THE UNBROKEN WORD

 

Last Friday, the 8th of June, I had the pleasure of taking my final examination for the Doctor of Ministry degree at Catholic University in Washington D.C. The exam, which was a defense of my Treatise turned out well, and studies are now complete. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me over the past two years in the parish, and in particular, those on the Poetry and Photography retreat earlier this year, which formed the basis of my Treatise project.

As is usually the case, I stayed with my daughter, her husband and the two lovely granddaughters. They live in an area near H Street, an area that was decimated by the riots in 1968, but has since rebounded and become an area for “gentrification.” Within the two nights spent there we had the wonderful experience of finalizing my degree at Catholic University with over twenty other doctoral students present at the defense, plus family and some fellow doctoral students from my class/year. As I picked up my granddaughter from school, she scooted down the street, playing with young friends, overlooked by motherly gatherings in the neighborhood. All seemed well in Happy Valley.

But appearances can be deceptive. Later that same day, on a walk in the afternoon, I could see some properties still in disrepair and waiting for the developers to pounce; squeezing out the black population which formed the basis of this neighborhood for decades.

On the evening of my examination, we had a lovely meal and received some beautiful cards from family and friends. When we returned to the house from the restaurant in the taxi H Street was blocked off for two blocks; a motorcyclist had been hit by a drunk driver and dragged down the street. Traffic was redirected for some time; a sad note to the evening. We all headed to bed, and most of the house was asleep at 12:30 am when my wife and I heard four gunshots nearby. I turned the lights out in the hallway and investigated to see if there was anything close enough to be concerned. Upon returning to bed a tremendous crash was heard behind in the alley behind the house; more investigation, but whoever it was had left by the time I peered out through a darkened window. The following day we determined someone has smashed two panels out of the back fence at the alley behind the house.

On Saturday pm I took another local walk and was drawn to the wonderful Gospel sounds coming from the “Yahweh” Church less than 150 yards from my daughter’s house. It was full of love and vibrant sounds spilling all over the neighborhood. I did not go in but regret that now; God invites us and we should respond.

My final stop on this walk was to a photo exhibit in the basement of a local coffee shop. It consisted of photos of black mothers holding their “lifeless” black sons. The images were from all over the country, and while the lifeless bodies in the photos was staged, they were also very compelling. The artist was bringing to our attention police violence against the black community. Ironically, a community which is being moved out of the neighborhood, not because of their color, but the color of money; as row house after another are converted to apartments costing five hundred thousand dollars or more for each one.

I do not offer any of these observations as a judgment of the events of just two days spent in DC, but rather the very different worlds which surround us. In just a couple of days, I saw great love, worship, violence, stupidity, family values and tragic loss all within a few blocks of each other. The contrast is huge, between those who have and those who do not. There is a reason Pope Francis wants the Church to turn towards the poor and needy. That call is to us of course, as we are the Church.

Jesus’s passion is felt by them and demands our compassionate response; with whatever gifts we have, we are called to bring them.

At the end of this weekend, I felt very, very privileged to have been able to study at Catholic University, but am reminded the only purpose of all this is to help others. It gives me pause for each day and leaves me soaked in the sadness of those who are still hurting in such a tangible way. I am rarely confronted by this in the small, safe Massachusetts town where I live.

 

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THE DAILY GOSPEL AND READINGS 17 JUNE 2018

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 92

Reading 1EZ 17:22-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.
And all the trees of the field shall know
that I, the LORD,
bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
wither up the green tree,
and make the withered tree bloom.
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

Responsorial PsalmPS 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16

R. (cf. 2a) Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
To proclaim your kindness at dawn
and your faithfulness throughout the night.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.
They that are planted in the house of the LORD
shall flourish in the courts of our God.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
They shall bear fruit even in old age;
vigorous and sturdy shall they be,
Declaring how just is the LORD,
my rock, in whom there is no wrong.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

Reading 2 2 COR 5:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him,
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower.
All who come to him will live forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”
He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

 

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

THE DAILY GOSPEL AND READINGS 16 JUNE 2018

Saturday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 364

Reading 11 KGS 19:19-21

Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,
as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;
he was following the twelfth.
Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,
“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,
and I will follow you.”
Elijah answered, “Go back!
Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;
he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,
and gave it to his people to eat.
Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Responsorial PsalmPSALM 16:1B-2A AND 5, 7-8, 9-10

R. (see 5a) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

AlleluiaPS 119:36A, 29B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Incline my heart, O God, to your decrees;
and favor me with your law.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 5:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.”

 

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

THE DAILY GOSPEL AND READINGS 15 JUNE 2018

Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 363

Reading 11 KGS 19:9A, 11-16

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave, where he took shelter.
But the word of the LORD came to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?”
He replied, “I have been most zealous for the LORD,
the God of hosts.
But the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant,
torn down your altars,
and put your prophets to the sword.
I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.”
The LORD said to him,
“Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus.
When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram.
Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel,
and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah,
as prophet to succeed you.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 27:7-8A, 8B-9ABC, 13-14

R. (8b) I long to see your face, O Lord.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.

AlleluiaPHIL 2:15D, 16A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 5:27-32

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.
“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful)
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

 

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.