The new year, short ten days?


A major discussion in our humble city of Reno Nevada, and in our churches, is that next year, starting tomorrow, is to be short ten days. The local History Channel and the Science Channel constantly have reports on the issue. The winter solstice of December 21 is the end of the world, at least as we know it. This idea comes from several places; the Maya, the Hopi, and our book of Revelations. The Maya and the Hopi were polytheistic religions steeped in culture and have much to teach us Europeans. Their polytheism is relevant to our discussion.

 

St John of Revelations reported the eruption of this Volcano in Revelations 8

Revelations 8:7-13, speaks of a great mountain being thrown into the sea with fire, hail, and blood. The water turns into Absinth. St. John wrote Revelations in or around the year 95 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 burying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Mount Vesuvius is under a thousand miles west of Patmos, where St. John wrote. The destruction St. John records is very similar to the damage of Mount Vesuvius. Revelations 8:8 records, “Something like a large burning mountain was hurled into the sea.” A very large mountain, Mount Vesuvius, was thrown into the sea.

 

The Locusts of Revelations 9 or Legio XV Apollinaris

Revelations 9 states, “The appearance of the locusts was like that of horses ready for battle… They had as their king the angel of the abyss, whose name in… Greek is Apollyon.” The uniform of the 15th Roman Legion is identical to the locusts and had the nickname, Apollyon.  The Roman crossbow was the scorpion. The locusts on horses were the 15th Roman Legion in the year 70.

Revelations chapter 13 reads. “I saw a beast come out of the sea… The Taanah gave it its own power and throne…”

“Dragon”/”Taanah” is the Hebrew term for “dragon,” “Taanah” is also another term for the first century rabbis. It is important that we note, “First Century,” rabbis. The first century rabbis had a relationship with Rome allowing them to remain in authority and the Romans to collect taxes. The passage refers only to the relationship between Rome and the first century Jewish authorities. That relationship is gone forever. It cannot refer to any relationship that exists today or the future. Revelations refers only to the events of the first century.

In our Mass we say, “Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again.” Christ is coming and it may be this year. Jesus command to us in this regard in Luke 12:35-48, “Be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding…”

That passage brings to mind the story of the children waiting for parents to return from a long trip. The children can wait at the window, looking for the lights of their parent’s car and the sound of its engine while the house is filthy and disorganized. These children are the fundamentalists looking in the prophets and Revelations for the signs of Christ’s coming while the rich they vote for exploit the poor and the earth for all of its resources. Of these, Jesus says, “That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely.”

Jesus tells us, “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” If we exit Mass at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada and are hit by a city bus, for us, the second coming is today. For all we know, Jesus is descending upon the Mount of Olives as we speak. Be Ready!

Of Spiritual light and darkness


In our Cathedral in Reno Nevada tomorrow we will read a passage from I John. John is the Gospel writer who scholars credit as being one of the most obfuscatory of writers. The first reading for tomorrow, at first reading is an example of this:

God is light, and in him, there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”

Living in the light means walking with our neighbor

Just what does all of this mean? What does St. John mean when he says “light?” What does St. John mean when he says “darkness?” What does St. John mean when he says, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light…?” What is sin anyway?”

This last sentence in I John is a parallel construction. “If we walk in the light as he is in the light,” continues with a definition of what that light is. “We have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” “Chet,” the Hebrew word for “sin” means “Failure,” and has a secondary meaning of “miscarriage.” Chet does not have to be intentional, except that if we plan well, we improve our chances of success.

The light, expressed in practical terms means walking with one another, walking with imperfect people when we are imperfect people, failing from time to time. We have different experiences, and we see things differently. Living in the light means living as children of God, as one nation under God. We are imperfect people looking to the Father of light and love, trying to live the perfect life. Abba is Father, HaBa is the one who is to come, and Ahabba is Love, in Hebrew.

We celebrate the Eucharist. As it says in Psalm 104:14-15, God in the Eucharist, “plants for people’s work to bring forth food from the earth, wine to gladden their hearts… and bread to sustain the human heart.” In the Eucharist, we receive that wine in the blood of Christ and the body of Christ in the bread. We become joyful to go forth to live out the paradox of living the perfect life as imperfect people.

The Eucharist is the time we fill ourselves with the Physical Presence, and therefore joy. Confession and during the Mass readings are the times when we sit down with God and do that planning to minimize our failures. Let us fill ourselves with the wine that gladdens our hearts and the bread, so we can have fellowship with our neighbor, the homeless waiting to pick our pockets outside of our Cathedral, the criminal sitting in our jails, and the working poor, wondering why we do not more to make their lives better.

The Eucharist and Baby Jesus as Christmas Day Mass


This Christmas we went to Mid-night Mass at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada and heard our Bishop Calvo give an excellent homily, as he always gives. This writer did not think it possible to give such an excellent homily. In the morning, Father Joseph Kim gave the Christmas Daytime Mass and showed everyone considering the priesthood how to do homiletics. He began, touching on many of the same themes as Bishop Calvo. We need to find room for Jesus in the Upper Room. Father Joseph based his homily upon, “The word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

Baby Jesus is not lifeless and plastic

Father Joseph discussed how the hundred-mile journey for a woman nine months pregnant is arduous today. It was more arduous for a woman traveling that distance two millennium ago. Father Joseph correctly related how Jesus came to the simple, poor humble shepherds, and not to the powerful in Jerusalem. In Aramaic, the language St. John may well have originally spoken his Gospel, the word for “Word,” is not “Logos,” as used in Stoic Philosophy, but “Omer” the Aramaic word for “lamb,” the humble animal who is like shepherds/us. The lamb is also the animal of peace.

Father Joseph related, however arduous the travel and the travails of childbirth was for our Blessed Virgin, the moment of birth was a moment of peace. Jesus is the light of the world, and life brings joy to all. Bishop Calvo related Jesus comes to bring a new way; the Gospels are the recipe for that way.

The example is the paralytic healing. For those looking for the incantation to bring miracles, healing paralytics, making bad politicians and religious leaders look stupid, Jesus asks the bad politicians and religious leaders of his day, “What is easier to say?” This relates the power is not in the words. If the child is the victim of child abuse, he must believe what he did that was wrong will be right now. What failed in the past, will work now. Only society /we can bring this hope. We bring this hope and Jesus’ role is to teach us this new way.

Father Joseph walked to the altar, took the plastic Baby Jesus out of the crepe, and put in on the altar. He put the lectionary in place of the plastic and lifeless baby Jesus and discussed how our faith is a vibrant life lived. The word of God is not black splotches placed upon white pieces of paper in a closed Bible. St. Francis once said, “Go forth and preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” The word of God is not “Logos,” but “Omer,” word proclaimed by the sacrificial life as Omer/lamb we live.

After Father Joseph finished his homily and prepared the Eucharist, he removed the plastic and lifeless baby Jesus and placed it under a table so we could not see it. The Real Presence of the real Jesus in the Eucharist pushes aside the false and the lifeless and impels vibrant life. Our faith is a faith of love and peace of Christ. The word is not the flapping of gums and exhaling air, we call speaking. It is not black splotches on a page. Our faith is a life lived in the image and likeness of God. The Eucharist is the Real Presence dwelling among us, in us, and each other. All we have to do is look and see him in the Eucharist and in the poorest of the poor and each other.

Is there room for Jesus in the Mass


All of us who will attend Midnight Mass tonight at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada know the story of Jesus’ birth, “Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, (Thanksgiving/ Eucharist) to the city of David (beloved) that is called Bethlehem, (Beth/house, of Lechem/bread.
He was of the house and family of David…While they were there, the time came for her to have her child. She gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger/feeding trough, as at Mass; there was no room for them in the upper room.

Is there room for Jesus in our Mass?

In Luke, in the story of the Good Samaritan, the word for “Inn” means a place where people who do not know each other board for the night. The nativity and the Last Supper use a different word meaning the upper room, the room where people purify themselves. Luke ties the beginning of his Gospel, the nativity, with its end, with his choice of words to describe the inn. In the nativity, Joseph and Mary’s own people, the people who purify themselves do not have room for the Messiah, the Son of God himself. The questions are, “Is there room for Jesus in our upper room?” “Are we pure, or do we see the Messiah?”

As we prepare for the Eucharist at our Cathedral, we remember, Judea is Hebrew for Thanksgiving. The Greek word is Eucharist. Our Cathedral in Reno Nevada is our House of Bread/Bethlehem. Like the Shepherds/in Hebrew, the ones who see, we find Jesus in the feeding trough, the paten at Mass. Do we find room in our hearts to find this real presence of Jesus and all he represents as we look at the Sacred Host at Mass?

The Gospel relates, “This will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the messenger, praising God:”Thoughts in the highest are to God, on earth peace, to mankind good expectations/ thoughts.”

Gerard van Honthorst Anbetung der Hirten

Following the Jewish tradition that is the foundation for the Passover, “Today,” does not refer to two thousand years ago, but today. The great sign the shepherds/the parishioners at our Cathedral, all Catholics and all Americans look for is in the baby on Neal Road, on Montello Avenue, and in the homeless man lying outside of our door. Today, the sign is Jesus Christ who identifies himself with the poor, those without adequate food, clothing, or shelter, in Matthew 25:31-46. Matthew 26:1 starts the Passion story. As we do to the least of our brothers, we do to Jesus; we participate in the Passion. The great sign is not up there but down here, in the body and blood of Jesus lying in the paten sitting on the altar. Is there room for him as we look toward the altar, the poor, and toward each other this Christmas season?

Pro-life walk sending mixed messages or strong messages


At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada for this Advent Season, we have had a table set up for the annual Walk for Life in San Francisco on January 21 of 2012. The individual selling the tickets for this event carries her supplies in a “Republican National Committee” bag. Look at what this political part stands for.

Matthew 23:34-35

In US history, we have the Monongah Mine disaster of December 6, 1907, a disaster commemorated just two weeks ago. There was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911. We commemorated the centennial this year. There was the Titanic sinking which we will commemorate the centennial next year, 15 April. There was the Hamlet chicken fire of September 3, 1991, where 25 died and 54 were injured, trapped behind locked fire doors, as at the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. One political party did not learn the lessons of a century ago.

There was the Deepwater Horizon Disaster of 20 April, last year, like the Titanic, resulted in 11 workers dead and 16 others injured. The republicans apologized, not to the families of the people killed, or those affected by the spill, but to BP, for the hassle of the new regulations. There is also the Katrina Disaster where 2,000 people died due to cuts to infrastructure spending pushed by this Republican Party. The Republican Party still campaigns for cuts to infrastructure spending.

Some 42 people died in 5 coal mine related accidents during the republican Bush Administration. Only eight died during the Clinton Administration in one accident.

This Republican Party promotes a culture of death. Some 45,000 people die every year due to a lack of adequate health care. Some 5,000 workers die every year in industrial accidents caused by a lack of adequate regulations with 1,238,490 injuries each year. The republican solution is to cut regulations that would prevent even more deaths. Some 50.2 million people lived the living death of living in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. The republican solution is to cut funding to feed cloth and house these people. Better to “decrease the surplus population.” Better to put these people in orphanages and do away with the child labor laws, as Newt Gingrich, a republican, says.

At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we read about the great commissions, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Deuteronomy 30:19. Jesus quotes the first, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in Mark 12:30. The great commission is to love God with all hearts, animate being, and measure. How do we love God? What do we give someone who already has everything? We respect what is his. We especially respect his image, in each other with all of our measure. We love God with our vote, with our community, and with our government.

Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us Torah is very near to us, in our hearts, and it is to promote life from conception to the grave, life lived in the image and likeness of God. The Pro-life Walk promoted at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada should promote that. Regrettably, the person selling tickets to this event chooses to send a mixed message, promoting a culture of death with her luggage and a culture of life with the Pro-life Walk. Let us promote life as made in the image of God.

How we live our lives reflects what we think of God and Jesus in the Eucharist

The republican counter argument to all of this is that it is all right to do all of these things, so long as the other political party does even worse. Our church teaches differently. In Section 14 of Part II of Humanae Vitae it states, “It is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it.” Humanae Vitae then quotes Romans 3:8. Those who argue that it is OK to do all the things related above because the other party is worse are like the children who argue, “But the kids down the street do it.” The typical parent’s counter argument is, but you are not the kid down the street. Are you a lemming who would jump off the bridge if the neighbor kid did? We have 126 Catholic colleges and universities graduating 70,000 students each year. We also have 26 Catholic law schools, and not a single graduate willing to promote the will of God?

In our Catholic tradition, we have the concept of mortal sin. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church section 1857 states, “For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” All the deaths above are clearly a grave matter. They are all, also, if anything, over reported in the news. If we vote for the candidates voting for these things, it is with deliberate consent. Unless there is another quote in the Catechism adding a fourth category, we must assume voting for this kind of thing and the people who support it is a mortal sin.

We need to ask those who identify as Catholic republicans, how many people must suffer, how many people must die before they have enough? Ezekiel 18:32 states, “כִּי לֹא אֶחְפֹּץ בְּמוֹת הַמֵּת, נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה. I do not desire any death says the Master the Personal Name.” For God the number is zero. What is the number for the republicans? What is their definition of basic right and wrong?

At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we read about the great commissions, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Deuteronomy 30:19. Jesus quotes the first, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in Mark 12:30. The great commission is to love God with all hearts, animate being, and measure. How do we love God? What do we give someone who already has everything? We respect what is his. We especially respect his image, in each other with all of our measure. We love God with our vote, with our community, and with our government.

Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us Torah is very near to us, in our hearts, and it is to promote life from conception to the grave, life lived in the image and likeness of God. The Pro-life Walk promoted at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada should promote that. Regrettably, the person selling tickets to this event chooses to send a mixed message, promoting a culture of death with her luggage and a culture of life with the Pro-life Walk. Let us promote life as made in the image of God.

Our Blessed Mother, Virgin or not. You decide!


This last Sunday before Christmas, Deacon Joe Bell gave the homily at the 9:30 Mass at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. In the homily, he pointed out how he read an article emphasizing Isaiah 7:14, “The Master/Adonai Himself shall give you a sign: behold, הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Im Anu El/God is With Us.” The key word is Alma /הָעַלְמָה, “Haolam,” which can translate as, “Young girl.” The scholars take the root word to mean vigorous, which is a valid translation, so can mean any young girl. Regrettably, for these scholars, the word can also mean secret and therefore, atonement/ forgiveness, and eternity. Most Hebrew blessings end with some form of “Blessed be he forever and ever.” The Hebrew form is עַלְמָ ל, “Leolam” The verse can therefore translate as, “Eternity will conceive and bear a son,” or “Forgiveness will conceive and bear a son.”

OUr Blessed Virgin shines as brightly as the Christmas Star

Another clear that relates to this young girl, and the brothers and sisters of Jesus, Zechariah 12:10: “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of surrounding grace. They shall look unto Me/Our Blessed Virgin because they have thrust him/Jesus through. They shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.”

Joe Bell was quick to point out in his homily; there is ample evidence that St. Luke in particular was well aware of this passage. St. Luke, 1:28 states, “Gabriel came to her, he said, “Hail, Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη gracious one! Kyrie is with you.” The key word is from the Greek root, “χαριτόω,” “gracious,” and is in the Greek perfect passive. She is made gracious, in the perfect sense. The Aramaic phrase, from the Aramaic Peshita, literally translates, “Full of Grace.”

In our Catholic tradition, we have the “Nunc Dimittus,” “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This child is destined to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

This passage is a reference to the passage in Zechariah, “They shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through.” Mary is thrust through as her son is thrust through. The passage continues, “They shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son.” Zechariah refers to the Messiah as an only son, a first-born. The Apostles thought of Jesus as the first and only born son of our Blessed Virgin. That is why St. Luke emphasizes this passage from Zechariah in his nativity story. Our Blessed Virgin had one and only one child. Those who insist on otherwise deny that Jesus can be the Messiah. It is just that simple.

Deacon Joe related what Americans might not know about Virgin Mary. In America, we become engaged to our future spouses and live apart. Conjugal rights are not part of the engagement contract. This was not so in the first century Jewish wedding contract. Still, our Blessed Virgin says, “I have no relations with a man?” Our Blessed Virgin is pure.

The Barbra Streisand movie, “Yentl” reminds us how in the first century, Jewish girls did not study Torah, Prophets, Writings… If Our Blessed Virgin is not a Yentl, she could not know what a “Son of the Most High,” is, or who David or Joseph are. Our Blessed Virgin knows the traditions of the Jewish people. She refers to God using I Samuel 2:1-11, which refers to God as “El Shaddai,” literally, “The Most High.”

This brings us to Revelations, 12:17, “The Taanah became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s Mitvah and witness to Jesus.”

Who is the woman? Revelations 12:5 tells us how in reference to Psalm 2:9, the child of this woman is the Messiah, Jesus. His mother is Our Blessed Virgin. Who are her offspring? They are those who keep Mitzvah and witness to Jesus. That is all of us.

Jesus is the child of the woman in Revelations 12

In his homily, Deacon Joe Bell discussed how Venus is the morning star, and the Phosphorous, or Phos/photo/light, Pheros, carrier. In Easter Orthodox vocabulary, she is Theotokos, Theo/ God, Tokos/giving birth to. This is all a clear reference to Revelations 12:1. Our Blessed Virgin gives birth to Jesus in Judea/the land of Thanksgiving/Eucharist, in the House of Bread/ Beth Lechem, Bethlehem.

Shepherds find Jesus in a feeding trough, just as we find Jesus in the feeding trough at Mass. God, through our Blessed Virgin demands that after we receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, we carry him out into the world as Our Blessed Virgin carried him until he came into the world.

The Shepherds find Jesus in a feeding trough, and so do we, the Eucharist

At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, our Franciscan priests daily recite the Magnificat of Our Blessed Virgin, as she quotes the Song of Hannah, telling us to: disperse the arrogant of mind and heart, throw down the rulers from their thrones and lift up the lowly, fill the hungry with nobility; and send the rich away empty. If we are going to be Christ like, Christian, we must follow our anointing, and bring glad tidings to the poor proclaim liberty/not-long jail sentences, to captives and recover sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free, and proclaim a year acceptable to Kyrie.

In Reno Nevada, in particular at our Cathedral, our call from God, and our Blessed Virgin as Catholics, as Christians, and as Americans is to fulfill this mandate and create one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.

Our new evangelism to the already converted


Bishop Calvo celebrated Mass at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada this Third Sunday of Advent. In his homily, he discussed the Pope’s strong desire for this to be the year of evangelization, from the Greek, “Eu” “Angel,” or the “Good Message.” In Matthew, the “Good News” started with one person, Joseph. At the birth of Jesus, were Jesus, the three wise men, Joseph, and Our Blessed Virgin. Add John the Baptist and the twelve apostles. At the death of Jesus, only our Blessed Virgin remains.

Nativity comes from the same root as nation and means a people born together. We are all born together through Christ, black and white, rich and poor. We are alll Americans

At Pentecost, there is Our Blessed Virgin, 11 of the apostles, and 3,000 called at Pentecost. Acts 2:41 Jesus added St. Paul who started converting the Roman Empire. After the Roman Empire came Europe and the New World. In modern times, the push is into Africa and Asia.

Our Bishop at our Cathedral informed us that our Pope is now pushing a new kind of evangelism. In the past, the goal was to convert people not knowing Christ. In our new evangelism, we convert the baptized. We convert the people who look at our faith and find something wanting. It was said during the Reagan/Mondale debates that the choice was between one man, President Reagan, who had a faith with much feeling but no content, and Senator Mondale, the son of a Methodist minister, a man whose faith had much content, but not much feeling. Neither was, or is satisfactory.

We need to convert people who come to Mass every Sunday and every day. We also need to convert the Protestants, people who have much feeling, but no real content. They quote chapter and verse; they have much content in words devoid of meaning. As Catholics, we also find that applies to us.

For Catholics, we find the basis of our faith in the Eucharist. “Another year over, and what do you see Part 2” correctly points out that in our Eucharist we can see a piece of bread and a chalice of wine, the body and blood, or the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a person, the Godhead, with feelings, thoughts, and ideals. In our Eucharist, we become a community, bound to help one another and give one another hope. Our word “Mass,” comes from the Latin phrase, “Mitte Est,” meaning departure. We take our faith out into the world, bringing hope into the world. Our faith, in a very real way, binds us to the Hebrew song, Hatikvah” הַתִּקְוָה, from “תִּקְוָה” hope. We ingest hope through the Eucharist, with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, we give it to each other as community, and then we bring it out into the world.

Our Bishop ended by pointing out our hope, “לשנה הבאה בירושלים” “Bee Shennah Hah Ba, bee Jerusalem,” “Next year in Jerusalem.” If we work to bring hope to the world, Jerusalem, the City of Peace, can be Reno Nevada, where there is hope for all people. In our Catholic faith in Reno Nevada, if only one person suffers, we suffer with them.

Every year 5,000 workers die because of industrial accidents in the United States, with 1,238,500 injuries.

One political party pushes deregulation for the sake of deregulation, promoting a culture of death. This is in spite of the the Monongah Mine Disaster of December 6, 1907, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911, the Titanic Disaster of 15 April 1912, The Hamlet fire of September 3, 1991, the Deep Water Horizon Disaster of April 20, 2010, 8 miners killed during the Clinton Administration, 42 miners killed during the Bush Jr. years, and the 29 miners killed last year. The political party of the culture of death apologized to those guilty of the Deep Water Horizon Disaster for the imposition of regulations to prevent a similar accident from happening again. Their response to the Katrina Disaster was to cut spending for infrastructure.

Two thousand died during the Katrina disaster because a political party promoting a culture of death opposed spending for infrastructure, 50.2 million people live in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Some 45,000 people die each year because they cannot afford health insurance. Eight thousand children die in the first year of life for the same reason, half pre-born. In 1969, the poorest 50% of the population brought home 27% of all income.

The richest 5% took home 15.6%, and the richest 20% carried home 40.6% of income. Today the figures are, 19.06% for the poorest 50%, 21.3% for the richest 5%, and 50.2% for the richest 20% of the population. With the poorest 50%, only bringing home 19.06% of all income there is insufficient demand to create jobs resulting in an 8% unemployment rate. In 1969, the unemployment rate was 3.5%.

To these suffering people we come with hope, a hope found in our faith and our morality that comes from the Great Commandment, Mark 12 and Deuteronomy 6:4-9. “Here Israel, The Personal Name is Almighty, The Personal Name is One. Love the Personal Name with all your hearts, with all your animate being, and with all of your measure.”

How do we love God? What do we give someone who already has everything, literally? We love and respect what is his. What is his? His universe, his planet, the life forms he put on his planet, and most important, what is made in his image, each other. We use all of our measure. That includes our patriotism, our wealth, our strength, our intellect, our culture, our vote. Humanae Vitae tells us it is unlawful to do evil in the hopes good may come from it. Evil is what is rotten, what is less that fulfilling the mandate of the Great Commandment. Evil is allowing the above figures to remain true. Our Bishop at our Franciscan Cathedral concluded, we need to bring real hope to the world. This is our Evangelism. As our Blessed St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Of Marley and me, or what is my vocation


At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we have two key words this third Sunday of Advent. The first is vocation, the second profession. “Vocation” comes from vocationem, literally “a calling,” from vocatus “called,” from vocare “to call.”

Profession means, “Vows taken upon entering a religious order,” from the Latin professionem, “a public declaration.” It also means “the occupation one professes to be skilled in.”

God calls us all to love unconditionally

Our Catechism, section 871 tells us, “The Christian faithful incorporated in Christ through Baptism, constitute the people of God. Sharers in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal office are called to exercise the mission God entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each one.”

Section 873 states, “The laity share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ; they have, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment of the whole People of God.”

In the story, a “Christmas Carol,” Scrooge tells Marley, “You were always a good man of business, Jacob.” This is after Marley tells Scrooge, “No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! Such was I!”

We profess our belief in Jesus Christ with our actions, whether we like it or not, or know it or not. We cannot separate our Catholic profession from the secular world.

Marley presents our assignment from Section 873 well, “”Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Scrooge_by_Gage_Skidmore_3

Marley quotes the Christian position and the position of Scrooge head on, that business in Reno, Nevada, and the United States, is a cold, heartless enterprise where Christian love does not apply. He says of it, “Bah humbug.”

We read our Gospel, in our Reno Nevada Cathedral. The Pharisees ask John the Baptist if he is the prophet. He says not, at least no more than anyone else. God entrusted us all with the prophetic office, in our baptism and reinvigorates it in Eucharist, our thanksgiving to God for our salvation. God holds us accountable for how we show our salvation to the world.

St. Luke chapter 4 quotes Jesus referring the first reading to himself. “Christian” means to be Christ like. The same applies to all of us. “The spirit of the Personal Name is upon me. He anointed me, to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Personal Name and a day of vindication by our God.”

We need to do this as individuals, and as a nation, with the humility of John the Baptist who says, “”I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of Kyrie.'”

Another year older and what have you done


This past Sunday Father Francisco Nahoe led the 9:30 A.M. Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. Father asked us for this start of the new Liturgical year, Another year older, and what do you see. Father Francisco’s taking off point was the Gospel reading, the preaching of John the Baptist. What the world needs is more John’s, as a homilist of some thirty years ago noted. No, we do not need more itinerant ministers teaching us about how bad we are and how we need to turn our lives around, and follow a particular way, or else. We need more johns. We need more of those little rooms that remind us that no matter how good we think we are, and no matter how much we think we are God’s gift to humanity, we are all simply faulty human beings with limited grasp of the perception of true reality.

Dogs drive us to show love toward others

Father Nahoe began his discussion with his discussion of Lazarus, whose name in Hebrew means “The Helper of God.” In Luke 16:19-31 Lazarus is the poor man with the wounds that only the dogs will lick, most certainly Lazarus will not receive the attention of the rich man, he is too busy playing the role of Scrooge, and seeing value only in his money. When Lazarus and the rich man die, the rich man shows that he still does not get it. Rather than seeing Lazarus worthy of heaven and himself not so worthy, he sees Lazarus as only a servant for Abraham to send to his family to save them.

Abraham tells the rich man that his family has Torah, and Prophets. What is in these writings? Deuteronomy 30:11-20 states:

This Mitzvoth…, is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven…’ The word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart,… I set before you, this day, life and what is satisfying, and death and rot, to love the Personal Name your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His Mitzvoth and His customs and His correct judicial precedents, live and multiply.

Living and multiplying, as individuals and as a community in Reno Nevada, is what God requires and that we live in peace, one with another in Washoe County.

We need to look at the poverty and pain of others, then act

This is what the rich man lacked in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. He did not strive to create community, with Lazarus in it. He did not strive to make peace with the people on Montello Avenue in Sparks, and Neil Road in Reno, or in our inner cities. He did not strive to create life; life lived in its fullest for every man created in the image and likeness of God. He did not strive to create the good, what is satisfying, for Lazarus, and he did not strive to remove rot, the sores of Lazarus. Do we? If not, we face the fate of the rich man in the story.

Our second reading for the second Sunday of Advent discussed the idea that something more is required than just purity that comes from confession. It reads:

What sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in purity and with religious awe, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God… according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which charity dwells. Therefore, beloved, you await these things, be eager to be without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

The first key words are “Purity” and “With religious awe.” When we think of purity, we think of Luke’s story of the man with the impure spirit. The impure spirit leaves and not finding a place to stay, it returns with seven more, worse than himself. Something more is required than being pure. This is the Greek Eusebia, from σέβομαι, which means having a good sense of awe.

Eucharist is about remembering our suffering so we can see the suffering of others.

As Catholics, we receive this spirit of awe through the Eucharist. The Jewish community receives it through remembering their rescue from Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt means oppression. Catholic and Jewish communities receive this sense of religious awe by remember our rescue from ourselves and from whatever oppresses us, our Egypt. We develop a sense of Gratitude, the root word of which is grace. In our Mass, we start with purification, but do not end there. We must be pure, and have this sense of gratitude, grace that propels us forward. If we do not, the demons return and we are seven times worse than when we started.

Abraham also tells the rich man, if his relatives do not believe the Torah and the Prophets, they will not believe if a man/Lazarus rises from the dead. In the Gospel of John, Lazarus, the helper of God, does rise from the grave, John 11:44. Instead of seeing a man rise from the grave, the Taanaic Rabbis of the first century, in their legalism, see a threat to their way of life.

What of us? When we attend Mass, do we see a small piece of bread and some wine? Do we see the blood turned into bread and wine? That makes us pure. Do we see Jesus Christ and all he represents, the Semitic Jew, Son of God, only Begotten Son of our Blessed Virgin, born into poverty, set into a feeding trough, with no place to set his head? Do we see the Man and Son of God anointed by God to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free? If we do, our religious awe sends us out into the world to make the world a better place for all. People will know us by our works. Father ended his homily by asking, “What do we choose to see?”