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Deacon Mass of Thanksgiving @ S. Maria in Aracoeli, Roma
Celebrant: Rev. Ray Suriani
Homilist: Rev. Mr. John Sistare
Gospel: Luke 11:15-26


[Luke 11:14] He was driving out a demon (that was) mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute person spoke and the crowds were amazed. Some of them said, "By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons." Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.

If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges.

But if it is by the finger of God that (I) drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. "When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, 'I shall return to my home from which I came.' But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first."

How awesome is the ‘finger of God’? March 8, 1998, the day my brother, (Br. Juniper Mary Sistare), took first vows, I decided to set out for a church in Rome that was special and has some Franciscan significance. I wanted to attend a Sunday mass and make a holy hour at a Church that I had never been to before. As I walked throughout Rome, I was led to S. Maria in Aracoeli, in Piazza Venezia. The stairs which led up the church were enough to reconsider this choice! However, I entered and found a little side chapel inside with a picture of St Francis. As I prayed for my brother that morning, I looked to my left and I couldn’t believe what I saw on the wall. There, above a flickering light, read (in Latin): Here lies the remains of Br Juniper, companion of St Francis. I nearly passed out!!! That’s how awesome the finger of God is!!! So awesome is the finger of God that it led me to that church, among so many in Rome, and brought me to the original Br Juniper’s tomb!!!

But if it is by the finger of God that (I) drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
In today’s Gospel reading, we see that not everyone always sees the finger of God at work. In fact, God himself was among them and they missed Him. They didn’t realize that it was the finger of God that was casting out demons!!!

Do we see the finger of God at work in our lives? Our challenge is to see how awesome the finger of God is in our lives. Yesterday, Oct 7th 1999, I saw how awesome the finger of God is!!!

So awesome, that He took a ‘schlep’, a great sinner who was lost and called him to Holy Orders, to be a deacon of his Church.

So awesome, that He took my parents and formed their love in the Trinity so that the fruit of this love has been 3 children. Two of which are religious vocations and a daughter in college who is well on her way to adulthood.

So awesome, that He has taken ordinary men and used them to do extraordinary things. Two of whom here today (Fr. Sam Martin & Fr Mark Vandersteeg), were underclassmen when I arrived in Rome and now are Priests after our Lord Jesus Christ. He has taken Fr Isaac Mary, FFI, and Fr Kenney, my vocation director, both here as well and used them as instruments of Divine Grace. He has taken my pastor, Fr Ray Suriani, an ordinary man and used him to do extraordinary things, (one of which was to help me discern the call to Orders!).

Finally so, awesome is the finger of God, that all of you here today have been drawn closer to God this week here in Rome. These experiences you are having in Rome will only increase and deepen your faith.

How awesome is the finger of God? So awesome that by the blood that flowed upon those fingers, we have hope for eternal life!!!



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