2nd Station meditation

JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS

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Isn’t it interesting how the Lord Who made wood (and all of Creation) was handed two beams of it to face the world’s rejection of Him?  He took up the cross.

Humankind gravely mis-used wood at the Creation, eating forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.  Now in the Anointed One’s coming, we are to crucify Him to a wood cross. Ugly.  Horrible.

Jesus , though, would turn this wood into the altar for His sacrifice at Calvary.  His Perfect love as God/ man would save and reconcile sinners.  Jesus would even kiss this cross and embrace the royal road of suffering to cause our salvation.

A hymn that touches me is one whose lyrics ask us to embrace the Cross, in imitation of Jesus.   To do so takes courage and full trust in God the Father.

1st Station of the Cross Meditation

THE FIRST STATION.  At a mock court trial, Jesus is Sentenced to Die on a Cross.IMAG1082_1

In life you may have been betrayed by someone, verbally backstabbed, lied about, defamed, and the sort by others.  If so, then perhaps the cruel judgment of Jesus at the Court would be a bit familiar to you. Sadly.

Yet we can say our trials have been nothing at all like those ones Jesus went through, up through life to this time as He was led before a court rigged for blood and punishment.  He went through His passion and death in identity with many who have suffered in this world.

Jesus was the most innocent of victims, but He freely let humankind play out our wicked schemes.  It ultimately led Him to a Cross of execution by crucifixion.  He died as the Lamb of God.  He was a Pure offering of a sacrifice to God offered up for the world.  He knew His God-man perfect union would be the one saving sacrifice for humanity to set us free, at least on terms respecting our freedom of choice.  God freely chose the Cross (Pilate really didn’t force Him there), and we can now freely choose the way of life to Him or remain in death without Him.

Lord, have mercy!    Christ, have mercy!   Lord, have mercy!

Wedding Homily for Kent/Erin AND 5th Lent Sun. Homily April 1-2

Wedding Homily    April 1st

Dear Couple,

As you know, Kent and Erin, we begin April today with this occasion we call “April Fools’ Day.”  In ancient cultures, April Fools’ Day, which comes close to the first day of spring, marked the beginning of a new year. Then in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered the use of the Gregorian calendar that made January 1st as our “New Year’s Day” and start of a calendar year.  Some people, however, didn’t know about the new schedule, or perhaps they just didn’t think it made any sense. They continued to celebrate on April 1st (as the “first day,” their “spring start,” the beginning of a new year) and were called “fools” for doing so. This is the origin of our annual day of pranks and practical jokes.  It’s a little wedding day factoid that I bring to you!

Here you are, in this wedding, taking us all back to the original calendar of long ago—as you are saying, “This is our first day—first day of marriage!”  “This is our “spring start”—and love is in blossom and love blooms in spring!”   “This is the beginning of the rest of our lives, in marriage, and April 1st will be a new year’s day– our anniversary of love each year. ”

How about that?!   So April 1st is a quite dandy day to become married.  That is, since it’s the original new years, spring thing, and all that!!  And we’ll party with you later like it’s New Years!   And Kent, you have the easiest wedding anniversary day to remember!

About April the ‘oneth’ as your day, too, the custom today is for people to remember to take themselves lightly.  With the tradition of some silly stories, surprises, and teases of this calendar day, it reminds you that you’ll be able to live marriage out only by enough smiles and laughs and excuses you give one another for being imperfect.   Spoiler alert: You don’t marry a perfect mate, and that’s a relief (!) for you.  Your humanity will need to be accepted of one another.

/in the live homily I added an illustration of a forgiveness tool and method, linking it to the epistle reading./

Lastly, I need to put a word in about how the Lord is the Third Person in this marriage.  The sacrament bonds and binds you not only to each other but to Jesus.   That’s been the Christian faith, even back to good ol’ St. Valentine, priest of Rome, who married so many couples in the Lord as a legacy of his holy orders.    He enjoyed helping people to make love promises in the Lord, for a Holy Matrimony, because God IS love and all should be lived in return to Him and to His Glory.  Yes, there’s a Glory of Love.

The opening Scriptures today here spoke of a three-ply cord that cannot easily be broken. (Eccl. 4:12)  I show an example of it here in front of you.   This cord rope of three rope lines bound as one, united to. make it very strong.  Keep the Lord in the middle cord, and you’ll do fine.   Find the many ways to unite in God, bodily, and spiritually, and in the uniqueness of who you are to one another.   God will inspire many things to lift you up in love, for He wants it to be together and lasting even more than you do.   He can help you live as one, if He gets to be in the middle, you’re good!  You’re of one accord (a-cord!).

So there you are!  April 1–lots of fun.   Point 2:  Be light!   Point 3: 3 ply cord in the Lord.  IMAG1181_1

Your advice from Fr. John Barry– God bless you both, Kent and Erin.

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IMAG1183_1Homily. Lenten Sunday of April 2nd. Lazarus arise!

The Gospel of Lazarus.  The Grace To Hear the Shepherd’s Voice.

They say with hospice patients that hearing is only at the last of things to go.

So there in her home bed, surrounded by some family and a few old neighbors, was Gertie. She hadn’t spoken or opened her eyes all month to anyone, and now her blood pressure was very low.  A family member said aloud to another sibling. We have her plot next to dad ready, the coffin picked out, her green dress cleaned and prepared for her wearing for the viewing, and a barbeque caterer for the repass set. The sibling nodded and verbally approved, when all of a sudden Gertie, that hospice patient, their mother, spoke up:  “I said I wanted to be buried in the pink dress! And, I don’t barbeque, why are you serving it at my farewell party?! I never liked pit beef!”

She was almost six feet under, but the hearing’s the last to go.

Lazarus, in our gospel story, was already gone , three days hence, but evidently his hearing was still working in the cave tomb.  Jesus called forth: “Lazarus!  Lazarus!  Come out!”

And he did.  That’s good hearing, I’d say. And he did well to do as was said!

Of course, as Jesus’ great Bethany friend and disciple,  Lazarus was a good listener of The Lord.  He loved hearing and doing what Jesus said.   There is a grace in that.

In this Year of Grace, we appreciate the favors of God to equip His followers with a way of hearing that connects ears, mind and thoughts with the heart and soul.  The ultimate hearing is found that way–to hear the Voice of The Good Shepherd Jesus.

John 10 tells of how Jesus says “the sheep of His pasture will hear His voice and know Me.” That ‘hearing’ goes on even after our passing, so we learn, as Scripture says:  “the days are come when even the dead will hear God’s voice abstruse up from their tombs.”

As witnessed a bit pre-resurrection with Lazarus.

What’s a lesson to take from this today?  Listen for God.  Pray, with much listening and pondering and reflecting.  Plead the Holy Spirit to best hear the Good Shepherd.   Know that God has communication to get to you.  One day it will be rising up instructions.

So, use your connections of heart to mind, faith to feeling, soul to ears.  Act as the embodied Spirit ( or body/ soul.person) that you are.

It started with your open welcome of Jesus into your heart and hearth. Like it did with Lazarus with his sisters Martha and Mary welcoming Jesus.   It is deepened with your desiring to know Jesus as Savior and Friend, as obviously this Bethany household did.   It is letting Jesus close in, even intimate with you.  You hear His invitation.  How readily do you ( or I) respond to His Voice?

We need to know His Voice.  He’s the Shepherd that leads our lives to all that is good.

What a grace it is to have learned to hear His Voice.   Some believers here can shout Amen to that.

To some others, perhaps the Bible verse applies to you: ” If today you hear His Voice, harden not your hearts.”. Confess your deep need of Him.  Wait for His answer.

That’s for the supernatural ear ability to hear so well, your ears will keep working, even when the rest of your body won’t !

For natural hearing help, there’s a Catholic doctor with a Bowie office named Dr. Micheal Damiano, ear, nose and throat– that I recommend to you.  He’s very good.

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Because by Your Holy Cross…

“We adore You. O Christ, and we praise Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.”

This is the prayer that is used in the Way of the Cross old devotional books.  IIMAG1093_1t reminds me of Maryland’s saint of The Redeemer, John Neumann.

Neumann is a saint who became most well-known as a bishop in Philadelphia, but before that time he lived in Maryland for some of his priesthood, both in pastoring a parish in Elkridge-Laurel and in Baltimore, while also serving many other parishes and places in his circuit riding ministry.  His missionary religious order, The Redemptorists, did well to evangelize the Annapolis- Baltimore area in particular. Today they shepherd many of the Annapolis Catholics at their two large parishes and with several priests.

Below is a photo of a statue of St. John Neumann.  Yet one can see him still in his glass coffin in St. Mary’s Church in Philadelphia, the saint’s body remains preserved there– uncorrupted.  I have made the pilgrimage twice.

Another picture I took was of a stained- glass window in St. Mary’s church in their downtown Annapolis church which shines hope and comfort to its people.

I walked  around and into the church on a day this month to enjoy its sights and presence.   My favorite photo taken from my visit is of the cross draped in purple with a glorious image Our Lord near behind it.  (See pic far down below.) 

IMAG1078It shows the Passion and the Glory in one shot.   They were lined up just so, for the faithful to note the connection.  And, The Redeemer, so well heralded by Neumann and his religious and faith community, looks to take people from The Cross to His Rising, drawing more people into His Saving Body and Blood.

St. Mary’s of the Redemptorist order of the Catholic Church is one of the oldest in Maryland– and a real gem.  I am glad I stopped in.
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4th Sunday of Lent Homily “Redemptive Suffering”

Live Homily was trimmed short.  Here’s the fuller, blog version…

The Help of Redemptive Suffering

A man goes into the doctor complaining of aches all over, and points and touches his kneecap and says to the doc: “I have pain here.”  Then he points and touches his elbow and says:  “I have pain here.”   Then he points and touches the back of his neck, and says:  “I have pain here, too.”   Then, he’s ready to point to something else, but the doctor interrupts him and says: “ Sir, I think I already know what’s wrong with you.”  The patient is elated—saying: “’You do, Doc?  That’s great, because I need help.  What is it– arthritis, bone degeneration, injuries?”   The doc says:  “Just let me look at your pointer finger—I think you must have injured it.  Ah yes—you’ve cut your pointer finger!   Nothing else is wrong!  (Everything you touch therefore just feels like it’s hurting…)”  🙂   Oh, if suffering only had easy solutions like that one, in the joke!

But when we are in some serious pain, it’s no laughing matter.

We also can struggle in the spiritual life when we suffer.   Like the false assumption made in today’s gospel about the blind person, some people can think that suffering happens just to bad people, or to people who have it coming to them from God, or suffering happens to dumb people.  So when suffering comes to them, they are looking for how the sufferer might be at fault, for being bad, deserving of hurt, or just dumb.  Wrong assumption.  Jesus says that suffering was not the fault of the man born blind, nor the fault of his parents.  But then Jesus adds something important, that the man’s suffering will be involved with God’s compassionate help.  Jesus says the man’s blindness was there that the works of God might be made visible through him.

What? People must have wondered.  Did Jesus just say God is with suffering?

God is with sufferers, though He’s not the cause of suffering.  Yet God can work with any suffering person to have the experience be redemptive and saving.   Yes, we are already broken people to start with—but God is a healer.  God is a Redeemer, too.

Redemptive Suffering might be hard to believe of Jesus, but for the fact that He practiced it in a grand way in saving sinners by His crucifixion on a Cross, and then in His rising up afterwards in a victory to share with us—and it won our salvation and our right to have Him live inside our souls– so we take heed of Him to listen and learn.

Suffering, first, causes the person acting in soul and conscience to reflect on life.   You or I ask: Where is God in my suffering? Did I do something wrong? What will be the quality of my life from here on out?  Simply, we want to make sense out of that which doesn’t seem to make sense.

Understanding a share of the meaning of suffering has come via some experiences in my own life.  While my pains have been small compared to others, one big accident I had suffered in life pointed me to a higher meaning for my life (since I survived it—and looked to know why), another incident showed that I need to exercise some caution over my need for success and acceptance of others, and another suffering situation showed me that I cannot always be in control of things, even my own life, but that it’s ok.    These are some life lessons in redemptive suffering.   I came out better due to the suffering.   I used the suffering for good.   I accepted it as part of God’s plan to shape me, or to shape another via me.   It’s not an easy thing, but it is reassuring that, as Jesus said, “the works of God might be made visible” through me in some episodes of life.

Jesus has redemptive power.    It is part of His whole being of Grace.   He answers our questions of suffering in some simple lessons— like that of the pearl fisherman seeking a treasure embedded in the dark heart of the oyster, so we have shining pearls of grace hidden in the darkness of our suffering.  God will bring forth His grace and pearls in our own oyster’s to open.   (So let’s start shucking, rather than ducking, our pain.)

When we survey human history, it becomes evident that suffering is an inextricable part of the human condition. It’s not a matter of whether we will suffer during our lives, but when. And more specifically, how will we suffer: poorly or well?

When we fail to find meaning in our suffering, we can easily fall into despair. But once we find meaning in our suffering, it is astounding what we can endure, both mentally and physically. The key is not the suffering itself, but the meaning found within it.   Here is where our Lent and our standing at the foot of Jesus’ Cross might truly help us.  Jesus calls us to join Him, to even become His body, or an embodiment of believers under Him, the Head of the Church.   He permits us to give our suffering with His perfect suffering, again in trust of the Father Almighty. Christ asks for us to offer our suffering as part of our becoming fully one with Him.  Jesus did this redemptive work as one of us, suffering many things, all with a goal in mind—to present it to the Father as a perfect, saving act of service and love.   When Jesus perfectly offered it all at the Cross, as His final act, the Father received it as “redeeming.”  Jesus is Risen.   Our path in His paschal mystery now can lead us to gains from our pains, victory over any misery.   Trust in God.

Let us understand that we are called to co-suffer with Him.   You see—some people want a convenient and easy theology or faith approach that claims that Jesus suffered so that we wouldn’t have to?  But that’s wrong teaching.   Jesus suffered the Cross, because we couldn’t save ourselves, so that we gladly have had Him stand in for us.   But Jesus didn’t eliminate suffering here on earth.   His believers were expected to go through some of it, even as the Beatitudes say of our life in Him.  We are blessed, but we suffer some for it, too.   Also, not everybody was healed by Jesus from states of suffering.  For one, He did not overthrow the Roman Empire in His 33 year visit to Israel, so there would be much persecution and suffering ahead to the Church because of that.   Yet Jesus does say a whole healing is coming to His people, and an eternal life.   That is a very good thing He promised, so to make all the ordeals worth it.   We won’t suffer damnation nor separation from God any longer, provided we cling to the Lord and His salvation.   We need to suffer through what He allows to happen to us.

Pope John Paul wrote an apostolic letter on suffering, and in it he says that the work of Christ doesn’t guarantee an escape from suffering.  No-instead, Jesus has changed the meaning of suffering. We are now joined through baptism with Christ in His death and resurrection, and we have become intimately united to Him, so much so that we are His Body. Because of our union with Christ, even our suffering is changed; it becomes redemptive. Because Christ loves us so much, He invites us to participate in His redeeming work by allowing us to offer up our sufferings in union with His.  Pope John Paul II said, “in the cross of Christ not only is the redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed” (Salvifici Doloris, 19). In other words, our suffering is changed and is worth something if it is in union with Christ. Every time we suffer, we have an opportunity to either run from Christ, or embrace the suffering as an opportunity to love and walk as He walked.

St. Paul experienced much weakness and suffering, but when he prayed about it, Christ answered: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” As a result, the apostle could proclaim, “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Paul understood that our life is a cooperation with the work of Christ when he wrote: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Colossians 1:24). Think about that: Paul said that something is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. What could possibly be lacking in Christ’s afflictions? Answer: Our part!  While that is miniscule compared to Christ, “we still have little part to play in the world’s Redemption.” (SD27–Pope JPII)  It’s a grace of “redemptive suffering.”

We can participate with Christ in redeeming the world.  So offer up your pain.

‘Twere True? ‘Tis True

Long Teaching      There is a Part One, Part Two, and a Part Two all in here

Part 1

I heard a phrase this week: “If ’twere true, then it’d be most obvious.”  That twere word is from an old-fashioned English usage as in meaning if it were true (’twere), then it would be ( it’d be or ‘tidbe) thus and such.  I haven’t heard those phrases used in a while… but some folksy speakers favor them still today.  Listening to S.C. nominee Gorsuch speak this week shows that the homespun terminology is still much in circulation.

But how I heard the ’twere phrase was not in a good light.   It was used by some Christian anti-Catholic person, one who unfortunately, was speaking publicly in dead-set opposition to a Living Jesus with us in the Blessed Sacrament.  They said that the Eucharist couldn’t be real because the amazement and convincing factor wasn’t there, in their view.  So, in the folksy, olde-fashioned sentence, they said “if ’twere true, then it’d be most obvious,” meaning that they were trying to debunk the Eucharist*, saying “it,*” was not really Christ Jesus, in their demanding that, if “it*” were true, some special effects would be seen and felt to support the claim of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in our Catholic belief and practice.  

Cut to chase, the Eucharistic Jesus isn’t exciting enough for them to be real.  “It” seems too ordinary to them.  

What a short-sighted point of view this seems to be.   The “it” actually is a Person: Jesus.  There view does slight the Lord in some certain way.  

I am reminded of the account in Mark 6 when people also dismissed Jesus by saying that “they knew” how he was only (merely) a carpenter, just an ordinary relative from Nazareth, son of Joseph.  They “knew” it.  They made noise that Jesus could NOT be anything more (and surely not Messiah).   We know now how very wrong they were in belittling Jesus.  

Same thing with belittling Him as Sacrament and Bread of Life among us today. That’s a big mistake to make. It leaves out a major, personal experience of Christ from their lives.  Yet we Catholics will need to be the witness to His Real Presence, so that all Christians can be led to Him, the Bread of Life, for their full nourishment.

To those statements above of expecting a sign, or refusing to believe, I thought: ‘Like what special effects are they looking for to have prove to themselves the Eucharist is really Jesus?! A tingling sensation? A taste of true blood? A stupendous, instantaneous, miraculous healing to the communicant?’ What ‘special effects’ were they seeking of Christ or of the Church’s relationship to Jesus as Eucharistic Lord for our pilgrimage Home?   In their current faith practice, is it all a big feelings kind-of-experience they demand to have called their Christianity?  There is fault in that orientation, if so.

There are clear descriptions in the Bible (as proof) for the Real Presence, too, if they are searching.  I wondered:  How more clear in The Word can it be that John the Baptist or John the Apostle call Jesus the Lamb of God, or that Jesus calls Himself as “the Bread of Life” or the “Living Bread of Heaven,” as for us to “take and eat?!” of Him? ! (John 6, Luke 22)  Or, that He offered Himself purposefully on the exact Jewish Passover for sacrifice (John 13, Matt. 26), which was unnecessarily dramatic of Jesus if twere only a symbolic gesture He was making.  Yet, what if the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus, is Real Presence Blood to save us from death in sin?   Hebrews 9:11-28 has something to say about that, of this Church today in a living practice of Christ’ offering, as while we seek His Glory to come.  (Read it.)

Experientially, at each Mass, I get a sense of the blood on the doorpost of our hearts being applied onto us and into us, who want to be saved from death and our sins.  This, of course, is an update to the exodus story, as we live under the Exodus march now of Jesus.  As the author of Hebrews writes to the believers to experience in their present-time:  “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14)

Oh my!   The anti-Catholic said “if ’twere true”– scoffing as he said it… but hallelujah, “TIS TRUE.   JESUS IS AMONG US IN HIS BODY AND BLOOD in the work of salvation, and He is building us up to serve Him for His kingdom!  The “I AM with you always” so promised Jesus at His Ascension (Mt. 28:16-20).  Jesus IS Sacrament and Paschal Mystery for us now, so that the great I AM has been and is now and will be ministering to us of His feast of salvation.

As for a convincing proof of Himself as Bread, back in Jesus’ public ministry in Israel, do your remember the big deal Jesus made of it about Himself.  In John 6, it says how even many disciples and the apostles did not get it, of what Jesus did after the Miracle of the Loaves.   Due to that, Our Lord said:  “You had your fill of the miracle loaves, but do you still not believe?”   The people had missed the sign (sacrament) unveiling of Jesus.  So, even with much of an amazing thing occur on the hill with the multitudes with all them getting fed from practically nothing at hand, they still didn’t believe.   Why not?  Because it was not to be any special effects or spectacle that would win hearts.  Jesus knew it was all about faith and its desire to catch on and believe.   In that John 6 dialogue text, Jesus asked His apostles, ‘as many have left, over this hard teaching, do you also want to leave?’  Peter spoke for the Twelve that they were staying; faith helped them see the Living God before them in Jesus–and in His signs.  ‘You offer Everlasting Life, Master!,’ says Peter, indicating that he and the band of apostles were remaining with The Lord.

So, it is true that some sincere disciples for Jesus today can get it wrong, at first, about Jesus as the Sign of God, the Sacrament for a living encounter in the Divine.   But we wish for them to “get it.” (Only by Grace did we, too.)

These denials of fundamentalists and charismatic Protestants and other non-Catholics about the truth of the Eucharistic Christ today are familiar.  Many do say something like the man did (If t’were true, tid’be most obvious); but they are exercising their prideful demands a bit too far.  Faith seeks understanding, and we hope they will arrive there to know Jesus as Sacrament.

There’s hope people will come to The Eucharist.  The Holy Spirit will be looking to draw them in to glorifying God by such an embrace of Jesus Real Presence.

In seeking such a demanding physical proof of God (sign, on their terms), maybe by faith they can really become surprised, because God IS offering a physical manifestation of His works in the 7 Sacraments.  It’s just not of the double-wow factor.   Jesus comes meek and humble among us.  That’s so vital a lesson to see in the Gospel story. Jesus says: “Come to Me… for I Am meek and gentle of heart… I will help your soul find its rest.”  That is the same Lord of the Gospels Who is Sacrament today.  We meet Him on those humble terms.  We kneel often in His Sign Presence to us, as in Mass or Reconciliation or in a Matrimonial union or Holy Orders consecration.   It’s a humble thing to experience God in Christ in Sacrament..

Part Two.   ‘TIS THE LAMB LEADING US!  IMAG0206

Our Lord And Savior Jesus presented Himself humbly before the Father.  See our Mediator kneeling in the Garden of Gethsename in our illustration on the page.

He kneels in a humble offering to God, doing so in the time directly which had followed the First Mass, the Last Supper.  Only in our own exercise of humility will we take note of God come to us in all humility.

Jesus Himself in His public ministry (as told in the gospels) was not touring around like a rock-star of today.  He did not have elaborate clothes, house musicians, magnetic appeal, and an oversized, look-at-Me personality.   As some Nazarenes commented of Him:  ‘You’re just a poor carpenter’s son, and a lone carpenter yourself now and widows son (with Joseph gone), and merely a relative of people we know, a man of no privilege (Mark 6).  How at all could you, Jesus, be God (?), the Messiah?’ they scoffed.

This denial of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh was a regular thing as Our Lord was in ministry, and that of some of the Jews rejecting Him when He came is clearly told in the New Testament.

Later, the rejection of Jesus as God in the flesh was the break of the first heretics of Christianity.   Interestingly, there is a tie-in to the same rejection of Jesus as Eucharist.  This has also been going on from early on in Christianity, though very much more in recent decades and centuries.   Many non-Catholic Christians insist on living apart from the Sacraments of the Church of the 2000-year-old Church begun by Jesus.  Why such resistance??

Refusal to acknowledge Jesus as Sacrifice and Sacrament in the Eucharist has been going around for centuries, even so in the time of Christ ministry itself (e.g. “How can He give us His flesh to eat?!” –John 6) ‘and many no longer followed Him (after His Bread of Life teaching).’

The connection of God coming as human and as flesh/sacrament are much related– The Word is Flesh; The Word is also Eucharist.  He is the same Word, expressed as flesh.   Think of the many times in bible stories when people would not acknowledge Jesus as God among them, because He was of the flesh.  They couldn’t imagine God as flesh, therefore, they would not believe.  The Lord in flesh was an automatic disqualifier for them.   Even the crucifixion of Jesus was about some Jewish leaders asking for the death sentence for a man claiming to be God among them as a man.   But, oh how wrong those Sanhedrin were!

Jesus said that He was giving His flesh for the life of the world, and that His Body offered was becoming Eucharist for the faithful:  God was extending His visit as flesh and His Presence to us via Sacrament.   The God Who became small as an embryo once was even becoming present as hosts and parts of bread transubstantiated.  Amazing this Lord of Heaven is!

It is important, then, to see how the objection of Jesus as God/man is tied together with the objection to Him as the Eucharistic Sacrifice today.  They are closely related.  As a person like this twere person goes so vehemently against Jesus as Bread of Life Sacrament, I suppose that they would have also missed Jesus as the Man of Galilee too.  Jesus just wasn’t spectacular or obvious enough for some people, I suppose. 

The recognition of the mystery of God among us is by faith, and that recognition is a Gift.  This is so true a point.   At some time in our lives we Christians all need to become like Thomas the apostle, who was missing from the assembly, and to come in and see what the others had said was true.   Thomas examines “the Body and Blood Jesus– even the nailmarks–and gets that it is all indeed true, so to exclaim “My Lord and My God.”  Believers outside of the Eucharist need to come in to those believers with the Eucharist and to recognize Jesus as the Eucharist, so to say “My Lord and My God” to the Blessed Sacrament.

Jesus said something very important to Thomas upon the doubting apostles’ coming back into the fold:  “Blessed are those who have not seen (nailmarks like you have here), yet who will still believe.”  

Because it is all by faith that we see.   No tingling or sensations, no fireworks, no overwhelming feelings– just Jesus recognition. 

The Jesus received in Mass from the faithful is related to same Man of Galilee, the man so often spurned, because of denials by so many that He was God in the flesh with them.  Read the Bible accounts. They are many detailing the above rejection.   When the Lord Jesus was in public ministry, numbers of people also demanded certain signs or amazing proofs from Him, in that same special effects mode, but Jesus did not serve them in that flashy way.  In fact, Mark’s Gospel shows Jesus doing many works among them in humble ways, almost as in secret.  Faith not flash was the way into intimacy with Christ.  The Gospels all communicate how Jesus was indeed already their Sign of Signs right in their midst.  He was Sacrament; He was sign– but not to the demand of people for a spectacular sign.  He came as one of us, not to wow but to gently meet us and heal us and save us. He once concluded, “This is a people making demands but no more sign shall be given them but for the sign of Jonah ( referring to His Rising from the dead).”. That would be His major sign, but it would only be manifest to people who were in faith with Him.

Jesus comes to us, maybe more humbly in surprise to us than we could ever expect.

Yet He is here.   Humankind, in our folly, make our demands on God, rather than roll out the red carpet and ask however might receive Him in. It is all due to our want to deny our sin and our need for help and transformation, and of our resistance to let it happen on GOD’ S terms, not our own.   It’s a problem of pride.   Believers who say they belong to Christ have such problems sometimes in pride, though given by word of promise to Christ the Lord.  Yet they fully don’t know Him yet.  They also are prone to errors.  Just read the epistles of the New Testament from James through Jude, and you hear the apostles trying to keep the Church one and true and moving to deeper conversion and convictions, rather they might lose their faith.  (John’s letters are particularly strong.)

Yet Jesus IS a challenge to us.   Anyone who says He is peachy and easy and just a buddy Savior has much more to know of Him.   When Jesus came, He knew that He would experience rejection or refusal from people to Who His True Identity.  John’s Gospel leads off with the real challenge before us:  “The Word became flesh… and to as many as received Him, to them He gave right to be becoming as children of God.”

Even while getting rejected as the Son of God meekly ‘sneaking’ (past our prideful eyes) into our world and history, Jesus continued to affirm His identity as The I AM.  He was God in human existence with us, and the God of eternity.  He said basic things (as recorded further in John’s Gospel) such as “he(she) who believes in Me (as such) has eternal life.”. “I AM the Bread of Life… anyone who eats of Me, this bread, has life eternal, and anyone who does not, does not have eternal life.”   Jesus says this.   The gospel records it.

‘Tis True.

Ah, the Irish like this word, ‘Tis!      And with the Real Presence, we Catholics can say of its truth:  ‘Tis!!

It also says clearly in John than many people left Jesus, because of not accepting who He was or what He said, as in looking for a different Messiah.  In His teaching on the Eucharist, particularly, they left Him. (See John 6.) These were those ’twere true, then followers.  They stopped following the Real Jesus due to stipulations, one might say.  Could they have been saying;  “Jesus, you are too much of the ordinary and sublime to actually be the Divine One you claim to be.’

Oh how wrong they were then.  And now.

Part 3.   Our Catholic testimony.   People undeserving but who have been blessed to see.

What the non-Catholics (who kid us about wafer worship) just don’t know!  Jesus is Eucharist for His people on the journey home to Him.   This is so dear to us who are Catholics.  It also startles us about Jesus.  Our God Who becomes small, whether as baby and man, or as Eucharist host– He does risk being missed or unnoticed or even disrespected or rejected.

By grace, we in the Catholic Church (and other Real Presence believers) have recognized Him, like those who did when on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24).  Praise be Jesus for His revelation to His people, and for His Gift to the Church.  The hidden part of the Emmaus story is of persons who had walked along as if without Jesus, and even heard His words, still had not caught on Who He was until the breaking of the bread.  Then, they knew Him.

We Catholics claim and believe God is with us, and even in ordinary-style signs and sacraments.  The Lord is right here among us, yet He still can be missed, as by those who will not see.  He is Sacrament to continue a physical reality with His Church, yet people just will not abide with Him in this Way.   I think of many ex- Catholics who have voted so with their departure from Mass-going. They had been right near Jesus, even to receive Him in as gift, but have departed away from this intimacy with Jesus to prefer some other place or experience.  Sad.  

Some of the younger generations are going off preferring a more dynamic, entertaining style of Jesus.  Even some of the older folks, too.  Yet the Word says “He came meekly.”  Notice it in Him as the babe in Bethlehem (Mt. 2).  Or the man of Galilee walking up to John the Baptizer (Mt. 11).   Or the man preaching on the hillsides (blessed are the meek–Mt. 5).   Or the one describing Himself:  “I AM meek and humble of heart.  Come to me, and rest. (Mt. 11:29).”   This One Person also proclaims I AM Food in John 6, to “eat and drink of Me,” as does He say in the Last Supper Gospels.

‘Twere true?   It really is true that the Humble Jesus, as in Mystery among us as Eucharist, is missed, or even dis-missed by people today.  Yet He is Real-ly there. Those who seek, find– says Jesus.  May they find Him as Eucharist among us.

How I love the EWTN tv show that has all the testimonials of people of other religions or denominations who have come to recognize Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread.   The show is called “Journey Home.”   Other live call-in radio shows on EWTN’s network feature many more such testimonies.   Catholic Answers Live is full of Eucharistic Jesus confessors.  ‘Tis True, they say.

Of my hurts as a priest is to know of former Catholics or former practicing Catholics who are not with us in Sacred Liturgy now.  I dearly pray for them to Come Home.

‘Twere is probably a poor relative of ’twas, as in “once before, He was my Eucharist, but not now.” As in someone saying: “I don’t want Him to be.  I want something more amazing or appealing.”   Would they demand it to not be so, of this Eucharist not to be Him?

As the destiny of the believer is to gather around the Throne in praise of the Lamb, in the Liturgy of Heaven, going to Mass is a getting ready and acquainted with the Lord as He is worshipped forever.   The Holy Mass is our connection even now to Heaven’s liturgy, as they go on simultaneously.   Scott Hahn’s book “The Lamb’s Supper” is a great read for someone to see the message of the Book of Revelation as of a communion of the Church triumphant in Heaven, united to believers of the Church Militant (fighting the good fight soulfully on earth’s pilgrimage) and the Church Suffering.   All are united into the Sacrifice of the Lamb, and we are made worthy only in the Lamb’s Offering.   Again, this is all about the meaning and mystery of Holy Mass.

As John’s Gospel proclaims, Jesus is God in the flesh… and then Jesus says “my flesh is real food, eat it in remembrance of Me… this is My Body…My Blood for you.”   In each Mass, we acknowledge this Truth.  ‘Tis True.   Blessed is the Lamb Who was slain, who reigns now.  This is the celebration of Heaven, of and in and by The Lamb Jesus.

And on earth we pray in every Mass:  “Lamb of God… have mercy on us… grant us peace.”

Mary, our model believer, embraces the Word made flesh among us. At the start to finish.IMAG0820_1IMAG0244

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twere.  ‘Tis.   Two shall be one, Bride to BrideGroom.

Twain is another old English language word with a tw start.  It’s used in phrases like “never the twain shall meet” but also in wedded lines like “twain thee, one love now.”

Which shall it be of the Eucharistic Lord Jesus: Never the twain shall meet (me and Jesus as Bread of Life)–or– twain us, one Communion and bond, Lord?

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I think I will sign off on that.  (I’d tweet off, but this is a blog!  If it ’twere a tweet, then this message would have been over in the first sentence! )

Photo:  San Juan Cathedral in the week of Epiphany.  I con-celebrated some Masses here.   In Spanish.

Jokes St. Joseph could have told. Funny St. Joe stuff. Maybe.

Jokes

1.  They asked me, “Joseph, when did your son Jesus first take an interest in carpentry work?”  I, Joseph, answered: “It was very early on.”  “How early, like when he was 12?” they asked.  I, Joe, replied:  “Just weeks after Jesus’ 40th day of life and his blessing of presentation in the Temple, our family moved hastily to Africa.  It was there where and when I decided to build him a crib, using rare Egyptian wood.  I was half-way through finished making it, when I left the tools and materials down, to get to it the next day, but that next morning, I saw that Jesus had awoken overnight and finished it Himself!… that’s when I knew he’d surely want to become a carpenter!”

Ok, folks, it’s just a joke!   Really!

2.   Joseph was an expert carpenter, and was training Jesus in his trade.  He said, “Now, don’t be like those two silly carpenters working over there on that house across the way.”  Jesus asked:  “Why not?”  Joseph said, “Excuse me for saying it so, but it’s because they are not too bright.  I was listening to one of them who was nailing down a wall for a house, and each time he would reach into his nail pouch, to pull out a nail, I would see him, then, either toss it over his shoulder or nail it in.”  Jesus asked, “Well, why was he throwing those nails away?”   Joseph explained, “The first guy thought they if he pulled a nail out of his pouch and it was pointed towards him, that it was defective!  So he’d toss it away!  Heh!  Yet if the nail was pointing away, then he’d nail it in.”   Jesus asked, “Well, why didn’t the second carpenter on the project tell him he was mistaken?”  Joseph explained:   “I know, but listen to this: The second carpenter was overheard saying to the first:  ‘Dummy, those nails which are pointed away aren’t defective, nor to be thrown away! They’re for the other side of the house!'”

Smile.   Hey, unless the Lord build the house, the builders labor in vain, anyway, right?

3.  Continuing, Jesus said:  Their carpentry business is not going to do well, is it?  Joseph said: I am afraid not.  Just yesterday I heard how one of them silly guys went to the lumber yard and he asked the seller there if he could have twenty four-by-two’s.  The seller corrected him, “You mean two-by-fours—that’s how we call ‘em.  Now, how long do you want them?”    The silly carpenter said:  “How long?  Well…. I guess, ‘er, that we’d like to keep them after buying them, sir, as they are going onto a fence.  🙂   We don’t want any loaner wood.”  (Jesus groans.)  Joseph adds: “Of course, two-by-fours also have length, as you know, son!  So I don’t know about those silly neighbor carpenters!”

Riddles/Questions

A.  If Joseph hits his thumb with a hammer, then what does he take for the pain?        B.  When Joseph fled with the Holy Family to Egypt, what transpo might have he used? C.  What American cities might be this saint’s favorites?   D. What university is his favorite?  E.  What mistaken occupation did a bad Bible translater give to Joseph?       F. What is St. Joseph’s favorite pop song?   G. What did Joseph use to stay awake all night on that special Dec. 25th?

It happened at St. Joseph’s parish

Little Andy was restless at Mass, as St. Joseph’s 11 a.m. Sunday Mass was going now past 12:30 p.m., in Communion time.   Walking up with his dad in the Communion line, for a blessing tap on the head, Andy saw the Sanctuary Light in its lamp up near the tabernacle.   He looked up innocently at the priest, and asked:  “Father, when that light over there turns green, then can we all go home?!”

Former pastor Monsignor Robinson had reached 99 years old, but was now failing on this Lord’s Day, likely his last.  This Josephite parish happened to have a dairy farm connected to it.  Msgr.’s final request after last rites was to drink some fresh milk from one of the cows.  As a favor, young cleric Johnson, knowing that monsignor liked a nightcap on Sunday nights, put a little whiskey into the milk.  Monsignor drank up.   Getting ready to close his eyes, the young cleric requested some parting advice from his senior.  Then, Monsignor beckoned him close, and whispered some final advice to him:  “Fr. Johnson, don’t ever sell the cow that gave out this delicious milk!”

Riddles/Questions Answers    A.  St. Joseph’s Aspirin (lots of them!)    B. Cara-van.    C.  Toss up between St. Joseph’s, Missouri and Nazareth, KY or Nazareth, PA or Bethlehem, PA.   (Maryville, OH he also likes.)    D.  St. Joseph University, Philadelphia.   E.  Mistakenly called him a car-painter.   F.  “Do you know the way (to) San Jose?”   G. Cup-a-Joe 

Unscramble the Letters to discover a famous saint’s name of the month of March

O S E P H J        ________________

Religious Orders

A Dominican, a Jesuit, a Josephite, and a Trappist

A Dominican, a Jesuit, a Josephite, and a Trappist were marooned on a desert island. But they met an angel flying by, who came to these religious and said, “Quickly, I can grant you all one prayer answered, then I must leave.”  The Dominican quickly spoke up, “Get me out of here and into a church assignment to preach in one of the finest Cathedral churches of my language in the world.”  Poof, he was gone.  The Jesuit chirped in fast after that:  “I’d like to be sent to a great Jesuit University with a fine library and a special teaching position.”  Poof, he was gone.   The Josephite humbly deferred to the Trappist to make his choice, but the Trappist said: “No, you first.”  The Josephite said to the angel, “I’d like to be sent to a big active urban parish with a large Black Catholic population.”  Poof!  Off he went, so the angel asked the final religious priest, “Now, humble man, what would you request? I’ll grant all your wishes and prayers, since you waited ’til last.”  The Trappist said:  “Oh no, I’m good!  I’ve already got what I basically want right here, deserted on this island!”  The angel was really surprised, so the Trappist said:  “Hey, I’m a Contemplative Monk, remember?!  Ok, just leave me a first aid kit, a tent, a stove and fuel, some prayer books, Catholic classic books and a Bible, and a fishing pole, thank you!”

Rel. Ed. classes

Covering the basic Catholic feast days, the catechist asked:  “What was the Annunciation?”  Billy’s answer:  When Mary became a nun.   Fiona’s answer:  When Joseph explained clearly and slowly to Mary his name and his job.    Celeste’s answer:  When Joseph found out angels were bringing a baby secretly to Mary, his girlfriend!

The catechist asked:  What, then, is the Nativity?     Jimbo’s answer:  I’m not sure, has it got something to do with the Nat’s spring training baseball?  Nat-tivity!   Pervis’ answer:  It’s a lack of activity, as like with sleeping cherubs.   Pedro’s answer:  It’s some kind of secret code word for Christmas, a little like saying X-mas or Navidad.

Why did Joseph go to Bethlehem with Mary?   Bennie’s answer:  He didn’t want his family to miss Christmas.    Wynne’s answer:  He was going to register to vote, I think, but you can do that online now.   Pete’s answer:  He went because of taxes, or tuxes, or tickets or something that sounds like that.    Adriana’s answer:  It was their honeymoon.

What is the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt?   Welford’s answer:  I ‘dunno, because ‘dey didn’t have no jets or planes in ‘dose Bible days of Jesus, Mary and Joe.  Just donkeys. Pierra’s retort:   Perhaps they took Delta, because it was in Egypt even in Moses’ time!

Why did Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the Temple for the Presentation Mystery?   Seamus’ answer:  Because they couldn’t find a babysitter?

HAD ENOUGH?!!

th131IG1CFA Josephite priest dies, goes to Heaven, tells an angel on the way that he’d just love to see Joseph. He’s taken to a little mansion, and out its front door comes a person to greet him.  The priest inquires:  “Joseph, of the Holy Family?!!  My holy model?!!” The man in white robes and sandals responds:  “What?!” The priest asks again:”Are you not Joseph of Nazareth, holy saint, married to Mary, and fill-in papa to Jesus?!”  The saintly-looking man smiles and says: “No, it’s Joe, from Newark, New Jersey.   Air traffic controller, member of Sacred Heart Cathedral.  Newly arrived.” The priest looks at the angel, who says to him:  “You’ve got to be more specific, Father–there’s a lot of holy Joes up here.”

Hey, what does the former pope have for breakfast each day?   Eggs Benedict.

‘Yep. I’ve got a million of them!   I’m here thru’ Thursday. Try the meatloaf sandwich!  Best on the menu!

Hey–is it raining hard outside?   Do you need a boat, or Ark? Because I Noah guy…

Hook.

 

Homily Sun. St. Joseph Day

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HOMILY

When I think of St. Joseph on this March 19th, there are a few words or phrases that come to mind to describe him.  One is “good” St. Joseph. Another is Joseph the “just man.”. A third phrase to describe his life is how he was a man committed to “redemptive suffering,” as how he knew it.

Let me expound on each.

And, as we look at St. Joseph (and to Jesus by him), may we ask ourselves:  How am I good?  How am I just?  How do I live out “redemptive suffering?” or make my own sacrifices for good to come about to God’s glory?

Joseph the Good.

Good St. Joseph is a fitting first description of this saint.  The goodness in his character is certainly something that won the loving heart of Mary to him. There was deep goodness in this man, which spoke of what Israel was supposed to produce in its holy nation.  Mary saw that model goodness in Joseph; she loved him for that good fidelity to God’s call, and she knew he would likewise be true to her.  She became betrothed to him, seeing goodness in her future.

Joseph, thus, can be contrasted with the kind of Jews that gave Moses a stubborn, selfish time. In that opening Exodus text today in Mass, Moses loses his temper over the lack of good, courageous people he has to work with in his exodus company.  Yet Joseph, caretaker of the Holy Family, was indeed good, and so reliably good.  Joseph would be a worthy assistant in the Kingdom of God coming in his foster-son, Jesus, in the Savior’s “new exodus” promise, delivered in the Good News, for a new covenant of God to be kept.  

Joseph was a very good father figure to the Lord God Incarnate.  Jesus learned from his promise-keeper, covenant-keeper Joseph, and could trust to be submissive to him (Lk. 2:51-52)– and He was.  Jesus would grow to shine in Joseph’ good example – modeled so well in the Holy Family home.

Joseph the Just

St. Joseph is truly a just man; he is fair in every godly way, and reverent in the soul.  He was just in his work and how he treated people daily. Joseph was respectful always, not just to his family, but also to others he met.  Joseph’s life and social and just influence on Jesus is evident, as I see it, in today’s gospel, as one observes Jesus’ just behavior to the Samaritan woman and her townsfolk.  For instance, Jesus was fair (in some imitation of Joseph) in not excluding the Samaritans in his mission, nor to exclude, particularly, this public female sinner at the well of Sychar.  Hear Jesus’ just, fair approach to her in the John 4 account.  Note his respect to the woman who didn’t even have respect from anybody in her own home town.  She only was their town sinner. Yet, amazingly, she is given respect by this kind man at the well.  He sees her as a human being, somebody made in God’s image first.

Jesus puts her in control by asking her for a favor, a drink. This justly opens a dialogue. It breaks down barriers.   He draws out of her guarded self, even to some reference of faith (as she speaks of Jacob and this well at which they meet at, which was where Jacob’s Ladder had appeared in history).  Jesus is not harsh, but fair, in then raising in the verbal exchange about her immoral activity, to point that she might be thirsty for God’s help. She is.  He notices how her isolation in her sins do cry for mercy, freedom and justice  She responds openly by saying that maybe one day God would use that holy Jacob’s ladder to come down to help people.  Jesus then says:  ‘That day is here. I am the Christ, and I have come to help my people, such as yourself.  I can now offer you a drink in the Spirit of God.’  Friends, this exchange of Jesus, in such total respect to the sinful Samaritan woman, is a tribute to Joseph’s influence, so I think. Sure, the Holy Spirit helped Jesus a lot, as well as His divine nature to his humanity was a big factor to His actions, but do not doubt, for a second, how noticeable Joseph’s great mark is on how Jesus lived His ministry.

St. Joseph the just man helped form Jesus for us.*  Jesus’ own perfect fairness was in Him at birth, surely, but you could say it was planned to be nurtured by the one whom God chose to foster the Christ Child, the model just man:  Joseph.   Into Jesus’ development towards manhood, he and Joseph even worked together in the Nazareth workshop, and perhaps in nearby Sepphoris, as just workers in a just trade, doing it all inspired by faith.  Joseph died before Jesus went into ministry, though we don’t know what year it was.  Jesus’ carpentry times probably stopped at that time, with Him then looking for preparation for the ministry life, once Joseph passed on. 

By the way, and of course, Joseph certainly would have been most blessed in the relationship with Jesus.   He is the most holy male saint in history, just due to the fact that he was in close family contact with God Incarnate, Jesus, for many years.  Being with divinity, in caring for Jesus, The Lord, would highly rub off on him.   He was receiving, even much more than giving, in the pairing with Jesus, and the spousal relationship with Mary, Jesus’ mother.   He would have been aglow in holiness with them.                  

Joseph, the Redemptive Sufferer 

There is a third aspect of Joseph’s life– most apropos to our Lenten season in this Year of Grace–it is the example the Joseph of redemptive suffering.  Redemptive suffering is a term that Deacon and I will address a few times during Lent.  It is defined easily as a holy suffering experience with the good-of-others in mind, pertaining to salvation and God’s glory.

Joseph knew the Old Testament version of redemptive suffering.   It was an involvement, surely, to be “poor in spirit.”   When Jesus began His ministry, His first sermon line was “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”   I believe Jesus was thinking of his foster-father’s example here.  His foster dad was a man of the remnant faithful of Israel, the “anawim,” as they were called.  Joseph’s poor- in-spirit example touched on Jesus.  He had seen Joseph live out Israel’s call to be willing to live in sacrifice and other-centeredness.   Joseph was willing to sacrifice something, endure something, and bear something—in self-suffering—for the cost of someone else’s good.  (Even especially for Jesus Himself.) Jesus would be blessed by that example, then go on to show in Himself just how elevated (in His Grace) that redemptive suffering could go.  (It would save the world via Him.)   sorrow2

Why did Joseph live this way, of being “poor in spirit?”   To live to the glory of God!

When Jesus preached the Beatitudes, He also included the eighth one:  “Blessed are those persecuted, of those who suffer for the sake of My Name and the gospel of the Kingdom come, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”  Again, I think he was remembering Joseph’s example here—never minimize the contribution of a godly father (even foster-father). Joseph had been persecuted by many, such as Herod’s family, but he did not waver.  Jesus says that He came to offer the kingdom of heaven to such as these.

In his poor-in-spirit attitude and suffering for God’s good to come by him, Joseph was most willing to sacrifice himself for the care of Mary and her son, Jesus, the Christ Child.    Joseph was willing to go through confusing times, without God’s full explanation, when he had to give up his home in Nazareth, so to move on to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and onto Africa for a number of years, for the sake of his family.    As Jesus matured and began ministry, He was also without a home-place (”the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” Mt. 8:20), but he could lean a bit on Joseph’s life.   He also knew how Joseph toiled with the world and his beloved Israel all under Roman rule.   Jesus would borrow from that strength of his foster-father to toil to set the world free, one caught  under sin and Satan’s hold, and Jesus would work to the very end on his human strength for our freedom.  Jesus saw how his strong foster dad had worked hard to provide for the Holy Family; thus would Jesus strives for the human family, to save us, and He’d do it for His Heavenly Father as a gift as one of us on the earth.  We are heading to the Cross and Resurrection this Lent, and for ourselves, like Sychar’s Samaritans, to be saved by The Savior.  Amen.

 

1st Sunday of Lent thoughts on Gospel; 2nd Sunday off from preaching– more guests in the pulpit.

The 2ND Sunday of Lent has guest clergy preaching on the Transfiguration of Jesus. I have thought that this day of Jesus’ life is befitting as a Holy Day.  It’s just a huge event!  We’ll, at least it gets a Lenten Sunday for some emphasis.

The First Sunday of Lent. Thoughts.

We look at the temptation of the human race in the opening reading of Sunday, and it leads us to ponder the Gospel message of Jesus under heavy temptation (but of how He prevailed over it).   Jesus is presented much as the “new Adam” in the Gospel, as, after He is anointed in the Spirit for His Messianic time of ministry, and told He is the favored One of the Father (of the human race), then He is tested.  Jesus is tempted in some huge ways out there in the desert (following His over-a-month fast); however, Jesus does not succumb to these temptations; rather, He wins out over them.  They were major temptations to Jesus to become all self-focused (self-obsessed) in His person, but Jesus would not do it.   His attention was outward and upward; serving us in HIs life and glorifying the Father in it all.   The devil must have been stupefied that this blessed man of Nazareth had turned down his offers– who turns down such things?!  (he would ask)  The devil would flee from Jesus here in this moment of his being rejected; but he would come back another time for more distraction, accusation, and attack.

I will comment briefly on one of the devil’s attack on Jesus.   He tempted Jesus to misuse His power in self-direction to turn desert stones instead warm, fresh bread.    The devil’s tactics was to play on Jesus’ hunger and practical desire for the satisfaction of food,  After all, what’s wrong with that?—was the cunning temptation.

“Man does not live on bread alone” was Jesus’ reply.   He completed the sentence by saying that “we live to live upon God and in giving our Maker pleasure.”

Jesus would live in that manner of life and faith for all the rest of His earthly ministry.    He would be utterly faithful to the call.   He longed for the pure bread of Heaven and to be with the Father and Spirit concretely.

I wonder if Jesus remembered the temptation to turn rocks into stones when He reached the end of his ministry 2 1/2 to 3 years later that from the start of the Church.      For Jesus had a special surprise coming soon.   He was to NOT turn stones to bread to satiate his hunger, but He was to later turn bread into His Body.

Jesus would come to be THE sacrifice for sin for all humanity, and hooray–  and He WOULD be  give us a communication of His love at Calvary of One would worn turn Himself to bread.   (Stones was an easier miracle or trick; a person out of turn Himself into becoming bread, not that was a FEAT.)

So I was just caught up in the drama between the devil asking Jesus to make bread (a selfish act in it s situation) towards the Savior making Himself out to be bread (and wine) later in ministry.

The devil wanted to tempt  Jesus to be inward and self- centered, but The Master had other plans to be humble and other- centered.  He would become bread Dorothee’s’ hunger.  That was an amazing response.    No to rocks being bread, but of a plan  on  becoming the “true bread” from Heaven offered out in Himself. Wow.

It was a short, dynamic advice.  Jesus would be giving out Himself as the New Manna.    HE would be bread.

So, we reflect on today’s Gospel of Luke story and we hear a Gospel later in Lent of Jesus becoming food for eternal life Himself.

Quite an interesting turn ahead for Our Lord.

 

Parish Mission finished

IMG_3151Passionist Fr. Blaise Czaja came here to do our 4 day/night  parish Mission, and he preached at all the Masses last weekend, too.  It went well.  Previewing our parish community, he preaches on Grace, Repentance,  Eucharist, and The Communion of Saints for the four nights of mission talks.  Thanks for the attendance and the financial free will offering for his Passionist order.

I had a nice time hosting him, and sharing meals, and doing a little Annapolis sightseeing for 2 afternoons with him.

I am off from the blog for a few days.  IMAG0195