The Cat Whisperer, the healing of the paralytic, the healing of the leper, and healing our society in our time.

The reading for this Sunday, the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time is how Jesus cured the Leper. Listen to their conversation:

Leper: “If you wish, you can make me clean.”

Jesus: “I do desire it. Be clean.”

Jesus touches us in the Eucharist and asks us to take that touch out into our world

Doctors do not heal people. They change the environment and the patient heals himself. The doctor does not heal a broken foot, but puts a cast on and the bone heals itself. The doctor does not heal a person from the common cold, but gives an anti-biotic, along with chicken soup. Chicken soup is an anti-inflammatory that helps ease the symptoms of the common cold. With the symptoms reduced, the body heals itself. The healing is a two-step process. First, the anti-biotic removes the contagion, and changes the environment. In the second step, the body regains its strength, healing itself.

The Hebrew word for “Leper” is “Sarah.” The Hebrew word for Egypt is “Me Sarah.” The root word means “Oppression.” Egypt is the land the land where the Jews were oppressed, enslaved. God saved the Jews from Egypt, but they did have to walk out on their own, and live forty years in the desert, cooking their own manna and quail. God created the conditions for the Jewish people to make that trip.

During the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, we will read the story of the paralytic from Mark 2:1-12. The article, “Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” argues, the paralytic is no guiltier of any sin than you, I or the person next door. The paralytic is the victim of child abuse.  This is the problem of the first century and the twenty-first century Pharisee. “Who has the authority to forgive sin but God alone.” The first century, and the twenty first century Pharisee reinforces the negative environment of the abused, “Me Sarah,” paralytic/ leper.” His sin is forgiven; he must have sin.

Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” interprets Jesus’ statement, “That you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth…” “Son of Man” refers to everyman, not to Jesus alone. Jesus changes the paralytic’s environment. This allows him to walk again.

Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” argues that Jesus is soon leaving that village. He cannot be the person who alone changes that environment. Only the villagers, we the readers of the passage, can do that. The secret is in Jesus’ actions toward the leper, “Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, and touched him.” The Greek word for “touch, first means to bind, or to cling. The article, “Who is smarter, us or the unclean spirits? You decide,” teaches from Deuteronomy 30, “God’s Mitzvah is not in our heads but in our hearts.” When are compassionate to our neighbor, our heart tells us how to change our environment, so he can heal.

The Television show, Cat Whisperer, has an episode about a cat feral, Minibar. People One does not properly speaking train cats, in particular feral cats. We change their environments. Jackson Galaxy does just that. Galaxy does not train the cat, but changes his cats environments and the cats heals themselves, becoming domesticated.

The story of the leper shows the same about humans. The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prison population. The solution is not locking these people away, nor is it trying to change these people. The solution is in changing their environment. Clint Eastwood has it right. This could be half-time in America. First, we must be willing to change our environment, and bring hope, real hope to all people.

If we change our environment, we change each other, making ourselves more domestic, more productive, employable, and kinder to each other. Let us do that today.

Exhortations characteristic of early missionary activity, the Gospel of Mark

In his homily for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary time, Father Francisco related how Evangelism was no new idea to the first century Christians. The grammarians also engaged in missionary activity. Matthew 23:15 relates Jesus’ comments to the grammarians of his day, “You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna…” As with the heavy-handed politics of Jesus’ day, many people today lament the politics within our Diocese of Reno. It is here. It has always been here. We read the following quotes from the Acts and the Epistles:

St. Peter and St. Paul also had their disagreements and the church its politics even then.

“When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face…” Galatians 2:11-13 “Paul told Barnabas, “Let us make a return…” Barnabas wanted to take with them John, called Mark, but Paul insisted they should not take someone who had deserted them… So sharp was their disagreement, they separated. Acts 15:36-40

In both instances, we read of church politics, division between Peter/Cephas, division between St. Paul and Barnabas. St. Paul is upset with the writer of our Gospel of Mark. St. Peter, St. Paul, and Barnabas, Bar Navy, Son of the Prophet are all strong willed men who disagreed on important things. They disagreed on how non-Jews, and sometimes each other, fit into the new Christian community. They disagreed on the how to of missionary activity.

St. Mark brings us back to the basics, “This is the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” He ends his Gospel, in the short version Mark 16:8: “They said nothing to anyone.” St. Peter dropped the ball, denying Jesus three times. Mary Magdalene… seeing the risen Jesus, also drop the ball. When St. Mark writes, “This is the beginning of the Gospel,” he does not refer to the quote from Isaiah, which begins the next verse of Mark 1, but to the entire Gospel.

Acts 1 quotes St. Peter as saying of the apostles, “It is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Master Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

St. Mark causes us to relive in present time the life of Jesus from the baptism of John until his ascension. This follows the Semitic style of Deuteronomy 5:2-3. Each generation relives the event in present time. We are the witnesses to his resurrection, called to be apostles. When we hear the Gospels and partake of the Eucharist, as Father Francisco related in his homily, we relive the word of God in present time. We are unlike the Jewish fathers, who strain the gnat and swallow the camel, and who tithe of mint, dill, and cummin, and neglect the weightier things of the law: charity, mercy and fidelity.

This should not be taken in any way as a criticism of the Tannaitic fathers of the first century. Both Father Nahoe and this author are highly dependent upon the positive writings of these same first century Jewish scholars for our positive understanding of what it meant to be a first century Jew and a first century early Christian. It is rather to point out that we and our fathers are in so many ways like them. We are both human and subject to the same kinds of mistakes. We must constantly be looking for those mistakes in ourselves, learning and growing.

We strive to do better than those who came before us, who as admirable as they are, are human beings. We hope our descendents will do the same. St. Mark’s appeal for us is to a fresh start, reliving and proclaiming the Gospel by how we live.

Groundhog Day in Chicago and changing the world

Please consider us when you vote on Saturday

The movie “Groundhog Day has some interesting dialogue. Phil Connors/Bill Murray is talking with some drunks in a bar.

One of these drunks remarks, “You know, some guys would look at this glass and they would say, “That glass is half empty.” Other guys would say, “That glass is half full. I peg you as a “glass is half empty kind of guy. Am I right?”

Phil Connors replies, “What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?”

One of the drunks replies, “That sums it up for me.”

The comment also sums it up the movie. Everything following is about Sisyphus and the retelling of his tale by Albert Camus. “That sums it up for me.” Just like Sisyphus and the boulder he has to move up the hill every day, “That sums it up; give me another beer.”

Later, Phil Connors asks, “Let me ask you guys a question, “What if there were no tomorrow?” A drunk responds, “No tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences.”

This brings the second solution. If nothing matters, “Let us eat, drink, and be marry; there is no tomorrow.” This leads to despondency and numerous suicide attempts/successes. This Sunday, the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we will read from the book of Job who also grapples with these same issues. Chapter 38 from Job gives God’s reply to Job, to the degree that it is a reply. It is not a reply to satisfy the Phil Connors of the world.

The Psalm for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Psalm 147 states, “The Personal Name rebuilds Jerusalem/the City of Peace, and gathers the dispersed of Israel/those who quarrel with God, healing the brokenhearted, and binding up their wounds. The Personal Name gives aid to the poor, but casts the Russia to the ground. (own translation)

Russia refers, not to a place, or ethnic group, but to a state of mind, those who think themselves first. It refers to those who are either asleep to their plight, the plight of Phil Connors, or take the course of “Eat, drink, and be marry, because there is no tomorrow.”

Later in the movie, Phil Connors watches as the old man dies. This brings his transformation and the solution to the film. When Phil Connors ceases to be Russia, the man who puts himself first, and becomes a Tzaddic, a man for others, he starts to change himself, and the world. As the article, “Everyone is looking for you, God relates, he can exit his self aggrandizing and return to the road that leads to where he really wanted to go all along. This is finding a wife, Rita, get married, raise a family, and continue his journey to the Promised Land. In the process, he finds he really can change the world. When he realizes this, he can move on to February 3.

Nevada caucuses this Saturday. When we caucus, will we be Russian, people for ourselves, or American, people for others. Will we live the life of the before Phil Connors, complaining about how nothing matters, or will we change ourselves and be one nation, under God, helping to bring liberty and justice to all?

Is our candidate a true conservative, a true liberal, or a true Christian?

As the article “Are you Samuel, Israel, or Benjamin?” relates, Deuteronomy 2 is an excellent place to begin the story of the entry into the Promised Land. Here, Moses relates, “I sent messengers from the wilderness of Preceding First to Conversation, Messenger of Contemplation, with this offer of peace: “Let me pass through your country. I will travel only on the road. I will not turn either to the right or to the left.”The Latin word for “Left” is “Sinister.” Traveling the right way, we do not travel to the left, to the way of “Sinister.” We do not travel to the right either. The Latin word for “Right” is “Dexter” from which we get our word, “Dexterous,” “Skillful.” The Hebrew word is, “Amen.”

Pro-life is not from conception until natural birth. Pro-life is conception until natural death whre life means life lived in the image of God

An interesting example is that of the city bus. I want to go four miles due north. My two choices are one bus going three miles due east, and another three miles due west. The question is, “Which bus should I board?” Of course, both buses leave me, not three miles or four miles from my destination, but five miles. It is better not to get on a bus and all, Then I only have three miles to walk. Still, in all too many articles we read, “Vote for______. He is the true conservative.” “Vote for_______. He is the true liberal.” Where is ________?” Where is the true Christian?

The article “A Catholic voters guide for Reno Nevada, part 2” discusses Deuteronomy 30 which relates, “This Mitzvah which I am giving you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” It is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.

A Catholic voters guide for Reno Nevada, part 1” lays out the essence of the Mitzvah. It is to love God with all of our hearts, with all of our animate being, and with all of our measure. We do not need to memorize 2885 sections of the Catechism, although we do need to do Lectio Divina with that text. How do we love God? What do we give someone who already has everything? We respect what is his, as the articles above relate. In particular, we respect what he made in his image. There may be devil in the details. We may disagree from time to time, as to how the road actually moves through the desert of our lives. There can be no doubt as to the fact that we must stay on the road, together, as one nation, under God, with liberty, and justice for all. We do not get on the eastbound bus, and we do not get on the westbound bus. We await the northbound bus.

We meet this bus at Mass where we find Jesus in the Physical Presence of the Eucharist. We meet this bus when we see the poor homeless child who has no place to lay his head. We meet this bus when we leave Mass and find the homeless out on the streets, or without adequate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, or transportation. We love God with all of our hearts, all of our animate being, and with all of our measure. That does not mean, with all of our measure, except for what is inconvenient, or except for our society or our government. We love God with all of our measure.

That is what Psalm 72 tries to tell us when it begins “To Solomon, and ends with “The Psalms of David are finished.” That is what Psalm 82 tries to tell us when Asaph dumps on the rulers of his day for not doing so. That is not what Matthew 25:31-26:1 demands when Jesus tells us in person, “As you do to the least of these my brothers, you do it to me,” and then begins his Passion.

This Saturday we have our Nevada Caucus. In that caucus, we will decide who we want to represent us in the general election. Having no viable candidates is not an excuse. Two of the men running claim to be Catholic. We have 224 Catholic Colleges and Universities, and 26 law schools. These schools graduate 70,000 students each year. If we do not have a candidate each for State Assembly, Governor, Member of the US House of Representatives, two for the US Senate, and one for President, there is something radically wrong. It is probably that we are pushing our leaders to get on that east or westbound bus too. The time has come for this to stop. The time has come for the true Christian leader, and no longer the true conservative or liberal leader.

A Catholic voters guide for the Reno Nevada Caucus

The article, “A Catholic voters guide for Reno Nevada, part 1” presents the view that all Catholic morality, and all Christian morality. This view of morality begins with the Jewish Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Mark, 12:28-34, which we will read at our Cathedral two days before election day of this year. The “A Catholic Voters guide,” asks, “How do we love God?” “What do we give someone, God” who already literally has everything?” The guide answers the question, “By respecting what is his, in particular what is made in his image.


Please remember us when you Caucus on Saturday

The New York Times informs us, “The rate and extent at which sea levels will rise in this century as ice sheets erode remains highly uncertain, even as the long-term forecast of centuries of retreating shorelines remains intact. Scientists are struggling more than ever to disentangle how the heat building in the seas and atmosphere will affect the strength and number of tropical cyclones.” With this in mind, we are able to compare the statements of the candidates competing in our Nevada Caucus, to decide who is best able to address climate change concerns.

You, the reader can look back to your childhood, and find out what the weather was for this date, and compare it with today’s weather. You can decide for yourself if the weather is changing. Here is the link. We can also trace bird migration and see if birds are changing their flight paths. Animals do tend to notice climate changes better than humans do. The National Weather Service puts out reports on how weather changes year by year. There is a nominal charge if you want to go back further to compare temperature and precipitation changes. The National Weather Service also gives information on the number of tornados year by year for a comparison. They also give a Named Cyclones by Year graph.


Please remember us on Saturday too! and in November

The New York Times reports, “Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists. The increase solidified a trend of ever-rising emissions that scientists fear will make it difficult, if not impossible, to forestall severe climate change in coming decades. The same article reports, “Estimates of the amount of warming that would result from a doubling of greenhouse gas range from 3.6 degrees to 8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mitt Romney stated, “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. The idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” Mitt Romney continued, “Man-made global ‘warming and cap and trade’ and so forth… All the governors…signed it. I refused to sign. I do not believe in a cap and trade program.” He also relates, “I think the earth is getting warmer. … I think humans contribute to that. I don’t know by how much. It could be a little. It could be a lot.”

Gingrich said he was “deeply opposed” to cap-and-trade, a regulatory system that puts a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions and then allows emitters like utility and manufacturing companies to trade pollution permits. Gingrich has said there’s no “conclusive” proof of it (Climate change), or that humans cause it. He’s suggested that the Earth may be moving “into a long cooling period.”

Rick Santorum says of Climate change, “So why have we decided that this one particular factor, carbon dioxide, is in fact that tip of the tail that wags the entire dog. Why from a scientific point of view do we make the assertion that this is in fact what is the case when there is a whole lot of other factors out there that could be affecting it? They don’t trust you to allocate resources in a way that they believe is best, and so they want to have a system that forces you to do what they think you should do in running your business and your lives.”

God is watching how we care for his planet. We show our love for God by how we treat his property.