The Franciscan Rule and the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Cypess treesJesus began speaking in the synagogue, “Today this Writing is fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” He told them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do in your native place the things we heard were done in Capernaum.”

010One minute the crows sings his praises, and the next, they are a lynch mob. Do we do the same? Do we sing the praises of our favorite leader, so long as he tells us what we want to hear? When he compares us with the Pharisees, or other villains, do we change course and become a lynch mob? What of other prophets, speakers of the truth. When they tell us what we want to hear, do we follow them, to our own doom, if need be? This is something for each of us to reflect upon.

“Capernaum,” comes from the Greek. We have a similar word, “Cypress.” Also related in the Jewish concept of Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement. “ Think of Kippur, “Atonement” in relation to the cypress trees. They provide shade, and from the point of view of someone looking down from on high, “God,” they hide, or cover the faults of the people who are below.

Be a RippleIsaiah 40 begins, “Comfort/Naum, comfort/Naum, my people, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem. Proclaim to her, her service has ended; her guilt is expiated. She has received from the hand of the NAME double for all her deviations.” The Synoptic Gospels use this passage to begin speaking of John the Baptist. Capernaum speaks of the comfort coming from atonement. The Israel Department of Tourism writes of the village, “The remains… were identified in 1838 by Eduard Robinson as Capernaum of the New Testament… The site was acquired by the Franciscan Fathers at the end of the 19th century, who conducted excavations.”

Our Secular Franciscan Rule states, “United by their vocation as brothers and sisters of penance, and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel itself calls conversion. Human frailty makes it necessary that we carry out this conversion daily. On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace. Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone. Chapter 2 Section 4 of the Secular Franciscan Rule.

habit“Do in your native place the things we things we heard were done in Capernaum.” This is impossible. The miracles require faith and faith causes interior conversion. The crowd wants radical change, but it does not want conversion. Our second reading for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary time states, “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror…. At present, I know partially; I shall know fully. Faith, hope, love remain; but the greatest of these is love.”

We see things partially. The Ethics of the Fathers states, “When sitting in judgment, do not act as a counselor-at-law. When the litigants stand before you, consider them both guilty; and when they leave your courtroom, having accepted the judgment, regard them as equally righteous.”

When people come before this judge, they see things partially, as in a mirror. When they leave court, we have a grander picture. We are reconciled to community, and are righteous.The purist proof that we are wrong is when we are so certain we are right that we do not have to listen to the other side. Being a Tzaddic, being a truly charitable person, means being willing to listen to the other side, asking, “Where does the other side gets its point of view? How can it be so certain of its right, it insists upon going to court? It is only when we are willing to undergo this radical transformation that we can become charitable, wise, as individuals, and as a nation.

It is all about love. Love, in Hebrew comes from a root. Ha Bah, sounds like the bleating of sheep and refers to the Lamb of God, who is to come. Ha Bah means to come. Abba, means father, the one who is to come. A Ha Bah is love.

ST. FrancisSt. Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, It is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.”

Jesus requires this radical transformation for healing. St. Francis requires this radical transformation on a daily basis for healing. Love means welcoming the other person into our hearts and into our lives, daily, early and often. Love means seeing each other as imperfect brothers and sisters, people we have to live with, in our home, whether our home be our dwelling, our city, our state, nation and world. Love means welcoming Muslim, Jew, atheist, or other religious, because they are fellow human beings. Love, God requires no less. “God is love,” I John 4:8.

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, or “What is a man’s due?”

384309_549304955086309_357628736_n“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” I Corinthians 12:12-13 Second Reading for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

“As among the different sounds which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, there must be maintained a certain harmony which a cultivated ear cannot endure to hear disturbed or jarring, but which may be elicited in full and absolute concord by the modulation even of voices very unlike one another. Where reason is allowed to modulate the diverse elements of the state, there is obtained a perfect concord from the upper, lower, and middle classes as from various sounds. What musicians call harmony in singing, is concord in matters of state, which is the strictest bond and best security of any republic, and which by no ingenuity can be retained where justice has become extinct.” St. Augustine, City of God, Book 2, Chapter 21.

one hundred piece orchestra

St. Augustine voices the Western definition of Justice when he writes it is giving every man his due. City of God, Book 19, chapter 4. There is one important thing wrong with this definition. In practical terms, what is any given man’s due? Augustine goes on to write, “There is in man himself a certain just order of nature, so that the soul is subjected to God, and the flesh to the soul, and consequently both soul and flesh to God.” In writing this Augustine refers to the intellectual tradition of the Greeks which has God, first, reason second, and the flesh third. Augustine may also have Deuteronomy 30:11-14 in mind.

This Mitzvah, I give you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No! It is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.”

CosmosIn Book Three Chapter 8 of his Confessions St. Augustine compares the Ten Commandments to a lyre. Just as the lyre is made of groupings of three and ten strings, so the Ten Commandments are made of the first three referring to God, and the second seven referring to man’s relations with each other. In Augustine’s writing, at least in the book, “The Complete Works of Saint Augustine,” “Music,” appears 71 times. “Concord,” appears 39 times, 10 times in Book 19 alone. Harmony appears 42 times 14 times in our Chapter 19, alone. Justice? It appears in every Book of the City of God, a grand 493 times.

moonSt. Paul tells us in our Second Reading for the Third Sunday of Ordinary time that we are to view our community as an organic whole. St. Augustine reminds us that our community is to be based upon harmony. We have all heard musical groups based upon harmony and have heard how beautiful this can sound. When asking what a man’s due is, we have only to ask, “Will the final product sound harmonic to God’s ears. As we look to the large and growing gap between the rich and poor, in this nation, and in our world, we need only ask, “Is this harmonious to God’s ear?” There is no magic formula here. Tubas are louder than flutes, much louder. The goal is not to make the tuba sound like a flute. If we could, there would be no need for a tuba player. The goal is not to make business executives into plumbers, or vice versa.

habitIn English, we have several basic concepts: Vocation, Profession, Job, and Occupations. The goal is to eliminate jobs and occupations and replace them with Vocation and Profession. Our Vocation is our calling from God. It is not something we take upon ourselves. It is not something we choose. God calls us to these things. This is what St. Paul tells us in the second reading. Likewise, professions are the way we profess our faith in our vocations. As such, professions come from God, and not from ourselves. Again, this is the heart of our second reading. Leaders are just part of the body, no more or less important than the other parts. This does not mean they should be paid the same, or differently. Tubas have different needs than flutes. They also cost more. Likewise synthesizers, pianos… We all have different needs so need to be paid differently.

What is each man’s due? Look to the final product, the final opus. The goal is, as a nation, and as individuals, to conduct the total symphony of communal life to make a work pleasing to God.

Psalm 80, the Our Father, and the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Raphael presentation in the temple

When the days were completed for their purification according to the Torah of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to KYRIE, just as it is written in the Torah of the KYRIE, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the KYRIE…” Luke 2:22-38

When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and deviation offerings you took no delight. I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.“ Hebrews 10:5-10 Second Reading Fourth Sunday of Advent

8919_1243228163516_2601477_nChristianity has had a love/hate relationship with liturgy. Moses lays out the foundations of liturgy in Exodus 22, in Leviticus, and in the Psalms. The prophets condemn liturgy. Genesis 4: 1-4, the story of Cain and Abel, gives the first recorded use of liturgy and explains the why of this love/hate relationship. Cain brings an offering to the NAME from the fruit of the ground. Abel brought the fatty portion of the firstlings of his flock. Abel brings from the first of the flock. Cain, whose name means upraised/prideful one, brings his whatever. The contest rests upon the key word, “first.”

The Jewish understanding of liturgy, from Leviticus, tells us what we bring as sacrifice represents ourselves. The leader brings his bulls, representing leadership. The poor, as related in Luke, bring doves, representing the suffering of these birds in sacrifice. We bring who we are, and who we are manifests itself by what we do. Cain brings his whatever, not making sure that what he brings is the best of what he has. When we give each other presents, the general rule of thumb is not to bring what we like. We bring what speaks to the relationship. God asks for the gift we bring to him to speak to our relationship with him by doing his will.

Words of InstitutionWhen we pray the Our Father, we ask, “Our Father,” the first words speak to the relationship of father, and we, as children of the church, his bride, to our relation as children. “Who are in heaven…” Heaven is the air. We like to think of heaven as up there, somewhere, but the air is here. As the air blows as wind, coming and going as it wills, as John tells us in his Gospel, God calls us to breath in this wind, allow it to remain within us, and move us to heal and transform.

“Dedicated is your NAME.” We dedicate God’s Name, not by words we say, but by what we do. You represent your family by your actions, whether you like it, or know it, or not. When we behave well, we dedicate God’s name by being an example. Others dedicate God’s Name saying, “I teach you customs and precedents as the NAME, my God, commanded me, that you guard to do them in the land you are entering to possess. Guard them carefully, for this is your wisdom and discernment in the sight of the peoples, who will hear of all these precedents and say, “This great nation is truly a wise and discerning people.” Deuteronomy 4:5-6

PovertyIn Hebrew and Aramaic, prayer is a reflexive verb. It is sitting down with God and asking him to work with us as we do his will. “Your will be done, your will be done…” This is a request that he give us direction to do his will. Then comes his will. “Give us this day our daily bread.” The Greek for “Daily,” most properly translates as, “Over being.” It is the bread of over being or spiritual bread. As “daily bread,” the emphasis is upon, “Us.” It means we ask God to help us make sure all of us have the bread we need to live and survive as human beings. This is not subsistence living. This is living with the over bread, the bread of being human, with all it means to be human. We pray for the where withal to make sure all people on this planet have sufficient for their needs.

563670_4908488437728_2091044043_nThen we pray that we forgive others as God forgives us first. We pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” King David, in Proverbs 30:10 says it well, “Two things I ask of you, do not deny them to me before I die: Put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need (daily bread); Lest, being full, I deny you, “Who is the NAME?” Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God.” This fulfilled is being lead not into temptation. “Evil?” The Hebrew word means rot. God wants a healthy world. God put us on this planet to guard it and to keep it. He wants our best.

When we give our best, God loves and looks down well on our liturgy as it is bringing the best of ourselves into his presence. When we do less. When we give second best to our world, not making sure all have sufficient to their needs, now and into posterity, taking care of our planet, God does not look well upon our liturgy. This is today’s lesson.

Catholic Speaker

Charles W. Gill O.S.F.

Mr. Charles Gill is a passionate speaker and author who wrote the book, “STARTING OVER: This is the beginning of the sweet message, but what is the beginning. Charles brings fresh and insightful looks into the Gospels, which come from reading Torah and Gospel in light of Judaic Studies, and reading in light of Hebrew and Greek. He has completed the academic portion of his M. Divinity degree from Loyola University with a 3.529 GPA, and has extensive study from Kent State University with a 3.0 GPA. He is a college graduate from Kent State with a degree in Philosophy and a 3.01 GPA.

Leading a hard life has taught him how God’s love helps him to overcome even the greatest of obstacles. His Judaic Studies showed him how to take even the most negative aspects of ourselves and turn them into positives. His knowledge of the faith and his ability to teach has allowed him to encourage others to strive for how God calls each person to the universal priesthood of the faithful. Charles is an active member of his Catholic parish, St. Thomas Cathedral in Reno Nevada.

Charles Gill would be open to discuss how to apply the four pillars of the Catholic Faith, Torah and Gospel, to catechesis and diocesan development. He is also open to discussing ecclesiastical development over the centuries, and today. His training also includes how the sacraments and Catholic ethics developed over the centuries and how to apply them today.

Charles and his wife Linda currently reside in Reno Nevada with their miniature Aussie, Joey.