Category Archives: gospel

Pope Francis: Pride, Humility and the Gospel of the Day After

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Pope Francis has gone back to Rome. Sigh–I miss him. I live in central Florida so the closest he ever got to  me was probably about 330 miles away and that was in a foreign country, Cuba. The closest I got to him in the United States was when he traveled to Washington, D.C. which is over 900 miles away. No matter, I do miss him. His gentle, kind and loving face was all over the TV screen since last Tuesday. I have been among his captive audience. It was so uplifting and refreshing watching this apostle of Christ and descendant of St. Peter do his thing and, on TV no less, for all the world to see.. Yes, I miss him.

The Pope left last night at about 8 p.m. At 8 a.m this morning I was at morning Mass. The gospel reading for the day blew me away. This reading was not in place to reflect his visit but it did. The  reading was scheduled for today and put in place on the universal church calendar several years ago. So, it is pure coincidence this gospel reading and his visit overlapped. If not, it was inspired from above. (That one works for me).

This is from the Gospel of Luke; Chapter 9: vs 46-50
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. 
For the one who who is least among all of you is the one who is greatest.”

This gospel reading is all about the greatest of all the ‘deadly’ sins, Pride. It is also about the greatest of all ‘heavenly’ virtues, Humility. This is a “clash of the titans” of evil vs Good. And Pope Francis, without trying and by just being who God made him to be, wore the mantle of humility without fanfare, showmanship, pretentiousness or anything that might be self-serving in any manner. Yes, he wore that mantle and it was fastened to his shoulders with the clasp of Love. In so doing he showed  the whole world what it means to think of yourself last before all others.  (Was that a Fiat Hatchback?)

Jorge Mario Bergoglio never asked to be a bishop or a cardinal. He never “lobbied” for these positions or  sought them out in any way. He did not have “super-pacs” at his beckoned call when the vacancy for Pope opened. He simply loved being a priest, working with the poor and homeless and doing his best to follow God’s call so he would make his life pleasing to Him. Make no mistake, God called him to the papacy. The secular world would mock that concept but that is why they cannot experience the joy so many millions of faithful experienced in America over the past week. If they could only swallow their damn pride a bit and open their hearts they may find the elusive peace that evades them.

Pope Francis is filled with the Holy Spirit. That Spirit leads him to stop his motorcade and wade into a crowd of children and hug them and kiss their foreheads. It compels him to embrace the crippled, the disfigured, the mentally challenged, the homeless as well as the “uppity-ups”. He has no qualms about walking into a prison and embracing hard-core murderers, rapists, thieves, and drug dealers.

After seeing President Obama and offering Mass during his stop in Washington, D.C. he made a point of going to the offices of the Little Sisters of the Poor. He had to send a message to the entire world about the solidarity that exists within the Church when it comes to respect for life, ALL life. That message required no words—just action. The Pope gave that message by meeting with the Sisters who take care of the elderly poor, free of charge and have been doing so since St. Jeanne Jugan founded the order back in 1841 .

Pope Francis has left our country. He has left it a more contented and inspired nation. He has reached out to everyone and many have responded. He represents the Goodness and Love that Jesus Christ brought to us. He is His ambassador on earth. He did his work well. If this had been a baseball game it would have been called “Perfect”. But now it is over and the Prideful will resurface.

Thanks for the grace, inspiration, love and memories Holy Father. We have to get you back here more often.

                                    ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved


The World; Yesterday and Today–The Bible Covers It All

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
By Larry Peterson
As a cradle Catholic who went to twelve years of Catholic school “waaaaay” back in the ’50s and ’60s, I can say without hesitation that my education in the Bible and about the Bible and of the Bible was almost non-existent. The Catechism with its nays & yays and right & wrong dominated the conversation. However, over the past ten years or so I have come to honor and respect the Bible. It took me all those decades to realize how profound and so magnificently in our faces with truths this book, written so long ago, is. The seven Wisdom books alone are worth more than all the jewels on Pharaoh’s crown.
Back to the ‘truths’ I mentioned. The other day, August 26, the gospel reading was from Matthew 23: 27-32. I believe this gospel actually references today’s world and the egotistical and self-centered mindset that so many people have embraced. Countless people have stomped on the goodness within God’s creation by choosing to grasp onto  the secular banner of “meism.” The Bible has their number–literally. It had it then and it has it now.
For me, as a writer, the Bible also has the best writing prompts…especially if you are having trouble getting the words to flow from your brain to the screen or paper. The Gospel reading from August 26 is a prime example of how my brain can get ‘jump-started’. This jolt came from  Matthew 23: 27-32. (I’m just using 27 -28.) Here it is:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.”
There are actually seven “Woe to you” paragraphs in Chapter 23. I quoted number six  because it was part of the Gospel reading for the day. Anyway, the first thing that came to mind was Planned Parenthood. Think about it: “beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.” I immediately thought of the people destroying the lives of babies and joking about it. I thought of all those defending  this organization and insist that those who would  vilify it are taking away women’s health protections. There are many in high places that certainly appear beautiful on the outside and, since I do not get to look inside, I can only imagine. I do know this: abortion is the Holocaust of the last four decades.
In America, marriage between a man and a woman is being denigrated by the beautiful, sophisticated, upscale and highly civilized secular community. Same-sex “marriage” is hailed as a right and the enhancement of freedom. Rejecting one’s God-given sex and deciding to change to the opposite sex is hailed as heroic and courageous. Legalizing euthanasia has taken root in Europe and in America. In Belgium they now permit childhood euthanasia. I could go on and on but you all know what has and is happening. And many of those who proclaim Catholicism as their faith  approve of these practices.
I am amazed that it has taken me so long to realize the magnificence and page-to-page wisdom the Bible holds. So much of Scripture defines the present. It describes us and our world. It tells us how and where are journey began, where it has taken us, and where we are going. It is a great gift and I shall never ignore it again. It is also the one and only book I will reference when seeking out writing prompts. The Bible has it all. If you have not tried you should check it out. It is a GREAT READ.
©2015 Larry Peterson-All RightsReserved

We Catholics Have an Undeniably Jewish DNA

by Larry Peterson

When I was growing up in the Bronx we lived on the third floor  in a five story walk-up on Sherman Ave. There were eight of us in a four room apartment. In the apartment below lived  Leo and Sophie Rabinowitz.  Quite often, in the middle of the night,  blood-curdling screams filled the back alley  and our apartment and the hallways outside. The screams were coming from the Rabinowitz’s. It was Sophie. She was having recurring nightmares. But Leo was the landlord and no one dared complain about the eery  howls that constantly reached the ears of so many. There was one man,  however,  who could not leave this alone. That man was my father.
I remember that Friday night long ago very well. The screaming started about midnight. It was September and the windows  were still open because it was hot and the screaming seemed exceptionally chilling. Dad got up and my brother whispered from his bed, “I think he’s going down there.”  We got up and followed him and, without hesitating, Dad walked up to Leo’s  apartment door and began banging on it with his fist. We watched from the stairs as the door slowly opened. Leo poked his head out and just like that my father was embracing this little Jewish man who had buried his head in Dad’s chest  crying unashamedly. My brother and I, crouched down and peeking from the landing above,  were stunned.  Then Dad disappeared into that apartment with Leo Rabinowitz and did not leave for several hours. Sophie was having nightmares all right, recurring nightmares of her two boys, ages 12 and 9, being clubbed to death by the Nazis as they made her and Leo watch. Try as I may, I cannot  imagine what those moments in their lives were like. They were loving parents and were helpless, unable to save their very own children as godless people clubbed them to death. The Nazis tortured the parents  further by allowing them to live.
My father has been dead for many years but he is still teaching me about being Catholic today. How? The gospel reading for All Saints Day is from Matthew 5:1-12. The Beatitudes. When the priest read #7, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”,  I remembered that Friday night long ago. I remember how a Catholic man reached out to his Jewish neighbor and how they became friends. I also remember that because of that friendship Leo and Sophie Rabinowitz became friends with the other folks in the building. My father was the ‘peacemaker’ who initiated the peacemaking process. He did ‘GOOD’.
We Catholics have just celebrated All Saints Day and All Souls Day. During the reading of the Roman Canon at Mass, (First Eucharistic Prayer) the following words are read prior to the words of consecration: “In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, her Spouse, —–and all your saints.”  Were not all of them Jewish? Yeah..I think they were. There is no denying this fact. They are all canonized saints and their Judaism was always part of who they were.
Finally, let me mention our Holy Father, Pope Francis.  The Pope is very good friends with one of the primary Jewish leaders in Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka.  In October of 2012, he presented to Rabbi Skorka an honorary doctorate degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. It was the first time such an honor had been bestowed on any Jewish man in all of Latin America. Upon presenting the award to Rabbi Skorka, the Pope (then Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio) said, “You cannot imagine how long I have waited for this moment.”