Most Holy Trinity and our Veterans


As we read the readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we need to keep in mind the African-American and Native soldiers of World War II. We need to keep in mind the Irish soldiers of our Civil War. “Only with difficulty does one die foIrish bragader a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners/deviants Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8, Second Reading.

These soldiers went to the trenches and died. Anglo soldiers did the same, but minority soldiers of yesterday and today, go into the trenches to fight and die for people who hate them because of their ancestry, the way they dress when not in uniform, and the language they speak. Like Jesus, they fight and die for people who oppose their welfare as they fight and die, for us.

These individuals can “boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into their hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to them.”

buffalo soldiersThey speak Spanish, or a Native-American language, and some speak Arabic, or Farsi. They pray in animist traditions, or they pray to Allah. The Hebrew word for God is El, from which they derive their word for God. The Muslims venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Christ, though in a wrong way. They endure abuse from those they fight to protect. Veterans have a 41% to 61% higher risk of suicide relative to the general population.

The vast majority of homeless veterans (96%) are single males from poor, disadvantaged communities. Homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Please click on Brownsville for link.

BrownsvilleVeterans between the ages of 18 and 30 are twice as likely as adults in the general population to be homeless. Roughly, 56% of all homeless veterans are African-American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8% and 15.4% of the U.S. population respectively. About 53% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities, compared with 41%of homeless non-veteran individuals. Homeless veterans tend to experience homelessness longer than non-veterans: Veterans spend an average of nearly six years homeless, compared to four years reported among non-veterans.

VietnamThe affliction of Boot Camp taught these soldiers endurance. This endurance also taught them the meaning of proven character. These men will fight and die in the trenches for each other, and for those who do not like them.

These individuals know what it means to hope, in spite of the evidence. They went to war with the promise of good educations when they return. They return to the same homes they came from, and no education. They find their “A,” schools are not accredited in the general community. They return to the same poverty from which they came.

In the meantime, they saw things those who went to college did not see. They saw things no human being should be allowed to see. God sends us to these individuals to bring them real hope, by being the evidence. They have traumas, physical and mental. In many ways, they are no longer like us.

About 53% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities, compared with 41%of homeless non-veteran individuals.    Half suffer from mental illness; two-thirds suffer from substance abuse problems. We must bring hope, sometimes in spite of how they behave before us.

Romans 5:1 speaks of the Justification/Charity, which comes from faith. St. Paul elsewhere speaks of putting on the new person. This is the person of faith, a faith that reaches out to others in charity. Our tradition speaks of putting on habits, as in our Franciscan religious habits. Habits, originally meant clothing, that which we have. We constantly strive to develop charitable habits.

Iraq veteranCatholic tradition also has the tradition of the four causes, Formal/Torah, Efficient/Holy Spirit, material/us, and Final/God. Romans 5:1 continues, “The Peace we have to God, through Jesus Christ… Our faith is a faith that always reaches to God, through the Eucharist, where we relive the Abrahamic faith of wondering through the desert, the Mosaic faith of wondering through the same desert, fleeing from oppressive employers, state sponsored employers, with their wars and violence.

Through the Divine Dance of communion with God, we reach out to others, constantly striving to create one community in harmony with each other, creating a concord pleasing to God. Do we do this, or do we look at those who sacrificed themselves, and say, “They brought it upon themselves?”

 

Jewish Tradition, and the Body and Blood of Christ


Moses at SinaiYou will wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. The task is too heavy. You cannot do it alone. Listen to me, and I will give you advice, and may God be with you. Act as the people’s representative before God, and bring their disputes to God. Enlighten them concerning the customs and instructions, showing them how they are to conduct themselves and what they are to do. Look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and set them over the people as Sarah/Leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. Exodus 18:18-22

Jesus told to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.” They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. When they picked up the leftover fragments, they filled twelve wicker baskets. Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Feeding the five thousand

There are five books of Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. There are twelve tribes of Israel. There are five loaves, two testaments to God, Torah and Gospel. There are twelves wicker baskets. The fish?

“On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent, the people would rise and bow down at the entrance of their own tents/Shekinah. The NAME spoke to Moses face to face, as a person speaks to a friend. His young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, never left the tent.” Exodus 33:9-11

“Nun,” is the Hebrew word for a fish. The ancient middle letters of the alphabet were Mem, which means water and was in the shape of a wave, and “Nun,” which meant fish, and was in the shape of a fishhook. Nineveh means fish city. Joshua, son of Nun, is Jesus, who hangs around fishermen and serves fish and bread to the people.

fish

Through Jesus Christ, in the body and blood, we enter into the Physical Presence of God. It is not possible to see God, behold an image of God and live.

We also read in Deuteronomy 5:1-7, “Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, Israel, the customs and precedents I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to observe them. The NAME, our God, cut a covenant with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the NAME cut this covenant, but with us, each us, alive, here, this day.

From this, comes the Jewish understanding of the Physical Presence of God, present at Sinai, presenting himself as The Twelve Attributes of God follow Exodus 33. (1) The NAME, (2) the NAME, (3) a God (4) merciful and (5) gracious, (6) slow to anger and (7) abounding in love and (8)truth, (9) continuing his love for a thousand generations, and (10)forgiving crookedness, (11) transgression, and (12) simple  deviation.

Twelves loaves, twelve attributes of God. Exodus describe God in this passage from Exodus 33. Joshua Ben Nun sits in the tent, the Shekinah, the Presence of God. Through Jesus/Joshua, we enter into God’s Presence. Our Gospel reading highlights this presentation of the Eucharist by relating it back to Exodus 18.

Jesus with the apostlesDeuteronomy 20 has embedded in it, the concept of the Physical Presence, fulfilled when Christ dies on the cross and rises with us and for us. When we partake of the Eucharist, we bring in the Twelve Attributes of God, as listed above. That means being merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and truth, continuing that love for a thousand generations. We forgive the crooked, those who transgress against us, deliberately, and by accident.

We organize ourselves into groups in our march to the Promised Land. We work with God to choose leaders, religious economic, and secular, who will lead us to that Promised Land. If they do not support all of Catholic moral teaching, pro-life from conception to the grave, where life is sacred, we do not support them. If they do not support the concept that all people are made in God’s image, and that as we treat “The least of these my brothers, you do it to me,” Matthew 25:31-46 they do not deserve our support. That means a living wage, dignity in the workplace and at home, on Second Street, and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of those who rush to the leadership job, who are sure every decision in capital cases is just, read Jethro’s advise from Exodus 18. You are the people’s representative before God. You stand before God. Are you sacred enough to stand before God, with no intermediary? look what Augustine says about them in the City of God, Book 19: chapter 6

judges

What shall I say of these judgments which men pronounce on men, and which are necessary in communities, whatever outward peace they enjoy? Melancholy and lamentable judgments they are. The judges are men who cannot discern the consciences of those at their bar, and are frequently compelled to put innocent witnesses to the torture to ascertain the truth regarding the crimes of other men.

The tortured is tortured to discover whether he is guilty, so that, though innocent, he suffers most undoubted punishment for crime that is still doubtful, not because we prove he committed it, but because it is not ascertained that he did not commit it. The ignorance of the judge frequently involves an innocent person in suffering. It is a thing to be bewailed, and watered with fountains of tears that when the judge puts the accused to the question, that he may not unwittingly put an innocent man to death. The result of this is that this very person, whom he tortured that he might not condemn him if innocent, is condemned to death both tortured and innocen
Let our leaders approach the task with existential angst, not joy. If they want the job, find someone else.

Do we want to convert people to Christ, or some other faith?


Jesus at the Cathedral 2Jesus told him, “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

There are those who read into this passage that if you do not go to their church: Catholic, Fundamentalist, you are not going to heaven. It is that simple. There is a major problem with this way of thinking and our First Reading for this Fourth Sunday of Easter tells us what it is.

First, as to the truth of the quote, if we are both standing on the face of cliff and my reality says there is a cliff there, but your reality does not, so you step forward, we will soon find out whose reality is correct. That is, as soon as we get to that sudden stop at the bottom. There is no room for relativism in our religion. If that was the point, it is correct.

cliffIn the west, we tend to think of the truth as static. It is, or it is not. Jesus is the way, the process, and the truth/this static thing, and the light. In the Semitic cultures, Ameth/faith is the first, middle, and last letters of the Jewish Alphabet. The truth is also a process.

Moses told God, “if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what do I tell them?” God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

We as Catholics borrowing from Aristotle hold that there are four causes: formal, efficient, material, and final. Torah is the Formal Cause of the world. The Holy Spirit is the efficient cause, we are the material cause, and God is the final cause of the world. He is the one to whom all of our lives are to gravitate.

The problem with saying that we have Jesus, so we have the truth, and by extension, you/non-believer do not, is first one of attitude. The Jews and later the women of prominence in our first reading use the reasoning of, we have the truth, so if you are not a member of our group, you are wrong. They see other groups gaining converts and become jealous. Then they become violent. This is not Christ’s way. This is not Paul’s way, or Peter’s way. They come with a new way.

It is called meeting people where they are at. It is called saying, “There is only one final cause; let us go find it together. We meet Sunday’s at 9:30. You are free to come search with us.” Any school teacher will tell you, teaching is not about showing the students where they will be upon graduation. Teaching is about taking people where they are at and showing them how to get where they will be when they graduate. It is a long, 12 year to 24 year process. It is a life long process. It is not relativism to meet a prospective convert on his errant way, listen to what his current understanding, agree where he is right, and then guide him to the truth. It is good teaching.

Light attracts people as it attracts moths. A rabbi I once read said that if you gave him a newborn, he could raise that newborn in any faith. You pick the faith, and he will raise the child in that faith. When that child is grown, the fires of hell will not separate that child from his faith.

kaddishThis is not an argument for relativism. It is the simple statement that we are social animals. Our Church teaches this. The only time we go looking for another religion, another culture to live in, is when we are unhappy. When we are happy, the fires of hell will not cause us to consider another person’s faith.

Christiane Amanpour once told of visiting Iran. She saw a little old lady, much like our little old ladies who pray the rosary, or pray to St. Anthony when they lose something. This little old lady prayed to the Muslim’s Invisible Prophet to find the money to pay the rent. She went to bed and in the morning found the money to pay the rent. Now, we come and tell her that we are correct. There is no invisible prophet. This is an attack, not just upon her religion, but upon who she is as a person. Our “Truth,” will be met with derision, not with conversion. We are in the conversion business, not the derision business.

lakota village

Native Americans have a better understanding of the truth as it relates to the environment than Christians do. Jews and Muslims have a better understanding of the Semitic culture Jesus lived in than we do. They have a fuller understanding of pro-life than we do. The reason Muslims and Jews have dietary laws is to teach the importance of life. They only eat meet, at least for the orthodox in each faith, when they have seen the animal die. They must witness that the animal did not suffer when it died. Almost no American meet is Kosher in the Muslim and Jewish faiths. The more an animal looks human, the more not kosher it is in both Jewish and Muslim traditions.

Evangelism means listening to their reality too. There really is only one reality. There really is only one way. If I close my eyes to what other people on the way from conception to the grave see because they do not see as I do, I just might miss that cliff we started with but my non-believing neighbor does see. If we refuse to listen to those in different routes, one of those may be trying to tell us of that cliff, or a way around it. If we refuse to listen, we become blind guides. Jesus has something to say about us in Matthew 15: 14.

Our First Reading also tells us, “The NAME has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation/Joshua/Jesus to the ends of the earth.” That means we must be willing to see, and listen to everybody.

When we are unhappy, we are looking. We are social animals, and we tend to look, not for correct doctrines, but for places where we can belong. Seeing this, we need to be a light for others. We need to be a place where people can be happy. We need to be a place that promotes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is not relativism. This is the absolute. God is love, and Jesus is the light and life of the world. Therefore, the absolute value is promoting life for all people. When we do this, other people will come to our faith like moths. Until we do this… people will gravitate somewhere else. The rabbis converted more people to Christ than we ever will. Do we want to convert people to Christ, or some other faith?

The Good Shepherd Discourse and the 144,000


sprayI saw another angel come up from the rising of the sun, holding the seal of the God of life… I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites… Revelation 7:3-4

A second time the angel of the NAME called to Abraham from heaven: “…I will bless you and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.” Genesis 22:15-18

Our Second reading for Fourth Sunday of Easter comes from Revelation 7, after the first quote above. 144,000 is a countable number. God tells Abraham how his descendants will be as the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea, is not countable.

Our reading for today? “I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” We think we are the 144,000? The 144,000 are all Jews according to Revelation. If we are of the 144,000, we are Jewish, the minority in heaven. If we are Jewish, we are still bound to the 613 laws of Judaism. Acts 15 and Galatians 2 discuss the issue. If we are not Jewish, we are not bound to the 613 laws.

The sheep of his flockJesus tells the Samaritan Woman, “You will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… Luke 9:47-50

The Samaritans were from the radical out group. Members of the radical out group of will be in heaven. The radical in group, of the first century and today, Pharisee and Christian, will look in from outside heaven.

In Luke 9:50 John condemns someone for casting out demons in Jesus’ name. They are not in his group.  Jesus tells him people do not have to be in Jesus’ club to be for Jesus.

“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb/Omer. They stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple.”

easter picPsalm 118 tells us, “The stone/Eben which the builders/Ben rejected has become the Rosh Piña. Jesus puns this passage. “Do not say, ‘The Eben/stone,’ but ‘Ben,’ Son.” The Son which the builders rejected has become the “Rosh Piña.

“Piña,” means a radical movement in a new direction. “Rosh Piña is not “Rosh Piña Eben/Chief corner stone. The Rosh Piña is not a stone. He is the living altar, Jesus Christ, the center of our lives. Jesus on the altar is the source and summit of our lives.

“The Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of lifegiving water.” John describes the life giving water in the wedding at Cana. The stone jars are the same size as people. First we fill ourselves with the water of penance, then Jesus turns our penance into wine, inebriation.

God makes the grass grow for the cattle and plants for people’s work to bring forth food from the earth, wine to gladden their hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread to sustain the human heart. Psalm 104: 14-15 The living water gladdens the human heart.

John 1 relates the meaning of Lamb/Omer. “In the beginning was the Word/Omer, and the Word/Omer was with God, and the Word/Omer was God.” John puns to describe Jesus as the Lamb/the word of God. The Lamb is about sacrifice for others. The Word is about sacrificing ourselves for others.

“I saw another angel come up from the rising of the sun, holding the seal of the God of life.” “God of Life,” is in what scholars call the construct case. It can mean, “Living God,” or “God of Life.”

Our Gospel comes from John 10 and follows the Good Shepherd Discourse. Jesus tells us, he is the Good Shepherd and comes to give life to the full for all his sheep. Our God is the God of life. He comes to bring life to all people. As in our Second Reading, John 10 tells us, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold….”

Why count 144,000? Why engage in the exercise of trying to figure who is among the 144,000, who is in, and who is out?  Is Christ, the living temple be the center of our lives? Shouldn’t we prepare for the day when we all worship the One True God from his mountain, bringing all to the life giving waters?

For a more detailed exposition for this Sunday’s Readings please go to this site.

For articles on other Sunday Readings go to this site.

What glory means and how it relates to our Easter Season


 

Gloria“Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified/Doxa, and God is glorified/doxa in him. If God is glorified/doca in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once  As I have loved you, so you love one another.”

This is what Jesus tells us this Fifth Sunday of Easter. The Greek word used for “glorify,” is the same word from which we get “Doxology.” It literally means an opinion, any opinion, but as in any doxology, it is an opinion of someone who is good. The Latin word the Vulgate uses is “Clarify,” to make clear. The Hebrew word is different and is used in Kaddish.

kaddishMay His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (Cong: Amen.) in the world that He created as He willed. (Our Father, who are in Heaven, hallowed by your name) May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days, (Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.) and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel, swiftly and soon. Now say: (Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever). Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One Blessed is He beyond any blessing and song, praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say: Amen

The word Kaddish uses for “Glorified,” is the word the Aramaic Pashittah uses to translate “Doxa.” One dictionary defines this Aramaic term as, “To improve, raise in value, to make a profit. Therefore, the definition continues, it means to praise and therefore to sing. From this comes the idea of spreading and germinating. It means to speak with pride of or to commend. We thank someone for doing great things for us. We praise them for being the kind of person who does such things. We do not directly raise God’s value. We do proclaim his value when we praise him. When we say, “I praise you God,” we mean, we speak of him with honor and we are offended when his name is spoken in vain, and say so. The Aramaic word, not Greek or Latin, is the word we understand for “Glorify.” 

We need to be careful. The Jewish faith and the Catholic faith are sister faiths. Rabbinic teaching was just getting started when Jesus was alive. Both of the two great schools of Judaism, including that of Rabbi Hillel whose grandson was Gamaliel, was the Jewish St. Francis and a great influence on early Christianity. Jesus quotes him early and often. The similarities between Kaddish and the Our Father are striking. It is as likely that they both come from a common source, Torah, prophets, and writings, as that one copied the other. Coming from a common source, a Semitic source, we can use the understanding coming from one, the Jewish source, to help us understand the Semitic Jesus.

weightyA related term is “Kabod,” and translates as “Glory.” The difference is that the root idea of “Kabod,” is “Weight,” and therefore, “Importance.” When we glorify God, we speak of his importance. Luke 22:27 is interesting. “Who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves.” The problem is that Greek has no punctuation, therefore no question. Another valid translation is, “Who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table! I am among you as the one who serves.”

There is an interesting pun in Hebrew. Abba means Father, as most know. Ha Bah is the one who is to come to create a perfect world, Jesus, and God, as our Second Reading tells us. A Ha Bah is love. It is welcoming each person we meet into our very selves. Jesus gives us a new commandment; love one another. That is, be a community. Jesus has just stripped and washed his followers’ feet. Only slaves strip. That is the degree to which Jesus commands us to love. Kaddish is most generally called the Mourner’s Kaddish for a reason. Jews most generally recite it at funerals to remind them of “Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,” and in the meantime we focus upon our purpose in life, to love and serve God. Jesus washes the disciples feet in preparation of his death, funeral, and resurrection. True glory is on the battlefield, when guts are spilled on the ground and blood squirts everywhere. True glory is being willing to undergo this for others, not in standing upon the podium afterward, waving a fancy piece of brass.

During the Last Supper, everyone reclines, as is the Jewish custom. The reason is that slaves do not recline. All are free and all are equal. We are all slaves to each other, and that makes us all free. As we prepare for the Eucharist, we no longer recline according to the Jewish custom. The question is, “Do we truly love one another? Do we know the true meaning of the Our Father? Do we spread the Gospel, not by what we say, but by what we do? Do we take time out to say our Catholic Kaddish, the Our Father, and in the process, remember God is in charge? Do we remember our call to bring healing to our world, to guard and keep our world, the Garden of Eden?

 

The Sixth Sunday of Easter points the way to glory


tent of meetingThe readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter are based upon Exodus 25:8 and Exodus 33:7-34:9.

They are to make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst. Exodus 25:8

Moses used to pitch a tent outside the camp at some distance, called the tent of meeting. Anyone who wished to consult the NAME would go to the tent of meeting, outside the camp. Exodus 33:7

GolgathaPilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. John 19:16-17

Golgotha was outside the camp, the city, Jerusalem at some distance. “Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise and stand at the entrance of their own tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the NAME spoke with Moses. Exodus 33:8-9

Moses, in the person of Father enters the tent of meeting, where we meet God in the Eucharist, by going to the tabernacle in anamnesis, remembrance of Moses, and the great Sacrifice of Christ, which is the Eucharist.

As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the NAME spoke with Moses. On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down at the entrance of their own tents. Exodus 33-10 This is just as we bow when Father approaches the tabernacle.

Jesus criesThe NAME used to speak to Moses face to face, as a person speaks to a friend. Moses would then return to the camp, but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, never left the tent. Exodus 33:11

We approach the tent of meeting, thanks to Joshua/Jesus. Nun is one of the Aramaic words for fish. Nineveh was Fish City. Jesus, Joshua, tells the Pharisees in Matthew 16:4, “No sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jonah was swallowed by a fish in the story of Jonah, telling of us of Nineveh’s repentance.

“Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” Jesus is Joshua, son of Nun, the fish in a sense that Joshua, son of Nun, never was. The apostles were fishermen. He gives us intimacy with God that Moses and Joshua Ben Nun never could.

GloriaMoses said, “Please let me see your glory!” Exodus 33:18 The famous 13 attributes of God come in Exodus 34:6-7 “The NAME passed before him and proclaimed: The NAME, the NAME, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in kindness and fidelity. He continues his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving crookedness, rebellion, and deviation. He does not declare the guilty guiltless, but brings punishment for their parents’ crookedness on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation!”

The Hebrew word here translated as “Crooked,” is the diminutive for an eye, used for good or ill. When used for ill, it is crooked, as the eye is round, so the crooked is bent from the right way.

Jesus at the Cathedral 2Moses asks to see God’s glory and this is what he sees, “(1) The One Who Is, before we deviate from the path (2) The One Who Is, after we deviate from the path. (3) God, mighty in compassion, who gives all according to their need. (4) who is Merciful (the Semitic word is the same as “Womb,” for motherly care. (5) He is gracious, if humankind is already in distress. (6) He is slow to anger. (7) He is great in kindness. (8) and truth. (9) He keeps his kindness to the thousand generations to those who love him. (10) He forgives crookedness. (11) and transgression. (12) and deviation. (13) He pardons.

I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the NAME God almighty and the Lamb/Omer/Word of God. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb/Omer/Word of God. Second Reading for the Sixth Sunday of Easter.

JJesus with the apostlesesus told his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Exodus 25 speaks of the temple where God dwells and the people with him. The Hebrew word is Shack On Ah. The new Shack On Ah is the NAME God almighty and the Lamb/Omer/Word of God.

flamesOne word for the Holy Spirit is Shekinah, mutual indwelling/what, the Eastern Orthodox call the perichoresis, or divine dance with God. This is love for one another where love mean comes from the Hebrew, A Ha Bah, from Abba, Father, and Ha Bah, the one who is to come. It is welcome into each other as the flames of a fire dance in and amongst themselves, having a common source, for us God. The life of glory we should all crave is sacrificing ourselves for each other as Christ sacrificed himself for us.

For Ascension Sunday, why does Jesus Leave from Bethany, and Return to Jerusalem


BethanyBethany Nevada

Jesus told his disciples: “It is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things… Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them, he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. Gospel for Ascension Sunday.

PhanuelThere was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but bowed before God night and day with fasting and prayer. Coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

I said to him, “Who are those whom I have seen on the four sides, and who words I have heard and written down? He replied, ‘the first is the merciful, the patient, the holy Michael. The second is he who presides over every suffering and every affliction of the sons of men, the holy Raphael. The third, who presides over all that is powerful, is Gabriel. The fourth, who presides over repentance, and the hope of those who will inherit eternal life, is Phanuel. These are the four angels of the Most High God, and their four voices, which at that time I heard. Enoch 40:8-9

Our Gospel of Luke begins preaching Teshuvah, Penance, turning back to God where this Teshuvah has supernatural implications. Phanuel, Penance, is one of the very voices of God.

John the BaptistLuke continues his Gospel, “John the Baptist went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, (Descent) proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one crying out, in the desert prepare the way of the NAME, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation/Joshua/Jesus of God.”

The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people. Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life, which he has come to give abundantly. Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the Gospel, going from Gospel to life, and Life to the Gospel… United by their vocation as brothers and sisters of penance, and motivated by the dynamic power of the Gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the Gospel itself calls conversion.”

Hiking NevadaFor conversion to make sense, it must be conversion from something and to something. Our Gospel points the way. Jesus leads the people to Bethany, the Beth, House, of Anne poverty. The voice cries out, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the NAME. As John continues he is not talking about the long march of the Jewish people from Babylon to Eretz Israel. The crowd is already in Eretz Israel. He talks about preparing in the wilderness. The ancient church fathers wrote from the wilderness of Egypt, taking their cue from this passage. John speaks of making our paths straight, then of filling the valleys, those who are poor, by making every mountain and hill, low. This is redistribution of resources at its finest. This is making all people equal.

This is not the only important pun relevant to the discussion. In a few weeks we will read about the Ascension of our Lord. We will read about he rises at Bethany, in Hebrew, House of poverty. In Mark 14:62 we read, “The high priest/Cohen/official asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?” Jesus answered, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” The word for clouds is “Any,” the same word used in “Bethany,” to mean poverty. We read how Jesus will come in the clouds.

The priests, the ruling officials of Jesus’ day and ours, hear, “poor.” They hear, “You will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the poor of heaven.” These are revolutionary, fighting words. When we do not care for the least of these among us, Jesus tells us, this is what we can expect. Jesus comes with the poor.

In Catholic interpretation of Scripture we speak of a four-fold sense. These are, the literal, the allegorical, the moral, and the mystical. We likewise speak of type and allegory. The literal reading is the one we believe when we recite the Creed, “Christ has died; Christ has Risen; Christ will come again. Christ will literally come in the clouds. This is very close to the one the rabbis heard when they hear Jesus speaking of the Son of Man coming in the clouds/the poor.

There is another meaning. The Hebrew scholars call this Remez/type. The image Luke wants us to see in Acts is Remez/type. The type comes from Exodus 33:9-11 “As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the NAME spoke with Moses. On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down at the entrance of their own tents. The NAME used to speak to Moses face to face, as a person speaks to a friend. Moses would then return to the camp, but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, never left the tent.”

“Nun,” is the Hebrew word for a fish. The ancient middle letters of the alphabet were Mem, which means water and was in the shape of a wave, and “Nun,” which meant fish, and was in the shape of a fish hook. Nineveh means fish city. Joshua, son of Nun, is Jesus, who hangs around fishermen and serves fish and bread to the people. Jesus comes in the cloud, just as God descended in the cloud to speak to the people in the Tent  of Meeting. Jesus and God come to us when we meditate upon Scripture.  This is why our Secular Franciscan Rule speaks to us about going from Gospel to life and from Life to the Gospel. It is one of constant reading and penance.

When we read Torah and Gospel, we see that it is about God rescuing Israel, those who struggle with God. It is about rescuing Hebrews. Hebrew is Hebrew for homeless. It is about rescuing the homeless and the poor from evil, the Hebrew word for evil is Russia, and refers to those thinking themselves first, employers, and employers who are state officials/Pharaoh. The Gospels are about rescuing the poor from the Pharisees and Sadducees, government officials in the Roman and Jewish government, and unscrupulous employers who exploited their charges for all they were worth.

When Jesus comes in the cloud, it refers to Exodus 33:9-11. It refers to coming to Sinai early and often and meditating upon our rescue. When we do this, the rough are made smooth, and the valleys are filled.

Mr. Big HornThe rough are to be made smooth. What comes to mind is scrub cattle, made rough by the rough lives society forces them to live in. They are made smooth. This comes from learning to trust again. This comes from being filled with adequate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and transportation again. Then they can become civil, no longer mean, vulgar/common, but special in the eyes of God, and each other again. It is only then that we can return to Jerusalem, from Jeru/City, of Shalom/Peace. This is the great Teshuvah of which Jesus and John speak.

Pentecost and the Ten Commandments


100_2466When the time for Shavu’ot was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. Suddenly, from the sky, came a noise like a strong driving wind, filling the entire house where they were. There appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. First Reading for Pentecost

In the third month after the Israelites’ departure from the land of Egypt, on the first day, they came to the wilderness of Sinai. Moses went up to the mountain of God. Then the NAME called to him from the mountain, “This is what you will say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: You have seen how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now, if you listen to me completely and keep my Brit, you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine. You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites. Exodus 19:1-6

The Jewish people leave Egypt when the moon is full. The first day of the month is the new moon. There are just about 50 days separating Passover and Shavu’ot. Exodus 20 is the giving of the Ten Commandments.

Passover A.D. 33Days are coming…when I will make a new Brit with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This is the Brit, I will make with the house of Israel after those days… I will place my teaching within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:31-33

Shavu’ot commemorates the giving of Torah at Sinai. Pentecost, the same date on the Christian calendar commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit in the upper room. Sinai was a volcano. There was fire in the form of lightning, arching in all directions, descending toward the people when Moses was with them. There was fire, descending like lightning, when the Holy Spirit came to the people. The Jewish community celebrates its birth as a people with their receiving Torah. The Christian community identifies its birth with Pentecost.

The Hebrew word for tongue can also mean an expression. The Hebrew word for fire is also the word for mankind, understood in the highest sense of the term/being a gentleman. The Prologue to the Ten Commandments gives the explanation.

Moses with the Lamb as represented at our CathedralHear, Israel, the customs and precedents I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The NAME, our God, cut a Brit with us at Horeb; not with our ancestors did the NAME cut this brit, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day. Face to face, the NAME spoke with you on the mountain from the midst of the fire; I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.

The implied word is to remember. Remember what it was like to be oppressed. When you see others suffer, do something. The Jewish community has the Physical Presence, of the escape from Egypt, as recounted in liturgy. We have the Physical Presence in the Eucharist, remembering Christ’s Passion and death, and our dying and rising with him.

The difference is that Moses receives the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, Eben, We receive the New Torah of God through the Ben/the Son of God. The word for Tablet/Luke comes from a root word meaning to join. Torah and Gospel are supposed to join people. Tablets are joined things, like columns of lines on a page, or leaves of a book. Our New Covenant is that of Jeremiah, commandments written, not upon Eben/stone, but upon the heart. The command is for compassion.

St. Augustine says it well in the City of God:

easter picThis heavenly city, while sojourning on earth, calls citizens out of all nations, and gathers a society of pilgrims of all languages, not scrupling about diversities in the manners, laws, and institutions… It recognizes that, however various these are, they all tend to the same end of earthly peace. Far from rescinding and abolishing these diversities. It even preserves and adopts them, as long only as no hindrance to the worship of the one supreme and true God is introduced. Even the heavenly city, while in its state of pilgrimage, avails itself of the peace of earth, and, so far as it can without injuring faith and godliness, desires and maintains a common agreement among men regarding the acquisition of the necessaries of life. It makes this earthly peace bear upon the peace of heaven, for this alone can be truly called and esteemed the peace of the reasonable creatures, consisting as it does in the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God and of one another in God. City of God, Book 19:17

In its pilgrim, state the heavenly city possesses this peace by faith; and by this faith, it lives justly when it refers to the attainment of that peace every good action towards God and man; for the life of the city is a social life. City of God, Book 19:17

Non-Christians chastise us Christians for our Christmas trees, Yule logs, use of the word Easter, a pagan term. They point out how Christmas day was a Roman holiday before we celebrated Christ’s birth. St. Augustine is saying, “So what. We will use anything not in contradiction of our principles to promote our principles. We form ourselves to the societies in which we live.

Jesus with the apostlesAs to the three modes of life, the contemplative, the active, and the composite, although, so long as a man’s faith is preserved, he may choose any of them without detriment to his eternal interests, yet he must never overlook the claims of truth and duty. No man has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget in his own ease the service due to his neighbor; nor has any man a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God. City of God Book 19:19

There is no room for St Augustine for liturgy without meaning. God cannot hear the word of empty contemplation because there is nothing to hear. Likewise, he has no place for Martha, the sister of Mary, who prattles about in her daily grind, with no concern for the final cause of all things, and her place in it.

St. Augustine loved his music and divides the Ten Commandments as he does, because he compares them with harmony, as a one-hundred-piece orchestra. The Church, following his example, loves to take the middle ground, the harmonious ground in almost all things, except as it relates to our relationship with God. Pentecost is about Jews from around the world, with different customs and traditions, coming to one place, the City of Peace/Jerusalem. Shouldn’t we strive to be E Pluribus?

The Good Shepherd Discourse and the 144,000


sprayI saw another angel come up from the rising of the sun, holding the seal of the God of life… I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites… Revelations 7:3-4

A second time the angel of the NAME called to Abraham from heaven: “I swear by my very self, oracle of the NAME. Because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your son, your only one, I will bless you and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.” Genesis 22:15-18

Our Second reading for Fourth Sunday of Easter comes from Revelation 7 and comes after the first quote above. Many have tried to interpret the 144,000. It is twelve thousand, a perfect number multiplied twelve times. This is what Revelation goes on to say. 144,000 is countable. Football stadiums do it all the time, especially during college games. God tells Abraham how his descendants will be as the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea, not countable.

Our reading for today? “After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”

The sheep of his flockOur Gospels take great pains to point out what they think of groups who argue you have to be a member of their group to go to heaven. Jesus tells the Samaritan Woman, “You will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… Salvation/Joshua/Jesus is from the Jews. Luke 9:47-50, “Whoever is not against me is for me.” John condemns someone for casting out demons in Jesus’ name. They are not in his group. John thinks he must stop them. Jesus tells them people do not have to be in Jesus’ club to be for Jesus.

Worship” is an old English word, coming from “Worth,” and “Ship.” “Ship,” comes from a cut out log, like the Native American canoes. Someone worthy of worship is someone cut out of the common lot. Only God meets this description.

We worship God from the nave of our Cathedral. “Nave,” relates to our word, “Navy.” The Sacristy is the place we should only go when necessary. It relates to the Quarterdeck of a navy ship/ sacred space.

“One of the elders told me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb/Omer. Therefore, they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple.” Should we not spend time with our living temple, Jesus Christ, in our Cathedral?

easter picJohn 1 tells us the meaning of Lamb/Omer. “In the beginning was the Word/Omer, and the Word/Omer was with God, and the Word/Omer was God.” John uses a pun to describe Jesus as the Lamb and the very word of God. The Lamb is about sacrifice for others, to fulfil God’s word. We value God as worthy. Why? “I saw another angel come up from the rising of the sun, holding the seal of the God of life.” “God of Life,” is in what scholars call the construct case. It can mean, “Living God,” or “God of Life.”

John 1 also tells us, “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. To those who did accept him he gave authority to become children of God.” Some argue from the story of the prodigal son, was his repentance real, or was it something else. There are two kinds of penance, the real and the something else. Those who repent as Jesus implies the prodigal son did, for a meal, or to avoid punishment, such as going hungry, are not real penitents. Those who repent out of love receive the living water, but where do they fit into God’s reign?

“I saw their ways, but I will heal them. I will lead them and restore full comfort to them and to those who mourn for them, creating words of comfort. Peace! Peace to those who are far and near, says the NAME; and I will heal them.” Isaiah 57:18-19 God is everywhere; there is no place physically far off for him. All is near for him. The reference must be to the spiritually far off. God mentions the far off before those who are near, meaning they take precedence. The master of penance is closer to God than cradle believers. They have seen the other way, the way of hunger, the temptations to deviate from God’s will, the poverty and the suffering. The wine of the Piña Colada is tastier than it is for those who never went without, as the bridegroom says in the wedding at Cana.

God gives the truly repentant authority to become children of God, that is, the ability to be family. We act in love toward The Father and toward each other. We become loving family. God gives us the authority to drink this wine of Piña Colada. We must make the choice to love, to be family.

Jewish tradition as the Passover tradition of the four sons. The first is the wise son who asks why ‘we,’ do these things, in relation to Passover liturgy. The second is “Russia,” thinking himself first. He asks why ‘you,’ do these things. The third is the simple one who asks, “What is this.” The fourth son does not know how to ask. In the Prodigal Son story, the elder son is the Russia one. He excludes his brother from the family, and in the process, the only person excluded is himself. The fourth is clever; he knows to keep his mouth shut and hold outsiders in contempt in his heart.

Our Gospel comes from John 10 and follows the Good Shepherd Discourse. Jesus tells us, he is the Good Shepherd and comes to give life to its fullest, for all his sheep. Our God is the God of life. He comes to bring life to all people. As in our Second Reading, John 10 tells us, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold….”

The sheep who are not of this fold are the myriads of folk to whom Revelation refers. Psalm 118 tells us, “The stone/Eben which the builders/Ben rejected has become the Rosh Piña. “Piña,” means a radical movement in a new direction. “Rosh Piña is not “Rosh Piña Eben. The Rosh Piña is not a stone. It is the living altar, Jesus Christ. He is the center of our lives, or should be. We need not wait to get to heaven to put the living altar at the center of our lives. In ancient days, the temple was the center of Jewish life. Shouldn’t the living temple be the center of our lives? Shouldn’t we worship God by recognizing all the sheep in our fold, not just the 144,000? Shouldn’t we prepare for the day when we all worship the One True God from his mountain, bringing all to the life giving waters?

Stones speak to our Lesson for Palm Sunday


Chi RhoGenesis 2: 8 Plantaverat autem Dominus Deus paradisum voluptatis a principio in quo posuit hominem quem formaverat.

Genesis 2:8 Planted Kyrie God a paradise voluptuous at the beginning in which he posited the humans which he formed.”

Luke 23:43 Et dixit illi Jesus : Amen dico tibi : hodie mecum eris in paradiso.

Luke 23:43 And he said Jesus: Amen I tell you: today with me you will be in Paradise.

Arlington in springJesus tells the criminal hanging with him as he dies on the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Paradise is a fancy Persian word meaning a garden. If you want to go to heaven, put down your harps and pick up your pick axes and shovels. When we get to heaven, it will be a paradise, a garden needing tending. A rule for writing is that one first tells the people what we are going to say, we say it, and then we say what we said. Good writers end their writing with the same images they started with. Our Bible starts and ends with a garden.

Our Gospel starts and ends with the same images. Our Gospels begin with John, “Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance; and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now, the ax lies at the root of the trees. Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Luke 3:8-9

fig“The devil told him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.” Jewish rhetoric, which Luke was aware, had a rule of rhetoric, “G’zerah Shavah.here the same word appears in two separate cases, it follows that the same considerations apply to both.”

The word stone applies to the Sons of Abraham, and it applies to the food Satan asks Jesus to eat. The point is about leadership, Satan asks Jesus to consume, live off the people. Jesus replies that we should live on the word, the bread of God alone.

We read in Luke 21, “While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said, ‘All that you see here, the days come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” In John 2:20-21, Jesus equates himself with the temple a building of stone. Luke equates the stones of the temple with the people. Stone will not be left upon stone. There will no longer be a people where some get to the top on the bodies of those underneath them. All will be equal.

הר הזיתיםLuke 22:40-46 is interesting. In verse 40 Jesus says, “Pray you may not undergo the test.” In verse 46 it says, “Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.” What is the test? Good writers end where they began, and here is that stone again, “withdrawing about a stone’s throw…” There is that stone again. The stone is the people Satan would have Jesus consume, the children of Abraham. The test is the temptation to think we are better than others.

The Hebrew word for evil is “Russia,” and it does not refer the country. It’s root is the same as “Rosh Hashanah,” or “First of the Year.” Evil is thinking of ourselves as first. “Stone appears in one other place in Luke. “They took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.”

Our Gospels begin and end with a tree. The Hebrew word for tree and counselor is “Eights.” Our Gospel writers pun off “Eights,” often. The axe is set to the tree, and the ax is set to the counselors who think themselves first.

declaration-of-independenceThere no magic formulas in our Gospel about who should get what, only that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with unalienable rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, and that governments are formed to protect those rights. Deuteronomy 30 tells us, “This command give you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.

Chi RhoEzekiel 36:26 brings us back to that stone, “I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you back to your own soil. I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them.”

If we put aside our conceptions of other people and just look to see other human beings trying to get from conception to the grave in one piece, people who have done stupid things sometimes, but still people, the flesh of our hearts will tell us the proper formulas for promoting Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.