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Fr. Mike’s Page

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Thank you for visiting.  I hope you will enjoy the variety of topics to enhance your spiritual life.  You can either read them below and/or down-load them and read at your leisure.  I have also added my Sunday Homily for those interested.

CURRENT TOPICS: Short History of the Eucharist series, The Prodigal Sons, The Prophet’s Wife, and Stories From Africa.  ENJOY!


My Recent Homily

10th Sunday OT 2024 – Mark 3:20-35

Today’s gospel passage has at least two interesting point, the first is Jesus’ family shows up and want to seize him, because they claimed he was out of his mind.  The second is that sins against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven!  This is very powerful statement from Jesus.  Practically all of Mark is reproduced in other Gospels; the first incident is not as if it was a tradition too embarrassing and better forgotten that his family thought he was out of his mind.

But why did Mark include it?  Maybe, because people thought that Jesus’ relatives were getting special treatment just because they were related to him by blood.  After all, their society and many like it, as in Africa, familial bond is very strong where even relatives are thought of as brothers and sisters.  But Jesus reminds them that his familial bond is through their hearing the Word of God and keeping it.  “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

This creates another problem which other non-Catholic denominations use to downplay Mary’s role as mother of God.  Simply this, they are outside the circle that Jesus is speaking to, “Here are my mother and my brothers.”  That is why we should always try to allow scripture to speak to us rather than try to use scripture to speak for us and whatever position we might form.

Mark was the first generation gospel written 30 years after Jesus’ death.  By the time we get to John’s gospel, probably written another 30 years after Mark, John tells us who are his mother and brother and sister.  They are those standing at the foot of the cross.  “Woman, behold you son.  Son, behold your mother.”  It is no long a question of relationship by blood but by water through baptism in the Spirit.  In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we are brothers and sisters in the same spirit of faith!

This brings us to another second part of today’s gospel.  “Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”  For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

One commentator mentions that a sin against the Holy Spirit occurs when someone attributes to evil what comes through the power of God.  Such was the sin of the scribes from Jerusalem.

Alison Benders writes her reflections from Give Us This Day, “Now, concretely, what are we to take from today’s readings?  Well, first, Jesus is absolutely serious, deadly serious, that our lives must be permeated by God’s Spirit.  The Spirit’s work must be our work, and the Spirit’s work is turbulent.  We must embrace the dissent, discord, and violence of everyday life.  These are not breaches of the peace.  The Turbulent Spirit inspires the raised fists that call us to make a just peace.

“We must examine our consciences: Where do we stand on the many injustices voiced urgently in every human community?  How do we answer the Turbulent Spirit?  Will we impede the Spirit’s work or will we amplify the Spirit by living a faith that does justice?”

Here at St. Francis de Sales, we stand at the foot of the cross with Mary and the Beloved Disciple here at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, and at Mary Magdalene House and Respace Center, here in the basement with the Help Program, and with our students and all those who come to St. Francis de Sales Parish.  If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.  Our parish is part of the solution as long as we allow the Word of God to inform us and determine God’s will for us in our lives.

May the Lord continue to bless us.

 

10th Sunday OT 2024

Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ 2024

MOST HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY 2024

Feat of the Ascencion 2024

6th Sunday of Easter 2024

Easter Sunday 2024

KILLER BEES of KENYA

One day I was walking with one of our novices on a path that led away from the house and towards the orchard.  It wasn’t a smooth path but it was quiet with no one else around on the property except for a few neighbors next to us. Usually I tried to take some time with each of the novices to chat about their time here and to see how they were doing with the novitiate program.

I heard the calves crying.   They were tied up in a small grove of trees.  I thought they might be in heat, so soon already? The novice thought not, since they were still too young.  There were two beautiful calves that were getting quite large by now.  Because I spent a lot of time outside with the animals, I was familiar enough with the cows, and they just did not sound quite right.  In fact I was near alarm.

We started to head back in that direction just to check on them. Our property sits on about nine acres of land, half of it farmed and with four hundred fruit trees.  As we got nearer to the calves, it looked like one of them was crying with its tongue sticking out. Just then we noticed bees all around the property and realized that they were attacking the calves. I quickly had the novice head to the barn where our farm manager was and to alert him.

By now everyone had noticed the bees were everywhere, even in the house.  Some noticed that the calves were being attacked and were putting blankets around themselves and to try to release the calves so they could head to the barn.  Our farm manager had started a smoky fire to drive away the bees, which seemed to be working, but needed to get the rest of the calves there.  Unfortunately, one of the calves headed toward our herd of females and brought the attacking bees to them.  Finally, our manager arrived and had to cut loose those cows as well to chase them up to the barn.

The smoke screen from the fires at the barn seemed to be working.  Our problem now was that the vet was afraid to come on our property with all the bees, and unless he injected our cows, especially the calves with anti-bee venom, we could well lose them all! Eventually the manager convinced him and in short time had them all injected.

Surprisingly, none of our guys got stung.  Since these bees are so easy to disturb, and an attack on a human could be fatal!  One religious brother was attacked and killed by just such a swarm.  They found him dead with the bees still in his orifices.  The whole property was filled with bees everywhere, even the house. All we could do was just wait them out until the sun set, hoping that they would settle down when the air would get cooler.  Fortunately for us the weather did turn cool and a slight drizzle began.  Almost immediately the bees began to disappeared.

Now was the time for us to find them and dispatch them before they started again tomorrow.  I had wanted to raise domesticated bees, but that possibility was now out of the question. These African killer bees could be very dangerous, especially when they started to swarm, when the their hive grew too crowded.  They would look for new homes.  What happened on our property today, we would eventually learn, is that not one but two rather large swarms were out looking for a place to settle.

As a hive grows in size, eventually the bees will produce a new queen and part of the hive will follow her to find a new home, hopefully somewhere far from the first.  It seemed that our property was elected. We had one unwanted hive on our property already which they made a home in our retreat house wall, entering from an outside hole near the chimney.  We tried every way we could to remove them but they kept coming back.

That night we got ready to find the swarms and destroy them.  We found the first one quickly, near the barn in a small tree. They were the size of a ball wrapping themselves around one of the branches. With the weather so cool, they were completely docile! All we had to do was to stretch a plastic bag around the branch to cover them, and then cut the branch from the tree to remove them.

The second swarm took us a long while to find. We searched everywhere and them almost stumbled upon them in a pine tree located near the front entrance of our building.  They were the biggest swarm I have ever seen, like a very large football, only wrapped around the trunk of a tree.  I took us almost half an hour just to burn the bees off the trunk.  What a horrible waste of honey producers, I thought to myself, since I very much wanted to save them.  But domesticated bees and wild African bees are two different species, one tame and the other wild and dangerous.

With the destruction of the other hive we could rest knowing that tomorrow would be another day without a battle with the killer bees.  I also knew that any mention of starting any bee hives would have to wait until another time.

 

KILLER BEES of KENYA

“Short History of the Ordinary of the Mass”

Please  read the whole “Short History” by clicking on the site below.

Short History of the Ordinary of the Mass

 

THE PRODIGAL SONS

Part Five

“This is the first of several favorite oases on our journey,” Eliud said.  “And if we time it right, we will have the whole place to ourselves.”

“That is amazing, Eliud,” Abe said.  “How can you ever know that out here in the middle of nowhere?”

“How can you ever find this place,” Michael added, “out here in the middle of nowhere?”

“Because of a lifetime of traveling,” answered Eliud, “and generations of traveling.  I know the best spots and the timing.”

“Amazing,” was all Abe could say.  “It is beautiful.”

“Water in the middle of all this sand,” Michael said in wonder.

After finishing their meal and settling in, the men continued their conversation until the stars made even their campfire seem small.

“I never realized how beautiful the sky was until I had this time to look up,” Abe said.

“And that is why you need to travel more,” Eliud agreed, “so that you are not always looking down at the ground!”

“It’s like a splash of milk over the heavens,” Michael offered.  “And the Lord God made two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night; and he made the stars, and God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.  God saw how good it was.”

“Pouring out of his pitcher of milk the stars across the dome of the sky,” Eliud added.

“What’s wrong, Abe?” Michael said.  “You look like you’ve seen a lion!”

Suddenly, the men found themselves surrounded by a small army of sword wielding warriors.

“I thought you said we would be the only ones here?” Michael asked terrified.

“We are,” Eliud said, “except one must be prepared for any visitors and at any time!  Welcome, Simon!”

“Welcome, friend,” Simon returned the greeting.  “We have to stop meeting like this!”

“Have your men eaten yet,” Eliud asked.

“We have,” Simon answered, “but we couldn’t just pass by without saying hello.  Who are your friends?”

“Not Romans,” Eliud said.

“Good!  I hate to redden this white sand with their blood,” he said as he and a couple of his men joined the three around the fire.

“This is Michael and his brother, Abe, joining me for a journey to Egypt.  You’re welcome to join us,” Eliud offered.

“We were hoping to accompany you part of the way.  We are heading back to Cyrene,” Simon said.

“Running from the Romans again?” Eliud inquired.

“Times have been tense lately since that Galilean has been preaching peace,” Simon said ironically.

“I guess that is bad business for the sicari,” Eliud also teased, but Simon didn’t find it funny.  “Who is this Galilean…Jesus ben Joseph?”

“The one and only, Jesus ben Miriam,” Simon said mockingly.  “Let me leave you gentle men in peace, while I still have some left to offer.  We will be skirting the road, so take no offense if we don’t ride with you.”

“I understand, Simon,” Eliud said.  “We will appreciate your presence, and feel the safer.  Go in peace.”

“Shalom,” Simon said in farewell.

“They scared the devil out of me,” Abe said after they left.  “Thank goodness you knew them.  At least he said, Shalom!”

“You will meet all kind on the road,” Eliud said, “sooner or later.”

“So they are “the” sicari, the assassins?” Michael asked in distain.

“They are, but don’t dwell on it,” Eliud warned, “and forget you ever met them, since they are the bane of the Romans and any who sympathize with Rome.  It seems they make Cyrene their hiding place.”

“Cyrene?” Michael said in disbelief.

“Again, keep it to yourself,” Eliud warned.  “I’m only telling you this since we will probably meet them again.  It is sometimes better to just accept people where they are at in order to survive on the road.  You never know when you will need their protection.  And they will protect us, and now you, in the future.  So rest assured.”

“Who is this Jesus ben Joseph?” Abe asked.

The Prodigal Sons Five

The Prodigal Sons Four

The Prodigal Sons Three

The Prodigal Sons Two

The Prodigal Sons One

***If you have your favorite prophet/s, and I have several, you will enjoy these series.  This present series from The Prophet’s Wife Isaiah’s wife tells her side of the story.

THE PROPHET’S WIFE

Part Five: In the Courtyard, Naked

             “In front of your son and his friend, Isaiah?” his wife Miriam scolded.

“Shear-Jashub, get my robe,” Isaiah told his son.

“The king and his court have listened?” Ammi asked him.

“They have,” Isaiah smiled at his wife, “so now I can get dressed.  I don’t like this anymore than you do, my wife!”

“I am used,” Miriam teased him, “But after three years they are still shocked, she said pointing to her son and his friend.

“Good!  That is exactly what I want, to shock them all,” Isaiah said, “so that maybe they will listen and we will still have sons.”

“They didn’t listen to my father,” Ammi said to no one in particular.

“Your father, Hosea, was a great man, a brave man,” Isaiah said to Ammi, “and he would be proud of his son and the path that he has chosen and remained faithful.  Truly, I tell you, the people from the tribe of Levi from the North are Yahweh’s People, Ammiah!” Isaiah said with conviction.

“Ammi has decided to work with his father’s disciples in compiling his writings,” Sear-Jashub said, “now that he has learned so much from us.”

“It would not have been possible without your help,” Ammi humbly admitted.

“You have come a long way over these several years, Ammi,” Isaiah said to him.  “Know that you have my blessings.”

“Please do not make your visit to our home rare,” Miriam added.  “You are always welcome here.”  Sear-Jashub and Ammi leave the garden area.

“No word of his family?” Miriam asks Isaiah a little hopeful.

“No word yet, but some close friends believe they may be around.  They did leave almost too late and may have taken a longer but safer route.”

“Tell me, my husband, what is the good news that made you stop your parading around Jerusalem naked? “ Miriam asks him a little eager to know the latest news.  “And where is Maher?”

“He went back to join the other students, since his brother and Ammi were here with you,” Isaiah informed her.  “That was a great suggestion to bring him, Maher-shalal-hash-baz!”

’Quick spoils, speedy plunder’,” Miriam repeats, “And what better way to remind the king and his cohorts of the dangerous game they play!”

“I had forgotten how effective bringing Sear-Jashub, A-Remnant-Will-Return, when I met king Ahaz his father at Shiloah,” Isaiah said pleased with his wife.  “May your name be never forgotten!”

“I felt it would be a great reminder to put all in the hands of Yahweh and not on any coalition,” Miriam said.

“I am sure the Pharaoh Tirhakah put them up to it,” Isaiah said with distain, “to hopefully weaken the Assyrians at our expense.”

“I am sure they thought our King Hezekiah would join them after extending our borders to Gaza,” Miriam suggested.

“It was a move by King Hezekiah that unfortunately will be labeled as a rebellious act by the Assyrians.  That was why it was most important I convince the king not to join in this suicidal rebellion of king Azuri of Ashdod.”

“… And to remain neutral ourselves,” Miriam added.

“We will see,” Isaiah said not very convinced.

“Does that mean more naked walks through Jerusalem?” Miriam asks almost teasingly.

“Next time nothing will convince him,” Isaiah said sadly.

                                                           

Another insurrection against Assyria broke out in Palestine in 714, the fifth major event of Isaiah’s prophetic career.  This time it was centered in the Philistine coastal city of Ashdod.  Supporting it was a resurgent Egypt under the leadership of an enterprising Ethiopian named Tirhakah.  Isaiah’s shocking protest as he walked the streets of Jerusalem for three years naked may have been partly responsible for saving Judah from becoming involved in this futile affair.  As a consequence Jerusalem was spared when Assyria once again invaded this region and quashed the rebellion in 711.

Given the devastation eventually visited on Ashdod and Gath by Sargon II, Hezekiah’s decision is a wise one.  In his annals, Sargon II boasts of stripping Ashdod of its inhabitants, treasury, and gods and of deporting a segment of the people.  Isaiah’s nakedness could not have more graphically portrayed the condition of way prisoners to his audience.

What was called for in these times was an inner tranquility and trust toward Yahweh that would lead to conversion and faith in Yahweh alone as the One who would bring deliverance.  Until then, the Assyrian invasion was inevitable.  This is what Isaiah offered to Hezekiah’s father Ahaz, but his father would not hear of it, not even when Isaiah offered him the option of requesting a miraculous sign that would confirm the truth of what he was saying.  Then it was that Isaiah, as now with Hezekiah that an unbreachable gulf had opened up between himself and his contemporaries.

He did not dread what they feared, nor was all conspiracy what they called conspiracy.  They and he had come to a parting of the ways.  For Isaiah the reality of Yahweh Sabaoth was everything.  For them this same God had become a snare and a trap (8:14).  His message was falling on deaf ears.

Yahweh’s power is such that all lies under his control, including the destinies of the mightiest nations, who function only as instruments of his policy.  Yahweh has a policy or plan which he carries out in history with supreme wisdom.  All human plans to the contrary are doomed to futility.  Thus, Isaiah thought it folly for Judah to attempt to carve out its own destiny, especially when this involved turning to Assyria or Egypt.  To trust in Yahweh’s help and protection is faith, whereas to fail to do so is lack of faith.  Because the royal advisers, acting on purely human wisdom, led Ahaz and Hezekiah into paths contrary to those advocated by Isaiah, he has a special polemic against these so-called wise.  (NJBC 15:4)

This same group was responsible for the administration of justice and is condemned for their failure to live up to the high ideals of the wisdom tradition in which they were trained.  Isaiah saw pride as the cardinal sin.  It is the antithesis of faith and brings judgment.  Thus Isaiah sees Yahweh’s intention to bring punishment on Israel and Judah.  Such punishment can, however be medicinal and prepare the way for restoration.  Thus, Isaiah opened a door for hope.  His own followers exhibited the faith to be a remnant of sorts, and the Jerusalem traditions which so influenced him, the Zion tradition and the promises to David’s dynasty, inspired him to leave some of the brightest promises for the future in the Old Testament.  (NJBC 15:4 cont.)

 

THE PROPHET’S WIFE Part Five

THE PROPHET’S WIFE Part Four

THE PROPHET’S WIFE Part Three

THE PROPHET’S WIFE Part Two

THE PROPHET’S WIFE Part One