Our Bishop discusses the old parish priest, the unclean spirits, sunsets, and the Eucharist

So, which group are you in?

Bishop Calvo celebrated the 9:30 A.M. Mass at the Cathedral in Reno Nevada. He began his homily by noting that this coming weekend is the Nevada Caucus, the time we begin to select our leaders for the coming four years. Bishop Calvo told the story of the professional speaker, who was asked to recite the 23rd Psalm. Like Edward Everett, the speaker who spoke before Abraham Lincoln at the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, this speaker rose and recited the 23rd Psalm. The next speaker, the elder parish priest rose, and recited the 23rd Psalm. As at the Gettysburg address by Lincoln, the local nobody parish priest stole the show. As Bishop Calvo related, when the professional speaker’s staff asked why the elder parish priest stole the show, the professional speaker replied, “I know the 23rd Psalm; the parish priest knows the shepherd.”

Our Gospel reads, “The people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching. He taught them as one having authority. Not as the grammarians.” The difference between Jesus and the grammarians is that the grammarians are expert at planning, organizing, staffing, and controllership. The important step missing from quality management is leadership. Jesus is a leader. Grammarians are not.

A group of 7th to the 11th century rabbis were called the Masoretes. They worked very hard to make sure our Torah is a very precise, accurate copy of the original Hebrew. The middle letter in the Torah is a “U.” We know this because one masorah, was responsible for finding the exact middle letter in a Torah being tested. If it was a “U,” it passed. If not, it failed. Because of these men, we know our Torah is accurate. There is no game of telephone. They knew their Torah. They did not necessarily know the shepherd.

In our Gospel reading, Jesus knows his father, Abba, who is to come Haba, and who is love, Ahabba. “Who is smarter, us or the unclean spirits? You decide” relates, the unclean spirits also know the shepherd. Like the Jewish people in the first reading, they realize they are unclean, and afraid to come near to God’s presence.

The third group is the Pharisees, the Masorah of the first century who read Torah as secretaries, modern managers, who can plan, organize, staff and control but not lead. Like computers, they know the letters but who do not know the shepherd. “Who is smarter, us or the unclean spirits?”  discusses the fourth group, the people watching, much as we watch the event with our mind’s eye two millennium later. They also do not know Jesus, even though he stands right in front of them. The unclean spirits know more than they do.

Bishop Calvo asked of us, do we use Lectio Divina, in our studies of Torah, Prophets, Writings, Gospels, and Epistles? Do we read like the Masorah, finding all the typos, making sure every subject has a predicate, with verb, that every section has thesis statement, three main points, following the five “W’s” and a close. Do we read Torah, prophets, Writing, Gospels, and Epistles at all. Which of the four above group are we in? Do we know as much as the unclean spirits? Do we see Jesus in Torah, the Eucharist, in a sunset, in a flower, in the homeless man sitting on our front porch of our humble parish? This is what Jesus asks us today.