About Friar Musings

Franciscan friar and Catholic priest at St. Francis of Assisi in Triangle, VA

The Remnant

Today’s first reading is from the Prophet Zephaniah. It is only three chapters long and it is filled with darkness, distress, destruction, death, doom, and despair. Yet, in the midst of all that – there is a message of hope, for a remnant of the people; people described as humble and lowly. People who take refuge in the Lord. People who remain faithful to God even as all around them crumbles and falls apart. A remnant who has already seen the Assyrian empire conquer most of the promise in the promised land. A remnant that can already see the Babylonian threat on the horizon. A remnant that even as they wonder how this all plays out in God’s plan, they are the faithful …. and hanging on. They recognize that they are blessed by God. It might be hard for us to see it, but they see it. And that challenges us just as the more famous beatitudes of today’s gospel also challenges us. Continue reading

In case you were wondering…

From a scan of today’s news:

  • Manatee Country Florida has reported a pond containing nearly 400 goldline snakehead fish, an invasive species able to air breath for a period of time, transport itself over dry land, and aggressively hunt frogs.
  • A green comet is making a pass-by earth (no worries – 26 million mile away). Actually it is a return fly-by having last visited during the Neanderthal period. It is about a mile across with it “tail” extending several million miles. The green comes from the carbon cloud surrounding the nucleus of the comet.
  • Just detected days ago, Asteroid “2023BU” will pass within 2,200 miles of earth before passing on. It is about the size of a truck and was discovered by Gennadiy Borisov, an amateur astronomer from Crimea. In case you’d like to watch the fly-by. the Virtual Telescope Project broadcast the event on its website and YouTube channel.
  • At the local Publix store in Stafford VA, organic, free-ranging, etc. eggs were less expensive than most commercial eggs.
  • Lastly, at the center of things, scientists believe the the molten core of the earth seems to be ready to shift speed and/or perhaps relative rotational direction. This may sound like a setup for a world-wrecking, blockbuster movie. But fret not: Precisely nothing apocalyptic will result from this planetary spin cycle, which may have been happening for eons.

Relationship of The Two Stanzas of the Beatitudes

The people described in the first stanza are those who lack dikaiosynē. The people described in the second stanza are those dedicated to bringing dikaiosynē. Thus the people in the second part provide what the people are lacking in the first part. Ironically, by seeking to provide dikaiosynē, the virtuous may find themselves in the position of lacking dikaiosynē. With Jesus as an example: he proclaimed justice to those deprived of justice, and he became one who was unjustly executed. Continue reading

The Second Stanza – Promises of Reward to the Virtuous

This coming weekend is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The gospel is the beginning of Matthew’s well known “Sermon on the Mount.” In yesterday’s post we drilled deep into the nature of the first part of the Sermon known as the Beatitudes. In today’s post we considered the first stanza of the beatitudes (vv.3-6). Today we look at the second stanza (vv.7-10)

7 Blessed are the merciful,  for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers,  for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of  righteousness,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Continue reading

The First Stanza – Promises of Reversals to the Unfortunate

This coming weekend is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The gospel is the beginning of Matthew’s well known “Sermon on the Mount.” In yesterday’s post we drilled deep into the nature of the first part of the Sermon known as the Beatitudes. In today’s post we consider the first stanza of the the beatitudes (vv.3-6)

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. 6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.  Continue reading

Beatitudes: structure

This coming weekend is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The gospel is the beginning of Matthew’s well known “Sermon on the Mount.” In yesterday’s post we covered the nature and alternative outlines of the Sermon. Today we go a little deeper into the nature of the first part of the Sermon known as the Beatitudes.

Internal Structure 

Altogether there are nine beatitudes in 5:3–12, the ninth (5:11–12) is really an expansion of the eighth (5:10). Some scholars opt for a structure with three sets of three, the first eight exhibit such a tightly knit parallel structure that it is more likely that we should understand them as two sets of four. This is most consistent with Hebraic poetry forms which seem to be the literary background of the Beatitudes. Still there is an internal consistency within each “stanza/verse” as seen in the form of each pronouncement

Blessed are they who… (a quality/activity in the present tense)
for they will be…. (a verb in the future; except vv. 3 and 10)

This form is repeated each time with minor variations.  The first and last beatitude have the same ending: “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Some see an internal chiastic structure of the poetic based on the grammar of the text:

However interesting, this perhaps is a bit over analyzed. It would seem a simpler model (vv. 3 and 10 in the present with the intervening verses in the future) is adequate to point to a “realized eschatology”  and the “two-groups of four” is adequate to retain the underlying poetic.

Mark Allen Powell (119-38) suggests that the text can be outlined in the following way:

This outline is simpler and retains a central idea that the kingdom has begun to break into the world but will only be complete (fulfilled) in a future time.


Image credit: Cosimo Rosselli Sermone della Montagna, 1481, Sistine Chapel, Public Domain 

Beatitudes: scripture, culture and theology

This coming weekend is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The gospel is the beginning of Matthew’s well known “Sermon on the Mount.” In yesterday’s post we covered the nature and alternative outlines of the Sermon. Today we go a little deeper into the nature of the first part of the Sermon known as the Beatitudes. Continue reading

Sermon on the Mount: nature and outline

This coming weekend is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The gospel is Matthew’s well known “Sermon on the Mount.” In yesterday’s post we covered the context for the Sermon as well as some overarching views of the Sermon regarding its context and audience. Today we consider the nature and alternative outlines of the Sermon. Continue reading

A House Divided

In today’s gospel Jesus proclaims, “...if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:25). The gospel says it I believe it, my experience reveals it to be true, it makes sense – and ultimately such divided houses do indeed fall. But it is my experience that sometimes it takes a long time to collapse and in the interim, living in the house is an increasingly difficult and unpleasant time. Continue reading