Passing Away: context

Jesus-Apostles-vine-branch224 “But in those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, 27 and then he will send out the angels and gather (his) elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. 28 “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. 30 Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36 May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”  (Mark 13:24-37) Continue reading

Unnoticed

Our gospel is known as the story of the Widow’s Mite. As you just heard, a widow donates two small coins, while wealthy people donate much more. A common explanation of the story is that Jesus praises the poor widow and holds her up as an example to us all because she gave “her whole livelihood.” So even though the rich people gave more, it was just for show and only from their chump change. Not the widow, she is “all in” in what she gives to God. The moral of the story is that small sacrifices of the poor mean more to God than the extravagant donations of the rich. And so, I could have a seat at this point, leave you to think about your weekly offering, your APA pledge… are you giving chump change, or are your contributing your whole livelihood? I could but there is more here than meets the eye. Continue reading

Veterans Day 2018

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
– John F. Kennedy

A few years ago I received an email from one of my brother friars. I thought would post its content again. The email raised the question – in the light of all the commercial sales and advertisements: Is Veterans Day really a holiday or is it a holy day? Continue reading

Thank you for your service

When the 1960s came around, the “Greatest Generation” – those men and women who served during World War II were still largely and stoically silent about their wartime experiences – but the television networks began television shows about the war. Series such as “Combat,” “12 O’Clock High,” and “Men at War” became staples of primetime viewing. Knowing things about WWII became part and parcel of determining one’s status within the pack (and here I am referring to Cub Scouts). Sure, you might be able to identify the German Messerschmitt 109 fighter aircraft from a flash card, but the real test was could you identify the difference between 109-C and the 109-G series (except the 109-G6 which was soooo… obvious). Clearly such things were critical to national defense among the Cub Scouts. Or so it seemed at the time. Continue reading

Widow’s Mite: context

Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna38 In the course of his teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, 39 seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.’ 41 He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. 44 For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.’ (Mark 12:38–44) Continue reading

Widow’s mite: exit

Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, RavennaThe Poor Widow and Jesus. 41 He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. 44 For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.’

We are conditioned to consider that Jesus is continuing his castigation of the scribes (religious leaders who use their position for their own gain) and their social counterparts, many rich people. By juxtaposition we then infer that the poor widow is praised for her giving of her whole livelihood and placing here full dependence upon God. We infer that, and perhaps rightly so, but there are many Continue reading

Widow’s Mite: devouring

Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, RavennaInjustice via God’s Name. 40 They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.

Perkins [682] notes that the charge that the scribes “devour the houses of widows” (v. 40) also seems more characteristic of prophetic charges against the rich than of a particular role played by scribes. Some interpreters have hypothesized that scribes might have acted as guardians for widows who lacked male relatives. Others suggest that they may have accepted hospitality from widows under the pretense of piety in order to support their tastes for wealth and power. When he sent them out to preach, Jesus prohibited his own disciples from accumulating wealth or moving from the first household to take them in (6:8–10). Jesus also constantly warned his own disciples against seeking honor rather than serving others (9:33–35; 10:42–45). Mark’s Roman/Gentile readers were not likely to have had dealings with scribes, but they could recognize the same characteristics among others. The wandering Cynic philosophers who frequented Greco-Roman cities often castigated other philosophers whose wealthy patrons provided luxurious clothes, sumptuous food, and social honor. Continue reading

Widow’s mite: scribes

Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna38 In the course of his teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, 39 seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.’

There is always a pause when I read this passage. Being a Franciscan Friar, I go around in long robes, inevitably accept greetings as I move out and about, whether I want it or not, I end up in the places of honor at banquets, and in the church, and I occupy the ‘big chair’ reserved for the presider at Mass. During Mass, some parishioners might accuse me of reciting lengthy homilies  (hopefully not as a pretext). The only part for which I am hopefully safe is devouring the houses of widows. Perhaps it is cautionary pause. Continue reading

Widow’s Mite: poverty

Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna42 A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.

Widows. Lurking in the background of our reading is the first-century Jewish system of levirate marriages (Gen 38 and Deut 25:5-10). In short if a man dies without leaving a son, his widow is forbidden to marry outside his family. One of her deceased husband’s brothers must assume the duty of the levir, taking her as his wife. The first male of this second union is considered the son of the deceased brother. Continue reading

Living the Great Commandments

As part of our morning prayer as a community of Friars, we read the names aloud for the friars who passed away on the given day. This weekend marks the 6th anniversary of the passing of one of the true characters and legends of our Franciscan province. Brother Juniper Capece was a friar for 60 years, was our provincial tailor, and was the keeper of many of the stories of the friars – you know, the ones that never get written down, but bring everyone to tears because we are laughing so hard. Continue reading