The Quiet Corner
Father John A. Kiley
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The prophet David was the first king to rule over all twelve tribes of Israel centered around the city of Jerusalem. But the unity enforced by King David did not endure very long. After the death of David’s son Solomon, David’s grandson Rehoboam enforced a very severe regime. Eventually, ten of the northern Israelite tribes separated from this tyrannical king and chose for themselves Jeroboam, from the tribe of Ephraim, as their king, establishing a new kingdom which they called Israel. The other two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, remained with the dictatorial Rehoboam and formed the Judean kingdom. more
The Jews endured seventy years of exile in Babylon about five hundred years before the birth of Christ. The first reading at Mass this Sunday celebrates the release of these Jews from this exile by the noble king Cyrus. A number of Scripture scholars have understood that this alien existence of the Jewish people actually led to the origin of the synagogue system and to the formulation of the Bible. Since the Jews had no temple in which to worship, it makes sense that they would gather in their alien neighborhoods to pray, reflect and sing the praises of God. Such neighborhood gatherings would have led to the synagogue system known today throughout the world. Also while in exile, it is plausible that the Jews might choose to write down the prophecies and note the prodigies that had marked their history. These reminiscences of course would be the beginning of the Bible. Certainly these events could have all happened. more
If I were to mix chemical A with chemical B in my cellar in Woonsocket, there would be a definite reaction. The chemicals might lie there inert with no result, the chemicals might explode with dangerous consequences, or the chemicals might bubble over and eat away the work shelf supporting my experiment. more
Jesus lived daily with the unhappy prospect of being rejected by many of his own Jewish people and of being tortured and crucified by the local Roman authorities. Three times during his public life Jesus predicted his rejection by the Jews and his suffering by the Romans. The triple citations in St. Mark’s Gospel are very easily remembered: Mark 8:31, 9:31 and 10:33. more
Saints Matthew, Mark and Luke all locate Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness immediately after his baptism at the Jordan by the Baptist. Some Biblical commentators see a constant Scriptural theme in this juxtaposition: commitment is always followed by testing. The Jordan baptism signaled Jesus’ commitment to public life. He would no longer be the reclusive carpenter at home in Nazareth with his widowed mother. more
The infectious Ebola disease has made headlines recently as a scare for many throughout the world and as a tragedy for many on the African continent. more
The Christian world is rightly concerned about personal morality. Christians should not cheat on their spouses, cheat on their taxes nor cheat at the neighborhood card game. Character, integrity and honor have been the quest of Christian believers and the mark of Christian saints in every age. Francis of Assisi and Charles de Foucauld leaving aside their youthful naughtiness come readily to mind. The Christian community has also been involved since Biblical times with social justice. The outstretched hand of the least brother or sister has been readily grasped by the strengthening embrace of a benevolent Christianity. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac rescuing Parisian newborns and paupers have left a still vibrant legacy. And the Christian community has a proud heritage in education and certainly in liturgy, worship and prayer. more
If you were walking along the beach at Narragansett and you noticed a wristwatch in the sand, would you pick up the wristwatch and remark, “Oh, look! The wind and the sand and the waves and the shells and the sea weed and fish bones all came together at the just the right moment and produced this wristwatch!”? Or would you more likely comment, “Oh, look! Someone lost their watch!” The likelihood of a wristwatch being constructed by an accident of nature is highly unlikely. The thought is absurd. Well, if timepieces don’t result from chance neither does this glorious universe that mankind inhabits. The order in the stars, planets and heavenly bodies, the productive harmony known as the four seasons, the intricate coordination found in the human body, the unfailing resilience of humanity and nature after assorted disasters – surely these are evidence that initiating and guiding the destiny of this earth is what the Greeks called the “Nous” or the “Mind,” and what the Semitic peoples called “God” and what we Christians know as “the Father.” more
One of the first historical developments within Christianity was the movement of pious Christians away from the moral tumult of the ancient world’s Greco-Roman cities into the spiritual solitude of the Egyptian desert. St. Anthony of the Desert and St. Mary of Egypt are still venerated as early believers who put aside the wealth and pleasures of the Mediterranean world to pursue their eternal destinies in Egypt’s secluded wilderness. Although these desert fathers and mothers went to Egypt seeking isolation, they actually encountered much company. The demons and devils that plagued Jesus during his public life gave these ancient hermits no peace in their quest for a deeper spirituality. And the piety of these early solitaries not only enriched them spiritually but actually drew a good number of disciples eager to learn their Christian disciplines. The barren desert was spiritually most fruitful. more
When the angel appeared to St. Joseph to announce the birth of Jesus Christ, the heavenly emissary informed the new father that he should name his son Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” When the angelic hosts appeared to the shepherds on the hillside they announced that in the city of Bethlehem “a savior has been born to you who is Christ the Lord.” Even the Immaculate Virgin Mary declared in her celebrated canticle, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” The dream of Joseph, the visitation of the shepherds and the song of Mary all remind believers that being a savior, introducing salvation and saving people from sin, was the basic mission of Christ. The very name Jesus means “God saves.” more
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