Thomas, who is his twin?


Jess theses statement in Luke“These are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” John  20:31

So, why should we believe John? His gospel differs from that of the others in more ways than they agree. All of their words are the words of itinerant fishermen who at least in theory had limited education and an ax to grind with the establishment of their day. The establishment, if we believe the story, killed their leader and then the body ended up missing while in their care.

The answer lies in the story of Thomas, which John just related. Thomas in Aramaic is תאומא, and it means a twin. It’s root is תמ which means the perfection of simplicity. When Marcus Jastrow defines the term, he states it relates to twins who are so close that when one twin feels pain, so does the other. When one feels joy, so does the other. We believe John because we are already members of the community and want to believe, sometimes in spite of the evidence. John lived at a time that was rough for Christians, and so do we. We constantly fight those who worship Mercury, Mars, and Moneta Juno, and some of those claim to be Christian.

Who is Thomas’ twin? It is each of us. Hebrew does not have a past or a future tense. Everything is in the present. The event may be in the past, but the recollection of it is in the present. As we read the gospel, if we read it well, we relive the events in the present. When Thomas Puts his finger into his hands, feels and sees, when he brings his hand and puts it into Jesus’ side, we put our fingers into his hands and into his side. We do this in our participation in the Mass.

As we read earlier in the Gospel, “Mary of Magdala said this turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus told her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus told her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen Kyrie,” and what he told her.

When John writes this, he seems to have the story of Ruth in mind, “Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried. May the NAME do thus to me, and more, if even death separates me from you!”

Why should we believe John? Because the Gospel is not written to non-Christians. It is not written to non-believing Greeks or non-believing Jews. It is written to those who are members of the community already. The appeal is not to become a Christian. The appeal is to follow Ruth’s example. It is to go where Jesus goes. It is to be homeless. Hebrew has two words for lodging. Shekan means to dwell and implies some permanence.  The Hebrew word used in Ruth implies living with no permanent place. Then comes the big demand, “Your people will be my people, your God will be my God. It is an appeal to the community to be just that, a community that cleaves to each other, is one with each other.

Jesus tells Mary not to cleave to him like he is some fuzzy white thing out there. Cleave to the community. Don’t take your bibles to town son, leave your bibles at home. Don’t take your bibles to town. Mary Magdala does not go to the apostles with a great book with proof texts. She goes with what she saw and heard. Likewise, Jesus does not send us out into the world with a proof text. He sends us out into the world with saw we saw and heard, how meeting him in the Mass and in our lives affected us. John does not give us a proof text. He calls us to be twins of Thomas, feeling what he felt, seeing what he saw, hearing what he heard, smelling what he smelled, tasting what he tasted, and so forth.

The one warning is that to do this, we must hear, see, taste, touch, smell, and feel. This required intentionality. This means coming to Mass early and leaving late. It means spending time with the statues and the Stations of the Cross and putting our mind into all that is happing. It means letting the Mas bring us to Thomas, so he can bring us to Jesus.

Don’t Take your Bible to Town Son; Leave Your Bible at Home, and then Go Evangelism


Jess theses statement in LukeThis Lent started with the story of the Samaritan women, which ends with:

The woman left her water jar and went into the town and told the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” They went out of the town and came to him.

Then the angel replied to the women, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” They went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

There is something missing here and it is important. Jesus sees a Samaritan woman and in the entire passage Torah, Navy, and Writings are never mentioned. Both of these passages are about evangelizing. Jesus talks with the woman knowing she has had five husbands and is now on number six. He has already had a lengthy conversation with her. This is important. She thinks she is hiding her faults. She drives the conversation, not Jesus. By engaging in this conversation and let her drive it, Jesus tells her she is in God’s image and well worth talking to. He establishes rapport. Only after she brings up the adultery does he say, in essence, “I already know about that.” He does not focus on the fault. She already gets enough of that from the proper people of her day.  She does not need it from Jesus, or from us, in her time, or ours.

LectionaryThe woman goes back to the Samaritans and says, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done.” She does not seem to have a Bible either.

Now, both passages are about evangelizing. For the First Sunday of Easter, Jesus tells the two women to evangelize to the disciples. Do not use books. Tell people what you saw. He tells us the same. “Go evangelize! Don’t take your bibles to town son; leave your bibles at home! Don’t take your bible to town.” Do as St. Francis said, “Go out and evangelize, and if necessary, use words.”

Show them the tomb of your life. If your life was not a tomb, in both Jewish and Christian traditions, you have a problem. God, through Moses, rescues idol-worshiping slaves in the land of Oppression, which is that the Hebrew word for Egypt means. Their life was a tomb. God rescues them. Again, they did not have a book yet.

הר הזיתיםThe Bible is not a law book. Torah properly means instruction, but it comes in three parts. By far the largest part is Haggadah, Hebrew for “Story,” not “Law.” “Halacha” means, “walk,” not law. Think of the forty-year walk of people who generally lived forty years. It is the walk-of-life. It is guidance on how to live, where “live” means more than basic subsistence, but about getting everyone in the tribe to the land of milk and honey, to the final cause, who is God. The closest word Hebrew has to law is “Cook.” That means “Precedent”, not “law” as we understand the term but the interpretation of Torah.

Many argue that Torah is perfect. Historians repeatedly report how the book contradicts itself and is not an accurate reflection of history. It is an accurate reflection of how four rabbinic schools interpreted history. In that sense, it is perfect. It perfectly reports how people saw history.Seder plate small

When we leave Mass on Easter Sunday, Jesus will tell us the same as he told the women at the tomb. Tell history, his story, your story, like the Samaritan woman, does, telling people how Jesus affects your life. Go out telling people how you saw Jesus in the readings and the Physical Presence of the Eucharist.

Hebrew has another important concept, Kavanagh. That means intention. The Samaritan woman drives the conversation, not Jesus. The women come to the tomb. He does not come to them.

“That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. It happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them”

If we want to see the Physical Presence, which is here regardless, we must engage with what we are hearing, hear and with people out in the street. When we do, Jesus will draw near to us. If we are better than the Samaritan women is, the women at the tomb, the people on Neal Road or Montello Avenue in Reno, or Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh, PA, or Broad Street in Philadelphia, Congress Heights in D.C., we will not engage with them. If we do not engage with them, we will not find Jesus, period. Our priest shortage will continue because we do not look for them, period. They are still in the tomb of Egypt, and so are we.

The Seraph in the desert points to death which leads to life and the crucifix points to death which leads to life.
Do we see the Physical Presence, our rescue in the Eucharist, or are we in real trouble?

Tell people why you are here. Is it because you see something happening here? Your rescue from oppression? Do you see the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?  Does Jesus play a role in your life? Tell them that.

That is what the Samaritan woman does. That is what the women who go to the tomb do. If you come to the afternoon Mass, you will find that is what the men who go to the battlefield of Emmaus do. They see something and come reporting what they saw to the disciples, no great insights, only what they saw. This converts the world.

REFLECTIONS FOR PALM SUNDAY 2017


Jess theses statement in LukeWhen Ben Adam comes in his importance, and all the messengers with him, he will sit upon his weighty throne. All the nations* will be assembled before him. He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. The chief messenger will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ The Tsaddik will answer him, ‘Kyrie, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ The chief messenger will reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus…, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me… The next line is in our Passion account. As we do to our neighbor, we participate in Passover, the Passion. We see this in several key scenes.

Barabba and BarabbasThe first story is the story of Barabbas. Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus Son of the Father.” In Hebrew, Barabbas means Son of the Father. “Who do you want me to release to you, Jesus, Son of the Father, or Jesus, Son of the Father?” The two men have the same name and title. There is a difference. One wants to overthrow the Romans through peace and love, non-violence. The other chooses violence.

Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” The Cohenim Hagedol, with the grammarians and Presbyterians, mocked him said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. So he is the king of Israel! Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

We hear the words, “He chose to be there. It is his fault. We disown the event. This has echoes of Exodus 1:10. Come; let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase.” How Pharaoh deals shrewdly, Exodus does not say, but it implies in the first verses of the passage where Exodus shows how the Hebrews chose to come to the land of Egypt. We are again presented with the idea that the other guys choices rationalize anything we might do to them.

parting of the red seaWe forget Exodus chapters 13-14, where God gives Pharaoh swimming lessons. We forget the beginning of our Passion story, Matthew 25:31-46. This passage addresses the nations, our nation included. How we as a nation treat the least of us is how we participate in the Passion.

God remembers our indiscretion if we voted for those who choose to cut funding for the poor. In the end, God hears the cry of the poor, and he recognizes in it his own cries on the cross.

The trial of Jesus gives us two lessons. First, Jesus says, “From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven…’” What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the slander; what is your opinion?” They reply, “He deserves to die!”

They do not say he is guilty as charged. These people are overly scrupulous with the law. One of the rules is that confessions are not admissible in court. What he says here is not admissible. No! They do not declare Jesus guilty. They say he deserves to die. There is a difference.

In US courts, when double jeopardy, that is the current legal term, comes up, lower state and local courts can and do appeal to federal courts for the filing of federal charges. The murder of African Americans in the south and subsequent acquittals because the killer was white resulted in convictions in federal courts for violations of civil rights. The same occurs in Jesus trial. Unable to get a conviction, the appeal is to the federal court, Rome. When we say the Jews killed Jesus, we speak in error. Their court resulted in a hung jury, not a conviction. It did not get them off the hook for the next two thousand years.

three crossesIn particular, in Luke, we see the same in the two criminals killed with Jesus. One chooses the path of Barabbas, the path of violence. He dies angry, unrepentant, and arguing for Jesus’ death. The other becomes a follower of Jesus, a practitioner of non-violence. Jesus tells him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Paradise is the Persian word for Eden, used in our Latin Vulgate, and in the ancient Greek book of Genesis. Today you will be with me in the Garden. When we get to heaven, their won’t be harps; there will be garden tools. If we cannot take care of this planet, why should God allow us into the next one?

The other little thing about Jesus’ trial. Jesus says, “From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven…” The Hebrew word for cloud is עַנְנֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם. Hebrew would say, “The great flow of the poor,” as עַנְנֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם. It is the same phrase. Jesus seems to be threatening social upheaval and the court views it that way. That is why they are so angry.

“As you treat the least of these my brothers, you do it to me.” There is a clear threat. Jesus will repudiate the violence of Bar Abbas. He is a different Bar Abbas, a different Son of the Father, but the result is the same. It does not matter how the poor became poor. It does not matter if we say they are guilty or if they deserve to die. The result is the same.

As we move forward past Easter, let us remember, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out. I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out. I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Hispanics. I did not speak out. I am not Hispanic. Then they came for the Arabs and the Muslims. I did not speak out. I am not Arabic or Muslim. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Martin Niemöller

READINGS FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT


Jess theses statement in LukeJesus told them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the writings or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. As for the dead rising, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘Ani Elohi Abraham, Elohi Isaac, uElohi Jacob. I am the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not Elohi Mate (as in checkmate, the Sheik is dead) God of the dead but Elohi Chaim, of the living.” Mark 12: 18-27

The Gospel reading for this reading is about the raising of Lazarus. The Hebrew for Lazarus is Eliezer, the helper of God. The discussion focuses upon whether we should focus upon the Second Coming.

horse and carriage at south lake tahoe
The horse goes in front, the cart, and the people in it behind.

Jesus talks about a rising now. St. Paul starts the theme. We often put the cart before the horse when we discuss Christian Ethics. If we do certain things, God will look kindly upon us and let us into heaven.  If we say the right protestant pledge of loyalty to Jesus and undergo baptism, we are going to heaven. Protestant success in the business world shows how God already looks upon our efforts, so allows us to enter heaven and us.

This is not Catholic or Jewish.

Do not say in your heart, “It is because of my Tsaddik the NAME has brought me in to possess/Rosette this land, and because of the wickedness/Russia of the nations the NAME is dispossessing/Rosh ‘im them before me.” No, it is not because of your justice or the integrity of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land. It is because of their Russia oat that the NAME, your God, is dispossessing these nations before you. This is in order to fulfill the promise he made on oath to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Know this, therefore: it is not because of your Tsaddik that the NAME, your God, is giving you this good land to possess/Rosette, for you are a stiff-necked people. Deuteronomy 9:4-6

Statue of liberty lighning strike
If Christ comes to us, it is a shock. He then indwells in us and we live out the words below this statue.

Tsaddik, in Hebrew, means both Justice and charity, that which promotes life. Eliezer, Lazarus, is God’s helper in promoting life, now, here, in this cosmos, order. We need to see the Jewish pun on possession. Possession, Rosette puns off Russia, he who thinks himself first. Those who already possesses think they possess because they deserve it. They are therefore not worthy to possess.

We do not possess because we are worthy. We are a stiff-necked people. We are not worthy, either of heaven or of the nice things of this earth. Christianity has no room for the protestant work ethic. There is no room for rugged individualism. We do not have because we worked hard. We have what we have on this earth because God gave to us, and only for that reason. The Semitic languages have no word for “Mine,” “His,” “Hers,”… Everything is “To me,”… from God to us, for his purpose. Like any employer, do not fulfill the purpose, and…

We like to think we are worthy. Like the Hebrews in the desert, we are worthy of all the water, manna, and quail God provides. He is obliged to provide it. This is Russia. This is wickedness. God rescues us because he made a promise to someone else, E Pluribus Unum, Abraham. There is no other reason.

Now that God already rescued us we read from the Ten Commandments, “Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and judicial precedents I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do 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 of us, alive, here, this day…. (Remember) I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Oppression/Egypt, out of the house of menial labor.”

flames
The Shekinah is like a fire. It is one fire that separates out into multiple flames and seems to dance. As a flame burning within us, it causes us to act. This is Christian morality.

God gives his commandments, and they focus around remembering that rescue, what oppression is like. Then we promote life. God is not the God of life in the past, or in the future, but in the perpetual present. That is Jesus point in Mark 12. Abraham is in the present, not the past. Eliezer is in not in the past or in the future, but in the present.

We do not follow the Ten Commandments to get into heaven. We follow them because we are already at Sinai, already rescued. We see in the incense of the altar, the smoke rising from the volcanic vents at Sinai. We see in our neighbors in the pews, the tents at Sinai. We see, as in the transfiguration, Moses, representing the first reading, the epistle as representing Elijah, and Jesus representing the Gospel. We are at Sinai.

It is not our fathers, who experienced this event. It is the people sitting in the pews, this day. This is a very Jewish understanding of the Ten Commandments, of Passover, and by extension, the Mass.

If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of deviation, the spirit is alive because of Tsaddik. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Shekinah dwelling in you. Second Reading for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

If Christ is alive in us, indwells in us, the spirit is alive, and it brings life to others. We remember what it was like to suffer as immigrants in a foreign land. We promote refuge cities. We look for the reasons people suffer in other nations and we strive to end that suffering. We show that the God of Life, the Elohi Chaim, indwells within us. The Shekinah, the indwelling of God causes us to promote life for all people as made in God’s image. This is the essence of Christian morality. Anyone who says otherwise, anathema.

The history and true meaning of the Transfiguration


Jess theses statement in LukeThe Gospel for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is that of the Transfiguration. To read this, we must first read, not the First Reading for this Sunday, but Exodus 33:7-Exodus 34:9. To read this, we must first understand why Jesus chose fishermen for his apostles, those he sent out into the world. Nineveh means Fish City. Jesus Ben Nun, means Jesus Son of the Fish.

Exodus 33:7 tells us that Moses went to his tent of time, his אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד.  מוֹעֵד means “Time.” Exodus 33 then describes where the tent is. “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.”

Al Harrah in relation to the Red Sea
Locating Mt. Horeb in the Middle East. Luxor is a site associated with the Pharaohs.

Exodus clearly describes a volcano. Numbers 16:28-34 tell us that the ground shakes and fire rises into the air. The ground separates and swallows people. The closest volcano to Sinai is at Mecca. Mohammad did his homework. He found Mount Sinai.

The NAME spoke 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. Moses told the NAME, “See, you are telling me: Lead this people but you have not let me know whom you will send with me…

Sockeye, aren't they just gorgeous fish  Christina CookIn the transfiguration, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John, fishermen as Jesus is Jesus Ben Nun, Jesus son of the fish, to a mountain. There Peter, James, and John ask to build tents as the people used to come out of their tents to worship, proclaim the worthiness of God by rising and bowing at the entrances of their tents. This is as we do in Mass.

In the transfiguration, we come to speak with God face to face in the Liturgy of the Word. This is just as Joshua Ben Nun did with Moses. Exodus 33 goes further, “הַרְאֵנִי נָא.” “Cause me to see your weightiness.” The key word, “כבד” “Kesed,” literally means, “Weight.” “Cause me to see your importance.”

Moses then cuts two fresh tablets for the Ten Words, the “הַדְּבָרִים” עֲשֶׂרֶת.” One of the four pillars of the Catholic Catechism is these Ten Words. The prologue begins with the statement, “It is not to your fathers that I give these Mitzvah, but to us, each of us, alive, here, this day.” The concept of the Physical Presence is present from the beginning, in Deuteronomy 5. Then we read, “I am God your Almighty who rescued you from the land of Oppression, from the House of menial labor.” This is the foundation for all that is to follow.

Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire
Aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the Garment factory in Pakiston, and the Empirial Foods fire in Hamlet North Carolina

If we truly remember our rescue from the sweatshops of the 19th century, from the Civil Wars of Europe in the 18th and 19th century, and all the pomp of the landlords, the poverty, the potato famines, and all that feudal society meant, we will get that knot in our guts when we see this happening to others. When we read of garment factory fires in Pakistan, in New York, and in North Carolina, we will do something.

When we see immigration bans on those not like us, and grand words of great walls to keep others out, we will remember that Pharaoh did it to us first. Then we will do something. We will be too busy helping those in need to hurt them in any way, take their property, dishonor the name of the one who rescued us, have affairs with the spouse of our neighbor, and the rest.

Four CausesExodus 34 continues what our transformation is to be toward. “The NAME, The NAME, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in pure/white/charitable/graceful/kind/ charity/Chesed and truth, continuing his love/Chesed for a thousand generations, and forgiving perversion/being bent from the one true path to God, wilful passing beyond, and deviation. He does not declare the guilty guiltless, but brings punishment for their parents’ perversion on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation!”

Jesus is Chesed. He is pure white, charitable, and kind. He asks for us to be like him. He stands on God’s mountain with Moses, who gives us our Mitzvah, and with Elijah who shows us our example. Then we hear of tents, just as their were tents at Sinai. There was smoke, quaking ground, fire in the sky, and clouds, just like at Sinai. This is our Mass, where we travel on Sunday to be with the Physical Presence.

The comes the key passage, usually mistranslated from the Greek. The Greek says, “This is my beloved Son, listen of him.” The Greek is in the genitive case, and therefore should be translated as, “Of.” We listen of him in the Mass. Then we follow his example. What is Jesus example? Read the next story, the healing of the person with Grand Mal Seizures. Read Mark’s version of the account. Jesus asks for a medical history. In essence, he asks who this child is. The father responds.

Statue of liberty left foot
Chains upon the feet of the Statue of Liberty to remind us of our freedom from slavery

Then comes the first great line in that exchange, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus responds, “If you can.” The key word is, “You.” For the father, it refers to Jesus. For Jesus it refers to the father. Now catch the end line, ““This kind can only come out through prayer.” There is only one prayer in the entire story. “Then the boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief!”

There is only one way to help the unbelief of others. That is to rescue them, from Egypt, from oppression, from poverty, from oppressive employers and landlords. Jesus tells us to get our asses out of dark buildings and to drop the tents on the high hills, to get our rear ends down to the people and rescue them. That is our message for Lent. Matthew 25:31-46 says it well in its address to the nations. As you do to the least of these my brothers, you do it to me.” Then next line begins the Passion. This is just as we finish Lent, and the following Sunday is the Passion.

Did you vote for candidates who support grand walls and treating immigrants harshly? Did you support candidates who do not want our nation to help the less fortunate, as a nation? If so, confessions are on Saturday. We look forward to seeing you. God eagerly awaits your return.

Jesus’ temptation and what it teaches about leadership


Jess theses statement in LukeIn order to read St. Paul, or the Gospels, we need to know that they used rhetorical rules much as we use grammar rules. For the Hebrews and the Greeks, these rules were more detailed. One of these rules was that of πολλῷ μᾶλλον, the rule of “How much more…” Another rule is that of G’zerah Shavah (Equivalence of expressions). In this rule, an analogy is made between two separate texts on the basis of a similar phrase, word or root. Where the same words are applied to two separate cases, it follows that the same considerations apply to both.

The Jewish people have a tradition of not speaking God’s name in deference to it. When they see it written they generally say, “LORD,” or some other word. This translation uses, “The NAME,” because it does not fit properly and therefore shows the same deference while pointing to the personal name of God being the reference.

Here is one example. Matthew 3 has John the Baptist tell the Pharisees: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce beautiful fruit as evidence of your return. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage  coin from 66-73 bce
Coins are just stones in the cosmic order of things.

Our Gospel Reading for First Sunday of Lent  then tells us: The tempter approached and told him, “If you are the Son of God, Mitzvah that these stones become loaves of bread.” Jesus replied, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth Shefoth of God.”

In Hebrew, Mouth/Shefoth is a pun on Mitzvah, commandment. The key to the passage, however, is the equivalence of expressions. Matthew 3 has John the Baptist comparing stones with the children of Abraham, the Jewish people, and by extension Christians. One chapter later, first Satan, and then Jesus compare these same stones with bread. To use basic algebra, which did exist at the time, if “A” equals “B” and “B” equals “C”, “A” must equal “C”. If the children of Abraham are stones and the stones are bread, the children of Abraham must be the bread.

Matthew presents the Temptation of Jesus as a class on leadership. Jesus tells Satan that true leaders do not live off their people but on the Word of God. The Hebrew word for “A Word” is “Omer.” “Omer,” also means, “A Lamb.” The Hebrew word for a succulent cut of meat and for Gospel is “Bashar.” True leaders live off this Bashar, this Lamb of God, not the people.

Jesus with the apostles
Jesus is the bread of life. As we treat others we treat him. Matthew 25:31-46

For the second temptation, Jesus quotes Psalm 91, which begins, “You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shade of the Almighty, Say to the NAME, “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.” In Jesus’ temptation, the reference is to Jesus as he sets the example. All of his life is one big fight with the established people. Psalm 91:8 tells us, “You need simply watch; the punishment of the Russia/those who think themselves first you will see, because you have the NAME for your refuge and have made the Most High your stronghold.” Then comes Jesus’ quote,he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. With their hands, they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” There is that stone, children of Abraham, bread again.

The second temptation is to give into all of the Russia, the presence of others who think themselves first, the temptation to think ourselves first. The angels are to be the leaders who will support us, preventing us from striking our feet against stones, each other.

trumpThen comes that third temptation where Satan takes Jesus to a high mountain, a big stone, and shows him all earth’s kingdoms. The section ends with, “It is written: The NAME, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

Worship does not mean Mass or Protestant religious liturgy. It is a Germanic word meaning to acknowledge as worthy. True leaders do not push their charges to acknowledge them as worthy. That is for God alone. Leaders lead by example, pointing their charges to God. They point the people’s service to God, not to themselves.

Our first reading quotes Eve as saying, “The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.” This is not what God tells Adam. He tells Adam,The NAME, God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of the satisfying and the rotten. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it, you shall die.”

Eve is not guilty of rebellion. She is guilty of being overly scrupulous. She adds to God’s command, not subtracts from it. She adds the part about touching the tree. From this, we learn not to try to be better than God made us. We are all created equal. Those who think themselves better in Hebrew are called Russia. We translate Russia as wicked.

Likewise, we like to think of ourselves as pious. St. Thomas defines piety as, “It belong to piety, in the second place, to give worship to one’s parents and one’s country. The worship due to our parents includes the worship given to all our kindred.”A nation is a group of people born together, by common heritage, if not blood, or place of birth. Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 101. Being pious means being kind, serving our neighbor, doing the works of mercy.

Sitting in pews may be the source and summit of our faith, but piety is what we do after we say, Mitte Est, depart in peace. Piety is loving and serving God by serving our neighbor.

This brings us back to the rules of rhetoric. This one applies to writing English essays and stories. We write an introduction. For St. Matthew this is the nativity. For St. Mark this is Jesus’ Temptation. St. Matthew gives a mini-thesis statement after he gives his nativity. This is Jesus’ temptation.

thesisThen there is a thesis statement. For St. Matthew and for St. Mark this is, “The devil left him and, behold, angels (Greek for messengers) came and ministered to him.” The body of Matthew and Mark is then the apostles, the messengers, ministering to Jesus in his life on earth. It is a tale of the apostles learning that leadership is not about devouring the people, nor thinking we are better than the people. It is about putting God first and then serving him by ministering to the people.

Psalm 82 gives a similar lesson. “God takes a stand in the divine council, gives judgment in the midst of the gods.” But there is only one god. “How long will you judge unjustly and favor the cause of the Russia, those who think themselves first.” Who does this but secular leadership? “Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy. Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the Russia, those thinking themselves first.” This is a command to whoever the other gods are.

The next verses tell us who the gods are. “The gods neither know nor understand, wandering about in darkness, and all the world’s foundations shake. I declare: “gods though you be, offspring of the Most High all of you, Yet like any mortal you shall die; like any prince you shall fall.” The gods are the offspring of the Most High. They are mortal. They are princes. They are the secular leadership. The command is clear. Serve God by serving his subjects, the people.

The Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time or What is Idolatry?


Jess theses statement in Luke“Jesus told his disciples: ‘No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The issue Jesus presents us with this Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time is what idolatry means, what constitutes it. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us in his chapter on Idolatry, “It belongs to superstition to exceed the due mode of divine worship, and this is done chiefly when divine worship is given to whom it should not be given.

This brings us to defining divine worship. St. Thomas never directly defines this concept. On the Second Part of the Second Part of the Summa, St. Thomas devotes a section, from Question 81, to Question 100 to the question of religion and then devotes chapters to the various parts of what he believes divine worship is.

St. Thomas Aquinas

The first section is devotion. “Devotion is derived from “devote” [The Latin ‘devovere’ means ‘to vow’]; wherefore those persons are said to be “devout” who, in a way, devote themselves to God, so as to subject themselves wholly to Him.” In essence, how you spend your time and who you believe is controlling your life is the person you are devoted to. This is an act of divine worship.

The second section is prayer, which is spoken reason. “Prayer is an uprising of the mind to God or a petitioning of God for what is fitting.” In our context, prayer is uprising our mind to the person we perceive to be God and asking what we think is fitting. It is our verbalizations of what we want and to the force, we perceive capable of delivering it.

The third section relates to adoration. “The chief part of adoration is the internal devotion of the mind, while the secondary part is something external pertaining to bodily signs.” The Greek word for adoration Jesus uses in St. Matthew comes from our root, “Anther,” which is the male part of a flower. “Anther,” is related to odor, as in the succulent scent of the flower and therefore of our incense at Mass. It also relates to that salt of how we are to be salt, the succulent odor we bring of God to the world. In our context, adoration refers primarily to the inner direction to which we direct our minds. The one adored is the one we attribute to bringing the succulent aspects of our lives. In the outer sense, the one we adore is the one we serve.

As we meditate upon Divine Worship we look at Deuteronomy 5:6, part of the Ten Commandments. Remember “I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.” Divine Worship, Divine holding as worthy means taking a day off of everything else and remembering our rescue from oppression, the pomp and the wars of 18th and 19th century Europe. God is our Dominus, our dominate one who saves us from over there, wherever that is, and brings us here. He is the one who rescues us from them, whoever they are, and not the military. “He makes his sun rise on the rotten and the beautiful, and causes rain to fall on the charitable and the uncharitable.” God is the great provider, not our own efforts, not rugged individualism or the Protestant work ethic, and not unseen and unheard of stockholders from New York or any other place.

marketWe need to mention another idol, another trinity. That is of Mercury, Mars, and Moneta Juno. These are otherwise known as the Markets, Military, and Money/Mammon. St. Thomas Aquinas has three words for a god, Dominus, Divine, and Deus.

Dominus gives us two words in English, Dominate, and Domicile. God is the Father or head of the domicile. He is the one with power to act. When we divine things, we know them in ways normal people cannot know them. When we argue that the markets are more able to decide what is in our welfare, we argue that the markets a supernatural force more able to divine than we as the children of God, representing the Divine. When we argue that only the purpose of government is to defend us, we argue that the government is Dominus. Molech was a Canaanite God and it is the Semitic word for a king. When we argue that the markets have the desire to accomplish what is in our welfare, we argue that they are Deus.

statue-of-liberty-2Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, is said to have founded American Capitalism. Forget that he lived in Britain in 1776 when he wrote the book. Forget that he sided with his countrymen against the Continentals in our war of the revolution. Forget that our Constitution has no economic system mentioned in it. It has only the Natural Law theories basing society on the pursuit of the General Welfare. Adam Smith wrote, and is strongly supported by the followers of the Market, the Military, and Mono Juno:

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security. By directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.[i]

There is an invisible hand in this theory. It is a supernatural force deciding man’s best interest, divine, with the power, Dominus, and the desire, Deus, to accomplish its ends. Wise merchants, per Adam Smith, trust the invisible hand. It is idolatry. Mercury was the god of both merchants and thieves. In their own ways, merchants, salesmen are thieves, telling us anything to accomplish their goals.

In our Gospel for the Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jesus uses a rhetorical device known as, “The General, the Particular, and the General. The first general part is the part about serving two masters. The second general part refers to God’s kingdom. The middle part does not refer to the fuzzy things we and others refer to as gods, but to particular things, we worry about having and not having.

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage  coin from 66-73 bceUsing another rhetorical device known as Kal Vahomer, or light and heavy, Jesus argues, “Is not life more than…””Food and the body more than clothing? Are not you more important than they?” “Learn from the way the wild flowers grow… They are more than Solomon in all his clothes.

Jesus argues that the first idol is the things we crave. This craving of things, this greed that drives the merchants, is what Adam Smith holds as his top value. This is what Jesus condemns. Jesus tells us to not serve two masters, the invisible hand, and God. We will grind our teeth at the one and welcome the other, or we will savor the one and belittle the other.

Matthew 13:24 is the Parable of the tares. Here, Jesus tells us that God causes the rain and the sun to fall upon the rotten and the beautiful. The trinity worshipers are among us. They may even provide most of the money coming into our parishes. We are not to fight them, though we do have the moral obligation to point out their errors. Ezekiel 3:17-21 tells us that. “If I tell the Russia, those who think themselves first, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the Russia from their rotten conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their error, but I will hold you responsible for their blood.”

Still, those of us who have suffered at the hand of the trinity of Mercury, Mars, and Moneta Juno suffer greatly. We, the poor, Hispanic, African American, Appalachian, Native American, and others, cry out to heaven, “”The NAME has forsaken me; my NAME has forgotten me.” This from our first reading. We go with holes in the soles of our shoes and in the souls of our lives, tears in our clothes and in our relationships. We often go without clothing or basic dignity. We cry out to heaven.

God responds, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” The time will come when God will remove the tares of the market worshipers from our midst. Then we will sit at the true feast, the one we celebrate every Sunday at Mass.

At one time in this nation, we had blue laws. We took one day off per week and spent it studying Torah and Gospel. Now we serve the invisible hand. Now we take one hour per week off to attend Mass, and for most, not even that. Many employers demand that we work on our day of rest. I speak first hand in this regard. The state supports the market trinity in this regard. I speak first hand here.

At one time we put God first, neighbor second and things third. Now we put money first, what we buy with money Our devotion is to be to promoting life, to promoting the Living God, the God of Life and his kingdom.

Our prayer is to be for the kingdom. Our adoration is to be for the God of Life and his kingdom. This is more important than physical things. second, and people third, if at all.

When Jesus recites the Shema in Mark 12 as the Great Commandment, he recites, “Hear Israel, God is Almighty. God is One. Love God with all your hearts, all of your animate being, and with all of your measure.” If we hold our strength as the way we measure ourselves, we love God with our strength. When we measure ourselves with our wealth, we love God with our wealth. When we measure ourselves with our knowledge, we love God with our knowledge. God comes first and God comes last for Jesus. Where does he sit with us?

[i] Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (p. 168). University Of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.

Be Shalom, be family, or else


Jess theses statement in LukeWhen I was in the Canoe Club I did autopsies in the same place John Kennedy had his done. While doing one of these the Pathologist asked me if the deceased smoked. I did not know. He pointed to the man’s lungs and said he was a smoker. A quick look at the chart showed he was a smoker. Then he stated the man worried a lot. He pointed to the man’s adrenal glands and noted how withered they were. Worrying too much adversely effects these glands on the top of your kidneys.

The Adrenal glands produce hormones that control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to stressors, and regulate blood pressure. Two of the most important adrenal hormones are cortisol and aldosterone. The adrenal glands also produce adrenaline and small amounts of sex hormones called androgens, among other hormones.

This has a major impact on our First Reading for the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Christina Cook 2The NAME told Moses, “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the NAME, your God, am holy. “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur simple error because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the NAME.”

“Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” The Hebrew word for “Eye,” is “I in.” It has the same root as “Evan,” which means “Perversion.”  Then comes, the Hebrew word used for “Tooth,” is the same word our first reading uses for hate, “Shen.” As a verb, it means the grinding of the teeth. How we feel affects how our bodies operate. An alternate way of interpreting Jesus is “You have heard that it was said, ‘Perversion for perversion and hate for hate.’ but I tell you, offer no resistance to one who is rotten. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”

Mark 4:24 says in the original Greek and Hebrew, “See what you hear.” Notice the mixed metaphor for emphasis. “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you,” Jesus continues to say. If you choose to hate, grind your teeth, the measure comes back over time as bodily ailments.

There is an alternate definition. When we say, “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth, whose eye and teeth are we talking about? We like to think that if he takes my eye, I have the right to take his. Prepositions are nasty things. In this case, the preposition is “For.” The passage could just as easily mean that if I take his eye, I must replace it. If I take his tooth, I must replace it. If I cannot do so literally, I must be his eyes as he walks and I must be his teeth, I must cut his food so he can eat his meals. This is tort law even today, and Jesus says he wants no part of it.

Matthew 19:1-12 is the story of Jesus debating the Pharisees on the issue of divorce. There were two major rabbinic schools at the time. The issue of debate was a biblical passage that stated one may divorce his wife for a condition of nakedness. One school interpreted this as Catholics do, that the spouse was found naked with another man. The other argued that this meant any cause whatsoever. Any exposed faults were naked faults and grounds for divorce. In virtually every case, Jesus sides with the second school, but not this one.

We want to argue that Jesus did not allow divorce at all. Then we look at John 8, the woman caught in adultery. There there is the Samaritan woman at the well, married 5 times and living with a man she is not married to. There are other cases in Scripture where Jesus looks kindly on even the worst cases of women caught in adultery. Clearly, Jesus understands divorce and women who are divorced. What is the issue for Jesus?

Who is Jesus debating? He is not debating divorced women or men. He is debating the lawyers. He argues against being litigious. The lawyers ought to be counselors looking for the causes the women in their society, and ours, being perceived to be naked and addressing those problems. He then puts the cosmic dimension on this by saying God marries people. Our perichoresis of marriage mirrors the perichoresis with God. There is no room for perversion for perversion and hate for hate. The goal is to find solutions.

St. Thomas Aquinas says of hate, “Hatred is dissonance of the appetite from that which is apprehended as repugnant and hurtful.” Hate is a bodily function and it has long term effects upon us when we choose to see wrongly. Catholic tradition teaches of odium abominationis, or holding qualities as nauseating and odium inimicitiae, or holding other people and things as inimical. Again, it is an appetite, a desire of the person feeling it.

saltLeviticus 19 begins by telling us we are to be Holy. Now, “Holy,” in modern English is a word with no meaning. It is a religious word we banter around to make ourselves sound religious.We say we are to be holy as God is holy, and we have no definition for holy.

This was not always so. Isidore of Seville tells us in his Etymologies, “A wise man called from the taste, because just as is fit for the taste of the taste of food to the discerning, so the wise man impart to the subject matter and of causes, of which each one is known, and the meaning of truth is present to us. The opposite of which is a foolish fellow, that it is without savor, nor of any and/or sense of discretion. From the old custom of the Holy One called him that they who had wanted to be purified, were touched by the blood of the victim, and from this the name of the holy they obtained them. The supreme, the Most High, as they were above them. The ‘Supreme Father’ mind is sweet.

We remember our reading from last week, ““You are the salt/Moloch of the earth/table. If salt/Moloch loses its taste/becomes Tephel. With what can it be seasoned/table? It is but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light/Aor of the world/B oar rayah. A city/Air set on a mountain/Are cannot be hid. Likewise, we are the Oar of the world B oar.  B oar means the world. M oar means a pasture. We are the light of the pasture. We cannot hide a city, Air set on a mountain, Are.

Being holy for St. Isidore means being having a savor, something soft and sweet. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us in his Summa, the Second Part of the Second Part, Question 81, Article 8, “On one way it denotes purity; and this signification fits in with the Greek, for hagios means “unsoiled.” On another way, it denotes firmness, wherefore in olden times the term “sancta” was applied to such things as were upheld by law and were not to be violated. Hence a thing is said to be sacred [sancitum] when it is ratified by law.

In essence, St. Thomas tells us that to be Holy means to be separate from the world. The problem is that Hebrew has two words for this separation. The first is “Kiddush,” and the second is the word from which we derive the word, “Pharisee.” The Pharisees were the unsoiled, separate ones. The story of the Good Samaritan is about how this separation is not a physical separation. It is not about being better than everybody else.

spiceKiddish is the first stage of Marriage. When Mary was betrothed to Joseph, it was a full marriage in every way. The word they would have used to describe their marital state was Kiddush, Holy. Be separated from the common lot to be dedicated to God in a way that is similar to the husband and wife separating themselves from the rest of single people and joining themselves to each other and to God. The Hebrew word for a succulent cut of meat and for the Gospels is Bashar. The good news is savory, not firm and unfeeling.

I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? If you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not those beyond our regular number do the same?

Jesus with the apostles

Jesus appeals to the concept of family, the family of all people. We are all children of the heavenly Father. We are all imperfect human beings. We all suffer the heat of the sun and the cold and wet of the recent storms. We are all nation, from the Latin meaning a people born together by common heritage if not blood or place of birth. There is no room in this concept of family for grinding teeth or bearing grudges. We all have to live together.

St. Paul tells us, “let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.” This is in Corinthians where people were breaking into factions. One faction was the St. Paul faction. St. Paul asks if he baptized anyone or if anyone was baptized in his name. He says, “No.” There is only one head of this house, and it is God. In fact, “Church,” comes from “Kyrie Oikos.” We sing the Kyrie, a song to God, the Master, Kyrie. “Church means the house of God, of whom we are the children. Remember, we all must live together. If we are going to be family, we must learn to be salt for each other, to savor one another, warts and all. We all have warts. The price if we do not do so? Our measure is given back to us. We damage our own bodies with our stress.

St. Paul begins, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells/Shekinah/perichoresis within you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy/dedicated in a romantic way to God. Holy means to be dedicated to God in the same way we are dedicated to our spouses, our children, our brothers, and our sisters.

Our Gospel ends, “Be perfect as God is perfect.” The Hebrew word for Perfect is Shalom. Be Shalom, be at peace with all men. That is God’s message for us today.

What is Catholic Evangelism all about?


Jess theses statement in LukeKey words for the Readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time include:

Moloch equaling both salt and messenger, angel, and king.

Tephel and table meaning tasteless and then seasoned. Table also means the world in the sense of cosmos.

Oar and Air sound like “Oar.” Oar means light, and Air means city. The root word for Oar is Or are and means a breaking through as in a knife breaks through to make a hole. We are to be that which breaks through the spiritual world and enters the physical one.

Oar is again light. Naor means to shine. A Nar is a candle.

Ephah means both a dry measure of about two gallons, or character, disposition, or temper.

B oar means the world. M oar means a pasture. Neh oar is a flock. We are the light of the pasture.

Statue of liberty lighning strike

The lamp, candle, is a single light. It is placed on a menorah. One of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith is the menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum used in the Temple. The menorah is a symbol of the nation of Israel and its mission to be “a light unto the nations.” “Behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes, seven, to the lamps, which are upon the top thereof. ‘This is the word of the NAME unto Zerubbabel, saying: Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the NAME of the procession of the sky.” Zechariah 4:1-6

“You are the salt/Moloch of the earth/table. If salt/Moloch loses its taste/becomes Tephel. With what can it be seasoned/table? It is but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light/Aor of the world/B oar rayah. A city/Air set on a mountain/Are cannot be hid. Nor do they light a lamp/Nar and put it under a measure; it is set on a menorah, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your beautiful works and show the importance of your heavenly Father.” Gospel for Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time.

saltThis Sunday’s readings are about evangelism. We are the messengers of the world, but what does that mean. Jesus compares being a messenger, Molech, with being salt, Molech. We are not just any messenger. We are the messenger to the world, and not just any world, but one that is seasoned. If salt is no longer seasoning, how can it season the world? We have an obligation to the world to bring Christ to it, but we must do so as seasoning.

Seasoning does not do violence to what it seasons. It augments it. If we do violence to the world to bring Christ, we do not season it, but make the world Tephel, tasteless. We make the world worthy of nothing but to be trampled underfoot.

Likewise, we are the Oar of the world B oar.  B oar means the world. M oar means a pasture. We are the light of the pasture. We cannot hide a city, Air set on a mountain, Are. We are the world’s shepherds. Our light is a gentle light. God calls us to be the gentle light of the lighthouse, the city on the hill giving its light to everyone who chooses to see it. Jesus does not speak of a bright light, but of a shepherd who brings his flock to God.

We do not light a flock and put it under a dry measure. We are not things. We are people and we need to remember all of us are people, made in God’s image. We are not isolated cases, Nar, but we are set in a menorah, a candelabra, a lampstand with many lights. We are social beings, a community. “Community” is a fancy Latin word meaning shared in common, promoting the general welfare. When we show our ideal community, one where everyone cares for everyone else, we become that light to the world. Let us go out into the world and be the messengers, the leaders who cause this nation to once again be a Christian nation, by promoting the general welfare, making this nation a place all the nations want to copy, where people will want to live.

Reading for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time


CosmosWhat was God doing five minutes before he created the world? Time does not exist without some movement and transition, while in eternity there is no change, who does not see that there could have been no time had not some creature been made.” City of God, Book XI Chapter 6.

St. Augustine speaks of a space-time continuum. When there is no matter, there is no time. When there is more matter, there is more time.

Albert Einstein found space and time interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. Events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another. As he worked out the equations for his general theory of relativity, Einstein realized that massive objects caused a distortion in space-time.

Jess theses statement in LukeJesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish Torah or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from Torah, until all things have taken place. Gospel reading for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Torah precedes all existence; it contains the blueprint for the cosmos, and the very existence of the cosmos is contingent upon Torah. Talmud Pasachim 54a, Berchachot 9a, Shabbat 88a

If you remove a dot or a dash from Torah, heaven and earth will pass away. If you take the undergirding from a building, the building collapses. St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of four causes. God is the efficient cause of all things in that he is the One who set all things in motion. God is the final cause in that beatific vision with him, Perichoresis, the divine dance with him is what God requires all of creation to strive to do.

Four Causes

Torah is the formal cause of all things. It is God’s blueprint. This undergirding girds all of creation. The world as Eretz, wilderness and chaos of our earth is the material cause. Genesis 1 begins with wilderness and chaos and ends up with established order as Torah infuses itself in it. Torah is about bringing harmony and concord to the material cause, which is the world. God calls us to participate in bringing this harmony to the world. This is who we are as Catholics. When there are huge disparities of income as currently exist in this nation, there can be no harmony and no concord. If we do not address this issue, we will fall back into wilderness and chaos. As our first reading tells us, this will be our choice, and God will call us to account.

King David at the Cathedral

In Book Three Chapter 8 of his Confessions St. Augustine compares the Ten Commandments to a lyre. Just as the lyre is made of groupings of three and ten strings, so the Ten Commandments are made of the first three referring to God, and the second seven referring to man’s relations with each other. In Augustine’s writing, at least in the book, “The Complete Works of Saint Augustine,” “Music,” appears 71 times. “Concord,” appears 39 times, 10 times in Book 19 alone. Harmony appears 42 times 14 times in our Chapter 19, alone. Justice? It appears in every Book of the City of God, a grand 493 times. Augustine wrote about justice, not music.

orchestraSt. Augustine also quotes Cicero’s Republic, ““As among the different sounds which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, there must be maintained a certain harmony which a cultivated ear cannot endure to hear disturbed or jarring, but which may be elicited in full and absolute concord by the modulation even of voices very unlike one another. Where reason is allowed to modulate the diverse elements of the state, there is obtained a perfect concord from the upper, lower, and middle classes as from various sounds. What musicians call harmony in singing, is concord in matters of state, which is the strictest bond and best security of any republic, and which by no ingenuity can be retained where justice has become extinct.” St. Augustine, City of God, Book 2, Chapter 21.

Torah is about harmony and concord. It is about making sure all people are free to pursue whom they are as individuals, to find their final end, which ultimately is God. This is the foundation for the Catholic moral tradition that education is far more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is the foundation for the Catholic moral tradition that education is about far more than finding a job. It is the foundation for the Catholic moral tradition that education is about life and culture. There is no room for rugged individualism and the Protestant work ethic in harmony. Harmony is about working together. Harmony is about sharing the work, and then the rewards of that work.

The Beatitudes are in the form scholars call a Chiasmus. The first and last verses mirror one another. The second and the second from the last versus mirror one another. This teaches something. The second beatitude is, “Blessed are those that mourn.” The second to the last is, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

551675_464823303552020_718388587_nMatthew’s Chapter 5 ends, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father. He makes his sun rise on the rotten and the beautiful and causes rain to fall on the charitable and the uncharitable. If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors* do the same? If you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? Be Shalom, just as your heavenly Father is Shalom.”

The Hebrew word, “Shalom,” means two things. First, it means completion. From the idea of completion comes being perfect. From the idea of completion comes the second meaning. When we are complete, when we have all we desire, we are at peace, with God and with each other.

When we are complete with each other, we can mourn our losses and still see each other, including those who rained upon us, as fellow children of God. One Jewish story tells the story of the parting of the Red Sea. The Hebrew people cross on dry ground. Pharaoh and his chariots start to cross and the sea falls in upon them. The Hebrew people sing the Song of the Sea. The Angels join them and God says, “Quiet! Can’t you see my children are drowning? Talmud Sanhedrin, 39b

This is what the rabbis wrote. This is the standard of justice of the scribes/grammarians in Greek, and the Pharisees/the separate ones. “I tell you, unless your righteousness/Tsaddik/charity surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Striving to make sure all people are all they can be, fulfilling the efficient cause God placed within them so they can reach their final-end, is the standard. The standard is bringing harmony to all of creation. The ultimate standard is realizing we are all in the same orchestra, called to make harmonious music to God, through the concord of civilization. Are we up to the task.

Our first reading for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary time tells us, “God has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before men are life and death, beauty and rot, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” Life is about fulfilling all of who we are, for all of us, rich and poor, black, German, Irish, Polish, Hispanic, Arab, Russian, and Chinese. There is no room for blocking immigrants from our borders if this means depriving them of life. There is no room for blocking ethnic northern Europeans into small enclaves, to keep others out. There is only room for welcoming all into the great orchestra of life.