Reading for the Twenty-ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Jess theses statement in LukeHear Israel/You who Struggle with God, God is Almighty, God is One. Love God with all of your hearts, with all of your Animate Being, and with all of your Measure. The issues, I command you, this day, will be upon your hearts. You will speak them distinctly (The root word means to sharpen) to your children. You will talk of them when sitting in your house, when on the road, when you lay down for the night, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 The Shemasaints love

This Mitzvah (this is the Jewish word used in the passage) I command thee this day, it is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, (the great flow of things/out there) that thou should say, ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? Nor, is it beyond the sea, that you say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that you do it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day; I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life. “Boker Chaim.” Deuteronomy 30:11-19. Luke 10:25-28

The sign from heaven is not up there, but down here.Stand in the things you learned and have been handed on to you as a treasure, knowing from you learned them. From a babe the sacred writings have been made know to you and able to make you wise to Joshua/Salvation upon the hand of Amen in Jesus/Joshua Christ. All writing in the Spirit of God is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, which is in charity.

This is how St. Paul writes the Twenty-Ninth Document of Ordinary time. Many, including Catholics, are of the opinion that children should be allowed to pick their own faith, when they are teens, or later. This is not biblical. The word for “Hearts,” in Deuteronomy 6:4, Jesus’ Great Commandment, is plural. The word for “your,” is singular. There are two explanations for this. One is that we each have multiple hearts. Jewish tradition speaks of the yetzer hatov, and the yetzer harah, the inclination to the beautiful, and to the rotten. The other is that “hearts,” refers to the entire community and therefore to a multitude of hearts, individuals. Love God with all of your hearts, including your rotten instincts.

PovertyFind the negative aspects of yourself, and find ways to love God with those also. If you are greedy, be greedy in doing good works. Drunks understand this. If you are a drunk, you have an asset. Jesus tradition also includes the Baal Teshuvah, the Master or Repentence. He takes his negative and uses it to fund other drunks and bring them to salvation.

American Flag

The other interpretation is that “hearts,” refers to the entire community. Speak of the distinctly to your children. There is no room here for empty ritual. The Jewish tradition St. Paul speaks of here includes that idea of Cavanah, that if you do not understand what you are hearing at Mass, every word of it, you did not fulfill your religious obligation. Meditate upon them all the time, as Shema says.

Shema says we should love God will all of our hearts, our animate being and with our measure. I once asked a rabbi what the difference was between blood and animate being, soul. He said they were the same thing. Blood is the only organ that touches every other organ of the body, at the same time. It touches everything. With all of our measure means that if we measure ourselves with our strength, we love God with our strength. If we measure ourselves with our wealth, we love God with that. If we measure ourselves with our patriotism, we love God with that. That means we only vote for people who universally support what God supports.

What do we give someone who literally already has everything? That is God. We respect what is his, in particular what he made in his image, each other. We need to note that God does not say we should love him with our concepts. Concepts get in the way of love. We have lawyers because they are great at defining things to death. Concepts are easily manipulated. Luke 7:44 has Jesus say, “Behold the woman. Franciscans have St. Francis and the leper. When we strip away our concepts, truly strip them away, there is nothing before us, but the woman, or the leper.

St. Francis and the leperThere are no Muslims, Jews, blacks Hispanic, Catholics, Protestants, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. There is simply this person in need. That is why Deuteronomy 30 speaks of God’s word not being in heaven or across the sea. It is in each of us. The Bible never says it is in our heads. Luke never speaks of God’s word being in her head, only in her heart. This allows her to see people for who they are.

Many say that we are opinionated because we are not conservative like them. We do not have opinions. We have what is in our heart. Deuteronomy 30 says, “Choose Life.” This is one of the 613 Jewish commandments. All life is life in potentiality. Choosing life means loving God with all of our measure, using all of our resources to make sure all people, each person before us has life in all of its glorious potential. God then calls us to be like the persistent widow, always before the judge, standing up for what is right. We all have what is right, even the crooked judge. We will lose many jobs for standing up for life with dignity for all people Conservatives do not like hearing that. We will love a few lives. Remember, Christianity did conquer Rome.

Yes, that means we need to have a Synod in our diocese in Reno. We need one to bring us back to the basics. From a babe the sacred writings have been made know to you and able to make you wise to Joshua/Salvation upon the hand of Amen in Jesus/Joshua Christ. What is the basis of these writings but Jesus Christ and his presence in the Eucharist? How does it transform us, but by making us choose life, both for ourselves and for everyone on this planet. What separates us from the Protestants, but, “All writing in the Spirit of God is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, which is in charity.” That includes all that is handed on to us, not just the collection of books we call the Bible. The magisterium’s job is deciding the key part, “written in the Spirit of God.”

We speak of Subsidiarity and Solidarity. What is the former but not doing for another what he is capable of doing for himself? What is Solidarity, but doing everything else. We need a frank discussion to decide the basics and from the basics what is in our hearts, how do find the right tension between the two. Let us work for that Synod.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Twenty Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

statue-of-liberty-chainsThe word of God is not chained. Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal importance. This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we persevere, we shall also reign with him.

Édouard René de Laboulaye the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society first proposed the Statue of Liberty. The project is traced to a conversation between Édouard René de Laboulaye, and Frédéric Bartholdi, a sculptor in mid-1865. The Civil War ended this year. The word of God is not chained.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps, They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps: His day is marching on.

Jess theses statement in LukeWhose day? The Lord’s Day. What is his righteous sentence? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

In our reading for Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time we read, “He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

Being born in this nation means nothing in God’s eye. What matters is that we hear his righteous sentence. We are all equal, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or sex. We are all created equal. We are also a nation of immigrants. We read in our Fourth Commandment, “Remember that you too were once slaves in the land of Egypt/Oppression/Europe/Ireland/the sweatshops of the northern factories, the plantations of the south, and the LORD, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. That is why the LORD, your God, has commanded you to observe Sabbath.”

Pro-lifeRemember you were once oppressed. We all have endured oppression in our lives, all of us. In the Eucharist we did with Christ. We die liturgically in the anamnesis, we rise in the partaking of the host. The words of the Battle Hymn sing in us:

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel: “As ye deal with my condemner’s, so with you my grace shall deal”; Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel, Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat; Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet! Our God is marching on.

God does sift our hearts. We stand for the oppressed, those trying to cross some silly wall to find sufficient food, clothing, and shelter for their young, for the minority in the Deep South who does not have a birth certificate because he was born of mid-wives who did not know to get one, and for those who suffer. If we do not, if we are not swift to answer Him, well, we are sifted out.

AnnaIn the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me. As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on.

Does the glory in his bosom transfigure us, make us into God’s image. If it does, we fight to make men free, in Aleppo Syria, in Mexico City, in Ferguson Missouri, in Florida, in the dozens of cities where minorities are killed because they have too much melanin in their skin, or the speak funny, or they look funny, or they do not think like us, or are we sifted. That is the question today.

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary or flame, Choreography and listening the great Chorus of life.

emmitt-tillThe apostles told Kyrie, “Increase our faith.” Kyrie replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would listen to you.

Much time can be spent on this, trying to figure out how literal we should take it. After much thought, we find the key word is “Faith.” Faith, in Hebrew is “Amen,” or rather “Emmett.” The German etymology is not far from the original Hebrew meaning. The German word Emmett, means to be whole. The Hebrew comes from Aleph, meaning the beginning, who is God, the middle, who is the water of baptism, and the end, which is the cross. Together, it means the true cosmic whole. True faith means being in complete contact with reality.

Jess theses statement in LukeThere is no increasing faith. It is being in touch with the whole. In opposition to this is Psychosis, or an abnormal condition of the Psych, or the soul. It is one not in complete touch with everything. The healthy condition is the complete contact with reality, body, mind, and soul. If we are one with reality, reality listens to us, because we listen to it. We know how it naturally responds, and this is what we ask it to do, to be itself, to become itself.

When we separate from reality, the result is what Habakkuk warns us about, “I cry for help
but you do not listen!” When we listen, the trees listen to us. “I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not intervene.” When we do not listen, we do not know to intervene. We close our eyes, and we are deaf. Being in touch with reality means seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling all that is in it. It is very sensual. There is no room for violence when we are too busy taking our time to use all of our senses with it.

aleppo“Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.” The short answer is that when we do see, we do not act. There is violence in our world. We do not see the suffering of others. They become desperate, and when they become desperate, they act out, generally acting upon the wrong people.

St. Paul tells Timothy in our Second Reading for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, “stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” The Greeks give us an interesting word, “Choreography.” It is related to a similar English word, “Chorus.” They both come from a Greek idea, the Divine Dance, the dance of the Trinity, which the Trinity asks us to emulate. That divine dance is like a flame. Like a fire, the flames are sometimes one with the fire, and sometimes they rise above it, into separate flames. God calls us to be like that. When we see suffering, God calls us to rise above the mass of embers below and to act. Stir the flame of God’s gift, which burns within us.8919_1243228163516_2601477_n

In the anamnesis of the Eucharist, we remember Jesus’ death, and his resurrection. We remember what it was like to be with Christ as he hung on the cross when the Pharisees told him to come down from that cross. The implication of the Pharisee’s remarks is that Jesus chooses to be there, and he does. They do not know who he is, and therefore they do not know what they do. Jesus hangs on the cross, to them, as an ordinary person, and as an ordinary person, he chooses to be there. In the anamnesis of the Eucharist, we remember what it is like to be told that we chose our lot when we suffer, so they are not responsible. We remember, we abandon that excuse for inaction and like a flame that cannot help but to burn we do something.

When we are in touch with reality, all of reality, we strive to create a harmony with it. When we do that, the world listens. Many complain that people do not listen to the church, the Kyrie Oikos, the House of Christ.

Pro-lifeIn the Gospel, Jesus ends by telling us, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” We are part of reality, no matter how hard we try to hide that fact by hiding in gated communities, putting mud on our faces, and moving to the suburbs to separate ourselves from the poor, the outcast, the disenfranchised from society. Remember, those who are separated from society, from the poor, the outcast, the things we do not want to see, have removed their soul from it. A soul separated from reality is Psychotic, and that is not healthy.


The Rich Man and Lazarus: Lessons for Our Time

Jess theses statement in LukeAbraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’” Reading for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Reading for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house; I have five brothers… Reading for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We often do not see, or understanding what the rich man in this story is doing with his requests. Lazarus is short for Eliezer, “my God is help”. In the Old Testament, this is the name of both a servant of Abraham and one of the sons of Moses. The rich man puts his trust in those who are underneath him. Even in hell itself, the rich man expects the poor who were underneath him on earth to serve him in the afterlife.


The rich man in this story does not understand Jewish tradition. “The master of a Hebrew bondman must place him on an equality with himself in meat and drink, in lodging and in bed-clothes, and must act toward him in a brotherly manner; for Scripture always speaks of him as “thy brother.” Ḳiddushin. 20a of the Jewish Mishnah in the Jewish Talmud writes, “Whoever buys a Hebrew servant buys a master for himself.”

When it comes to income inequality, “Before accounting for taxes and transfers, the U.S. ranked 10th in income inequality; among the countries with more unequal income distributions were France, the U.K. and Ireland. But after taking taxes and transfers into account, the U.S. had the second-highest level of inequality, behind only Chile.”

Our employees are associates, but most top level executives have not a clue as to how their employees live their lives, while working for them, and on their time off. “Whoever buys a servant buys a master. He buys someone he is going to be responsible for. When an employer hires someone, he hires someone he is going to be responsible for. That means management by walking around. That means knowing the names, not just of your employees, but of their wives, and their children. Surely it means knowing something of their jobs.

Lazarus is God’s helper. He fulfills Torah in whatever limited ability he has in this life. He acquires Abraham’s bosom. The rich man neglects Torah in this life, and in the process, neglects it in the next. Some argue that it is OK to pollute the environment in this world. After all, the second coming is at hand. They forget Genesis where God commands Adam and Eve to guard and keep the garden. God never rescinds that command. If we cannot guard and keep this planet, why should God give us the next one?Elijah revives the son

Rabbi Jonathan would say: Whoever fulfills the Torah in poverty, will ultimately fulfill it in wealth; and whoever neglects the Torah in wealth, will ultimately neglect it in poverty.

Against your will you are formed, against your will you are born, against your will you live, against your will you die, and against your will you are destined to give a judgment and accounting before the king, king of all kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

We grandly think we are Christians, a word that means, “Like Christ.” We drive our SUVs, and live in grand houses in gated communities to make sure we do not see the many  Lazarus of this world. Those who fit this mold need to hear Jesus’ warning, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Well, we believe that Christ rose from the dead. Are we persuaded by him? Jesus tells us, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’

What do they say, “I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Oppression, out of the house of slavery… Remember that you too were once servants in the land of Egypt/Oppression, and the NAME, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. Deuteronomy 5:15 (the Ten Commandments.) when your son asks you, “What do these decrees and statutes and ordinances mean?” which the NAME, our God, has enjoined on you, you shall say to your son, “We were once servants of Pharaoh in Egypt/Oppression. The NAME brought us out of Egypt/Oppression with a strong hand. He wrought before our eyes signs and wonders, great and dire, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and his whole house. He brought us from there to bring us in and give us the land he had promised on oath to our ancestors. Deuteronomy 6, right after Jesus Great Commandment.

Simons mother in lawWe then read, “This is our Justice.” Our justice is remembering oppression in our lives. When we see others suffering, doing something about it.

“You might say in your heart, “It is my own power and the strength of my own hand that has got me this wealth.” Remember then the NAME, your God, for he is the one who gives you the power to get wealth, by fulfilling, as he has now done, the covenant he swore to your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 8.

The so-called Protestant work ethic and rugged individualism is idolatry of self. God is our helper, not ourselves. The power to get wealth is dependent upon the first rule of loving God first and neighbor second. It is remembering oppression, liturgically, in the Mass, in the liturgy of the Eucharist.

The NAME, your God, is the God of gods, the NAME of masters, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing. So you too should love the resident alien, for that is what you were in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10

There is no room here for building great walls to separate us from them, whoever “them,” is.

This all means being God’s helper, guarding and keeping his planet, in particular what is made in his image, each other. As Rabbi Hillel once said about Torah, “All the rest is commentary; now go study.”

Who is getting into heaven: the narrow gate, the locked door and the banquet

Jess theses statement in LukeLet us first begin this discussion with the Shema, “Hear Israel, God is Almighty, God is One, Love God with all of your hearts/לְבָבְךָ, all of your animate being, and with all of your measure.” The Hebrew word for heart is לְבָ.   לְבָ is a plural form.  ךָ is a singular case ending meaning “Your.” “Your,” is singular, and hearts is plural. Tradition states that this is because we each have multiple hearts, propensities, desires. Some of these are good, and some are not so good. God calls us to love him with all of these. This means turning negatives into positives. It also means seeing the good and the not so good in everyone we meet, seeing God’s image in everyone we meet, our friends, and our enemies. נַפְשְׁךָ or soul, is our animate being. I asked a rabbi what the difference between soul and blood was. He pointed out they are the same thing. Blood is the only organ that touches every other organ,  and at the same time. It touches every cell at the same time. It permeates all of who we are. מְאֹדֶךָ at its root means measure. If we measure ourselves with our strength, it means strength. If we measure ourselves with our wealth, it means wealth. If it means out patriotism, our community, it means all the resources of our community in the service of God.

This brings us to our second step. How do we love God? What do we give someone who literally already has everything? This person is God. We respect what is his, in particular what is made in his image, each other.

Pro-lifeTo this comes the question of who will be saved. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

“.שני כתובים המכחישים זה את זה, עד שיבוא הכתוב השלישי ויכריע ביניהם”

“If two passages contradict each other, this contradiction must be reconciled by comparison with a third passage”

The third passage is Matthew 22:37-39. “You shall love the NAME, your God, with all your hearts, with all your anima, and with all your measure. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The second is like it. The second is like the first. We show our love for God by the way we treat each other. I show my love for God by looking for his image in every person I see. I assume, sometimes in spite of the evidence, we have evil inclinations too, that everyone, including my worst enemies, the Hitlers, Stalins, Reagans, Bushes, Nixons, and others in the world are getting into heaven.

I love them. Hebrew has two key words, “Abba, which we all know means father. The second is Ha Bah, or to welcome, to welcome into our lives and our hearts. The third is A Ha Bah, and this means love. We welcome even the worst monsters of history into heaven.

St. Francis and the leperThe Shema, above, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, begins with the love of God and seeing God’s image in everyone. We begin with love of God first. Surely, “Love of God,” means being like any lover and wanting to tell everyone about our lover, our Father, and wanting everyone on the planet to know about him.

Love of neighbor means seeing God in everyone and wishing everyone to know the father and to be with him in heaven. Who do we exclude? Those who are not in our club? Those who not in our political party? Those who are not in our religious club? Once we exclude, we reduce love, and once we reduce love, we restrict ourselves from the banquet. That is what Jesus tries to tell us.

So, what of those who are not in our religious club? What of them? I assume they are getting into heaven because I love them, welcome them to my religious club, and into heaven. What if I am wrong? God alone gets to choose who gets into heaven and I am not God. Even if I can cite a rule, like Mark 16:16 and John 16:6, I still presume to take God’s role and engage of idolatry of self, when I exclude others.

The same rule applies to immigration. If I exclude others from the nice things of this nation, in the next kingdom, I restrict not them, but myself. If I assume all are getting in, I am probably wrong, but God sees my love, my desire to include all, and sees himself in that. “In the measure in which you judge you will be judged.” Matthew 7. He makes a deal with us in this passage, and I take him up on that deal. In the measure in which I judge, love of all, welcoming all, I hope I will be judged, and welcomed into heaven. That is what Jesus tells us today.

What does it mean to be prudent during this Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jess theses statement in LukeThe children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.  Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.

Those who think the Second Coming is very near argue it is OK not to take care of this planet. After all, it is going to be trashed soon anyway. What does it matter? It is like the scene on the movie, “Titanic.” Who cares if the heroes crash through the Titanic walls? The ship is sinking anyway.

Those who do not know the ship is sinking, who live only in this world, are more prudent in dealing with their own generation that the religious, the children of light. They do not know their ship is sinking, so try to take care of it. They still guard and keep the garden, if only because they realize it is in their long-term interest to do so.

CosmosThe great question before us today is, “If we cannot take care of this planet, why should God think we will take care of the next one?” Jesus argues Kal vahomer/Light and Heavy. “If we cannot take care of the lesser things, this planet, why should his father think we will care for the next one?”

We are God’s stewards on this planet. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?  If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, (God) who will give you what is yours?  No servant can serve two masters.  He will either hate (Grind teeth at) one and love (Welcome) the other, or be like glue to one and tread upon the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

How are we God’s stewards? Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and Sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”


Amos is not describing people who think they are bad men. They are the proper men of their age. They do what they think is right. They work on the bottom line of double entry accounting. Keep the overhead low. That means low wages, minimal regulation, and minimal government. St. Paul spoke for these people last week, in the second reading. “I was once a slanderer, a persecutor and arrogant. In his unbelief, he thinks he does the right thing.

It comes down to Deuteronomy 30 and Luke 7 “This Mitzvah I give you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life/Boker Chaim…”  “Jesus turned to the woman and told Simon/Peter, “Do you see this woman?”  Luke 7:44. Our leaders, our corporate executives, love to sit in their offices and calculate the bottom lines on their budgets. They love to figure those standard deviations to see if their charges are cheating in any way. Who is producing average, and who is in that second standard deviation, one way or the other? Jesus says, “Stop all of that. Go out among your charges and try leadership once in a while. If you do, you will not see the cheating. Your people will be like glue to you, seeing Persona Christi in you. They will see your choosing life, and they will follow your example.” Modern leaders are so busy looking for the lack of trust to enable trust.

Pro-lifeThe problem with our leaders is that they are great for planning, organizing, staffing, and controllership. They would not know leadership if it bet them on the nose. They do not see the woman. They see the bottom line. They do not see people; they see concepts. They are so hung up on the bottom line, concepts, they cannot see the flesh and blood people standing in front of them. Jesus saw that in Simon Peter, and he sees it in us today. Their people are not like glue to them; because they tread upon them. God envisions societies, which are glue to one another, welcoming one another, and looking to God/Love as their head. When will we learn to be that?

The Prodigal Son and the Baal Teshuvah


PovertyOur Gospel for this Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time does not say anybody in the Prodigal Son’s family is aware of how he spent his money. Our translation describes his life as one of dissipation, a life squandered. We have our fundamentalist understanding to describe the literal translation. It is an “Unsaved life,” a life of doing what unsaved people do. He squandered his money. The other reading is that his life was not safe. He went from the security of home to the unsecured life of the big city and in the process lost his money.

We should try to find the Hebrew and Aramaic to see which word or phrase Luke translates. If we assume he was bilingual, coming from the equivalent of the Yiddish quarter of Antioch, and translated to the best of his ability, the word or phrase he translated as “Unsaved,” was “Shallow Knee Samaria.” The rough translation of this is “Unguarded.” In support of this translation is that Shallow translates as, “Not,” and as, “Lax, at ease.” The prodigal son is at ease in his squandered life. More interesting is, “Knee Samaria,” which translates as guarding, as in, “Make a fence around Torah.” God makes a garden and commands Adam and Eve to guard it and to keep it. “Knee Samaria,” also translates as, “Sediment, lees.” As such, Jesus could have a pun on ,”Sediment/the pods on which the swine fed,” and this concept of guarding Torah, how the younger son lives his life.  The prodigal son lived an unguarded, unprotected life.

A Semitic reading of the text points out how the younger son leaves the protection of his Jewish homeland and goes to Gentile lands, a distant/non-Jewish land. The older son is  right in saying that the younger son did something wrong. He lived a Gentile lifestyle. The proof, our story later gives us, is that he lived with pigs, something Jews would never do, but Jesus never tells us how the elder son knows his brother lived with pigs.

According to one opinion in the Talmud, the repentant sinner is greater than one who has never committed any grievous sin. He is the Baal Teshuvah, the Master or Repentence. There are two kinds of penitents: the sinner who repents out of fear and the sinner who repents out of love for God. Once the former has repented his sins are considered as if he had committed them unintentionally. When a sinner repents out of love his deviations are counted as if they had been virtues. The deviant who returns knows the alternate way, and its consequences. The deviant who returns understands the temptations and can therefore have compassion on others making the same mistake. The cradle Catholic/Protestant Christian/Jew/Muslim, does not. The deviant who returns has seen God’s love in a way the cradle religious has not. Therefore, the Baal Teshuvah is greater than the cradle religious.

Population fifths 2

“The elder son became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He replied to his father, ‘When your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.”

Our passage only has the elder son mention prostitutes. To conjecture how he might know this, we make the same mistakes the Pharisees and grammarians do. In our Catholic Catechism we read, “2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.He becomes guilty: – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; – of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses others faults and failings to persons who did not know them.”

This is in reference to the Eighth Commandment again. Jesus intentionally uses a vague word to describe the sin of the younger son. The elder son assumes the younger hung around with prostitutes. When we assume the poor are poor because of something they did, without investigating and finding “Sufficient foundation,” this violates the Eighth Commandment.

How did these people get in poverty? Were these all prodigal sons who went wild on their own, having nobody to blame but themselves? It does not matter. Is the younger son sincere in his repentance? The key line is, “Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.” Is his motivation, sincere repentance, or desire for food? Elizabeth Kuebler Ross gives this answer.  Grief has five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Repentance is the acceptance stage. The younger son is getting ready to bargain, stage three. He is not at acceptance.

His father only cares about his return. For his response, read Isaiah, 65:24 “Before they call, I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Lamentations 5:21 is in the Amidah, the Jewish standing prayer Jesus complains about when he complains about the long rabbinic prayers. “Bring us back to you, the Name that we may return.” Repentance is a two-step process. The son comes home bargaining for food. The father responds in love. This brings love, and with this, repentance, after the party the elder son complains about.

Jesus criesThe address of this passage is to the elder sons, the Pharisees and the grammarians alive today, those who believe in the protestant work ethic. They are guilty of the idolatry of self. They worked hard all these years. They served God and the system and not once did they disobey orders. If we think we have what we have because we earned it, Jesus speaks to us.

Look where the younger son is at the start of the story. Look where the elder son is at the end of the story. Each is outside of the house. The party is in the house. When we exclude others, we are the outsiders, not they.

In Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of Lent we read how Jesus confronted the Separated Ones/Pharisees on the subject of the tower, which fell on those in Siloam and the blood Pilate mingled with his sacrifices. In that passage, Jesus tells us, “Those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them. Do you think they were guiltier than everyone else was who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” Quit blaming those who suffer for their problems, or you will be next.

Wh0 is Israel? Israel, as Genesis 32:29 tells us, “Then the man said, “You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” Israel is not the older son, those who have never really struggled with life and with God. Israel is those who have suffered. Who is Jewish?  Genesis 29:35 “Once more she conceived and bore a son, and she said, “This time I will give thanks to the NAME,” therefore she named him Judah.” Judah means thanks. Those who are Jewish give thanks to God. They put God first, before all things, and credit God, not themselves for all they have. Jewish is not so much an ethnic group, as a way of thinking.

“One is not a Jew outwardly. True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. One is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter; his praise is not from human beings but from God.” Romans 2:28-29

AnnaLuke mentions 18 in chapter 13 twice. Why 18? Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, use letters for numbers. “18” in Hebrew is Chi, life. The father tells his older son, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours… Your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” Life is the issue here. Let us stop making excuses for allowing suffering in our world. Let us love God with all our hearts, all our animate being, and with all of our measure. Let us use all the tools at our disposal to end poverty in our nation and in our world.

Catholic Action/never repealed, of Salt and Leadership

Salt flats from federal governmentJesus tells us, “What king/Melech marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?” We do discuss politics on occasion.

“Salt/מלח/ is good, but if salt itself loses its taste, with what can its flavor be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” The Hebrew word for a messenger or an angel is מַלְך. מַלְך translates as Melek, and מלח translates as Melech/ hard “CH.” Melek and Melech sound the same in Hebrew. “The message is beautiful, but if the message looses its taste, how can that taste be restored.”

The message is not external to us, a sound. The message is internal to us. It has a taste. The Kalos is alas. If the kalos becomes a moron, (the Greek word really is moran) how can it be arithmetic.” The Greek word is arithmetic. It means growth. How can we preach the message Melek, if the message loses its taste in us? Our task as Christians is to bring the message to the world/Cosmos. Cosmetic also comes from the Greek, and it is the technique of bring order, the cosmos, to the cosmos. That is the Christian message.

This past week I had the task of discussing Catholicism to a non-Catholic. He had recently talked with a church going Catholic, an advanced member of a Catholic men’s fraternal organization. That man had discussed politics with this non-Catholic. That church member had described her opponent as “Crooked…” and “Dishonest…” John Kennedy had once said, “My brother Bob doesn’t want to be in government – he promised Dad he’d go straight.” He also said, “Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process.” Being dishonest seems to be part of the job. If politicians were honest about when the troops would land on D Day, the landings would not have gone so well. Politics is a game of chess. The goal is to keep the other side guessing your intentions. By engaging in name calling, this Catholic took his salt, his message, and threw it on the ground and ground it into the dirt. He chose to be juvenile and mean spirited. The non-Catholic saw this and recognized it for what it was. We must always be salt, examples for the world. Even if the charge of dishonesty is true, it is, When they go low, we go high.”

When we discuss politics, we need to discuss Kavanah//intention. We need to discuss if we promote life, bring the message/Melech salt to the world. Deuteronomy 30 tells us that the message is not over there, wherever that is. It is in our hearts. We have only to look into our hearts to find it. It is Boker Chaim, choosing life in every moment of our lives. It is looking at the poor and asking, “What can I do to promote life for this person?” It is looking at the immigrants on our shores and asking, “What can I do to promote life, life in all of its potentiality, for this person. Do my economic and political affinities promote life, at every stage of life?

ThanksgivingA Pope of blessed memory once wrote, “Truly, all of us in the Church are called to form that unique Body, whose Head is Christ; “closely joined,” as the Apostle Paul teaches, “and knit together through every joint of the system according to the functioning in due measure of each single part.” [1] The Body increases and gradually perfects itself in the bond of charity. Now, if in this work of “building up the body of Christ”[2] it is Our primary duty to teach, to point out the correct way to follow, to propose the means to be used, to admonish and paternally exhort. It is also the duty of Our beloved children, dispersed throughout the world, to heed Our words…”
He also wrote, “We wish to recall those numerous works of zeal for the good of the Church, society, and individuals under the general name of “Catholic Action,” which by the grace of God flourish throughout the world… The field of Catholic Action is extremely vast. In itself it does not exclude anything, in any manner, direct or indirect, which pertains to the divine mission of the Church.

The force of the evangelical counsels is so powerful that it strengthens and firmly establishes the precepts of the natural law. The fruitfulness of the doctrine and morality taught by Jesus Christ is so limitless that providentially it sustains and promotes the material welfare of the individual, the family, and society… They seek to restore Jesus Christ to the family, the school and society by re-establishing the principle that human authority represents the authority of God. They take to heart the interests of the people, especially those of the working and agricultural classes, not only by inculcating in the hearts of everybody a true religious spirit (the only true fount of consolation among the troubles of this life) but also by endeavoring to dry their tears, to alleviate their sufferings, and to improve their economic condition by wise measures. They strive, in a word, to make public laws conformable to justice and amend or suppress those which are not so. Finally, they defend and support in a true Catholic spirit the rights of God in all things…

This concession places a duty on all Catholics to prepare themselves prudently and seriously for political life in case they may be called to it. It is of the utmost importance that the same activity be extended to a suitable preparation and organization for political life. This was already recommended by the Circular of December 3, 1904, issued by the general Presidency of Economic Works in Italy. At the same time the other principles which regulate the conscience of every true Catholic must be inculcated and put into practice. Above all else he must remember to be and to act in every circumstance as a true Catholic, accepting and fulfilling public offices with the firm and constant resolution of promoting by every means the social and economic welfare of the country and particularly of the people, according to the maxims of a truly Christian civilization, and at the same time defending the supreme interests of the Church, which are those of religion and justice.

Our USCCB website tells us that there are 250 Catholic Colleges and Universities in our land graduating 70,000 students each year. Our great excuse for our current situation is that there is nobody to vote for. Maybe we need a synod to discuss why we have not followed the words of our Pope of Blessed memory in this document, IL FERMO PROPOSITO, and developed leaders we can vote for. One side insists the poor are like caviar, ready to be sliced and diced before we are born. The other insists the poor are like fish, “Wait until they are sufficient size, then they are fair game.” The theory is that we must choose the lessor of two evils. To choose the lesser of two evils is still to choose evil. Jerry Garcia of the Dead. The Catholic choice is to renounce that false choice. It is to choose life. Choosing life and choosing the lessor of two evils are not the same thing. Why have we not developed ourselves to run for office and promote the General Welfare, which has been Catholic Social tradition since at least the fourth century? Have we not had enough time? The Pope wrote these words in 1905 and our Catholic Colleges and Universities have been around at least since that time.

The Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time and the Statue of Liberty.

Words of InstitutionYou approach Mount/Are, Zion/Pile of Rocks, and the city/Eire of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem/City of Peace. You approach the myriad of messengers in panegyric, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, with God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made Shalom, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant/Brit, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

We all remember writing comparison and contrast papers in English class. The passage St. Paul writes is one of those comparison and contrast papers. St. Paul first mentions the Jewish nation as it traveled to Mount Zion to receive the Ten Commandments.

Statue of liberty lighning strikeYou have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them, they could not bear to hear the command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” This refers to the Hebrews/Hebrew for homeless, as they approached Mount Zion. That mountain had the fire and the darkness caused by the eruption of that volcano. The storm and trumpet blast refers to the horns of the leadership as they marched toward that mountain. The people were afraid to approach Mt. Zion, as would anyone as they approached an active volcano.

He then speaks of God’s new nation as it travels to the City of Peace, Jerusalem to meet with the myriad of messengers/angels, apostles of the God of Life. St. Paul writes assuming the readers knows of the church leadership, referring to them as angels/messengers.

What God requires in this passage starts with verse 14. “Strive for peace/shalom with everyone, and for that sense of being special/married to God, without which no one will see Kyrie. See to it that no one be deprived of the kindness of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become polluted.” It is the sense of bitterness that causes the Black Lives Matter Movement. We need to hear, not, “Black Lives Matter,” but “Our Lives Matter.” We need to feel that hurt as coming from some of us, and then address that bitterness, that hurt, with humility.

Arlington in springSt. Paul refers to God in this passage as “אֱלהִים חַיִּים, the God of Life. This passage calls us to be representatives of the God of Life, the one who brings life.  There is no room for bitterness or dissent here. There is only room for bringing community and the fullness of life to all people. Our God is the God of Life, Elohim Chaim. He calls us to bring life/himself, to all people.

Do not reject the one who speaks: our Pope, Bishops, and Clergy. Clergy comes from kleros “a lot, allotment; piece of land; heritage, inheritance. Our clergy reminds us of our heritage, as Catholics, and as Americans.  Give us your tired, your poor, those yearning to breathe free.”

If they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much more in our case if we turn away from the one who warns from heaven.  St. Paul uses Jewish rhetoric here, Kal Vahomer, Light and heavy.  We will not escape God’s wrath when God’s representatives preach it. How much more, will we not escape the warnings from heaven?

We who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer liturgy/public service pleasing to God in a sense of shame, modesty and caution or discretion.

Statue of liberty lighning strikeTherefore, St. Paul teaches us to strive for Shalom/tranquility/peace with all men. He calls us not to shake things up. Our Gospel for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time speaks of the same issue. We are to approach, do liturgy to God with a sense of shame, modesty and caution or discretion. We are to approach God in the Eucharist knowing we are dust and ashes. Our passage tells us, ““When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor.  A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.

We create an unshakable kingdom when we do this. Everyone trusts everyone. Nobody rushes for the first table if the host must ask people to sit at the first table. This brings tranquility. Jesus then goes on, ““When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the Tzaddicim/charitable/just.”

Jess theses statement in LukeNot like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows worldwide welcome, her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is what God requires of us, approaching his home, the host, with humility and a sense of the sacred/being married to God. From this sense of humility, we reach out into the world to bring it healing, creating a sense of community that causes shalom/peace, a sense of safety. We need to remember that our God is a God of Life. Elohim Chaim. He calls us to bring life to all we see. Are we up to the task?

Defining the Narrow Gate, and Doers of Evil.

Cattle chuteNo Greek and Hebrew knowledge in the world will help us in translating the key word in Gospel reading for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. Those who have been to the farm will understand what the key word means. The correct translation for the word translated as gate is not gate, but chute. Enter through the narrow chute. Chutes are not simple gates for moving cattle from one field to another. Ranchers use chutes to move cattle from the pen where they want to be to another pen where they do not want to be, generally for good reason. The place the cattle chutes leads to is generally for turning the young bulls into steers, the strongest of the lot into filet minion.

“Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.  Someone asked, “Kyrie, will only a few people be saved?” He answered, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

Cattle chute 2When we are in a crowd, we think we see the shortcut leading into the field. What we really see is the cattle chute. We work violence, pushing and shoving our way to what we perceive to be the way to the field. Those strive to enter through the chute are striving to become filet minion. Luke 16:16 tells us the process, “The Torah/teaching and the Navy lasted until John;  but from then on the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone who enters does so with violence. Those striving to enter the narrow chute are the martyrs.

Jesus tells us that the After People will be the Russia, and the Russia will be the After People.” In Hebrew, “Russia,” means head. Rosh Hashanah means the head of the year. Those who think themselves first, will be last. Those who think they are the after people will be first, in the eyes of God.

100_3144Jesus tells us, “I say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you פּעֲלֵי הָאָוֶן/Pall Avon.’ There will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Jesus uses a Hebrew buzz phrase, doers of the crooked. The Greek Septuagint sometimes uses the Greek phrase,” οἱ ἐργάται τῆς ἀδικίας,” to translate the Hebrew, “Workers of Hamas.” Hamas is a Palestinian terrorist group, famed for violence. Hamas means violence. Jesus refers to those who would enter Utopia through violence.

We can take violence two ways. The first is an active tense. These are the people pushing and shoving to get into the chute, thinking it takes them to verdant pasture. They are strong enough to draw attention of the rancher, who then runs them through the cattle chute.

After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, they will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Kyrie, open the door for us.’ Jesus tells those of us who would use violence, or our own skills to get where we want to go, “I do not know where you are from.” Those using their own skills to enter heaven, will say, “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Jesus tells those of us saying ‘We attended Mass, eating and drinking with you, and being all kinds of Evangelical. Jesus tells this group, ‘I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you פּעֲלֵי הָאָוֶן/those who would use force, or their own abilities to enter heaven or get their way in the world.”

Luke has Jesus speak of violence in the passive tense, those receiving the violence. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” It takes a very strong man to be able to enter the cattle chute, knowing where it leads. This is what Jesus calls us to.

People will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. These are the people who are neither the Russia, nor the After People. These people view themselves as equals. God and Jesus want joy-filled people willing to sacrifice themselves for the General Welfare, or Well, Fare, as in Seafarer, one who travels by sea. Welfare is those who travel well, helping all aboard the ship to make it to port. We are a parish, Greek for traveler. We strive for the common journey of all humankind to be well, healthy for all.