Monthly Archives: November 2017

Saint Andrew, the brother of Peter

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Today’s the Feast of St. Andrew. On the lakeshore in Galilee Jesus called him along with his brother Simon Peter to follow him. The gospels concentrate on what Jesus said and did and offer only a few details about Andrew and the other disciples.

What, then, do we know about him?

He’s a fisherman, of course. Andrew is a Greek name. The area around the Sea of Galilee was multi-cultural. Would that explain why his Jewish family gave him that name?  They came originally from Bethsaida, a trading town. recently excavated along the Sea of Galilee. The family located afterwards in Capernaum. Bethsaida  had a substantial Greek population. Did Andrew speak some Greek?

If so, that may be why later in John’s gospel, Andrew and Philip bring some Greek pilgrims to Jesus before his death in Jerusalem. Jesus, rejoicing, sees them as signs that his passion and glorification will draw all nations to him. One can sees why the Greek church has Andrew for its chief patron: he introduced them to Jesus.

Bethsaida 393

Bethsaida: Winegrowers house

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Bethsaida: Ruins

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Bethsaida: Ruins

Can we also see Andrew as someone interested in religious questions? He’s described as a disciple of John the Baptist, and John pointed Jesus out to him. Jesus then invited Andrew and another disciple to stay for a day with him. “Come and see.” Afterwards, Andrew “found his brother Simon and said to him ‘We have found the Messiah.’” (John 1,35-41)

For the Greek Church  Andrew is the first of the apostles because he’s the first to follow Jesus; then he calls his brother. The letter to the Romans, the first reading for his feast in the Roman  Catholic liturgy, stresses there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, and praises the messenger who brings God’s word to others. Tradition says he brought the gospel to Greek speaking people. It also claims that Andrew was crucified on the beach at Patras in Greece. Besides Greece, Andrew’s also the patron of Russia and Scotland.

 

We ask you, O Lord,

that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew

was for your Church a preacher and pastor,

so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you.

 

Sure and Steady

by Howard Hain
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Jusepe (Jose) de Ribera, “Tightrope Walkers”, 1634


 

The brighter the light the more we squint.

The closer we get the less we see.

And if we stare we go blind.

Now what?

You have to trust.

In what?

Not in yourselves.

In total darkness the answer is clear.

All other ways disappear.

Close your eyes.

Shutter your ears.

Forget the past.

Ignore what is below.

Chin slightly elevated.

Now walk.

No need to go too slow.

Sure and steady.

Heart on the goal.

And if we slip?

Don’t worry.

I made the rope.

I hold it tight.

My Son is “the way and the truth and the life”.

In Him you never fall.

In Him you know.

In Him you live.

He walks before you.

You may not see Him but He is there.

Follow close behind.

It is a tight walk.

That’s why I gave Him a pole.

I gave you one too.

And because it can get very dark.

I made them easy to identify.

They are made of thick dead wood.

Your hands know their splinters and knots.

Hold tight.

Say thank You.

Kiss in the dark what you cannot see.

For that old piece of wood.

Will get you across the gorge.

Where on the other side.

It will be planted.

Grafted into the Tree of Life.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

Advent’s Coming

 

READINGS FOR THE FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT 

Nativity

The daily Advent readings at Mass for the first week of Advent, beautifully arranged,  are filled with a blessed promise.

The Old Testament readings, from the Prophet Isaiah, are set in a bleak world: a fierce Assyrian army is heading towards Jerusalem, laying waste the towns and cities of Israel and Judea. Yet Isaiah sees something else: God’s plan which is stronger than human armies. All nations are streaming to God’s mountain and “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2,1-5) Wars end; a divided humanity becomes one.

All nations will come to God’s mountain, Jerusalem, where the temple stands, the prophet  says.  They will  be fed a rich banquet (Wednesday), there the poor will triumph (Thursday), there the blind will see (Friday). The people will be safe on this rock, where children play around the cobra’s den, and the lion and the lamb lie down together (Tuesday). The prophet’s imagery of promised peace, challenging the way we see things, is strikingly beautiful.

In the gospels  for the 1st week  Jesus Christ fulfills the Isaian prophecies. All nations come to Jesus represented by the  Roman centurion who humbly approaches him in Capernaum.  (Monday) Jesus praises the childlike; little as they are they will enter the kingdom of heaven. (Tuesday) He feeds a multitude on the mountain.(Wednesday) His kingdom is built on rock. (Thursday) He gives sight to the blind that they may find their way.  (Friday)

Many of our Advent readings come from the gospel of Matthew, who portrays Jesus teaching on a mountain (Isaiah’s favorite symbol). His miracles affect all. Jesus is the new temple, the Presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus gives us hope beyond human hope.

Mary and Joseph,

Help us see what you and the prophets saw. Amen.

 

Clean Enough To Care

by Howard Hain
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John Downman, “Child Holding a Doll”, 1780 (The Met)


 

What if someone handed you a child?

A small child.

A tiny child.

An infant.

A few hours…a few minutes old.

What if you were the only one that the child could be handed to?

Only you.

No one else around to help.

Would you receive that child into your arms?

There’s no sterilized room, no sanitary precautions, no sink, not even a bar of soap—just plain old you, a bunch of imperfect circumstances, and a poor tiny child that needs to be embraced.

You know what you would do.

Even if your hands were filthy, completely covered in soot and mud, you know what you would do.

You’d quickly rub your hands against your pants or shirt and wipe away the obvious dirt.

Then you’d hold out your hands.

Wouldn’t you?

Yes. You would.

We all would.

That’s what makes us human.

That’s what makes us children of God.

We’d do what we could with what we have to help an innocent child.

We know that “cleanliness” in such cases really doesn’t matter. For even if the circumstances were “perfect” we’d still have that uneasy feeling. That feeling that we’re not worthy to hold such innocence, to be entrusted with such treasure.

It’s a holy hesitancy that only true humility can bear.

Yet, it’s the necessity to help, the clear need for our assistance—the abundantly clear reality that we’re the only “hands” on deck—that drives us to overcome such holy and righteous fear—a fear that reveals just how poor we really are, much poorer in fact than even the helpless child we are about to embrace.

It is preciously this beautiful fear of God that propels us to love boldly—to boldly reach out beyond ourselves, to boldly become part of God’s mystical body, to become His very arms and hands—to embody Divine Love Itself—that perfect love of the eternal Father for each and every child ever created.

For it is the Father’s love that creates us, and sustains us, and longs to flow through us.

We just sometimes need extreme circumstances—ridiculously obvious situations—in order to tap the needed courage to let it to flow beyond our own borders and into those around us.

You are in such a situation. Right now.

We all are.

This very moment.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Such a situation is at hand.

A child, a new born—cold, hungry, and without a home—desperately needs to be held.

Quick then, wipe your dirty hands, make due with what you’ve got—believe the Word of God, it’s good enough—now hold out your hands.

You’re clean enough to care.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. John Downman, “Child Holding a Doll”, 1780

Saving Santa Claus

Santa Claus came to town today in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Parade. From the parade he went into the store  for Black Friday and he’ll be there for the rest of the days till Christmas.

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But he’s more than a saleman, isn’t he? Santa’s a saint. Saint Nicholas. He reminds us that Christmas is a time for giving rather than getting. His quiet giving mirrors God’s love shown in Jesus Christ.

Telling his story is one of the ways to save Santa Claus from being captured by Macys and Walmart and all the others. First, take  a look at our version for little children. Then, you might want to go on to our  modest contribution for bigger children– like us:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADevygB9jNs