St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

We Christians sometimes forget an inconvenient truth that as a result of the Incarnation, Jesus in his humanity was born into a particular culture at a particular time and was subject to the particular prejudices that were present. Oh sure, he pushed its boundaries from time to time; but he was still influenced by the mores of the times.

Case in point: today’s Gospel where for quite a while he is shown to be acting, well, unchristian. Jesus had approached pagan land. To identify the woman Matthew uses a term that was passé at the time: Canaanite, the original settlers in the land that the Jewish people had conquered and who remained somewhat hated enemies ever since. Jesus at first ignored her. The disciples then pleaded with Jesus to send her away. He answered that he didn’t come for anyone but the lost sheep of Israel, effectively cutting her and anyone else that was not Jewish from his mercy, compassion, and salvation. But she wouldn’t give up. She knelt in front of him and begged him. Finally he answered with a rebuke, calling her a dog, a non-person. She cleverly used his answer to cause him to look at her in a different way, recognizing her faith. Jesus was taught a lesson by a foreign woman: to pay attention to those outside his personal mission as he thought to be; you never know where you will find faith.

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Why was Elijah sitting in a cave on Horeb, the mountain of God? It was all because of Jezebel, the pagan queen of Israel and her prophets of Baal.

Elijah had challenged 450 prophets of Baal to a sacrificial duel at Mt. Carmel. Both he and they were to place on wood a young bull prepared for sacrifice but light no fire. Instead both were to call upon their god. Whichever god answered with fire would be declared the winner and worthy of worship. The prophets of Baal spent hours calling him and received no answer. Elijah mocked them and their god/ saying perhaps he’s asleep or meditating or on a journey or retired. They continued calling. “But there was not a sound; no one answered, and no one was listening.” Now it was Elijah’s turn. He built a stone altar, dug a trench around it, put the pieces of the young bull on the wood, and ordered four jars of water to be poured over the holocaust not once, not twice, but three times to ensure it was soaked. What chutzpah! He called upon the Lord and the Lord answered with fire which consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones of the altar, the dust, and even the water in the trench! I think he probably thought “Thank you, God.” He then killed all the prophets of Baal. Now this did not sit well with Jezebel who swore to have Elijah killed in the same manner. Of course Elijah escaped to the desert and prayed for death at the hands of the Lord. But an angel of the Lord strengthened him with food and water and he made his way to Horeb, walking 40 days and 40 nights. And that’s why he was in that cave when he heard the command to go outside and stand before the Lord.

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Jesus had three chosen companions who accompanied him up the mountain: Peter, James and John. About a week earlier Peter had declared Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God and was told that from now on he was Peter and upon this rock Jesus would build his church. James the elder son of Zebedee was to become head of the church as Jerusalem. And John, James’ brother, was the beloved disciple.

Imagine the feeling that came over those three as they experienced the sight of Jesus becoming radiant as the sun and seeing Moses and Elijah conversing with him. It was more than good to be there; they were overjoyed! And they wanted to remain there. Maybe they were thinking: “It doesn’t get much better than this!” And then an immense fear overshadowed them as they heard the voice of God confirming what Peter had recently professed and pleading with them to listen to Jesus. Confusion then followed as Jesus, now all alone and looking the same as they knew him, touched them, led them down the mountain, and commanded them not to tell anyone what they had seen. How could they not?!

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How’s your financial health these days? What with rising gas, heating oil, and food prices; the sub-prime mortgage mess with banks failures as a result; Freddie and Fannie May being in trouble hoping for relief from the government; all this makes the $600 or $1200 stimulus check seem as only a drop in the bucket.

As the stock market has been tumbling over the last several months, various financial gurus have rather consistently given two pieces of advice.

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No matter how often I weed my garden, within hours more show up. It’s always been a mystery to me. I see no seeds; I certainly didn’t plant them. How did they get there? I would like to claim “an enemy has done this”. But it happens every year and in every place I have had gardens. Is my enemy a stalker?

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Most often when this parable is used for reflection on a retreat or a day of reflection, we are the hearers of the parable and are asked: “How receptive to the word of God are you? Into which category do you place yourself?”

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