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“The ‘Sign’ Read: ‘If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!’” – John 2:1-11†


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2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

 

T. table_of_contentsoday’s Content:

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveris, & Declarations:

 

Please let me explain why I did not publish a blog Wednesday.  I have a chronic eye condition known in the medical field as “keratoconus”.  Patients with this condition have misshaped globes of the eye.  Instead of the ckeratoconus-demoorneas being round and smooth, my eyes are shaped like the ends of footballs, and with ridges on their surfaces.  Thus, I wear specially made (very expensive) contacts in order to see well enough for daily living.  Without these contacts, my vision is like looking through a very thin layer of petroleum jelly.  Eventually, I will have to have corneal transport surgery on both eyes, but obviously, I wish to postpone this surgery as long as is reasonable.

One of my eyes has started to develop blood vessels on the cornea; some2816_2835_3thing very bad for future corneal transplant surgery.  Thus, I have to use four different medications on the eye throughout the day and night, and I am unable to wear a contact in this eye until some point after my surgery.  Laser surgery is scheduled for late February (He will burn the blood vessels on my cornea with the laser). 

For now, it is difficult to read due to the resultant blurriness of not wearing the contact.  For this reason, I have to limit my reflection blog to Sundays – – only FOR NOWI am also asking for your prayers in this matter.  Thank you in advance.

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Quote of the Day:

To turn water into wine, and what is common into what is holy, is indeed the glory of Christianity.” ~ Frederick William Robertson

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Today’s reflection: Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.  Jesus heard and obeyed His mother, Mary – – the mother of God; Do YOU?!

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(NAB John 2:1-11)  1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  2 Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.  3 When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  4 [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come.”  5 His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”  6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.  7 Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.”  So they filled them to the brim.  8 Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”  So they took it.  9 And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  11 Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs * in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

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Gos. Reflectionpel Reflection:

This Sunday we begin the liturgical season of Ordinary Time.  For many Sundays in this lectionary cycle (Cycle C), our readings will be taken from the Gospel of Luke.  Occasionally, however, we will read from John’s Gospel [as we do in every lectionary cycle].  Today’s Gospel reading comes from John, describing the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and His first miracle – – His first “sign”.

To situate today’s reading within the context of John’s Gospel, we need to know that this event follows Jesus’ call of His first six disciples (cf., John 1:35-51).  John tells us that Jesus and His disciples were invited to this wedding at Cana, along with Jesus’ mother, Mary.  This event is unique to John’s Gospel.  There are no parallel reports of this miraculous “sign” at Cana in any of the Synoptic Gospels.

Today’s Gospel is about “Signs (“sēmeion” in Greek).  John uses “signs” to re5030826-directional-signs-vector-or-xxl-jpeg-imageveal Jesus as the true promised Messiah to ALL “Israel”.  John uses “signs” to symbolize Jesus’ wondrous actions, His deeds.  We need to remember that the Gospel according to John is quite different in character from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  His writing style is highly literate and symbolic in nature.  It does not follow the same order, nor reproduce the same stories, as the other three Gospels.  To a much greater degree as that of the three other Gospel writers, it is the product of a theological reflection growing out of a different circle of readers, and their different traditions.  John’s Gospel was probably written in Ephesus during 90’s AD. 

John’s Gospel narrative contains a series of “signs”, seven to be exact (They will be listed near the end of this reflection.).  John’s Gospel’s relates God’s “Word” through a series of wondrous deeds – – actions – – by Jesus Himself.  It gives the impression that John is primarily interested in the “significance” of these actions. 

The first sign in today’s Gospel reading, is the “transformation of water into wine” at a wedding feast in a place called Cana (John 2:1jesus_wine1–11).  This first “sign” represents the replacement of the Jewish ceremonial washings (John 2:6), and symbolizes the entire creative and transforming work of Jesus then, and still today.  He is still actually transforming US ALL through our hearing of His “Word” and the fellowships of our Church’s seven Sacraments.

So, the Old Testament exodus stories provide the background for today’s reading:

“Recall today that it was not your children, who have neither known nor seen the discipline of the LORD, your God—His greatness, His strong hand and outstretched arm; the signs and deeds He wrought in the midst of Egypt, on Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and on all his land; what He did to the Egyptian army and to their horses and chariots, engulfing them in the waters of the Red Sea as they pursued you, so that the LORD destroyed them even to this day … Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, You have seen with your own eyes all that the LORD did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all His servants and to all His land(Deuteronomy 11:2-4; 29:1-2).

God’s intervention in human history is anew again – – in a new, fulfilled, and fulfilling way – –  through Jesus Christ in the midst of His brethren today.

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The first verse talks about Jesus being in a place called “Cana”:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there” (NAB John 2:1-11). 

Cana is NEVER mentioned in the Old Testament.  The only other (two) biblical references to “Cana” can be found(1) in John 4:46, which mentions Jesus, while in “Cana”, being asked to heal the son of a royal official at Capernaum; and (2) in John 21:2, where the Apostle Nathanael (Bartholomew in the Synoptic Gospels’) comes from “Cana”.  Cana of Galilee is not mentioned in any other book of the Bible, or in any other contemporary literary source.  So where is “Cana”, and why is this place significant to John?  I do not know with certainly.  Speculation is rampant among bible scholars, but I would love to find this place someday when finally discovered with certainty.  I hear the wine there is truly divine!

Also in the first verse, “The mother of Jesus” is never mentioned by name.  Matter of fact, Mary is never mentioned by name in John’s Gospel.  And, on tsecret-rosary13aop of this, Joseph is not present at the wedding feast as well.  I suspect Jesus’ earthly “father” had died sometime between his finding his lost Son in the Temple and this event some eighteen years later.

Jesus, per John, addressed His mother by saying “Woman”:

Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

This was NOT a ‘diss (slang word for “treat with contempt”) on Mary!!  Today, a child would possibly be given the “eveyesil eye” for calling his/her mother “woman” in this way.  However, in actuality, this was a normal and POLITE form of addressing one’s mother during Jesus’ time.  He also calls her by this SAME title while dying on the Holy Cross, at His most intimate – – and final – – time with her:

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son’” (John 19:26).

The word “woman” was a revealed word which was highly exulted (like the word “king”) amoung the Jewish peoples.  Jesus is “the Word made Flesh”.  When Jesus Christ calls His mother “woman”, He is revealing the promised fulfillment in Genesis:

 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Genesis 3:15).

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Wine was running low, a good “sign” of the celebration being in full force, but a bad sign because – – they are RUNNING OUT OF WINE!  So, Mary, probably helping at the celebration, goes to her son and says:

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine” (John 2:3).

Jesus replies to “His mother”:

Woman, how does your concern affect meMy hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

If itwasn’t His time”, why did Jesus do what His mother asked?  After all, Jesus never worked miracles solely to help His family and friends.  I believe He performed this first miraculous “sign” out of OBEDIENCE to His mother, ObedienceToTheWordknowing the importance of [what we today know as] the Fourth Commandment and its great importance in God’s kingdom:

Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you … Take to heart these words which I command you today…  Bind them on your arm as a ‘sign’ and let them be as a pendant on your forehead” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:6, 8)  

I wish people today saw and appreciated the need and JOY to be obedient to God’s Commandments, and not to subjugate them – – to de-prioritize them – – out of personally selfish wants and desires. 

Now, let’s go on to discuss the second (of three) points about His reply to His “mother”: 

How does your concern affect me?” (John 2:4)

Everything Jesus says is a fulfillment of Holy Scripture.  He is telling His mother that if He does what she implies, the “cats are ‘gjesusturnedwaterintowineonna be out of the bag”!  Mary is hastening God’s will, My source and My authority by doing a miracle to meet the wedding parties need.  That’s why, I believe, the third revealing point in this one verse relates to Jesus saying: 

My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

The “hour”, I believe Jesus is referring to, is His Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven:hourglass

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

I wonder how much Jesus knew about His future at the time of the wedding feast miracle.  Did He know every single detail about His gruesome torture and death to come?  Did He know the beauty He will find in His ascension?  I believe He did.  Do you?  However, Jesus was focusing on His mother’s concern for the wedding couple.  He moved up the clock, revealing His divine authority.  So, He begins a series of seven signs here at “Cana”.

Only after John has Jesus fulfilling these seven “signs”, does the “hour” of Jesus fully arrive.  The whole Gospel of John is a progressivglory-to-god-by-brandon-halliburton-free-photo-11978e “revelation” – – a REVEALING – – of the glory of God’s only begotten Son.  At “Cana”, Jesus is beginning to reveal God the Father fully; which will ne fulfilled later when He returns – – in “glory” – – to His heavenly Father on our behalf.  Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him” (John 2:11).

Jesus’ reply was tjohn2_5SCruly revealing in nature.  However, Mary was not going to take an implied “no” for an answer.  She simply looks at the “servers” and says:

Do whatever He tells you(John 2:5).

Mary knew her Scriptures well; she helped teach them to Jesus.  Mary, in her reply, may have been referencing a verse from the Book of Genesis:

When all the land of Egypt became hungry and the people cried to Pharaoh for food, Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: ‘Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you’” (Genesis 41:55).

What I believe was important about Mary’s reason for wanting Jesus to perform a “sign” before His “time”, and His willingness to obif_mama_aint_happy_aint_nobody_happy_magnet-p147594797048165970b2gru_400ey her fully, may have been one of simple logic and survival for Jesus:

If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

Do not forget the Fourth Commandment.  Jesus didn’t!!

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John goes on to report that:

There were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons” (John 2:6). 

Twenty to thirty gallons” is a litermarriageincanaal present day translation for the “two or three measures” of Jesus’ day.  This vast quantity of wine recalls prophecies of “abundance in the last days” from Jewish Scripture:

Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings: The grain, the wine, and the oil, flocks of sheep and cattle; They themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again neglected” (Jeremiah 31:12);

 “Yes, days are coming—oracle of the LORD—When the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps and the vintager, the sower of the seed; The mountains shall drip with the juice of grapes, and all the hills shall run with it. will restore my people Israel, they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, Plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits.” (Amos 9:13–14).

With this “first sign”, the changing of the water to wine, Jesus is replacing the “Jewish ceremonial washings” with His divine body, blood, soul, and divinity washing away all affects of original sin.  This event also presented the initial revealing – – the initial revelation – – of Jesus’ divine nature and authority at the outset of His public ministry.  

Jesus’ action in this reading points to the “wine of the new covenant” and the “bread of life” He establishes in the “Last Supper” anjesusfirstLOGOd in our present Eucharist.  It also points to the Messianic banquet which Jesus personally will host at the end of time.  (Behold the Lamb of God … Hapy are those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!)

The miracles of Jesus’ public ministry – – His “signs” – – demonstrate the power of God’s love and mercy for His people.  God’s kindness knows no limits!  And the ultimate expression of His love is revealed in the person of His Son, our Lord – – Jesus Christ.  He became flesh for OUR sake; He died for OUR redemption; He rose from the dead for OUR glorification!! 

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John ends his Gospel today by going to the beginning: the beginning of Jesus’ “signs”, the beginning of His revealed “glory”, the beginning of His public ministry, and the beginning of His disciples truly believing in Him as the true promised Messiah:

Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him” (John 2:11).

God reveals His “glory” in the most unlikely places: in a stable at Bethlehem, at a wedding party in Cana, in the muddy waters of the Jordan River, and on a blood stained crosto-god-be-the-glory_137_1024x768s outside the walls of Jerusalem.  Jesus’ first public miracle – – His first “sign” – – was performed at the confident “invitation” of His mother.  In doing as His mother requested of Him, Jesus blessed a young couple, bringing JOY to their wedding feast: first, by His presence, and second, by His surprising response to Hhis mother’s concern, saving them from an embarrassing situation. 

Changing water into wine was a remarkable act of kindness; but saving the best to last was unheard of in Jesus’ day.  In Jewish Scripture (our Old Testament) wine was often seen as a gift anDo-Whatever-He-Tells-You-1024x1024d symbol of God’s blessing (cf., Deuteronomy 7:13; Proverbs 3:10, Psalm 105).  With Jesus miraculously producing 180 gallons or so of the best wine possible, and many times more than what actually was needed for the feast, He showed the superabundance of the blessings He Himself came to offer to All “Israel”, to ALL peoples.

What other signs will Jesus go on to do during His public Ministry?  Well, now would be a good time to list the seven “signs” John reveals through his Gospel:seven-signs

  • The first sign is the transformation of water into wine at Cana (Jn 2:1–11); this represents, as I mentioned earlier, the replacement of the Jewish ceremonial washings and symbolizes the entire creative and transforming work of Jesus.

  • The second sign, the cure of the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46–54) simply by the word of Jesus at a distance, signifies the power of Jesus’ life-giving “Word”.  

  • The third sign, the cure of the paralytic at the pool with five porticoes in John 5, continues the theme of water offering newness of life.  In the preceding chapter, to the woman at the well in Samaria Jesus had offered living water springing up to eternal life, a symbol of the revelation Jesus brings.  Here Jesus’ life-giving “Word” replaces the water of the pool which failed to bring life.

  • John 6 contains two signs: the multiplication of loaves and the walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee.  These signs are related to the “crossing of the Red Sea” and the manna” of the first exodus, manifesting a new exodus in process.  The multiplication of the loaves anticipates the future revelation of God in Jesus which the bread of life is His visible “sign” which we call the “Eucharist”.  

  • The sixth sign is presented in John 9, the sign of the young man born blind whom Jesus heals. This is a narrative illustration proclaiming the triumph of light over darkness.  Remember, this event takes place in the Temple during the Feast of the Tabernacles (aka, the Feast of Lights) at which there were a multitude of candelabras lighted throughout the “Holy Place”.  Jesus is presenting Himself as the Light of the Temple, and of the world.  The young man had been given his sight by Jesus.  This “sign” was an object lesson, revealing the divine power of Jesus to give light to the eyes, and at the same time, subtly revealing the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees and Levites attending to the Menorah.

  • And finally, the seventh sign, the raising of Lazarus in John 11, is the climax of signs.  Lazarus is presented as a token of the real, spiritually alive, life which Jesus, THE Resurrection and THE Life, who will now ironically be put to death because of His gift of life to Lazarus, desires to give ALL to those believing in Him then, and after He was seen raised from the dead.  Notice the irony of Jesus raising Lazarus and then enduring His own death in place of Lazarus.

John’s purpose in describing these seven signs in their unique order is clearly expressed in what some bible scholars say was the “original” ending of his Gospel, at the end of Chapter 20.  Besides these seven just described:

Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [His] disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

Amen!!  Amen!!          

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In the Church’s lit. summarize titleurgical history, the “wedding feast at Cana” is closely associated with the “adoration of the child Jesus by the Magi” and the “Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The “sign” Jesus performs at the wedding feast is an “epiphany” (manifestation) of Jesus’ divinity to be celebrated.flickr-3699162219-hd

With these epiphanies in mind, awareness of Jesus’ Passion and death looming future on the Holy Cross is ever present in John’s Gospel.  Even in today’s narrative of Jesus’ “first sign”, the language used by John anticipates Jesus’ future Passion.  When Jesus says to His “mother” that “His hour has not yet come”, Jesus protests against her wishes in words John used again when describing Jesus’ “Last Supper” with His disciples in John 13:1.  When introducing the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet [also only found in John’s Gospel], John writes that Jesus knew His “hour had come”.  Per John, Jesus is very much in command and extremely aware of ALL that is to happen to Him, from the very beginning.

Throughout John’s Gospel, Mary is never mentioned by name, but is referred to instead as “the mother of Jesus”.  Mary is overridingly influential in Jesus’ first “sign”.  She will never abandon her Son, even being present at Jesus’ Crucifixion.  Mary was (and still is) a faithful and constant witness to the final manifestation – – “sign” and epiphany – – of Jesus’ divinity.

John’s Gospel describes seven “signs” indicating Jesus’ true divine nature and identity to His disciples.  He never speaks of these “signwordsandeedslogosas miracles because their importance is not in the deed – – the action – – which Jesus performs, but instead in what these deeds indicate in regard to Jesus’ true nature and identity.  In today’s reading, Jesus’ disciples are said to “begin to believe”.  However, no mention is made as to whether the other wedding guests are even aware of what has happened.  (But, they thought the wine was heavenly in deed!)

Here, at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, John’s Gospel seeks to establish that Jesus is going to re-define and fulfill God’s promise to “Israel”.  Jesus is establishing the New Covenant promised to the Water_Wine_Renderprophets.  A hint about what this New Covenant will be like is made evident in His deed – – the action Jesus performs.  Asked to do something about the awkward situation that a lack of wine at the wedding feast would create, Jesus’ miraculous “sign” produces vast quantities of wine: six jars overflowing with over 180 gallons of superior wine.

This overflowing response to a simple human request is a vision for us – – a “sign” – – about the vast abundance of God’s kingdom.  It challenges us to respond generously when confronted with our needs, and others’, today.  Responding as best as we can, fully confident that, like the mother of Jesus, God can transform our efforts, brings the Kingdom of God to fulfillment among us here and now!

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We. conclusionddings are magnificent and breathtaking celebrations.  We go out of our way to make the occasion festive and extraordinary.  People work hard to please one another with a special kind of JOY.  What better image of the Kingdom of God can there be than070114_weddinggift a wedding feast!  Wedding celebrations are not an everyday occurrence.  ut we can anticipate the Kingdom of God each and every day through our kindness, attention, and care to one another’s needs.

Reflect about weddings and other feasts and HOW they are used as images in Holy Slove others_t_nvcripture for the Kingdom of God.  Consider how these festive occasions are images of God’s tremendous, overflowing, love for us – – and examples of how we can show our love for one another.  Think about Mary’s attentiveness to the needs of the wedding hosts, and about Jesus’ response to His mother’s request.  What can you learn from today’s Gospel story?  Reflect on, and consider ways – – actions or deeds – – in which you might show these same sort of generous and loving values in your daily life.  Create your own “sign” for God’s plan in your life and for His kingdom on earth!!

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Reflecti. prayer sfon Prayer: 

Prayer for Generosity

(St. Ignatius of Loyola)

“Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity. generosity-revolution-revisited-graphic
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.”

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“Mom and Dad, I HATE you; But In A Christian Way!” – Luke 14:25-33†


 

Today is the feast day for my parish’s namesake, St. Martin de Porres.  A great description of his life and endeavors is posted at the end of this blog today.  I hope you enjoy this piece from americancatholic.org.

 

 

 

Thank you Lord, that all the “Hate” talk over the elections yesterday has subsided.  Please allow us all to remember that we are all BROTHERS and SISTERS in Christ.  Amen.

            

Today in Catholic History:
    

†   753 – Death of Pirminius, German saint
†   1493 – Christopher Columbus, a Third Order (Secular) Franciscan, first sights the island of Dominica in the Caribbean Sea.
†   1584 – Death of Charles Borromeo, Italian Roman Catholic cardinal (b. 1538)
†   1794 – Death of François-Joachim de Pierre de Bernis, French cardinal and statesman (b. 1715)
†   1876 – Birth of Stephen Peter Alencastre, Hawaiian Roman Catholic prelate (d. 1940)
†   1889 – Chaplain Ariëns founds 1st roman catholic workers group
†   1924 – Birth of Samuel Ruiz García, Mexican Roman Catholic bishop
†   1931 – Birth of Michael Fu Tieshan, Chinese bishop (d. 2007)
†   Feast Days: Acepsimas of Hnaita and companions; St. Germanus; St. Hubert; St. Malachy O’ More; St. Martin de Porres; St. Winifred

(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:

 

“Before we can pray, ‘Lord, Thy Kingdom come,’ we must be willing to pray, ‘My Kingdom go.’” – Alan Redpath

 

http://www.thebricktestament.com

 

Today’s reflection is about the cost and rewards of following Jesus Christ

 

25 Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, 26 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  28 Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?  29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him 30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’  31 Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?  32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.  33 In the same way, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.   (NAB Luke 14:25-33)

 

 

What does following Christ suggest that’s seems to be worth giving up everything including one’s own life?  The answer: the freedom of eternity in Paradise; absolute and true happiness, peace, and joy forever in God’s kingdom. 

This compilation of proverbs, most of which are only found in Luke’s Gospel, centers on an absolute and total dedication necessary for a disciple of Jesus Christ.  No attachments, – – such as to family, possessions, political viewpoints, or any other of our needs – – can stand in the way of the absolute and total commitment demanded of, for Jesus’ disciples.

What is the price for the ticket to this “heavenly’ life?  Jesus declares with an apparently blunt and directly honest proclamation and in no uncertain “words”, he tells His followers that the price of following Him will cost one dearly.  One must be ready to accept persecution, suffering, and the prior knowledge of hardships and costs in following our Lord in His footsteps! 

To gain all, one must balance this gain with giving up all possessions and treasures in His name.  From a human viewpoint, this last sentence makes very little, if any, sense to our materialistic minds and ways of life.  But there are no opportunities for negotiation, bartering, or special deals with God; we either surrender our existence over to Him totally, or we live in ourselves selfishly! 

“If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”   This is an extremely strong message for Jesus to utter publically.  I wonder how many “followers” actually left Jesus after saying this profound statement?!  A similar verse can be found in Matthew 10:37: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”.  What I believe Jesus is saying is that the follower’s family has to take a secondary place to the absolute dedication involved in following Him!  I personally see the three BIG priorities as “God, Family, and Country!” – – in THAT order!!

 In Luke 9:59-60, Jesus talks to His followers about following Him.  A disciple asks, “(Lord,) let me go first and bury my father.”  Jesus responds, “Let the dead bury their dead. You go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  WOW!!  What Jesus is declaring, is just another example of prioritizing your relationship with God.  He, I believe, is not talking about the dead of “Body,” but more importantly, the dead of “Spirit!”  Jesus meant for the spiritually dead (those who do not follow the way of Christ) to bury the physically dead.  His followers were to be far too busy doing His work in the presence of the second person of the Holy Trinity.

St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 6:19, 20, wrote “… You are not our own … we were bought with a price ….”  Jesus paid that enormous price in the blood He shed for all of us on the Holy Cross of salvation.  He already knew that the “Fathers’” way to salvation and victory over sin and death was through His own sacrifice; being scourged and crucified in reparation for OUR sins.  Even with this foreknowledge, Jesus said “YES” to his Father’s will with a total love for God – His and OUR Father in heaven.  Are you ready and willing to say “YES” in following Jesus’ “path to the cross”?!   This path with Jesus will inevitably involve an extreme cost in sacrifice: the sacrifice of surrendering yourself to God’s “will” each and every day of your human life.  Franciscans call this daily surrender, “a daily conversion.” 

Placing any relationship, or any possession, above God is idolatry by definition.  In today’s reading, Jesus challenged his followers to think about who they love first: above all.  Jesus’ way is opposite the world’s way; so the choice is yours!  Do you love Jesus so much as to surrender to self and to put God first in all you do each and every day?  We can never “out-give” or “out-shine” God and His graces He bestows on us!  He always gives more to us than we can ever dream of, in this world AND the next!  

 

“Prayer of Wisdom from
St. Francis & St. Claire of Assisi”

 

“Jesus, following You is not always easy and carefree.  It does require something from me: I must follow your commands. 

Often out of pride or convenience, I seek to follow my own will instead.  Lead me through the narrow gates.  Be merciful and soften my heart when I stubbornly refuse to follow You.

Remind me that life with You is well worth any cost I may incur in following You.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639)

 

“Father unknown” is the cold legal phrase sometimes used on baptismal records. “Half-breed” or “war souvenir” is the cruel name inflicted by those of “pure” blood. Like many others, Martin might have grown to be a bitter man, but he did not. It was said that even as a child he gave his heart and his goods to the poor and despised.

He was the illegitimate son of a freed woman of Panama, probably black but also possibly of Native American stock, and a Spanish grandee of Lima, Peru. Martin inherited the features and dark complexion of his mother. That irked his father, who finally acknowledged his son after eight years. After the birth of a sister, the father abandoned the family. Martin was reared in poverty, locked into a low level of Lima’s society.

When he was 12, his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon. He learned how to cut hair and also how to draw blood (a standard medical treatment then), care for wounds and prepare and administer medicines.

After a few years in this medical apostolate, Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a “lay helper,” not feeling himself worthy to be a religious brother. After nine years, the example of his prayer and penance, charity and humility led the community to request him to make full religious profession. Many of his nights were spent in prayer and penitential practices; his days were filled with nursing the sick and caring for the poor. It was particularly impressive that he treated all people regardless of their color, race or status. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage, took care of slaves brought from Africa and managed the daily alms of the priory with practicality as well as generosity. He became the procurator for both priory and city, whether it was a matter of “blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!” When his priory was in debt, he said, “I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the order. Sell me.”

Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry and infirmary, Martin’s life reflected God’s extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and a remarkable rapport with animals. His charity extended to beasts of the field and even to the vermin of the kitchen. He would excuse the raids of mice and rats on the grounds that they were underfed; he kept stray cats and dogs at his sister’s house.

He became a formidable fundraiser, obtaining thousands of dollars for dowries for poor girls so that they could marry or enter a convent.

Many of his fellow religious took him as their spiritual director, but he continued to call himself a “poor slave.” He was a good friend of another Dominican saint of Peru, Rose of Lima (August 23).

Comment:

Racism is a sin almost nobody confesses. Like pollution, it is a “sin of the world” that is everybody’s responsibility but apparently nobody’s fault. One could hardly imagine a more fitting patron of Christian forgiveness (on the part of those discriminated against) and Christian justice (on the part of reformed racists) than Martin de Porres.

Quote:

In 1962, Pope John XXIII remarked at the canonization of Martin: “He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: ‘Martin of Charity.'”

Patron Saint of: African-Americans; Barbers; Hairdressers; Race relations; Social justice

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 3 & 4 of 26:

 

3.     The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.

  

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

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

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

“Knock, Knock. Who’s There? God; Drop Your Crap & Follow Me NOW!” – Luke 14: 25-33†


    

Another beautiful Sunday is in store today for the great mid-west.  Yesterday, I literally spent the entire afternoon sitting in the backyard with the bar-be-que.  A St. Louis deliciously: “Pork Steaks,” are so scrumptious when slowly grilled. (For those not in the St. Louis mindset, pork steaks are just sliced [about ¾ inch] pork butt.)  Pork Steaks go great with toasted ravioli, gooey-butter cake, and Ted Drewes ice cream – more St. Louis treats.

 

 

Next Saturday is the ninth anniversary of terrorism showing its evil head on US soil with a devastating outcome for the entire world.  Unofficially known as “Patriot’s Day,” it needs to be remembered by all.  Please fly you’re flags proudly on this day as a symbol of unity by all.

 

 

I am coming up on my one-year anniversary of writing this blog.  I am embarrassed by my earlier works; please do not read the first ones if you choose to read older ones.  Not only has my writing style and format for this blog matured, so has my love for, wonder, and awe for our magnificent Lord.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the near future.

 I wish to thank everyone that has read this blog through the year.  I want to expressly thank one individual, John H. for being my sounding board, editor, and spiritual director these last few months.  John, you have pushed, prodded, and loved your way into my heart and soul.  In you is the perfect example of someone trying to live as a “little Christ:” a Christian.  God has blessed you, and has blessed me with you.

Everyone, please give me input on what you like, didn’t like, would like, or any other “like” I may have missed!  I am totally serious – I am writing this for you as much as for me.  I truly need your input!!!  Please leave a comment on this blog site, or on my Facebook page.  Thank you again, I love you all.  Dan

            

 

Today in Catholic History:

  
    
†   1933 – Birth of Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Chilian catholic archbishop

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Heck is a place for people who don’t believe in Gosh.

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ demand of all His disciples:

   

25 Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, 26 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  28 Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sits down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?  29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him 30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’  31 Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?  32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.  33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.  (NAB Luke 14:25-33)

 

This collection of the sayings of Jesus, most of which are distinctive to Luke, focuses on the total dedication necessary for a disciple of Jesus: His conditions for discipleship.  Just prior to these verses, in Luke 14:16-24, emphasis was placed on the absolute gratuity and love of God wanting to share His banquet feast with us.  These verses in today’s Gospel reading are the other side, the flip side, of the coin; God requires a full-hearted and totally absolute response on the part of the disciples.  No attachments to family or possessions can stand in the way of this total commitment demanded of a disciple towards God.  Also, this acceptance of the call to be a follower of Jesus demands a readiness to accept persecution, suffering, and a realistic assessment of the hardships and costs of following Him.

With Jesus saying the words “Hating his father…,” a total commitment was stipulated by Jesus for all wishing to follow him.  A similar declaration is found in Mt 10:37-38: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”  In Matthews Gospel, this is the first mention of the cross explicitly meant for the disciple, but implicitly foretold what was awaiting Jesus when He said “and follow after me” in last Sundays Gospel reading.

The two parables about building a tower and a foundation concentrate on the absolute need to reflect before acting.  One must weigh the cost of decisions and actions.  The last verse in today’s Gospel reading is not a command that all disciples, all followers of Jesus, just recklessly or spontaneously renounce their possessions.  The comparison between the two parables and the last verse is that of the fate of those who are not able to see a decision or action through to the end, its conclusion.  A true disciple of Jesus cannot withdraw from the sacrifice required of them for their faith!  A disciple of Jesus follows Him to the end, even if it means sacrificing all their possessions, including their life!

A disciple’s family must take second place to the absolute dedication involved in following Jesus.  This may sound pretty harsh by today’s standards.  I believe it was equally as harsh during Jesus’ time on earth.  Realize though that Jesus is not telling one to abandon one’s family and friends, as that might be a wrong and imprudent action.  What He is saying is that one’s priorities need to be focused first on God in every action and major decisions we need to make!  By taking up our cross – our responsibilities, duties and sufferings, all in the name of Jesus, we come a bit closer to the love of the Holy Trinity.  Let’s remember that Jesus promised to send another advocate, a Paraclete, to be with us and to help us.  By living our lives through and with the Holy Spirit, we can bring a stronger love to all those we encounter.

Several years ago, I was a very successful paramedic, educator, and administrator.  Then I became sick, very sick, and literally, “circling the drain” in regards to my health.  I had to retire from a vocation – a profession – of 30 years, which I had chosen and loved nearly more than life itself.  With this turn of events, I became extremely angry at anyone and everyone.  My anger was most importantly, directed to God who “put me in this position.”

Over a period of time my anger diffused and dissipated.  God was a focal point for me (out of desperation at first).  I decided to pick up my cross and start down that path, my own “Via Dolorosa.”  In my pain and illness, I discovered a God I never knew before, a God of love for me regardless of my feeling towards Him! 

How can one not be moved by the beauty of God’s creations in this world, and in knowing that this is just a pittance of the visions and love we will see and encounter when we leave this existence, to be in His presence for eternity?  I am happy to say that I am now on a new path in my life, and have been as of that moment of discovery.  This path was not of my choosing, but of God’s.  Mine is now a much harder path in many ways, but a better fit for me.  I can now see with a more open eye, and can see Jesus in all creation.  How can one not want, or love what I can see now?   

There is a Roman Catholic Priest in my area that was a naval officer aboard nuclear subs before becoming a priest.  He actually helped develop nuclear torpedoes to be used in warfare, and other tools of total human destruction.  With advanced degrees in nuclear sciences, this man was destined for a spectacular career in the US Navy and in the secular world.  Instead, he turned his back on his supposed future and his past life of material wealth.  He not only took and picked up his cross, he embraced it with the love only found through abandonment of self to the promised Holy Spirit.  Our lives are a gift – a great grace – from God.  What we want to do may not be what God wants us to do; then, maybe it is!  The way we learn the difference is by the grace and whisper of the Holy Spirit when we ask God for help.  Let the Holy Spirits grace lead us all to a truly God-centered life, since our relationship with Him is our first priority.  I truly believe God cannot lead anyone down the wrong path!

 

“Just For Today”

 

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

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

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

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)

 

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003.  Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the Order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community.  Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.  

Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived.  For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father’s construction business thrived.  But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.

During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions.  At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin.  It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life.  The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India.  There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service.  She was assigned to a high school for girls in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy.  But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.

In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call.  The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.”  She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”

After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months.  She returned to Calcutta, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children.  Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits.

The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long.  Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity.  Other helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings.  In 1952 the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute.  As the Order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging and street people.

For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor.  Her love knew no bounds.  Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor.  In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.

Comment:

Mother Teresa’s beatification, just over six years after her death, was part of an expedited process put into effect by Pope John Paul II. Like so many others around the world, he found her love for the Eucharist, for prayer and for the poor a model for all to emulate.

Quote:

Speaking in a strained, weary voice at the beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II declared her blessed, prompting waves of applause before the 300,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.  In his homily, read by an aide for the aging pope, the Holy Father called Mother Teresa “one of the most relevant personalities of our age” and “an icon of the Good Samaritan.”  Her life, he said, was “a bold proclamation of the gospel.”

 

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 5 & 6 of 26:

  

#5 — Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of St. Francis, who often said, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood,” should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.

 

#6 — They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.

 Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.