Posts By: Fr. Alfonse
Jn 20: 1-2, 11-18 Along Comes Mary
Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By Benedict Augustine
“Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.”
Mary Magdalene has a difficult time letting go of Jesus. After His death, she can think of no other thing to do than to sit at His tomb and mourn in the presence of His corpse. And before this, when Jesus lived and preached, Mary can think of little else but to cling, kneeling at His feet while her sister busies herself with hosting. Once Jesus heads over to Jerusalem one last time for the Passover, Mary shocks the disciples by pouring costly ointment over Jesus with little thought of the cost. At the crucifixion, she stands with Jesus’ mother and a young disciple to watch Jesus die, oblivious to the gore and scandal. In her mind, no one else seems to exist besides her Lord and Master.
Because of Mary’s almost slavish devotion to Jesus, practical concerns quicklyescape her notice. She thinks nothing of money, or imminent persecution, or proper hospitality. As a disciple, she does quite little. She does not evangelize; she does not heal or serve others; she does not write epistles and establish churches; she only follows Jesus and sits at His feet.
And yet, Jesus reveals Himself to her after the resurrection before anyone else.He could have chosen Peter, or His mother, or John, but He chooses her, the useless one that always latched to Him unthinkingly. Some might argue that He could have revealed Himself to Pilate, or Caiaphas, or Herod, and prove to them that He came back to life and that they had just crucified God’s Son. In either case, whether appearing first to the leader of His Church or His enemies, He probably could have made his resurrection that much more successful and powerful.
But instead He chooses Mary Magdalene. Why?
Mary does something unique. Long before anyone else, she truly worships and adores Jesus as God’s Son. Peter might have been the first to verbalize this truth, and Mary His Mother might have been the first to know this truth, but Mary Magdalene realizes the full import and acts on it. While the masses crowd around Jesus like some celebrity, shoving sick people in His face; and while His disciples complain to Him about food shortages, storms, and botched miracles as though He were a manager; and while His enemies make plans to destroy Him as a dangerous rebel; Mary humble kneels in awe, treating Him like God.
Jesus appears first to Mary because she alone would not question His resurrection. The others to whom He appears afterward her all need some kind of assurance. On the way to Emmaus, Jesus must deliver a lecture on the full meaning of the Old Testament and reenact the Last Supper before His audience realizes what had happened. With His apostles, Jesus must pass through a locked door and show His wounds—and then, later, let Thomas poke them.
Mary, however, does not think twice about Jesus’ resurrection but immediately reverts back to her old style of adoration, clutching His feet once more. For once, Jesus has to tell her to let go and actually do something: “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” In entrusting Mary with this message, Jesus communicates two things:(1) it was Mary, not the other disciples, who ultimately showed the most courage and strength, and (2) Mary’s courage and strength came from her adoration and devotion of Him.
Jesus intends to make Mary Magdalene a model for all His disciples. Knowing quite well man’s insatiable desire to works and prove himself, He chooses to give his attention to the woman who does nothing but adore.  Although there are times when a disciple must act, there are even more times where he must simply sit still and listen.
Many of the Church’s saints followed Mary’s example and came to understand the power behind adoration. Nearly all of them would adore Jesus before they witnessed in His name. Religious orders today, like that of Blessed Mother Teresa, kneel in the Presence of Jesus for hours before they begin their work with the poor. The popes do the same. At the urging of St. John Paul II, many parishes will offer Eucharistic Adoration all hours of the day and experience the blessings that accompany this practice.
Most people feel drawn to Christ’s presence, yet they might not understand this yet. More than likely, Mary Magdalene felt the same way, but she trusted Jesus to understand, and He did. The first disciples eventually followed suit as Christians throughout the ages have done the same. Adoration transcends understanding as it helps believers transcend themselves. It humbles and elevates at the same time, and it continues bring the peace and strength that Mary experienced so many centuries ago sitting at the feet of Christ, hearing His voice.

Ex 3: 11-14 Hello, My Name is
Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Moses, hearing the voice of the LORD from the burning bush, said to him,
“When I go to the children of Israel and say to them,
‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel:
I AM sent me to you.”
Yesterday, my family and I went to a small Baptist cemetery in Cades Cove, which was a booming town of a little over  four hundred people in the late 1800s. Today, no one lives in Cades Cove, but the descendants of those who once lived there are still buried in the cemetery.
Cemeteries are funny places. People in cemeteries are reduced to a tombstone, which contains their name, their birth date, their death date, and maybe a short quote. It is amazing how much a person can lose their identity on a tombstone. Unlike today, no one put pictures on tombstones back in the 1800s, so the image of the person is lost. No matter how much time that person spent on their hair, nails, or clothing, it doesn’t matter any more. They’re dust. Some of the names are even abbreviated, so whatever they were called while they were still in the world. A person can lose their identity on a tombstone.
But let’s focus on the temporary nature of names. Today, in the Gospel, God declares “I am Who Am.” I always struggled with this statement. It didn’t make any sense to me until I started thinking about names.
Let’s take my name, Sophie.  I will be Sophie until I die, and then it will be on some tombstone or crypt somewhere (hopefully somewhere famous, but that is just vanity), and then one day my great-grandchildren will be telling their children about their great-grandmother Sophie and by the time the story is over my great-great-grandchildren will have forgotten what my name is. Such is the nature of names.
But God tells us today “I am Who Am.” By the nature of the name “I am Who Am,” and the nature of God Himself, the name is not temporary. God does not die, even if his Son died on the cross. His divinity cannot die because he, God the Father, is not human.  So God’s name is eternal.
Before we were born, before the Earth was created, God Was. This is crazy to me because when I think of how excited people are to meet people who write amazing songs, or build amazing technology, it seems ironic that these same people are so not excited to go to church (if they do) to receive Christ in the Eucharist, or listen to his works in the Gospel, as the case may be. Think of it! Every time you receive Christ in the Eucharist, you’re receiving in the most intimate way possible He who made every cell in our bodies, every mitochondrion, and the whole world besides.
Scientists are still trying to figure out how much of the world even works, but God knows because He created it all. He knows the function of every single part of DNA, every protein, every cell, mysteries that it will take many years to uncover.
So what can you do about it?
Well, appreciate what God has made. If you’re thinking nasty things about a person, reflect that God created them too and instead of thinking or saying bad things, pray for them in a simple prayer, “Dear God, please draw ____ closer to Christ.” When you’re about to throw something recyclable into the garbage, think! Check the label and then recycle. Save plastic bags to recycle at special outlets around town. This might sound like too much work, but reflect that if you don’t, it’s going to sit decomposing very, very slowly in a landfill for thousands of years, releasing toxins into the life-giving dirt that God made, inhibiting the beauty of the earth that God created for us to keep care of.
So appreciate how beautifully things in the earth work. Think of others, and care for God’s creation.  And even though your name will one day be obsolete, God will remember every thought and action in Heaven, forever.
Gen 45:4-5 Who’s Your Favorite?
Thursday if the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
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“Come closer to me,” he told his brothers.
When they had done so, he said:
“I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.
But now do not be distressed,
and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.
It was really for the sake of saving lives
that God sent me here ahead of you.”
“Mommy, who’s your favorite?” “I don’t have a favorite, sweetie. I love you all in equal measures.” “No, really. Everyone has a favorite. Who’s your favorite?” “Okay, fine,” declared my mum, laughing. “It’s Bear.” “WHAT? You weren’t supposed to admit it.” “Honey, I just said that. I love you all in equal measures.” “Liar,” I muttered to myself, under my breath. “Everyone has a favorite.”
There’s always so much competition in a house of four sisters. One of our biggest battles is height. Two of my younger sisters are now taller than me, and it looks like the youngest will follow their lead. There’s nothing anyone can do to be naturally taller, as far as I know, but my younger sisters can endlessly get enjoyment out of going up to me, stopping, and then taking their hand, placing it on top of their head, and then moving it in a straight horizontal line straight over mine. “Ha-ha, how cute! She’s so much shorter than me.” Then, the old joke, “How’s the weather down there?” Never has a different of so little meant so much.
Then there’s the distribution of talent. My sister who’s a year younger than me, I’ll call her Katherine, always jokes with me that we (she and I) were the trial set. We were the ones that my mum tried Chinese math classes, orchestra, advanced classes, soccer,, spelling bees, writing competitions, ballet, and piano lessons out with. Then, the other set, I’ll call them Banana and Bear, had the benefit of their two older sisters being the experiment children. They got the hand-me-down clothes, less responsibility, and better education. For whatever reason, they have also proved to be more talented in music and much more coordinated in sports than Katherine and I ever were. We’re not jealous; we’re proud. I’m just stating the facts.
And of course, with any sisters, there’s the looks and the clothes.  I won’t go into that, but it’s amazing the different metabolisms, heights, skinniness, and of course, the styles, of four sisters. The most important thing I’ve learned is to be very careful when you ask “Does this look good?” or “Do I look fat?” Families have brutal levels of honesty, especially sisters, who can care less about your feelings when you want the truth.
So I can totally imagine how everyone was jealous of Joseph. He was the baby of the family, probably much better looking than his brothers, and he had that super awesome colored coat to wear! Of course I think his brothers took it WAY too far to send him into slavery like they did, but look at what came out of it-God led Joseph to be a trusted advisor to the King, and eventually Joseph prevented his family from starving in the famine.
How loving Joseph must have been to reveal his identity and rejoice with his brothers! How he must have prayed and meditated to eradicated any harsh feelings he may have felt towards them. I don’t know if I would have been able to do that, but Joseph must have had huge help from God to reunite with his family. And I’m glad he did. His story can help families all over the world get rid of the jealousy which taints their bonds and become exactly the families that Christ always intended them to be.
Gn 41:17-24 The Sin of Envy
Gn 41:17-24 The Sin of Envy
By Benedict Augustine

Alas, we are being punished because of our brother.
We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us,
yet we paid no heed; that is why this anguish has now come upon us.

Great men will elicit two different reactions from the people around them: admiration or envy. Those with a humble disposition will welcome the great man and show admiration. They will elevate that individual to his proper place and seek to imitate his virtues. In contrast, proud people will envy the great man. They will downplay his virtues—even to the point of putting virtue itself into doubt—and find a way to eliminate him.

The book of Genesis features many such examples of great men suffering at the hands of envious people. To name a few: Cain envied his brother Abel; Hagar and Sarah envied one another in turn; and Esau envied Jacob and vice versa. Now, unsurprisingly, all of Jacob’s older children envy their younger brother Joseph. Joseph has won the attention of his father and God, receiving a colorful coat from the former and prophetic dreams from the latter.

Joseph’s brothers, proud men who felt entitled to this kind of attention by virtue of their age and superior numbers, “hated him so much that they could not even say a kind word to him” (Gn 37:4). Envy fueled their hatred causing them to hate not what he did, but who he was. Joseph made them feel inadequate, less significant, less loved; like all envious people, they projected this frustration outwardly instead of reflecting on it inwardly. Thus, they dump him in a well before thinking better of it and selling him as a slave to their cousins, the Ishmaelites.

Remorse for this brutal action comes much later when they must migrate into Egypt for food because of famine in their homeland. They must supplicate the governor of Egypt, who happens to be their despised brother Joseph whom they fail to recognize, for a ration of bread. As the circumstances change so does their attitude. Begging for mercy themselves causes them to think of people asked the same mercy of them, like their younger brother so many years ago.

At that moment, they finally realize that envy drove their actions and made them lesser men than their brother. This truth, brought on by God, them and leads to their repentance.

At the same timeGod does opposite for Joseph, exulting him even higher.Joseph enjoyed his father and God’s favors before, but it is here that he reallyproves his greatness. He has the perfect opportunity to avenge himself on his brothers, yet he does not even think of this. When he hears Rueben and his brothers repent of their action, he cries and makes plans to forgive them.

For this reason, Joseph serves as a type prefiguring Jesus. Like Joseph, Jesus must suffer the wrath of envious people. While a few souls admire Jesus, like His disciples, and imitate His example, many more despise Jesus and Hisgreatness and want to crucify HimTheir pride provokes envy, and their envy provokes wrath.

Nevertheless, as with Joseph, God exalts the humble and gives Jesus and Hisdisciples the power to forgive. Although they have every reason to avenge themselves of such people, they seek to forgive them. Knowing that humility and repentance must precede forgiveness, Jesus commands his disciples to preach repentance to their audiences in order to prepare them for the Kingdom of Heaven.

The disciples are sent to preach to the lost tribes of Israel, descendants of Joseph’s brothers. They will find some of them hungry for the Word and ready to repent of their sins while they will find others still angry and ready to throw them down a well. On a spiritual level, a feast awaits those who repent while famine will haunt those who reject the gospel.

God’s children seem to forget that they enjoy a special privilege that arouses the envy of others. They receive the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; they receive the gifts of grace from the sacraments; their souls are fed by Jesus’ Body and Blood; they are never alone. God has made His children great. In return, He expects them to show the same magnanimity as His Son. Satan willtry to block the senses of the unconverted, but Catholics can—and should—overcome this stubbornness with patience and confidence that God will help them break these hard hearts and allow them to finally heal.

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