News from US Franciscans

16 Men Begin Lives as Franciscans

On Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, 16 postulants entered the postulancy program for the Order of Friars Minor in the US, at Holy Name College at Silver Spring, Maryland.

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US Franciscans Protest DACA Rescission

We have celebrated the DACA program with “dreamers” as a modern response to the Biblical imperative to “welcome the stranger.” Now, after President Trump’s decision to end the executive action, we commit ourselves to stand in support of and solidarity with “dreamers.”

read more

Eight Men Enter Franciscan Novitiate

SANTA BARBARA, California -- Some 30 friars, novitiate team members, and staff gathered in the Friars Chapel at Old Mission Santa Barbara here on Aug. 21, 2017, to witness the reception of eight men into the interprovincial novitiate. The program was moved to...

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Nine Franciscans Profess First Vows

BURLINGTON, Wisc. -- On August 2, 2017, nine men professed first vows in the novitiate chapel at St. Francis Friary here. As friars, friends, and sisters gathered together for this wonderful occasion, the tone of the day was set starting with the first reading. The...

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New Assisi Shrine is Reminder to Shed Attachments

In following Christ, the pope said, “we are all called to be poor, to strip ourselves of our egos; and to do this we must learn how to be with the poor, to share with those who lack basic necessities, to touch the flesh of Christ!

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News from US Franciscans

16 Men Begin Lives as Franciscans

On Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, 16 postulants entered the postulancy program for the Order of Friars Minor in the US, at Holy Name College at Silver Spring, Maryland.

read more

US Franciscans Protest DACA Rescission

We have celebrated the DACA program with “dreamers” as a modern response to the Biblical imperative to “welcome the stranger.” Now, after President Trump’s decision to end the executive action, we commit ourselves to stand in support of and solidarity with “dreamers.”

read more

Eight Men Enter Franciscan Novitiate

SANTA BARBARA, California -- Some 30 friars, novitiate team members, and staff gathered in the Friars Chapel at Old Mission Santa Barbara here on Aug. 21, 2017, to witness the reception of eight men into the interprovincial novitiate. The program was moved to...

read more

Recent #FriarFriday Reflections

#FriarFriday – Hate Cannot Be Allowed to Win

t is almost unthinkable that we as a nation find ourselves in this same place again. As I saw the images of scores of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and others spewing hateful slogans and carrying torches in the streets of Charlottesville, it was...

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#FriarFriday – On the Move

If you are a regular reader of the #FriarFriday posts, you know that there is a quartet of friars who take turns writing these short articles about Franciscan life. What you may not know is that three of these friar-authors—Jim, Michael, and Tom—all are on the move this summer to new assignments.

read more

Recent #FriarFriday Reflections

#FriarFriday – Hate Cannot Be Allowed to Win

t is almost unthinkable that we as a nation find ourselves in this same place again. As I saw the images of scores of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and others spewing hateful slogans and carrying torches in the streets of Charlottesville, it was...

read more

News from the OFM English-speaking Conference

ofm.org posts

US Franciscans look to future renewal with hope

each made simple statements of why they voted as they did:Kevin Mullen, of Holy Name Province, said, “One new Province provides us with the opportunity to have a vital fraternal experience.  With regard to mission, one new Province allows us to take the core values of...

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US Franciscans statement on Charlottesville violence

8/17/2017 0 Comments FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | August 2017 As followers of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of peace, we, the Franciscans Friars of the United States join with the many public and religious leaders and fellow-citizens who have condemned the recent...

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New leadership elected in the Province of Ireland

ENGLISH SPEAKING CONFERENCE | ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR                                                                                                                               Thomas S. Washburn, OFMPO Box 61128  • New Bedford, Massachusetts 02746 • exec@escofm.org ...

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Sacred Heart Province elects new leadership team

ENGLISH SPEAKING CONFERENCE | ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR                                                                                                                               Thomas S. Washburn, OFMPO Box 61128  • New Bedford, Massachusetts 02746 • exec@escofm.org ...

read more

US Franciscans look to future renewal with hope

each made simple statements of why they voted as they did:Kevin Mullen, of Holy Name Province, said, “One new Province provides us with the opportunity to have a vital fraternal experience.  With regard to mission, one new Province allows us to take the core values of...

read more

News from the General Curia in Rome

ofm.org posts

Fourth Continental Meeting of JPIC – Asia / Oceania

  From October 9 to 14, the animators of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) from the EAC and SAAOC Conferences have met in the city of Seoul, South Korea. With the welcoming words of Br. Aloysio Kim, the JPIC animator of the Province of the Holy Martyrs...

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Online Seminar on Franciscanism in Spanish language

The Theological Institute of Murcia is offering an online Seminar in Spanish beginning this year on Franciscanism entitled “The Franciscan Heritage: Experience, Reflection, Current.” The course consists of three parts: the first is dedicated to the study of the...

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Transitus and Feast of St. Francis at the General Curia 2017

05 Oct Transitus and Feast of St. Francis at the General Curia 2017 Posted on October 5, 2017 in News by Alvin Te, OFM The feast of our Seraphic Father Saint Francis of Assisi was celebrated at the General Curia on October 3 and 4. On the evening of the 3rd, Br....

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Fourth Continental Meeting of JPIC – Asia / Oceania

  From October 9 to 14, the animators of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) from the EAC and SAAOC Conferences have met in the city of Seoul, South Korea. With the welcoming words of Br. Aloysio Kim, the JPIC animator of the Province of the Holy Martyrs...

read more

Online Seminar on Franciscanism in Spanish language

The Theological Institute of Murcia is offering an online Seminar in Spanish beginning this year on Franciscanism entitled “The Franciscan Heritage: Experience, Reflection, Current.” The course consists of three parts: the first is dedicated to the study of the...

read more

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News from our Facebook Page

Local US Franciscan News

8 hours ago

Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province

Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary the patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order. ... See MoreSee Less

A very powerful(and timely) message from Casey Cole, OFM about how challenges are not a setback, but a set up for making us better people. #TasteTheSpiritualRainbowDonate Monthly: https://www.patreon.com/BreakingInThe... One-time gifts: https://www.www.paypal.me/BITHMedia Blog: http://breakinginthehabit.org/ Facebook: h... ... See MoreSee Less

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Friends: today, on the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr, we share the Gospel readings. ... See MoreSee Less

Friends: today, on the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr, we share the Gospel readings.

1 day ago

Franciscan Monastery

The friars of the Custody of the Holy Land are beginning a three-day conference in Jerusalem on the 800 years of Franciscan presence here. The General Minister, Fr. Michael Perry, is dialoguing with the friars this evening, after an earlier meeting with supporters of the Custody, and a beautiful prayer service. We'll be sharing some of the conference with you over these days.--Fr. GregThe celebrations for 800 years of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land begin today! In the first meeting we thanked our partners
#FranciscansCelebrate800
... See MoreSee Less

The friars of the Custody of the Holy Land are beginning a three-day conference in Jerusalem on the 800 years of Franciscan presence here. The General Minister, Fr. Michael Perry, is dialoguing with the friars this evening, after an earlier meeting with supporters of the Custody, and a beautiful prayer service. Well be sharing some of the conference with you over these days.--Fr. Greg

God has Destroyed Death

For the past three Sundays, we have proclaimed a series of parables from St. Matthew’s Gospel. Two weeks ago, we heard a parable about a man and his two sons, one of whom said he would work in his father’s vineyard but failed to do so and the other who said “no” to his father’s request but then decided to obey. Last week we heard a parable about a rich landowner who planted a vineyard, walled it in, built a tower and dug a vat in it and then gave it to some tenant farmers who plotted against the landowner, even going so far as to kill his son and heir. This Sunday we hear a parable of a king who gives his son a wedding banquet.

All three of these parables are addressed to the same audience; namely, the chief priests and elders of the people. After the first two parables, St. Matthew writes: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.” St. Matthew presses on, however, and adds the parable that we hear today. When they hear this third parable, St. Matthew tells us, “Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech.” Spoiler alert: we will hear the stories of how they tried to trip him up in his speech on the next two Sundays.

I have deliberately reviewed these two chapters of St. Matthew’s Gospel so that we can understand the context of these parables and stories. Reading a short passage from the Gospel every Sunday, while beneficial, fails to give us a sense of the narrative that is playing out. These stories all take place after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. A few short days after that entry, he was arrested, tried and crucified. So these parables and stories have to be read as a prelude to the passion and death of Jesus. When we place them in that context, the stories become much clearer. Jesus is speaking of himself and the way he is treated by the chief priests and elders. In last Sunday’s parable and in this Sunday’s parable, the tenant farmers and the invited guests of the king’s banquet murder the messengers and the son of the tenant farmer just as the chief priests and elders murdered the prophets and crucified Jesus, God’s only-begotten Son.

So it can also be said that another character in these parable is death – the death of the prophets and the death of Jesus. However, the point of the parables is that death does not win the day. In the reading from the Prophet Isaiah today, also set in the context of a banquet – this time on God’s holy mountain – the message of the prophet is very clear. “On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever.”

Death is a powerful force in our human lives. Most of us fear death and will do anything to push it off to some unknown day in the future. Medical science tries to prolong our lives. When a loved one dies, we grieve their loss. If the person who dies is young, our grief is compounded. Lately, we have heard stories of people dying in earthquakes, hurricanes, in wild fires, and at the hands of a madman with automatic weapons. The evening news brings us so many stories of people perishing that it is difficult to ignore them. Yet the Scriptures tell us that God has destroyed death. So we are led to ask questions just as believers and disciples of Jesus have asked ever since Jesus returned to the Father. Have we been misled? Did God really conquer the forces of death?

For those of us who live in the Western World, death is a particular, punctiliar moment. One moment we are alive; the next moment we are dead. However, this is not how the Scriptures or the people of the Middle East think of death. After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they are told that they would die. In fact, death as they understand it overcomes them then and there. They are expelled from the garden. No longer can Adam walk with God in the evening, enjoying the breeze in the garden. He loses access to God. This is what the Scriptures mean by death – separation from God, being without access to God. To be dead means to be without hope of ever being in God’s presence again. It is precisely this kind of death, this kind of dying, that the Scriptures speak of when they tell us that God has defeated death. For those who believe in Jesus as Lord, for those who live their lives in accord with the Gospels, access to God is restored. Yes, our mortal lives will end as all created things eventually come to an end. Our bodies will eventually fail. However, we shall live forever, with God or without God, dependent upon whether we believe.

The son who refuses to work in his father’s vineyard, the tenant farmers who plot to steal the inheritance from the rich land owner, and the guests who refuse to attend the king’s banquet in honor of his son are all examples of those who fail to believe in the words of Jesus, who fail to accept the Gospel. They are presented to us as a warning. The chief priests and the elders realized that Jesus was talking about them; however, my brothers and sisters, he is also talking about us. The vineyard is God’s, not ours. The wedding banquet is God’s feast, not ours. We are invited, for God always invites. God never forces us. We can choose to obey our Father and work in the vineyard as he asks. We can choose to offer God the fruit of our labor. We can choose to attend the wedding banquet. We can choose to live with God and allow God to destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations, or we can continue go our own way and follow our own will.

Down through the history of the Church, believers have been attacked for their faith. Many were tortured and put to death. Martyrdom is still present in our world today. However, in his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Note that all important word: “separate.” For believers, nothing can separate us from God.
As we come to the altar this morning, we are given a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. We are given food for the journey. We receive the very body and life blood of Jesus to sustain us with God’s grace, God’s gift of life in the face of the death that surrounds us in the world in which we live. Jesus has promised us that we who eat his body and drink his blood shall have life everlasting. He has destroyed the web and the veil that cover all mortals, all nations.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.
... See MoreSee Less

God has Destroyed DeathFor the past three Sundays, we have proclaimed a series of parables from St. Matthew’s Gospel.  Two weeks ago, we heard a parable about a man and his two sons, one of whom said he would work in his father’s vineyard but failed to do so and the other who said “no” to his father’s request but then decided to obey.  Last week we heard a parable about a rich landowner who planted a vineyard, walled it in, built a tower and dug a vat in it and then gave it to some tenant farmers who plotted against the landowner, even going so far as to kill his son and heir.  This Sunday we hear a parable of a king who gives his son a wedding banquet.All three of these parables are addressed to the same audience; namely, the chief priests and elders of the people.  After the first two parables, St. Matthew writes: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.” St. Matthew presses on, however, and adds the parable that we hear today. When they hear this third parable, St. Matthew tells us, “Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech.” Spoiler alert: we will hear the stories of how they tried to trip him up in his speech on the next two Sundays.I have deliberately reviewed these two chapters of St. Matthew’s Gospel so that we can understand the context of these parables and stories.  Reading a short passage from the Gospel every Sunday, while beneficial, fails to give us a sense of the narrative that is playing out.  These stories all take place after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  A few short days after that entry, he was arrested, tried and crucified.  So these parables and stories have to be read as a prelude to the passion and death of Jesus.  When we place them in that context, the stories become much clearer.  Jesus is speaking of himself and the way he is treated by the chief priests and elders. In last Sunday’s parable and in this Sunday’s parable, the tenant farmers and the invited guests of the king’s banquet murder the messengers and the son of the tenant farmer just as the chief priests and elders murdered the prophets and crucified Jesus, God’s only-begotten Son.So it can also be said that another character in these parable is death – the death of the prophets and the death of Jesus. However, the point of the parables is that death does not win the day.  In the reading from the Prophet Isaiah today, also set in the context of a banquet – this time on God’s holy mountain – the message of the prophet is very clear. “On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever.”Death is a powerful force in our human lives. Most of us fear death and will do anything to push it off to some unknown day in the future. Medical science tries to prolong our lives. When a loved one dies, we grieve their loss. If the person who dies is young, our grief is compounded. Lately, we have heard stories of people dying in earthquakes, hurricanes, in wild fires, and at the hands of a madman with automatic weapons. The evening news brings us so many stories of people perishing that it is difficult to ignore them.  Yet the Scriptures tell us that God has destroyed death.  So we are led to ask questions just as believers and disciples of Jesus have asked ever since Jesus returned to the Father. Have we been misled?  Did God really conquer the forces of death?For those of us who live in the Western World, death is a particular, punctiliar moment. One moment we are alive; the next moment we are dead. However, this is not how the Scriptures or the people of the Middle East think of death. After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they are told that they would die. In fact, death as they understand it overcomes them then and there. They are expelled from the garden.  No longer can Adam walk with God in the evening, enjoying the breeze in the garden. He loses access to God. This is what the Scriptures mean by death – separation from God, being without access to God.  To be dead means to be without hope of ever being in God’s presence again. It is precisely this kind of death, this kind of dying, that the Scriptures speak of when they tell us that God has defeated death.  For those who believe in Jesus as Lord, for those who live their lives in accord with the Gospels, access to God is restored. Yes, our mortal lives will end as all created things eventually come to an end.  Our bodies will eventually fail.  However, we shall live forever, with God or without God, dependent upon whether we believe.The son who refuses to work in his father’s vineyard, the tenant farmers who plot to steal the inheritance from the rich land owner, and the guests who refuse to attend the king’s banquet in honor of his son are all examples of those who fail to believe in the words of Jesus, who fail to accept the Gospel.  They are presented to us as a warning. The chief priests and the elders realized that Jesus was talking about them; however, my brothers and sisters, he is also talking about us. The vineyard is God’s, not ours. The wedding banquet is God’s feast, not ours. We are invited, for God always invites. God never forces us. We can choose to obey our Father and work in the vineyard as he asks.  We can choose to offer God the fruit of our labor.  We can choose to attend the wedding banquet. We can choose to live with God and allow God to destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations, or we can continue go our own way and follow our own will.Down through the history of the Church, believers have been attacked for their faith.  Many were tortured and put to death.  Martyrdom is still present in our world today.  However, in his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Note that all important word: “separate.”  For believers, nothing can separate us from God.
As we come to the altar this morning, we are given a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.  We are given food for the journey.  We receive the very body and life blood of Jesus to sustain us with God’s grace, God’s gift of life in the face of the death that surrounds us in the world in which we live. Jesus has promised us that we who eat his body and drink his blood shall have life everlasting.  He has destroyed the web and the veil that cover all mortals, all nations.Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

Treasure the great moments of Pope Francis' visit to America and learn more about the Franciscan missionary he canonized in Washington DC. Find these gifts and more at the Franciscan Monastery Gift Shop or online at: myfranciscan.org/shop ... See MoreSee Less

Treasure the great moments of Pope Francis visit to America and learn more about the Franciscan missionary he canonized in Washington DC. Find these gifts and more at the Franciscan Monastery Gift Shop or online at: myfranciscan.org/shop

4 days ago

Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province

St. Anthony Shrine held its second annual Franciscan Dinner and Pope Francis Award night. The evening “celebrated the extraordinary work of the Shrine, created greater community awareness, and continued to build a culture of philanthropy to help us continue to the mission,” according to the Shrine’s website.

In this video, the friars sing the closing prayer as they thank the many generous people who attended the event.

St. Anthony Shrine
The Friars saying their closing prayer.
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Sorry to miss it!

Beautiful!

Local US Franciscan News

8 hours ago

Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province

Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary the patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order. ... See MoreSee Less

A very powerful(and timely) message from Casey Cole, OFM about how challenges are not a setback, but a set up for making us better people. #TasteTheSpiritualRainbowDonate Monthly: https://www.patreon.com/BreakingInThe... One-time gifts: https://www.www.paypal.me/BITHMedia Blog: http://breakinginthehabit.org/ Facebook: h... ... See MoreSee Less

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Friends: today, on the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr, we share the Gospel readings. ... See MoreSee Less

Friends: today, on the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr, we share the Gospel readings.

1 day ago

Franciscan Monastery

The friars of the Custody of the Holy Land are beginning a three-day conference in Jerusalem on the 800 years of Franciscan presence here. The General Minister, Fr. Michael Perry, is dialoguing with the friars this evening, after an earlier meeting with supporters of the Custody, and a beautiful prayer service. We'll be sharing some of the conference with you over these days.--Fr. GregThe celebrations for 800 years of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land begin today! In the first meeting we thanked our partners
#FranciscansCelebrate800
... See MoreSee Less

The friars of the Custody of the Holy Land are beginning a three-day conference in Jerusalem on the 800 years of Franciscan presence here. The General Minister, Fr. Michael Perry, is dialoguing with the friars this evening, after an earlier meeting with supporters of the Custody, and a beautiful prayer service. Well be sharing some of the conference with you over these days.--Fr. Greg

God has Destroyed Death

For the past three Sundays, we have proclaimed a series of parables from St. Matthew’s Gospel. Two weeks ago, we heard a parable about a man and his two sons, one of whom said he would work in his father’s vineyard but failed to do so and the other who said “no” to his father’s request but then decided to obey. Last week we heard a parable about a rich landowner who planted a vineyard, walled it in, built a tower and dug a vat in it and then gave it to some tenant farmers who plotted against the landowner, even going so far as to kill his son and heir. This Sunday we hear a parable of a king who gives his son a wedding banquet.

All three of these parables are addressed to the same audience; namely, the chief priests and elders of the people. After the first two parables, St. Matthew writes: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.” St. Matthew presses on, however, and adds the parable that we hear today. When they hear this third parable, St. Matthew tells us, “Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech.” Spoiler alert: we will hear the stories of how they tried to trip him up in his speech on the next two Sundays.

I have deliberately reviewed these two chapters of St. Matthew’s Gospel so that we can understand the context of these parables and stories. Reading a short passage from the Gospel every Sunday, while beneficial, fails to give us a sense of the narrative that is playing out. These stories all take place after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. A few short days after that entry, he was arrested, tried and crucified. So these parables and stories have to be read as a prelude to the passion and death of Jesus. When we place them in that context, the stories become much clearer. Jesus is speaking of himself and the way he is treated by the chief priests and elders. In last Sunday’s parable and in this Sunday’s parable, the tenant farmers and the invited guests of the king’s banquet murder the messengers and the son of the tenant farmer just as the chief priests and elders murdered the prophets and crucified Jesus, God’s only-begotten Son.

So it can also be said that another character in these parable is death – the death of the prophets and the death of Jesus. However, the point of the parables is that death does not win the day. In the reading from the Prophet Isaiah today, also set in the context of a banquet – this time on God’s holy mountain – the message of the prophet is very clear. “On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever.”

Death is a powerful force in our human lives. Most of us fear death and will do anything to push it off to some unknown day in the future. Medical science tries to prolong our lives. When a loved one dies, we grieve their loss. If the person who dies is young, our grief is compounded. Lately, we have heard stories of people dying in earthquakes, hurricanes, in wild fires, and at the hands of a madman with automatic weapons. The evening news brings us so many stories of people perishing that it is difficult to ignore them. Yet the Scriptures tell us that God has destroyed death. So we are led to ask questions just as believers and disciples of Jesus have asked ever since Jesus returned to the Father. Have we been misled? Did God really conquer the forces of death?

For those of us who live in the Western World, death is a particular, punctiliar moment. One moment we are alive; the next moment we are dead. However, this is not how the Scriptures or the people of the Middle East think of death. After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they are told that they would die. In fact, death as they understand it overcomes them then and there. They are expelled from the garden. No longer can Adam walk with God in the evening, enjoying the breeze in the garden. He loses access to God. This is what the Scriptures mean by death – separation from God, being without access to God. To be dead means to be without hope of ever being in God’s presence again. It is precisely this kind of death, this kind of dying, that the Scriptures speak of when they tell us that God has defeated death. For those who believe in Jesus as Lord, for those who live their lives in accord with the Gospels, access to God is restored. Yes, our mortal lives will end as all created things eventually come to an end. Our bodies will eventually fail. However, we shall live forever, with God or without God, dependent upon whether we believe.

The son who refuses to work in his father’s vineyard, the tenant farmers who plot to steal the inheritance from the rich land owner, and the guests who refuse to attend the king’s banquet in honor of his son are all examples of those who fail to believe in the words of Jesus, who fail to accept the Gospel. They are presented to us as a warning. The chief priests and the elders realized that Jesus was talking about them; however, my brothers and sisters, he is also talking about us. The vineyard is God’s, not ours. The wedding banquet is God’s feast, not ours. We are invited, for God always invites. God never forces us. We can choose to obey our Father and work in the vineyard as he asks. We can choose to offer God the fruit of our labor. We can choose to attend the wedding banquet. We can choose to live with God and allow God to destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations, or we can continue go our own way and follow our own will.

Down through the history of the Church, believers have been attacked for their faith. Many were tortured and put to death. Martyrdom is still present in our world today. However, in his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Note that all important word: “separate.” For believers, nothing can separate us from God.
As we come to the altar this morning, we are given a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. We are given food for the journey. We receive the very body and life blood of Jesus to sustain us with God’s grace, God’s gift of life in the face of the death that surrounds us in the world in which we live. Jesus has promised us that we who eat his body and drink his blood shall have life everlasting. He has destroyed the web and the veil that cover all mortals, all nations.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.
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God has Destroyed DeathFor the past three Sundays, we have proclaimed a series of parables from St. Matthew’s Gospel.  Two weeks ago, we heard a parable about a man and his two sons, one of whom said he would work in his father’s vineyard but failed to do so and the other who said “no” to his father’s request but then decided to obey.  Last week we heard a parable about a rich landowner who planted a vineyard, walled it in, built a tower and dug a vat in it and then gave it to some tenant farmers who plotted against the landowner, even going so far as to kill his son and heir.  This Sunday we hear a parable of a king who gives his son a wedding banquet.All three of these parables are addressed to the same audience; namely, the chief priests and elders of the people.  After the first two parables, St. Matthew writes: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.” St. Matthew presses on, however, and adds the parable that we hear today. When they hear this third parable, St. Matthew tells us, “Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech.” Spoiler alert: we will hear the stories of how they tried to trip him up in his speech on the next two Sundays.I have deliberately reviewed these two chapters of St. Matthew’s Gospel so that we can understand the context of these parables and stories.  Reading a short passage from the Gospel every Sunday, while beneficial, fails to give us a sense of the narrative that is playing out.  These stories all take place after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  A few short days after that entry, he was arrested, tried and crucified.  So these parables and stories have to be read as a prelude to the passion and death of Jesus.  When we place them in that context, the stories become much clearer.  Jesus is speaking of himself and the way he is treated by the chief priests and elders. In last Sunday’s parable and in this Sunday’s parable, the tenant farmers and the invited guests of the king’s banquet murder the messengers and the son of the tenant farmer just as the chief priests and elders murdered the prophets and crucified Jesus, God’s only-begotten Son.So it can also be said that another character in these parable is death – the death of the prophets and the death of Jesus. However, the point of the parables is that death does not win the day.  In the reading from the Prophet Isaiah today, also set in the context of a banquet – this time on God’s holy mountain – the message of the prophet is very clear. “On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever.”Death is a powerful force in our human lives. Most of us fear death and will do anything to push it off to some unknown day in the future. Medical science tries to prolong our lives. When a loved one dies, we grieve their loss. If the person who dies is young, our grief is compounded. Lately, we have heard stories of people dying in earthquakes, hurricanes, in wild fires, and at the hands of a madman with automatic weapons. The evening news brings us so many stories of people perishing that it is difficult to ignore them.  Yet the Scriptures tell us that God has destroyed death.  So we are led to ask questions just as believers and disciples of Jesus have asked ever since Jesus returned to the Father. Have we been misled?  Did God really conquer the forces of death?For those of us who live in the Western World, death is a particular, punctiliar moment. One moment we are alive; the next moment we are dead. However, this is not how the Scriptures or the people of the Middle East think of death. After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they are told that they would die. In fact, death as they understand it overcomes them then and there. They are expelled from the garden.  No longer can Adam walk with God in the evening, enjoying the breeze in the garden. He loses access to God. This is what the Scriptures mean by death – separation from God, being without access to God.  To be dead means to be without hope of ever being in God’s presence again. It is precisely this kind of death, this kind of dying, that the Scriptures speak of when they tell us that God has defeated death.  For those who believe in Jesus as Lord, for those who live their lives in accord with the Gospels, access to God is restored. Yes, our mortal lives will end as all created things eventually come to an end.  Our bodies will eventually fail.  However, we shall live forever, with God or without God, dependent upon whether we believe.The son who refuses to work in his father’s vineyard, the tenant farmers who plot to steal the inheritance from the rich land owner, and the guests who refuse to attend the king’s banquet in honor of his son are all examples of those who fail to believe in the words of Jesus, who fail to accept the Gospel.  They are presented to us as a warning. The chief priests and the elders realized that Jesus was talking about them; however, my brothers and sisters, he is also talking about us. The vineyard is God’s, not ours. The wedding banquet is God’s feast, not ours. We are invited, for God always invites. God never forces us. We can choose to obey our Father and work in the vineyard as he asks.  We can choose to offer God the fruit of our labor.  We can choose to attend the wedding banquet. We can choose to live with God and allow God to destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations, or we can continue go our own way and follow our own will.Down through the history of the Church, believers have been attacked for their faith.  Many were tortured and put to death.  Martyrdom is still present in our world today.  However, in his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Note that all important word: “separate.”  For believers, nothing can separate us from God.
As we come to the altar this morning, we are given a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.  We are given food for the journey.  We receive the very body and life blood of Jesus to sustain us with God’s grace, God’s gift of life in the face of the death that surrounds us in the world in which we live. Jesus has promised us that we who eat his body and drink his blood shall have life everlasting.  He has destroyed the web and the veil that cover all mortals, all nations.Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

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