All Saint’s Homily

In classes of our Catholic School of St. Pius X, and in religious classes here, we were pondering what this Feast of All Saints meant. First, asking: What is a definition of a saint? Concluding, that, a saint is a person in Heaven. And, now why All Saints Day? Because all of us can be a saint-in-the-making, as we live with Heaven in our mind, perspective and aim, and if we live with God’s love in us in the here and now. It’s All Saints, because this feast is for all of us. In school and Rel. Ed. I lead the singing of “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In,” in hope that we will be in that number and in such a grand parade through the Heavenly Gates and to God’s Throne when it happens!

So–What kind of saint should we be? We should be the best version of ourselves that we can be, with the grace of God.

We have the Beatitudes proclaimed today at Mass to give us characteristics that could make saints out of us. Let’s mention a few of them.
1. To be blessed or Happy to be Poor in Spirit. That could mean: Humble enough for God to get the Glory. To be like the moon to reflect the sun’s light, and not try to be our own light.
2. To be blessed or Happy to be Meek in Spirit. That could mean: Gentle and Kind and Forgiving in our manner. To initiate this meekness, for it doesn’t happen naturally to the sinner.
3. To be blessed or Happy to be hungering or thirsting for righteousness. That could mean: To be happy to pursue Growth in our Minds, Hearts and Wills, and to live bodily as temples to God. To keep seeking wisdom!
4. To be blessed or Happy to be a Peacemaker. That could mean: Ready to be a mediator, a bridge builder, and a person that sows love and reconciliation, not bringing more division and separation. A Peacemaker, too, celebrates their availability to be a way for someone who is away from God to become near to God. To be a happy channel for that. There’s no greater peace found than to a heart that finds the mercy of God.
5. To be blessed or Happy to be Clean of Heart. That could mean: Having the Innocence of Christ to contradict all that’s deceitful in the world, polluted or distorted by secular humanism, or muddied or even buried with poor disrespectful of others– how blessed and happy we should want to be its contradiction, to be Pure of Heart as a Child of God. As a Vessel of Christ. Saint John Paul the Great liked this beatitude, and urged Catholics to be “signs of contradiction” in being clean of heart, and made well by receiving the Eucharist often.

As we are in a weekend of change, with leaves moving to fall colors, and the clock moving back an hour, and with the more chilly air tonight perhaps causing the full moon to put on a scarf— let us celebrate the change that happens called “New Life in Christ,” when people are inspired to strive and join into God’s Way fully, so as to become holy.

In this All Saints Feast, we celebrate the willingness of the recognized saints to cooperate with God in the changes they were willing to undergo.

I put out the statue of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, the immigrant Saint to America, and first naturalized American to become a saint. Francis came to our nation here purposely as a missionary to better our Catholic life and living conditions in America. She came as a religious sister, from Italy, in 1889, and she first lived as an U.S. American in New York, then also in Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, LA, and in Seattle. She also went to South America to Argentina on a trip. Everywhere until her 1917 death in Chicago, she taught and lived the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and mostly emphasized health care and child care as her way of Christian loving. We lacked such in our new nation. She and her religious friends help fill a big need there. Saint and Mother Cabrini helped build hospitals, orphanages and school in those coast to coast cities, with the joined work of other Catholic women. Cabrini, who was herself born two months premature, and the 11th born child to well-off parents (whose children, sadly, mostly were ill ones and died early)— she took that loss in her life and turned it to great love and gain for others. When her parents died, when Francis was 20, she knew her life was meant for service and health care in the Name of the Lord. She planned to be a saint. She officially is now (since 1946).

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants,[10] and also of the religious institute, the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, (who happen to be the Servant Sisters, who have a novitiate just south of Bowie by Leland Rd., next to the Rt. 301 corn maze 8 miles from Bowie).

We should hope and pray for a saintly life ourselves, here in Bowie at St. Edward’s parish. Saints come from everywhere. Pray for it to be you.
Photo: Sister Servant photo, old and new and Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini

Added Thought: Were the Apostles Rich?

I wrote in the last three blogs my answer to the question: Was Jesus Rich?

It has led to my follow-up one: Were the Apostles (or disciples) rich?

As I did in the last trio of blogs, I go to Scriptures or Church history for answers and explanations.
2 Cor. 8:9 is St. Paul’s letter, saying: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” This is Paul saying, God already has riches in Heaven, and so does the believer, so the riches we emphasize in Christ is not for the promise of earthly gain, but for union with Christ Jesus. The apostles sought not material gain, but for spiritual gain. Why is it spiritual riches that is important? Because Christ actually said the poor are blessed not cursed. Not because He made them wealthy but because they inherited the kingdom of God. Jesus did not change ones status in life but He certainly changed their heart’s attitude.

Paul says more in Rom. 2:4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering?” And continues in Rom. 9:23 for us to get the proper dispensation from Christ, that to our hearts: “ that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.” Eph. 1:7 says “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” That’s the blessing we need! Eph. 3:8 also points out, about Paul, he says: “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Elsewhere, he adds ”I count everything as rubbish, but for the knowledge and faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Matt 19:23-25: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”

They were not astonished because they were rich and wondered about themselves, Jesus is talking about someone other than them. However in Luke 18:28-30 Peter being convicted of this states, “See, we have left all and followed You.” Peter’s perception was that they had no riches in money or property since he says they left it all behind. So why do some say they were wealthy?

Paul makes it clear 2 Cor. 6:9-10: “as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

How were they made rich? Col. 1:27 “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 4:11-12: “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. ”

Acts 3:6: Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” This does not mean they had none on them at the time; they had NO money. These are words out of their own mouths recorded by the Holy Spirit through their hands as Scripture.

Acts 20:33-35: “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. “Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Paul says it was good to work with his hands, he showed by example to help those less fortunate by hard work.

1 Tim 6:3-12: ” If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Those who want to become rich now suffer a loss in faith, as Jesus said you can’t serve two masters. There’s nothing wrong with having money but there is a lot wrong with money having you. How can you tell the difference, just listen to the message and find out where they fit it in. Look at what they teach, Godliness means more blessing = money.

Kenneth Copeland writes, “Do you want a hundredfold return on your money? Give and let God multiply it back to you. He urges his supporters, “Invest heavily in God; the returns are staggering, … “Every man who invests in the Gospel has a right to expect the staggering return of one hundredfold.” (Laws of Prosperity , pg.67) This may be true but it may not be in your bank account.

This is why Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland can lead the congregation in a affirmation “Money come unto me NOW” three times. (Voice of victory telecast). Creflo Dollar (is that his real name?!) says “Yo’all better obey the prophet and reap the prophet’s reward, my prophet is rich and I’m gonna be rich too” “I call in the money, I found me a preacher, this is my first million and to it, do you all hear what I’m saying,…I’m going to have what I say, what I say, what I say, what I say, what I say” (and the people cheered madly).

St. Peter writes a quite different message about such people: ”They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children”(2 Peter 2:14)

“Poverty is from the devil and that God wants all Christians prosperous.” (Benny Hinn quote– prosperity preacher).

Nowhere does the Bible say this. In fact, St. James was the head of the Jerusalem Church that was the poorest of all churches. As Jews converted they lost their family friend’s and job. the people in the church gave the best seats to those who were rich hoping for some response in help. This is why he writes in James 5:1-5: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. ” This is a sobering rebuke for those who will be accountable for using their money to promote themselves and neglect the needs of the people.Yes, there will be rich church people in the last days that will be judged for their covetousness.” Yikes!!
I have always been blessed by what Paul wrote to the Philippians. In chapter 3:7-1:1 he says: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Paul a Pharisee was once quite rich, with greater riches promised ahead, yet he gave it up for a life to follow Christ.

Says James 2:5 “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” The very opposite is being said today, “has not God chosen the rich because they have faith for their wants!”

One of the qualifications for a bishop an Elder is in 1 Tim.3:2-3. Let’s examine it.
“A bishop then must be blameless, …temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous.”

I think that verse easily answers our Question of the Blog: “Were the Apostles Rich?” No.
How about the deacons? 1 Tim 3:7-8 says: “Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money.” From Matthew Henry’s Commentary:”1 Timothy 3:3 One who is not greedy of filthy lucre, who does not make his ministry to truckle to any secular design or interest, who uses no mean, base, sordid ways of getting money, who is dead to the wealth of this world, lives above it, and makes it appear he is so. The deacon is not covetous. Covetousness is bad in any, but it is worst in a minister, whose calling leads him to converse so much with another world.
1 Timothy 3:8- Not greedy of filthy lucre; …the deacons, who were entrusted with the church’s money, and, if they were covetous and greedy of filthy lucre, would be tempted to embezzle it, and convert that to their own use which was intended for the public service. ”

1 Pet. 5:2: ” Elders are to rule willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.” Titus 1:7: ” To be a elder, not greedy for money’ Obviously mentioned for good reason; the nature of man whether Christian or not sometimes does not change.

Ask yourself is this what we see in the examples of our pastors and ministers and clergy today?

The Church had definitely some problem in the past (and some in the present day) of financial wealth associated with some of the popes and ‘princes of the Church’ (Cardinals). Yet the Scriptures tell us….
Rom. 16:17-18: ” Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, (carnal ones) and by smooth words and flattering speech…”

Christian pastors in rich communities and churches also have to see that some divisions arise and offenses given when they live high and mighty and comfortable, to the scandal of indifference of their fellow pastors in limited and poor communities. Pastors in well off parishes have to give fair heed to their flock of the temptations going on for people with riches among them. Jesus said in Luke 6:24-26 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Jesus was surely aiming His words to specific people He saw in the above problems, hoping to jolt them from their complacency or aloofness.

We are called to discernment and stewardship with God, if we do happen to be blessed in wealth our way.
Prov. 2:1-5 says: ” My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”

Prov. 3:13-16: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor.”

Were the Apostles Rich?

1 Cor. 4:11-12: “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. ” The apostles did not confess with their mouths they worked with their hands. Not in this case!

Was Jesus Rich? Part 3 of 3

This series is a Long and Deep Teaching. It’s not a short and quick blog entry. It’s a long entry. If you’re interested, then dig in. If not, then you can just pass it by. Thanks! 🙂

Jesus was not rich. He was buried in another man’s tomb, a rich man’s tomb, arranged at the last second. If Jesus was rich or his family, they would have buried him in his own family tomb. But this again proves that He had no money for this. Neither did his family nor the apostles have the money to by such a burial, it was borrowed, actually donated to be exact. After all it would not be permanent. Jesus in his ministry had borrowed many things. A manger, He borrowed boats, He borrowed a colt; He borrowed a house for Passover and He was buried in a borrowed tomb. Christ came in complete humility as stated in 2 Cor. 8:9 “Christ, that though He was rich, (owning everything) yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (Meaning spiritually rich.)

Jesus carried no money. As I said in blog entry 1 of this 3-parter blog, when challenged by the Pharisees, and upon whose allegiance one should give, to God or Caesar, Jesus had to ask for a coin to make a point. It was about looking at the head of a coin, and flipping it over to see that the rest of all life belongs to God.

I ran into a prosperity pastor and preacher. He looked dazzling and he carried himself off as the most interesting man in the world, like in those Dos XX’s commercial. He owned a lot and had become well-off in his position as pastor. I think that he was close to the definition of a hypocrite.

I won’t call him that. That’s for The Lord to decide. Plus, I am no one to judge, as I have some attachment to things of this world. I am no monk or hermit or poor man for Jesus. I know that. There are many other better models for a pastor detached from the world’s goods.

Yet if we are to imitate Jesus, as pastors or lay folk, then it isn’t right to first think that we are to imitate Jesus in being “rich” (as in material wealth). Jesus had many teachings with the disciples that seem to indicate that He was NOT a rich man.

Mark 6:32-44: (the miracle of the 5,000 fed) We find Jesus asking the disciples to feed the hungry people who have sat all day listening to His teaching. They respond by wondering how their small common purse could even get anything for the crowd. Philip asked Jesus the question (John 6:7) –about how the all knew they had not the funds even to buy everyone a little food there.

Jesus sent the disciples out without money (Mt. 10:9-12) “ Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out.” They did not rent a room but depended on others’ hospitality and the Lord for their provision. The money belt was a small purse that would carry very little coins, they did not have dollar bills then but coins.

Before Jesus is betrayed ( Luke 22:35-36) And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” If the disciples were well to do they wouldn’t need to sell one of their two garments for a small sword. Jesus also reminded them of how they were sent out with nothing and God met their needs. This again proves they did not have enormous wealth.

When Mary took a pound of very costly oil and (Jn.12) anointed the feet of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denari and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.” If all this money was available there would be no need to go out and find more. Luke 22:4-5: “So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.” Mark 14:10-11: “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.”

What does Jesus teach about riches, as in opposition to the words by prosperity gospel evangelists?

In just one example of a long-time prosperity preacher, Kenneth Hagin claims the Bible’s written promise to him, “He [also] wants His children to eat the best, He wants them to wear the best clothing, He wants them to drive the best cars, and He wants them to have the best of everything.” (Quoted by D.L. McConnell a different Gospel p.175)

Did not Jesus say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God?” (Luke 6:20)

Who is right? Was it riches He was promising or spiritual blessings?

Throughout the Bible there is a constant warning of riches being a snare. It is never called evil, for some of the greatest believers had great wealth and used it well. But it can be one’s downfall, as it was for King Solomon. It is why it is written in Proverbs 16:16: “It is better to get wisdom instead of gold.”

Matt 6:19-21 also says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Jonathan Edwards said “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in, aim at earth and you get neither.”

Matt 13:22-23: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

A famous Prosperity preacher distorts this above scripture like no other saying that the seed is money and that we can get a hundred fold return. What??!! Do we see this as taught by Jesus or the disciples? No! This is an insertion to attract increase, mainly to himself.

Jesus explains the parable of the sower by saying in vs.19 the seed is the word and before that he explains how the people need ears to hear so they can understand and be fruitful. In vs. 37 he explains further that the sower of the good seed is the son of man which is either Jesus himself or those who preach the same message of his word. The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom. In other words those born of incorruptible seed which is the word of God 1 Pt.1:23 are in the world as a growing plant to produce fruit of the spirit.

Luke 12:15-21: And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

I guess I have done plenty of research on this point– all in reaction to the poor example of some churches around here, using Christianity to get rich– saying so because Jesus was rich.

I don’t buy that!

Was Jesus Rich? Part 2 of 3

This series is a Long and Deep Teaching. It’s not a short and quick blog entry. It’s a long entry. If you’re interested, then dig in. If not, then you can just pass it by. Thanks! 🙂

Continued from Part 1
For some, Christian ministry is a big, profitable business. They have benefitted big time financially for promoting and using Christianity for gain. I have a problem with some of those folks, particularly pastors or ministers of megachurches or prosperity churches where one’s message is about getting blessed in this world’s favors and riches. As if that’s the end or goal of The Christian Faith. I say it is definitely not what the Christian is striving for. Salvation in Christ and helping others to come to repentance and faith in Jesus is our beginning, in a formation of love and sacrifice that aims towards company with God in Heaven, after pleasing Him on earth.

Jesus said such things as: “Follow Me.” “Know that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and come follow Me.” “In the world you will have tribulation (by following Me), but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” “You are no longer of the world, just as much as I am not of the worldly life.” “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all things may come to you.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit… the meek… the clean of heart… and who suffer for My sake and that of service of the Gospel.”

He did not say: Follow the money! Like Me, you will always have a nice place to lay your head. Exalt yourself, look to be unburdened and at ease, and give to Me. In the world you shall be clever and exploit it, for you can make the world serve your bank account. You are meant to be blessed in all worldly gains. Seek how the Christian faith can be of benefit to you. Blessed are the mighty and the cleverly manipulative, for there lies true wisdom– to get the other guy to bless you, since you are superior and chosen now, as God the King’s kid. Blessed are those who get ahead, and to look for ways the Christian way is of ease and comfort, and so that I can tithe a nice portion back to bless others from my abundance. (Sic.)

Now there was word earlier this year that another megachurch was trying to be built in this local area. That prosperity church already were making plans with a land purchase and with lining up a charismatic prosperity prophet to come. They were looking forward to becoming an affluent church here in Mitchellville-Bowie-Crofton. However, some officials seem to have ruled versus their plans. The officials don’t want this kind of neighbor.

Good for them seeing this prosperity church as more of a business than a church coming to town.

What of our Catholic Faith? What is our message about Jesus and riches?

As Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis leads the message of the Church that our interest should not be financial prosperity for self-gain in the Christian, but for a care-for-the-poor attention from the Christian, so not to disclude the poor but to reach out to them.

While the pope isn’t saying anything negative about a Christian being well-off, as some Catholics and other Christians have found such a life, he is concentrating on the example of Jesus, Who did not come robed in riches or seeking such, nor did “equate equality with God something to be grasped out, but became a bond-servant.” It meant that God became poor with us in Jesus coming, so to give us the kingdom of God and friendship back with God, for poor or middle-class and rich persons alike.

Jesus did not come as a well-off person seeking to make other well-off persons. If so, we would be Roman Catholics but perhaps Amway Catholics or Mary Kay Catholics or Land Investment or Gold Investment Catholics. While the pursuit of business success is fine with the above, it is not the first business of Catholic faith.

Our Founder’s example has been quite clear and public. The Way of Jesus is quite a contradiction to the prosperity gospel message. Jesus’ gospel message is first for selflessness, not selfishness, and for giving, not taking.

What does Our Lord teach? That we are not to be greedy, but to be passionately caring for our needy brothers and sisters, and that all our concerns on this planet should be for the Common Good. We are to care for another in the love of Christ. Jesus did it without a big bankroll. He inspired loving cooperation and human goodness, and people saw that as basically how this earth was supposed to operate: in a love for one another (John 13-17, 1st John 3).

Recently some needy persons with some church background had come knocking on our Catholic church door for help. They had a $2000 need, so to get out of a shelter. Since the need was so great, I asked if they had first knocked on doors of some nearby churches of the prosperity gospel message (and of some megachurches), since those churches and members claim to be rolling in God’s blessings to their pocketbooks and wallets. The need persons commented: ‘Those churches and their people never give a nickel to anyone like us for charity. They are uncomfortable with us even being around them.’

That prosperity church reputation certainly doesn’t sound like they are following the example of Jesus that I read about in the Gospels. thGNJTLVYQ In Matthew 23 it quotes Jesus’ criticism of some flaunting religious people of his time: “…they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger for others’ burdens. But they do all their deeds in order to be noticed or seen by others….they like outward shows….They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues…”

Just down the road from a nearby megachurch, I stop in a few times a year at a convenience store for some soda or snacks. The majority of customers there are not coming for such store items, but coming to place bets in gambling games. These folks do not drive up in expensive vehicles, nor waltz in wearing rich clothes, but they are regular people looking to strike it rich. The state government has learned from some churches example, and look to make money off people’s hopes for the rich lifestyle. People pray for the big pay off in such things as lottery numbers. Once in a while, someone might ask: “Do you play, Father?” I have the ready answer: “I have already hit it big.” They ask: “How much money did you win?” I say: “My big winnings was meeting and knowing Jesus Christ and bearing His Cross, so to one day wear the crown of righteousness in Him in Heaven.”

It’s mostly, though, the poor downtrodden people in America who try their far-fetched luck on gambling, thinking that it’s their only possibility of getting their dismal financial picture turned around. They think such gambling “gives God a way to bless them.” (Somebody made that comment to me.) Huh?!

Pope Francis says that it is sad that the poor feel so hopeless, thinking that their odds of inclusion at the table of blessings are so bad. Francis hopes the Church can be a communion of believers that extends itself to be their loving help and invitation to the table.

It’s a shame that the Christian faith would have even churches that act more like the lottery places or casinos, saying: ‘Come in here and see your luck change. See the money blessings flow to your lap.’

Pope Francis builds on the message that has been running through Church history, asking the Faithful to be “free from the lust of money (1 Timothy 6:10)” and to be free from idolatry, but to put the love of Christ, and love of neighbor as one’s self as primary to the Church’s practice (Mark 12:31). Pope and Saint John Paul II wrote a marvelous message on this in an encyclical called “Rich in Mercy.” Pope Francis will emphasis 2016 as a Year of Mercy to focus again on what Christ desires for us. It will build on St. John Paul’s Rich in Mercy message.

In this blog series, we simply ask and examine: Was Jesus rich? (I ask it, because it is something of a wrongful assertion of the prosperity gospel message that the answer was “yes.”) Was Jesus rich? The off-the-mark prosperity gospel bent of today (with all its churches) would have you think He was. Based on that assumption, they want to lead you to think that this now entitles you (as a member in Christ/ or their church) that you should become rich. (They say it is due to you as a believer!)

From the look of cars in a church like this, people are striving for this life of material blessing. (It can also be true sometimes of our own churches.) thBRW1CV09

Yet nowhere can you find a passage in the New Testament where Jesus Christ or His apostles or disciples were encouraged to get money or become materially rich. Jesus Christ taught the opposite, He told the rich man to “sell all that he had and give to the poor… come follow me and you will have treasure in Heaven! (Luke 18:22; 12:33-34)” When the man refused, Jesus commented that for such a man possessed by his possessions or riches, it would be harder to get to Heaven, than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Eeekkk!

Our newest pope choose the name of Francis at his installation because he knew that the above verse was the Scriptural plan that the famed saint of Assisi followed, in imitation of His Master, Jesus.

And St. Francis succeeded in living a blessed, Christ-like life.
Pope Francis hopes to bring some of the saint’s help to the Church of today.

The prosperity gospel is a problem in America today. It feeds into the self-entitlement mentality and attitude and action of the modern person, which is often pretty sinful. Lots of independent Christians are in it, but they are not in line with how Christianity has been practiced faithfully for 2000 years. I don’t think so, anyway.

It’s not to say that Christians, or particularly, Catholics, cannot be wealthy. They can. And be holy doing so. And charitable. And good.

But since the problems exists that many GET caught up in a pursuit of wealth, we need to go to the Scriptures and see what our Christianity is all about. We’ll look at a few citations in this Part Two blog, and then finish in Part Three.

The message of St. John to his own churches in the writings of Revelation (Apocalypse) gives a relevant warning to people today. In the third chapter of Revelations it says thus: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth… Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked!… I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and (I ask you to) anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see (aright in faith)… As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”

That message is to anyone lost in wealth, prosperity gospel or otherwise. ‘Right?

Let’s examine that exhortation. “Because you say I’m rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing-and do not know that you are wretched miserable, blind and naked…” What a summation of where the modern version of the rich Laodicean church is lost today in it’s self. God’s remedy of the sinful condition in the Laodicean community is for them “to buy gold refined in the fire from Him, that one may become rich, and white garments that you may be clothed…” The gold is not earthly gold, but the spiritual life in God’s Spirit and New Life for humankind; while the white garments refer to mercy and our baptismal identity in Christ’ innocence. The admonition is for the person to go zealously to confession and to get back to the place of Christ and His Innocence in us. The real riches that Christ is concerned with are spiritual ones; our self-righteous rags will never do from a church that is self empowered. Until we have God’s eye salve applied to our eyes we will continue to look at the outward, and ignore our spiritual bankrupt condition on the inside, and then our mission to the world to love and to share and become one under God.

Was Jesus Rich? Let’s look at the clear biblical evidence.

Jesus was born in a stable (his parents knew the approximate time of his birth so they could have reserved a place, God could have made sure he had a room) but it was to be in a stable, a cave. It was no Hilton or Marriott cave, either! (This past year I stayed a night at a resort hotel built on a mountain, so the rooms and pools and restaurants were in the rock caverns/caves.)

Jesus was the Son Eternal, Divine and the King forever, yet He became one of us and as a child. It was a poverty of spirit that was quite something. Christmas is about simplicity and poverty, not riches and wealth.

In the first few days of His life, Luke 2:22-24 says that Jesus’ parents offered the sacrifice of two turtle doves, in His dedication-presentation ceremony at the Temple. Two turtledoves was a poor household’s sacrifice to God (Lev.12:2-8). Jesus’ mother Mary identified herself as poor, for as when God visited her by the angel, the prayer she will pray she exults in her prayer praises in saying: “He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.” Oh by the way, if the Holy Family had been rich, as the prosperity gospel proponents claim, they would have had to make a larger sacrifice than the two turtle doves at the Presentation. If they were rich, and did not tithe as so, then they would have broken with Jewish law, and the Holy Family did not do such things.

Jesus gave up all the riches that are His in heaven to become a man and was born to a poor family (not homeless and destitute), and his stepfather was a carpenter, and, that is a humble vocation, and the money isn’t too good, because the Romans were taking much of it away.

Archeological excavations of Nazareth show the village of Jesus’ day was occupied by poor agricultural people. As Jesus grew up He worked in the trade of a carpenter, which was not a trade known for its wealth. How did Jesus become rich with a step-dad who was only a carpenter? There is absolutely no indication anywhere that he was wealthy from his family or from traveling with His disciples. He took no money enumeration or possessions for His services. It is revealing to hear the things that Jesus said, as He preached and ministered to people. In Matthew 11 or in Luke 7’s parallel account, it says: “As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?” But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.”

What did that conclude? That neither John or Jesus dressed up as those who “show” God’s blessings today, with their thousand-dollar suits and shoes and religious bling. Why does Jesus’ cousin John wear such bad clothing if then Jesus was walking around in expensive clothing (a seamless garment), didn’t He share? (!) –because they both were simple men, detached from possessions. Jesus did not own a house. Nor did John. John could have had a nice post as Temple priest, as his father, but John choose the Judean hills and desert to serve the prophetic life, much like Elijah did.

Jesus was so detached, that by His ministry time, He had no where to lay His head to call His own. In Matt. 8:19-20, it says: “Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Yes, Jesus had no place to lay his head, no permanent home, and his hometown of Nazareth spurned and rejected Him when He came to minister there, and so it was that Jesus constantly traveled, and when He stayed somewhere the longest, it was at Peter’s house, since Peter had to get back now and then to see his family, as did some of the other married apostles. Jesus dressed like everyone else, and He even said to forsake this world to inherit his kingdom. He taught that “His kingdom is not of this world” and He made it perfectly clear in His teachings. Jesus, as Son Eternal, already was King of the Heavens. He was offering humanity a place in His kingdom.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus and He responded by telling to him “to give all his riches to the poor and follow Him.” Was Jesus telling him to rid himself of riches while he actually possessed them Himself? No. And that is another knock versus the prosperity gospel version of things. Would Jesus ask someone to do something He Himself would not?

In 2 Cor.8:9 St. Paul states of Jesus “being rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that through His poverty you might become rich.” (These are spiritual riches being talked about here). In the only place in Scripture that mentions Jesus as “rich” it says that He became poor. Did Jesus become poor during his lifetime so we could become rich financially later? This is not a trick question and should be obvious to all familiar with the scriptures. This “being rich” is speaking of His preexistence in His position of glory? He became poor in becoming a servant in position and also in his social life. Zech. 9:9 is a Scripture Jesus fulfilled in His actions: ” Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Even His fulfilling prophecy as a king was in humility of His position. God’s Son came as a servant, not a king, but today we have those who want to have crowns recognized for their positions now. Quite the opposite in the Scripture: “he who is exalted will be humbled.” We are to follow Jesus’ pattern, yet some actually think if Jesus came today he’d have the best clothes, drive the most expensive Mercedes or BMW, and eat steak or lobster every night to wash down with fine wine. We better look carefully at the Bible before we choke on what is being dished out in any prosperity message wrapped in Christian wrapping!


Was Jesus Rich? Part 1 of 3


Part One (of Three)

There are bunches of prosperity gospel preachers and authors that would convince you that He was a rich man…and Who wants to make you prosperous too. These preachers and authors are off the mark.
(They likely also are making a lot of money off of their Gospel ministry–much in contradiction of Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10 to His sent ministers.)

Here’s one crazy explanation I heard for favoring Jesus’ richness and for prosperity gospel living: They say ‘Jesus and His apostles had to be rich– as only rich people could take “off” for three years– and isn’t that how long His ministry was? He and they must have had much funds.’ em> (That is one
crazy interpretation!) Or they imply that Jesus and the apostles were making lots of unofficial money. (What?!)

Here’s what a prosperity author wrote, with their Rich Jesus ‘explanation’: The Bible says that Jesus had a treasurer-a treasury (they called it “the bag”); with plenty of funds, and in the care of Judas Iscariot; and they all had so much money that they didn’t know Judas was stealing out of the bag all along, because nobody missed it. Thus, Jesus must have had money and was rich. For if Jesus didn’t have anything, what would he need a treasury for? A treasury is for surplus. It’s not for that which you’re spending. It’s only for surplus-to hold it until you need to spend it. Therefore, He must have had a whole lot of wealth. So He must have had more than He was living on. Thus, Christians should follow this Way.

Wow. You can make such ridiculous stuff up! Yet it is some popular Prosperity Gospel’s man’s words. (That’s another crazy interpretation up above– and it’s completely wrong. Jesus’ riches was His grace and mercy and goodness. Not his money. And Jesus never took anything for His miracles or His talks– there was no payment, but just the usual supply for a traveling rabbi, which would be some water, some food, and some lodging offered.)

Once was Jesus was tested by some people about the Temple tax and money due to Caesar, Jesus had to ask for a coin, so to make His point about it. He hadn’t even been carrying coins on Him. He held up the Roman coin, showing its littleness, and said:”Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s… (and then, perhaps, pointing up to the full sky above, He finished)…but render unto God what is God’s!” It appears that finances wasn’t Jesus’ main topic, nor His interest in His life.

Here’s another wild teaching from a rich televangelist, who sees no issue with his own getting rich over the gospel ministry, since he has people convinced that Jesus asked for the same so-called blessing. The televangelist preached this way-off message shown below. An evangelist actually said this on air!
‘Who’s teaching that Jesus was poor? I don’t know where these goofy traditions creep in at, but one of the goofiest ones is that Jesus and His disciples were poor. Now there’s no Bible to substantiate that. In fact, when Jesus was just a babe, He and His family accepted the gift of gold from the magi to live off of for years. They were loaded!’

(Yes, there again is an example of an off-the-mark fellow minister making a crazy interpretation of the Word of God. I suppose the minister was expected gold to come his own way, since the magi delivered some to the Holy Family!)
We call this approach to Christianity or Christian living as of following the “prosperity gospel message.”
We Catholics think that it’s not in line with the Christian faith that was founded by Jesus. Rather, the truth is that Jesus came to help us to be “rich in mercy” as Ephesians 2:4-6 says (and not necessarily
rich in money).
Some counter the Catholics citing Scriptures as John 10:10 and its promise that we would have
the “abundant life.” But, looking at that verse in the Good Shepherd chapter of John’s Gospel, when
He said He would bless us abundantly, as in John 10:10, the truth is that Jesus was speaking about new life and salvation and heaven, and not about the increase of our bank account and our possessions.
Abundant life was eternal life, and our share in the Kingdom of God. That’s quite a gift!!

But what you’ll hear in a prosperity church is that interpretation or spin that ‘Jesus came to give to you in abundance, such as in money and things and power, so believe in Jesus, and He will bless you financially and in other ways. So join our megachurch and give generously to it, where we give you the environment and the faith to get all the financial blessings coming to you, just for being our member and
for being a child of God.’
That’s the fallacy. Jesus is not first for one’s getting rich; He is for our becoming holy and filled with saving life in Him and His Spirit! If it were a prosperity gospel He preached, then all of the early apostles and disciples in Christ would have all become the wealthiest people in the world. They surely did not lack the faith for it! Yet, we know that the emphasis was not on money and possessions, because they all knew what Jesus’ core message was. Luke 10:19 proclaims: “I, Jesus, came to seek and save the lost.”


Homily Oct 25 Year B, 30th Week Seeing it Bartimaeus Style

Today’s gospel is based on a blind man’s seeing of Jesus. It’s not just an account of his cure by Jesus, but more of how he, Bartimaeus, got Jesus’ attention in the first place. Hear of what he called out to Jesus. The people on Jericho’s road around Bartimaeus explained to him that the commotion going by was about one Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples and other followers. The blind Bartimaeus becomes excited and calls out to Jesus. Yet he doesn’t call out “hey, Jesus” or “hey, holy man” or “even Rabbi, see me”– Bartimaeus uniquely calls out, and quiet loudly with, “Son of David. Have pity on me. Son of David. Have loving compassion on me.”

These words of address is what catches Jesus’ attention and has his stop and ask of who was calling out with that certain title for Him. He wants to meet that man who called him “Son of David.”

This gospel, then, is more about of what this blind man “saw” beforehand by faith. It’s about what he heard and “saw” prior to Jesus coming through Jericho. Bartimaeus saw a revelation, not by sight, but in the heart, and it was about Jesus’ true identity as the Messiah. Bart-man 🙂 had put it together, by all the accounts and testimonies about Jesus which he had overheard at his Jericho crossroads beggar spot: Jesus was likely the Messiah, THE Son of David. Bart had heard a lot there at the crossroads, while just sitting on his cloak and waiting for coins or food donations, and those reports added up and lit up a light to his mind. The Scriptures were being fulfilled in his day!
Mark 10 shows that Bart was converted by what he had heard about Jesus, the Messiah was Him, here was the Son of David fulfilling even Isaiah’s prophecies for The Christ, promises such as going and healing of the blind. Isaiah’s verses used today at Mass proclaims how The “Head of nations (i.e. Head of the human family) would one day come among them, who would be “as a dear father to Israel” and lead throngs of people, even women carrying children, to the Faith that leads to Glory. Bart got excited: “this Father of families Figure has come to pass my way! Here is the Son of David.”

This longing faith in Israel was mostly lacking in Jesus’ time, so the response to Him was sometimes disappointing. Yet here, at the beginning spot of ascent to Jerusalem, a man calls out to Him with a Messianic title of recognition, of respect, and in hope of the Great Renewal. “Son of David” was a very loving, faith-filled thing to shout. And Jesus hears it loud and clear. So, understand with Mark’s Gospel, that this is just not a story of a blind man’s cure. Here, by the title sung out, Jesus is acknowledging a new believer. And surely He, the Son of David, will confirm it His identity with Bart. He meets him, encourages him, and asks him what he needs of him. Bart knows the Messiah heals blindness, so to establish it as true, he asks: I want to see. Then, Jesus heals him of his blindness, and says ‘welcome to the family of God. Peace to you. Follow this Way.’

The story here is that a blind man sees, both with eyes and heart. He knows the Son of David. A blind man in Jericho, surrounded by sighted individuals, is the individual who “gets it” about Jesus. He sees clearly Who He is.

In a short application to us, we are given many ways to learn of Jesus, and recognize Him, so to proclaim Him. We have had avenues to know Him intimately, if we would be so dedicated to that aim. We can have titles of endearment to say of Him as well. Our own “Son of David” pleas, to go along with our Hosannas of Him, as He shares this Mass encounter with us.

I was thinking a few days ago about what “title” the Church can be using of Jesus to show we are His ardent, loving followers. I think that “Head of the Family” is a good one. Pope Francis has been one to lead us in that view of Jesus, as he recently led a World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and gave us words of how we are to be “family” for Jesus, and a family of families, as the Church. Did you hear or see Pope Francis’ words about that? If not, then look online at it. It’s recorded. Or if we would note that Francis just concluded today a three-week Synod on The Family at the Vatican, with many Church leaders gathered to discuss it. While the document they will try to produce on their ideas and views and directions for the family is still being worked out, due to many opinions, the main thing is that Jesus was heralded there as “The Head of the Human Family” and indeed the “Author of family life” in the Beginning.

God longs to have His family, and today that would certainly include His Catholics, and God would want for us to long for Him, even united as families in our prayer, to call out dearly to Him, and together to pray for compassion and help on us and for our world.

Francis wants us to call out to God as families, natural and spiritual ones, “Jesus, Head of the Human Family, help us. Have compassion on us. Be merciful to us for all our wrong priorities, our wrong choices. Plus, see the family today in such crisis and dilemmas. Lord, hear our pleas over all the noise of the planet. Your people cry to You. O Head of the Human Family, and its Author and Designer.

We pray like Bartimaeus with hearts and minds that have been stirred. Like, for sure, that we have been meditating on this, and moved by this call to follow the Head of the Human Family or Son of David.

I was on a news program last Tuesday to give commentary on the latest headlines. The headlines were Syrian Refugee families in the tens of thousands on the roads and waterways, displaced and desperate. The headlines were Planned Parenthood denies (or lies) that it does any bad. It plans to build a megacenter in DC soon. Yet I know the PP situation. They are part of 300,000 abortions each year in America–it’s leading provider of baby deaths. That is no family health agency to support. And the latest videos of PP atrocities are being ignored–but they expose the organization for how anti-family it is. I commented on that.

Thus, we pray today. “Jesus, in our midst, Head of the Human Family, have mercy on these situations in the world today. Help your Church respond to the crisis’ about us. And, in our households, help us 640 households of St. Edward to walk in faith and follow after Your lead. Heal us of any blindness, help us to live by faith, and not just worldly sight. Be our Lord in our heart, mind, body and soul.”

To concludes things now: This gospel is about recognition. Bartimaues recognizes the Lord, mostly from his internally processing what he had come to know of Jesus. Then, as Jesus goes by the gate of Jericho, Bart calls out. I want to be family with You, Lord, a believer. Like Psalm 126 sings today: “O Lord, You are the restorer of our fortunes and blessings, as to the Human Family, and we recognize You as our help in a very needy situation.”

John Lennon once was quoted in saying: “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.” What he might have meant was that the challenging part of being alive is to look at it with eyes open, open to reality, and I’ll add on, as open to God, of that He is personally in our midst. In Bart’s openness, the blind man of Jericho does find himself able to cry out: “Son of God, I need you. Fill me with mercy!” He springs up and prays and calls out so because he wanted to live with eyes open and heart fully open. And to be friends and family to God, and with His followers, for He is come into our midst.

Jesus soon comes in face to face with Bart, asking: “What do you need of Me?” Jesus wants to be face to face with all of us with the same question. We have healings that we need. We especially want to see life from God’s kingdom perspective.

We just had the World Meeting of Families and the Synod on the Family in the Church to help us “see” how the Lord is near, and that we need to respond like beggars to Him, for learning how to love better, stay faithful to one another better, grow together, and be a part of a family with Him. We live in God’s Name as family, and as Church.

Homily After-Thoughts on the Family and hardship factors

The regular family in America suffers from many factors, which all need address, in their own way. Can we start with three major ones? #1: Big economic hardships. #2: Divorce and split-ups or other divisions/departures (sometimes due to reason #1.), and #3. Life’s complexities, with over-demands on family members.

In #1, I am amazed at the financial strain on families today. Even in a modernized and ‘comfortable’ country like the USA, we have so many problems of a regular family affording things. Even with two parent incomes, and smaller families, the burden is great.
Certainly, big business and government do not lead an economy with family concerns in mind. It’s all about making lots of money, and winner takes most of it.

In #2, families get so often broken up. Many parents today come from broken homes, and now history is repeating itself, with the average young person being in a broken-up home. Divorce and split-ups (or front-end lack of commitment to marriage and family) bear the worst effects on the young. It has hurt society, and put fears into people where love should be.
There are other kinds of departures and divisions, too. Death breaks up families. Jobs spread across the country or world break up brothers and sisters or adult children from parents or grandchildren from parents. This has a negative impact on family life, too.

In #3, life’s many complexities put families into a bending and twisting and breaking action over all the directions they are pulled into these days. One such complexity: when the family is challenged by a serious health (or lack thereof of health) issue, and extraordinary efforts are needed to care for the sick member–placing difficulties on the home, or in paying for hospitalization/nursing care. If people need to work second jobs to pay for the bills, then it could cause those working members to be away from home most of the time, resulting in new problems, like unsupervised kids, or someone dropping out of school to be a wage earner and bill payer. I was touched by a story of a young man whose dad died, his mom was sick, his young sister was in elementary school, and he had to drop out of college and work a local job to pay the bills and be the man at home. He worked six days a week. He made it to church on Sunday, the last liturgy of the morning, so he could sleep in. He had Sunday afternoon for his social life, but that was it. Thus, he went for years without a date, he sacrificed his future and his self for his family, and he did it with lots of faith and acceptance. He was one of the better examples to me of that Bible verse: “the Lord loves the cheerful giver.” When his Mom passed, and his little sister grew up, graduated, and went to work– but lived at home, the man had some relief on his responsibilities. He waited until his sister married and moved out, before he could take up with his own needs for love and companionship and hopes for marriage, with his blue-collar DC job.

School Masses

I prayed two school liturgies at Saint Pius the 10th Regional this past week. Here are photos of the 5th and 6th grade one on Friday. Taking advantage of the fall season and pumpkins, we carved crosses in the hollow pumpkins and put a light inside. We drew some comparisons of pumpkins and Christian life.

First, God would like permission to open things up in us. He’d like to clean us and put His light inside of us. The carving of a cross or the smile of a jack’o’lantern is the sign that we have won the victory over evil and fear, and have started the life of a saint of God. We can smile. We can shine. The orange color shows the brightness of being that a believer has–we have a radiance about us of God. (Orange you glad?!). Plus, pumpkins show that a new season is begun. In our case, the one of new life. It’s a life that will ready for harvest, too.

Pumpkins also have a fragrance and as Christians, we also represent Christ in the world in a spiritual way, like a fragrance. The aroma of Christ can be picked up only through the hidden senses of man in the Mystery of existence. Yet in actual pumpkin, it’s the slow burning that gives off the scent.