March 23, 2020

March 23

March 23, 2020:  Monday, 4th week, Lent


  • 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:  God rejoices in his creation and finds his people a delight.  Baseball great Bill Veeck said, “I believe life abounds in joy for those seek it.  I’ve always reached out for my share....”  As God rejoiced, so must we open ourselves to moments of delight in our worlds. Because of today’s news, we may need to work to combat negativity.  Pope Francis suggested at this Lent we “fast from pessimism and be filled with hope” and “fast from worries and trust in God.”  If you share your good news, you help make others aware of easy-to-overlook things like funny texts from our kids or a sunny February day.  This Laetare week, rejoice in God’s people and creation....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Will you harvest Easter joy?"  Yesterday was Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday. We rejoice because we're approaching the celebration of the risen Christ and deepening of our relationship with him.  Today, the Church calls us to hear, "There shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; for I create Jerusalem a joy and its people a delight; I'll rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people."  The Lord promises we'll have everlasting joy, be a joy as his people, and be a joy for him.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, a product of growth that takes time to be produced.  The Spirit is producing joy in our lives, calling us to be unselfish so we can rejoice.  The Spirit lusts against and crucifies the flesh so we won't stifle the joy of the Spirit.  The Spirit gives us the privilege of suffering for Jesus, and in such suffering we find joy.  The Spirit is growing a harvest of Easter joy.  Will you be the seed that falls to the earth and dies so as to bear abundant fruit?
    Jesus healing the servant of a Centurion/ Veronese
  • Passionist:  At the end of today's gospel of Jesus healing the son of a royal official, we read, “This was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee.” The first was the changing of the water into wine.  These signs have trust in Jesus in common. At the wedding in Cana, after the discussion about whether Jesus should do anything about the wine running out, Mary says to the servants, “Do what he tells you,” and leaves, trusting Jesus will take care of it.  In today's gospel, the official asks Jesus to accompany him home to heal his son, but Jesus just says, “Go; your son will live.” The official trusts Jesus and returns home to find his son healed.  When we ask why or want to assign blame, it may be difficult to trust Jesus, but the Cross tells us we're not alone. Trusting Jesus isn't doing nothing; the Cross strengthens us to do what we can for others and enables us to comfort and be with those who have lost much.  May we support and comfort each other with the faith of Mary and the royal official, and trust Jesus.
      •  "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?
      Dress legend
      • '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 but don't know what kind it was]

      March 22, 2020

      4th Sun., Lent

      March 22, 2020:  Fourth Sunday of Lent / Laetare Sunday

      See 16 connections with today?
      Legend below

      Mainly gospel-inspired

      For 2nd reading

      For Psalm 23
      For future celebrations
      Pope Francis

      Homily:  Let's think about them and pray for the people dying… alone, without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones, and for their families who can't accompany them on the journey.  I want to reflect on the words of Augustine's words, “I'm afraid when the Lord passes by because I'm afraid he'll pass and I won't notice him”; they always touch me.  

      In Jesus’ presence, the sentiments of the heart, our true attitudes, come forth; this is a grace.  Because of this, Augustine was afraid to let him pass by without realizing it.  When Jesus passes by, he heals the blind man and creates a scandal; it brings out the best and the worst in people.

      It brought out the best in the blind man:  He responds with astonishing wisdom.  He was used to moving around with his hands, sensing anything dangerous that could make him slip.  But his arguments are clear and precise; he even uses irony.

      But the scandal brought out the worst in the doctors of the law:  They knew all the laws but were fixated there; they didn't understand when God was passing by.  They were rigid, attached to their customs; Jesus says so.   Their rigidity led them to commit an injustice; Jesus’ presence evoked the sentiment of closure.

      Read today's gospel at home to understand what happens when Jesus passes by.  May it help us understand Augustine:  "I'm afraid when the Lord passes, because he might pass by and I may not recognize it and convert myself." 

      Angelus:  Light is at the center of today's liturgy.  The miracle Jesus performs confirms his affirmation that he's “the light of the world.”  He's the light that brightens our darkness.  This applies to both the physical level and the spiritual.  The blind person first receives physical sight, then faith.  The wonders Jesus performs aren't spectacular gestures;  they lead to faith through inner transformation.

      The Pharisees and doctors of the law don't acknowledge the miracle.  They interrogate the man, but he confuses them with the simple statement, “I was blind and now I see.”  Gradually he realizes who opened his eyes and confesses faith in him.  He recognizes Jesus as coming from God, welcomes him as the Messiah, and prostrates himself before him.

      May we too have this experience.  With the light of faith, the man born blind discovers his new identity; he sees his life and the world in a new light.  He's no longer a slave to blindness and prejudice; his path of enlightenment is a metaphor for the path of liberation from sin we're called to.  Sin is like a veil that covers our face and prevents us from seeing ourselves and the world;  God’s mercy removes the darkness and gives us new light. 

      The man comes to see both with the eyes of the body and of the soul.  But it's not enough to receive light; we must become light.  Each of us is called to receive the divine light and manifest it with our whole life.  May Mary help us imitate the blind man so we may be flooded with the light of Christ and set out with him on the path of salvation. 

      Wednesday prayer; Friday Urbi et orbiLet us all respond together to the coronavirus pandemic with prayer, compassion, and tenderness, making our closeness felt toward those who are the most tried.  In these days when humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, let's all lift our voices towards heaven.  I invite the heads of the Churches and leaders of every Christian community, with all Christians, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, reciting the Our Father this Wednesday afternoon.  On the day when many recall the Annunciation to Mary of the Incarnation of the Word, may the Lord listen to our prayer as we prepare to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ.

      This Friday I'll preside over a moment of prayer at St. Peter’s Basilica, and I invite everyone to participate spiritually.  We'll read Scripture, pray in supplication, and adore the Blessed Sacrament, and I'll conclude with the Urbi et orbi blessing, normally given only at Christmas and Easter.

      • 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a  Lord to Samuel:  “I'm sending you to Jesse; I've chosen my king from his sons.”  Samuel thought he was among the seven presented to him, but the Lord said no:  “Man sees appearance, but God looks in the heart.”  Jesse brought David; God told Samuel to anoint him.
        Wordle: Readings 3-30-14
      • Ps 23:1-6  "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want."  You lead and guide me and give me rest and courage.  You're at my side; I'm unafraid.  You spread the table before me and anoint me.  Goodness and kindness follow me, and I'll dwell with God.
      • Eph 5:8-14  You were once darkness but are now light in the Lord.  Live as children of light; learn what pleases God and expose works of darkness.  “Awake, sleeper; Christ will give you light.”
      • Jn 9:1-41  Jesus restored sight to man born blind who told those who first asked, then the Pharisees, who were divided about how Jesus who didn't keep sabbath could heal him.  The Jews summoned his parents who confirmed he was born blind, then called the man again, heard him speak of Jesus, and expelled him.  Jesus found the man:  "Do you believe in the Son of Man, the one speaking with you?" / “I do, Lord.”...  Pharisees / Jesus:  "You think we're blind?" / "You say, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains."
      Some of the many livestreamed and recorded Masses

      St. Bede the Venerable
      Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
      St. Monica
      Bishop Robert Barron /  Word on Fire

      • Creighton:  With the arrival of spring come warming temperatures, more daylight, and less darkness, and with the daylight come flowers, trees, and green yards.  But sunlight isn't the only light to make our days more enjoyable; we can choose to walk in the light of the Lord.  From the 2nd reading:  “You were once darkness, but now you're light in the Lord.  Live as children of light, for light produces goodness, righteousness, and truth.”  But it's easier said than done.  Some prefer darkness to light, so their wrongdoings are less likely exposed.  How do we walk in the light of the Lord, and take no part in works of darkness but rather expose them?  We should shine that light on ourselves and search for our spiritual shortcomings, e.g. pride, envy, greed....  The light can help us grow stronger and live, love, and understand others more like Christ.  May we stay in the spotlight of Christ.  May our light so shine that others see our good works and glorify our Father.
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Blind man's bluff":  Jesus called the Pharisees blind guides and blind fools. He called the apostles blind:  "Are your minds completely blinded?  Have you eyes but no sight?"  He called the church of Laodicea blind.  If he calls us blind, how will we take his diagnosis?  Will we become defensive, or thank him for the truth?  The Pharisees got angry, blinding themselves to their blindness, resenting the cured man, throwing him out of the synagogue, trying to make everyone else blind, becoming darkness themselves, hating the light, hating "the Light of the world," demanding he be crucified.  Spiritual blindness is degenerative; it becomes darkness and violence.  We must admit our blindness and ask Jesus to heal us, or else we'll hurt our Healer and those he's restored sight to.  Lord, heal us from blindness to our blindness.
      • Passionist:  Jesus' encounter with the man born blind begins when the disciples ask whether the man's sin or his parent's was responsible for the blindness.  Jesus says it wasn't due to sin; it was so the man could make God's works visible, could help others see.  Jesus gives the man sight, but people find what happened hard to see:  they can’t believe the person they knew as blind can now see, and because Jesus healed on the sabbath, they can't see God’s hand in the cure.  But the man sees what it means; he receives both physical and spiritual sight.  He sees Jesus is from God, then believes Jesus is the Messiah.  I too have been made to see differently:  I've had to let go of assumptions about people and interpretations of events.  How do we persist in blindness?  What has the coronavirus pandemic revealed to us about our blindness?  We can be blind to the truth that we're all connected and have responsibility for each other.  We engage in social distancing to protect others.  Though physical distancing, even isolation, may be necessary, spiritual and emotional isolation exacerbates the problem.  But after the crisis, will we retreat into blindness?  May we let Jesus' love in to retain the sight we've been given.  May we “live as children of light” as Paul urges and see goodness, righteousness, and truth in others and in the world.  May God’s love heal us of our blindness, and may our new sight help us help others see God’s love.
      •  "Jesus frees us from spiritual blindness and sin":  God wants to recognize the light of his truth and wisdom.  God replaced Saul, who didn't recognize God's power to save him, with David, Jesse's youngest son, a man after God's own heart who did what pleased the Lord.  With strength from God, David defeated his enemies and united his people.
      Sin keeps us from God's truth, wisdom, and strength; it blinds us and keeps us from rising on our own to walk in God's love and truth.  Sin clouds the mind and makes it resist God's truth; only God's light can uncover it and free us to walk with God.  The Jews thought many infirmities were the result of sin.  Jesus' disciples asked him what sin caused the man's blindness; he answered that God allowed it to demonstrate his power.  He stated, "I am the light of the world," the source of power who sustains life and overcomes sin, confusion, and blindness.  His works confirmed his message and authority.
      Jesus awakened hope in the blind man, then identified with his misery and drew faith from him by touching his eyes with spittle and dirt and bidding him to wash in a pool likely used to purify people going to worship in the Temple.  His healing is more than a miracle; it's a sign pointing to Jesus, source of life-giving water.  The Pharisees were upset with the miracle because it violated the Sabbath and involved a "sinner"; their prejudice blinded them to God's intention for the Sabbath (to do good) and Jesus' claim to be from the Father to bring freedom and light.  They tried to intimidate the man and his parents by threatening to oust them from the worshiping community; they shunned him because he believed Jesus healed him and was the Messiah.
      "The Jews cast him out of the Temple; the Lord of the Temple found him" (John Chrysostom).  If our witness of Jesus and his work causes rejection, it nonetheless draws us nearer to the Lord.  Paul warns us to avoid the darkness of sin that we might walk in the light of Christ.  What do I let blur my vision of what God is offering and asking of me?  There's no sickness the Lord doesn't identify with.  The Lord offers us freedom from spiritual blindness and restores us.  "If we reflect on this miracle, we'll see the blind man is the human race....  You already know who the "One Sent" is.  Unless he had been sent, none of us would have been freed from sin" (Augustine).
        • St. Nicholas Owen, SJ, carpenter, built priest hiding places, martyr.  “Nobody can be said to have done more good of all those who labored in the English vineyard.  He saved the lives of hundreds.”
      Dress legend
      • 'Angel with horn' pin:  "Fill your horn with oil" (1st reading)
      • Blue tie with crowns:  David anointed king (1st reading); restful waters (psalm)
      • 'Heart' pin:  The Lord looks into the heart (1st reading)
      • 'Sheep' tie bar:  David was tending sheep (1st reading); the Lord is my Shepherd (psalm)
      • 'Silverware' tie bar:  "We won't begin the banquet till he arrives" (1st reading); "You spread the table before me" (psalm)
      • Green suspenders:  Verdant pastures (psalm)
      • 'Castle' pin:  I'll dwell in God's house (psalm)
      • 'Street light' tie bar:  You're light in the Lord (2nd reading)
      • 'Eyeball' pin:  God doesn't see like we do (1st reading); blind man's sight restored (gospel)
      • '?' tie pin:  Pharisees' questioning of man born blind and his parents (gospel)
      • 'Roses' pin, rose-colored shirt:  Color of Laetare Sunday

      March 8, 2020

      2nd Sun., Lent

      March 8, 2020:  Second Sunday of Lent

      See ten connections with today?
      Legend below

      For the gospel

      For Psalm 33
      Lenten earworm 
      For future celebrations
      Jesus took the disciples to a high mountain, symbol of closeness to God, to open them to a fuller understanding of him, who must suffer, die, and rise.  Through the Transfiguration, they were called to recognize in him the Son of God shining with glory.  Jesus didn't choose Peter, James, and John to witness it according to human criteria:  Peter would deny Jesus, and James and John ambitiously sought first place in Jesus’ kingdom.  He chose them according to his plan of love; it was a free initiative, divine friendship asking nothing in return.  We're called the same way to be his witnesses; we don't deserve our calling, but we can't back out because we feel inadequate.  We must bear witness even though we haven't seen his face shining like the sun.  We mustn't forget that our Baptism and Confirmation have made us witnesses as a result of the gift of the Spirit.  May Mary obtain for us docility to the Spirit so that we may set out resolutely on the path of conversion.

      Wordle: Readings 3-16-14
      • Gn 12:1-4a  Lord to Abram: “Go to a land I'll show you.  I'll make you a great nation and bless you; you'll be a blessing to all communities of the earth.”  Abram went as the Lord directed.
      • Ps 33:4-5, 18-20, 22  "Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you."  The Lord loves justice and right; he delivers and preserves those who hope in him.
      • 2 Tim 1:8b-10  Bear hardship for the gospel with strength from God who saved us and called us to a holy life.  Christ Jesus brought grace and life to light.
      • Mt 17:1-9  Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John; he was conversing with Moses and Elijah.  Peter:  “Good; how about if I make three tents?”  Voice from cloud:  “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”  Jesus:  “Don't fear, and don't tell anyone till the Son of Man has been raised.”
      • Creighton:  In today’s readings God calls individuals to paths they likely wouldn't have chosen themselves.  God called Abram to leave a comfortable life and follow God, leading his family on a journey.  Paul, aging and imprisoned, challenges Timothy to persevere in his mission.   I bet the transfiguration was more of an event for the apostles than for Jesus.; I would have been as afraid and confused as they must have been.  They began to see Jesus' mission unfold and were charged to share the experience.  Am I on the path God set for me?
        Преображение (Transfiguration)/ Ivanov

      • One Bread, One Body:  "The greatest":  Abram/Abraham is the father of many nations.  He was and is a blessing to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, yet the least born into God's kingdom is greater.  God's children are called to greatness.  We fulfill our potential only by listening to Jesus, the Truth of our lives and the Way to live.  Since it's hard for us to listen to and obey Jesus, we need the Father to reveal his son's divinity to us.  When we believe in it, we'll listen and submit to him. We also need the Holy Spirit to proclaim to us that "Jesus is Lord" God.  As the three witnesses listened, submitted, and became great only after the Spirit descended on them at the first Christian Pentecost, we need a new Pentecost to believe in Jesus' divinity and fulfill our call.
      • Passionist:  When we listen to Jesus, he transforms us into someone more Christlike.  We get a glimpse of who he really is.  His divinity shines bright, and we're reminded of the sacrifice he made when he became human.  Shortly after the transfiguration, he'll be disfigured:  struck, scourged, spat on, mocked, pierced, abandoned, and crucified.  Jesus will feel the Father forsook him.  We're called to accept both the Victim disfigured for our sins, and the Lord transfigured in glory.  We need to take time and listen to him.  What is he telling us?
      •  "Listen to my Son":  God promised Abraham he'd make him a channel of blessing to his family, descendants, and all familiesh, so long as Abraham went to the land he'd show him.  Abraham believed and obeyed, and God chose him as his instrument; through him would come the Messiah, who would reveal the God's glory and bring salvation to all who would call upon him.  In all Jesus did and said, he sought to please and glorify his Father.  Like Abraham, he was ready to part with anything that could stand in the way of doing God's will. He knew success depended on his willingness to do his Father's whatever the cost.  On three occasions Jesus told his disciples he'd suffer and die on a cross.  As that time approached, he took three of his beloved disciples up the mountain, appeared with Moses and Elijah, and was transfigured.  When Moses met with God on Sinai, his face shone because he had been talking with God; his face was so bright, the Israelites couldn't look at it.  After the great prophet Elijah destroyed the priests and idols of Baal, he took refuge on Sinai, where God showed him his glory, then directed him to fulfill the mission God gave him.  Jesus' appearance with them confirms he's ready to fulfill the mission the Father gave him; he knew the cross was ahead and may have discussed with them his decision to go to it.  The Father, knowing Jesus was obedient, also gave his approval:  "This is my Son; listen to him."  The cloud fulfilled the Jews' dream that when the Messiah came, the cloud of God's presence would fill the temple again.  Jesus wants to share this glory with us.  He shows us the way to glory:  "Follow me."  Jesus embraced the cross to win a crown of glory, one that awaits each of us who follows him.
      Transfiguration of Christ
      More Transfiguration art
      "To see Jesus' transfiguration, behold and simply apprehend the Jesus of the Gospels, where he is beheld 'according to the flesh' and in his divinity.  He is beheld in the form of God according to our capacity, as he was beheld by those who went up the mountain.  Those who don't go up the mountain can still behold his works and hear his words, which are uplifting.  Jesus is transfigured before those who go up, not those below. When he is, he shines, that he may be manifested to the children of light, who have put off works of darkness and put on the armor of light. They walk honestly as in the day.  He will shine to them as the sun of righteousness" (Origen, Commentary on Matthew).
      Luke's Gospel tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God's glory and action because we are asleep spiritually? There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the "unexamined life" can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ. Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God.  As Peter, James, and John witnessed the glory of Christ, so are we called to be its witnesses:   "We with unveiled face, beholding the Lord's glory, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another...."
      Querida Amazonia nugget:  Communities filled with life

      The Eucharist signifies and realizes Church unity.  Presiders must foster communion, unity welcoming the variety of gifts and charisms.  Eucharist requires development of that variety.  Priests are necessary, but permanent deacons, Sisters, and lay persons can also foster communal growth.  Besides facilitating a greater presence of ordained ministers, we should also awaken new life in communities, promoting an encounter with God’s word and growth in holiness through lay service calling for education and ongoing formation.

      A Church with Amazonian features needs lay leaders with authority who know the languages, cultures, spiritual experience, and communal way of life, and are open to the Spirit's gifts.  The Church must trust in and permit the growth of a lay ecclesial culture.  The challenges can only be met through vigorous, broad, active lay involvement.  Consecrated life has a special place too but needs a new impetus to inculturation to combine creativity, missionary boldness, sensitivity, and strength.  Base communities have also been authentic experiences of synodality; they've helped form committed Christians, disciples, and missionaries, even martyrs.

      I encourage efforts to establish collaborative ministry among the region's local churches.  Because of internal mobility and migration in the region, projects can't depend on stable communities, so itinerant missionary teams should be considered and support provided for consecrated persons close to the most impoverished and excluded, and urban communities should find ways to be close and welcoming to families and youth arriving from the interior. [IV:91-98]
        • Senanbishop, apostle of Ireland, monastery founder; see Clare Library's article.
        • Duthac, bishop
      Dress legend
      • 'Eyeball' pin:  The Lord's eyes are on those who fear him (psalm); the disciples raised their eyes and saw only Jesus (gospel)
      • 'Clock' pin:  Our soul waits for the Lord (psalm) [nothing to do with the start of Daylight Saving Time]
      • 'Shield' pin:  The Lord, our help and our shield (psalm)
      • 'Bear' tie bar:  'Bear' your share of hardship for the gospel (2nd reading)
      • 'Alps' tie pin:  Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain (gospel)
      • 'Sun' pin:  Jesus' face shone light the sun (gospel)
      • Dazzling white shirt (and socks):  Transfiguration (gospel)
      • Tie with bright cloud:  A bright cloud cast a shadow over them (gospel) 
      • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season