The wolf of Gubbio, the prodigal son, and the conservative debate

Timber WolfThere was once a village in Gubbio, Italy, where there lived a young boy. A fine boy he was, caring for everyone and everything. He was particularly fond of puppies, as most young boys are, and took great care of all the puppies as he found them in the village. Growing older, he went so far as to go outside of the village looking for animals to care for. On one day, he found what appeared to be a cave, a den really, for wolves. He entered the den and found puppies. Immediately, he started to treat them with great care. Shortly after, the mother wolf entered her den, found the stranger, and ate him.

One ugly kid 2This is the eulogy for the young boy, a fine eulogy as eulogies go. The story is not about the wolf, but the wolf is central to understanding the story, or at least its end. Today, there was a meeting with a conservative who heard of a recent article about the prodigal son.This is a reading which is not read this liturgical year, but is important enough, it is read four times next year; 27 February, Saturday, for the Second Sunday of Lent, March 6, for the Forth Sunday of Lent, and September 11, for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time.

That article correctly argued how the Semitic definition of property was central to the story. The conservative argued, “But the prodigal son is not about the definition of property,” which it is not. It is about something far grander. Still, the Semitic definition of property is central to the story. The prodigal son is a type, to use first century rhetorical jargon.

The younger son tells his father, “Father, give to me the measure thrown upon the essence of me. He gave to them the life.” The son then squanders his share of what was to his father. The conservative argued, “But the father did not give his sons everything…” To this, verse 31 of Luke 15 argues, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.” The father has nothing left. The father divided what was his, way back in Luke 15:12. If this is the case, by what right does the father give his younger son the robe, the ring, and the fattened calf of verse 22-3?

ParalyticThe conservative argued, “The point of the story is about forgiveness.” “Forgive,” does not appear in any form in the passage. All three stories in Luke 15 discuss the return of deviants, but the emphasis is upon the joy of their return, not their penance.

The son argues in verse 17-19, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”

Sounds like a request for forgiveness, until we catch that first part. The son states, “I will tell him.” It is not necessarily true in his mind, but only what he will tell him. He is more driven by hunger, a request for food, than by faith, family, or an earnest desire for forgiveness. The father never hears this request. While the son babbles his spiel, the father is too busy running. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” The father is not interested in forgiveness, or an apology, only his son.

Black AngusThen comes the robe, the ring, the fattened calf, and the party.  Followed by, “This son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” There is nothing here about his son coming to his senses, or asking for forgiveness, or receiving it. There is only, “My lost son is found.” He later tells his older son the same thing. “He was lost; now he is found.” All that matters is that the prodigal son has returned.

Hebrew has an interesting pun on the word, “Love.” “Abba” means “Father.” Ha Bah,” means the bleating of sheep, or the one who is to come, or the welcoming in of another. “A Ha Bah,” is love. Love is listening to the Father, and welcoming the other into our hearts and our homes. The story is about this. The story is about familial love which looks past, past faults, and sees only family, and the potential that comes from being family. The prodigal son is a type.

The sheep of his flockLuke 7:44, the deviant woman, was also brought up. She is another type, to use Greek rhetorical jargon. The conservative also argued when presented that if we truly look at the deviant, we will see his humanity and act, “But sometimes we are repulsed by evil.” There was only pointing to Genesis 1:27; Mankind is made in God’s image. He also has original sin. St. Augustine argued that evil is the absence of the good. Therefore, pure evil is non-existence, the absence of the good.

To look truly at a human being is to see the image of God in that person, and therefore his potential. The only force repulsed by the image of God in a person is Satan, the great accuser. If we truly look for God’s image in a person, we will find it, and we will act. If we act long enough and hard enough, maybe this will bring the image of God to the fore. This is what the father in our story does, and this is what God calls us to do.

In the conservative rendition of the story, there is no after to the story. Either the “Good Boy,” pouts outside the tent, or he joins the party. Which one? We are left guessing for rhetorical purpose. We are the older son. It is for us to answer.

What happens when the party is over, the sun sets and rises again in the morning? The story is addressed to the Pharisees, and the Pharisee in each of us. The story is for our nation today. What of the poor among us? The prodigal son is a type, a type for all the poor living among us. In the debate it was argued that the elder son had no way of knowing how his younger brother spent his money. The older son among us argues, “The poor among us are that way because…” Therefore, they are less than us, and deserve less than us, which is exactly what they have. All is right with the world.  So the conservative thinks, then and now.

In Reno Nevada we look for a solution to government mandated healthcare. The middle class and the wealthy among us do not know how the poor got to be that way. The point of the story is that it does not matter. All that matters is that we see God’s image in our brother. We are nation, a people born together by common heritage, if not by blood or place of birth. If any is hungry, we all hunger.

There must be an after the story. What of our poor? They do not get another share of the birthright, but…what of them? The story gives no after. That is for us to decide. In the morning, after the beer wears off, and the party is over, we must sit down with our young deviant and decide where his life goes from here. Torah speaks of Jacob and his travels to Haran to meet what were to become his two wives. Genesis 29. He arrives with nothing, and sits with a con artist like himself. At the end, he has two wives and great wealth. Likewise, in our story in Luke 15, our deviant sits down with us, and we help him work his way back to wealth, or at least his place in the community.

Now, we must make sure our brother has adequate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and transportation. The younger brother argues, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”  Today, that is still his wish, the wish of all the poor, to earn a reasonable day’s bread for a reasonable day’s work.  Let us bring it to fruition.

Christ the King Sunday, or do we follow the way of Pilate, or the way of Jesus? Are we under rowers and messengers, or are we leaders.

It is all about Jesus and how we live our lives in his exampleReading the Gospel for the Solemnity Christ the King Universe, we ask two questions, neither of which has an adequate answer. The first, “In what language did Jesus have his conversation with Pilate?” The second, “Who is St. John?” Roman officials of the first century were much like our ambassadors today. They did learn the language of the lands they administered. Pilate spoke Latin, and Jesus Aramaic. With Pilate not being bi-lingual, either Jesus was, or there was a translator. John does not mention a translator.

The focus is on the Eucharist, and what it means when we leave Mass.

Who was St. John? In his book, “An Introduction to the New Testament,” page 370 Professor Brown refers to how much more accurately John drew Palestine for his readers than the other Gospel writers did. On page 374, Professor Brown reports on how likely the community John wrote to was Samaritan, not Jewish. This explains the disparaging way John refers to the Jewish community, while seeming to be Semitic. It also casts doubts on alleged Greek philosophical influences on John.

Professor Brown also reports on how John uses double meanings. In our Gospel, there are three places where this occurs. The first is central to the discussion; is Jesus a king? The Greek term is, “βασιλεία,” giving, “Basilica,” or the king’s house. The Latin is “Rex,” giving us, “Regal.”

Hebrew AlphabetIf Jesus were speaking in Aramaic, he would have used the word, “מלכהון” or “Malik.” This primarily means, “Messenger.” Psalms 72 and 82 show the king to be the messenger between God and Man and Man and other members of his community. There is no idea of the regal king sitting in his basilica. The messenger is out in the world delivering a message.

Our second reading refers to the “Alpha and the Omega.” The Hebrew version would be, the “Ox head and the Cross,” or the “Leader and the “Crucified.” The Hebrew word for “Faith,” is “Ameth,” or “Amen.” “Ameth,” takes the first, middle and last letters of the Jewish alphabet. Faith in God is the first, the middle and the last part of our lives. We live in the world, not outside it. Nineveh means, “Fish city.” Jesus lived with fishermen. The last letter of “Amen,” is that “N,” meaning, “Fish.”

Suburban sceneJohn puns on Greek words for, “World.” The first is, “Geo,” giving us, “Geology.” John uses, “κοσμου,” “Cosmos,” giving us, “Cosmology,” or the ordering of this world. Jesus’ world is not Pilate’s world of violence and intimidation. Jesus’ world is of life and peace, where all live together.

USS Constitution… Old Ironsides is the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat.John uses “οἱ ὑπηρέται,” for those fighting in his defense. This means under rower, and refers to the men sitting in the damp, crampy underside of a ship pushing oars to make the ship go forward. The way to Jesus’ world is being under rowers, traveling to the cross. Do we follow the way of Pilate, or the way of Jesus? Are we under rowers and messengers, or are we leaders, usurping God’s prerogative. Only one gets us to the kingdom.

When does the prodigal son’s brother get his share of the estate and why does it matter?

Poverty“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ Therefore, the father divided the property between them.” So begins the parable of the “Prodigal Son.” It is important that the text states, the father divided the estate between them. Estates are not static creations. Otherwise, if the estate decreases in value, the older, obedient son gets a smaller share. When the prodigal son returns home, if the estate had increased in value, the father could have told the older son, “The estate has increased in value; half the difference belongs to him. I judged that the fattened calf belongs to that half…”

384309_549304955086309_357628736_nWhen the prodigal son returns home, the father gives him a fine robe and ring, kills the fattened calf, and everyone, except the older, obedient son, has a party. The question is, “What right does the father have to throw the party?” If the estate was divided before the prodigal son left, the father is right when he says in verse 31, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”

The older son argues with Rerum Novarum, “When a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive is to obtain property, and to hold it as his very own… If he lives sparingly, saves money, and, for greater security, invests his savings in land, the land is only his wages under another form. A working man’s little estate thus purchased should be as completely at his disposal as are the wages he receives for his labor.”

Under the rules of the Protestant work ethic, rugged individualism, and the rules of private property, the father has no right to give the younger, prodigal son, anything. Family rules are different. As we grew up, our parents gave us things, and as we outgrew them, they took them away and gave them to others.

St Thomas aquinasRerum Novarum replies to the older son, “It is lawful,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “for a man to hold private property; it is also necessary for the carrying on of human existence.” “How must one’s possessions be used? Church replies…: “Man should not consider his material possessions as his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need.”

The Catholic Catechism, 2403 states, “The right to private property…, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to mankind…” Our church takes the middle position between capitalism and socialism. “Nation” has the same root as “Nativity.” A nation is a group of people born together, of common heritage. Our church speaks with the prodigal son’s Father, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. Now! We must celebrate and rejoice, your brother was dead and has come to life again.’” There is private property, but family, but life, can and must come first. All born into our nation are family. Do we treat all in our nation as family?

Two images for Advent, which do you choose?

forest fire“In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling from the sky and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

“Learn from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender, sprouting leaves, you know summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.”

Jesus presents two pictures, one of darkness, and one of light. Those seeing forest fires know how the sun becomes dark and the moon does not give light. When the Romans came to punish those not paying taxes, cites burn like forest fires. Smoke envelopes everything. The sun was dark; the moon did not give light, and the stars, the rocks thrown by the Roman scorpions fell from the sky. In the second picture, Jesus explains how the ecosystems of our planet will start to recover. Plants will start growing again; sheep will start eating, and reproducing, again, and things will recover. Our planet is a vibrant planet.

The harvest (of the children of God) is plentiful, but the gatherers are few“This generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Jesus predicts the coming of Rome 70 Anno Domino. If Jesus spoke these words in 30 Anno Domino, 40 years elapsed between his speaking these words and their fulfillment. We are now 40 days away from Christmas. The people of Jesus’ time watched as Jerusalem burned. We watch as those who do not agree with us burn our nostalgic world. The coming of Christ brings the end of our nostalgic world and the beginning of God’s ideal world, if we are ready for the change coming with that fig tree.

“They will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ עננא; He will send out the angels/messengers to gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” The Didache speaks to this in its two Eucharistic blessings. Chapter 9, “Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom….” Chapter 10, “Remember, Kyrie, Your Church, deliver it from all rot and make it Shalom in your love. Gather it from the four winds, dedicated to your kingdom which you prepared for it….”

8919_1243228163516_2601477_nThese passages speak to the Christian diaspora of year 70. The sun became dark, and the moon disappeared over the smoke clouds. Now, post year 70, through the Eucharist, God is gathering his church into one. The Hebrew word for suffering and the poor is ענ and for cloud is עננא. God comes with the poor, those who suffered, to create a grand new world. Keep up hope; Christ comes. At Christmas, he comes to bring Peace in Love. Our choice? Are we a part of this, or of the forces of discord bringing destruction to our world?

Deuteronomy 30, John 4, and our Pro-Life Mass in Reno Nevada

“All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” Declaration of Independence.

declaration-of-independenceA woman of Samaria came to draw water… Jesus answered, If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:6-10

“I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I set before you life and death, blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

8919_1243228163516_2601477_nAs we have our pro-life Mass this Twenty-seventh Sunday, we notice how some would make the issue one of when life begins. Before we can ascertain when life begins, we must first understand what it is. The problem in our nation is that there is no clear definition.

In his definition of “Chai/life,” Rabbi Jastrow lists “Life,” then goes on to relate it to health. John 4, quoted above refers to “Living Water.” That is a Hebraism for moving/flowing. Life moves. The Greek, “Zoe,” also has the primary meaning of healthy. The Latin, “Vīvācĭtas,” means having a natural vigor, a vital force, and then lists an English word of the same root, “Vivacious.” This means to be alive/vibrant.

Pro-life is not from conception until natural birth. Pro-life is conception until natural death whre life means life lived in the image of GodDoes this mean that ill people are not alive? Deuteronomy 30 answers. “Choose life.” At every moment in life, in every breath, choose life. The Jerusalem Post a generation or so ago argued, All life is life in potential/in potentiality. “Choose life,” means bringing each person’s potential to fruition. One giving life, like Jesus, sees the sick and brings them back to life. The pre-born are potential life, if not life. The argument of when life begins becomes moot. If the pre-born are not alive, properly speaking, they are potential life, entitled to all the same privileges.

Similarly, Deuteronomy 30, “This Mitzvah, I give you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, for you to 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.”

PovertyWe need to stop looking with concepts, and start looking with our ears, and hearing with our eyes. The truth is not in the head but in the heart. Dead baby pictures work, and dead, and dying pictures of those in poverty is supposed to work because we see with the eyes of Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Concepts kill! Eyes and ears give life! Are we like Jesus, promoting life/health, or are we like the so-called pro-lifers and pro-choice people living in their concepts?

To get to heaven you must be a supertramp; you must learn to see and hear

There is an important difference between the Latin and Western understanding of knowledge, and the Greek and Eastern Understanding. This difference is what drives most of the misunderstandings in this world today. The Latin and Western understandings of knowledge as conceptual and abstract. Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek do not have this abstract understanding of knowledge. Immediately before this, Luke tells us, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” The key words here are “Reveal,” and “Know.” “Reveal implies seeing and the Greek understanding of knowledge is a mental seeing, a seeing with the mind’s eye, and then distinguishing, separating two mental images.

CLick on image for link.

Our Catholic faith borrows from Aristotle who spoke of four causes, Formal, Efficient, Material, and Final causes. The Formal cause of the world is Torah, the structural under-girding of the world. God is the Efficient Cause in that he is the primary force moving the world to the Final cause, which is himself. The world is the Efficient Cause.

Luke begins today’s passage with the seventy-two coming and bragging about their great success. Jesus points them to the fact that the world is the Material Cause. They, acting in it, are but a small manifestation of the Efficient Cause. The passage begins with Jesus relating the Great Accuser falling as lightning from the sky. He speaks of scorpions and serpents. Jesus speaks of tangible things for his followers to see.

Four CausesHe then tells them, “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” God and our final place with him is the Final Cause of all there is. We must constantly direct our lives to this.

The ending of the Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time ends, ““Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. Many Naviim and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Jesus tells us of the importance of seeing the serpents and scorpions, but looking toward the final reward.

We read, “You hid these things from the wise and the learned. You revealed them to babies. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will… No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

On the surface, this is hopelessly abstract, until we see. Adults follow the way of the Latins, abstract, conceptual, sensible, logical, responsible, practical, dependable, clinical, intellectual, and cynical. Children are, “wonderful, a miracle beautiful, magical. And all the birds in the trees, singing so happily, joyfully, playful and watching. We need the latter if we are ever going to find God. This is how God reveals himself to us.

Words of Institution 3

When was the original church service?

When was the first church service and what was it like? “Church” comes from two Greek words, one of which is still heard in our Roman Catholic Services. “Kyrie.” We know the other word from eating yogurt. “Oikos,” brand yogurt. “Oikos,” is the Greek word for a house. “Kyrie Oikos,” translates, “God’s House.

In the first reading for Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, we read from Nehemiah 8, the first church service. Ezra and Nehemiah, being Jewish, not Greek, did not use that term. The liturgy looks much like the liturgy we use today.

“The whole people gathered as one in the open space before the Water Gate.” As we gather for church, we pass the baptistery, our Water Gate. We sit in the pews and listen as the readers read from the Torah.

Lectionary“Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and those children old enough to understand.” Some send our children off to Catechism Class before they start the readings. Protestants call it, “Sunday School.”

“All the people listened attentively to the book of instruction.” We all wish our readers would read to allow this to happen for all, and the readers wish all would pay attention, as they should.

8919_1243228163516_2601477_n“Ezra the grammarian stood on a wooden platform, made for the occasion. He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it.” Mass begins with the processing in, with the lectionary held high for all to see. Before Father reads the Gospel, he holds the book high. The original platform is still called a Bema. Catholics call it the Ambo.

Ezra blessed Kyrie, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, “Amen, amen!” Father begins the reading with a blessing and we still end, “Thanks be to God.”

“They bowed down and prostrated themselves before Kyrie, their faces to the ground.” This is our bowing during Mass. For the Gospel, we stand.

Pope Francis UN“Ezra read plainly from the book of God’s Torah, interpreting it for all to understand.” The Jewish people of the time spoke Aramaic; the Torah was in Hebrew. This is like our Latin Mass, where the word is proclaimed but not understood. The homily has the purpose of making it clear for all to understand.

““Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Kyrie. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in Kyrie must be your strength!” Here is the Jewish beginnings of our Eucharist.

Seder plate smallAll the people went to eat and drink, distributing portions, and celebrating with great joy, understanding the words that had been expounded to them.” This is coffee and doughnuts after Mass. It should be considered an integral part of Mass. Father should be there, helping the people celebrate, representing how he is one of us, and learning how to represent God better to the people in the future.

Why does the poor widow give her mite?

Entering Reno
Harrah’s Ranch represents the home of the rich.

According to the Journal of Philanthropy, “Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people in more economically diverse communities. When people making more than $200,000 a year account for more than 40 percent of local taxpayers, the wealthy residents give an average of 2.8 percent of discretionary income to charity, about the same as the middle class. Itemizers earning $200,000 or more give 4.2 percent.”

The Guardian reports, “People are much more responsive to charitable pleas that feature a single, identifiable beneficiary…”

The reading for the Thirty-second Sunday, “The Widow’s Mite.” Jesus explains how the widow gives from her poverty. The Journal of Philanthropy tells us of how the rich living in rich neighborhoods give less than those who live in economically diverse communities. They, like the widow, see the poor every day.

Leaders in federal, state, local government, in private enterprise, and in civic organizations, kin with the poor, more readily respond. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 comments on these leaders, and their need to come from the people, never being richer than the people. Luke 7:26-50 speaks of the deviant woman at Simon’s home. Jesus asks Peter, “Do you see this woman?”  In Cleveland, Ohio, the rich live in Bratenahl, the poor in East Cleveland. “The average home price in Bratenahl is $638,729. “The average price for East Cleveland homes is $53,456.” Can people from Bratenahl understand living in East Cleveland? I remember looking for work after college. A rich kid in our dorm gave the advice of spending $20 and using it on the payphone to call perspective employers. Told there was no $20, he advised spending $20 on resumes. There was no concept of not having $20.

Bede writes in the Catena Aurea, “The widow casts two mites into the treasury; the love of God and neighbor. The rich sends his own abundance into the treasury; presuming his own righteousness; the widow sends her whole living into God’s treasury, she understands, her living is not her desert, but Divine grace.” The widow brings, suffering herself, she knows suffering. The rich brings blinded by the world of concepts, his view of right and wrong, he thinks it is right.

The hospital I was born in 2
Where I was born represents the home of the poor.

The rich, the Simons of our world, never see that woman. Jesus asks Simon, “Do you see this woman or an occupation?” Our rich never see the woman. Mark 7 has the Deaf Mute. To speak, we must first hear. If the poor are far away, we cannot hear them, how can we address their needs? Mark 8 has the Blind Man. The first time Jesus touches him, the Blind Man sees walking trees, people’s exterior. The second time, real human beings. How can the Blind Man see other human beings if he walls them off in gated communities?

The widow lives among the poor, seeing their suffering. The rich live apart,  never seeing or hearing. Therefore, she contributes more of what little she has. Do we see?  Hear?


Thoughts on the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Readings

The Apostolic Constitutions, dated from 375 to 380 AD, tells us:

Three PopesWhen you call an assembly of the Church as one that is the commander of a great ship, appoint the assemblies with all possible skill, charging the deacons as mariners to prepare places for the brethren as for passengers. Let the building be long… In the middle, let the reader stand upon some high place: let him read the books of Moses, of Joshua the son of Nun, of the Judges, and of the Kings and of the Chronicles, and those written after the return from the captivity… and of the sixteen prophets.

The Hebrew word for “Prophet” is “Navy,” fitting. As we look at our Cathedral, we note it is long, as this quote demands. It is also in the shape of a ship. The back of our ship is the Sanctuary. This area is raised just as on a ship where the quarterdeck is. The quarterdeck is isolated from the body of the church as this represents Mount Sinai, where Moses took off his shoes when he saw the burning bush. This is sacred ground.

USS Constitution… Old Ironsides is the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat.The church center is the Nave. The navy people, the sailors, “the ὑπηρέται/uperetai,” Greek for under rowers, sit here. When Luke 1:2 speaks of “Ministers of the Word,” “Minister,” translates “uperetai.” The pews look like sailors benches for rowing. We are the rowers.

The church front is the Narthex. Narthex is the plant Prometheus used to bring fire from the gods.  Our Narthex is the plant used by us to bring the fire of the Holy Spirit into the world.

The Twenty-sixth Sunday speaks of Eldad and Medad, They were Navy, Uperetai/ministers of the word. Joshua, Son of Nun/fish, complains about this. Moses responds, “”Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the NAME were Navy!” Would that all depart the Narthex, grab fire, and bring it to the world.

Our Cathedral in PanaramaThe Gospel reading reverses the roles. John/the graciousness of God complains about someone healing people in Jesus’ name. Joshua/Jesus, Son of the fish, (The apostles were fishermen) replies, “”Do not prevent him. Nobody performing a mighty deed in my name can speak ill of me… He wishes all were fishermen, would grab some of that Narthex as they depart Mitte Est/Mass, his presence.

James speaks to the Word. He speaks to the poor indirectly. He speaks of equality for all people. He condemns those not allowing the homeless in our Kyrie Oichos, or The Name’s House. He speaks of the impending calamity of accumulating wealth at the expense of the least of these my brothers, “Matthew 25:31-46. He speaks of seeing everyone as family. The first reading and the Gospel say. “Would that all the people of the NAME were navy! Would that the NAME might bestow his spirit on them all!” He who is not against us is for us.” We are all equal. This is all there is to Christian morality. Are we ready for the job?

Pope Francis Family Speech Philadelphia Festival of Families

Many will want to state this was a political speech supporting the nuclear family. Politics is not in this speech. This speech opposes politics. Of all his speeches in American, this was his most animate.

Suburban sceneBeauty, goodness, and truth. Once a child asked the pope what God was doing before he created the world. The answer, “Before creating the world God loved, because God is love.” God is perichoresis, the divine dance of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God cannot be egoistic because love is always about the other; that is why he created the world. We are destroying it. The most beautiful thing God created was women and with it family. He gave them everything, to guard it and to keep it, and to love. God gives and shares family to be family, to give and share. All the good/love/perichoresis he has in himself, he gives to us so we can love.

Through the devil, we learn how to divide ourselves. This was far and away the Pope’s move animate speech. The devil is about division. Politics in our country is about division. God is about love, and love does not allow room for division. This concept was central to all of our Pope’s speeches. We must decide what we want to take forward, he told us, love or division.

flamesSo great is God’s love that he walks with us, with all of our faults, finally expressing himself through the divine family, Our Blessed Virgin, St Joseph the worker, and Jesus, in a family. Neither Our Blessed Virgin nor St. Joseph understand what is going on in the nativity, but they accept. God calls us to accept the extended family that includes church and society in general.

We are about helping our families, nuclear and extended, including church and society in general to grow. Families have citizenship, divine citizenship. God gives the citizenship card, the one making us human. This is all about truth, goodness, and beauty. Our Blessed Pope also talked about our imperfections, giving a very animate expression as he wiped his head explaining how “Plates fly,” literally causing headaches. Children also cause headaches. On the other hand, the family is the factory of hope. Families, nuclear and extended, church and society in general is about creating hope. Our Pope tells us love overcomes difficulties. Hate and division of heart cannot overcome difficulties. Only love can do this. Love is joy and moving forward. We must place special emphasis upon children/future, strength, moving us forward. Grandparents are our heritage, transmitting the faith to us. This transmission is love. The family is useful, but there are problems, and inimical relations. His advice: never let the day end without making peace/Shalom. Never let the day end without being in peace. With this came the final blessing.

There was no politics here. This was not about how to pass laws from the top down. This was about building a new world from the bottom up.