all the more.  He was persistent and bold in his confidence, and Jesus showed mercy on him, doing what Bartimaeus asked of Him.  His persistence – – and trusting confidence – – in Jesus’ helping intercession, reminds me of the confidence and trust with which my four children brought me their wants and needs.  In this “childlike” faith and trust, we truly can find the proper example of attitude towards God when approaching Him in prayer.

When we pray, Jesus wants us to be courageous, trusting, and confident, knowing He will help us, and, also knowing that we will not allow anyone to keep us from taking our needs to Him in prayer, as in the example of Bartimaeus.  So, identify the things you need most from God.  Pray a prayer of petition with the confidence that Jesus will hear AND answer your prayer.  (He does!!)  When praying your prayer of petition, respond to each petition with “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on us.”   With confidence and trust, you will get an answer!!

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Reflection Prayer

Lord, I Am Not Worthy Prayer

(based on Matthew 8:8)

“Lord, I am not worthy
to have you enter
under my roof;
only say the word
and I will be healed.

Amen.”

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“Is it YOU to God, or, God to YOU, Who IS Saying ‘YOUR will be done’?!” – Mark 10:17-30†


28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Sunday of the Year of Faith

Today’s Content:

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

The following is a letter I wish to convey to you from my OFS Regions Justice and Peace Commissioner, Mike DePue, OFS:

During October we have the Feast of Francis.  October is the month of the Rosary [as well]. October 11th, in the traditional calendar was the feast of the Divine Maternity of Mary, and Pope Benedict has noted that when Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council on this day in 1962, he “wanted to entrust the entire council to the motherly hands, to the motherly heart of the Virgin Mary.”  Also in October, the Eastern Churches celebrate the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God.

Sadly, our society still has many persons who need the protection of Our Mother – – and of those of us willing to express concern.  So, we need to note that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has developed a web page called When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/domestic-violence/when-i-call-for-help.cfm).  The bishops address this statement to several audiences, including “society, which has made some strides towards recognizing the extent of domestic violence against women.”

Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that your locality is immune from this social ill.  The only fundamental question is: What will be your Franciscan response?

Pax et Bonum,
Mike DePue, OFS

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PLENARY INDULGENCE FOR THE “YEAR OF FAITH”

Per a decree made public on October 5th, 2012 in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI will grant a Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the “Year of Faith”.  The indulgence will be valid from the opening of the Year on 11 October 2012 until its end on 24 November 2013.

The day of the fiftieth anniversary of the solemn opening of Vatican Council II”, the text reads, “the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has decreed the beginning of a Year especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, through the reading of – or better still the pious meditation upon – the Acts of the Council and the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

“During the Year of Faith, which will last from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013, Plenary Indulgence for the temporal punishment of sins, imparted by the mercy of God and applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful, may be obtained by all faithful who, truly penitent, take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

“(A) Each time they attend at least three sermons during the Holy Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of the Council or the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in church or any other suitable location.

“(B) Each time they visit, in the course of a pilgrimage, a papal basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral church or a holy site designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith (for example, minor basilicas and shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles or patron saints), and there participate in a sacred celebration, or at least remain for a congruous period of time in prayer and pious meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, depending on the circumstances, to the Holy Apostles and patron saints.

“(C) Each time that, on the days designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith, … in any sacred place, they participate in a solemn celebration of the Eucharist or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding thereto the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form.

“(D) On any day they chose, during the Year of Faith, if they make a pious visit to the baptistery, or other place in which they received the Sacrament of Baptism, and there renew their baptismal promises in any legitimate form.

“Diocesan or eparchal bishops, and those who enjoy the same status in law, on the most appropriate day during that period or on the occasion of the main celebrations, … may impart the papal blessing with the Plenary Indulgence”.

The document concludes by recalling how faithful who, due to illness or other legitimate cause, are unable to leave their place of adobe, may still obtain Plenary Indulgence “if, united in spirit and thought with other faithful, and especially at the times when the words of the Supreme Pontiff and diocesan bishops are transmitted by television or radio, they recite … the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and other prayers which concord with the objectives of the Year of Faith, offering up the suffering and discomfort of their lives”.

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Joke of the Day:

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Today’s reflection: A man with many possessions asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life.  What must YOU DO to gain eternal life?  Are you ready to give up ALL, to become a “slave” for Christ to gain eternal life … REALLY?!

(NAB Mark 10:17-30)  17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  18 Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.  19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.’”  20 He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”  21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  22 At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.  23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”  24 The disciples were amazed at his words.  So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  25 It is easier for a camel to pass through [the] eye of [a] needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  26 They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?”  27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”  28 Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.”  29 Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30 who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.

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Gospel Reflection:

Today, we continue reading in Mark’s Gospel from where we left off last Sunday.  In last Sunday’s reading, Jesus was tested by the Pharisees in regard to the requirements for divorce per Jewish Law.  At this time period, Jesus was journeying to Jerusalem.

Still travelling, in today’s Gospel, an “unnamed man” approaches Jesus and inquires about what he must do to “inherit eternal life” (Mark 10:17).  Jesus replies that he must follow the commandments of the Law of Moses.  This is not an unusual statement as this command had been followed for centuries by pious Jews.  So, the man acknowledges that he has obviously observed all of these Laws since his childhood.  Jesus then says to the man that only one thing is lacking: he must give his possessions to the poor and follow Him [Jesus].  The man leaves Jesus in sadness because he owned many possessions which he obviously cherished greatly. 

My question to you: “Is it surprising that Jesus put a condition on what had been ‘Mosaic Law’ for centuries prior to Jesus’ arrival?”  My answer is NO, it is not surprising at all!  Jesus had added “conditions” in the past when teaching the beatitudes, and even added conditions in last week’s dialogue in regard to divorce. 

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So, this “unknown man” approaches Jesus and says:

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)

Jesus answered him,

Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18). 

Jesus is rejecting the term “good” for Himself and directs it instead to God the Father, the true source of all goodness – – and, who alone can grant the gift of eternal life.  The theme Jesus is going to reveal is that if you wish to enter into life in the kingdom of God, you need to keep the commandments of paramount importance in your life:

“You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother’ (Mark 10:17-30).

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The “unknown man” had the best the secular world could offer – wealth and security.  However, he came to Jesus because he lacked something.  He wanted a lasting peace and happiness which NO money could buy him.  The answer he received from Jesus however, was not what he was looking for in his quest for peace.  (Remember, God has a unique sense of humor at times.)  This “unknown man” swore to Jesus that he kept all the required commandments.  However, Jesus spoke to him of the underlying dilemma in his heart and soul.  Only one thing kept him from giving himself totally and completely to God.  While he lacked for nothing materialistically, he was nonetheless selfishly overprotective of what he had acquired in his life.  He placed his hope and security in what he possessed materialistically, not spiritually!  His priority was values of this world, not the next!

Jesus makes two requirements of this wealthy man who approached Him (and even for all of us today):

Sell what you have, and give to [the] poor … then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).

The first requirement is that he must give up his possessions in order to “inherit eternal life”.  Throughout history, many Christians have taken this requirement literally word-for-word.  Those who have given up ALL possessions, like St. Francis of Assisi, have showed witness to a fundamentally extreme commitment to the Gospel of Jesus.  Others have read this passage as a particular requirement directed solely to this specific “unknown man” in today’s reading.  And, still others have sought to explain the meaning intended in this passage as giving up those things and items preventing one from following Jesus (I believe this is the most popular and common belief).  

Christians have generally understood that following Jesus required believers to hold material possessions “with a loose knot”, and to remain vigilant against seeking security in accumulating material possessions.  The Rule for Secular Franciscans mentions freeing oneself from material needs in two of its 26 articles: 11 and 12:

11.  Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly.  Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs.  Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.

Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power;

12.  Witnessing to the good yet to come and obligated to acquire purity of heart because of the vocation they have embraced, they should set themselves free to love God and their brothers and sisters.

The second requirement for inheriting “eternal life” is the exact same invitation given to this “unknown man” as is extended to ALL would-be disciples, then and NOW:follow me” (Mark 10:21).  Jesus very much wants this “unknown man” to be a disciple of His; Jesus wants ALL of us to be disciples of His!!  The Catholic Christian faith is one in which each distinct and unique individual believer is in a personal, intimate, and unique relationship with Jesus Christ Himself.  Just as today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus loves the “unknown man” and is sad when this man departs, so too, Jesus loves us and is saddened when we are unable to follow Him – – when we turn our backs to Him.

When Jesus challenged the “unknown man” to make God his one true possession and treasure, he became troubled and saddened.  With distress and sadness in his heart and on his soul, he turned his back on Jesus, walking away from Him.  Hmm, why did he turn away from Jesus with sadness rather than stay with Him with joy?  I believe his treasure and his hope for happiness were certainly mislaid; his treasure and hope were in his material items.  Out of a deep, underlying fear for losing what he had gained in this world, he was afraid to give to others.  This “unknown man” sought happiness and security in his worldly items rather than in Jesus Christ, whom he could love, serve, and give of himself in a devotion of true faith.

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The words of Jesus about entering the kingdom of God surely provoked a jaw-dropping, bewildering shock among His disciples:

’How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ … It is easier for a camel to pass through [the] eye of [a] needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23-25).

Do you know why I say these Men (and women) were confused and unnerved by Jesus’ “Words”?  Because His “Words” seem to contradict Hebrew Scriptures concept in which wealth and material goods were considered a sign of God’s favor.  Here are just three examples:

“Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock are spread over the land”  (Job 1:10);

“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, and who walk in his ways.  What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be blessed and prosper” (Psalm 128:1–2);

Happy the just, for it will go well with them, the fruit of their works they will eat.” (Isaiah 3:10).

The Old Testament often speaks of God offering material rewards for observance of His laws.  This, I believe, was because the “future life” was not yet revealed to them receiving the “heavenly” reward prior to Jesus’ role as redeemer of the world.  It was therefore taken for granted, in spite of opposing evidence, that riches were a sign of God’s favor.  (One very popular television evangelist still preaches this exact notion every Sunday.)

So, why does Jesus tell His followers to “sell all” for the treasure of “eternal life” in His kingdom?  Well, “treasure” has a special connection to the heart; it is the thing we as human-beings most set our heart on to be our highest treasure.  Jesus Christ Himself is the greatest treasure we can ever obtain and can ever possess, and should be our HIGHEST possession.  

Since wealth, power, and advantage generated a false sense of security and sanctuary among God’s children, Jesus rejects them outright as a claim to enter God’s kingdom.  In reality, achievement of God’s salvation is beyond any human capability.  God’s salvation depends solely on the mercy and goodness of God the Father, who offers His claim to salvation and heaven freely TO ALL – – as a gift to be accepted:

Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”  (Mark 10:27).

Those who are generous towards God – – and His children, our neighbors – – will find they cannot be out-given in return by God.  His generous return to us will always be greater than what we give to others of His “children”.  God blesses us, and graces us NOW, with treasures from His kingdom.  They are:

(1) Freedom from the clutching force, fear, and power of sin; from selfishness and pride opposing His love and grace in our lives;

(2) Freedom from loneliness, isolation, and rejection keeping us from living together in love, peace, and unity; and,

(3) Freedom of hopelessness, despair, and disillusionment blinding our vision of God’s magnificent power to heal every hurt, to bind every wound, and to remove every blemish injury the image of the Trinitarian God within each of us.  

God the Father offers to each of us – – personally, intimately, and uniquely – – a treasure which any amount of money can never buy.  God – – And ONLY God – – satisfies the deepest longing and desires of our heart, soul, and being.  PLEASE, be willing to part with, to separate yourself from, anything keeping you from seeking the true and completely full JOY in, with, and through Jesus Christ?

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Wealth can make us falsely independent creatures.  The church at Laodicea * was warned about their attitude towards wealth and its false sense of security:

“For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. “ (Revelations 3:17).

* Laodicea was a Christian community established in the ancient city of the same name (on the river Lycus, in the Roman province of Asia).  The church was established in the earliest period of Christianity, and is probably best known for being one of the seven churches addressed by name in the Book of Revelation (Revelations 3.14-22) ~ per Wikipedia.

Per one of Paul’s Pastoral Epistles written to the administrator of the entire Ephesian** community, wealth can also lead us into hurtful desires and selfishness:

Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains”  (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

** Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey.

Giving up ALL we have in order to have Jesus Christ as OUR treasure is not to be considered as a sorrowful act; it is the greatest act of joy, one can lovingly do for others.  Selling all that we have may mean many different things.  It could mean letting go of attachments, friendships, influences, jobs, status, entertainment, or even you’re your manner or means of life.  Anything standing in the way of our loving and making God first and foremost in our lives, AND, anything standing in the way of giving Him the best we can with our time, talents, and treasures, should be removed from our presence and lives.  Do we truly want God saying to us “YOUR will be done” instead of us saying to Him “thy will be done”?  I know I don’t want Him saying this to me!!

Jesus is offering a further condition in this reading from Mark’s Gospel today: a condition which challenges disciples following Him who are materialistically wealthy and trying to enter the Kingdom of God.  (Give it up and follow.)  In reply to the disciples’ astonishment at the strictness of the two requirements Jesus speaks about in today’s reading, He reminds His followers:

For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” (Mark 10:27).

Our eternal salvation is determined by our ability to rely completely upon, to trust completely in, and to hope completely for – – God in our lives ALWAYS!!

Peter replies to Jesus by boasting that the disciples have already given up everything.  Jesus acknowledges that those who have given up everything for the sake of the Gospel will be rewarded.  This is not a FUTURE HOPE – – IT IS HAPPENING NOW!!  This reward begins NOW, in the new community one gains in this present life, and continuing into the eternal age to come.  Our personal relationship with Jesus is also an invitation to the community of faith, in its fullest, the Catholic Church.  So, if you have left the Catholic Church, for whatever reason, please come home today!

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Today’s Gospel might make us uncomfortable about our personal materialistic possessions.  This discomfort actually may offer each of us an opportunity to consider what we have in relation to our commitment to the poor and marginalized.  Without any doubt, material possessions are truly a necessity in our society and way of life.  However, our amount and use of these possessions, and our attitude about their importance, IS our choice.  We have a “free will” to choose who or what, we truly worship – – God or manna.  In making this choice, we must be aware of our love, trust, and faith in Jesus Christ who commits each of us – – personally, intimately, and uniquely – – to care for the poor and marginalized of this world.

I would reason that there are items in each of our houses we no longer need or use.  Reflect on Jesus’ remarks about material possessions and how you feel about Jesus’ teaching today.  Tomorrow, choose an action showing your commitment to the poor.  It could be as simple as donating some of your extra or unused items to another in need.  Repeat this process often.

Holy Scripture gives us a paradox: we lose what we keep and we gain what we give away.  Generosity will be abundantly repaid, both in this life and in eternity:

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with first fruits of all your produce; then will your barns be filled with plenty, with new wine your vats will overflow (Proverbs 3:9-10);

“Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.  For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you (Luke 6:38).

Jesus offers us an incomparable, never-ending treasure which NO money can EVER buy; a treasure NO thief can ever steal.  I want to share His treasure with you!  God’s gift to us is the gift which keeps on giving.

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Reflection Prayer:  

Prayer of Surrender

 

“Loving Father, I surrender to you today with all my heart and soul. Please come into my heart in a deeper way.  I say, “Yes” to you today.  I open all the secret places of my heart to you and say, “Come on in.” Jesus, you are the Lord of my whole life. I believe in you and receive you as my Lord and Savior. I hold nothing back.

Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ.  I surrender all to you: my time, my treasures, my talents, my health, my family, my resources, my work, relationships, time management, successes and failures.  I release it and let it go.

I surrender my understanding of how things ‘ought’ to be, my choices and my will.  I surrender to you the promises I have kept and the promises I have failed to keep.  I surrender my weaknesses and strengths to you.  I surrender my emotions, my fears, my insecurities, my sexuality.  I especially surrender ______ (Here mention other areas of surrender as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you.)

Lord, I surrender my whole life to you, the past, the present, and the future.  In sickness and in health, in life and in death, I belong to you.  (Remain with the Lord in a spirit of silence through your thoughts, a heart song, or simply staying in His presence and listening for His voice.)

Read more: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2011/06/25/a-prayer-of-surrender#ixzz290gBY9rZ

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“In Order To Have Eternal Life, We Should ALL Wear A ‘Nicodemus’ Patch – It’s a Great Addiction!” – John 3:14-21†


 

Fourth Week of Lent

Today’s Content:

 

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

The fourth Sunday of Lent is sometimes called Laetare Sunday.  “Laetare” is a Latin word meaning “rejoice.”  Traditionally in the Catholic Church, Sundays are named after the first word of the liturgy’s opening antiphon.  

Today is the midway point of the Lenten season when we look forward to our celebration of Jesus Christ’s Passion, death, and Resurrection.  On this Sunday, the antiphon is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah:

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her, all you who love her; Rejoice with her in her joy, all you who mourn over her— so that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink with delight at her abundant breasts!” (Isaiah 66:10-11).

Even as we observe our Lenten requirements, we “rejoice” in anticipation of the joy that will be ours in just a few weeks – – at Easter. 

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Today in Catholic History:

    

†   417 – St Zosimus begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   731 – St Gregory III begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   978 – Death of Saint Edward, the Martyr, King of Anglo-Saxons, murdered at age 15
†   1227 – Death of Pope Honorius III, [Cencio Savelli], (1216-27), (b. 1148)
†   1380 – Birth of Saint Liduina van Schiedam, Dutch “Christ’s bride”
†   1532 – English parliament bans payments by English church to Rome
†   2005 – Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube is removed at the request of her husband, fueling a worldwide debate on euthanasia.
†   Feasts/Memorials: Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (d.386); Saint Alexander of Jerusalem; Saint Anselm; Saint Edward the Martyr (d.978); Saint Narcissus; Saint Salvator

(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 is about Jesus telling Nicodemus “the Son of Man will be raised up” in order for those who believe in Him will have eternal life.

 

(NAB John 3:14-21) 14 Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  19 And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.  20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.  21 But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

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Gospel Reflection:

 

Do you recognize the healing power of Christ’s redeeming love for each one of us?  Hopefully, today’s Gospel reading will help you understand Jesus’ unique love for each of us individually.

Today’s Gospel reading is from John’s Gospel.  It consists of two parts.  The first part is the final portion of Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a “ruler of the Jews”, who approached Jesus, at night (the darkness), in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover:

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  He came to Jesus at night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.’” (John 3:1-2).

Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus as someone who had come from God and seemed to want to be a follower of Jesus.  (Wow, proof that not all the Pharisees were against Jesus.)  

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Jesus instructs Nicodemus on the necessity of a new birth from above – – from His Father in heaven – – by responding to Nicodemus with an observation: one must be born “from above” in order to see the Kingdom of God.  

Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’” (John 3:3).

The dialogue that followed, between Jesus and Nicodemus, was about the meaning of the phrase “from above”.  Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus at every point, but there was no hostility in the questions he posed to Jesus.

In the conversation with Nicodemus in today’s Gospel, Jesus referred to an incident reported in the Old Testament (Numbers 21:4-9).  When the Israelites grumbled against the Lord during their sojourn in the desert, God sent venomous serpents to punish them for their complaints.  The Israelites repented and asked Moses to pray for them.  The Lord heard Moses’ prayer [of intercession for the Israelites] and instructed him to make a bronze serpent and “mount it” on a pole.  All bitten by a serpent, and then able to gaze upon the bronze serpent made by Moses, were miraculously cured.  In recalling and referring this story from the book of Numbers, Jesus alludes to the hope and salvation being accomplished through His death and Resurrection.

(Interesting trivia:  the symbol of the medical field is taken from Moses “rod and serpent”.  The medical emblem is called a “Caduceus”.)

The second part of today’s Gospel is a “theological” reflection on Jesus’ “Words” spoken to Nicodemus.  It seems John is known for this kind of reflection, as is presented within today’s Gospel narrative.  The words of John are in continuity with the words of the prologue to John’s Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.  What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5). 

In these reflections, John elaborates on a number of themes that are found in his Gospel: light and darkness; belief and unbelief; good and evil; salvation, judgment, and condemnation.

Today’s Gospel reading continues John’s description of the self-manifestation of Jesus, concluding in Jerusalem, begun earlier in John 2.  This is the first of John’s discourses and we see a shifting from one of dialogue to a monologue format (John 3:11–15) to a reflection of the evangelist, John (John 3:16–21).  

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The prophets never stopped speaking of God’s love, faithfulness, and compassion towards those who would return to God with trust and obedience:

Early and often the LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent His messengers to them, for He had compassion on His people and His dwelling place.” (2 Chronicles 36:15).

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in the darkness, He prophesied His death on the cross, and His Resurrection, would bring healing and forgiveness – – along with a “new birth in the Spirit”; AND, eternal life for those who believe:

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’”  (John 3:3);

Everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:15).

I love the sound of “eternal life” with God and the entire celestial court, don’t you?

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Moses’ bronze serpent pointed to Jesus’ death on the Holy Cross defeating sin and death, thus obtaining “everlasting life” in paradise with God Himself for those who believe and repent.  The result of Jesus “being lifted up on the cross” and His rising to God the Father’s “right hand” in heaven, is OUR “new birth in the Spirit” – – OUR adoption as His beloved children.   God not only redeems us, but He “fills” us with His own divine life and power so that we might share in His everlasting “glory”.  Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit in order that we may have His power to be His witnesses, and to spread and defend the Gospel (the “Good News” of God) by OUR words and actions.  The Holy Spirit gives us His seven-fold gifts of wisdom and understanding, right judgment and courage, knowledge and reverence for God and His ways, and a holy fear in God (cf., Isaiah 11) so that we may live for God and serve Him with, in, and through the power of His strength.

The phrase “lifted up” (verse 14) is a unique and purposeful term used by John.  As previously stated, Moses simply “mounted” a serpent upon a pole:

Moses made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever the serpent bit someone, the person looked at the bronze serpent and recovered.” (Numbers 21:9).  

Here, in today’s reading, John substitutes a verb implying “glorification”.  So, Jesus is exalted to “glory” on His “pole”, the Holy Cross, AND, at His Resurrection.  In dying for us and raising Himself from the dead, He comes to represent healing for ALL who believe.

In the very next verse (3:15), what was meant by John saying the reward for belief in Jesus Christ would be “Eternal life”.  This is the first time John used this term.  Used here, in today’s Gospel, “Eternal life” stresses a “quality” of one’s life rather than its “duration”.

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This next verse from today’s Gospel, I believe, is one of the most famous verses in Holy Scripture.  It is an obviously well-known verse plastered on billboards, signs, pamphlets, scripture tracts, and even a famous football player’s game attire:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (John 3:16) 

God the Father “gave” His Son as a gift in Jesus’ Incarnation.  God also “gave” His Son as a gift “over to death” in His Crucifixion:

He who did not spare His own Son but handed him over for us all, how will He not also give us everything else along with Him?”  (Romans: 8:32).

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Continuing to the next verse, the Greek root word for “Condemn” (verse 17) means both “judgment” along with “condemnation”.  Jesus’ purpose for coming to us in human and divine nature was (and is) to SAVE all who believe in Him.  However, Jesus’ “coming” also provokes “judgment”, which means some actually “condemn” themselves by turning from His wonderfully warm and illuminating “light”. 

Judgment is not only a future event, the “Parousia”, the second coming, is realized here and now in an incomplete way.  The “Judgment” will be finalized at the Parousia, but we are still responsible for our actions, words, or thoughts AT THIS MOMENT in time!!

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In John’s reflection, we find an observation about our innate human sinfulness.  Jesus is truly the “light” coming “into” the world.  However, we oft-times seem to prefer the “darkness” of sin, as Nicodemus was when he approached Jesus.  We want to keep our sins hidden from others eyes, and even from God Himself, but we all subconsciously know that it is not possible to hide anything from God, for He knows all.  Jesus came into the world to reveal – – to illuminate – – OUR sins so that we can see them and be forgiven.  What GREAT and “Good News” for all of us.  His coming into this world is the reason for our great rejoicing during this Lenten season, and throughout our entire lives.

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To Summarize, how do we know that the Trinitarian God truly loves us and wants each of US, individually, to be with Him forever in paradise?  God the father proved His love for us by giving us the best He had to offer – – His “only-begotten” Son – – who freely “gave” Himself as an offering to God His Father, for OUR sake, as the atoning sacrifice for OUR sin and the sin of the world.  

Today’s reading teaches us of the awesomely great dimension of God’s love.  His love is NOT an exclusive love for just a few, or for a single nation, but is instead an All-embracing redemptive love for the whole world.  God’s love is a PERSONAL and INTIMATE love for each and every individual whom He created “in His own image or likeness”.

Then God said: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness.’” (Genesis !:26).

Our God in heaven is a loving Father!!  He cannot rest until ALL of His wandering children have returned home to Him.  Saint Augustine of Hippo was known to have said:

“God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.”

God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love (free-will).  Jesus showed us the contrasting paradigm of His love and judgment to come.  We can love the “darkness” of sin and unbelief, or, we can love the “light” of God’s truth, beauty, and goodness.  If our love is guided by what is true, good, and beautiful, we will choose God, loving Him above all else.  What we choose to love shows, in reality, what we prefer in (and from) life.  Do you love God above all else?  Do you give God a priority – – THE priority – – in your life, in your thoughts, in your decisions, and in your actions?  I pray that I DO, and that YOU do also?!!

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To conclude, today’s story reminds me of my children when they were afraid of the dark in their early lives.  I am awed by John’s observation that darkness is preferred to light for many of us “sinful” humans.  Is this the way it should be?  Hmm … food for thought!!

God made us to live in the warm, bright “light” of His love and mercy.  However, the original relationship with God was eternally corrupted by a worldly desire, a sin.  Our innate sin STILL causes us to withdraw from Christ, the “light” who has come into the world for OUR individual salvation.  During the season of Lent, we try to fight this tendency by remembering God’s great mercy – – His salvation – – which we have received through Jesus Christ.  We do not (and should not) fear in confessing our sins personally, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, knowing readily God forgives us.  So, during Lent, let us all seek out opportunities to celebrate this great gift, this great grace Jesus Christ has given to us freely – – the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Sit for a time in total darkness.  And after a period of time, light a single candle in the room.  Think about what it felt like to be in the darkness, and compare this feeling to what you experienced when the candle was lit.  What can you know see by the limited glow of the candlelight, which you could not see when sitting in total darkness?   John’s Gospel teaches us Jesus was truly the “light” who came into the “darkness” of the world.  In this “light” we reveal ourselves to be sinners, but we are not condemned!  Instead we have been saved; we have been forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Holy Cross.  Thank you Lord for the great gift, the great grace, of forgiveness we have received through your Son, Jesus Christ.

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Reflection Prayer:

 

Act of Contrition

 

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

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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 that inspires the “Word” from which all authentic tradition flows.

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

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

The Papacy

“And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.  The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter …” (Matthew 10:1-2). RSV

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; …”(Matthew 10:1-2). KJV

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“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’” (Matthew 16:18-19). RSV

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew. 16:18-19). KJV

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Comment:

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

Quote:

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

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

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Article #’s 18 & 19 of 26:

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.

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19.  Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.  Messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others.  Since they are immersed in the resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend toward the ultimate encounter with the Father.


 

“One, Two, Three; I Have All ‘One’ Of Them!” – (John 3:16-18) †


 

The Solemnity of the
Most Holy Trinity

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Not only is today Father’s Day, it is also “Juneteenth”, celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation.  Juneteenth celebrates the liberation of black American slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865.  On this day, Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Tex., to inform inhabitants of the Civil War’s end two months earlier (and 2 ½ years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation).  June 19th was soon shortened to “Juneteenth” among celebrants.

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Happy Father’s Day!  The 4th Commandment says to “Honor your Father and Mother”.  Sirach, Chapter 3: 1-14, goes into even greater detail.  I am the father of four teenage boys.  I want to bring attention to portions of this bible passage, and comment on its reality (at least presently in my family).:

1 Children, pay heed to a father’s right; do so that you may live. (Wow!  I have a “right”?)

2 For the LORD sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.  (I wear the pants in my family.  My wife just tells me which ones to put on!)

3 He who honors his father atones for sins; (There needs to be a lot of atoning done in my family.)

4 he stores up riches who reveres his mother. (No problem here.  Mom rules!)

5 He who honors his father is gladdened by children, and when he prays he is heard.  (Pay backs are a bummer.  My children have had the parental curse placed on them already: “I pray you have children JUST LIKE YOU!”)

6 He who reveres his father will live a long life; he obeys the LORD who brings comfort to his mother.  (I pray I out-live all my children – – seriously.)

7 He who fears the LORD honors his father, and serves his parents as rulers.  (My kids are not afraid of anyone – – except Mom’s rath!)

8 In word and deed honor your father that his blessing may come upon you; (Is this why teenagers either don’t talk to their dad, or only grunt in answer?)

9 For a father’s blessing gives a family firm roots, but a mother’s curse uproots the  growing plant.  (NO JOKE.  Mom ain’t happy, Ain’t no one happy!)

10 Glory not in your father’s shame, for his shame is no glory to you! (They take any advantage given to them.)

11 His father’s honor is a man’s glory; disgrace for her children, a mother’s shame. (SOoo true.)

12 My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives.  (In other words: Get a good job, and get rich boy.  I want to live in florida and ride a big three-wheel bicycle!!)

13 Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength.  (Already started; as hair disappears, so does neurons.)

14 For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, it will serve as a sin offering–it will take lasting root.  (Grunting and evil stares is NOT kindness)

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    

†   1205 – Pope Innocent III fires Adolf I as archbishop of Cologne
†   1341 – Death of Juliana van Falconieri, Italian saint/Swedish tenor, dies
†   1782 – Birth of Hugues F R de Lamennais, French priest/writer (L’avenir) (d.1854)
†   1878 – Birth of James M Kilroe, priest of St Mary Star of the Sea, in the Bronx (d. 1945)
†   1898 – Birth of James Joseph Sweeney, American Catholic prelate (d. 1968)
†   1914 – Birth of Anthony Bloom, Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church (d. 2003)
†   1968 – Death of James Joseph Sweeney, American Catholic prelate (b. 1898)
†   1977 – Pope Paul VI makes 19th-century bishop John Neumann the first US male saint

(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:

 

 

“God is an experience of supreme love.” ~ Quote from book, “Eat, Pray, Love

 

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Today’s reflection is about God sending His Son into the world – – to save the world.

 

 

 

(NAB John 3:16-18)  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

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With today’s reading, the Easter Season is over.  We return to the liturgical season of “Ordinary Time”.  I don’t like the term, “ordinary”.  For me, there is nothing ordinary about God and His supreme love for each of us, no matter how bad we may be to others in our lives.

This Sunday, and next, are designated by the Catholic Church as “solemnities”: special days calling our focus and attention to fundamental – – and essential – – “mysteries” of our faith.  Today, “Trinity Sunday”, we celebrate the “mystery” of the Holy Trinity: one God in three persons.

 

Throughout the Lenten and Easter Seasons, we read from the ending chapters of John’s Gospel.  Today, we return to the beginning of his book.  The passage we read today follows Jesus’ conversation with a Pharisee named “Nicodemus” about what it means to be born of both water and the spirit.  Nicodemus approached Jesus at night (otherwise: in secret) and acknowledged Him as a “teacher” from God.  Jesus tells Nicodemus:

Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (John 3:3)

Nicodemus misunderstands what Jesus said, and questions how a person can be born more than once.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.  Jesus is essentially explaining a Sacrament of the Catholic Church – – “Baptism”.

Yet Nicodemus still does not understand what Jesus is saying.  So, He continues teaching and testifying (for a third time) to the need to be born from above so that one might have eternal life.  After telling of Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, John the Evangelist offers his own explanation of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel.

These words are so charged with meaning for those who reflect and meditate on them.  This passage summarizes how Jesus Christ’s death is the supreme sign of God’s love for His creations.  All our faith is a sum of our belief in the revelation found in God’s kindness, mercy, and love for us.  After all:

God is love” (1 John 4:16).

 

God’s love pours forth unsparingly and without end!  This ultimate “truth” sums up ALL concerning God, and this same truth explains and illuminates everything regarding God!  Perfect love holds nothing back – – but gives all.  Jesus gave Himself completely out of love for His Father and for us sinners.  Can you?

 

The story of Jesus Christ, our Savior and “Messiah”, needs to be seen in the following “truthful” light:

“I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.”  (Galatians 2:20)

 

John tells us that God’s love is without boundaries.  His love is not limited to a few individuals, or to a single nation.  His love is for ALL mankind, and ALL God’s creations.  His love both embraces the whole world and is personally directed to every person created in “his image and likeness“. God is truly a loving Father who cannot rest until His “lost” children have returned home to Him.

Saint Augustine once said:

God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.” (Unknown source) 

In turn, God gives us the freedom (free-will) to choose whom and what we will love.  Through Jesus Christ, we are shown the paradox between love and judgment.  We can love the darkness of sin’s unbelief, evil, and depravity, OR, we can love the light of God’s truth, beauty, and goodness.  When our love is guided by truth, beauty, and goodness, then we will choose God and love Him over anything else in our lives.  Sit back and reflect on this last paragraph.  Do you love God above all else?  Does God take first place in your life, in your thoughts, and in your actions?

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What does it mean when today’s Gospel reading says that God “gave” His only Son?  Well, I see Jesus Christ as a “gift”, given to each of us – – still today – – in His Incarnation and birth to a young virgin girl; and as a gift to each of us “over death” in Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross of redemption.  With this gift of such divine and immense “pure”, unrestrictive love from our divine Creator, how can anyone say that God will not supply us with all we need?  I believe a quote from the book of Romans says so well what I am trying to say:

He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Romans 8:32).

Someone sent me a quote, by an unknown (to me) person, that fits so well here:

“Life is a Gift… Unwrap It!”

We have to choose to allow God’s gift “unwrap” in our lives.  And, we also need to choose not to re-wrap His gift on a daily basis; keeping His Gift – – Jesus Christ – – exposed for all to see.

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Condemn”, from verse 17, is such a strong and negative world for me. The Greek root for the word “condemn” means both judgment and condemnation.   It would only make sense (at least to me) that God:

“… did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world …” (John 3:17).

God can only “perform” things out of pure love since He, Himself, IS PURE LOVE!  Jesus’ purpose was (and still is) to save mankind.  However, His “coming” did provoke judgment in non-believers then, still does today, and will certainly provoke judgment by others in the future.  Some who find it easier to live a secular and materialistic life are condemning themselves to eternal darkness by turning from the light of Christ.

 

Jesus’ self-surrender is an urgent call to respond to His profound and unrelenting love for, and towards, us.  He waits for us – – every day (nay, every moment) – – as eagerly as the father of the prodigal son did (cf., Luke 15:11-32).  How can anyone doubt that He wants us to respond to Him with all OUR love? 

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We cannot live without love in our lives.  If love is not revealed to us, if we do not encounter and experience love and make it our own, and if we do not participate in love intimately, we become obscure and meaningless to ourselves and others.

I believe this is why Jesus Christ revealed Himself to us.  Through our nature of weakness, sinfulness, and uncertainty, we are drawn ever closer to Jesus Christ for his gift of salvation and redemption.  Due to our nature, we have to accept His Incarnation and Redemption in order to find ourselves in the loving embrace of God.  How precious and wonderful we must be in His eyes, to be given a great “Redeemer” as Jesus Christ by our Creator in heaven.

 

Jesus (God’s Son) revealed God the Father, and is inseparable with God the Father.  The Holy Spirit (our “Advocate”), is likewise is inseparable with God the Father and God the Son.  The mission, – – the reasons for being, – – of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit are the same: to bring all to the love and light of God.  I believe this is why Jesus tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit will reveal the “glory” of God the Father and God the Son. 

The Holy Spirit will speak only what is “true”.  For this reason, Jesus revealed the Holy Spirit as the “Paraclete” and “Helper” who will be with Jesus’ disciples forever, to teach and guide them “into all the truth

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.  But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.  He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.” (John 14:26; 16:13) 

 

Vatican II says of the need for God’s love, and for Christ’s surrender for our Redemption:

The words of Christ are at once words of judgment and of grace, of death and of life.  For it is only by putting to death what is old that we are able to approach the newness of life.  This is true first of all about persons, but it holds also for the various goods of this world which bear the mark both of man’s sin and of God’s blessing: ‘For all have sinned and have need of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:23).  No one is freed from sin by himself and by his own power, no one is raised above himself, no one is completely rid of his sickness or his solitude or his servitude.  On the contrary, all stand in need of Christ, their model, their mentor, their liberator, their Savior, their source of life.”  (Vatican II, Ad gentes, 8)

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With today’s focus being on the “mystery” of the Holy Trinity, we are called to be attentive to the “action” of God, who reveals Himself in three distinct “persons”: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  God the Father, out of love for the world and His creations, sent His Son into the world in order to save and redeem them.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, we have been given the gift of God the Holy Spirit.  As three individual and distinct “persons”, God acts always as a God of love; he does not condemn the world but acts to save it.

 

Today’s Gospel calls attention to the response that is required of us as Catholic followers, His disciples.  God’s love for us calls us to respond — in trust, love, faith, and hope — by professing our belief in God’s son, Jesus Christ, and the salvation that He won for us through His Human Sacrifice.  Our profession of faith and belief – – our trust and love for the Holy Trinity – – is a sign of the Holy Spirit truly working in, and through, our lives.

Because of God’s great love for us, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  In turn, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit so that our faith in God, and His love, would be continued and strengthened.  Our experiences from encouraging and nurturing others, such as in family life, help us to understand, trust, and have faith in God’s tremendous and awe-inspiring love for each of us.

In what ways have you experienced God’s love?  How have you seen God at work in your life, your family life, and in others?  Thank God for His gift of love.  Return His love by loving Him and loving all His creations, especially the ones difficult or impossible to love.  (AS He still does!)

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Glory Be

Glory be to the Father,
and 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

 

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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 “Confiteor” (I Confess prayer) has been revised, again to match the Latin texts more closely.  More stress is once again placed on our unworthiness more so than in the current missal.  It will now say, “I have greatly sinned” and later adds “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.

“I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that
I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault
;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

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

 

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Venerable Matt Talbot (1856-1925)

 

Matt can be considered the patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism.

Matt was born in Dublin, where his father worked on the docks and had a difficult time supporting his family.  After a few years of schooling, Matt obtained work as a messenger for some liquor merchants; there he began to drink excessively.  For 15 years—until he was almost 30—Matt was an active alcoholic.

One day he decided to take “the pledge” for three months, make a general confession and begin to attend daily Mass.  There is evidence that Matt’s first seven years after taking the pledge were especially difficult.  Avoiding his former drinking places was hard.  He began to pray as intensely as he used to drink.  He also tried to pay back people from whom he had borrowed or stolen money while he was drinking.

Most of his life Matt worked as a builder’s laborer.  He joined the Secular Franciscan Order and began a life of strict penance; he abstained from meat nine months a year.  Matt spent hours every night avidly reading Scripture and the lives of the saints. He prayed the rosary conscientiously.  Though his job did not make him rich, Matt contributed generously to the missions.

After 1923 his health failed, and Matt was forced to quit work.  He died on his way to church on Trinity Sunday.  Fifty years later Pope Paul VI gave him the title venerable.

Comment:

In looking at the life of Matt Talbot, we may easily focus on the later years when he had stopped drinking for some time and was leading a penitential life.  Only alcoholic men and women who have stopped drinking can fully appreciate how difficult the earliest years of sobriety were for Matt.

He had to take one day at a time.  So do the rest of us.

Quote:

On an otherwise blank page in one of Matt’s books, the following is written: “God console thee and make thee a saint.  To arrive at the perfection of humility four things are necessary: to despise the world, to despise no one, to despise self, to despise being despised by others.”

Patron Saint of: Alcoholics & Sobriety

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:

 

Church Documents

 

Pope John Paul II appealed to the laity to read and practice the teachings of the Vatican Council II (11/26/2000).  Do you follow his pastoral advice and request?

Do you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Do you read and reflect on the Catholic Church’s teaching documents?  Or, have you chosen to ignore such documents?

Do you agree with Pope John Paul II who said: “The Second Vatican Council was the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit in the 20th century”?

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 19 & 20 of 26:

19.  Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.  Messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others.  Since they are immersed in the resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend toward the ultimate encounter with the Father.

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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.

  

“Lazarus Came Out Of the Tomb and Saw His Shadow. We Now Have Two More Weeks Of Lent!” – John 11:1-45†


 

Fifth Sunday of Lent

 

Today’s Content:

  

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

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Yippee, the Government did not screech to a halt in such a way as to throw the earth off its rotational axis, as many feared.  Yet sadly, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) caved in on his promise to defund Planned Parenthood.  Anti-abortion lawmakers did succeed however in blocking taxpayer-funded abortions in the District of Columbia (only 50 States to go).  

President Obama succeeded in forcing Boehner, and other Republicans in Congress, to cave in on dozens of items including Planned Parenthood, while protecting favored programs like education, clean energy and medical research.  Representative Boehner, I consider defunding Planned Parenthood as a favored endeavor, and of the utmost urgency!

Yes, the mutually agreed upon bill will remove close to $40 billion from the day-to-day budgets of certain domestic agencies over six months, – – the biggest rollback of such government programs in history.  And yes, it will put the Cabinet operating budgets on a track closer to levels before President Obama took office in 2009.  Yet we (the USA) are throwing God’s miracle in trashcans 3700 times daily, 1.37 million yearly (42 million worldwide)!  Again, how SAD!!

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    
†   847 – St Leo IV begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1512 – Pope Julius II opens 5th Council of Lateranen
†   1585 – Death of Gregory XIII,  [Ugo Buoncampagni], (b. 1502), Italian Pope (1572-85)
†   1704 – Death of William Egon of Fürstenberg, Bishop of Strassburg (b. 1629)
†   1821 – Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople is hanged by the Turks from the main gate of the Patriarchate and his body is thrown into the Bosphorus.
†   1921 – Birth of Peter Herbert Penwarden, priest
†   Feasts/Memorials: Saint Fulbert of Chartres; James, Azadanus and Abdicius; Saint Paternus

(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:

 

Ben: Dad, why doesn’t the bible say anything about the other three persons that Jesus raised from the dead at the same time as Lazarus?

Dad: Where did you learn that there were three other persons? Lazarus was the only one in that bible story.

Ben: Well Dad, in the bible it says that there were at least four people.

Dad: Where does it say that in the bible?

Ben: Right here Dad (showing him his bible), it says “Lazarus came forth”!

 

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Today’s reflection is about the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

 

 (NAB John 11:1-45) 1 Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  2 Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.  3 So the sisters sent word to him, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.”  4 When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  6 So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.  7 Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”  8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”  9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day?  If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.  10 But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”  11 He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.”  12 So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”  13 But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.  14 So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died.  15 And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.”  16 So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”  17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.  19 And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.  20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.  21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  22 (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”  24 Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”  25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  27 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.”  28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.”  29 As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him.  30 For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him.  31 So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.  32 When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  33 When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”  35 And Jesus wept.  36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”  37 But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”  38 So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.  39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”  40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”  41 So they took away the stone.  And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me.  42 I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.”  43 And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  44 The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.  So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”  45 Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

 

Today’s the second longest continuous Gospel narrative in John’s Gospel read at Mass throughout the Liturgical year.  The only Gospel reading longer is the passion narrative.  This reading invites us to reflect upon what it means to call Jesus the “Resurrection and the life”.  The raising of Lazarus from the dead is also the climax of Jesus’ signs (miracles) before His own death and resurrection.  This Gospel reading directly leads up to the decision by the Sanhedrin to eliminate (kill) Jesus out of fear and jealousy and precipitated the literal fulfillment of Hebrew prophesies found in Isaiah and elsewhere.

A theme of “life” predominates throughout this reading.  Lazarus (His name means “God is my help”) is a symbol of the real “life” that Jesus – – through His death and resurrection – – will give to all who believe in Him.  Just think of the irony in the Lazarus story: Jesus’ gift of life to His friend (and to all of us) will ultimately and directly lead to His own death on the Holy Tree of redemption.

Through Lazarus’ sickness and subsequent death, God brought glory in, and to, Jesus, His only begotten Son.  Jesus, who raised His friend from the dead, did so in an anticipation of His own death and resurrection.  We should remember these two events (Lazarus’s and Jesus’ resurrections) this week in our participation at the Eucharist, which was given to us as a foretaste of Jesus’ “transfiguration” of OUR bodies, at the Parousia, His appearing and full presence – – His second coming. 

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The background of today’s story, – – the raising of Lazarus, – – is the Jewish leaders’ growing animosity toward Jesus.  He had been in Jerusalem, taking part in the “feast of the Dedication”, which we now call, “Hanukkah”, the “feast of Lights”.  The Jewish people had been pushing him to declare plainly whether or not He was the true “Messiah” prophesized.  Jesus tells them to look to His works (and not faith alone), which will testify to His coming from God (for our sake).  Many do not believe Jesus, and a number of them try to stone Him for the [false] sin/crime of “blasphemy”, claiming equality with God the Father.

While Jesus is evading those choosing to do Him harm, word is sent to Him that His friend is ill; yet He delays His journey, purposefully, for two days.  The delay heightens the drama when He eventually arrives in Bethany.  The delay also shows Jesus’ obedience to God, who is to be glorified through Jesus’ delay and Lazarus’s eventual resurrection.  

 

The story of the raising of Lazarus is not found verbatim in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).  However, Luke does record another example of Jesus Christ demonstrating His compassion and His divine authority over life and death, as found in Luke 7:11-17: 

“Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.  As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.  A large crowd from the city was with her.  When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’  He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you, arise!’  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.  Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, ‘A great prophet has arisen in our midst,’ and ‘God has visited his people.’  This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.” (Luke 7:11-17).  

There is another parallel between the Lazarus story and Luke’s parable of the rich man and a “poor man” also named Lazarus:

There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.  And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.  Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.  When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.  The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’  Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.  Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’  He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’  But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’  He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’  Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.‘” (Luke 16:19-31).

In both stories, a man named Lazarus dies.  However, in Luke, there is a request that Lazarus return from the dead in order to convince his contemporaries of the need for faith and repentance, while in John, Lazarus does return inspiring a belief in the resurrection, and in Jesus Christ as the “Messiah”, in some among them.

 

Bethany was “about two miles” from Jerusalem as stated in verse 18 of today’s reading.  In the original Greek, it was actually about fifteen “stades“.  A stade was a measurement of 607 feet, so with using simple math, this would equate to 9105 feet, or just a tad bit over 1.7 miles.  (Yes, I do love math, and yes I can be a little type “A” when it comes to the subject of math.)

Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters as dear friends, and He often stayed in their home at Bethany.  So, why did Jesus delay in coming to Lazarus’ side when He knew that His friend was gravely ill?

In verse 4, upon hearing of Lazarus’s malady, Jesus says his illness “is not to end in death”.  Do you think this statement was misunderstood by Jesus’ disciples as referring to a “physical”, human death of the body?  In reality, Jesus meant a “NOT – – ending in death”, referring to another kind of death: spiritual death.     

Jesus’ two day delay must have confused and mystified His followers.  However, they seem to be more startled and upset when Jesus finally announced that He was going to Bethany, a town very close in proximity to Jerusalem.  They saw this action as a “suicide” mission of sorts.  Jesus’ followers (and most certainly Jesus) knew the religious authorities (the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes) were set on eliminating the threat to them from Jesus.  

For Jesus to come to a place as dangerous for Him as Jerusalem was, at this Passover time was, an act of courage and an act of total trust and love in His heavenly Father.  Jesus’ explanation given to His disciples was simple and challenging at the same time:

“Are there not twelve hours in the day?” (John 11:9)

To paraphrase (a potentially dangerous thing to do with Holy Scripture), Jesus said: “There are enough hours in the day to do what one must do.”  A day, in a chronological form, can never be shortened, lengthened, hurried, or slowed, for it is a fixed period of measurement.  We each have our “day”, or “time”, whether it be short or long (even if it is only “15 minutes of fame”), if we look at a “day” as in the sequential form. 

While time is limited chronologically, there is always enough time for us to accomplish what God intends for us to finish.  Remember, God knows all, and gives each of us an allotted measure of human – – mortal – – life to do what is our part of God’s plan.  So, the choice for us is either to waste it through personal self-gratification, or use it to the greatest ability for God’s glory in all we do and say. 

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Lazarus was “sick”.  Sickness can befall us for a variety of reasons.   Jesus attributed Lazarus’ sickness to the glory of God.  The glory which Jesus had in mind, however, was connected with the Holy Cross – – The Holy Tree of Redemption.   He saw the Holy Cross as His supreme glory – – and the path to glory in the kingdom of God.  For Jesus there was no other path to glory except through the cross; this was God the Father’s plan for salvation, for Jesus Himself, for the whole family of Abraham, and for all people of all nations.. 

Jesus knew that if He went to help Lazarus He would expose himself to grave danger from those in Jerusalem who were plotting His destruction.  Jesus was willing to pay that price to help His friend; to give His life for another.  Jesus would explicitly declare this truth in what would be written a few chapters later in John’s Gospel:

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Are you ready to give help – – to give your own life – – for your friend?  That may seem like a relatively easy thing to do (emphasis is on the word “may”!).  Now, let me throw out the proverbial “ringer”: as a Catholic, as a Christian, are you ready to give help? – – to give your own life? – – for one’s enemy?!! 

Jesus did not segregate the two groups; and neither should we!

 

Jesus did not let circumstances or pressure dictate what He would do.  Nor did He permit others to determine His actions or plan for salvation.  He took actions on His own initiative and on His own schedule.  How often do we try to get God to do things in our way and on our self-determined period of time?  One of my favorite old-time sayings which I just made up is:

“We are on God’s time, and His pocket watch sticks occasionally!” (DEH, 2011) 

 

Let’s go back to the reference about 12 hours in a day.  Both the Romans and the Jews divided the day into twelve equal hours from sunrise to sunset.  We would think of this division as starting around 6 AM and ending at 6 PM – – in accord with God’s natural sequence of light and dark.  The day’s work and travel ceased when the daylight was gone – – when darkness fell over the earth.  Jesus made a spiritual analogy using this concept of light and dark in our relationship with God. 

Jesus is the “Light of the World”!  He is the Son Shine that makes the Sunshine.  Remember the words, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).  For those who do not believe in Him, “the light is not in him”!  In the pre-modern scientific world of Jesus’ time, people apparently did not understand clearly the concept of light entering through the eye.  They seem to have thought of light as being in the eye, as illustrated in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels:

If your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.  And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” (Matthew 6:23).

And,

The lamp of the body is your eye. When your eye is sound, then your whole body is filled with light, but when it is bad, then your body is in darkness.” (Luke 11:34);

While the light of Christ is with us, and actually within us and surrounding us, then, as Paul says, we must live and walk in the truth and grace of His life, which is His light within us.  Sometimes the light within us is darkness when we are not following Jesus Christ as we should, and we then experience the need to be reconciled with God the Father.  There’s a perfect time to be reconciled with God – – NOW!!   

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When Jesus announced that when He was going to the region of Jerusalem after hearing of Lazarus’ death, Thomas showed remarkable courage, as shown in His words recorded by John:

Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” (John 11:16)

This courage, however, was not tempered with faith, trust, and hope in God’s promise to bring a victory out of defeat – – a resurrection out of death.  The proof for this statement is that even though Thomas was a witness to Lazarus’ resurrection, he later abandoned his master, teacher, and dear friend when Jesus was arrested.  He doubted his master’s resurrection until Jesus appeared to him and showed him, directly, the wounds in His hands, feet, and side.  (Hence, how the origin of the description “Doubting Thomas” came about.).  

It is through faith, courage, trust, and love that we get the strength we need to persist through any worldly trial and/or suffering which confronts us in this human and mortal exile.  If we embrace our personal crosses with faith, courage, trust, and love in God, we too will have the assurance that we will see victory and glory made possible through Jesus Christ, our personal and familial Savior.

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When Martha and Mary met Jesus with weeping, they declared to Him that if He had been there, their brother Lazarus would not have died.  They also expressed confidence and faith that God would do whatever Jesus would ask NOW.  They TRUSTED God!  They still TRUSTED Jesus Christ!  They clearly affirmed their belief in Jesus Christ and in the resurrection of the dead “in the last days”.

Martha says that she believes Jesus to be “the Messiah”, “the Son of God”, and “the One”.   All of these titles from verse 27 are a summary of the titles given to Jesus found in all the Gospels.  As in any good book (get the pun), there is always a summary of facts just prior to the climax of the story.  The use of these titles summarizes Jesus’ role as the “one” prophesized by Moses, coming to save the “chosen” people of God.

 

Interestingly for me, the shocking phrase, “became perturbed”, in the original Greek, literally means “He snorted in spirit“.  Jesus’ “snort” is defined by Encarta Dictionary as a harsh sound produced by forcing air through the nostrils in order to express feelings, especially feelings of contempt or impatience.  Jesus’ contemporaries were upset with His delay and His slow arrival in Bethany.  But, Jesus too, was upset.  He was obviously impatient at the presence of the evil of physical death present at this scene, and at the “professional” mourners who came from Jerusalem to cry attentively at Lazarus’ tomb.  You know the old adage, “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature”, and I think it is even more ill-advised to get Jesus “perturbed” at you!  A perturbed Jesus may even trump a perturbed wife; something I personally know well (without even trying most times)!

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Throughout all four Gospels, Jesus regularly refers to God as His “Father”, a translation of the Aramaic word, “abba”.  Jesus regularly addresses God with a concept of filial intimacy as a son’s relationship with, and feelings toward, His parent.  The word “abba” seems not to have been regularly used in earlier or contemporaneous Jewish sources to address God.  Other occurrences of this Aramaic word are only found in the New Testament, in the books of Romans and Galatians:

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Romans 8:15);

And,

As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Galatians 4:6)

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Jesus asks to be brought to Lazarus’s tomb where He prays and calls Lazarus out from the tomb.  At this sign, – – this miracle – – many come to believe in Jesus, but others take word of the miracle to the Jewish authorities, who begin their plans for Jesus’ death.

Our Lord “cried out in a loud voice” and Lazarus came out of the tomb.  In the drama of this event, I think back to an earlier verse in John’s Gospel:

The hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice.” (John 5:28)

Lazarus was still wrapped in his burial strips, and his face was still covered.  This man could not remove his bindings, nor could he remove what blinded him.  He needed the assistance of another, Jesus Christ, to remove his darkness and oppressive wrappings.  SO DO WE!!

In a short time, Jesus Himself will be wrapped in bindings and a cloth will be placed over His face.  However, in three days, those bindings will be found in His rock-hewed tomb untied.  Their magnificent Lord and Savior vanished from the tomb.  The cloth that was draped over His face (I believe it was the tallit, a Jewish religious prayer shawl/robe) was found folded and placed carefully (and reverently) on the shelf which Jesus laid upon, while dead.

 

What a stark difference between the resurrections of Lazarus and Jesus Christ.  Lazarus was resurrected to fulfill Jesus’ ministry, God’s plan of salvation for him.  Jesus was resurrected to fulfill completely God’s plan of salvation and redemption for all of us.  

Remember, Lazarus needed help to remove his oppressive and sight-blinding bindings.  Jesus is the “authority” who instructed others to remove such bindings from Lazarus.  He will do the same for us as we allow Him more fully into our lives.   Jesus Christ is the “light of the world” who will open our eyes to the beauty of God’s creation, here on earth, and in heaven.  (Never to be blinded again.)

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Lazarus may be the luckiest and most blessed person that I can think of right now.  He had a personal, direct, and physical relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ on a daily basis.  Yet, why can’t we as well?  He lives in us in the form of the Holy Spirit, and we can personally, directly, and physically receive Him in the Eucharist at Mass and at Eucharistic Adoration on a daily basis.

Lazarus also gets to experience the gift and beauty of resurrection to bodily form twice.  He experienced a bodily resurrection, as reported in this story; and will again experience a bodily resurrection, at the Parousia.  Twice, he will experience a unique, personal, and extreme love which is emitting from his Creator and Redeemer – – Jesus Christ!  We will be privileged to experience this grace once, yet he gets a double dose!  You know what?  Once will be good enough for me!  And, in a sense, I can’t wait!  (I hope my ticket is stamped “non-smoking”, – – and is up-front, first class.  I’ve had enough of coach.)

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Set against the background of Jesus’ looming death, many elements of the raising of Lazarus prefigure the “good news” of Jesus’ own Resurrection.  Soon to face the tension and clash with Jewish authorities, Jesus acts in complete obedience to God the Father.  In raising Lazarus, Jesus shows His power over death so that when Jesus dies, those who believe in Him might remember, and take hope in His promises.  Just as Jesus calls for the stone to be rolled away from Lazarus’s tomb, so too will the disciples find the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb.

Today, reflect on Baptism as a dying and rising with Jesus.  In Baptism we die to sin’s power over us, rising as children of God.  In Baptism, Jesus joins us to Himself.  As He conquered death once and for all so that we – – who believe in him – – may have eternal life, we are freed from fear of death.  With Martha and Mary, we are called to profess our belief that Jesus is indeed the Resurrection for each of us personally.  Our future will be enjoying completely the unending life in His light.

 

In Summary, Jesus’ promise of eternal life is a fundamental element of our Catholic faith.  Today’s Gospel reading encourages us to recognize, accept, and respond to Jesus’ triumph, power, and victory over death as demonstrated in the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  During this Lenten Season, we need to anticipate and to praise in Jesus conquering death – – once and for all – – by His own dying (never to be repeated), and by His Rising (in a miracle), which each of us will experience on that glorious day, the Parousia.  

We sometimes use examples from nature to help describe this miracle, this gift, this mystery of our faith.  Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus Himself talked about the seed that dies when planted in the ground in order to produce new life:

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24).

Using this image of the “grain of wheat dying to produce much fruit”, we find hope and confidence in “Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life”.

Remember Jesus’ promise from today’s Gospel: “I am the resurrection and the life.”  What does Jesus mean by this promise in your life?  Are you confident in this promise from Jesus Christ?  Pray that you will be, and will remain confident in Jesus’ promise of eternal life.  Remember what Pope St. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3-4: It is by believing “the precious and very great promises” that we “participate in the divine nature” of God.  (We call this Sanctifying Grace.)

The Christian creed, which is the profession of our faith, is a profession, a belief, in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and in the saving power of the Holy Trinity as demonstrated in the Resurrection of Jesus the Son.  That’s why we also proclaim a belief in a resurrection of the dead on the last day, and in an everlasting life.  This IS OUR faith and hope:  This is a biblically based statement of faith declared through today’s Gospel:

“If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11).

God gives us the power of His Holy Spirit that we may be made alive in the light of Jesus Christ.  Through the Holy Spirit, we can even experience the power of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in our personal lives – – NOW – – even today!  The Holy Spirit is ever ready to change, to convert, and to transform us into people of faith, hope, and love; into faith filled sons and daughters.  Amen, and Amen.

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The Creed

(From the “New” Missal starting with Advent, 2011)

 

 

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial
with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under
Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,
the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and
apostolic Church.

I confess one baptism for the
forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the
resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.”

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

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

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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.

Currently, the priest says, “The Lord be with you” five times: at the Entrance Rite, before the Gospel, when the Eucharistic Prayer starts, at “the sign of peace”, and finally at the dismissal. The new response from the congregation will be:

“And with your spirit

instead of “And also with you”.

This is a more direct translation of the Latin and matches what many other language groups have been using for years.  It will obviously take some adjustment, since we have been used to saying, “And also with you,” for so long.

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

 

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Magdalen of Canossa (1774-1835)

 

Wealth and privilege did nothing to prevent today’s saint from following her calling to serve Christ in the poor.  Nor did the protests of her relatives, concerned that such work was beneath her.

Born in northern Italy in 1774, Magdalen knew her mind—and spoke it.  At age 15 she announced she wished to become a nun.  After trying out her vocation with the cloistered Carmelites, she realized her desire was to serve the needy without restriction.  For years she worked among the poor and sick in hospitals and in their homes and among delinquent and abandoned girls.

In her mid-twenties Magdalen began offering lodging to poor girls in her own home.  In time she opened a school, which offered practical training and religious instruction.  As other women joined her in the work, the new Congregation of the Daughters of Charity emerged.  Over time, houses were opened throughout Italy.

Members of the new religious congregation focused on the educational and spiritual needs of women.  Magdalen also founded a smaller congregation for priests and brothers.  Both groups continue to this day.

She died in 1835. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1988.

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:

 

Sickness/Death

 

What impression is created by St. Francis calling death his “sister”?  How did St. Francis face death?  What was his mindset?

How does St. Francis’ attitude toward sickness and death compare to your own, and/or the Catholic Church’s?

Why do we act sometimes as if it’s not right that we should be getting sick?

What virtues does Francis ask us to practice when we are sick?

Why do Christians sometimes have the idea that sickness is a punishment for having done things wrong?  Some seem to say: “If I do not picture myself as a big sinner, why should I be suffering this way”? (Reflect on Jesus’ powerful message to the apostles in John’s Gospel, chap.9:3.)

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 10 & 11 of 26:


 

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

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11. Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.

Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.

“Jesus is King Over Sinners, Thieves, And The Dredge of Society! Which One Are You?!” – Luke 23:35-43†


 

Today is
“The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King”

 

 

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States.  I wish to thank all of you for reading this blog, and sharing my profound and growing faith I have in our Magnificent and Glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

Get your Advent Wreath out and cleaned up and ready to go for next week.

  

  

    

Today in Catholic History:


    
†   235 – St Anterus begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   496 – Death of Pope St Gelasius I
†   695 – Pope Sergius names Willibrord as archbishop Clemens of Friezen
†   1567 – Birth of Anne de Xainctonge, Founder of the Society of the Sisters of Saint Ursula of the Blessed Virgin, French saint (d. 1621)
†   1854 – Birth of Benedict XV, [Giacomo PGB marques della Chiessa], 258th Pope (1914-22)
†   1964 – Pope Paul VI signs 3rd sitting of 2nd Vatican council

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

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

…Jesus did far more than give us an example of heroic meekness and patience. He made meekness and nonviolence the signs of true greatness.  Greatness will no longer consist in lifting oneself up above others, above the crowd, but in the abasing of oneself to serve and lift others up.”  – Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., CAP; Beatitudes: Eight Steps to Happiness, Servant Books 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus being crucified under the title “King of the Jews.”

 

35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.”  36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”  38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”  40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?  41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”  42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  (NAB Luke 23:35-43)

 

All three readings at today’s Mass focus on “kingship.”  Not the kingship our world has traditionally understood, but one that comes from suffering, persecution, and death rather than a kingship of power, greed, and wealth.  History is filled with kings whose reign was characterized by selfishness, narcissism, and bloodshed.  These kings dealt with other areas and individuals, even in their own kingdom, with a greedy and sadistic brutality.

The Catholic Church ends our “liturgical year” with the celebration of the “Feast of Christ the King.”  Today’s Gospel proclaims and demonstrates a grand mystery of our faith.  In this moment of Jesus’ suffering, humiliation, and crucifixion, He is revealed as our “King” and “Savior!”

Luke’s Gospel is loaded with surprising “paradigm shifts!”  A paradigm shift is much more than two coins totaling twenty cents moving around in your pocket.  A paradigm shift is a change in basic assumptions one has, such as a change in beliefs, traditions, and actions.

Jesus stirs the proverbial “pot” by proclaiming throughout His entire teaching ministry that the poor are rich, that sinners find salvation, and that the Kingdom of God is found in our midst.  But here, – – while Jesus is dying a horrible death on the cross, – – we witness probably the greatest paradigm shift of all.  We are confronted with the crucified Jesus, – – who, through faith, – – reveals to us that HE IS the King and Savior of all as Isaiah had foreseen seven to eight centuries before Jesus Christ (Isaiah 52:14 – 15; 53:2-17).  A beautiful quirk of fate is that the inscription placed above Jesus’ head on the cross, as a description of His “crime”, placed there to humiliate and mock Him and His followers, actually contains the most profoundly TRUE fact of faith!!  Instead of a crown of jewels, Jesus chooses to instead wear a crown of thorns as a symbol of His reign.

The last half of this Gospel reading, verses 39 – 43, is found only in Luke’s Gospel.  Jesus’ short sentence to the penitent thief reveals Luke’s understanding, and his firm belief, that the destiny of all Christians is “to be with Jesus.” 

In a special, short moment of his life, the “penitent thief” was saved by his spontaneous belief of Jesus’ innocence, righteousness, and His special nature as Messiah.  As the Temple leaders and Roman soldiers laughed at, heckled, and taunted Jesus, a thief crucified by His side recognized Jesus as the “Messiah” and “King of the Jews”.  In doing so, this penitent “sinner” found salvation through Jesus’ life and “soon-to-be” death.  Three separate events happened nearly simultaneously in this poor criminals’ heart, body and soul: events that saved him.

First, he admonished the other sinner, on the other side of Jesus for mocking Jesus.  Second, in front of all present, he confessed his own faults, crimes, and sins.  Finally, this suffering man, (whose name has come to be known as “Dismas”) asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus would reign as King over all of us.  For Dismas, his cross was only a transition, a door, or gate into God’s glory and eternal life in paradise that very afternoon.  He had a “true” faith that began instantly to produce real supernatural effects in himself and in others present who were witnessing this event.

Jesus IS “King”; but not the kind of king we, or His Jewish brethren, expected, imagined, or thought possible.  He held no “political” office.  He did not lead an army.  He was not a dictator who demanded a suppressed liberty or blind obedience.  And, He never used fear, force, or guilt to maintain His rule. 

So, how does Jesus rule from heaven even today?  The answer is quite simple and poetic: Jesus rules with “love!  Jesus’ kingship is different from all others, not in power, but in nature and manner.  His kingship is fortified with love and righteousness.  Jesus’ love, His divine love, has conquered, restored, and inspired millions of people including me and you.  Jesus’ divine love has sustained and converted a multitude of saints and sinners!  Jesus’ love for all of us has literally changed history!  Do you plant the seed of love in others? Do you spread love to those around you as our King Jesus shows us?

His divinity was hidden from many people in His hometown, in the Temple, and possibly even among some of His “followers”.  It seems only those who had the belief of faith in the divinely human Jesus were able to see Jesus the “Messiah.”  

Many of us today still struggle to recognize Jesus as the King: the “Messiah, the Savior and Liberator of all people, and for all people.  Today’s Gospel reading invites us to recognize that Jesus Christ, the crucified One, is indeed King and Savior for and of all of us.  Jesus is at once the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18) and the “firstborn of all creation!” (Colossians 1:15)

I know I am the “king” of my house.  I claim to “wearing the pants” in my family.  (But my wife tells me which ones to put on!)  Seriously, most of us have never been personally exposed to true “royalty” such as a “king”.  Due to today’s media, most of us DO have some sense of what being “royalty” means.  Royalty is depicted as having control and power over the “subjects” of their kingdom.  We also know “subjects” are prone to give royalty their individual loyalty, faithfulness, and reverence.

Jesus is a “King” in a way that is dramatically different from our traditional understandings of royalty.  Christ’s rule reaches to all places, people, and times.  Jesus manifests his sovereign rule through His death on the Cross, resurrection, and ascension into glory, by which He offers salvation to all.

What does it mean to be a king?  What does it mean to be a “subject” to a king?  How did the people of His time respond to Jesus being nailed to the cross?  How do YOU respond to Jesus being nailed to the cross?  Do we have the faith that Dismas had while he died on the cross next to Jesus?  Finally, how do you recognize and honor Jesus Christ – – the KING?! (Your King?!)

Christmas is literally right around the corner.  With the celebration of the “birth” of Jesus happening in just a few weeks, why are we having a Gospel reading about the end of Jesus’ human life? (Good question, Eh?)  The answer is because today is the end of the Church Liturgical Year.  Through our King’s death on the cross, a new Advent of never ending paradise is opened for all of us.  Today is a great day to start anew, to dedicate yourself to His love and mercy, and to convert from your secular ways.  Following Jesus, our KING, entails living differently than what the rest of society expects and even encourages.  Enter His kingdom and live eternally – Let Him be your KING! 

 

  

Thanksgiving for the Blessings of the Past Year

 

“O God, the beginning and the end of all things, who is always the same, and whose years do not fail, we now, at the close of another year kneel in adoration before You, and offer You our deepest thanks for the Fatherly care with which You have watched over us during the past year, for the many times You have protected us from evils of soul and body, and for the numberless blessings, both temporal and spiritual, which You have showered upon us.  May it please You to accept the homage of our grateful hearts which we offer You in union with the infinite thanksgiving of Your divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with lives with You and reigns forever and ever.  Amen.”

(Adapted from prayer found at
http://www.yenra.com/catholic/prayers)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

   

   

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Feast of the Presentation of Mary

 

Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.

As with Mary’s birth, we read of Mary’s presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.

Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

Comment:

It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God’s saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary enriches her children. They, too, are temples of God and sanctified in order that they might enjoy and share in God’s saving work.

Quote:

“Hail, holy throne of God, divine sanctuary, house of glory, jewel most fair, chosen treasure house, and mercy seat for the whole world, heaven showing forth the glory of God. Purest Virgin, worthy of all praise, sanctuary dedicated to God and raised above all human condition, virgin soil, unplowed field, flourishing vine, fountain pouring out waters, virgin bearing a child, mother without knowing man, hidden treasure of innocence, ornament of sanctity, by your most acceptable prayers, strong with the authority of motherhood, to our Lord and God, Creator of all, your Son who was born of you without a father, steer the ship of the Church and bring it to a quiet harbor” (adapted from a homily by St. Germanus on the Presentation of the Mother of God).

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 21 & 22 of 26:

 

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.

 

22.     The local fraternity is to be established canonically. It becomes the basic unit of the whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love. This should be the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members.

“Salvation Saves! I’ll Bet Your SKIN On It !” – Luke 17:11-19†


            

Today in Catholic History:

    
†   461 – St Leo I the Great ends his reign as Catholic Pope with his death (440-461)
†   627 – Death of Justus, Archbishop of Canterbury
†   1241 – Death of Celestine IV, [Goffredo Castiglioni], Pope (for 16 days)
†  1483 – Birth of  Martin Luther, Ex-Catholic Priest and German Protestant reformer (d. 1546)
†   1549 – Death of Paul III, [Alessandro Farnese], Italian Pope (1534-49), at age 81 (b. 1468)
†   1687 – Pope Innocent XI publishes decree Coelestis pastor
†   Feast Days:  Pope Leo I the Great; Andrew Avellino

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

 

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Suffering with truth decay?  Brush up on your Bible.

 

 

Today’s reflection is about is about Jesus healing 10 lepers, with only one (the Samaritan) returning to give thanks; and on the nature of change.

 

11 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.  12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”  14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”  As they were going they were cleansed.  15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.  17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?  18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  (NAB Luke 17:11-19)

 

 

Jesus, during His journey to Jerusalem, stopped to heal ten lepers that approached Him.  (Note: all skin diseases during this time were called “leprosy,” which itself is now known as “Hansen’s Disease”).  In performing an act of mercy, Jesus is giving us a lesson about faith, love, and reconciliation.  Jesus also gives us a reminder that faith can sometimes be found in unlikely places and that we should always be open to change.  

Ten people afflicted with “leprosy” came to Jesus asking for a cure.  In the Jewish culture, leprosy created a division between those with skin disease and family, societal, and religious practices.  “Sin” does the exact same thing to any of us also.  With the effects of sin on our souls, we are separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially with the Trinitarian God Himself!  With sin, we are focused on a self-love, our own needs and wants instead of the needs and love of those with whom we come into contact.  When we confess our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are “healed” immediately by God’s grace.

Struck with compassion towards the ten “diseased” men, Jesus heals all of them. However, only one returns to thank Him, that one being the Samaritan, a “foreigner.”  In the Jewish culture in which Jesus lived, Samaritans were looked down upon as “heathens” because of the differences between the two communities in their observance of Mosaic Scripture.  

How could this Samaritan, a foreigner in Jesus’ land – a man with a strange accent and probably strange mannerisms – and definitely a man possessing a rebellious theology, be the ONLY ONE to go back to Jesus?  He surely had to overcome two major barriers in order to ask for, and receive, a cure from Jesus.  The first barrier was physical.  He had to overcome the contagious aspect of his disease in order to approach Jesus.  He also had to forget about the cultural and religious differences (the second barrier) of their perceived mutual disbelief of each other’s religion to obtain God’s favor. 

Why were Samaritans so disliked by the Jewish people?  Well, Samaritans were a people that originally inhabited a portion of central Palestine west of the Jordan.  Many were “Hebrews,” but with their own separate doctrinal beliefs, and perhaps even different religious practices.  They, like the Jewish people, regarded themselves as descendants of the “ten tribes of Israel.”  The Samaritans though claimed to possess the orthodox religion of Moses in their manuscripts of the Torah or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).  The Samaritans further regarded the Jewish Temple, and the Jewish priesthood, as having deviated from the Orthodox Law of Moses.  In essence, the two groups existing together could be described as gasoline being thrown into an oil pit.  The two did not mix well, but if any match was thrown into the mix (e.g., controversies or in-fighting) BOTH could erupt violently! 

So, imagine what it might be like for these ten men (nine Jewish and a single Samaritan) to begin realizing they are being totally healed – WOW!  Then imagine the nine Jewish lepers excited to run to the Temple priests as Jesus commanded; while the one Samaritan stopped, realized he is free from the disease, and his first impulse was to return to Jesus in order to thank Him, and not go to the “Jewish” Temple priest in Jerusalem.  Jesus was delighted to see him return fully whole and healed.

The significance of Jesus commending the Samaritan for his faith (and salvation) is very important to not only the Jewish crowd following Jesus, but also to the non-believers in the area overhearing Jesus’ surprise of the Samaritan returning.  Jesus proclaimed, and also demonstrated, that God will bring salvation to ANYONE who hears with faith; and that a true faith can be found in very unique and surprising places (e.g. “foreigners”).

This event describing the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan [hence, non-Jewish believer of Jesus] who had leprosy is told in Luke’s Gospel only.  I believe it is because this happening provided a further illustration of Jesus holding up a non-Jew as an example to his Jewish contemporaries that God’s grace through Jesus the Messiah is for all people who will believe, even “foreigners.”  Another example of this perception can be found in Luke 10:33, where a comparable point is achieved in the story of the Good Samaritan (Another foreigner who cares for his neighbor without regard of religion).  It is the faith these “foreigners” had in Jesus that brought them salvation.  I can think of three other similar Bible verses that compare the relationship between faith and salvation in Luke’s Gospel: Luke 7:50; 8:48; and 8:50.  Please read them.

Why did Jesus tell the ten men to Go show yourselves to the priests?”  Jesus, being well-versed in the Old Testament and Levitical laws knew that any person with a skin disease had to be examined by the temple priest when a skin disease was cured; and then also to make an offering for their cleansing, as Moses prescribed in Leviticus 13:45-46, 49; 14:2-9; and Num 5:2-3.  With the priests’ approval, this person could then re-enter Jewish society, and thus re-enter the temple to worship as well.

 

Besides the importance of faith, another lesson given to us in this healing encounter has to do with salvation itself.  Salvation is defined in this instance as “liberation of an individual from sin and its consequences.”  All ten of the lepers were given the gift of healing for their skin lesions; but in his gratitude to God for this gift of healing, only the Samaritan actually found the gift of “salvation,” a personal relationship with Jesus.  Salvation is realized in recognizing and accepting the gifts we have been given; sharing these gifts as God wants us to; and in knowing to whom we are to offer our thanks: God!!  To me, salvation creates a divine change in our attitudes, our reasoning, and our souls.

Change is inevitable in all our lives.  “Nature” itself is changeable (every 10 minutes in my part of the country); and we, as mortal humans change, in part, through and because of the staining nature sin on our souls.  Even though we are redeemed and renewed by the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, and the Holy Eucharist, we are still continuously bombarded by the temptation to sin.  Our nature is continually urged towards corruption by bodily desires unless fortified by divine spiritual assistance.

When our battles with evil our made evident (even if just to ourselves), “brought out into the open,” so too are the graces of and from God.  We only need to choose which nature to grasp: God’s grace or Satan’s iniquities.  When temptation and failure is nearest, the promise of God is also at hand. 

Among our many and unrelenting responsibilities as loving parents, we are to help foster the gift of appreciation and thankfulness.  This is especially true of appreciating and thanking God for all His compassion, benevolence, kindness, and helpfulness to us. 

Prior to Jesus coming into their lives, the Apostles were certainly victims to earthly vices.  After encountering Jesus, they were changed – transformed or converted – into people who labored and counseled others with love and gratitude for all, Jew and Gentile alike.  This conversion or transformation was not easy in any way.  It was a Daily struggle of hard work on the Apostles part.  So it goes with OUR spiritual journey of DAILY conversion.  One is not saved on belief (FAITH) alone: one must work at being a Christian!

What are some of the gifts you have received from God?  How often do you give thanks for all of God’s goodness given to you?  Do you praise God, even when given the gift you DO NOT want?  It is far too easy to thank Him for the good things in life.  But, through the bad periods we are also given the opportunity to grow closer to our magnificent, heavenly, Father by giving Him thanks in all circumstances as St. Paul instructs us to do!  Our sufferings can unite us with the same suffering Jesus endured for our salvation on the Holy Cross in a very personal way.  We are not necessarily thanking God for the suffering itself, but for the grace to endure, and the lessons we will learn from the gift of suffering.

I am in pain on a daily basis.  Like the lepers in today’s Gospel reading, I am ordained to a life of agony and suffering.  Between my heart and lung maladies, back and knee pain from 30 years of abuse as a paramedic lifting, prying, and carrying many things and people in awkward situations, plus the usual general aches and pains of growing old, I am very familiar with agony and hurting.  I have come to realize that my suffering is a permanent – and probably necessary – component in my life.  I now know I need to be humble instead of being the proud and boisterous person of my youth.  I need humility in my general life, as well as my prayer life and my faith.  I used to pray and NEVER listen.  I now know that I NOT ONLY need to talk to God, but also more importantly, I need to LISTEN to Him as well.  

My pain and trouble breathing keeps me focused on the divine mercy of God in Jesus, through His own suffering and forgiveness.  Maybe my pain is a kind of personal “stigmata” to keep my heart and soul going in the right direction.  By the way, I can honestly say that I have never been happier in my life.  God definitely works in mysterious and unorthodox ways.  He gave me a difficult cross to carry; and for giving me this unique and true grace, I truly love Him more than I ever have before.   

Don’t think I am bragging.  There is nothing to brag about in what I just related to you.  Other than being a uniquely special creation of God, (as each one of us is to God), I believe I am nothing special.  I believe I am a typical Catholic man living in an often “unjust” and “secular” world today.  However, I have hope and faith for the future; and I give thanks and praise to God for His “Peace and all good.”  (A translation of St. Francis’ favorite greeting:Pax et Bonum.”)

Today’s story relates to us what Jesus is wanting from all of us.  Every time our faith is increased, we should turn to Him in prayers of thanksgiving and adoration.  Every time our prayers are answered, we need to acknowlege His grace with a moment of being in His presence spiritually.  It is not because He knows that when we approach Him our faith increases.  It is because every time we come to Him our hearts and souls are opened even more to His word, His works, and His love!!

 

“Joy in Suffering”

 

“Lord, help me to joyfully suffer in this life for the souls in purgatory; and be with me in prayer as I gladly cleanse my soul in purgatory for my transgressions.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Leo the Great (d. 461)

 

With apparent strong conviction of the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, and of the Church as the ongoing sign of Christ’s presence in the world, Leo the Great displayed endless dedication as pope. Elected in 440, he worked tirelessly as “Peter’s successor,” guiding his fellow bishops as “equals in the episcopacy and infirmities.”

Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the pope’s total responsibility for the flock of Christ. He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism, Manichaeism and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs. A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ. With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.

In these three areas, Leo’s work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work. He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. One of his sermons is used in the Office of Readings on Christmas.

It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the Church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his Body, the Church. Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the Church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and St. Peter, in whose place Leo acted.

Comment:

At a time when there is widespread criticism of Church structures, we also hear criticism that bishops and priests—indeed, all of us—are too preoccupied with administration of temporal matters. Pope Leo is an example of a great administrator who used his talents in areas where spirit and structure are inseparably combined: doctrine, peace and pastoral care. He avoided an “angelism” that tries to live without the body, as well as the “practicality” that deals only in externals.

 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 10 & 11 of 26:

 

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

 

 

11.      Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.

Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.