Thanksgiving Day is Thursday, today, and everyday. The feast of Christ the King.


This Sunday, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King Bishop Calvo celebrated Mass. In the procession were deacons Bob Dangel, and Joe Bell, along with Father Jacob Carazo. As Deacon Joe Bell readings ended the Gospel reading, Bishop Calvo stood to begin his homily, “Thanksgiving Day is Thursday.” The bishop then began to elaborate on this theme. The Greek word for “Thanksgiving” is “Eucharist.” Also, the Hebrew word for “Thanksgiving” is “Judah.” The root word in Hebrew means, “Hand.”

The image that comes to mind is from Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.

You got yourself two good hands And when your brother is troubled you’ve gotta reach out your hand for him ’cause that’s what it’s there for and when your heart is troubled you’ve gotta reach out your other hand, reach it out to the Man up there ’cause that’s what He’s there for.

When we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate our liberation

Next week begins Advent and the approach to Christ’s Mass, Christmas Day. Jesus was born in the land of Judah, thanksgiving, in the city of David, which means our beloved king on Christmas Day. This city of David is Bethlehem, which means Beth or House, or Lechem, which is bread, the house of bread. The word, which we usually translate as “Inn,” in the original Greek, is κατάλυμα. This is the same word translated in Luke 22:12 as “The upper room.”

When St. Luke wants to describe in “Inn,” he uses the word, “πανδοχεῖον.” This was important to the bishop’s homily because the bishop asked the congregation whether there is room for Jesus in our upper room, which is the Eucharist.

The Hebrew word for Thanksgiving is Judah. The Last Supper, where the original was held, in the upper room, the κατάλυμα, was in celebration of Passover. This feast is strongly alluded to in Deuteronomy 5:1-7 where it states:

Moses called all Israel, and told them: Hear, Israel, the customs and traditions that I speak in your ears, this day, that ye may learn them, and guard to do them. The Personal Name our Mighty Judge cut a Social Contract with us in Horeb/Mt. Sword. The Personal Name did not cut this Social Contract with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here, alive, this day… I am the Personal Name your Mighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Oppression, the house of menial labor.

Thanksgiving Day is our liberation from the pomp and glory of Europe

Thanksgiving Day is our liberation from the pomp and glory of Europe

When God speaks, he speaks to Israel, the upright of God. When God speaks, he speaks to the community. The first thing God tells us is that it is not to our fathers, that generation who escaped from Egypt in about the 13th century B.C. He speaks to each of us standing here, alive, this day, participating in the Eucharist as one community.

Bishop Calvo emphatically pointed out that Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas, because of growing nationalism. Joseph Stalin came to power on 3 April 1922. Benito Mussolini came to power on 31 October 1922. The Nazis came to power a decade later. Pope Pius created this feast to emphasize that we only have one king, that we are all one nation, from natio- and nativity, one people born together. That king is God.

God, as king, calls us to create one community, under him, respecting our brothers as made in his image. When we fail to do this, what we create is gangs, fascists, communists, and Nazis. The result is our end. When we follow this command, the Shekinah, the presence of God is with us and we are a light to the world. What is our choice?

The chains on the Statue of Liberty commemorate the liberation of us all from slavery

Our Bishop pointed out that in 1969, Pope Paul VI gave the feast of Christ the King a new date through motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis. It is the last Sunday in the liturgical year. This was to show how important it is that understand we only have one king, and it is not Caesar, the President, the corporate CEO, or the union chief.

I was thirsty and you gave me to drink

Bishop Calvo pointed out how this relates our Gospel reading, Matthew 25:31-Matthew 26:1. The feast of Christ the King is the last Sunday of the liturgical year and our Gospel reading is the last reading before the Passion. Matthew 25:32 tells us this address is not to individuals, but to nations. God tells us, as a nation, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” This is personal. As we treat the least of our neighbors, within our nation, and outside of it, we treat God; we participate in the Passion.

God tells us just how personal this is. Genesis 4:9-10 states in the original Hebrew, “The Personal Name asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” God replied, ‘What have you done? My blood of your brother cries out to me from the ground!” We are our brother’s keeper. It is not Abel’s blood that calls from the ground, but God’s. Genesis 1:26 states, “God said: Let us make human beings in our image/shalom, after our likeness/plural of blood in Hebrew.” The next verse tells us that God in fact did make man in his image/shalom.

Look at how angry we get when we see the image of our nation desecrated. How much more the image of God?

As we treat our neighbor, we treat the image of God inside of him, and therefore God himself. Do we not get upset when we see the representation of our nation, our flag desecrated? Do we not get upset when we hear that our representative in Washington D.C., our President has his name or his likeness desecrated? How much more is the image of God his representation, in our neighbor, whether he is Muslim, Hispanic, African-American, or Native America? In our Gospel reading, this applies as well to the homeless man on the street, the person in prison, or the hungry.

Bishop Calvo also pointed out a little known fact about our “Corporal works of Mercy” as Matthew 25:31-46 lists them. Jesus describes justice in these passages. The Hebrew word for Justice is Tzaddic. This Hebrew word for Charity is Tzaddic. They are the same word. The idea comes from that passage in Deuteronomy 5.

Our national identity is written in the New Colossus at the Statue of Liberty and the Battly Hymn of the Republic

Passover is the feast of Jewish National Identity and the Eucharist is our feast of National Identity. We are people rescued from other there, wherever over there is, and brought over here, the Eucharistic table. Our Thanksgiving Day, our commemoration as Americans is our rescue from the Irish potato famine, the French Revolution, and the other revolutions of early to mid-nineteenth century Europe.

Our National Identity is as a rescued people. As we complete the Corporal Works of Mercy, we work to create that community. This is justice As we practice the Corporal Works of Mercy on the world stage, we work to create a world community. The chapter before Deuteronomy chapter 5, chapter 4 tells us:

I teach you the customs and judicial precedents as the Personal Name, my Mighty Judge, has commanded me, that you may guard them in the land you are entering to possess. Guard them carefully. This is your wisdom and building up in the sight of the peoples, who will hear of all these customs and say, “This great nation is truly wise and understanding.”What great nation is there that has mighty ones so close to it as the Personal Name, our Mighty Judge, is to us whenever we call upon him? What great nation has customs and judicial precedents that are as charitable as this Torah, which I set before you this day?

Plymouth Rock

Bishop Calvo strongly pointed out the memory of us all. We all grew up learning about the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and the feast they had with the Wampanoag, the natives living at Plymouth Rock.We remember as part of our heritage that it was not the Pilgrims who were the heroes, but the Wampanoag.What we learn as part of our heritage is that we can learn from other cultures, including peoples we think know less than ourselves, or we perceive to be culturally inferior to ourselves.  In this feast the Wampanoag, who believe in one creator and that all are their relatives, shared with the Pilgrims.

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

In our bulletin for this Sunday were the words of Abraham Lincoln, who first asked us to commemorate Thanksgiving as a nation. Through Thanksgiving Day, we commemorate our freedom from slavery, which ended with the Civil War, and the sharing of the Wampanoag, of their skills, and their food. We remember that so long as any person on our planet suffers, God suffers, and we suffer with him. So long as any human being is in bondage, the image of God is in bondage, and we are in bondage with him.

If we do not take care of our neighbor, this could be us.

Our Gospel reading asks us, do we want other nations to see our laws and us as a guiding light to the nations, or do we want to incur the anger of God for treating his image with less than respect. Russia, Germany, and Italy show us the folly of making the wrong choice. We need look no further than the pictures of ’45 Dresden and Berlin to see the results of the wrong choice. As Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us, choose life! Le Chaim!

 

Is this how we want the world to see us, a pius, kind people under God, working to serve others?

When people see us celebrating Thanksgiving Day, and the Eucharist, will they see a community coming together to be a community, a nation, or will they see Pharisees, long on ritual, but short on meaning? Will they see a people long on answers, but short on questions? Who are the other cultures and what do they have spiritually to offer us? Do we share with others, or do we take what is theirs and arrogantly tell them how to live their lives? That is what the Gospel asks us today.

Joe Paterno, Penn State, Reno Nevada, or anywhere, and the Ten Talents.


There has been much debate about the situation at Penn State University with the firing of Joseph Paterno, nationwide, and here in Reno Nevada. Joe Paterno is a Catholic who grew up in Brooklyn and went to Brown University. Paterno represents the Gospel Reading for this Sunday the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

 

Our Cathedral in Reno Nevada Where we heard the story of the parable of the Talents.

Joe Paterno was the steward given five talents. He invested those talents well, investing of himself, putting himself into his students. Penn State had one of the highest graduation rates for football players in the nation. Joe Paterno also had more Academic All Americans than almost any other football coach.

Joe Paterno sent graduate assistants to his player’s classrooms to make sure they were present for class. He monitored his player’s grades throughout the year to make sure they were doing what they were at Penn State to do, be students. Penn State uniforms did not have logos or names of the players. There were no decals on helmets commemorating the number of tackles, catches, or great runs. Every player played for the team/the system. That is why Paterno sent the graduate assistants and monitored grades. Paterno believed in a system that helped its members.

Joe Paterno at the end, a man for others.

This past week, we found there is a key difference between the One, True God, and the system. The One True God loves us and cares for us. The system cares for itself. Jerry Sandusky used the system to prey upon little boys. When the system found out, it forced him to retire, but allowed him to be an emeritus professor, with rights to Penn State facilities. This pervert continued to use Penn State facilities to prey upon little boys. Then graduate assistant Mike McQueary exposed Sandusky’s actions and reported to Joe Paterno, who in turn reported to Athletic Director Tim Curley.

Joe Paterno could have reported to civil authorities, but trusted the system. It is unclear if Paterno knew why Sandusky retired three years earlier. Knowing, he may have been more likely to report to civil authorities when the system did not take decisive actions. “An anonymous trustee told The Morning Call of Allentown the board was angered because Paterno released statements on his own rather than through the university. This non-reporting to civil authorities is the stated reason for his dismissal. He is let go if he reports or if he does not report.

The temptation is to do as the steward only given one talent, to grumble that the master of the house was harsh, and bury the one talent in the ground. Penn State students did this when they found their coach and Penn State icon was gone, by rioting.

Instead, Paterno thanked the crowd outside of his house and stated, “The kids who were victims, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. It’s a tough life when people do certain things to you.” Paterno expressed the desire to do the best interest of Penn State, the system, probably knowing what would happen next.

Joe Paterno gives us all an example. There is something greater than the Penn State board of trustees. That is Penn State’s, students, facility, and staff. There is something greater than Penn State, the One, True, God, who is ultimately the Paterno, the father of us all. When the world, in Reno Nevada, or at State College PA, is harsh and unforgiving, when management does as management does, protecting itself, we must remember there is the One True God who prepares a place for us. In heaven, there will be no earthly management. There will be the One, True, Father of us all, constantly working to feed, cloth, and house us all.

 

Bishop Calvo’s homily on Get Low, the Ten Virgins, and what people might say about us.


We were very pleasantly surprised today at the 9:30 A.M. Mass for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Bishop Calvo gave the homily on the Gospel reading and “Get Low,” starring Robert Duvall as a Felix Bush, a citizen of Dogwood, Roane County, Tennessee on June 26, 1938, and a member of Cave Creek Baptist Church.

On getting low and how we should lead our lives.

In the case of the real Felix Bush, his pastor, Rev. Jackson stood up to preach the funeral sermon. Reverend Jackson stated in the homily of the funeral, “It might be wholesome for everyone to hear his own funeral while he is living…Here we speak of life, if life is all right; there is nothing to fear about death. There are no tears and heartaches, only happiness at this service… If a lot of those roughnecks out there had to face the music before they pass out, they would improve their way of living.”

Bishop Calvo took off with his homily. We should all live our lives in such a way that we would want to hear that homily, the statement of our lives. In “Get Low,” Rev. Jackson does not give the homily about Felix Bush. The people of Dogwood are asked to tell Felix Bush stories about him. Bishop Calvo related that we should always live our lives in such a way that we would want to hear what other people say about us.

In Matthew 22:32, Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, which says, “‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” He then adds, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” In Aramaic, “God of the living” is “Elohim Chaim.” Grammarians call this the construct case, which means it can also mean, “God of Life.”

Our God is a God of resurrection, love, and life.

Bishop Calvo took this point to take Rev. Jackson’s homily a step further. We must live our lives in such a way that we would want to hear what people would say about us at our funerals. Also, we should live our lives in such a way that we would want to hear what the God of Life, the God, the Abba, who is love, Ahabba, the One who is to come, has to say about us.

Bishop Calvo related this to the Gospel reading, “The bridegroom came, and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. The door was locked. The other virgins came and said, ‘Kyrie, Kyrie, open the door for us!’ The bridegroom replied, ‘I do not know you.” At the other side of those pearly gates is the great Eucharist. In the Eucharist in this world, we pledge to bring God into our lives. Do we live that life?

Bishop Calvo pointed out that God is the God of Life and of Love. He knows life and love. If we live our lives in life and love, God knows us, because we are like him. If we lead a life of life and love for others and ourselves regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or what they may have done or not done, as individuals and as a nation, God knows us. If we live our lives in any other way, God does not know us.

There is another way to live our lives. Our first reading relates, “Whoever watches for Wisdom at dawn shall… l find her sitting by his gate.” Ruth 4:1-12 relates why Wisdom is “at the gate.” This is where the elders met to decide cases. Wisdom is at the gate to help the elders of the village decide cases.

There are two ways to decide cases. The first way is to point to the law and decide strictly by the merits of the law. In Jewish culture, a Sodomite is a legalist. The way God wants us to decide a matter is like sandlot baseball. During the game, a case might come up where the players need to decide which ball, bat, or glove, belongs with which kid.

In addition, players may need to decide if a close call is a ball or a strike, or whether an outfielder did or did not catch the ball. Either children decide, on the merits of the pitch, without instant replay, or they decide in favor of the love of the game. While the children are playing the game, it really does not matter, which ball, bat, or glove, belongs to which kid. That is only important when the game ends. In sandlot ball, it really does not matter if any given pitch is a ball, or a strike or if it is caught or not. The final score in the game is not that important. What is important is that everyone enjoys the game and gets out of the game what they put into it.

In “Get Low,” Rev. Jackson says, “Here we speak of life, if life is all right; there is nothing to fear. There are no tears and heartaches, only happiness at this service…” The service is the service to the game of life and service to each other as fellow players in this game of life.

The Jewish “Ethics of the Fathers” relates, “Judah the son of Tabbai would say: When sitting in judgment, do not act as a counselor-at-law. When litigants stand before you, consider them both guilty; when they leave your courtroom, having accepted the judgment, regard them as equally righteous.”

When we decide cases, it is for the love of the game, to continue the game. After we render the decision, both sides agree the decision is just, and continue the game. If we act strictly according to the law, one side or the other will feel slighted, and will no longer be willing to play, or as willing to play, and we will have hurt the game. If we play favorites, one side or the other will feel slighted, and will no longer be willing to play, and we will have hurt the game.

Do we want people to refer to us as legalists, even if it hurts our brother or sister in Christ, a fellow child of God, or do we want people to refer to us peacemakers, (Matthew 5:9) who treated all as fellow children of God? That is what Jesus means when he says, “‘Come, blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34. That is the life God calls us to and that is what we pledge ourselves to when we sit at God’s table in his house, the Eucharist.