The Transfiguration, the Binding of Isaac, the Hallel, and the Passion of Jesus

Isaac was an adult when Abraham went to sacrifice him.

“Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves…Elijah appeared to them along with Moses. They conversed with Jesus. Peter replied to Jesus “Rabbi, it is beautiful we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. A cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud a voice, came “This is my beloved Son. Listen of him.”

Father will read this Gospel Second Sunday of Lent at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we will notice a set up steps that ascent to what the Navy calls the quarterdeck, and we call the altar. After Father processes down the aisle, he will ascend the mountain of those steps. We will purify ourselves with the penitential rite and the first reader, Moses will ascend of the mountain of those steps. When he arrives, he will read what Jewish community calls the עקידת יצחק, the Akeidat Yitzchak. The story is so profound the Muslims call it the Dhabih ذبيح. It is significant in Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religions.

We will also sing songs, and Psalm 116, part of Hallel, Psalm 113-118, “הלל‎, “Praise” the song that is the very center of the Jewish Bible. This song has the shortest chapter, Psalm 117, and is next to the longest chapter, 119. All observant Jews sing this song as part of the Passover liturgy, including Jesus at the Last Supper, Mark, 14:26.

After the cantor leaves the podium, Elijah, in the person of the second lector will ascend the mountain to read from Romans, chapter 8. Father will read the reading from St. Mark about the transfiguration.

Have we seen the transfiguration? “A cloud came, casting a shadow over them.” This is not just any cloud. This is the cloud of Mount Sinai. Deuteronomy 4 speaks of that cloud, “You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain blazed to the heart of the heavens with fire and was enveloped in a dense black cloud…”

Some argue, probably correctly, that the mountain was a volcano. The clouds at a volcano create their own lightning. Fire comes from the top of the volcano. It is a very electrifying experience. This fire and lightning was so electrifying it caused the people to be afraid to approach the mountain. We see this today when we see people afraid to approach the Eucharist. They either remain in their seats, or afraid to come to close, choose a blessing and not to encounter the host.

“From the cloud a voice, came “This is my beloved Son. Listen of him.” Listen of him. We do that as we pay attention to the reading and to its interpretation by Father through his homily. Just what do we learn of him? The next section is the healing of the epileptic, in the first three Gospels. Mark 9:14-29. Jesus says, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” There is only one prayer in the section, “Jesus said told the father, “If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” The boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” The prayer is not for healing, but for faith, which heals.

In the readings for the Second Sunday of Lent, we learn of Jesus who calls us to faith. We read of Jesus who heals people. We read of the power of community. The boy has no faith in the middle of his grand mal seizure. His father, representing community calls for faith. This faith brings healing. Let us read of Jesus, not just at Mass, but always, learning how he heals people, by bringing faith and hope to all people, regardless of faith, color, creed, or national origin. Learn of Jesus who does not come to judge the cosmos, but so the cosmos might have life, life to its fullest. John 10:10 John 3:16-17  Did we see the transfiguration. If we say no, did we not pay attention at Mass?


The Pope’s Angelus prayer, the Midrash of the Sower, & the first Sunday of Lent

At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, Father Francisco Nahoi began his homily by quoting our Beloved Pope Benedict XVI, “The liturgy of Lent has the aim of facilitating our journey of spiritual renewal in the light of this long biblical experience… It helps us to imitate Jesus who, in the forty days He spent in the wilderness, taught us to overcome temptation through the Word of God… Jesus was beset by temptation and the seduction of the Evil One, who suggested a messianic path, a path which was far from God’s plans because it involved power, success and dominion, not love and the total gift of self on the Cross.”

The typography of Lake Tahoe is almost identical to the typography of the Sea of Galilee

The Pope continued in his Angelus for Ash Wednesday, “The Church herself is a pilgrim in the “wilderness” of the world and history. This wilderness is of “the aridity and poverty of words, life and values, of secularism and the culture… The sky above us is dark, veiled with clouds of selfishness, misunderstanding, and deceit.”

Father Francisco related how Jesus went out into the wilderness to confront this aridity and poverty so we could follow him. What came to mind was the reading from Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” To truly encounter God, is to realize just how arid and poverty filled our lives really are. This is a very scary and fear filled experience, not one any wishes to experience.

Father Francisco related, there is also the physical dimension. The topography of the high desert all around Reno is very similar to the topography of the desert just outside of Jerusalem, where Jesus underwent his temptation. If one goes out unprepared, one can expect to die from lack of water, and if one has water, food. Who wants to follow this path? Yet, Jesus wants us to follow this path.

The article, “The seed is sown, so where on the ground are you part 2” discusses this spiritual dimension of the wilderness. In the Midrash of the sower, the first ground is where the seed falls and the birds eat the seed. The birds are the chirping birds warning the other birds/people of the self-righteous religious people who go to synagogue/church on Sabbath/Sunday, and whose faith is about what they do on Sunday and everyone else is supposed to do the rest of the week. People hear the chirping, see the aridity and poverty of this lifestyle, and run elsewhere. As the Midrash continues, the ground becomes progressively harder. The hardest soil is not the rock, but ground with the weeds, the poverty of the secular lifestyle and the pursuit of secular wealth over world community under God.

The opposite of this is the spirit filled soil. Spirit-filled ground is aerated ground, soft and pliable ground. Good ground can be millimeters away from bad ground. All are but sand, silt, clay, and organic matter. Except for bad soil being hard and good soil soft, they are the same. Bad soil clings to itself; good soil nourishes others, reaching out to others/community.

Father Francisco pointed to the epitome of community, the Eucharist, where Jesus dies for us and rises again, for the first time, each time we attend Mass. When Jesus goes into the wilderness, he faces the temptation we all face, to give up on community and try to face the trial of limited resources ourselves. The result is death. Father asked us, “Do we choose life, life for our community, and ourselves or do we choose death? Do we choose life in the spirit, or do we choose to be hard and callous toward others?” With our Beloved Pope Father Francisco asks, do we choose a messianic path, a path far from God’s plans because it involved power, success, and dominion? Do we choose a path of aridity and poverty, a life of misunderstanding, selfishness, and deceit, or do we choose a life of love and the total gift of self on the Cross?”

Nero, the Great Fire, and the Gospel of St. Mark

Father Buoy Augustine gave the Saturday Evening Mass at Little Flower Catholic Church in Reno Nevada. In his homily, He thrashed out the Two-Source Hypothesis, which argues that St. Mark was the first Gospel writer and wrote during the time of Nero after the Great Fire of Rome, 18 July to 19 July 0064.

Father Bouy Augustine may not be St. Augustine, but he gives one excellent homily

Father Buoy related, Nero used the Great Fire of Rome to run a pogrom against the Christians to divert attention from how Nero ran the Roman government into bankruptcy. Nero threw the Christians to the wild beasts, just as the politicians of Jesus’ time threw Jesus to the wild beasts/the crowds during the crucifixion. Father Buoy discussed how this relates to our Gospel.

The wilderness refers to the place the Great Accuser tempted Jesus those 40 days, Eretz Israel, The Passion, and to any place. The wild beasts refer to the people who persecuted Jesus, the lions who ate the Christians, and to all life. The messengers refer to the angels with Jesus in the desert, the apostles, the women with Jesus after the crucifixion, and to all Christians.

The article, “The thesis statement of St. Mark and returning to Fish City shows how the reading for the First Sunday of Lent is the Gospel of St. Mark’s thesis statement. “This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” has a double referent. It is the opening sentence for Mark’s Gospel, and for his whole Gospel as the beginning of the Good News.

Father Buoy discussed the Gospel reading, “The messengers ministered to him.” The messengers are the apostles. At the end of the Gospel St. Mark relates, “These women followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him.” St. Mark ends where he begins, the ministry of Jesus’ followers to the Gospel. The Aramaic for “Wild Beast,” is “Chi,” and means a “living being.” We are the living beings of Mark 1.

Father Buoy’s homily read like the article “Having our steak medium rare…” The contract God makes with Noah is God’s contract with all of his creation. Creatio-, is “A creating, producing, begetting” and “An electing to an office, a choice.” God chose his creation to do what he wants it to do, not us. All of God’s creation includes birds, animals, plants, rocks, dirt, and last humans, who God created last. God created the snakes and the insects before he created us.

Jesus’ Great Commandment, is “Love God with all of your hearts, with all of your anima, and with all of your measure.” How do we love God? We respect what is his, our planet and everything in it. We show a real concern for our planet as something he chose.

Instead, we treat God’s planet as something for us to exploit, the Keystone Pipeline, the Deep Water Horizon disaster, and with all too many other disasters, past, present, and future, with Climate Change. We treat God’s animals as things for us to exploit. Worst of all, we treat our neighbors, customers, workers, employees as things, things to exploit.

Father Buoy argues how our first reading, the contract of Genesis 9 is a contract with all creation and the humans are violating that contract. In reference to Leviticus 25:1-7, Leviticus 26 states: “I will scatter you among the nations… leaving your countryside desolate, and your cities deserted… The land will have rest… the rest that you would not let it have on your Sabbaths when you lived there.”

The Hebrew word for rest is “Noah.” We did not give the land its rest in the first quarter of the twentieth century and God gave us the Dust bowl. We do not give the land its rest today, and God gives us his dust bowl. The land will rest; either we will give it that rest, or God will, and the Mayan predictions will become true, but not as we desire. The choice is ours to make, now.

Ash Wednesday, the four freedoms, MLK’s Dream and repentance

We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, he made him to be failure who did not know failure, so that we might become the charitableness of God in him. Working together, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. St. Paul writes:

In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation/Joshua/Jesus I helped you.

Now is a very acceptable time.

Now is the day of salvation/Joshua/Jesus.

                        Now is the time to end the need for this shelter

So reads the second reading for Ash Wednesday. The key word in the passage is δίκαιος which the Septuagint or Greek translation of the Hebrew Torah usually translates for Tzaddic. Tzaddic means both justice/righteousness, and charity. The idea comes from the Exodus and the First Mitzvah, which includes the command to remember our enslavement in Oppression/ Egypt and our rescue. To remember our enslavement and our rescue means to get that lump in our throat when we see others suffer and do something.

Saint Paul tells us that Jesus/Salvation did not know failure, become failure, dying on the cross so that we might become charitable, the charitableness of God. We do not receive the grace of God in vain. Just as God worked to lead the Jews out of Egypt to the Promised Land, so Jesus died on the cross to rescue us. In exchange, we must work to rescue others, or our salvation is in vain. Now is the acceptable time to save others, from poverty, from despair, to the freedom of expression, the freedom to serve God as he desires, from want and from fear.

Because God rescued us, we remember the words of the Great American who said, “Seven score and nine years ago, a great American, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. One hundred and fifty years later, too many live on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred and fifty years later, too many still languish in the corners of American society, finding themselves exiles in their own land.

This great American talked about a check, a promissory note that all people are supposed to inherit. As then, our leaders still tell the poor there are not sufficient funds to help them out of their chains of poverty. Now is the time for tax cuts for the rich. The poor need to wait. As Christians, we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of America.

Our second reading for Ash Wednesday reminds us of the Fierce Urgency of Now. There is no time to engage in the luxury of gradualism. Now is a very acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation/Joshua/Jesus. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of injustice to the solid rock of Christian unity. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. Now is the time to make America one nation under God, not two, one black, one white, one enslaved by poverty, and one enslaved by wealth.

Ash Wednesday is the day of repentance; Repentance from what? Repentance from allowing our politicians, our religious and economic leaders not to cash that check. Are we ready and up to the task?

Having our steak medium rare and how it reflects how we see the world around us

The article, “The thesis statement of St. Mark and returning to Fish City,” presents the thesis statement for the Gospel of St. Mark, “Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Medium rare staek, do you eat steak witht the blood still in it?

Jesus represents the kingdom of God as among us now, the time of his preaching. It is now, as we see Jesus among us in in each other, and in the animal and plant life that is all around us. The kingdom of God is reaching out to us, touching us.

Genesis 9, the first reading, discusses,God’s contract with Noah. It begins, the contract is with us and with our descendants. It adds, “With every living creature…”

The world is an organic whole. Therefore, it is like Jello. Anything that affects any part of it affects the whole. Adam Smith in, On Moral Sentiments, discusses the Law of Unintended Consequences. His best friend, an atheist named Thomas Hobbes, also discusses this theory, “Consequences, mixed and varied, may be foreseen to flow from every measure: And many consequences, unforeseen, do always, in fact, result from every one.

We are a small part of God’s planet. The world is a web. When we shake the web  we affect the whole web. God makes the contract with all, animal, mineral, vegetable, and human. Genesis 9 makes it clear that Hebrew has the same concept. Genesis 9 reads, “Only the flesh in the life force, which is the blood, you will not eat. The blood in the life force/soul, I seek. From the hand of all life, I seek the blood/life force/soul. From the hand of Der Mann, and from the hand of Der Mensch of his brother, I seek the animate force of Der Mann. German and Hebrew have two words for our word, “Man.”

God seeks the animate force of life in all animate beings. Genesis 9 forbids eating meat with blood still in it. Leviticus 17:11, “The life of the flesh is in the blood. That is not just human blood, but the blood of all animals. Verse 14, “His blood is in his animate force/soul,” and adds, “The animate force/soul, of all flesh is the blood.” Leviticus reverses the order. “The life is in the blood,” The Hebrew word for blood is “Dam.” For likeness, as in the likeness of God, Genesis 1:26, it is Damoth. As we deal with blood, we deal with the likeness of God.

All life on our planet is in one Social Contract, before God. We are all to care for each other and the fragile Eco-system. Let us repent, turn back to God, see all life/human and animal is sacred before God, and treat it as such. Then we can believe there is a world to come where all will do the same, and that will be the kingdom of God.

The rich young man, the Blind man of Bethsaida and the paralytic/us

This Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Father Joe Kim gave another excellent homily, relating the healing of the paralytic to the rich young man in the Gospel of St. Mark, 10:17-31. In his youth group, his students would continually ask how to practice their faith, their walk in life to the Promised Land. The articles Everyone is looking for you God, and Are you Samuel, Israel, or Benjamin discuss how we all strive to find our way to the Promised Land but get sidetracked. Father Kim’s discussion related to how we get lost.

If we are going to cross over into the Promised Land, we must first make ourselves worthy of the Promised Land

In the rich young man, Jesus presents the last six of the Ten Commandments. The rich young man argues how he followed them from his youth. Jesus shows him how he failed the first four commandments. The rich young man forgot his rescue as a member of community. He has other gods, silver, and gold. When he discusses God, he confuses his name with his silver and his gold, so takes God’s Name in vain.

Father Kim continued, with the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26). Jesus uses spittle to make mud, and puts the mud into the blind man’s eyes. The man sees people as walking trees. The Hebrew word for tree and counselor, old stodgy person who looks and acts as if his humanity has left him, are the same. Jesus treats the blind man again, and he sees completely, the humanity in each person.

Father Kim related this to the healing of the paralytic. There were so many people gathered around Jesus, the four men bringing the paralytic were not able to reach him. Father Kim related how the people in the room are so like us, so wrapped up in our own suffering we cannot see the suffering of others.

An example coming to mind as Father Kim delivered his homily was the HHS mandate. We are so concerned about the mandate we are not able to see what is behind the mandate issue. This does not mean we should support paying for expenses we find abhorrent. We need to look what those wanting the mandate really desire. They want others to see their humanity. If we do not look at, and more important, address this desire of all people to be treated as if the image of God is within them, because it is, we are blind as those so concerned with their own healing that they are blind to the paralytic.

We are the blind man of Bethsaida, not seeing others humanity. The four boys who drop the paralytic through the roof are the healthy members of society, looking out for another member of their community. Like the paralytic, our blindness so paralyses us to the suffering of others, we do not know to ask Jesus for forgiveness and healing. Others are so full of fear and guilt, they are afraid to approach the Eucharist and ask for healing. Matthew 18:21-35, verse 31 tells us, “When his fellow servants saw what had happened, they… went to their master and reported the whole affair.” “His fellow servants” do as the four boys carrying the paralytic to Jesus. They do as Jesus asks of us. They address each others suffering.

We also need to report, and act on, “the whole affair.” We need to take action against how in 1968 the unemployment rate was 3.6% and the bottom 50% of the population earned 27% of all income. Now the unemployment rate is over 8% and the bottom 50% of the population earned around 19% of all income. People are suffering and the solution of the richest 1% of the population is to get rid of the labor unions. Presidents, governors, including Catholic governors have been playing with education budgets for so long, we now forget what a moral education budget would look like.

We have been so silent on the topic, and what has been going on in states like Wisconsin, the silence is deafening. We must address the issue of voter suppression in the South. Almost 49 million people live in food insecure homes. This includes 16 million children. It is not enough to fund CSA, as important as that is. We must make every effort, including government action, to make the need for CSA go away. We must address income inequality in America. If we want others to take us seriously, we must be like the four boys in our Gospel reading, and the crowd in the story of the unforgiving servant. We must drop our paralysis and act.

Let your yes be yes, and your no be yes to helping Jesus by helping the poor

This coming Sunday is the Seventy Sunday in Ordinary Time at our Cathedral in Reno, Nevada. We will read from 2 Corinthians and sing from Psalm 41. In the process we will learn some truths about Jesus and about what he asks from us. From the second reading we will read:

Let your yes be yes, and your no be yes. St. Paul

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us… was not “yes” and “no,” but “yes.” 2 Corinthians 1:18-22.

Psalm 41, the Psalm for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time has two parts, which properly understood, are really only one part. The first part is Psalm 41:1-4. The second part is Psalm 41:5-14.

The first part refers to Jesus, and to all of us who help the poor. In a few days we begin Ash Wednesday and Lent at our Cathedral in Reno. Lent ends with Jesus Passion and the Last Supper. Jesus refers to the second part of Psalm 41during this Last Supper:  (Mark 14:17-21)

I said: Personal Name, be kind to me; heal my animate being; I failed you.’ My enemies speak rot of me: ‘When shall he die; his name perish?’ If one comes to see me, he speaks vanity; his heart gathers oppressive power; when he goes abroad, he speaks of it… My friend, in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, lifted up his heel… (Own Translation)

In Jesus time and culture, people were convicted based on two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 19:15 Leviticus 19:16 Vain witness can be true witness, if not backed up with two or three witnesses. Matthew 18:15-17 Deuteronomy 5:16. “When he goes abroad he speaks of it,” where he does not have two or three witnesses.

Jesus is the healer. Jesus discerns the needs of the poor. St. Luke says as much in the thesis statement of his Gospel, Luke 4:6-21. At the end of his life, Jesus has no followers. Peter denies him three times. Jesus’ name means salvation. He must feel he failed. His enemies spoke rot of him. They cannot wait for Jesus’ Passion and death. The Pharisees feel full of power. In reference to Judas, Psalm 41 speaks of the one who ate his bread.

St. Paul tells us, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us…

He also states, “Our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but in the Holy Spirit, and much conviction… You became imitators of us and of the Personal Name, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit…”

Jesus discerns, and acts upon the needs of the poor. We are also his imitators. All who imitate Christ, having the Spirit of God, work to preserve the needs of the poor, including the 48.8 million people and 16 million children living in food insecure households in the United States. We will not go about as talebearers/ peddlers/ merchants, complaining that if the poor are poor, it must be because of something they did. We act based upon the Spirit within.

Our Epistle for this Sunday continues, “The one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us; has also put his seal upon us and put the Spirit in our hearts.” This Spirit discerns the needs of the poor. If we have the spirit within, we also discern, and act upon the needs of the poor, as individuals and as a nation.

What separates us Catholics from the rest of the population is that we participate in Jesus’ Passion when we participate in his Last Supper, the Eucharist. We watch Judas as he walks away. We listen as we hear people speak of us, and Jesus at the cross asking him to come down from the cross, or die. We listen as the Pharisees gloat over Jesus’ suffering, calling his body rot. When we leave Mass, we then see it in the poor who are always before us.

For us, there is therefore no yes and no. There is only yes. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22. When God says jump, remembering what God did for us, we only ask, “How high?”

The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, healing the paralytic, culminating a series of healings.

This Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we will read the story of the paralytic, the culmination of a series of healings starting with the cure of the demoniac, Mark 1:21-28. As discussed in the article, “Who is smarter, us or the unclean spirits? You decide,” the main point of the story is that the unclean spirits know who Jesus is, while many a church/synagogue attendee does not.


Even in the Valley of dried up old bones there can be vitality and life

Mark 1 also presents us with St. Peter’s mother-in-law. Once healed, she serves. She serves Jesus and those with him, Christian community. As the article, “Everyone is looking for you, God,” points out, everyone is looking for God. Everyone is looking for salvation, in Hebrew, Joshua/Jesus. Some have gotten off the beaten path looking to the right or to the left, and some may be on the wrong road entirely, but we are all looking for God and salvation.
The article, “Changing the feral cat within our communities, healing the leper and paralytic,” adds to the conversation by pointing out that doctors do not heal people as they change their environment and then the natural process of things allows them to change themselves. The culmination of this series of healings is the healing of the paralytic.
The article, “Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” discusses the healing of the paralytic. Many have tried to ascertain just what the sin of the paralytic was. St. Mark gives no details and that just may be the point. As we try reading into the story to find the fault, we project ourselves into the story and say far more about ourselves then about the paralytic. The main point is that even the demons know God better than the people in the crowds, the church/synagogue going people do. The article, “Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” points out, in Semitic literature those who suffer do not necessarily have any fault, at least no more than the rest of us.
The paralytic may be the victim of child abuse; accusing him of sin/failure will only compound the paralysis. What Jesus/salvation wants from us is curing the paralysis, not finding fault. Jesus asks, “What is easier to say?” If we say, “Pick up your mat and go home,” what does the child do when he gets there? Afraid to act, he becomes paralyzed again. We must then go find him and give more directions. That is more syllables and more effort. If we say, “Your sin/guilt is forgiven, gratitude drives him on, giving him the direction he needs.
Something more is required for the paralyzed child to walk again. He must not only believe his faults are forgiven and his guilt removed. He must believe that the effort he expended in the past will be fruitful now. Jesus is going on to the next town to preach the Gospel. Mark 1:35-39 It is for us, the people in the community to become as smart as the unclean spirits and help those paralyzed in our communities to again start on the way to the promised land.
The first reading for this Sunday reads, “Thus says the Personal Name: Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.” We must show the paralytics of our society, those who have given up, this new way, this something new. As we walk through our lives to the Promised Land, we must show God’s love to each other, picking each other up when we fall, helping those who lag behind to catch up and keep up. There is no room for tough love here, only compassion and Christian love. Are we prepared to pick up and start walking to the Promised Land again?

Of leprosy and the meaning of fasting and our Christian community

Father Joseph Kim’s homily dovetailed nicely with the talk Deacon Joe Bell gave this past Wednesday about fasting. A key passage in the homily and the discussion is Deuteronomy 5:1-6:

The Saints call us to fasting and returning to Christian Community

As mentioned on Wednesday, “Not with our fathers did the Personal Name make this Social Contract…” Each time the Jewish community celebrates Passover, they relive the Exodus from Egypt for the first time. God liberates each generation anew. The Eucharist is Jesus’ Passion, a Passover event. Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus and his Passion becomes present among us. We fast during Lent, remembering our participation, our suffering, our ostracism,  with him in his Passion.

Father Joseph Kim’s homily discusses ostracism, the two groups of people casting themselves out of community, and their spiritual death. Like the leper in the Gospel reading for this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Torah requires the first group to go yell, “Unclean, unclean,” an early form of Quarantine. These people left the community not to spread their leprosy. In the process, they became outcast from their community their Temple, and their Jewish/our Catholic faith.

They are like those in prison. The US has 5% of the world population and 25% of the world’s prison population. They are the people we do not want to see. These people suffer from two forms of pain. First, they are in prison. They are also the people of the Great Northern Migration from slavery in the south to another form of slavery and ostracism in the north. They migrated north, as our Hispanics today, looking for real jobs, real life with dignity, but finding menial work and ostracism. Too many are the 50.2 million people living in insecure households, including 17.2 million children called lazy, but only wanting real work with dignity.

The second form of pain is more hurtful, knowing they are not part of the “One Nation under God.” They are not part of “Real America.” They look different, speak different, or dress different, being poor, unable to pay for the latest styles; they are not part of “Real America.”

Father Kim discussed the second group. They are Anglo-Saxon, Scotch Irish, German, and Italian. They are in our boardrooms, the Pharisees, (Hebrew for Separate Ones.) They are the proper people who drive their Lexus with the darkened windows so as not to see, to work from their gated communities. In Reno, they live on Skyline. They live in mansions in the gated properties on Foothill. They are Sadducees, the just people who pay more than their fair share in taxes, even though they pay a tax rate of 15% on their dividends, while their secretaries pay 25% in payroll taxes.

Father Kim mentioned Matthew 25:31-Matthew 26:1. “As you have done to the least of these my brothers, you do it to me.” Matthew 26:1 begins the Passion. As we do to the least of these my brothers, those in prison, as long as we insist on being two nations, one black, one white, one rich, one poor, one enslaved by poverty, one enslaved by wealth, as long as we allow people to do without adequate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and transportation, we participate in Jesus’ Passion as part of the crowd. As long as we fight these evils, we participate with Jesus in his Passion, through the Eucharist.

The Pharisees of our day do not see; they are not part of the One Nation under God. They are above, so do not feel the pain of separation. God can touch the lepers, the blind, and the lame. He cannot heal those who do not feel their own pain of separation. Greek has two words for touch. The first is ἅπτω, and means to bind together as glue. The second is “Therapy.” Jesus risks ostracism, touching the lepers of his time. He binds himself to them. Jesus also touches, giving therapy.

Jesus question to us is, “Do we do the same? Do we reach out and touch others? Are we the Pharisees and Sadducees, separated by our own sense of perfection, not needing the healing hand of God? If we do not need the healing hand of God, he cannot heal us.

Remember, “I am The Personal Name your Almighty, who rescued you from oppression.” If we do not remember what ostracism feels like, the Ten Words do not apply to us, but then again, neither does the rescue, the Kingdom of God.

Rick Santorum compared with Catholic and American Social Doctrine

The article, “A Catholic voters guide for Reno Nevada, part 3,” begins, by quoting Deuteronomy 4:5-9. The essence of this passage is that we should create a society that others want to emulate. The article “A Catholic voters guide for Reno Nevada, part 3,” also quotes our Declaration of Independence and the Preamble of our Constitution.

A founding principle of our republic

These state, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (Muslim and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, immigrant and native born, Anglo-Saxon and minority) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…”

The Preamble states the reason for our government is to, “Form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

The program of Rick Santorum, from his webpage is to:

  Consolidate duplicative programs and agencies

  Promote competition for provision of essential services

How does Rick Santorum plan on both promoting competition while phasing out duplication of services. Competition implies two agencies providing the same service and competing with each other for the right to provide the stated service.

  Immediately reduce federal (non-defense discretionary spending) to 2008 levels through across the board spending cuts.

  Freeze defense spending levels for 5 years and reject automatic cuts.

  Freeze spending levels for social programs for 5 years such as Medicaid, Housing, Education, Job Training, and Food Stamps, time limit restrictions, and block grant to the States like in Welfare Reform.

  Repeal and Replace ObamaCare with market based healthcare innovation and competition.

  Cut EPA resources for job killing regulations and return focus to commonsense conservation and safe and clean air and water.

  Cut in half the number of State Department USAID employees.

  Cut funding for National Labor Relations Board.

As we look at these programs, one item becomes clear. All of these proposals focus on the process of government, not the goal of government. The proposals do not show any clear understanding of what the role of government is as spelled out in our Declaration of Independence and the Preamble. “Cut in half the number of State Department USAID employees?” How many USAID employees are required to fulfill our heritage as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and the mandate of the Preamble.? The proposal does not define this or why USAID has too many employees as defined to meet the needs of the above documents. This does not mean USAID has too many or too few employees. We simply do not know.

This process puts the cart before the horse. Instead of finding the need as defined by the above documents, we first decide how much we are willing to spend, then make the need meet the spending. If people die, at least we are pro-life? No!  This is not pro-life, and Catholics only vote for people who are pro-life.

The same applies to the proposal to reduce federal non-defense spending. How much is required to fulfill the legacy of our Declaration of Independence and the mandates of our Preamble? How are we defining how much is required? Freeze spending levels for social programs for 5 years such as Medicaid, Housing, Education, Job Training, and Food Stamps? How much is required to fulfill the mandates of the above documents? How are we defining that?

Our republic is founded upon principles. We must follow those principles if we expect others to take us seriously!

A Catholic voter’s guide for Reno, Nevada, part 5 clearly shows how it very much is the role of government to protect the poor from the ignorance of the rich. Catholic social teaching is teaches us that we are made in the image of God, and as such, God obligates us, as individuals, and as nations, to treat each other as being made in God’s image. We also have Original Sin. We are all imperfect human beings. As John Locke states in his Second Treatise on Government, “No man is a fair judge in his own case.” Business and government needs regulation external to itself to protect those weaker then itself.

We are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…” It may well be that Social Spending needs to be frozen. Some 8,000 babies die in the first year of life, half of which are pre-born due to negligence on the part of our society. This does not include abortion.  Before the implementation of so-called “Obamacare,” 45,000 total human beings died each year from a lack of health care. There are 5,000 worker related deaths and 1.2 million industrial accidents each year. Fifty.2 million people lived in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Of these individuals, 12.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with very low food security.

These figures and much, much more, imply that we as a society are not spending enough on social programs. We need to be addressing our problems, as our starting point, not on reducing numbers. There is nothing in the Rick Santorum plan to fix these numbers. The article, “The Catholic Case Against Rick Santorum, also has much to say on this issue.

How does Rick Santorum define the problems government is supposed to address? How does he define the role of government? What will the spending needs of our republic be, this year, next year, in five years as defined by the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble? What programs does Rick Santorum plan on having in place to meet those needs? We do not know. He is not addressing these issues, only the issue of spending cuts.

Instead, we have a program, which opposes labor unions to regulate big business and opposes government doing the job. We must ask ourselves, in this plan, where is the regulation for the corporate executive and his original sin, his being an imperfect human being?

That is why other nations do not look to emulate us. We start with the budget cutting formula, and then try to make the need fit the formula. Until we put the horse in front of the proverbial cart, we cannot expect other nations to emulate us. Until we find that regulatory force, we must look for another candidate for the job of president.