September 29, 2018


September 29, 2018:  SS. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

See about 2 dozen connections with today?
Legend below
From Handel's Messiah, for 1st reading
For Psalm 138
Pope Francis
To allI invite all the faithful to pray the Holy Rosary every day during October, joining in communion and penitence, asking the Mother of God and St. Michael the Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and each other.
I invite you to conclude the Rosary with Sub Tuum Praesidium [which influenced the Memorare], and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel for protection and help in the struggle against evil.  Only prayer can defeat the Great Accuser.  Pray that the Mother of God protect the Church to preserve her from the devil's attacks and make her more aware of and committed to combat faults, errors and abuses, so that evil may not prevail.
To policeEstablish a large family open to all who wish to commit themselves to the common good on the basis of your principles:  a family to involve and welcome every citizen and spread a culture of legality, respect, and security.  Without such foundations, society degenerates into a tangle of personal interests without achieving the common good.  The good of society is not the well-being of the majority or the respect of the rights of almost everyone.  As long as someone suffers, so do the rest.
When legality and security are lacking, those “damaged” most are the weakest and “ the last,” such as those who leave their land because of war and misery, those who have lost their jobs, the marginalized, the sick, and victims of injustice and abuse.  Your loving care generates new relationships and leads to a more just order.  You help introduce into the dough of society the leaven of equality and fraternity.  In the early Church, gospel values transformed the life and mentality of the society.  The Gospel has also overturned the hierarchy of values and given new dignity to the abandoned and excluded, women, the sick, and children.  Solidarity and peace have renewed relationships and continue to.
  • Dn 7:9-10, 13-14  The Ancient One took his throne, clothing and hair bright; thousands ministered to him.  One like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven, was presented before the Ancient One and received kingship.  His dominion is everlasting; it won't be taken away.
  • Rv 12:7-12ab  War broke out between Michael and his angels and the dragon.  The dragon, the ancient serpent called Satan, was thrown to earth.  From heaven:  “Salvation and power have come, and God's Kingdom, and his Anointed's authority.  The accuser of our brothers is cast out, conquered by the Blood of the Lamb.  So rejoice!”
  • Ps 138:1-5  "In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord."  I'll thank you, for you heard me; I'll worship at your temple.  You've made your name and promise great and built up strength within me.  All kings shall thank you and sing of your glory.
  • Jn 1:47-51  Jesus re Nathanael:  “Here's a true child of Israel, with no duplicity.”  Nathanael / Jesus:  “How do you know me?” / “I saw you under the fig tree.” / “Rabbi, you're the Son of God, King of Israel.” / “You believe because I saw you under the fig tree?  You'll see greater things.  You'll see heaven opened and God's angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

  • St. Gregory's famous homily on the Archangels:  “Angel” denotes function, not nature. Heavenly spirits are only called angels when they deliver a message; archangels are the ones who proclaim supremely important messages, as Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary the greatest of all messages.  Some angels are given names to denote the service they perform.  Whenever a powerful act must be performed such as battling Satan, Michael is sent, making clear no one can do what God does.  So too Gabriel, "God's strength," was sent to Mary to announce the humble One who would quell the cosmic powers.  Raphael, "God's remedy," touched Tobit’s eyes to banish the darkness of his blindness.
  • CreightonThe clash between good and evil in the 1st reading parallels our earthly struggle.  In the reading, God uses angels and dragons; today, he uses us, if we're willing.  We emulate Michael when we stand up for the least of God’s people or work for peace, justice, and kindness.  We need courage and others' support to defeat evil.  Angels are often depicted as messengers; recall Gabriel in the Annunciation and Raphael with Tobias.  We too can be God’s messengers to others.  We can emulate angels by fighting for good and being messengers of God’s love.
  • One Bread, One Body"The golden arch around Jesus":  In a vision, Daniel saw God's throne with angels surrounding it and worshiping him.  Angels surround Jesus and center their activity on him.  Their messages are directed to the ultimate message:  "Jesus Christ is Lord."  John, like Daniel, saw "an open door to heaven."  He saw God's throne and heard the universe give praise, honor, and glory to God.  Angels and all creation exist to worship him.  We should think of ourselves on the periphery and Jesus as the Center, Lord, and God.
  • Passionist
    Fallen angels (by way of contrast)

    There are nine choirs of angels:  angels, archangels, virtues, powers, principalities, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim.  Archangels, Michael ("Who is like God?"), Gabriel ("God my strength"), and Raphael ("God's healing") are mentioned in the Bible.  Michael is best known for his battle with evil.  Gabriel, who announced to Mary that she'd bear God’s Son, is known as the archangel of wisdom, revelation, prophecy, and visions.  Raphael, sent in answer to the prayers of Tobit and his daughter, was companion and guide and restored Tobit's sight.  In today’s Gospel, Nathanael comes to see whether what Philip said of Jesus is true.  When he discovers Jesus knows who he is, he proclaims Jesus as the Son of God.  Jesus responded, reflecting Jacob’s ladder, “You will see heaven open and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
  •"You'll see the angels of God":  In meeting with Nathanael, Jesus reveals how God looks at each of us and invites us into communion with him.  Nathanael was startled Jesus knew and understand him before he said anything.  The fig tree was a symbol of God's peace and blessing; it provided shade and refreshment for prayer and reflection.  Rabbis gathered their disciples under its shade to teach them from Scripture; they said, "He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit."  Maybe Nathanael was reflecting on the promised Messiah King and drifted into a nap like Jacob.  It was revealed to him that Jesus was the Messiah, "Son of God, King of Israel,"  Jesus offered him the gift of friendship with God and access to his throne.  In Jacob's dream God opened a door that brought Jacob and his people into a new relationship with God; God revealed his angelic host and the throne of heaven and promised Jacob that he and his descendants would dwell with God.
Angels are God's servants and messengers, "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to his voice," "ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation."  They belong to Christ and were created for and through him.  They also protect and guard:  "He will give his angels charge of you to guard you."  The armies of heaven fight for and with us and with us in the spiritual battle for our hearts, minds, and wills.
Jesus promises Nathanael he'll be the ladder that unites earth with heaven; he proclaims he's the fulfillment of the promise to Jacob.  Jesus is the true stairway to heaven; in his incarnation and life, "things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human" (Exsultet, referring to Easter).  Jesus opens the way for us to come into a new relationship with God as his children; he opens the way for us to "ascend to heaven" and bring "heaven to earth" in our daily lives. God's kingdom is present in those who seek him and do his will....
From Universalis
  • Michael ("Who is like God?") is mentioned in Rv as leader of the heavenly host.  Patron of soldiers
  • Gabriel ('God's strength') appears in Dn to explain some of the prophet’s visions, and was also the bearer of the Annunciation to Mary.
  • Raphael ('God heals'):  In Tb, he heals Tobit of his blindness.
Archangel prayers
Dress legend
  • White shirt:  Today's liturgical color; the Ancient One's clothing was bright as snow, hair was white as wool (1st reading)
  • 'Fire' pin:  His throne was flames of fire... (1st reading)
  • 3 'angel' pins:  Today's archangels.  Michael's angels vs. dragon's angels (1st reading); "in the angels' sight I'll sing Your praises" (psalm); "you'll see God's angels ascending and descending" (gospel)
  • 'Crowns' tie:  His kingship shall not be destroyed (1st reading); all kings shall thank you (psalm); "You're the King of Israel" (gospel)
  • 'Serpent' tie pin:  Ancient serpent (alt. 1st reading)
  • 'Blood drop' pin, 'lamb' tie bar:  They conquered the Accuser by the Blood of the Lamb (alt. 1st reading)
  • 'Musical notes with "joy"' tie pin:  "Rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them" (alt. 1st reading); "I'll sing Your praises" (psalm)
  • 'Heart' pin:  I'll thank You with all my heart (psalm)
  • 'Car with mouth' pin:  You've heard the words of my mouth (psalm)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  When I 'called' you answered me (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  "I saw one like a son of man coming" (1st reading); "in the sight of the angels..." (psalm); "you'll see greater things:  heaven opened, angels ascending and descending..." (gospel)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  When I called, you answered (psalm)
  • 'Tree' pin:  "I saw you under the fig tree" (gospel)
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September 22, 2018

Sept. 22

September 22, 2018:  Saturday, 24th week, Ordinary Time

See over a dozen connections with today?Legend below
For 1st reading

For Psalm 56
For the gospel
Pope Francis in Lithuania
To authorities, civil society reps, and diplomatic corps:  The century since your declaration of independence has been marked by detentions, deportations, even martyrdom. Celebrating the centenary means remembering those experiences, to be in touch with what forged you as a nation and find the key to assessing present challenges and looking ahead in a spirit of dialogue and unity, excluding no one. I commend your sheltering, receiving, and accepting peoples of various ethnic groups and religions, who lived in peace until totalitarian ideologies sowed violence, distrust, and conflict. 
Tolerance, hospitality, respect, and solidarity helped you grow as a nation.  Strive towards the common good; you suffered because totalitarian ideologies tried to annul differences, believing that the privileges of a few are more important than the dignity of others or the common good.

Recognize the dignity of persons, especially the most vulnerable, broaden your horizons, and see the greater good. Pay special attention to your youth; policies encouraging their participation in building up the social fabric will generate hospitality toward the stranger, the young, the elderly, the poor, and the future.
To youth:  Your lives are real and concrete, not theatre.  If life were a video game, it would be limited to a precise time, and at the end, one team would win.  But life measures time differently, following God’s heartbeat.  There are times when you think you're falling apart, fires you think you can never rebuild after, but don't give up.  See your experience with the eyes of faith.  Don’t let the world convince you it's better to do everything on your own.  Don’t get caught up in yourself or be selfish in the face of sorrow, difficulty or success.  We're interconnected, networked.  We're part of a people.  Aim for holiness through your encounters and fellowship with others, attentive to their needs.
Helping others puts difficulties into perspective.  Seeing others' frailty helps us not to go through life licking our own wounds.  Embracing music opens us to the interior life, and through prayer, we wage spiritual warfare and learn to listen to the Spirit.  Take part in the revolution of tenderness Jesus invites us to:  step out of yourself and risk face-to-face encounter with others.  Put your trust in Jesus; embrace his cause, the Gospel.  If our lives go up in flames, he's there to rebuild.
  • 1 Cor 15:35-37, 42-49 You fool if you ask, "How are the dead raised?"!  The dead will be raised incorruptible, glorious, and powerful as spiritual bodies.  As we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly one.
  • Ps 56:10c-12, 13-14  "I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living."  I trust in God who rescued me and is with me.
  • Lk 8:4-15  “As a sower sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds ate it, some fell on rocky ground and withered, some fell among thorns and got choked, and some fell on good soil, grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.  Hear!  Meaning:  The seed is God's word.  Those on the path heard, but the Devil took away the word.  Those on rocky ground received the word with joy but had no root and so fell away.  Those among thorns heard, but life's anxieties and riches choked them.  But those on rich soil embraced the word, persevered, and bore fruit.
  • Creighton:  Most of us are conflicted upon the death of a loved one:  uplifted by God’s promise, sorrowful for our own loss.  Steeped in the image of the earth, it's hard to conceive of the glory that awaits all who live in the Lord, but Paul reminds us that we'll be raised to walk with God.
In the gospel Jesus underlines some possibilities we may experience when we hear God, from ignoring God’s words and failing to live spiritually, to embracing his message and thriving.  Most of us have rejected God, sometimes tempted by the “weeds” we feel support us that are actually destroying us.  We must hear and act on God’s word....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "The miracle of a hundredfold":  If we take seriously the Lord's promise of a hundredfold, we'd pray, read the Bible with reverence, hear it more at Mass, read it with our family, and encourage others to consider a ministry of preaching or teaching God's Word.  When we expect the hundredfold harvest of God's Word, we receive his word as God's word, humbly welcome it, and act on it, our lives are transformed.
  • Passionist:  I think we're like the seeds on all four soils.  Sometimes the Lord's word penetrates me and his graces to me overflow to others.  Some days I allow the devil to take the word away from me.  Some days I dart through my prayer and let the day trample me.  Other times I'm distracted by the day's thorns.  May we work towards being fertile soil, planning ahead, cutting thorns, rejecting Satan, opening our hearts to God, trusting his nourishment, and nourishing those around us.
    St. Thomas of Villanova
    heals the sick/ Murillo
  •  "If you have ears, hear":  God is always ready to speak to us and give us understanding of his word.  Different ways of accepting God's word produce different results:  closed-minded prejudiced hearers are blind to things of God, and shallow ones who doesn't think things through eventually wander.  People with many interests and cares who don't hear and understand what's truly important are too busy to listen and reflect on God's word.  What gets my attention?  Receptive hearts listen attentively to God's word and discern its meaning for them and let it grow and bear good fruit; they hear with a teachable spirit and tune out distractions.  May we receive God's word with trust and allow it to take root and nourish, strengthen, and transform us.
Dress legend
  • 'Wheat' pin:  "What you sow is ... a bare kernel of wheat" (1st reading)
  • 'Sparkling body' pin:  "'What kind of body will the dead have when they're raised?'"... (1st reading)
  • 'John's Jokers' tie:  "... You fool!" (1st reading)
  • 'Street light' tie bar:  I'll walk in God's presence, in the light of the living (psalm)
  • Flesh-colored suspenders:  What can flesh do against me? (psalm)
  • 'Feet' pin:  You rescued my feet from stumbling... (psalm)
  • 'Walker' tie pin:  ...that I may walk before God (psalm)
  • 'Roses' pin:  Thorns choked the seed that fell among them (gospel)
  • 'Apple' pin:  Seed in good soil bore abundant fruit (gospel)
  • 'Heart' clip:  Embrace the word with a generous and good heart; bear fruit... (gospel)
  • 'Bird' tie pin:  Birds ate the seed on the footpath (gospel)
  • 'Rock' tie pin:  Seed on rocky ground withered (gospel)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season

September 15, 2018

+ triumph

September 14, 2018:  Exaltation of the Holy Cross

See a dozen connections with today?
Legend below
For 2nd reading kenosis hymn
For Psalm 78
Pope Francis
Homily:  When we contemplate the cross, the mark of Christians, we contemplate a sign of both defeat and victory.  All that Jesus did during his life failed on the cross; his followers' hope came to an end.  Don't be afraid to contemplate the cross as a moment of defeat, of failure; Paul wasn't.  He says Jesus emptied himself, annihilated himself, was made sin, took our sins upon himself.  Paul wasn't afraid to show this defeat; this can enlighten our dark moments.
The complaining Israelites' punishment by serpents refers to the ancient serpent, Satan.  But the Lord told Moses that the death-dealing serpent would bring salvation.  Jesus, having been made sin, defeated the serpent, the author of sin.  Satan was so happy on Good Friday that he didn't notice the trap in which he was to fall.  He saw Jesus in such a bad state and swallowed him like a fish bait.  But he also swallowed Jesus' divinity and so was destroyed, and the cross became a sign of victory.
Look at the cross; it gives us strength to go forward.  The destroyed serpent still barks and threatens but is a chained dog (Augustine).  If you don't approach him, he won't bite, but if you try to caress him because you're attracted to him as if he were a puppy, he'll destroy you.  Our life goes on with Christ victorious and risen, but also with that dog, to whom I must not draw close lest he bite.
The cross teaches us that in life there's failure and victory.  We must tolerate defeat, bear our failures patiently, even those of our sins because he paid for us.  We must ask forgiveness in him, never allowing the dog to seduce us.  Spend time before the crucifix:  look at our sign of defeat that provokes persecutions and destroys that's also our sign of victory because it's where God was victorious.
To Capuchin Friars:  Push yourselves to live religious service and activities in gratuitousness and humility, following St. Francis's example.  With daily, concrete actions you'll bring to life the smallness that characterizes Francis’ followers.  Assume humility and simplicity, God’s way of life, in your lives and in missions.  True greatness is making yourself small and serving.  Then you'll share in the Church’s evangelization efforts.  Bring the apostolate into direct contact with the poor and suffering.  When you face difficulties, don't lose hope; let gospel joy give you strength and consistency.
People feel the need to be accepted, listened to, loved.  Your active participation in concrete problems, your spiritual conversation, and administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation create connections with people.  Your community life of “union and communion,” fulfilled through listening and conversing, to strengthen discernment, is important.  Your history includes courageous witnesses to Christ and the Gospel.  Total consecration to God, simple life among people, sensitivity to the poor, spiritual accompaniment, and humility that welcomes:  this is your identity.
    Words of today's readings
  • Nm 21:4b-9 People to God and Moses:  “Why did you bring us from Egypt to die?  We're disgusted with this wretched food!”  The Lord punished them with saraph serpents; many people died.  People:  “We sinned in complaining.  Pray that God take them away.”  Lord:  “Mount a saraph on a pole; all who look at it will live.”  Moses did, and so it was.
  • Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-38  "Do not forget the works of the Lord!"  They sought him, remembering God was their rock and redeemer, but lied to him and were unfaithful.  Merciful, he forgave them and turned back his anger.
  • Phil 2:6-11  Christ, though in the form of God, emptied himself, came in human likeness, humbled himself, obeyed to death on a cross.  So God exalted him.  Every knee shall bend at Jesus' name, every tongue confess him as Lord.
  • Jn 3:13-17  Jesus to Nicodemus:  “As Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son be lifted up.  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.  God sent the Son to save, not condemn."
  • Fr. Brian Nunes homily videoThank God the death-dealing Cross gives us life, as the image of the deadly serpent came to cure the Israelites.
  • Creighton:  In today's celebration the Church proclaims that by Jesus' death on the Cross, he, the light, overcame the darkness.  The Cross is the doorway through darkness to light, a symbol of the victory of life over death, grace over sin.  The feast proclaims that God's power destroys sin and so defeats death. Love overcomes hatred; hope overcomes despair.  The Israelites were “bitten” by a longing for the security of slavery they knew; they were “bitten” by the serpents of fear, laziness, and refusal to mature.  When faced with the natural outcome of death by such a life of escapism, they pleaded to Moses and God.  God told Moses to display a serpent, so they could see what was destroying them.  Similarly, sinless Jesus chose to take on our sin and was lifted up so we may see the truth of sin in our lives.  If we want life and healing, we must take on the pattern of Christ.  Today's feast invites us to desire God’s will above ours, to be free to love and be loved, possible only in God.  We were made for this and long for it but allow ourselves to be satisfied with less....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "He wins!"  Jesus overturned the shame and defeat of the cross, transforming the cross into a symbol of victory.  The serpent is a "type" of the cross:  an instrument of death, it became a sign of life once on the pole. We are to be such a sign, carrying "the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed....  We are constantly being delivered to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our flesh."  We deny our very selves, take up our cross, and crucify ourselves to the world.  To those under the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil, we seem dead, yet we're like the mounted serpent, or Jesus on the cross. When those who dismiss us hurt, they may turn to us for compassion and healing.  "Mercy triumphs over judgment."  Jesus crucified triumphs over death, sin, pride, and the world.  Celebrate and rejoice. Carrying our cross leads to risen life. In Jesus crucified, we are more than conquerors.
  • Deliverance from the serpents
    Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel)
  • Passionist:  Rejoice in the salvation and healing won for us by the Cross of Jesus.  “We adore you O Christ and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have saved the world.”
The Israelites were so worn out by their journey that they forgot the blessing of their deliverance from servitude and complained against God and Moses.  In our dark times we too can forget the bright ones showing God's lavish kindness.
  •  "So must the Son of Man be lifted up":  Jesus came to raise those on earth to the glory of heaven.  Jesus tells Nicodemus he's the "Son of Man" the Father sent to restore our relationship with God.  The "Son of Man" is an Old Testament title for the Messiah who will establish God's kingdom.  Jesus recalls how Moses "lifted up" the serpent to bring healing and life to those bitten by deadly serpents.  This plague was because the people refused to follow God.  God, hearing Moses' prayer, told him to make a serpent, set it on a pole, and all who look on it shall live."  The serpent image fixed to the pole resembled a cross.  Those who put their faith in God were healed and restored.  Jesus links Moses' act with his upcoming sacrificial death when he'd be "lifted up" on the cross.  Unlike Moses' deliverance that gave temporary relief, Jesus' death on the cross brought decisive victory, cancelling the debt of our sin, releasing us from guilt and condemnation, bringing us new, everlasting life in his Spirit.  Jesus now rules at the Father's right hand, interceding for us.
Moses and the brazen serpent/ Bourdon
The greatest proof of God's love for us is that he sent his Son to become one of us and lay down his life for us, an act of total self-giving love.  His love embraces every individual.  God won't rest till all his children have returned home.  God gives us freedom to choose whom and what to love.  If our love is guided by truth, goodness, and true beauty, we'll choose God and love him above all.  Do I put God first in my thoughts, cares, choices, and actions?  Do I allow God's love to shape how I treat others, to transform my thoughts, to conquer unruly passions and addictions?  The Spirit gives us wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence that we may live and serve in God's way of love.
  • Universalis:  Why exalt an instrument of torture?  We rejoice that God transformed it into a means of redemption.  It reminds us Christianity is no abstraction:  God intervened in world affairs.  Without the cross, Christianity is nonsense.
Dress legend
  • 'Serpent' tie pin:  God sent saraph serpents; Moses made a bronze serpent (1st reading); "as Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son be lifted up" (gospel)
  • 'Rock' tie pin:  They remembered God was their rock (psalm)
  • 'Car with open mouth' pin:  I'll open my mouth in a parable; they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues (psalm)
  • 'Boundless mercy' pin:  He, being merciful, forgave their sin... (psalm)
  • 'LOVE' suspenders, 'hearts' tie:  "God so loved the world..." (gospel); their hearts weren't steadfast toward God (psalm)
  • 'Math class' pin (with formulas with =-sign):  Jesus didn't regard equality with God something to be grasped (2nd reading)
  • Crucifix, 'blood drop' pin:  Jesus became obedient to death, death on a cross (2nd reading)
  • 'Wood block' tie pin:  Wood of the Cross
  • Red shirt:  Color of today's feast