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Wedding at Cana – Part 1 of 2

Let’s begin with a little humor: There is a story about a priest named Fr. Murphy who went to visit a family in his small-town parish for a holiday meal. They all had a great dinner during which the wine flowed rather freely. Then it came time for Father to return home.

The man hosting the meal said, “Hey Father we still have a half-bottle of wine left from the meal. I’m going to put it in the back seat of your car. No reason to let it go to waste.” Well, Fr. didn’t realize it but he was a bit tipsy when he got into his car. As he drove down the road on his way home he didn’t notice that his car was weaving a bit.

Well, the local Sheriff, who knew everyone in town, saw Fr. Murphy’s car weaving and he decided to pull him over to the side of the road. “How are you doing Father,” the sheriff asked. “Oh, just fine Sheriff,” replied Fr. Murphy. “Say Father,” the Sheriff asked, “what’s that in the back seat of your car? “Oh, that’s just a bottle of water,” said the good priest.

“Well, I’ll tell you what Father,” the Sheriff said, “that doesn’t look like water to me. Let me see it.” The sheriff took the bottle in his hand pulled out the cork, gave it a whiff, and said. “That’s wine for sure Father.” And, Fr. McGill said, “My golly he’s done it again!”

All of us who are schooled in the gospel find that little story about Father Murphy to be humorous because we are familiar with the story in the second chapter of John’s gospel. In John’s gospel, the first miracle that Jesus performs is the miracle of changing water into wine at a wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.

Since the very beginning of the church’s reflection on the gospels, this particular gospel about a wedding feast in John has been interpreted to be central to the revelation of the identity of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

In the mind of the Fathers of the Church the wedding in Cana was deemed a major epiphany or manifestation of the God-man, Jesus the Lord. In preaching, the Wedding at Cana was tied together with two other epiphanies, namely, the manifestation of Jesus to the Wise Men from the East and the Baptism of the Lord.

Through these events Jesus, who is the perfect image of the Father, comes to illuminate the world with the light of God the Father’s love. Jesus is luminous in his Being and all his works are luminous epiphanies, given to the world so that in receiving the light, people can come to believe in Jesus as God’s own Son.

Thus, in a spectacular way, this gospel passage from John reveals Jesus to us so that we can believe in him. This story is a luminous story, a story of light.

Let’s just review the passage from chapter two of John.

On the third day there was a marriage feast in Cana in Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short Mary said to Jesus, “They have no more wine.” (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern involve me, my hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding 20 to 30 gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So, they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it had come from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first and then when people have drunk freely an inferior one, but you have kept the good wine until now.” And the gospel concludes: Jesus did this as the first of his signs in Cana in Galilee, and so revealed his glory and his disciples began to believe in him.

The first thing to notice about this story is very important, namely, that there is a wedding going on.  Actually, if you were to translate these words for “wedding feast” literally from the Aramaic the words “marriage feast” mean a “drinking feast.” A marriage feast was a drinking feast that actually could go on for quite some time. The celebration could last for as much as a week.  Obviously, to run out of wine at a wedding would have been a great disgrace.

In the Old Testament scriptures wine has a special significance, Wine is as sign of celebration, wine is a sign of gladness, wine is a sign of God’s favor and his providence. This pairing of wine with God’s providence is quite evident in chapter 25 of the prophet Isaiah, as in the following words: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich foods and choice wines, juicy rich food and choice wines.”  (Is. 25:6)

In this passage, Isaiah speaks of a future day, the day of the Messianic King, when wine would flow freely at the marriage feast between God and his people.

In the New Testament, wine becomes the symbol of Christ’s Precious Blood, the blood of the Lamb. Where the Sacred Wine of Christ’s Blood is poured out and drunk with faith, the new Kingdom is formed and the Church is brought forth. Where people share in the “one cup,” they are brought into unity of life with Christ and with one another. Where people participate in the Eucharist, they come into the light to share in the glory of God, the same glory that was revealed at Cana. Where people drink from the Sacred Cup, they begin to know what it will be like to be married to God for all eternity.

So, what sort of wedding is this in Cana? It is a ritual Jewish wedding in one sense, but since people are there who are going to come to believe in Jesus, it is also the wedding between Christ and the faithful soul. By anticipation, it is the wedding of all those throughout the ages who will come to believe in Jesus.

In a word, the marriage feast at Cana is the beginning of the wedding between Christ and his Church, which is to last through eternity. As Hugo Rahner says of the marriage Feast at Cana,  “It was a marriage and the God-man changed the water of human nature into the wine of the divine.”(Mary and the Church Pantheon Books, N.Y. 1961 pgs. 50-51)

The wedding at Cana also gives a forevision of the Eucharist, a point brought out by St Ephraim (306-373) when he said, speaking of Christ,

The wine he offers, Christ makes excellent, to suggest the treasures hidden in his life-giving blood.  The first sign he accomplishes is the wine that gladdens the celebrants; the significance is that this blood rejoices the nations.  All earthly joys come together in wine; all of salvation is joined in the mystery of his blood.  He offers the sweet wine that transforms hearts, as they believe in the inebriating doctrine that transforms them.

To be continued...

Written by Fr. John Magdalene Suenram, OCD
Fr. John Magdalene belongs to the Discalced Carmelite Friars, Province of St. Therese.  He is a member of our Friars' community in Oklahoma City where he serves as Councilor.

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Nuestra Señora la Santísima Virgen María

      En estos días de Adviento la Iglesia entra en un tiempo de espera orante por la llegada de Jesús, en compañía de la Santísima Virgen.  La Palabra de Dios nos presenta a María desde varias perspectivas.  Una de ellas es como la morada del Dios vivo. Leemos en el Segundo libro de Samuel: “David reunió una vez más a los selectos de Israel, treinta mil hombres.  Se puso en marcha con la gente de Baalá de Judá que estaba con él para trasladar de allí el Arca de Dios, designada con el nombre de ‘Señor del universo, que se sienta sobre querubines’.  Pusieron el Arca de Dios en un carro nuevo y la llevaron desde la casa de Abinadab, en la colina. Uzá y Ajió, hijos de Abinadab, conducían el carro nuevo y lo llevaron con el Arca de Dios desde la casa de Abinadab, en la colina. Ajió iba delante del Arca.  David y toda la casa de Israel bailaban ante el Señor con instrumentos de ciprés, cítaras, arpas, tambores, sistros y címbalos.  Al llegar a la era de Nacón, Uzá alargó su mano al Arca de Dios y la agarró, porque los bueyes, la habían desplazado.  Se encendió, entonces, la cólera del Señor contra Uzá, y le hirió allí mismo por su temeridad.  Y allí murió, junto al Arca de Dios.  David se enfadó, porque el Señor había abierto brecha contra Uzá....  David temió aquel día al Señor y dijo: ‘¿Cómo va a venir a mí el Arca del Señor?’  Y no quiso trasladar el Arca del Señor junto a él a la ciudad de David, sino que la condujo a casa de Obededón, el guitita.  El Arca del Señor permaneció tres meses en la casa de Obededón, de Gat.  Y el Señor bendijo a Obededón y a toda su casa” (2 Sam 6, 1-11).

      ¿Qué era el Arca de Dios?  Era una especie de caja o cofre sagrado ornamentado que, de acuerdo al libro del Éxodo contenía las tablas de piedra donde estaban inscritos los Diez Mandamientos.  De acuerdo a algunas interpretaciones de los libros del Éxodo, Números y la Carta a los Hebreos, el Arca también contenía el báculo de Aarón y una jarra con maná.  El Arca fue construida por mandato de Dios, de acuerdo con las instrucciones dadas a Moisés en el Monte Sinaí.  Era un signo visible de la presencia de Dios entre su pueblo y por eso era venerada como muy sagrada hasta el punto de ser intocable.

Leemos en el Evangelio de Lucas: “En aquellos mismos días María se levantó y se puso en camino de prisa hacia la montaña, a una ciudad de Judá; entró en casa de Zacarías y saludó a Isabel.  En cuanto Isabel oyó el saludo de María, saltó la criatura en su vientre.  Se llenó Isabel de Espíritu Santo y, levantando la voz, exclamó: ‘¡Bendita tú entre las mujeres, y bendito el fruto de tu vientre! ¿Quién soy yo para que me visite la madre de mi Señor?  Pues, en cuanto tu saludo llegó a mis oídos, la criatura saltó de alegría en mi vientre.  Bienaventurada la que ha creído, porque lo que le ha dicho el Señor se cumplirá’...  María se quedó con ella unos tres meses y volvió a su casa” (Lc 1, 39-45, 56).

En el Segundo Libro de Samuel y este pasaje de Lucas escuchamos que ambas, el Arca y María Santísima viajaron por las montañas o colinas y que permanecieron en una casa por tres meses.  Las palabras de David fueron: “¿Cómo va a venir a mí el Arca del Señor?”  Las palabras de Isabel a María fueron: “¿Quién soy yo para que me visite la madre de mi Señor?”  El Arca llevaba las tablas de la Ley (la Alianza de Dios y su pueblo), el bastón de Aarón y maná. María cargaba dentro de sí a Aquel que era la Nueva Alianza, quien moriría en el madero de la cruz, y quien sería nuestro maná eucarístico.  Tanto el Arca como María eran portadoras de la presencia de Dios entre su pueblo.  La Sagrada Escritura, por lo tanto, trata de comunicarnos que María es el Arca de la Nueva Alianza, la nueva morada de Dios con su pueblo.  La presencia de Dios hecho hombre que ella llevaba en su interior se desbordó en su vida y en sus actos, amando a Dios y al prójimo, como explicamos ayer.

María es esa tierra rica y fértil que Cristo describe en la parábola del Sembrador (Mt 13, 1-23).  En María la semilla de la Palabra de Dios cae y produce fruto abundante, mucho más que el ciento por uno.  ¡Y qué fruto nos ha dado esta tierra fecunda! ¡El gran Yahvé, YO SOY hecho carne!

Aunque no exactamente en la misma manera, tú y yo somos también morada de Dios y tierra rica llamada a recibirle y a darlo al mundo.  A través del bautismo el Dios Trino viene a morar en nuestro interior y cuando cooperamos con su gracia nuestra vida se vuelve más suya que nuestra.  Por esa razón Santa Teresa nos dice que si llenamos el castillo de nuestra alma con gente vulgar y toda clase de basura, ¿cómo podrá el Señor y su corte ocuparlo?  Por eso hemos de ser porteros celosos y vigilantes de nuestro castillo y no permitirle el paso a través de los sentidos y el pensamiento a nada que opaque la presencia de Dios en nosotros.

      Hay un momento en particular en el que nosotros, más que nunca, somos templos de Dios como María: la santa Comunión.  Cuando le recibamos abramos de par en par las puertas de nuestro corazón al Señor y permitámosle que nos haga su santa morada.

Escrito por el Padre Jorge Cabrera, OCD

Second Sunday of Advent 'A' Homily – Part 2

John the Baptist

          On this Second Sunday of the New Church Year, John the Baptist stands before the ages and us in Chapter 3 of St. Matthew. He shouts out an invitation to repentance. He warns of impending judgment. He exhorts us to find security only int the Lord himself, not in superficial religious identity and external observances:For God can raise up children of Abraham [even] from mere stones", said to offset complaisance in one's religious lineage. John's mission yearned for the renewwal of hearts in "metanoia" - an "about face" - back to the Lord who saves the penitent.

          The contemporary biblical scholar, Celia Sirois, points out that the kings in Isaiah's day did not readily rely on the gifts of God's spirit but on human political councilors to govern; we know they were often tempted to make alliances with pagan rulers, something forbidden by God as their true King and ruler. Furthermore, this same scholar reflects that in John the Baptist's day, manu among the priestly aristocracy (the Sadducees) were in collusion with the occupying Romans. Thus Isaiah of old and  the later John the Baptizer, "delivered a politically charged message"! And so at the crossroad =s of salvation history, where John the Baptist stood, every religious leader especially, but also every common man and woman, needed to hear that there is now a "new [religious] possibility" in society - [namely,] "a new exercise of power at the service of repentance and religion" that we now call social justice!" It serves both God and humanity in a God-given 'New Order of things'!

          John pointed out Jesus Christ as the Promised Messiah, now standing in the very midst of the people. He is the One who will baptized by Spirit and fire. For the Spirit Is Fire! – He brings about staunch change by the graced decision of the heart and a renewed will for God. The Spirit is like fire that burns away the chaff of a sin-divided heart. The Spirit turns us back around to the healer and lover of our souls and to one another in solidarity! Baptism and penance are the works of the Spirit, the gifts again of the Messiah. But the Messiah's gifts also change community, for society is the milieu of the human person, and every person is in essential relation to family, community, and broader society. God and Person and Society are all addressed by the Lord of the End Times. John the Baptist bears witness to this broader and socially inclusive notion of religion, and we must not miss it as so many of his own contemporaries did!

          Conversion of heart, the fruit of the Spirit, is surely not self-centered. It is God-centered and other-centered. The penitent will  praise God in the assembly of believers and will  serve the Church of God and the mass of humanity, for all are called to grace. We repentant sinners will take our place in the universal "concert of praise" to the extent that we are intent on the total evangelization of the self and society. (This is a celebrated theme in Vatican II's document, Gaudium et Spes! .)

          So the Lord of Advent today calls us to the confession of our sins to God, to the church and to all humanity. He bids us follow him into service. He bids us this sacred Time and Season according to its original meaning: namely, the Celebration of Redemption at the Incarnation of the Son of God the Savior. To recognize him and to follow him is to turn the back of our 'grasping self' and to turn towards God and our neighbor in grateful penitence. Naturally, service is offered through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy – the outreach of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and the four moral virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude of soul. Faith and hope and love stretch out to God and to family and neighbor in need through works of brotherly and sisterly charity.

          In our Gospel reading today, Jesus Christ does not speak directly to us. In Matthew 3, it is again, John, Precursor of the Lord, who speaks, but in the presence of the Lord and of the first disciples that Jesus Christ will call. John's point is that the works of formal-exterior religion do not satisfy the purpose of God's holiness. The "tree must bear good fruit to be cut down." Before God we stand at a moment of great decision. Such is the mentality of the true penitent. Do note that there is an urgency here! An urgency that we truly perceive the multiple layers of discipleship of Christ. We are to worship God in humility of heart, and we are to extend God's gift of mercy and love to our own kind, and especially to those in need. Comfortable living for sure must NOT exclude social justice in the markeplace, thus rendering a ready and active concern for the less fortunate. Of the Messiah that we prepare to meet in today's sacred liturgy and at the End of all Time and History, John the Forerunner of the Lord says: "His winnowing* fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing floor, and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

          (*) Parenthetically, not being familiar enough with harvest and agricultural imagery in the bible, I turned to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Published by the InterVarsity Press/England/1998/p.136). It reads: "In *winnowing, grain is threshed in order to separate the kernel of grain from the husk and straw. The mixture is thrown into the air with a winnowing fork or shovel. The wind blows the light husk away, the heavier straw falls near the edge of the threshing floor, and the grain [directly] falls back to the floor to be collected. Both the light husks and the heavier straw are ... translated "chaff"  in the bible."

          Please God, the Word has entered our hearts to stay there in saving grace! We are humbly ready for him to renew our baptism with fiery decision in the mind and heart. We accept our loving obligations to our own household, our friends and neighbors, and to the Lord's poor. The Lord's judgment is a consuming fire indeed. We submit ti his judgment for our own renewal. And we place no hopes in our religious observance that closes us off from deeply discerning conscience and generous outreach. For you and I, not unlike John the Baptizer, are expected to become AN ADVENT OF THE LORD TO ALL THOSE AROUND US. For our mission too is to "prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight his paths! For all flesh shall soon see the salvation of our God". Amen.

Written by Fr. Sam Anthony Morello, OCD

Second Sunday of Advent 'A' Homily – Part 1

Bernard of Clairvaux

          Introduction: How Time flies! Here we are already at the Second Sunday of Advent! And "the world as we know it is passing away" faster than we would like, with ourselves moving right along with it! We move with this Sunday of Advent deeper into the Final Age of the World that announces the absolute End Time, when the Kingdom of God will be definitely established. The First Coming of the Lord at Christmas opened the Final Age of salvation in which we live. The First Coming actually prphesied the Second Coming, for just as he came the first time, so most assuredly wi;ll he come again! As St. Bernard put it on the first Wednesday of Advent at the liturgical Office of Readings: "He came in History; he will come again in Majesty; and moreover, he continually comes to us in Mystery". What Bernard refers to as the Lord's Middle Coming or his Comings-in-mystery focuses on the contemplative "visitations" as he called them, moments of infused-contemplative intimacy. To these we can add the mystery comings of Christ in our sacred liturgy, as well as in significant human encounters, and in the multiple lessons of real-life-in-faith that can discipline and mentor us in 'reality' and in f'finality'.

John the Baptist

          This Sunday's sacred readings foresee The Great Messianic Era of Justice and Peace. In a synthetic presentation of today's readings, the Franciscan commentator Fr. Roland Faley informs us that the selection from Isaiah 11:1-10 is "taken from the Book of Immanuel wherein the future Messianic king is depicted, [as well as] the Era of Peace which he inaugurates." He adds that in Matthew 3:1-12 "the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry presents the prophet as an ascetic forerunner whose call for conversion of life sets the stage for the One who is to come" after him. And in Romans 15:4-9, Paul stresses the importance of Christian "hope . . . to be lived in a community of spirit of harmony and charity." In a nutshell he has succinctly introduced us to the three readings of today.

          The Word of God clearly teaches that the Way of the Lord is interiorly prepared by conversion of heart. In the first reading, Isaiah foresees that a shoot from David's line--the House of Jesse, his father--shall bud and produce the Messiah – the Promised One. Like the great menorah (the temple's tall lampstand with its seven branches that burned oil-fed flames in the inner Hall of the 'Holie' of the Temple), the Messiah would be filled with the sevenfold Spirit of God: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge [and piety], and the fear of the Lord. (Biblical exegetes teach us that the Septuagint-Greek and Vulgate-Latin versions of Isaiah 11:2 add "piety" to the original Hebrew occurence of 'fear of the Lord'; the addition of "piety" thus renders seven gifts, rather than six [See footnote, NAB, Is 11:2f]. It is from the Greek Version of the O.T. that we drew our Christian theology of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, featured by the Messiah and communicated to all the baptized.

Holy Spirit
          Uniquely, the Messiah himself confers upn mankind the Spirit of the Lord so that we might repent of our sins. The Spirit enables us to see things as God sees things; thus he turns us back to God as our origin and destiny, and thus to God as our happiness. The Messiah shall be clothed in justice and faithfulness. He shal bring in an age of ideal social peace and harmony between mankind and beasts and the forces of nature, among all the peoples of the earth, and between the nations and their God. The Gentiles shall indeed have a share in this, "for the [whole] earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord as water covers the sea." And, "On that day, the Gentiles shall seek out the root of Jesse [in Jerusalem], for his dwelling shall be glorious." As our responsorial psalm celebrated: "Justice shall flourish in his time, and Peace in its fullness forever".

          When the Final Age of Salvation opens, the Prophet Joel in Chapter 1 foresees the Messiah's giving the GIFT of the Spirit to absolutely everyone who calls upon God's Name, even if they are beyond the Pale of Judaism. God's Spirit will give the impulse of conversion to the human heart, which, akin to the Promised Messiah, will be all flame with the Spirit's gifts.

Mary the Virgin

          I remember from childhood that in pre-Vatican II times we had the understanding that Advent featured the great biblical personalities of 'faith-filled expectation' and hope-filled waiting': Isaiah the Prophet was the first personality of hopeful 'Waiting' –> a preacher of Advent who even now continues to exhort us in the liturgy. By the Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptizer appeared on the scene as the desert-ascetic and penitential preacher;  this also is still the case: John points out the Messiah to his followers and to us! Mary the Virgin in the old Advent Liturgy appeared later, closer to Christmas; she was and still is the third personality of expectant waiting! But since the revision of the liturgy at Vatican II, Mary the Virgin appears even on the first day of Advent in the Divine Office as the featured recipient personality–the Great Woman and the New Eve of Eschatological Hope and Fulfillment. So these three biblical personages still accompany us on our way to Christmas Day and even to the End Time of the Second Coming of the Lord. And we walk in their footsteps.

To be continued...

Written by Fr. Sam Anthony Morello, OCD

Some Aspects of Independence Day - July 4th, Civil Religious Liberty, & Authentic Christian Freedom – Part 2

        Under grace, we Catholic-Christians strive for a deeper development of our human personality in the lights of both reason and revelation (rational thinking and God's Word). We Catholics believe that our human DESTINY has been revealed as GOD ALONE. 'We have no purely natural destiny!' That is our Catholic theological conclusion from the collective data of sacred scripture. We are made to enjoy God's own life in 'time' through grace, and in 'eternity' face to face, in the stability of God's supreme Being and Freedom! Such is human 'happiness in God' for which we were created. Therefore, we need to steer clear of freedom's opposite: –> Slavery of all kinds - our own and of others'. To have a clear ideal of true freedom, we need to register the 'risks' of sin and addictions; for they spell the opposite of freedom. If freedom for me is always choosing good for myself and others, I will abuse neither my own dignity nor anyone else's, once I have acquires discernment and mature freedom under grace.

        Christ freed us for liberty says Paul (Gal 5:1). That means that Jesus Christ offers his followers authentic human freedom, graced human freedom. With it comes the capacity to habitually choose what is good, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That is the 'positive' side of discerning in the concrete the 'negative' blindness of self-deception, the weight of habitual sin, and the enslavement of any crippling addiction. For none of these can bring us happiness; for none of these can make us free.

        Jesus related freedom to his revealed Truth:  If you remain in my word..., you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn 8:31-32). We all want to enjoy the "glorious freedom of the children of God", as Paul puts it to the Romans (8:21). But not a freedom that gives way to the world, the flesh, and the devil;  these three deceptions are vanities that only give us momentary satisfaction, but then they sour into experiential dissatisfaction with our very selves. Willingly being "slaves of God" (Rom 6:22) avoids all "pretexts for evil" and establishes us in the "will of God" (cf. 1 Peter 2:16). Being aligned with the will of God sets us free, personally and collectively.

        'Freedom' (like 'Happiness', and like 'Peace') comes from learning how to love unselfishly -- hot to love God, and love other human beings 'in God'. Love is what freedom is for! "GOD IS LOVE (1Jn 4:16). And God's love is infinitely gratuitous Goodness! His holiness is his Goodness. And remember that because God is absolute Goodness, God is absolutely Free. So, serving the good of persons, contributing to the common good of society, is what freedom is 'for'. Human freedom is never a license to simply do what we please, no matter the consequences. [And, by the way, neither are we free as Christians to choose human 'Means' that illicit and immoral, even when the 'Goal' is good and praiseworthy. Note that this is not even clear to a good segment of our American leadership in this electoral year. Think, for example of –> "Waterboarding" <– as a "Means" to the 'Goal' of National Security! .... Brutality even for a 'perceived Good' is a heinous crime! (Here think 'ISIS'; and I rest my case.)]

        If we want the dignity of Freedom, let us vigorously strive from within for the dignity of Goodness. Think of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5,6,7); therein Goodness knows how to "sacrifice" oneself for genuine advantage, especially for the good of others. think of the generous men and women in uniform of our Armed Services; of our city-police forces and first responders in daily peril amid social chaos [[ and, Yes, 'Black Lives Matter', And 'Blue Lives Matter', because 'All [Human] Lives Matter!' ]];  and also remember our heroic firefighters, ever ready to save our homes and hatred has no place in a 'just society' of mutual respect.

        Jesus Christ is God's Goodness and God's Freedom Incarnate! To serve God "in spirit and truth" means to serve him in "freedom for goodness". May America move more and more towards the service of love in an all-inclusive society:-love of human life and dignity from 'womb to tomb'; love of genuine freedom in committed matrimony between a man and a woman, with children nested in stable-family love; and with other short and lifetime commitments to Society and the Churches that elevate the human condition,  furthering human happiness up against the Kingdom of God still to be fully revealed.

        In Conclusion: May God grant America from home-grown and foreign terrorism! May God make America a gentle force that, by its influence, radiates harmony outward to all human beings, from West to East, from North to South, advancing fraternal and sisterly communion, in all directions, until the Lord Jesus comes again to do what we humans have never managed to do with any stability, namely "To put Humpty-Dumpty back together again"! Amen. And "God bless America!"

Written by Fr. Sam Anthony Morello, OCD
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