March 31, 2017

March 31

March 31, 2017:  Friday, 4th week, Lent

  • 'Pierced hearts' suspenders:  God is close to the brokenhearted (psalm)
  • 'Bony person' tie pin:  God watches over all the just person's bones (psalm)
  • 'Hands' tie:  Evildoers:  "If the just one is the son of God, God will deliver him from the hand of his foes" (1st reading); No one laid a hand on Jesus... (gospel)
  • 'Clock' tie bar:  ...because his hour had not yet come. (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  "Their wickedness blinded them" (1st reading)
  • Purple shirt:  Lenten season

For Psalm 34
The Holy Spirit introduces us to the mystery of Christ's Resurrection
Papal Preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 4th Lenten sermon
Today we meditate on the mystery of Christ's resurrection, and ours.  Paul attributes Jesus' resurrection to the Holy Spirit:  Christ was “designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection....”  Jesus fulfills Ezekiel's "dry bones" prophecy:   the Spirit enters into the bones, raises them from their graves, and makes of them a host of people raised to life.  But I won't force the Spirit into every assertion; it wouldn't be like the Paraclete, who illuminates everything from behind the scenes.
The Resurrection:  historical approach:  Did the resurrection really happen (in history, vs. myth/legend)?  Is Jesus risen only in the Church's proclamation, or also in reality and history?  Is the person of Jesus risen, or his cause, in the sense that “rising again” means the survival or reemergence of an idea after the death of the one who proposed it?
Most of the disciples' faith didn't hold up after Jesus died.  “We'd hoped he was the one....  It's now the third day...” The case of Jesus was considered closed.  But soon we find the men who were with Jesus saying he's the Messiah, Lord, Son of God, and is alive and will judge the world.  The case of Jesus shifted to an absolute and universal dimension. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” the beginning of a new humanity.  From now on, only the name of Jesus can save people.  What caused the change in these men who had denied or run away from Jesus who are now establishing churches and being imprisoned, whipped, and killed for him?  They say, “He is risen!  We've seen him!”
The resurrection is at the border of history, like a line dividing sea from land; it's both inside and outside history.  With it, history opens up to what's beyond it, eschatology.  So the resurrection represents a break with and a move beyond history, just like creation.  It can't be attested to by our experience of time and space:  no one was present when Jesus was raised, but people saw his empty tomb and saw him once he was risen.  So the resurrection was known after the fact:  as the physical presence of the Word in Mary afterward demonstrated his Incarnation, so does the the spiritual presence of Christ in the community afterward, attested by his appearances, that demonstrates he rose.  This explains why no secular historian mentions his resurrection.
Then how do we speak of a historical approach to the resurrection?  Two facts allow historians to speak about the resurrection:  the disciples' sudden, inexplicable, strong faith, and the explanation of that faith that those involved left us.  “In the hour [after Jesus was crucified] the disciples held no... assurance [of a resurrection].  They fled and gave up Jesus’ cause for lost.  Something must have happened in between, which not only reversed their attitude but also enabled them to renew their activity and found the Christian community.  This is the historical kernel of Easter faith.”
Without the resurrection, the birth of the Church's faith would be even harder to explain than the resurrection.  Recall the disciples en route to Emmaus who went to Jesus’ tomb and found things as the women had reported, “but him they didn't see.”  History ascertains that things at the tomb were as the witnesses said, but it doesn't see the Risen One.  History ascertains the facts, but you need faith to see the Risen One; a runner on the mainland who reaches the shore can't continue with his feet but can with his gaze.
The Resurrection:  apologetic significance:  As we move from history to faith, we speak differently about the resurrection.  New Testament and liturgical language is assertive and authoritative: “Christ has been raised from the dead.”  We're on the level of faith and kerygma, not historical argument.  “We know Christ is truly risen from the dead” (Easter sequence).  Not only do we believe it, but we know it as true and are certain.  The surest proof comes after we believe, when we experience Jesus as alive.  From faith's point of view, the resurrection is God's testimony about Christ.  The Father, who attested to Jesus during his life through signs and wonders, definitively endorses him by raising him:  “By raising him from the dead, God gave everyone assurance about him.”  The resurrection is God’s powerful “yes,” “Amen,” to his Son's life.  Christ's death alone wasn't enough to testify to the truth of his cause.  Many die for mistaken causes, even evil ones; their deaths just prove they believed in the causes, not that the causes are true.  Christ's death proves his love, but only the resurrection is the seal of his divinity.  This is why Jesus responded to those asking for a sign, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” and, “No sign shall be given... except the sign of Jonah,” who, after three days in the whale saw light again.  Paul is right to build the faith on the resurrection:  “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching and your faith are in vain.  We are found to be misrepresenting God.... We are most pitiable.”  Augustine said “the faith of Christians is in Christ's resurrection”; everyone believes he died, but only Christians believe he rose.  (summary concluded tomorrow)
  • Wis 2:1a, 12-22  The wicked: “Let's beset the just one; he's against our doings, and seeing his ways is a hardship.  He professes to be a child of the Lord.  If he really is, God will deliver him, so let's torture and kill him to see.”  Their wickedness blinded them to God's counsels and the reward of the innocent.
  • Ps 34:17-21, 23  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted."  The Lord confronts evildoers but hears, protects, and rescues the just.
  • Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30  The Jews were trying to kill Jesus.  Some said, “Isn't he the one they're trying to kill?  He's speaking openly, but they say nothing.  When the Christ comes, no one will know where he's from. but we do know where Jesus is from.”  Jesus:  “You know me and where I'm from, but I didn't come on my own.  You don't know the one who sent me, but I do and he's true.”  They tried to arrest him, but his hour hadn't yet come.
    • Creighton:  Note in John all the catching, getting hold of, clutching, grasping, understanding, etc.; it's physical, mental, or spiritual motion.  The 'seizing' in today's gospel is physical and negative.  We want to 'grasp' Jesus, 'cling' to him, and hope, though we can't really grasp God and and all he means and offers to us.  Jesus, who has a strong and loving grasp on us, keeps moving on, calling us further and deeper in knowledge, trust, attachment, and other ways.  May we give him thanks for that trust him better....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "A tried stone":  Our trials purify us and make us more fruitful disciples. "You may have to suffer trials; but it's is so your precious faith may lead to praise, glory, and honor when Christ appears."  Those who try us help us grow in trust in Jesus.  "Count it joy when you're tried.  Testing of your faith makes for endurance."  "When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.  For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation."  "God won't let you be tested beyond your strength; he'll give you a way out so you can endure it."  "The Lord delivers the just out of their many troubles."
    • Passionist:  When we get too comfortable with our ways, we tend to reject anything different, new, or challenging, as though living in a tomb we've built for ourselves.  We close the possibility of whatever good would come out of the new; fear of the bad blinds us to the good.  The people in our first reading must have felt that way, and their words could have come from those who plotted Jesus' death.  It may be easier to ignore what we're being challenged to.  But from whom/what am I hiding?  How often have I killed the unfamiliar or challenging, and what have we lost because of it?  Let's break open the tomb we made and live Jesus’ example of love and be God’s light in our corner of the world....
    •  "His hour had not yet come":  Fear, especially of death and of losing others' approval, can rob us of courage and the will to do what's right.  Jesus met opposition with determination to accomplish his Father's will; he knew his mission would entail sacrifice unto crucifixion but would ultimately crush sin, condemnation, and death with pardon, freedom, glory, and eternal life. 
    "Our Lord had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again.  We can't choose how long we'll live, and we die no matter what.  Christ overcame death.  Our freedom from death comes through his death.  He didn't need us to save us, but without without him we can do nothing.  He gave himself to us as vine to branches" (Augustine)....

    March 30, 2017

    March 30

    March 30, 2017:  Thursday, 4th week, Lent

    • 'Golden calf' tie pin:  'Molten calf' idos (1st reading, psalm)
    • 'Hands' tie:  God led Israel with a strong hand (1st reading)
    • 'Fire' pin:  "Let my wrath blaze up and consume this stiff-necked people" / "Let your wrath die down" (1st reading)
    • 'Mountain' tie pin:  "Why should they say, 'With evil intent he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains" (1st reading)
    • 'Star' tie pin:  "Remember you swore, 'I'll make your descendants as numerous as the stars.'" (1st reading)

    • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  John the Baptist was a shining lamp testifying to me (gospel)
    • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

    Pope Francis
    Homily:  The Israelites were God’s dream; he dreamed of them because he loved them.  But they betrayed his dreams, so God began to be disappointed, asking Moses to come down.  The people didn't have the patience to wait for God for even 40 days; they'd made a golden calf and forgot God who saved them.  Baruch expressed it, "You've forgotten the One who reared you.”  To forget God who made us, reared us, and accompanies us, is God's disappointment.  Jesus spoke in parables about the man who built a vineyard that failed because the workers wanted to take it for themselves.  Our heart is always restless!  We're not satisfied with God, with faithful love, and so are tempted to infidelity.  God sees they don't know how to wait and so go astray to seek another god, and he rebukes them.
    God's disappointment is his people's infidelity, and we're God’s people.  We know our heart; we must daily take up the path so as not to slide towards idols, fantasies, worldliness, and infidelity.  Ask, "Lord, are you disappointed in me?"  God has a tender heart; remember how Jesus wept over Jerusalem.  Is God weeping for me?  Have I distanced myself from him?  What idols do I have that enslave me?  God weeps for me.  Reflect on the disappointment of God, who created us for love, when we look for love and well-being elsewhere, distancing ourselves from the God who reared us.  Ask every day, "Lord, you have so many dreams for me,  I've gone away from you, but tell me where and how to return…"   He ever awaits us, like the prodigal son's father....
    To Dublin World Meeting of Families organizers:   The meeting will take place next August 21-26 on the theme, “The Gospel of the Family:  joy for the world.”   I want families to deepen their reflection and sharing of Amoris Laetitia.  The Gospel continues to be a joy for the world, and the family continues to be good news for today’s world!  God's love is his yes to all creation; yes to the union between man and woman, in openness and service to life; yes to a humanity that's often wounded, mistreated, and dominated by a lack of love.  So the family therefore, is the 'yes' of God as Love.  Only starting from love can a family manifest, spread, and regenerate God’s love in the world.  Without love, we can't live as God's children, couples, parents, or brothers and sisters.
    Ask, do we in our family live based on love, for love, in love?  Do I give myself, forgive, not lose patience, anticipate the other, respect?  How much better family life would be if we always lived by “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”  Every day we experience fragility and weakness; so we all need humility that forms the desire to form ourselves, to teach and learn, to help and be helped, to accompany, discern and integrate everyone of good will.  I dream of an outbound Church, close to people's wounds, a merciful Church that proclaims God as Love, Mercy.  This mercy renews us in love; and we know how Christian families are a place of mercy and witnesses of mercy. Your meeting can offer concrete signs of this.  You have the task of translating the teaching of Amoris Laetitia.
    Thanks to the Archdiocese of Dublin and the Irish nation for your generous welcome and commitment; may the Lord reward you.  May the Holy Family guide, accompany and bless you and all families involved in the preparation of the meeting.

    • Ex 32:7-14  Lord/Moses:  “Go to your people; they've become depraved, worshiping a molten calf as God.  Let my wrath blaze up and consume them.” / “Why blaze up against your own people?  The Egyptians will say, ‘He brought them out to kill them’? Remember the covenant with your servants, and relent.  So the Lord relented.
    • Ps 106:19-23  "Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people."  Our fathers adored a molten image, forgetting God and his wonders.  The Lord spoke of exterminating them, but Moses turned back his wrath.
    • Jn 5:31-47  Jesus:  Another testifies on my behalf, and his testimony is true.  John testified to the truth, and you rejoiced in his light, but the works the Father gave me are even greater testimony that he sent me.  He too has testified, but you've neither heard nor seen him because you don't believe.  Even the Scriptures testify, but you don't want to come to me for life.  I came in my Father's name, but you don't accept me. Moses will accuse you; if you'd believed him, you'd have believed me.
      • Creighton:  Today's readings challenge us to confront our tendencies to unbelief and how belonging to a group can affect us.   We're wired for community; we desire to belong.  But that good desire can confuse us when the group strays; we need a shepherd to rescue us.  In the 1st reading, Moses is that shepherd.  We can look with wonder at our predecessors' willingness to embrace an idol so clearly unworthy of worship and unable to deliver the good they desire, but we can identify with their bad decisions and the resulting plight.  All such journeys begin with a single step.  Maybe they became distracted or bored, or got carried away, but they wound up “depraved.”   The gospel reminds us that even religious folk have problems with unbelief.  Jesus’ discourse in today's gospel reminds them that they're not as far above their predecessors as they may think.  They can't, or won't, see all the evidence.  With hindsight we see what the Israelites and Jewish religious leaders missed, but our own paradigms can keep us from recognizing our own flaws; the desire for belonging can keep us from truth.  Our faith depends on reconciliation which brings us into a community.  Truth is the basis for a community of love and belonging.  Jesus embodies that truth.  May we not accept inferior substitutes which may seem to comfort us but won't give what we need.  May we recognize the distractions that keep us from following Jesus and from real community.
      • One Bread, One Body:  "The words of eternal life":   "These [things] have been recorded to help you believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in his name."  "Faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of God."  May we "humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you."
      • Passionist:  Sunday’s we read about Jesus curing the man born blind.  Today we read about Jesus confronting people who are spiritually blind, apparently caught up in arrogance, pride, fear of change, and fear of losing power, and so unable to see the one the Father has sent.  We too can be blind:
        • So busy or absorbed that we miss the goodness of physical creation around us. 
        • So angry, prejudiced, and unforgiving that we miss people's sacredness.  “Next to the Blessed Sacrament, your neighbor is the most sacred object present to your senses” (C. S. Lewis).
        • So caught up in self-doubt and self-pity that I don't see my own beauty.  “God created [me] in his own image...”
      If we don't see the goodness of creation, the sacredness of people, and our own beauty of ourselves, we're blind to our all-good, sacred, and beautiful God.  May we fast from busyness, anger, prejudice, unforgiveness, self-doubt, and self-pity and see God here and now in our midst.
        •  "The Father's witness to Jesus":   Jesus' opponents didn't believe the Father sent him or accept his authority to speak and act in God's name.  He answers their demand for evidence with evidence of witnesses:  John the Baptist, Jesus' signs and miracles, God the Father, and the Scriptures.  But in their pride, desire for people's praise, and preoccupation with their position as interpreters of the law, his opponents became blind to God, hardened, unable to understand God's word of God, deaf to God's voice.  God reveals himself to the humble, those who trust in God alone, eager to listen to God's word, learn, and obey.  Through the Holy Spirit God opens us up to hearing his voice and receiving the love and knowledge of God.  "As Christians, our task is to make daily progress toward God.  Our pilgrimage on earth is a school where God is the only teacher, and it demands good students, not truants.  In this school we learn something every day:  from commandments, from examples, from sacraments; they're remedies for our wounds and materials for study" (Augustine).
        • Don't take this seriously:  God is disappointed in you, an irreverent "Cliff's Notes" version of the whole Bible (sans Deuterocanonical books)

        March 29, 2017

        March 29

        March 29, 2017:  Wednesday, 4th week, Lent

        • 'Clef' pin:  Sing out, heavens, earth, and mountains (1st reading)
        • Blue shirt:  The Lord guides his people beside springs of water (1st reading)
        • 'Phone' tie bar:  The Lord is near to all who 'call' upon him (psalm)
        • "I ♥ my dad" tie with baby feet:  Can a mother forget her child? (1st reading), Father/Son love (gospel)
        • 'Clock' tie bar:  "In a time of favor I answer you" (1st reading); "the hour is coming, and now here, when the dead will hear the Son's voice and live..." (gospel)
        • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season
        • 20-year pin:  Today is ACC Staff Appreciation Day
        For Psalm 145
        Pope Francis audience
        Paul presents Abraham only as both our father in faith and our father in hope.  He tells us Abraham put his faith in the God who gives life to the dead, who calls all things into being.  Hoping against hope, he trusted in God’s promise that, despite his and Sarah's age, he'd become the father of many nations.  In Abraham we see the close bond between faith and hope.  His hope in God’s promises was fulfilled in the birth of his son Isaac, and, in time, in the “many nations” gathered into a new humanity set free from sin and death by the power of Christ’s resurrection.  Faith teaches us to hope against hope by putting our trust in God’s word even when hope seems impossible.  May we be confirmed in faith and hope and show ourselves children of Abraham by accepting the promise of new life given us in the Lord’s resurrection.
        • Is 49:8-15  I'll restore the land and say to prisoners, "Come out!" and to those in darkness, "Show yourselves!"  They won't hunger or thirst.  I'll lead and guide them.  I'll cut a road through my mountains, comfort you, and show mercy.  Can a mother forget her infant?  Even should she, I'll never forget you.
        • Ps 145:8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18  "The Lord is gracious and merciful."  The Lord is good, faithful, and just, near to all who call on him.  He lifts up the falling.
        • Jn 5:17-30  The Jews tried to kill Jesus because he broke the sabbath and called God his father.  Jesus:  The Son can only do what he sees the Father doing.  The Son, like the Father, gives life; whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life.  The dead will hear the Son and rise:  those who have done good, to life; others, to condemnation.  I seek the will of the one who sent me.
        • Creighton:  Isaiah reminds God’s people that though they're in exile, there's hope that things will be better.  The Lord, responding to their cries that he'd forgotten and forsaken them, says he'll be with them no matter what.  God is with us even in our darkest moments, our moments of exile.  When we turn from God and are in exile, God doesn’t turn from us!  Many experience exile through unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness eats away at us....
          • One Bread, One Body:  "The truth about death":  We have been given the greatest treasure:  eternal life in Jesus.  "Much will be required of those to whom much has been given."  We must proclaim that death has lost its power, victory, and sting.  "An hour is coming, has come, when the dead shall hear the Son's voice, and those who have heeded it shall live."  People don't need to be enslaved by fear of death; "all in their tombs shall hear His voice and come forth." We must shout that Jesus' name is above every name, even Death.  May we be witnesses for the risen Christ. With faith and love let us share this great treasure.  "Death is swallowed up in victory!"
          • Passionist:  The 1st reading is a message of hope in the desert:  a reminder of the covenant given to us though our ancestors, a message that calls us out of darkness and imprisonment.  We can be in the dark about many things, especially ourselves; we can be imprisoned by fear, addiction, low self-esteem, or an abusive situation.  God doesn't forget the children he created out of love.  Our relationship with God is cause for rejoicing.  We're comforted and shown mercy, not alone or forgotten....
          •  "My Father is still working, and so am I ":  Jesus claimed authority over life and death and showed God's power to heal and restore people to life.  He showed God's mercy by releasing people from their burden of sin.  He claimed to have power to raise the dead and to judge the living and dead.  The Jewish authorities, troubled with such claims, looked for a way to get rid of him.  He was either a madman and impostor, or who he claimed to be.  Since they couldn't accept his claim to be the Messiah, they sought to kill him; they didn't recognize he was God's answer to the his people's prayers.  The Father sent Jesus to reconcile his people with God and restore to them the promise of paradise.  Jesus fulfills Isaiah's prophecy when he brings healing, restoration, and forgiveness.  To the religious authorities Jesus was a Sabbath-breaker and blasphemer, claiming equality with God.  Jesus answered their Sabbath-breaking charge law by saying God's purpose for creation and redemption is to save and restore life; Jesus doesn't stop showing the Father's mercy on the Sabbath.  He answered them about equality with God by saying he had a close personal relationship with the Father and so wasn't acting independently.  Jesus says his identity with the Father is based on trust and obedience; his obedience was based on love.  The Son loves the Father and gives himself to the Father's will; the Father loves the Son and shares all he is and has with him.  We are called to submit our lives to God with the same love, trust, and obedience....

          March 28, 2017

          March 28

          March 28, 2017:  Tuesday, 4th week, Lent

          • 'Angel' pin:  Angel brought Ezekiel to temple entrance (1st reading)
          • 'Fish' tie:  Wherever the river flows, there shall be abundant fish (1st reading)
          • 'Ruler' tie bar:  Angel measured successive 1,000 cubits (1st reading)
          • 'Tree' and 'apple' pins:  where the river flows, trees shall bear fruit (1st reading)
          • 'Leaf' pin (gone; remember it):  Their leaves shall serve as medicine (1st reading)
          • 'Sheep' tie bar:  Bethesda pool at the Sheep Gate (gospel)
          • 'Walking person' tie pin:  "Rise, pick up your mat, and walk" (gospel)
          • Blue shirt:  water (all readings)
          • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

          Don't look at this unless you're planning Easter Vigil music and not yet finished:  Easter Vigil bundle:  my settings of all ten psalms and canticles for that glorious celebration
          When Jesus saw the sick man at the pool, he asked him, “Do you want to be well?”  He keeps asking us too, “Do you want to be well?  Happy?  Filled with the Spirit?  Do you want to improve your life?”  When Jesus asked him, instead of saying yes, he complained he could never get to the pool in time.  He implied that life had been unjust with him.  It's clear from his attitude that he was like the tree that couldn't be nourished by the water because its roots didn't reach the water.  This is the ugly sin of sloth.  His disease was not so much paralysis but sloth, worse than a lukewarm heart.  It causes you to lose the memory of joy and live without wanting to go forward and do something.
          Instead of rebuking him, Jesus said, “Take up your mat, and walk.”  Since it was a Sabbath, the doctors of the law told him he couldn't carry the mat and asked him who told him to.  The man hadn't even thanked Jesus or asked his name; he rose and walked with that slothful attitude, looking to others who are happier and forgetting joy.  Sloth paralyzes us, stops us from walking.  Even today, the Lord looks to each of us sinners and says “Rise.”  He tells us to take hold of life, be it beautiful or difficult, and move on:  “Don't be afraid; carry your mat” and come to the waters to quench your thirst with joy and ask Me to help you get up and know the joy of salvation.

          • Ez 47:1-9, 12  The angel brought me to the temple entrance, and I saw water flowing out, first a trickle, then ankle-deep, then knee-deep, then a river.  “Wherever the river flows, every creature shall live,  the sea shall be made fresh, fruit trees shall grow and bear fruit.”
          • Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9  "The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob."  There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God; God is in its midst.  God will help it at the break of dawn.  Come behold the Lord's astounding deeds!
          • Jn 5:1-16  A man in the pool called Bethesda had been ill 38 years.  Jesus / man:  “Want to be well?” / “I have no one to put me into the pool; others beat me there.” / “Rise and walk.”  He did.  Jews / cured man:  “It's not lawful for you to carry your mat on the sabbath.” / “The man who made me well told me to.”  Jesus to man:  “You're well; don't sin.”  Man to Jews:  "Jesus healed me"; they started to persecute Jesus.
              Christ healing the lame at the pool of Bethesda/ van Lint
            • Creighton:  Today’s readings point to the power of the living water we find through Jesus Christ.  During the Babylonian captivity, God spoke through Ezekiel about what was to come; the message also resonates with those in all forms of “captivity” today.  The flow began as a trickle but increased till it became a river flowing into the world.  When the water touches the sea, it cleanses everything it touches.   When God’s living water flows through us, God’s love grows and expands more than we can imagine.  May we recognize and take advantage of God’s living water.
            In Psalms, the image of water and its power helps us understand the power of God's cleansing message and what can be accomplished when we allow God’s love to flow through us.  John reinforces the power of living water in today's gospel at the pool of Bethesda, a pool people believed had healing power when stirred up.  The man couldn't get to the pool quick enough, but Jesus, source of healing/living water, cured him.  God is our refuge, strength, and help; we're called to be the conduit for his living water flowing through us...
              Christ at the Pool of Bethesda/ Wolffort
            • One Bread, One Body:  "Rivers of living water":  The trickle of water became a river that emptied into the sea and made salt water fresh, bringing life wherever it flowed.  The psalmist refers to "a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God," a river of peace where the Lord stops "wars to the end of the earth."  The gospel mentions the water of the pool of Bethesda that healed the first person who plunged in it after it was agitated.  The waters of Baptism are greater than Ezekiel's river of life, the psalmist's river of peace, the pool of Bethesda, the flood waters in Noah's time, the waters of the Red Sea, and even the Jordan where Jesus was baptized. When we renew our baptismal promises, we reject Satan, his works, and his empty promises, and profess faith in God the Father, Son, and Spirit, and so know the waters' lifegiving, cleansing, freeing, healing power.  Lord, bless all those preparing for Baptism at this Easter Vigil, and all the baptized....
              Christ healing the paralytic/ Giovane
            • Passionist:  Water can give life or take it.  Just enough rain will produce a bountiful harvest, but too much or too little can ruin it.  Lack of rain can cause hardship and loss in other ways too.  In the 1st reading we see life-giving water.  We've experienced times of fruitfulness and abundance as well as times of drought and dryness.  As we move towards the Easter celebrations, water becomes much more of a focal point; may we celebrate and give thanks for the life-giving water of faith and love...
            •  "Walk and sin no more":  God gave Ezekiel a vision of the rivers of living water flowing from God's throne to heal and restore his people.  We begin to see its fulfillment when Jesus announces the coming of God's kingdom and performs signs demonstrating of the kingdom's power.  The man Jesus spoke with in today's gospel had been paralyzed more than 38 years and had no friends to help him wash in the healing pool.  Jesus offered him total healing, awakening his faith and curing his paralysis.  The Lord asks us the same question:  "Do you really want to be healed?" The first step is wanting change.  If we're happy where we are, no coaxing will change us, but if we ask for mercy and healing, he won't refuse.

            March 27, 2017

            March 27

            March 27, 2017:  Monday, 4th week, Lent

            • 'Castle' button:  They'll live in the houses they build... (1st reading)
            • 'Fruits' tie:  ...and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant (1st reading)
            • Clear pin:  Lord, you drew me clear (psalm)
            • 'Treble clef' tie pin:  Sing praise to the Lord (psalm)
            • OneLife LA sign button:  "Unless you see signs... you won't believe"; "This was the 2nd sign" (gospel)
            • Rose-colored shirt for Laetare Sunday (yesterday); Jesus made the water wine in Cana (gospel) [we know the wine was good don't know what kind it was]


            • Fever/ Cooley, Blackwell (gospel-inspired :-)

            • Is 65:17-21  I'll create new heavens and earth.  There shall be rejoicing and happiness; I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people a delight.  No longer shall there be weeping; they'll live in their houses and eat the fruit of their vineyards...
            • Ps 30:2, 4-6, 11-12a, 13b  "I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me."  Sing praise and give thanks:  his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will.
            • Jn 4:43-54  When a royal official heard Jesus had arrived in Galilee, he went and asked him to come heal his son.  Jesus / official: “Unless you see signs, you won't believe.” / “Sir, come down before my child dies.” / “Go; he'll live.”  He believed and left.  The boy began to recover at that time; he and his household came to believe.
              • Creighton:  From today's 1st reading we get a sense of the extraordinary life our Lord promises us, and the gospel provides insight about getting there.  Isaiah's prophecy provides insight into what life could be here and what awaits us when we die.  God provides us the means to minimize suffering and sadness and to maximize the well-being of all.  During Lent we do what we can to address our shortcomings and become the best we can, to follow Jesus' teachings and example, knowing he'll accompany us along the way.  The gospel both highlights Jesus' healing power and addresses the value of faith.  The official wanted Jesus to visit his dying son to save him.  Jesus healed him but chastised the man for seeking “signs and wonders” to believe.  John reminds us of the importance of faith in God's word, daily conversation with God, and trust that he'll answer us.  If we're open to God’s words, seek good in all we do, and have faith, we'll have a long, beautiful, joyous life with God.
              • One Bread, One Body:  "Let your voice rejoice":  God creates people anew in Baptism and conversion, but people don't always rejoice over it.  God's creation isn't flawed. All creation reflects God's glory and love, but many of us have warped values.  If we're not rejoicing over creation, we're listening to the wrong voices.  God is creating new heavens and earth and a new kingdom of newly recreated people; there will be no more weeping or grumbling.  May we rejoice in the Lord and his creation, not linger in scoffers, repent, and believe....
                Jesus healing the servant of a Centurion/ Veronese
              • Passionist:  In today's gospel, Jesus doesn't seem happy about the search for signs, but today we still look for signs.  People look for cute stories, cruel jabs, or sad relationship episodes; they want constant stimulation via signs, tweets, messages, and breaking news.  Instead of seeking signs, let's create them, e.g. by hugging someone suffering a loss, standing up for peace and justice in my community, caring for those in need, asking a server how her day is going and actively listening....
              •  "Jesus, Divine Physician":  Isaiah prophesied God would restore his people and re-create heaven and earth.  Jesus' miracles manifest God's presence and kingdom.  When an official heard of Jesus’ preaching and miracles, he sought him out for an extraordinary favor; it took courage for him to travel twenty miles to find this carpenter; he had to swallow his pride and put up with ridicule.  Then Jesus seemed to put him off, likely to test his faith, then sent him home with the assurance his prayer had been heard.  It was probably hard for him to return with only that assurance. Couldn't Jesus have come to his house and laid his hands on the child?  But the official believed and started home with faith and hope. Before he could even make it back, he heard his son had recovered.  Jesus' healings show his kindness and love.  How/where do I need healing, pardon, change, and restoration?