Curtis E. John saw some well-dressed men whom he recognized as religious people and politicians. They came to watch the foolishness of what was going on below them as they sat on the ridge tops.
Curtis informed them with a sneer on his lips, “Look at that litter of rattle snakes crawling upon their bellies down the road. You are the reason they call us little snakes. Who told you judgment time comes upon your, bellies.”
Curtis grumbled, “You well dressed proper people call yourselves cute puppies that everybody could not help but love, the chosen people, separated from the common masses of mongrel dogs. If you are cute puppies, what does that make your mother?”
Curtis quipped, “You say that you are charitable people, the most charitable people on earth. You are wise in your own eyes, but your thoughts crawl in the gutter of self-interest and greed all of your lives.”
“Well did Isaiah speak of you in Isaiah 56:11: ‘The dogs have the soul of goats; they do not know when they have enough; these are shepherds that cannot understand; they all turn to their own way, each one to his gain, one and all.’ You rich people do not know when you have had enough. You claim to be shepherds, but you each travel your own way in search of your greed. You leave the people as scrub cattle, trying to survive their own way.
The Word Net Dictionary definition of God is “Any supernatural worshiped as controlling some part of the world or aspect of life.” Webster’s 1913 Dictionary tells us that “God” means the one who we call upon, invoke, or implore. A Jewish linguist named Jastrow tells us it comes from the same root as the word meaning, “This,” or “That.” He is the one we point to when we talk about our rescue, from whatever we are rescued from.
Jewish tradition speaks of Thirteen Attributes of God in Exodus 34: 5-7 “The Personal Name descended in a cloud shouting:
(1) Personal Name,
(2) Personal Name,
(3) (Mighty Judge, source of all energy/ life giving force),
(4) Racham (Mercy from the Hebrew word for womb, God cares for us and returns us to life)
(5) Chen, (related to the word for cloud, Ynan, God brings the refreshing rain enabling us to live while we credit ourselves)
(6) Erik apayim (long suffering he is like my Dad, very patient, giving us time to learn and grow, as we make our mistakes.
(7) Rav Chesid (great in kindness, complete devotion, one to another)
(8) Abundant truth, (Faith and Truth come from the same Hebrew word. In finding faith, we find ourselves in the web of life, the Cosmos.)
(9) Nazareth Chesid to Elephim, (The love God gives us is meant to be spread to all who live on this little planet we call home.)
(10) Nosey Avan, (Lifting up crookedness,
(11) Rebellion, and
(12) And simple deviance,
(13) And cleanses.”
An important word in understanding what we mean by “God” is the Greek word for a house, “Econos” from which we get our word “Economy.” The head of the house, the economy is the husband. The Husband is the great provider. Hosea has something to say about this in chapter 2: 18-22:
It will be at that day, The Personal Name says, that you will call Me Ishi, and will call Me no more Baali. I will take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth. You will no more mention them by name. I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to Me in charity /justice, in correct judicial precedent, in kindness, and in mercy/womb. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness; and you will know the Personal Name.
It is important to notice the pun in this passage. “You will call me “Ishi,” “My Man” and no longer “My Baali” “My Husband.” Wikipedia refers to Baal and Asherah as the gods of fertility.
They were the gods that provided the rain, the sunshine and the soil that provided for the food for each coming year. They were the great provider. Hosea and Jeremiah tell us that one of the meanings of “god” little g is that he is the one we attribute to being the great provider of our house, our economy. When we say, “I believe in One God,” we are saying the One True God is the great provider and decider of what is in our economic interest, and nothing else.
This rules out any belief in anything resembling a market force, any collective Id that we should listen to instead of the One True God who dictates mercy and compassion upon the less fortunate, as individuals and as a community. Some argue that this speaking of the market this way is just a way of speaking. Science shows that we become to believe what we hear. This way of speaking leads to idolatry. When we serve other gods, The One True God leaves us to our own devices and we destroy ourselves. This is why our nation has gone into stagnation over the past thirty years.
How much better is Credo, I believe in The One True God, Father, Provider?
As Curtis E. John started his service, all eyes and ears were on him. “Give your hearts and thoughts a revolution. The one who presides over the great flow of things is knocking at the very door of your lives. Pay attention to the voice of the Whittling Breath as she spoke through our elders.”
Curtis also told us, “Let her whittle on the crassness of your minds and the hardness of your hearts. Remember the story of Chief Sotah, how his nephew came to him and asked for justice.”
The image of the story unfolded before us as Curtis related the story.
The nephew was rich as Lakota go. He had thousands of acres of land, much cattle, and large gardens of vegetables, corn, and wheat. His neighbor was a poor man who owned far less than an acre of land.
One year the poor man dared to over till his garden and planted on almost an eighth of an acre of the rich man’s land. This rich man, the rich nephew of the chief ran and complained to his Uncle Sotah.
Chief Sotah replied, “I am your Uncle and therefore, as a chief I am disqualified from deciding your case. In addition, our tradition is that all stand before the deciding chief as equals. Look, you are here. Where is he? Therefore, as a chief, I cannot decide your case. Happily, I am your uncle. As your uncle, I am glad to decide the case.”
The chief gave his decision, “The second giving of Torah, 16:20 tells us, ‘Tzadic, Tzadic will be your way so that live, and inherit the land which the Personal name your Mighty Judge gives you.”
From the chief commented, “If you were a Tzadic, a just man, you would see your neighbor was a man in need. You would lend him your finest supervisor to teach him to till his crops, and your finest accountant to show him how to keep his books. “You need to give him twenty-five of your finest acres, which are surplus to you. That way he will afford to feed and take care of himself. So ordered, Bailiff, make it happen.”
Curtis related, “This is bringing harmony back to the tribe and this is justice. Listen, ‘A voice calls out from the wilderness. Take your hands and push every obstacle out of the way. Move aside the Himalaya bushes and the weeds.”
Curtis commanded, “Make a path for our Mighty Savior. The Name is coming, and indeed, he is at the very door of your lives. Look at the parts of your lives where nobody sees or hears. Look at your thoughts and at your feelings. Get them ready, for The Name is coming into these inner most places.”
Curtis asked, “Has life turned your every life force into a valley with grief and hunger? God will fill it. The Mighty Judge will humble everyone who makes himself into a mountain and hill of pride. Remember, Russia, the attitude, not the nation, comes from our word, ‘Rosh’ meaning head, or those who think themselves first.”
Curtis also related, “The Mighty Judge will make straight the people crooked with bad backs and low spirits will, and he will make smooth the roads made rough with hardship. All flesh will see the salvation of our Mighty Savior.”
People from Sacramento, and all of the surrounding counties came out to see Curtis E. John. When they came, he took them out into the lake, and submerged them as a way to wash away their errors.
He did this for three reasons. First, errors make a person spiritually dirty. More important, people err when they follow their eyes. The inner eye is composed of water and needs to be turned. Therefore, the cleaning is with water. The third reason for washing with water is that men are hot with misguided desires. Nothing cools down like cool, flowing water.
As Christians, we believe God is One, yet he is three, the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit. Does this mean any of these definitions is wrong? No! It means we have transcended language. Are we wrong to transcend language? No! We are a Christian Community. As Christian Community, we must talk about the transcendent to be a community and to pass on our heritage to the next generation. Wittgenstein says it well, we must “climb out through them, on them, over them. We must so to speak throw away the ladder, after we have climbed up on it. We must surmount these propositions; then we see the world rightly. Whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent.”
Some argue, we can say this of God, but it also applies to other people. Wittgenstein is a secular writer, not Christian. The same really applies to other people and things. The person standing in front of us is a hypostasis who believes. He is far more, than he presents to us, and to himself. The rock standing in front of us is far more than it seems. We can live in this world oblivious to these facts; we will survive. We can be aware, sensitive to the fact that everything is more than it appears to be. This can only slow us down, and make us more sensitive, appreciative of God and his planet. This is what God calls us to be.
Our Catechism Sections 42-43 state: God transcends all creatures. We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect, if we are not to confuse our image of God “The inexpressible, the incomprehensible, the invisible, ungraspable with our human representations. Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God. In speaking about God, our language is using human modes of expression; it really does attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite simplicity.
We must recall that “between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude”; “We cannot grasp what God is; only what he is not, and how other beings stand in relation to him.”
The correct picture of God is easy enough for most to find. Psalms 131 begins our quest: “A Song of Ascents; of the Beloved. Personal Name, my heart is not high, nor upraised mine eyes; neither do I exercise myself in things too great or in things too wonderful for me. I have stilled and quieted my anima; like a weaned child with his mother; my anima is with me like a weaned child. Israel, hope in the Personal Name from this time forth and forever.”
We do not believe, “to the right,” or “left,” “in front of, “behind,” or “around.” We believe “in.” John 14:10-28 says: “Believe you not that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” In John 14, Jesus, tells us that when we Believe in God, we do more than believe of God. God joins in us and we in him. We become one and dance in the greater light, the Body of Christ. We believe in God, becoming one with him, living and acting by him through him and in him.
A secular mystic and philosopher named Ludwig Wittgenstein once began his Doctoral Thesis, the Tractatus, “The world is all; that is the case.” He ends his work with the words, “My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it. He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
The essence of Wittgenstein’s work is this; If God is transcendent, he transcends language. If he transcends language, he transcends all that we can say about him. When talk about God, we come into contradictions. The Jewish community says God is One, yet he is Thirteen. This comes from Exodus 34:6-7. The Muslim community says God is One, yet he is Ninety-nine. As Christians, we believe God is One, yet he is three, the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit.
Does this mean any of these definitions is wrong? No! It means we have transcended language. Are we wrong to transcend language? No! We are a Christian Community and as Christian Community, we must talk about the transcendent to be a community and to pass on our heritage to the next generation. Still, as we transgress the laws of language, we need to be mindful of the fact that we are doing so.
Wittgenstein tells the story of sitting in a car at sunset with his girlfriend and looking at that sunset. His girlfriend proceeded to tell him how the various kinds of dirt in the air caused the various colors in the sky. Wittgenstein replied, “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.” Experiencing God is like that. Experience with the heart, and not with the mind.
True religion means passing on our heritage, which includes our understanding of the transcendent God. More important, true religion is taking time to experience that transcendent God who is far greater than our language. We experience him, not in our minds but in our hearts, and in the way we experience his presence in our everyday lives.
George Wolfgang Schrub ruled in Carson City Nevada. A good Catholic named Terry Branstad, was the governor of Iowa and Mike Hayden ruled in Kansas. The Speakers of the Nevada Assembly at the time were Harry Pizer and Donald Thompson. The word of The Mighty Savior came to Curtis E. John in the area around the Washoe River.
Curtis was the son of Remy Niece and he went throughout the whole region of Sacramento County, proclaiming a great washing of Teshuvah/Repentance for the removal of their moral errors.
On one occasion, Curtis E. John saw a string quartet and a brass band playing together under a gazebo.
Curtis reported, “Justice is like that. All the pieces are of different quality. They play instruments of differing qualities of timber and pitch. When they all play the same song, when they listen to each other, when they look to the great conductor, they create harmony and it is the most beautiful thing to hear on the planet.”
Curtis told us, “It says in the book of Great Study, the Midrash of Genesis, where it quotes Psalm 36:7, ‘To the Liberal Man who accepts the Torah revealed on the mountains of the Mighty One you show liberality. This liberality reaches unto the mountains of the Mighty One…”
The Midrash continued, “This continues with Ezekiel 36:14, ‘I will feed them in good pasture, and the high mountains of the Upright of God will be their fold.’ If God calls us to be Christian, Christ like, God like, he calls us to feed the flock of God in good pasture, and he calls us to bring the flock of the Upright of God upon the high mountains of the upright of God. As leaders of God’s flock, that is where he wants us to bring them so that he can find them.”
The Midrash also related, “Look what it says in the Book of Great Study for Leviticus, ‘The Mountains produce herbs and the liberal man possesses beautiful deeds. Your liberality is like the mighty mountains. As the mountains are suitable for sowing and yield fruit, so the charitable men yield fruit and do beautiful deeds to themselves, and to others.”
It was a bright and beautiful fall day as Curtis E. John and Lee Stone hiked to a usually isolated part of the Folsom Lake. Here they found that a large crowd of people gathered. The people came expecting some kind of communal baptism and religious service in the fundamentalist religious style.
Curtis E John began his service:
Learn this, you who are the wise ones in your own eyes. The banks of the American River are not some place seven thousand miles away. They are wherever you are willing to look and listen. The son is in the flesh when you take time to see and hear what you read in the Gospels.
The Spirit does not whittle with the broad strong strokes of violence. She whittles with the gentle, sharp strokes of a far smaller knife. She whittles, not with the goal of forcing you to follow her will, but with the goal that you will want to enter her house.”
Each year Salvador’s parents went to Sacramento for the celebration of Easter. When Salvador was twelve years old, they went to celebrate Easter Mass in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament according their festival custom.
The Monday after Easter ended and they were returning home. Salvador remained behind in the capital, but his parents were not aware of this. They thought he went aboard another bus to Sacramento. They traveled a full day north and looked for him among their relatives and friends. They asked strangers on the bus about their son.
This is how it is. We should learn about The Mighty Savior from our relatives and friends in our faith communities. We should not be afraid to learn from those we do not know. They may not be experts about our Catholic and Christian faiths, but they are experts on the pain and feelings of other people. They are also experts on the workings of the Mighty Savior’s world. They have much to teach us.
When Salvador’s parents did not find him, they returned to the capital, looked for him there.
After three days, it was Wednesday; they decided to attend the Wednesday mass. Bee and Joseph found Salvador in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
Salvador sat in the pews at the front of the church, debating with a large group of men, some dressed in the Jesuit black, and some in the Franciscan brown. Two men stood at the center of the room. They were both tall and robust though advanced in years.
One was in the Jesuit black. On his lapel was the name badge proclaiming, “I am Father PraeNomen Meus.”At his side was an I-pod.
This connected him to the internet and to the Excel and Access software; he viewed as so very important. The other man was in the Franciscan brown. On his lapel also sat his name, Father Laud. When these men asked Salvador questions, the understanding of his answers astounded them.
When his parents found him, they were upset. His mother told him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you.”
Salvador brashly said, “Why were you looking for me? Don’t you know that I must be in my Pop’s house?”
This upset his parents greatly.
When they returned home to Sacramento, he went with them, and assumed stood under the care of his parents. His mother kept all these things in her heart while Salvador advanced in mental skill, physical skill, and age. The Mighty One watched as his kindness increased.
At this time, in the city of Chicago, at Mt. Zion Hospital another child exited the womb of his mother. The mother, Mourning Dove, traced her ancestry from the Lakota, though her family and the family of her husband have lived in the Irish district of Chicago for over a hundred and fifty years. Mourning Dove named her child, Whit Gottconfer.
In his early life, Whit Gottconfer was a normal child. There was a major building project down the road when Whit Gottconfer was four. A major influx of Lakota moved into town and the city of Chicago was again the home of new refugees and transplants from elsewhere in the world. As is usually the case, the more established families in town refused to welcome these new transplants.
The first move of Lakota to Chicago was when Chicago was just a small town. Lewis and Clark had just gone through some 30 years before and Chicago was a new town in the west. Thinking the Crooked Knives were an OK people, the Lakota decided to join them in their new city. Because the Lakota lived in the city when the surrounding area became a state, this influx became U.S. citizens when Illinois became a state.
Later, in 1855 another group of Lakota moved from the area of what is now Omaha to Canada. These later moved back to the United States and settled in Chicago, in the neighborhood of a child named Whit Gottconfer.Because this second group moved from Canada in the 1960’s, they are not U.S. citizens.
A hundred moons came and went. With them eight planting seasons, also came and went in the Irish section of the great city of Chicago. There is a young man of eight years old. He dressed in a shirt of the Irish plaid. His slacks are gray and he wore dress shoes. In his hand was his homework for the evening, the Baltimore Catechism I.
He told a friend, “I will be studying hard tonight. Mom is mad because I missed that question today.”
Whit Gottconfer relived the question in his mind. A nun in habit stood with a ruler in front of him and asked, “What is the answer to question 50?”
Whit Gottconfer replied, “The Blessed Virgin Mary, through the merit of her Divine Son, was preserved free from the guilt of original sin.”
His sister Joann laughed, “Yep, you forgot, “And this privilege is called her Immaculate Conception. You are going to get it on the knuckles tonight.”
Whit Gottconfer also had his other studies, which he carried in his book-bag. There was Phonics, American Heritage, Arithmetic, Spelling and Grammar, Christian Art and Music. Whit Gottconfer played the piano. This way he learned all there was to know about music theory.
Some six-spring seasons came and went, and Whit Gottconfer was twelve. His parents filled his room with an adult bed made from oak, with mahogany desk and dresser. On his bookcase sat such works as: Song at the Scaffold, Ballad of the White Horse, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, The Scarlet Letter, Notes for The Scarlet Letter, and The Screw tape Letters.
He sat at the kitchen table of his Victorian Home pondering the writings of Aristotle, the Ethics, and Politics.
In the living room, there was an argument between his older sister Joann and Anthony, and their very ethnic, conservative father, “What do you mean you are moving in with your friend Debbie? You are not married yet and no daughter of mine is going to disgrace the family by doing such a thing.”
Joann argued back, “Dad, you live in the past.”
She opened the door, stomped out, and slammed the door as she left.
Anthony yelled at his wife Sandy, “We have to do something to protect our boy, or he will go the wrong route too.”
Sandy agreed, “You are most certainly right Tony. They gave up on good teaching with Vatican II and now teach all that crazy stuff. I know the Bishop over in Sacramento. He runs an academy that tries to teach things the right way. His name is Bishop Allen Kerry-Air and his academy, is the one he took over from his father, Dr. Liston, ‘New Beginnings.”
Sharon, Whit’s oldest sister added, “When I get older, I want to send any children I have there too.”
The day Whit Gottconfer turned fourteen, he was on a bus to Sacramento. This is how Whit Gottconfer began his life.
 This refers to Rabbi Shammai who was almost certainly in the temple that day. He headed a rabbinic school much like the Jesuits, very academic. Rabbi Shammai was an engineer and thought like one.
 This refers to Rabbi Hillel, the Jewish St. Francis. It might be better to refer to St. Francis as the Italian Hillel as Hillel came first. These two men and Rabbi Gamaliel are three of the biggest thinkers in Rabbinic Judaism to this day. Whenever rabbis find a conflict of opinion between these three and any other rabbinic thinkers through the ages, the opinion of these three taanim, trumps all others.
 The comparable events for the time of St. Paul are a friendly move of Jews in about the year 177 B.C.E and a forced migration of Jews in 4 C.E. This is the same town where the last great battle of Galilee fought in 68 A.D. was fought, in Gush Chalah, now part of the Golan Heights.
I believe requires the preposition, “In.” We believe in someone because of what we see around us.
At the Easter Vigil, at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, in Reno Nevada, we began with the candle light procession. As the Bishop processed into the Cathedral he walked into the darkened room about a dozen steps, stopped and said, “Christ is our light.” Parishioners in the pews took their smaller candles and lit them from the one large candle being processed in. When the Bishop reached the altar, the room was well lit both from the one large candle and the hundreds of smaller ones.
This is a beautiful expression of what St. John is trying to tell us in John 14. In our darkness, we light our small candle from the light which is Christ. As a result, the light from the hundreds of small wicks all lead into the one Great light which is Christ. This is believing in. We lead ourselves into the one Great Light which is the Father. We believe in One God, the Trinity, with Jesus as the second person of that Trinity. In John 14, Jesus tells us, he is the first of the wicks to that greater flame which is The Father. He is part of the grander three lights, Father, Son and Spirit, part of the flame which dances around the grander flame which is The Father. If we believe in Jesus, our flames dance around the grander wick of Father Son and Holy Spirit, forming one grander light which enlightens the whole world.
Rufinus, an ancient scholar wrote: “We Believe, is placed in the forefront, as the Apostle Paul, writing to the Hebrews, says, He that comes to God must first of all believe that He is, and that He rewards those who believe in Him.
The Prophet also says, Unless you believe, you shall not understand. That the way to understand, therefore, may be open to you, you do rightly first of all, in professing that you believe; for no one embarks upon the sea, and trusts himself to the deep and liquid element, unless he first believes it possible that he will have a safe voyage. Neither does the husbandman commit his seed to the furrows and scatter his grain on the earth, but in the belief that the showers will come, together with the sun’s warmth, through whose fostering influence, aided by favoring winds, the earth will produce and multiply and ripen its fruits.”
First we believe; we form the central idea through which all else is interpreted. It is only after forming this image through belief, that God is in control, that we are able to navigate the Sea of Life. It is only after forming this image of God being in control, that farmers are able to plant the seed which brings nourishment to the world. We do not believe, “above,” “below,” “to the right,” or “left,” “in front of, “behind,” or “around.” We believe “in.”
Jesus began to show his Talmudim that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the presbyters, the chief Cohen, and the grammarians, die and rise on the third day.
Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “May it go well for you, Kyrie! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
Jesus turned and informed Peter, “Get behind me, you Great Accuser! You are an obstacle to me. You do not think the of God, but the of man.”
Jesus informed his talmudim, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life. What can one give in exchange for his life? Ben Adam will come with his messengers in the good thoughts of his Father, and will repay all according to his conduct.”
When Jesus went into the region of Caesar Philippi he asked his Talmudim, “Who do people say that Ben Adam is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter replied, “You are Messiah, Ben Elohim Chaim.”
Jesus remarked, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. I say to you, you are Cephas, and upon this rock/Cephas I will build my church. The gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus strictly ordered his Talmudim to tell no one that he was the Messiah.
Father Joseph Kim gave the homily at Mass today at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno Nevada. The homily was an excellent one. Instead of taking the usual route with interpreting the Gospel, the one that points out the Peter is Greek for Rock, and Jesus builds us church upon the rock, which is Peter, Father Joseph gave homily on the question that Jesus asks each of us.
Jesus asks each of us, “Who do you say that I am?” Someone else had asked the same question about Jesus. In Mark 6 King Herod asked the same question, “King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others commented, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
When Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
In this context Jesus Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter replied, “You are Messiah, Ben Elohim Chaim.” מָשִׁיחַבְּנ אֱלֹהִיםחַיָּה
Father Joseph correctly pointed out that what Jesus was asking was who he was, the same way any of us might ask someone who they think we are. Joseph pointed out he might expect someone to say, “Father Joseph, you are a priest.” The obvious next statement is, “That is nice; what is a priest?” Another next statement is, “That is nice; what differentiates me from other priests?”
Luke 7:44 presents the story of Simon the Pharisee, who may or may not have been Simon Cephas/Peter. In that passage Jesus asks Simon, “Simon, do you see this woman?” Jesus may well be asking the same question of Simon as he asks who Ben Adam is. That is the very essence of Father Joe’s homily. “Do you see a vocation, Messiah/Anointed One, or lose woman as Luke 7 discusses, or do you see Jesus Bar Joseph, as Matthew discusses in today’s readings?”
Father Joseph presented who he was, priest, son of his parents, brother to his siblings, coworker to his fellow priests. He is a man with hopes and dreams, fears and disappointments. He is Ben Adam, son of a man. He is all of these things.
Discussing the homily after Mass, Father Joseph also agreed with the statement that St. Cephas/Peter knows beyond all doubt that Jesus Bar Joseph is Messiah Bar Elohim Chaim,מָשִׁיחַ בְּנאֱלֹהִים חַיָּה . On the other hand, St. Cephas/Peter has no idea what a Messiah Bar Joseph is. In next week’s readings, St Matthew makes this clear.
Jesus began to show his Talmudim that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the presbyters, the chief Cohen, and the grammarians, die and rise on the third day. Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “May it go well for you, Kyrie! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
Jesus is Messiah Bar Joseph. The essence of Messiah is service. St. Cephas/Peter receives his commission, the keys of the kingdom in Matthew 16. Matthew 17 is the transfiguration. In Matthew 17 St. Cephas/Peter shows that his understanding of Messiah is white light and glory. “Let us build three Chuppah, one for you, one for Elijah, and one for Moses.” The cloud rises, Elijah and Moses go away, and Jesus takes his apostles down the mountain to heal the epileptic.
In the passage where St. Cephas/Peter receives the kingdom, Jesus points out that Messiah is not about white lights and glory. St. Joseph pointed out that in the reading for next Sunday Jesus gives the first prediction of his Passion. Messiah is about sacrifice, not white lights and glory. Father pointed out that the Hebrew word for “Glory” is Chesed,” and it means to be important/weighty, not white lights and glory. It means getting down and dirty and getting some dirt under your finger nails.
Knowing whom Jesus is, Jesus does ask, “who am I,” means understanding who Jesus is, not what the vocation is. It means understanding Our Blessed Virgin, through understanding the Magnificat. It means understanding, not just Jesus Ben Elohim, Son of God, but also Jesus Ben Joseph, Jesus the son of a Jew. It means understanding what it means to be Jewish. It means understanding what it means be homeless; as Jesus argues; he has no place to rest his head, Matthew 8:20.
Jesus, like Isaiah, means God Saves. Jesus is Salvation incarnate. Knowing Jesus and being like Jesus means being Salvation incarnate. Being like Jesus, knowing Jesus, means being salvation incarnate. There is no room for moralizing. There is no room for finger pointing, they are like this…” “They are like that…” There is only room for bringing salvation. That is who Jesus is. Jesus is not about white lights and glory. Jesus is all the colors of the rainbow. Jesus is being important. He is rescuing the paralytic and the epileptic.
Jesus is Messiah Ben Joseph. Zechariah starts the tradition of the four technicians, carpenters. One of these is Elijah, John the Baptist, two of the people King Herod and the people think Jesus is. The second is Messiah Ben Joseph. The tradition behind Messiah Ben Joseph is that he goes to Jerusalem, exactly where Jesus is going when he asks St. Cephas/Peter who he is.
The tradition behind Messiah Ben Joseph is that Gog and Magog, or Romulus/Rome kills him. Gog is the Hebrew word for “Roof.” Magog is Hebrew for “From the Room.” The Jewish temple was one big roof. Jesus is Jesus Ben Joseph. Jesus’ father was Joseph. Messiah Ben Joseph is about suffering, not white lights, and glory.
Father Joseph gave an excellent end to his homily. “Jesus asks you in this congregation, ‘Who do you say I am?” Is Jesus a vocation we call Messiah, or is he true God and true man. Is Jesus in all of his Semitism a personal entity in our lives, true God, and true man? Is our Jesus even Jewish?
In a discussion with a person after Mass, the objection was raised that some religious refer to the Old Testament as Torah. All we could be answer was, If Jesus is Jewish, and his heritage is Jewish, what does it matter? Is Jesus a vocation, Messiah, or is he a very Semitic son of the living God, with all that living and God mean?
“I believe.” Marcus Jastrow, in his Dictionary observations, “Amen”/”Belief”, is the same word translated, “to train a well drilled army to stand in straight lines and march in order.” It means to make skillful. It is related to the words of Isaiah 11: 2-3: The Spirit of the Personal Name is upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding; Counsel, or being like the tree, (In Hebrew counsel and tree are the same word), and strength, an assembly, (of facts or of people), and a looking to the Personal Name, and he will delight in looking to the Personal Name.
Amen means to make strong, which comes from good drilling in an army. We read of Moses, “The hands of Moses were heavy.” they took a stone, put it under him, and he sat upon it. Aaron and Hur, supported his hands, one upon one, and his hands were steady, (The Hebrew word is “Amen”), until the coming of the sun.” St. Paul speaks of this making strong when he talks of faith/belief/Amen, standing under, making strong those who hope. It tests the works not seen. “Belief” causes action. “Belief” drives Moses to Pharaoh knowing death awaits there.
Belief drives Moses to the promised land, knowing he will never live there. Belief is that inner strength Isaiah talks about when he talks about the spirit of the tree and the outer strength to go on in the face of danger, which we generally translate as fortitude.
Where do we get belief? 1 Kings 19:11-12 states: “You will go out tomorrow, and stand in the presence of the Personal Name; See, a wind great and strong will tear the mountains, breaking the rocks in pieces before the Personal Name. The Personal Name is not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Personal Name is not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Personal Name is not in the fire; and after the fire an inaudible (Dami) voice.”
This has important ramifications for who I am as the hypostasis of that which believes. Faith comes from listening to that silent voice, the voice of action, of nourishment of being in contact with God and neighbor.
Deuteronomy 30: 11- states, “This command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ It is not 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 carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.
“Hear, If you listen to the Mitzvah of the Personal Name, your Mighty Judge, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his Mitzvah, his customs and judicial decisions I give you, today, you will live and grow numerous. The Personal Name, your Mighty Judge, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
This promise comes to us through our baptism, which reminds us that we are human, of the earth, no matter how much we might like to think otherwise. Our Father constantly reminds us, no matter how much we think otherwise, we are all just human beings trying to get from the cradle to the grave in one piece.”
“I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.” This is the Mitzvah I give you today, “Choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”
The will of God is not some fuzzy thing up there. It is down here. It flows through our arteries and veins, literally. It is the command to life, for ourselves and everyone around us. There are no excuses, like, what the other guy did before caused his lot, and we are not responsible. The image of God in him suffers when any man suffers. We have only to see it. That is the Mitzvah of faith. That is the great amen.
We believe, we are strengthened in One God. He causes us to see the grander picture. In Hebrew and in Greek, “Prayer” is a reflexive verb. It is not us asking God for something. It is us sitting down with God and planning how to complete his will. As with small children, we may think we are sitting down with our father and coming to a conclusion on equal terms. God already knows what his plan is. He is being patient, sitting down with us and helping us to find our way in his plan.
We talk about how faith is what stands under those who hope. We have all seen the picture of the rabbit and the old woman. We have seen the hourglass and the two faces. We have seen the box which can be seen as looking from within or from without. Faith is like that.
This brings us back to the Rainbow of Noah. The Rainbow is a lens God set for us in the world to remind us of our place in the web of the world. It is said of the Jewish Baptistery, the article, “The mikvah offers the individual, the community, and the nation of Israel the remarkable gift of purity and holiness.” In the original Hebrew, the word used for “Seas” is “Mikvah.” “The world’s natural bodies of water — its oceans, rivers, wells, and spring-fed lakes, are mikvahs in their most primal form. They contain waters of divine source and thus, tradition teaches, the power to purify.”
Belief comes from the Mikvah that is always attached to the ground reminding us that, however much we might like to be otherwise, we are attached to this planet, this ordered cosmos. Belief comes from sitting down and listening with our father who reminds us constantly, no matter how much we think otherwise, we are all just human beings trying to get from the cradle to the grave in one piece, and some do not make it.
The rainbow reminds us to look at our world through the lens of Belief/Faith. Belief/Faith is the lens God asks us to see the world through. When I say, “I believe,” I give more than casual assent. This is the lens through which I see the world; this is the place from which I acquire my strength.