Friday, December 31, 2021

Epiphany: Hope Revealed

 



Can you hear it: The happy sigh of 2021 being over and the beginning of 2022 just a few days ago?  It is the sound of Hope Revealed just like Epiphany is the revelation of the Savior, Jesus, who brings hope to the world.

Friday, December 24, 2021

One, Holy, Catholic And Apostolic Family


Our Gospel story from St. Luke today on the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph focuses on a specific incident when the Lord was 12 years old.  It capsulizes how a family with a young child handled a missing child scenario and indicates for us how a Catholic family needs to consider their life’s journey path towards holiness.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Jesus’ Birth Calls Us To Peaceful Relationships That Creates Community!

St. Luke’s Gospel on the visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, is a rich story of two women who not only share their joy of bearing a child, but are blessed to understand that the sons who they bear will change the world forever.  Mary’s son is the King of Peace of which the Prophet Micah writes about in the first reading.  St. John the Baptist, Elizabeth’s son, is the precursor of Jesus’ birth as the savior of the world. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Christian Joy Is God’s Gift To Us So We Can Share It With Others!


“What should we do”? 
That is the question in St. Luke’s Gospel today that the crowds are asking St. John the Baptist when he challenges people to repent from their sinful ways.  His response: Be Lovable to others.  This shouldn’t be so difficult considering we are approaching the official Christmas season with the birth of Jesus in two weeks.  The world decided in October prior to Halloween that we will have a Christmas of buying things to show our love for others.  This is not the love of which John the Baptist speaks.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Love Requires Us To Be Selfless, Sacrificial And Complete. As John The Baptist Proclaimed A Baptism Of Repentance, We Are Called To Follow Jesus By Letting Go Of Our Sinfulness.


In our baptismal promises to love God above all and all that He has created as Jesus loves us, we often lose focus because we confuse becoming a responsible Christian with a need for personal attainment.  When we do this, we fall into a type of entrapment in which sin overtakes our good intentions.  It is at this juncture that more than ever we need to ask God’s forgiveness, let go of whatever led us astray and follow Jesus by emulating what He taught us while he walked this earth.

Friday, November 26, 2021

In Advent, We Wait In Hope! Seeking Balance To Our Life, We Are Called By God To Be Alert To His Comings.

 



DEAR FRIENDS –

TODAY’S BLOG MARKS THE BEGINNING OF THE SECOND YEAR I HAVE BEEN SHARING “A CATHOLIC DEACON’S PERSPECTIVE.”  MY HOPE IS THAT IT HAS GIVEN YOU A DEEPER INSIGHT INTO YOUR JOURNEY WITH THE LORD.  LAST YEAR’S “B” BLOG SUBMISSIONS WILL REMAIN ON THIS SITE TO REVIEW OR COMPARE THEM TO THIS YEAR “C” WHICH HAS ST. LUKE AS OUR GOSPEL PROVIDER.  YOU ARE IN MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS AS WE TRAVEL A PATH TO FOLLOW JESUS TO HIS PROMISE OF EVERLASTING LIFE FOR THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL TO HIS TRUTH OF LOVE, MERCY AND FORGIVENESS. 

GOD BLESS,

DEACON JIM MERLE



Waiting is a common phenomenon these days which calls for patience.  We wait in lines at grocery stores, banks, post offices and gas stations to name a few.  Our hope is that whatever is happening ahead will be short lived decreasing our time so we can get on with whatever else we have planned. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven, If We Hand Over Our Life To Jesus!


We often define historical kingdoms as vast amounts of geography ruled by a person who makes decisions based on a perception of truth supportive of what he or she wants and/or needs.  This can be either a positive or a negative experience, depending on the benevolent or dictatorial state of mind of the ruler.  Today, most royalty are figureheads who represent political leaders who rule kingdoms for better or worse.

Friday, November 12, 2021

End Times Are Coming For All Of Us! Let Us Make Sure We Are Ready By Taking Care Of Those In Need Now!

 


“You are my inheritance, O Lord!” is our Psalm 16 refrain today.  It seems an apt response also to how we are to assess the end times as portrayed in our first reading from The Book of Daniel and in St. Mark’s Gospel.  Despite the doom and gloom shared in these liturgical readings, the responsorial psalm offers a positive sense of hope as we trust in God who has always been with us no matter what the difficulties may be.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Place Trust In God So We Can Give To Others In Humility As Jesus Did For Us!


Giving is a main stay in our faith.  We know this because the greatest gift ever given comes from Jesus, the Son of God, who died on a cross for our sins so we could be forgiven and was resurrected from the dead so we could have everlasting life.  No sacrifice in the past or future will ever surpass the meaning of what it is to give to one another as Jesus did for us.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Loving God And Our Neighbor Is A Promise Of Our Baptism! Let Us Actively Be Present To Those In Need As Jesus Continually Serves Us With His Love.


For those of you who have been reading my blog this last year, you may have noticed that I often reference love of God and of one another.  It was not just from hearing and reading St. Mark’s Gospel today, but more so from me trying to understand the promise I made as an adult about my childhood Baptism and how to live up to it as a committed disciple.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Take Courage, Get Up. Jesus Is Calling Us To Be The Disciple Of Our Faith In God!

 


Earlier this year I became the recipient of retinal migraine headaches.  Unlike migraine headaches which bring great pain and can last for hours, the retinal migraine headaches I contracted happened sporadically and primarily affected my right eye which is far sighted.  There is no pain associated with it and lasts anywhere from a few seconds to about five minutes usually resulting in temporary blindness.  They have a potential to lead toward strokes and death in serious cases.  According to my doctor, I currently have a mild case to be watched but unless the frequency picks up I should be okay.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Called To Service By God, We Give Of Ourselves To Others!


Most of my early life I spent looking for where I belonged.  Attending multiple elementary schools due to personal problems between my mom and dad made it difficult to focus on where I was headed in life.  I had to adjust to each scenario, not because the classes were so different, but the schools and people in them had specific goals that often conflicted with what I became familiar in prior situations.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Seek Wisdom, Not Wealth! Follow Jesus, Receive Eternal Life!


What do you give someone who seems to have everything one would want in life?  It is a periodic dilemma we often face when dealing with the wealthy.  In Solomon’s case from our first reading in the Book of Wisdom, he inherited a wealthy empire at peace after his father, King David, died.  There was nothing one could buy that he probably didn’t own.  And yet, when God asks him after the completion of building the Temple in Jerusalem what did he want, his response: Prudence along with the spirit of wisdom.

Friday, October 1, 2021

This One, At Last, Is Bone Of My Bones And Flesh Of My Flesh

 



Dear Friends –

Before presenting my weekend blog for October 2nd and 3rd, I want to thank you for your patience in these last two weeks, especially if you had difficulty in receiving the blog.  Due to changes made to the web feed management service, we had to move the blog to a different service, follow.it, or we might have lost you as subscribers.  We believe this has been corrected and you should not receive any delays in A Catholic Deacon’s Perspective.

God Bless,

Deacon Jim Merle



Please note that I am not an expert in marriage or divorce counseling as it relates to our Gospel and readings in which both are referenced.  My blog this weekend is based on three perspectives: My own marriage of 53 years; Witnessing relative and friends’ marriages; and Meeting and talking with couples as a deacon either prior to a marriage in the Catholic Church or after a divorce of couples married either in or out of the Church.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us.” Let Us Not Forget Why We Are Called!

 


Being a Catholic Christian doesn’t mean we are automatically saved or know better than others when it comes to doing God’s work.  On the contrary, we need to work harder to avoid the sin of being judgmental that ruins a person.  Though God welcomes those baptized into the Catholic Church, He also expects that we will live up to the promise we make of loving both Him and all that He is created as Jesus loves us.  Without that, we risk loss of the Holy Spirit and the ability to serve those who are in need as defined by Christ.

Friday, September 17, 2021

“If Anyone Wishes To Be First, He Shall Be The Last…And…Servant Of All.”


God and the world strive to be the best.  The difference is in their approach.

It is no secret that the world, for the most part, defines “best” as being Number One.  Society usually breaks it down into three areas: Wealth, Power and Fame.  On an overall scale, the United States, China and Russia lead in all three categories.  It is the subjectivity of how one specifies the strength in each category that decides who or what is number One in the past, now and for the future as all three can claim victory for any number of particular times.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Deny Self, Take Up Cross And Follow Jesus! Instructions For Path To Heaven By Helping Those In Need Through Faith And Works!

 


Everyone needs some type of direction to at least go from point “A” to point “B.”  Without that, we will meander for a longer period of time.  We may or may not reach our destination of choice.  The real crux of going from one place to another requires correct information so we can make the proper decision without too many detours.

Friday, September 3, 2021

“Ephphatha – Be Opened!” Jesus Calls Us By Our Baptism To Be Open To God So We Can Share Our Faith With Others

 


One of the faculties I have been granted by my ordination into the permanent Diaconate is to baptize children.  I view it as one of the greatest blessings for which I have been gifted in service to the Lord.  To bring a child into the faith and, more importantly, into a personal relationship with God is a deeply spiritual time which touches my very heart and soul with humility and joy.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Catholicism’s Prime Directive: Use Love When Reaching Out To Serve Those In Need


If I have learned anything in my life, it is that the normative is change; not status quo.  Whatever people plan, they “must” be ready to expect the unexpected and to do what is necessary to take care of the new direction.  If one doesn’t, he or she may discover that life runs in circles rather than towards an objective or a goal.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Faith Is Always A Matter Of Choice! Eternal Life Or Your Way? You Choose!

 


Deciding to follow God is not always an easy decision.  As humans we are familiar with things of the flesh so we often use our senses to decide which way is best for us.  God, on the other hand, places spirituality first; allowing us to choose for ourselves which path leads us in the right direction for eternal life.  Jesus never forced adherence, but instead invited, urged and appealed to people to believe in His teachings, healings and sacrifice as a sign of God’s truth for the people He created for everlasting life.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Called By God, Mary’s “Yes” Is Honored By Her Assumption As A Model For Our Faith In God!

 


God has blessed me with some remarkable women in my life.  Each one either gave or continues to give me a strong foundation on which I rely on how to live my life as a good person.  I owe much of my success to that and my failures to not listening enough.  On this the Feast of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would like to take note not only of what these women have taught me, but of the significance of Mother Mary who is our discipleship model for all who believe in the Blessed Trinity and their plan for us.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Belief In God Brings Us Eternal Life! Relativism Rejects God And Moral Absolutes!

 


Prior to him becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger gave a homily that warned the world about a new threat to human freedom and dignity he called “The Dictatorship of Relativism.”  He said: “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

Friday, July 30, 2021

Jesus, The Bread Of Life, Offers Life Everlasting If We Say Yes And Follow Him!


As Catholic disciples, we have received the most precious gift we could ever have with Jesus’ proclamation that He is the Bread of Life who takes away the sins of the world and offers to each of us everlasting life, if we say yes and follow Him.  He has proven this to be true by all that He did while in the flesh on earth by teaching, healing, dying and rising in obedience to the will of God, the Father, and out of love for those the Trinity created.  What more do we need from God to believe and trust in Him?  The simple answer: Nothing!

Friday, July 23, 2021

God Feeds Us With Food For Our Body And Soul


 Though I awake hungry each morning, I no longer have the voracious appetite I once had as a child or younger man when it comes to sustenance.  What I do hunger for is more knowledge, wisdom, understanding and spirituality for my mind and soul to cope with a world that has so many needs on both a personal level and in areas of social justice.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Jesus, Our Good Shepherd, Takes Care Of Us So We Can Take Care Of Others!


As an ordained clergyman I have been given faculties as a deacon that put me in a position to be a shepherd to those in need as authorized by the bishop to whom I report or the auxiliary bishops and priests with whom I work.
  It is at times daunting, but mostly rewarding based upon the outcome of the involvement from those with whom I interface.

Friday, July 9, 2021

We Are Summoned And Sent To Share God’s Message, To Help All To Be Strong And To Be Present To Those In Need!

 


Recently, while picking up a few items in a local grocery store, I met a fellow parishioner who shared how blessed she felt by God in her life.  I don’t often receive unsolicited information about one’s feelings, much less a positive affirmation of God’s presence.  It was both refreshing and gave me joy to know that this person was willing to reach out in the way she did.

Friday, July 2, 2021

When I Am Weak, It Is Then That I Am Strong!


Being an ordained deacon does not provide me with a leg up, so to speak.  I am challenged daily as everyone else who espouses Christianity as the faith of their choice.  My temptations are no less and my struggle with giving in to sin is a difficult choice at times, depending on the decision I am given to make.  The difference for me is remembering the pain when in the past I have given in and the disappointment I am to God for not living up to my promise to be faithful no matter what the cost.

Friday, June 25, 2021

God Is Present to Those in Need. All We Need to Do Is Call Out.


It has taken me most of my life to learn how to be patient.  I still struggle with it but have adopted a better perspective.  This new found approach comes from watching and admiring mothers rearing of small children, whether they have help or do not. 

What does this have to do with our readings and Gospel today?

Friday, June 18, 2021

Fear Not! God’s Love Gives Us Faith To Trust In His Ways



One of the most frightening times in my early life happened when I was on a road trip from Chicago to a resort in Wisconsin in a rain storm with a raging wind from a tornado that tore off my windshield wipers.  In addition to that, the bottom of the tornado’s funnel cloud touched land about 50 feet from me and forced the car to the side of the road.  To say the least, I was frantically praying to God during this dark time asking Him to protect me from harm.

Friday, June 11, 2021

God Provides Us With Possibilities Through Faith And Growth As Believers


A few days ago my wife discovered some pictures of our family move from Illinois to California as we stopped to visit the Grand Canyon.  One was of the six of us looking down into the canyon and remembering the remark by one of our children saying it’s just a big hole in the ground.  Another was of my youngest on my shoulders who a week earlier wouldn’t talk or be near me because she was angry I had been away for a long period of time to set up our new life across country.  I remarked to her when she saw the picture that it was a journey that changed our lives forever.  Though she had no memory at the age of two about the trip, she agreed with my comment.

Friday, June 4, 2021

“Take It; This Is My Body.” “This Is The Blood Of My Covenant…” Do This In Remembrance Of Me!




The solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) focuses primarily on the adoration of the Holy Eucharist and secondarily on the presence of the Body of Christ in the Church as a sign of common faith.  In other words we, His disciples, are the Body of Christ who believe in the real sacramental presence of Christ in the Eucharist, not just a symbol of eating a wafer.  He, Jesus, the Son of God, is physically and spiritually present in our bodies we carry with us throughout the day.

Friday, May 28, 2021

The Most Holy Trinity: A Mystery We Define As God’s Love For Us



For those who love mysteries, there is none greater than The Most Holy Trinity.  Only God has the answer.  And though He shares it in so many different ways through what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do for us, it befuddles us.  We spend an inordinate amount of time looking to make sense of its components (three Persons in one God) than accepting what They accomplish together and individually.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Pentecost’s Invitation Of Involvement Brings The Holy Spirit Into Our Hearts And Our Sharing Of The Gospel Message



God’s perfect plan for our involvement might seem over the top with the original Pentecost filled with a “strong driving wind,” “tongues as of fire” and speaking in different tongues, but why shouldn’t it be?  We are created out of God’s love to build the Kingdom of God by bringing people to God.  Without God’s help, we would not be able to accomplish this.  We need to be of the same Spirit to spread His message of love through preaching, healing and forgiving.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Jesus’ Footprint On The Mount Of Olives Connects Us With His Heavenly Home And The Opportunity To Proclaim His Gospel


It is early morning of Tuesday, October 6, 2015, and I am staring up into the sky on the top of Mount Olivet (Mount of Olives) in Bethany, Israel, next to the Chapel of the Ascension. I am imagining that I am one of the Apostles looking at Jesus as he ascends into heaven.  This happened after I exited     a 12 by 12 meter octagonal structure known as a martyrium (memorial) in which can be found a glass-encased rock on which rests the footprint of Jesus prior to His ascension into heaven. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

It Was Not You Who Chose Me, It Was I Who Chose You To Go Forth And Bear Fruit!


This is my favorite verse from the Bible, John 15:16a.  It is the one that clarifies God’s love for me and is not based on my initial belief that I am the one who sets the parameters for my relationship with God, but that He does out of His love.  I am truly created in the divine image and likeness of God and called to be His disciple.

Friday, April 30, 2021

God’s Spiritual Bond With Us Helps Us To Boldly Love Him In Thought, Word And Deed

 


Several years ago in one corner of our backyard, a flowering vine started to creep over our wall from a neighbor’s yard.  We decided to let it grow since it hid the drab grey block wall surrounding all the open land from the front of the house to the back.  In the five years since, 70 percent of the wall is covered and has greatly enhanced the wall and yard’s look.

Friday, April 23, 2021

I Hear The Voice Of Jesus, The Good Shepherd, Help Me Say Yes To His Truth!

 


Several years ago, I developed tinnitus in both my ears.  It is a constant ringing, 24/7, that is it’s loudest when all is quiet.  It is blessing that I have been able to block it out when I go to sleep.  What is more amazing is that I am able to pick out individual sounds when there are multiple noises, such as voices of those speaking, as long as I am close enough to hear.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Jesus Calls Us To Be Witnesses Of His Truth By The Practice Of Our Faith



Pontius Pilate in St. John’s Gospel (Jn. 18:38) responded to a statement by Jesus about truth with a rhetorical question: “Truth!  What does that mean?” He probably believed that truth is what one makes it, not the truth that is grounded in the very character and being of God which we, who are baptized, try to witness in our daily lives.      


Friday, April 9, 2021

Blessed are Those Who Have Not Seen and Have Believed

 


Too often, the mantra we hear and sometimes say is: Seeing is believing!  In other words we need some physical proof as the Apostle Thomas in St. St. John’s Gospel today when he said: “Unless I see…I will not believe” in reference to Jesus being alive after His death.  What makes these words even harder to accept is that they are spoken by a believer who for three years lived with Jesus hearing His words and watching people being healed from all sorts of incurable ailments.  Is Thomas really a doubter, or is he a man of faith because if what he was told is true, why aren’t the other Apostles jumping for joy rather than still hiding behind locked doors?

Friday, April 2, 2021

Jesus’ Death and Resurrection has Given Us A Second Chance. Don’t Miss the Opportunity!

 


There is no greater celebration for a Christian than Easter Sunday.  It is the culmination and the purpose of God’s redemptive plan for man’s salvation.  Jesus has died for our sins and is risen from the dead so that, if we have followed Him as we ought, we will have an everlasting life after we pass from our earthly existence.

So, how do we celebrate Easter Sunday?  Hint: It is not with Easter Egg Hunts. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Challenges and Triumphs: A Passion of Moral Reflection!

 


Though my Holy Land Pilgrimage was in early October of 2015, my thoughts, visions and memories are still fresh in my mind, especially during Lent and Holy Week.  I kept a journal during our 10-day journey and St. Mark’s Gospel on this Passion/Palm Sunday reminds me of the depth of God’s love for His creation as He returns to Jerusalem for the last time to give us life everlasting through His death and Resurrection.

Friday, March 19, 2021

“A Clean Heart Create for Me, O God, And A Steadfast Spirit Renew Within Me.” (Psalm 51:12)

 


It is rare that a Psalm is used for a main thought for a homily, a reflection, pastoral letter or even a blog.  It is the Gospel upon which we are to take our lead in God’s message to His disciples or people who “wish to see Jesus” as mentioned in St. John’s Gospel today (Jn. 12:21).  But, without Psalm 51:12, can we really “See” Jesus?

Friday, March 12, 2021

God’s Love For Us Is Manifested In Jesus’ Sacrifice So We Can Be Saved

 


Our Gospel from St. John this Fourth Sunday of Lent quotes what is considered one of the best known verses in the Bible:

 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) 

And yet, it is one of the most difficult for us to understand and to follow.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Covenants, Promises and Rewards



God’s relationship with His believers is based on covenant agreements that include disciples’ promises to do or not do something for which they are rewarded with eternal salvation as part of God’s plan of redemption.

 

Depending on which faith you choose to follow, the number of covenant agreements is recognized differently.  The Roman Catholic Church, for example, names five they consider official covenants between God and humanity: Noahic; Abrahamic; Mosaic; Davidic; and New.  Two not considered covenants are Adamic and Palestinian.  The two we address today are the Mosaic Covenant from the first reading of The Book of Exodus and the New Covenant from the Gospel of Saint John.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Parent – Child Relationships Are Complicated but Loving!

 




There is not a parent I know of who would not be devastated if they lost a child prior to dying themselves.  When our son was diagnosed with stomach cancer, it was touch and go, especially in those first few months due to the aggressive nature of the disease.  My wife, Candi, and I were not only in daily telephone contact but we took the hour-and-half drive several times to be with him, especially the day of his surgery and while he was in the hospital afterwards.  We wanted to make sure our only son was okay.  Now in his fifth year of recovery, he is doing well and has had no more incidents leading to a reoccurrence.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Lent’s Personal Reflection Can Help Us Find Who We Really Are!


Someone asked me the other day if Covid-19 has changed me, especially since the freedoms I once enjoyed have taken a back seat to quarantining, social distancing and wearing masks.  My immediate answer was an off-handed one in which I said, “probably, but it has been too long so I don’t remember.”  Looking back on this flippant response, it caused me to start looking into actual changes that have happened during this past year and where it is leading me.


Friday, February 12, 2021

Presence Is Our “Touch” Today!

 


St. Mark’s Gospel story and the Book of Leviticus today are about Touch.  The touch denied a person accused of having a skin disease called leprosy in ancient times and the touch of Jesus, the son of God, in healing a man so accused.  The leper is cured and can be reunited with humanity.  Jesus is considered tainted and must leave humanity to spread the word of God and heal those in need.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Healing in Our Struggles Requires A Prayerful Faith



My daily prayers for the last 20 years have centered on care, comfort and healing.  Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of those who are in need for a multitude of reasons.  Since the pandemic, the significance of peoples’ struggles is more pronounced than ever.  It is because of this, I believe our need to rely on prayer for what God calls us to do in service to others is paramount for healing to happen.

Friday, January 29, 2021

When God Speaks, We Need to Listen And Take Action.

 




History teaches us that change is a norm not an anomaly.  Whether that history comes to us in nature, from humans or by God, all of them have the power to give, take or create a future that we desire or do not want.  What we do with it becomes the very life with which we live and die.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Change is not only necessary, but Essential to Follow God


 Our Gospel and both readings for this Sunday illustrate three different ways God urgently appeals to His creation to change their lives to accept His ways rather than the worlds.  What we are missing, especially in the first reading for example, is the back story which gives us an insight how we as humans need to understand and sometimes find it difficult to accept God in our lives.