Chapter 4 Study Guide The Joy of the Gospel

1. The core message of the gospel (or its “first proclamation”) has “an immediate moral implication centered on charity” (#177) and it tells us that “the Father loves all men…and the Son has brought a boundless love which ennobles each human being…and the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone.(#178)” This is how Pope Francis launches his message on our need to be social and horizontal minded with the Gospel. He shows what God has done for us in respect to our humanity. Comment.

2. Pope Francis says that we are not to rely solely “by our own efforts” (#178) but imitate the Divine Communion of God. He says we are to be “going forth from ourselves towards our brothers and sisters in love and mercy.” (179) How are parish ministries, parish small groups, parish outreaches, parish service teams, and such all acting in the Divine Communion, rather than in a Lone Ranger Christian effort?

3. One’s personal relationship with God is not the end. (See 180, first sentence). It might end up being “self salvation.” How is the Church looking to avoid a private faith or a out-of-the-mainstream practice of it? In #195,-198 the pope refers to the early apostles saying: “I should not forget the poor.” “I should not forget that the Lord became poor for our sake.” “He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.” Jesus said: I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat… (through one’s caring for the least of these).” These are all going forth to others acts of saving faith in Jesus. Comment.

4. In #202-209, the pope mentions things about nation’s economies and their distribution of income. He says that poverty is often fostered to happen at the bad decision level of economic policies. Does the pope have authority to talk on money matters of nations?

5. The pope cares to mention specifics groups or persons who are vulnerable in today’s world that need the Church’s full rescue. In #210 he mentions the elderly, the addicted, refugees, the homeless, migrants… women in terrible situations… sex trafficking victims…the unborn being aborted.. and other groups. He calls for constant concern and love for them. What ways do you see one of the above being loved by the Church?

6. The pope also lays a word on those who harm and destroy the earth (nature) as a hurt we all feel in the Church body. He says we should all feel it because “Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement…”(215) Comment.

7. The pope is sowing what he thinks will make a Joy-filled Church. He uses familiar terms (#217-225) of what will accomplish the Gospel, if we keep to our long-held plans. “The Common Good,” he says, involves peacemaking and progress of society. “Peace-making” is not getting the absence of warfare, but “of establishing a universe towards God’s will being done, in a more perfect justice among men.” He says patience must be exercized in a proper understanding of “time,” as how God uses it.
Is the pope ‘going-around-the-horn’ thinking of how many things he can include to say in his social commentary on the Church in the modern world? Some think he paints too wide a picture or is jumping to too many things in his text. Do you think so or not?

8. Pope Francis believes that unity can prevail over conflict. He speaks here to #237 about who can pull together and how people and ideas can come together. A pope is a person that can surely help unity to come about. What do you think his chances are ahead? Is the world and its people of faith finally tired of being divided? Can we have diversity though with great unity?

9. Of the three areas that his Holiness mentions where dialogue should be fostered— Between Faith and Science (242-243)– Between separated Christians in the challenge of ecumenism (#244-46) —Between Jews to Catholics (#247-48) Between World Religions and her leaders in Interreligious Discussion and Cooperation(#250-254)and Social Communication towards Religious Freedom in the Culture (#255-on) let me ask: Which one have you some familiarity with, where you know some good is going on in the Church out to others?

Homily 4th Week of Lent (4th chapter of Joy of the Gospel) March 30

Homily 4th Sunday of Lent March 30 Chapter 4 of The Joy of the Gospel

Readings: 1st Sam. 16: Jesse, the Lord looks into the heart, not by mere appearances.
Psalm 23 Ephesians 5:18-24 and John 9:1-41 The Healing of the Man Born Blind

This past year I did something that I had never done before. I put on my swimming trunks and I took a swim in the middle of the Atlantic ocean…yes, I was about 750 miles off shore the U.S.A!… How did I do it? I was inside a cruise ship swimming pool! I was swimming on a Royal Caribbean ship on the top deck pool safely inside the vessel (which was cruising the ocean). ‘Yep! Oh, it was much better that going outside the ship and taking on the waves and the hundreds of meters deep ocean! I was much safer swimming and bathing inside the ship. It was all a unique experience.

In the Gospel today, Jesus asks a man to go into a pool. Our Lord asks him to go to a specific pool and it is for a certain reason. It wasn’t the kind of pool we have in backyard or summer clubs or hotels. It was a pool from an underground spring. The spring was underneath Jerusalem but bubbled up through what was constructed as Hezekiah’s Tunnel—a stone carved tunnel—that allowed access to the water and for spring waters to come to the surface.

Pool of Siloam–pictured below.
Jesus sent a man to the Pool of Siloam as part of a miracle. A man was looking to be cured of lifelong blindness. Jesus touched him and ministered a healing rite over him, but then gave him further orders, as to say: Don’t just get your sight back, live a life of faith. So he sent him to engage in a religious ritual. The man in need of the healing went to the pool (one once even used by King Solomon in the old times, before the Temple and its city destruction had come). The place was probably recently rebuilt as part of the massive building project that King Herod had orchestrated for the old city, all in cooperation with the Roman authorities. Herod’s rebuilding was all to leave a great famous name for himself. He didn’t do it for holy purposes, but in his own vainglory. Yet, the Siloam Pool was working again, being supplied with fresh underwater Gihon Spring waters. This is where Jesus had sent the man for full effect to his healing. Perhaps the man was told by a bystander that this pool was the place where King Solomon had received his anointing to be a new man and the new king. It was a place for holy change and new identity. It was probably in use in Jesus’ time as a mikvah, too. A mikvah was a ritual bath with holy associations of bathing in it to begin anew and be cleansed and ready to join community. Thus, Jesus had implications for this further action of the (getting-healed) blind man. He wanted the man to have more than sight. He wanted him to use faith and to expect a new life. Jesus says: ‘Go forth and wash in the Pool.’ It is a command by Jesus. The miracle will come about fully if the man does what he is told to do. The blind man goes to the Pool and does what Jesus asked him to do.

After the man is able to fully see and walk around and get a visual look at his parents for the first time, the Pharisees come along and question and interrogate him extensively. They just can’t believe this healing. They figure it to be a hoax. But the healed man testifies: “You are dealing with a prophetic holy man.. This man, and I don’t know his name, healed me! And I can tell you he is of God and is from Heaven.” So the Pharisees and Jews cast him out of their presence. They wanted nothing of the blessings of Jesus. (The Pharisees did know who had done the healing, and knew His name, but didn’t tell the blind man.) The healed blind man ends up being found by Jesus. Jesus sees how well the man’s faith is doing, and asks Him: ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man, of the hope that God would come among His people and be seen on earth, who has indeed come now?’ The man says: Who is He, that I might believe? Jesus says: ‘It is Me. The Son of Man is seen on earth! And it is the blind who see him, while some sighted people totally miss Him!” Interesting, isn’t it?!’

Brother, you were poor, and you were once blind, so you know about people who are invisible to the world, who are counted as nothing or little to others. The Son of Man comes to you poor to make you rich; He comes to those wanting to see the Son of Man and He gives them their sight to see God in this world!

Let’s tie in this homily and explanation of the healing story of John 9 to our lessons on Pope Francis’ book(or exhortation): “The Joy of the Gospel.” If you are reading along with it during Lent, you are reaching chapter 4 now for the 4th Week of Lent. I think, then, you might conclude with the Holy Father from this John 9 Miracle story that we are all that blind man. We all have needed some huge intervention by Jesus to turn our lives around and heal us from the mortal wound and corruption of our sin and rebellion from God. God has come into the world in Christ and, while an ending of life in darkness and doom all awaited us, because sin leads to death, we have had Jesus intervene for us. We have been healed. You have been healed. I have been healed. Nearly all of us have a story of being baptized as children, or later as adults, when the Lord put His life and light into us. There was a healing in baptism that came to us. We had been born in sin and into a world with many people who have favored the dark (or the very-grey greys) rather than to trust God and live in His light and truth. Jesus touched us with a beginning in our baptism into being a forgiven child of God.

Yet, God does not leave us there in that one healing. He sends us forth. We are to discover the depths of our Baptismal Call. It is to welcome God in Christ into this world and build up the kingdom of God life with His people. We have community to form. We have outreach to stretch out. We have love to show.

In Chapter 4 of TJOTG, Pope Francis says there are communal and societal repercussions of the Gospel life and the freedom given to us. Salvation is not just a personal trip; it is actually a communal journey. (#177-180). The Church has great social principles to apply to the world (#182) and we are to get quite involved with the world (#183). We must take liberating action for the release of the poor and vulnerable of society, which probably begins by recognizing them– for the poor become invisible to those of no faith or tepid or compromised faith. Francis writes his comments for numbers of paragraphs, from #196 to #216 of the chapter. He says that economic policies should bear the poor in mind for the application of the dignity they deserve as equal human beings. (#202)
He talks about the problem of belittlement and exploitation of human beings that is going rampant on earth, such as the unchecked taking of lives of children in the womb and of the rising dilemma of human trafficking. He reveals that these inhuman actions are not fought very hard in these times, and that these are grave evils in our time taking many lives and destroying them. The pope asks: Where is the response from the Church? With 1 Billion Catholics, just what are we all doing right now? He bluntly states: “Conflict cannot be ignored or concealed. It has to be faced. ” (#226) We are in spiritual warfare.

He says that the enemy has duped us into much disunity. How can we fight if we are not one? (#226-230) He says that unity must have two arms: local and global. (#234) He reminds us how much the modern popes have been heralding a call to the Gospel of Peace (Eph. 2:14) and that this message matches up well with the new message of re-evangelization (or New Evangelization). Francis adds at the end of chapter 4 that ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue should be going on in the pursuit of the peace of God. He says that we have special lessons to teach one another towards that good end.

The way this all relates to the Healed Blind Man story is that he was “sent” and “given actions to work” and that in doing so “He would learn of the Personal God and Savior Who healed him. He could recognize God’s Son in the world, and ask: Is it You Who I see, Lord? And Jesus says to those who have caught sight of Him in the world : Yes, here I am.

Being Thirsty: A Meditation

In a 2014 Super Bowl ad, Coca Cola continued its long time advertisement angle that “they give out what America is thirsting for.” They sold us that idea, even that we would be “drinking up love of America with a bottle or cup of Coca Cola raised up to our mouths.” It was the America the Beautiful multi-cultural ad campaign. The ad-makers wanted a diverse range of people singing “America the Beautiful” while drinking a Coke, and wanted to correlate that drinking Coke helps one to be a united and beautiful American.

Did you buy that?

Did you see their 2013’s big “Mirage” ad, when groups of different people race in the desert towards a very large bottle of Coke? When they get to it, it’s only a sign that says “Coke: 50 miles.” The message: you are really thirsty for a Coke. You are dreaming of having one. You are willing to go a lot out of your way to have one, too!

Did you buy that?

As a person who studied radio-tv in college and wrote copy and storyboards for ads, I can recognize the ‘clever’ approach of Coke to America’s thirsts. Yet, it is just pretty much an appeal to something false.

A drink of Coke really isn’t going to be our destiny and fulfillment,! Nor is Coke “IT”! Nor is it “the real thing.” But the beverage company just wants to capitalize on our search for that slaking of people’s thirst, of mouth or soul or whatever.

I think of these things upon more reflection of the thirst in last Sunday’s readings. There were thirsty people in the Exodus 17 readings and a thirsty woman (and Savior) in the John 4 readings.

The world really does want and need to know how this search for life’s fulfillment is Jesus Christ. It is the Good News; Jesus is our Thirst Quencher to much “Living Water.” (John 4)

Yes, the water we thirst for is hidden from us, and even right beneath us sometimes (Exodus 17), as Moses tapped water from a rock (after striking it). Then, he said: “Is the Lord in our midst or what?”

Is the Lord our thirsty-quencher among us or what? My friends?!

Then, if Christ is the ‘found water’, the “Living Water” for us, then are we willing to tell others what we know and what has slaked some thirst in your life? This is what evangelism is about. Is it sharing how we have found the Water of Life that turns our dryness of spirit to evergreen and fresh springs. In the Joy of the Gospel booklet by Pope Francis, he spends chapter three telling us that we are all evangelizers in some way, and anointed by the Spirit to proclaim Good News, and called to be hopeful pilgrims towards God who tell others where the oasis is in this desert of life. He says that pilgrims are to be “an interweaving of personal relationships entailed in a human community” of faith (#113) We are to say: Coke isn’t “it” and it’s not what America is thirsting for! It is Jesus Christ!!

“Thirsty persons at the Well” Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent TJOTG Homily

Homily March 23, 2014 Fr. Barry Joy of the Gospel #3 3rd Sunday of Lent 2014

‘Been searching hard for something lately? With the daily story of the missing flight 370 from Malaysia and the intensive search for it–we are reminded of the great drama of human experience and how we get upset when some poor folks just go lost and disappeared. The Lord Jesus has a search and thirst for all souls that today’s Gospel proclaims, and he goes searching in the area of Samaria for those who seemed to have disappeared from what was once the Chosen People. Samaritans were people said to have fallen off-course and were written off by many Jews as no longer worthy of the Covenant blessings of the Lord. Jesus shows differently, as he finds a woman and then her whole town for inclusion in the salvation He is bringing about The Holy Land.

‘Been thirsty at all lately?!
The first Old Testament reading AND the Gospel of today are about a search for water to slake a thirst. The Word tells a spiritual message right amidst a story of a human need for water, the lesson being that each person on earth longs to be satiated in refreshment from God. Our souls search for how to be moistened and refreshed, when all goes dry and bare within. God can help our search end with success. We can find “Living Water” from Him.

Humankind has longed for water throughout all the ages. In some places and climates and times, it has been tough to get. Parts of our American West are quite dried up. Other parts of the world are in terrible droughts—and thirty for water. This is the physical thirst. It is serious enough a need that it was listed by Jesus as one of the Corporal Works of Mercy to practice in following Him. We need to help to give drink to the thirsty. Jesus Himself knows what it is to be needing a drink; in today’s gospel He is in that situation and He asks for a drink, as He stands by Jacob’s Well, but without a bucket to draw drinking water.

Humankind also has another thirst; it is of the spiritual kind, that of quenching the dryness of the parched soul and downcast spirit. An exhortation by Pope Francis In “The Joy of the Gospel” in his chapter three is for the believer and their parish to give a spiritual drink to the thirsty of soul: Here’s a quote: “The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life… In all its activities the parish… [should be encouraged] to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey.

Is that what our community of believers is here—“a people to whom others come to find if we will share what is satisfying our spirit? ‘A place where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey of life?” Do we at St. Edward’s show how the Living Water of God’s Spirit IS our source and sanctuary and community here, where people gather who have been refreshed in God’s life and renewal and are sharing it out to others? Pope Francis wants that every parish in the world to be as an oasis to a dry and weary world. People need to find Jesus here. In this place. In us.

In the Joy of the Gospel message, chapter 3, Francis says that the only way we can be of great help to the soul’s refreshment is if we are “explicit proclaimers of a Gospel that Jesus is Lord.” We need to exalt Jesus, know the Lordship of Jesus, and let Jesus be the source of pour own life and parish life. Our encounter must be in meeting Jesus. That is how Chapter 3 is framed in the pope’s book.

Today, in this Gospel of John 4 passage, The Woman at the Well Story, we might see what a parish encounter is meant to be. You start with a holy place. In the gospel it is Jacob’s Well. It was a famous place of God-encounter for Jacob. It is remembered throughout history as a place of blessing, as the Woman at the Well reminds Jesus, that God had once visited His people here. Yet it also is an ordinary place–this weel. It was a working well, even years after the Jewish patriarch Jacob/later named Israel used it, where people were drawing water from it.
Comparing our parish to the well image, hopefully, passers-by to St. Edward’s see our parish as holy place or house of worship, but also with ordinary people like themselves coming in and out, hoping for some refreshment, and hoping for the blessings once poured out in the past to believers in such a place. Would people wonder: Is that Catholic parish one that has refreshment to offer an “outsider” such as me? Or is it just a religious building with just rituals and out-of-touch traditions going on in it? The Answer to such questions is found in each member’s practice of faith here.

The next step in the story is that the woman of ill-repute gets into dialogue with Jesus, which really surprises her. The text of John 4 says she was sexually immoral and it explains why she had come to the well at the hot hour of noon, so to avoid others and their judgments. She had been ‘famously’ with 6 men in the wrong way, but now this Gospel presents her different kind of 7th man, Jesus. He will love her, soul to soul, and save her into the romance of the Kingdom of God. He is “with her,” but not in the same way as like the others. Jesus is a man who is respecting her. He really seems to want to hear and learn of her story, and to be of help to her. He says that He has “water” to share that could help her. That is really surprising to her. Normally, Jewish men, rabbis, even prophets, would not be out talking and drinking with a woman like her. Nor offering anything to her. Yet here is Jesus dialoging with her, and even respecting her diversity, and He wants to give her something special. As for her sins, He begins to speak of a cleansing as to lead to a holy promise, even like the great Jacob received near the Sychar well. He speaks of a change with her, much like Jacob (the one who wrestled with God) had a change. She catches on to the direction of this exchange. She becomes open to what Jesus is proposing that she drink from Him–the Living Water. He wants to be the new man in her life. Not a physical lover, but The Love of God to her. She accepts. She becomes a follower. She goes and tells the whole town of Sychar about it.

We as Catholics know that Jesus has a Love for sinners that He wants us to proclaim to the world. Jesus has come to bring the Love of God to people. That is the core of the Gospel.

As you read chapter 3 in The Joy of the Gospel, you’ll see that the lessons in John 4 are also the teachings of the pope here, as he says “we need to foster dialogue (and) interpersonal communication (and) face-to-face acceptance (not approval of sin, but acceptance of the person), and to give respect for other’s differences (such as in culture, which the woman said was clear, as “you people” and “we people, the Samaritans), even as we share the same Good News with them as the Master did. Borrowing from Jesus’ example on evangelism, we need to understand the importance of seeing situations in love and mercy, and to notice the opportunities coming our way to spread the Way of The Kingdom. Adn Jesus is asking for it. His Spirit is come to glorify the Son’s work. Francis pointedly says: “The Spirit impels us to evangelize (#119).” If we can get out of ourselves and into caring for others who are lost and who need to be searched for and found by the Church, then perhaps the Drink we offer, The Spirit of the Living God, indeed will be the greatest thing that these reached people have ever found in life. People may be even thrilled that Catholics really want them in their company, since sometimes we put on an air or a seeming indifference that we don’t care about them. Yet the message of the Joy of the Gospel is to start showing the world in a better way that we really do care. We care enough to come out of our fears or complacency or insecurity to share the Gospel.

And who knows, maybe through a faithful effort to share Christ, there can be something started where others hear and want the same for what’s going on? The Samaritan woman in the story was surprised that a holy Jewish man would care for her. Would that some modern people also could get surprised in being cared for by Catholics spreading the love of Jesus. The pope, in The Joy of the Gospel, says that there are “people of many faces” to meet (#115). Hopefully, we will meet new people through the Spread of the Gospel, and that they will see Jesus face on us, as we appeal to them. If they are a little coarse at first, like the Samaritan woman busting on Jesus, “you, offer me, a drink, Sir, you haven’t even a bucket to get the water!” let us give people some slack. They might not think we have what they need, but this is where the Mystery of God is at work. He will show them their need, and appeal that the Church, His Body of Christ, really does have something to offer. Amen.

(ps This week, as we have done in the past, St. Edward’s sponsors a Spring evening to hear a dynamic Catholic give a presentation to us. We have Jackie Francios on Tues. March 25 at 7pm-8:15 in church. Go see her story online: google her name and see what comes up.)

Concert and Testimony of Jackie Francios at St. Ed’s


Our parish welcomed Jackie Francios on Tuesday, March 25th to the church to share songs and to give testimony of her Joy in the Gospel life as a Catholic. Jackie has become quite popular as a speaker and artist around the USA and internationally, yet her appearance is one of an everyday Catholic who has become glad for following the teachings of Jesus Christ, as in the Church. She shared of her Catholic upbringing, her questions and difficulties as a teen and young adult, and her early convictions that chastity was an important teaching of Christ to keep in her life. She shared of the joy of keeping to that teaching/truth in her life, as well as her happiness in growing to be a fulfilled 30 yr. old woman in the Faith. She sang a couple of original songs from her cd. She met people after her hour of sharing and singing, and it was a wonderful evening.

St. Edward’s has kept to an annual speaker series. We have had Catholic actors, Religious, blessed lay persons, Catholic apologists, and more come to the parish to get an uplifting message. We hope you were here for these blessed times. (If not, what was more important?) The Joy of the Gospel message from Pope Francis tells that the parish must be an oasis of the Living Water for people to come out of the dryness of the desert of the world and be refreshed. These speaker series have been the pastor’s attempts to give us wellsprings of hope to draw from—people anointed for the building up of The Body of Christ.

Joy of the Gospel, Chapter 3 –Study Guide

Chapter Three is a lengthy one. There will be many questions and comments here for you to peruse and so to use to go over the content of pages 77 to 121.

Pope Francis leads off saying that “there can be no true evangelization without the explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord.” What does the phrase Jesus is Lord mean to you (or what does the Lordship of Jesus mean)? What percentage of Catholics do you guess would understand and hold to this proclamation of faith?

As the lead paragraph says–the pope wants the preaching about the primacy of Jesus Christ to be the absolute priority focus of Catholic priests and laity and religious. What would be examples of our not focusing on this, while yet being “religious” as Catholics? Or, can a Catholic be “religious” but not uphold Jesus as First in their lives and church (and homilies and prayers and songs)?

In #111, Pope Francis states that “The Church is more than an organic and hierarchical institution.” He prefers her to be seen as people on a pilgrim way toward God. What would be helpful for Catholics to have this main vision for their Faith?

In #113, Pope Francis also likes to point out how much the Church dynamic is an “interweaving of personal relationships entailed in a human community.” He says we are saved in the Lord as we learn to rely on each other, rather than trying to save one’s self. What do you think of his idea of a dynamic Church? (He says that from age to age this model has worked, with an openness to everyone to join in to Christ’ Unity.)

In #114, the pope defines what “being Church” means? What would be your own definition—based on your own good experience?

In #115, we are reminded how the Church is a “people of many faces.” Our multi-cultural expressions also are a plus, so says the pontiff looking over all of the Catholic flock worldwide. Discuss how our own parish or diocese has the experience of a melting pot faith.

In #116, discuss what (at least one of) these sentences are getting at: “The people of God is incarnate in the peoples of the earth, each of which has its own culture.” “Salvation in a people can enrich their culture.” “Salvation is not housed in any one culture.” “The Holy Spirit adorns the Church, showing her new aspects of revelation and giving her a new face.” “Cultural diversity is not a threat to Church unity.”

In #118, the theme of enculturation and respect for cultures continues in the Holy Father’s Joy of the Gospel. He says that Oceania and her bishops asked for the missionaries sent her way to “understand and present the truth of Christ as working with the traditions and cultures of their region” as to “work in harmony with indigenous Christians…for formsappropriate to their culture.” Was it a fair thing to ask? [If you know the story of the Jesuit missionary saint Francis Xavier, then share what you know of his adaptations to the East in his expeditions and how it was first received by others back home in Rome.]

In #119, the Holy Father reminds us that “the Spirit impels us to evangelize.” He says we are anointed for the task and even given an “instinct of faith” for it. How, then, are so few Catholics looking to evangelize? What might be going on? In #120, fill in the blank of his statement: “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that ________________________.”

In #122 to #125, the pope seems to be brainstorming on easy things already going on that help people to evangelize a culture: he mentions popular piety practices, customs, and pilgrimages to shrines. Can you relate those long-time Catholic ‘things’ to evangelism?

In #128-129, comment on the value of “person-to-person dialogue” for evangelization. How has it helped you or others? How is our Catholic faith an inter-personal experience? How can evangelism divert (in a good way) from a formula or fixed plan, via just good dialogue?

In #130-131, it mentions the value of charisms and its respect to diversity. What are charisms? How can God’s teaching of charims help us overcome serious issues of understanding others who are quite different from us?

In #134, he says that Catholic schools can definitely help with forming Christian community. Have you seen that first-hand (or not)? Are Catholic schools helping an emerging Church? Are they on mission?
Section 2 Homilies Preaching and a Deeper Understanding of The “Kerygma”

In #135, the pontiff jokes that we all suffer with homilies: the hearers and the preachers. Well, I suppose we do! Some listeners are disappointed and disaffected and non-touched. Some preachers are disappointed too (when they think they’ve given a good homily but no one seems to care) and they get discouraged. Yet some preachers seem to not be any good at this aspect of ministry (do they know it? do they care and want help?). Or else they go about preaching into a wrong way or approach. In #138, the pope says that long speeches or entertainment acts in the pulpit are the wrong approach to a homily. In #142, he adds that the purely moralistic or doctrinaire or biblical exegetical lectures are not good approaches to a homily either. Would you have opinions (by experience) on your hearing of such homilies? ‘Care to Comment?
What kinds of homilies move you?

In #137-138, Pope Francis says that the homily should have a Eucharistic context (as the Word leads into the Eucharist), and that its message should be in the manner of it being in a liturgy and in “the balance and rhythm of the Mass.” For the presider/clergy, he says that the preaching should be “an offering to the Father” and “a grace that Christ pours out through him (the ordained servant). Comment. Then, in #141-142, he says that the homily should have a God-confidence to it (ex: “Fear not little flock” message) and the preacher should be seeming to enjoy/believe in what he is saying—like it is from the heart. Comment.

In #144, he offers of what we should be expecting from a homily, saying ‘The Word should be on fire…while enlightened by revelation and the path of the Church and its heart.’ How do we help our preachers be “on fire” with the Word and relating it to our being on the Path of Christ as His Church?

Similarly, in #158, he quotes Pope Paul VI similar exhortation in the 1970’s that “the faithful…expect much from preaching, and will greatly benefit from it, provided that it is simple, clear, direct, well-adapted.” Has the Church’s homilies from her ordained followed this course? How does the bishop/priest/deacon have things that might interfere with their preaching (as in time to prepare, an “ear to the people” knowledge level of people’s problems, work level due to vocations crunch, etc.)?

Similarly, from #145-159, the pope exhorts the clergy to save time for homily prep and for study of The Word with proper resources. He wants clergy to use their weekly interactions as fuel for homily ideas and thoughts. He expects them to bring their messages to a warm personal and positive vibe.

The pope asks for homilies to be “positive.” Do you know the difference of a homily that focuses on negative as to one that accentuates the positive?
Do you think the average persons understand the homilist’s need for the quiet prep needed to pray and compose a homily? Do you think the same average person understands the clergy’s need for the welcoming, kind and candid social interaction he needed with his congregants so to be able to preach to them? How real and engaged are people with their clergy? How about you? Who should initiate the dialogue and interaction? If it doesn’t happen, is it a surprise that the homilist “becomes so accustomed to his own language that he thinks that everyone else naturally understands and uses it (#158)?”

In #160, Pope Francis turns to the lay person’s own development of faith (outside of Mass). He speaks of the “process of (their) growth which entails (them to take) seriously…God’s plan for his or her life.” How many Catholics do you think are right on mark with this ongoing faith development? How do you think their pastors are affected by any apathy or indifference or show of a long-time spiritual immaturity among the parish members? (Would it affect their homilies or programs to the flock? Would it affect their sense of being respected and their feeling that God is respected (“Jesus IS Lord”) amidst the parish community?

The pope uses the term “kerygma”—do you think most Catholics know what this term means? Here’s what the Catholic Encyclopedia defines it as: Kerygma comes from the Greek keryssein, to proclaim, and keryx, herald) and it refers to the initial and essential proclamation of the gospel message. The word appears eight times in the New Testament: once in Matthew (12:41), once in Luke (11:32), and six times in the letters of St. Paul (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 1:21, 2:4, 15:14; 2 Tim. 4:17; and Titus 1:3). To put it simply, the kerygma is the very heart of the gospel, the core message of the Christian faith that all believers are call to proclaim.

What is the “Way of Beauty” that Pope Francis describes in #167?

Why is compassion and sympathy for others an important hallmark for Catholics (see #169)?

What is the “true freedom” that comes from being a follower who is committed to growing in faith? #171

Where can one get training in the Word of God? (ref.#174) And, what has been our doors to open the Word in our own personal study of Scripture (#175)? What has been a good Bible study for you?


Mid-March E Notes from Fr. Barry/St. Edward’s

Special Joy of the Gospel Speaker/Singer
Nationally-known Catholic woman Jackie Francios will be here on this Tuesday night, in our church, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. to share her faith and music. It is free and open to all.
Each Spring we bring in special Catholics to edify your faith. Have you come to support your faith and the parish? Your pastor is looking for you. These speakers are great. Jackie embodies what a joy-filled Catholic life is like. Tues. March 25th.
We are sharing her–she is speaking at a parish and to an entire Catholic high school on March 26.

Men’s Mission at McNamara
A reminder: A good Catholic men’s conference is held on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at McNamara Hight School. 6900 Marlboro Pike. Forestville, Md. (About 1/2 hr. away) The conference is led by Dr. Edward Sri. We used one of his dvd series in prior Adult Ed. Classes in our parish. He is speaking live all day. The cost is $20. Register online at

Pray for our Confirmation Class. Their retreat is Friday, March 21 from 4:30 to 11 p.m. in our church. Pray for our High School Youth Group. Their retreat is next weekend down in Leonardtown’s Camp Maria.

Penance Service
Remember that we will have a Lenten Penance Service with several extra priests on the Monday night (7 p.m.) before Holy Week. That’s April 7th.

Saturday at 4 to 5 p.m. in church; plus Wednesday nights from this week and on from 7:45 to 8:30 p.m. in church.

Stations of the Cross
At 3 p.m. on March 21st, April 4th and 18th.
At 7 p.m. on March 28th and April 11th.
At Noon on Good Friday.

A Bible in the Hotel Drawer

This picture above is a Bible that is on my office desk. I have been using it since the 1970’s. Yet I hardly ever take it with me when I travel. The picture below is of a Gideon Bible from my hotel room. IMG_20140316_221206_850

A Bible in the Hotel Drawer
I probably stay in hotel and motel rooms at least about seven nights every year. I will be staying in one this week, but it has been three months since I last did it. In the Advent season I did go up to see a show in the Lancaster Pennsylvania area, and stayed a night at a place, and they had a Gideon Bible in the hotel room’s night table. As I was in a mostly Christian town, and Amish-owned motel, I pretty much expected it. But three other places where I stayed in 2013, such as in Cleveland last October (in a big hotel chain), oddly didn’t have one. I mused over it with the hotel manager at check-out in the morning: “Hey! There’s no Bible in the room. Sir, did the Gideon society miss this place?!” He said: “We don’t have them anymore. I don’t think anyone ever read them, when we did have them.” I replied: “Well, I must admit, whenever I looked at a Gideon Bible in a room, it seemed to be in mint condition. Yet I did use one from time to time in the past, looking into my hotel’s night stand for the Gideon’s copy, even if it wasn’t my Catholic version of the Bible.”

He said: “I wonder, that if the country is mostly populated with Christians, how is it that those Gideon Bibles were mostly unopened in our hotels, as you said, staying in mint condition?” I said: “ I don’t know. Maybe it was more of a holy symbol to people, like a comfort, that there was a Bible in the drawer.” He said: “Well, hotels may be accepting them less now.”
I suggested to him that he put a notice in his hotel room binders of how a person could download a Bible APP or where they easily could find the Bible on the internet. I told him that it is how I read Scriptures on the road. He said: “Of course. Good idea.” But I gave him a Catholic Bible APP! I said “For internet searches for the Scriptures–Go to usccb bible online. Then you’ll have the Bible instantly.” Again, that’s the site for the full Catholic Bible!

With Gideon Bibles missing in Cleveland, and from other stay-over places in my 2013, I thought, perhaps, that the Gideon Bible organization was giving in to the fact that we can get the Word on our phones and computers now. I googled them to see if they still were on the job. Indeed they were! I saw that the Gideons are still going, and how they gave out over 942 Million Bibles out in the past decade—full ones or pocket New Testaments. They spent $129 million in their work in 2013 alone. But their concentration was over in India, Thailand and some other new territories. Maybe where phone Bible APPS are not used.

I had the ‘continental breakfast’ in the Cleveland hotel before my drive off onto the highway. The hotel had a handy waffle iron there, with ready-to-pour batter, syrup and fruit toppings standing by. While waiting for the timer to tell me my waffle was ready, I got online with my phone and read the daily Scriptures of the Mass-of-the -day, to prepare for my later Thursday night Mass back in Bowie. No need to haul my 10 pound Family Bible along. I went to the USCCB readings of the day online. It’s very convenient.

I wonder if in the Rome, Italy–would the Marriott hotels there have a Catholic Bible in each night drawer? Or has the Gideon Society got their New King James Bible in the rooms? And, what language would it be in? Italian? English? Or would it instead be the Book of Mormon, since Marriott is owned by Mormons? Well, I suppose not in Rome, but I would venture to guess that in Salt Lake City’s Marriott there is a Book of Mormon ‘Bible’ in the night drawer. I’m just wondering!
The judge Gideon from the Bible probably was a good choice for the Gideon Bible Society to have as their name’s sake. I bet that for the people who really have turned to a Bible in a hotel room, (since 1908 when that Gideon Bible Society started), that the person might have been searching for a sign and an answer of guidance over how to handle some difficulty going in their life. They might have just opened the Bible to anywhere and just read what it said—allowing God to ‘randomly’ speak to them—as if giving ‘a sign.’ Gideon the judge was like that. He laid out his fleece to see if God would leave an obvious sign for him. God did so! Then, he left the Ephra Holiday Inn and went and defeated the idol-worshipping Midianites, then, hurrah, all of Israel was free and they rejoiced!

The Joy of the Gospel, Chapter 2 Study Guide


Chapter One was concerned with how we are implementing the Great Commission. We are a Church which “goes forth.” Then, in a missionary heart, with the core gospel message to share, we have pastoral applications and the need for conversion in the senders as well as receivers in the proclamation of the Lord. The missionary key is to be Gospel-hearted, too. Lastly, we go forth, all the while in knowing our limitations, and those that others will have in responding to the Gospel. That’s a quick wrap-up of Chapter 1.

In Chapter Two, entitled “Amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment,” Pope Francis puts things in context, mainly, that we have to be discerning in the Spirit in living and sharing the Gospel in our world. We live for Him. We serve God. What does He want? As Chapter One answered that: He wants us to go forth and to bear fruit. He wants a missionary spirit of sharing Christ with the world (and even right in our neighborhood—you don’t need to go to China). Thus, knowing the Spirit is prodding us to go out, he asks in #52 “What can restrain or weakness the impulse of missionary renewal in the Church? In other words, what is going on when in the Church this realm of passing on the Faith to others is tepid or little-and-far between? We need to seek the Spirit’s help. Comment on the above and the book’s points.

He says that we need to take the world’s state of affairs into account, in our preparing to share Christ, because the “the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day-to-day, with dire consequences.” Thus, we ask:: How does The Gospel address this kind of situation all around?). The pope says that “many people are gripped by fear and desperation.” (How does the Gospel address that?”) He adds that people in the world live “with precious little dignity.” (Does the Gospel help these people?)

In #53 He talks of the troubles posed by the “economy of exclusion” that many are subject to. What does he mean? He also says in #55 that there is a “new idolatry of money.” What is that?

What vigorous change of approach is he suggesting in #57, and how does it reflect the example of Jesus Christ the Son in ministry over us? He relates, then, in #59, with two problems that must be addressed that lead on to violence. What are they (and do you concur and how/how not)?
Do you there is “evil embedded in the structures of our society?” See #59 or the bottom of pg.43.
In light of recent turns in America, how is the pope’s remarks on cultural change and the loss of religious freedom in a nation (and the charges of being totalitarian when one exercises a traditional Faith with authority) ring true? (Note: don’t make a political comment here in the book clug—try to stay clear of that response.)
The pope makes some short comments on the media’s part in cultural decline. See #62, top of pg. 46. He says that traditional values get cut down by various programs and opinions on the air or internet. What is a case of this that you have noticed?

The pope mentions how in the cultural pressures of a pagan part of society wages its battle versus Catholics, it is also challenging to be in the way of all sorts of fundamentalism in religion or the nebulous new age approach that pushes its “I’m enlightened, your not—yours is an old and tired religion’ critical view of Catholics. #63.

He returns back to the governmental and corporate politically and/or socially correctness that pervades all of society. In the lead sentence of #64 he makes a statement that sounds much like what American bishops have been complaining about for awhile of America’s fall into human secularism. Comment.
He says that an interesting result of our being counter-cultural is that we have “credibility” in our convictions to the world (even if they disagree with us)—for society loves the person of passion and umphh! There is a certain admiration for our sticking to our principles. #65.

Our convictions to uphold marriage and family life fit into the category of our Church’s holding onto values (which we are known for). People note that we do see the family as the unit to pass on The Faith to our children. Meanwhile, says Pope Francis, in the middle of #66,“Marriage now tends to be viewed (by non-believers and some non-Catholics)as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed or modified at will.” If we believe God authors life and love and the family, then where do non-believers base their authority to impose new definitions of family? Ponder it.

Jumping ahead to the end of chapter two (but related to the above part), the pope has much to say about the improvement needed ahead in women’s inclusion in the Church, namely in “greater participation in decision making.” While not changing any position on male ordination, he acknowledges that the growing role of women in society has raised “profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded” (104).
In the new areas, #68-70 Francis talks of impacting the culture by some Catholic practices. He wonders where Catholic traditions have gone. He sees a mass exodus of persons wandering in search of something… visiting other faith communities. How are these observations so related to why Pope is writing “The Joy of the Gospel?”

In the parts of #70 -75, Francis shares some views of the differences of urban life to country life, as well as the difference of mainstream to subcultures. The Gospel has a wide challenge to meet. In #76, he almost writes the scene of “A Wonderful Life” (A Jimmy Stewart movie when his character, down in despair, finds out the immense difference in life that he plays in the company and family and town around him.) The pope commends the immense impact that we are having as practicing Catholics in this world, even if at times it is a little hard to see our impact. The pope wants to send an uplifting compliment here! Yet we all know that while Catholics are in the hundreds of millions in the world, it is not a time of overwhelming joy and fervor in our ranks. Some experiences and events have harmed the Church such as divorce, priests leaving ministry (or acting so poorly that leaving might have been a blessing), members succumbing to all the deadly sins, the lust of money, and the list goes on. It can be discouraging.. Plus, numbers are changing as apostasy in increasing. Are you a person that needs to see results and fruits and proofs that God is at work among us? Are you a person that helps others to see of what good that they are doing for simply being themselves as a person of faith? Do we generally encourage one another in faith as Catholics, or do we not?

Pope Francis mentions how worldliness in the Church #93-97 has need for our reform, and the needed strength shown for the faithful members to keep on keeping on. He also points out that the spiritual infighting in the Church has left those who have kept to unity and community with a big job of re-imaging the Body of Christ as a joined to Christ people. It is more than image recovery we need, but a real deep level of goodness to come out of us. #101

Following upon what his predecessors did in World Youth Days and other targeted appeals to the young members of the flock, Francis says in #105 that, because youth ministry has suffered the impact of social changes, that the Church moving forward needs to have a true and dynamic connection with her young and upward members. Do you agree?


The Joy of the Gospel Homily Lent II (March 16)

Week Two of Lent; Chapter Two of “The Joy of the Gospel” exhortation by Pope Francis.



It is nice that the Lord takes us up on a mountaintop and gives us a peak at Who He Is and All that He can offer, by being the Son Who Well Pleases the Almighty Father. We need a higher view so as to be excited in the Gospel of Salvation Jesus gives to the world.

In the second chapter of his Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis focuses on the challenges to proclaiming the joy of the Gospel in today’s world. He mentions that consumerism, complacency, blunted consciences, excuse-making, relativism, secularist rationalism, violence, poverty, indifference, greed, narcotics, false autonomy and spiritual worldliness all weaken the impulse of missionary renewal in the Church. Ughh! Yes, we know of this bad company. It is not good to be around it for living in joy, is it now?! (We favor the eventual mountaintop high of being with Jesus!)

But, oh! The world down below in the valley. Eeechh!
Pope Francis will speak of it and bluntly in Chapter 2 of his work. There he acknowledges that his words against the idolatry of money (55), the “deified market” (56), and the “absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation” (202) may not be taken by everyone as part of the joy of the Gospel. “If anyone feels offended by my words,” he writes, “I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions. … My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality. (And so I declare you should) be freed from those unworthy chains” (208). It’s strong stuff that Francis is bringing.

Pope Francis challenges the people in seats of governmental influence, and says, ‘avoid moral corruption, and open up your eyes and your ears to the calls of hurting people.’ Francis calls for “more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people and the lives of the poor.”
At the same time, Pope Francis issues a stern warning to the complacent. Who else is sitting by?

Francis reminds us of the authentic world-changing Good News. Jesus is come among us to change us to a New Kingdom Way of Life. In that gospel for the poor, Jesus teaches not a loathing pity for the poor; but a love that seeks their emancipation, as well as our freedom from sins of apathy or indifference. Churches cannot be silent in the face of growing inequality and desperation. People of faith must “go forth” and be willing to be “bruised, hurting and dirty” in the cause of justice. It is not an easy thing, yet we must realize that we are building up a new order of living. “The New Jerusalem, The holy city (Rev. 21:2-4) is the goal toward which all of humanity is moving. In the New Eternal City, Scripture says that God dwells among them, fosters solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth, and justice-fairness.” Pope Francis is saying that the vision for what’s ahead is also the vision for what might be now.

If this Lord of Heaven is moving among us now on earth, then it is a fact that He is right among us in our city. He looks to open us up into the fullness of life of those who experience His reign in their hearts. Jesus said: “Pray, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

Pope Francis is displaying an extraordinary style and passion that is getting the attention of the world. He is speaking in a manner that he thinks that Jesus would speak to the world, and thus, he addresses the needs of the poor, and embraces the outcasts, and loves those on the margins of society. This Vicar of Christ is looking and sounding like Christ. Pope Francis knows Jesus. He knows that Jesus gave a moral challenge to the world, saying that if by receiving His Spirit and His love and His saving life to our souls, then we could be capable of much renewal to the world. That is, if we would be willing to come and follow Him, then we would do what Christ is proposing.

Today’s Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Lent has a phrase in it from the Father Almighty to us: It is “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: Listen to Him!”
Pope Francis proposes that we listen better to what is the core message of Jesus and that we then get inspired by the Savior and then “go forth” to preach and practice His teachings. “I prefer a church…out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy for being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

In TJOTG, in its chapter 2, Pope Francis raises a profound moral voice against “trickle-down theories,” which put a “crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” He warns that “human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.” We have witnessed “a globalization of indifference,” in which the poor are dehumanized and ignored. Lovers of God and His Truth should be upset at what is going on in the world.

Pope Francis directs new focus and passion to the growing inequality between and within countries, the stark contrast between the wealth of our technology and invention and the poverty of our ethics. This extreme inequality, Pope Francis writes, is the direct product of “ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. A new tyranny is born” and with it widespread corruption and tax evasion among the most powerful. Money, Pope Francis argues, “must serve, not rule.” Amen.

In light of today’s Transfiguration Gospel, see the example of Jesus: He possessed all the power of eternity, at his disposal at the Divine Son on mission on earth, and He is glorified on Mount Tabor in this moment (of Matthew chapter 17), but He is among us to re-include in His riches and power. He is “one” with the people of the world and He is willing to share with us and unite us in His love. He is willing to impart the kingdom to us. He wants to reconcile God and man, not create a worse divide. He is opening up the riches of heaven to people. It is amazing how this offer is the opposite of the sin and greed of the world. Jesus gives an alternative to the ways of greed in the world. Its alternative is proclaimed as The Kingdom of God offered to us. Amazing.
The Gospel calls for a way of joy and sharing, and modern leaders and shapers of society need to be led away from their hoarding and controlling. Jesus can be Lord of all. We can follow Him, not the dictates of some world leaders. While we always will have the leaders of the world, Francis warns of the corruption and the ethical poverty they have made of ignoring the poor. The pope is saying that it is a spiritual problem going on, if not at least an ethical one, for people are not acting accountable and responsible for one another, as it is “to each his own.” People fight only for what they selfishly want to be. Yet God is unity. He calls us under Him in Christ Jesus.
The three apostles with Jesus up on Mt. Tabor finally say something in the text. They say: “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Well, we can join in and say: “Lord it is good for the Church to be here with you, and to share in Your Kingdom, and to help advance it.” Amen.