There is no salvation except through Jesus, but what does that mean?

Theophilus, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of The Name!

So ends the second reading for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, which our lector will read this coming Sunday at our Cathedral in Reno, Nevada. We will also read from Psalm 118, part of the Hillel, the Great Jewish song of praise sung during Passover. During that psalm, the Jewish community sings, “בָּרוּךְ הַבָּא, בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה,” “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Name.” Psalm 118 also has “The Name is the Mighty Judge, and gives us light; order the festival procession with boughs, even unto the horns of the altar.” The festive procession with boughs refers to the Palm Sunday crowd. The article “Are you ready for some baseball in the Garden of Eden,” relates how banners reflecting these words display prominently in our Cathedral during Easter Season.

When we see Jesus, we will see him as he is. How is he? Our Gospel reading gives us glimpses, and many fundamentalists do not like it. They misinterpret a key reading from the first reading, from Acts, which refers to Jesus, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

The Hebrew word used for “Salvation” in Psalm 118 is “ישׁוּעָה” which transliterates into English as “Joshua” or “Jesus.” There is no salvation except through Salvation. “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. As you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”

Theophilus, we are God’s children now.” Theophilus, Beloved of God, God desires to save all the sheep, not just the ones in the right club, or the ones who go to the right church on Sunday. We read the Fundamentalist Tea Party error in the Gospel reading from John 10:7:

All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the beautiful shepherd. A beautiful shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

The sheep do not listen to our message for a reason. The thief comes to steal and destroy. The thief judges the outcast and the poor, and not too favorably. The fundamentalists support the political party that has promoted the shift in incomes to the wealthy and away from those in most need over the past 40 years. They support gun rights, but disparage human rights. Jesus is “ישׁוּעָה,” the one who saves, not the one who condemns. He is the one who brings life, life in its abundance, not poverty for the poor and life for the wealthy!

The article “Are you ready for some baseball in the Garden of Eden,” reflects upon how, at the Second Coming, we are not going to an opulent palace, but back to the Garden of Eden. The sheep browsing upon the hill will be Jesus’ sheep, the poorest among us. The thieves purged from the garden will be the current leadership, who are more concerned with their own welfare than with that of the sheep. The new leaders will be those willing to give up their lives for their charges. They will be the ones putting the welfare of their charges above their own welfare.

The article “Are you ready for some baseball in the Garden of Eden,” addresses, “How can God expect us to take care of the next garden if we are not taking care of this one?” How can God expect us to care for the sheep in the World to Come, the העולם הבא, if we do not take care of the sheep here? We can continue to make excuses for not caring for the sheep, but we must remember, “God is watching us, from a distance.


Please check out these other fine articles:

Are you ready for some baseball in the Garden of Eden?

You decide between the Baltimore Catechism and the New Catechism

What separates Catholics from Protestants

The Feast of the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy Sunday

The road to Emmaus and Jewish heritage in Acts

The rich young man and the paralytic/us


Are you ready for some baseball in the Garden of Eden?

Francisco delivered his homily for the Third Sunday of Easter flanked by two banners. One read, “ברוך הוא מי שבא בשם השם” and “,הושענא” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Personal Name,” and “Hosanna.” The other banner read, “נשלום” and “היום אתה תהיה איתי בגן עדן.” The literal translations are, “It is finished,” or “It is shalom,” and “Today you will be with me in the Garden of Eden.”

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Personal Name!

The context of the first banner is Palm Sunday. The crowd waves its palm branches as they parade through the city. The context of the second message is Jesus on the cross with the two criminals. One condemned Jesus, and in reference to Jesus’ temptation by the Great Accuser in Matthew where the Great Accuser says: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.”

The second criminal argues, Jesus did nothing wrong. Jesus says, “It is Shalom,” “Tranquility has come.” Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in the Garden of Eden.” The Greek reads, “Paradise.” The Hebrew literally translates, “The Garden of Eden.” Jesus tells us heaven is like where we started. We started in the Garden of Eden, tending a garden, and when we finish, “נשלום,” we are in a garden.

Father Francisco mentioned, “In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” He also mentioned, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” The article, “What separates Catholics from Protestants discusses how “Holy” means being married. When Jesus states, “I am going to prepare a place for you,” he is using marital language. He is the groom and goes to prepare a place for his bride, us/the church.

Several years after most weddings, children run around. They climb the apple tree, knocking down branches and the father puts tar on the tree to help it to heal. The children jump on the end table, breaking it, and on the daughter’s toy chest of drawers, smashing it. The children track mud, and they eat and wear mud like the rich wear expensive cloths. When they go to bed, the parents look around their devastated home and say, “There was life here.” The yoke is easy and the burden is light.

Some try to have the sweetness of their fruit, without having the fruit. We go for the candy instead of the fruit and end up fat and sloppy. We go for the love and the life, but miss the broken items inside and outside of the home. We end up with no home.

I Corinthians 6:16 argues, “Do you not know that anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For ‘the two,’ it says, “will become one flesh.” St. Paul argues from Mishnah, “A woman is acquired in three ways… She is acquired through money, through a contract, or sexual intercourse.”

There is no such thing as pre-marital sex. One consummates the wedding, not at the church, but in the bridal bed. When we forget this, we end up married to dozens of spouses, with dozens of mothers-in-law, but we miss the joys of the fruit. We miss the broken end table, and the snapped tree branches filled with tar. We are like the men in the Bill Cosby routine who snap that they live for the weekend, hunched over the toilet bowl, sick from their drinks. For them, there is no life, or at least no life they remember. The yoke is hard and the burden, heavy.

In Hebrew, there are three key words, “Abba,” “Habbah,” sic and “Ahabbah,” sic. “Abba” of course means “Father.” “Habbah,” the one who is to come, is Jesus, the groom. “Ahabbah” means love, accepting people into our hearts, warts, and all. There is no squeezing out the sweetness and doing without the tartness of each other. True love means accepting the whole person, warts, and all.

Love is like a baseball game. While we play the game, we do not worry about rules, or which ball, bat, and glove, goes with which player. When we take time to do this, the game ends, if only for a moment. Baseball is by nature a very boring sport. When we become totally engrossed in a game, a game of the World Series is one of the most exciting games in all of sports. To become an exciting game, we must become lost in the game, no room for looking for the sweetness and trying to do without the rest of the game. If we ignore the rest of the season, the World Series has no reason. That is why the priest asks at our weddings, “Do you give yourself freely?” Do we throw ourselves into the game with our whole hearts?

We are not going to some pearly city where we play harps all day. We return to the Garden of Eden. We return to that web which is the Garden of Eden, the world. We must live as if we are part of that world, because we are. How can God expect us to tend his garden in the world to come, if we do not tend this one?

If we are only half-hearted in the way we tend this garden, our families, and our world, how can God expect us to do any better in the next one? We must be fruitful. In English, we have two key concepts, “Professional” and “Vocation.” We are professional in that we profess our faith by the way we live in the world.

We represent our Catholic faith, our families, and our extended family/our nation by the way we live our lives, whether we like it or not, or know it or not. Professional does not mean being an impersonal machine looking out only for the names of unseen stockholders. Professional means being very personal, seeing all people as equal members of the same extended family and the world as our home. Which person hanging on the cross next to Jesus are we, the one meeting Jesus in the Garden of Eden, or the other one?

Baltimore Catechism or New Catholic Catechism? You decide

Parishioners at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada often notice the changes in the liturgy. Things seem to be going back to the old Latin Mass. Some parishioners complain about this. Many old timers were in a rush to see the old Latin Mass go away. One parishioner noted that there are many foreign words in our liturgy.

We now say, “Kyrie, eleison.” One old timer parishioner complained, “It is all Greek to me.” There was nothing to respond but, “It is all Greek to me too.” The original letters are, “Κύριε ελέησον.” The phrase is Greek. The Latin is “Dominus misericordiam” Another foreign word is “Amen.” The word is Hebrew. “Hosanna in the Highest” transliterates הושענא בִהעֶלְיוֹן. The phrase is Hebrew, not Latin. The Latin is “Glory in ExcellciusDei.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of our Cathedral in Reno Nevada

The New Catechism came with the ‘60s. Because of the GI Bill, more people were going to college and people were better educated. That is no longer the case. For thirty years, budget cuts have ruled the politics of America. As a result, people are not as well educated as they were thirty years ago.

Because of lower wages, people who might otherwise go to Catholic school now go to secular school and miss the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children entirely. Many attending Catholic school do not seem to know their catechism very well. Parish staff complains that many parents view baptism, not as rebirth into the Mystical Body of Christ, but as a ceremony no different from christening a ship. Parochial education is clearly missing at home as well.

St. Augustine standing over and guarding the Mystical Body of Christ, the Eucharist, and our humble parish

In this new world order, there is something to be said about that old Baltimore Catechism. Learning by rote, is learning with no depth. Our grandparents learning this way has contributed to the problem. Still, there is something to be said about learning why we are here on this earth as related in the Baltimore Catechism:

1. Question. Who made the world?
Answer. God made the world.

2. Question. Who is God?
Answer. God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things.

3. Question. What is man?
Answer. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

6. Question. Why did God make you?
Answer. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

The Baltimore Catechism follows the scholastic dialectic style and is very simple. Children learning this know why they are on this planet. They grasp very early, who they are and who they are in relation to God.

10. Question. How shall we know the things, which we are to believe?
Answer. We shall know the things, which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

11. Question. Where shall we find the chief truths, which the Church teaches?
A. We shall find the chief truths, which the Church teaches in the Apostles’ Creed.

Using the Baltimore Catechism our children also learn that they are not by themselves, but are part of larger community, the Roman Catholic Church. They also study the Apostle’s Creed where they begin to understand they are not by themselves, but are part of a grander whole, the Roman Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and a world that is grander still.

When Vatican II arrived, and later, the New Catechism, fallen away Catholics, Protestants, and those outside of our Holy Mother Church bitterly complained that the church really did not change, only the packaging did.

St. Anthony at our parish. The humble cross behind the brilliance of St. Augustine and the great heart of St. Francis. We are a Franciscan parish.

Our response is, “You are right! Our church did not change. It still teaches the same truths it always did. God’s truth does not change states Hebrews 13:8. We still teach the Corporal Works of Mercy, and the Spiritual Works of Mercy. We still teach that we are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We still teach Church Militant and Church Triumphant. We still teach that the church is the Mystical Body of Christ.

Our teaching has put on a new packaging, one appropriate for the wiser ‘60s and ‘70s, but regrettably, not so well suited to our modern times. At our St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno Nevada, and in our Diocese of Reno, we need to return to the wiser teachings of the Baltimore Catechism, while retaining the modern teaching methods of more recent times. We need to remember, that chief among the Scholastics was St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of our Cathedral and St. Augustine whose portrait graces our altar.

A Franciscan parish, we can never forget St. Francis.

What separates Catholics from Protestants

At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada Father Francisco gave a talk about the origins of the Bible. One issue presented was how our Gospels of Matthew and Luke are written to the congregations they led. Father Francisco pointed out how Eusebeus, a Fourth Century historian placed both Matthew and Luke in Antioch about the time they wrote their Gospels.

This building is a church and a romantic restaurant. It cannot be a church without being a romantic restaurant.

This means Matthew and Luke knew each other and may have critiqued each other’s work. There are important differences in the two Gospels with Matthew and Luke having two genealogies for Jesus and two ages and birthdays for Jesus.

Father agreed. St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral is like the Antioch church. We have distinct Anglo and Hispanic congregations. We have priests celebrating Mass mainly with the Anglo congregation and priests ministering mainly to the Hispanics. We are one, the community of St. Thomas Aquinas, with Hispanic and Anglo understandings of the same Gospel. This is much the same as St. Matthew writing to the Jewish congregation in Antioch and St. Luke writing to the Greeks in Antioch.

When the Bible discusses “righteousness” what does that mean? It is something we all want to do. What does “Holy” mean? One main force holds us together as Catholics, Our Blessed Virgin. What is important about her? “The Taanah became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s Mitzvah and bear witness to Jesus.” Revelations 12:17

Who is the woman? “She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.” Only Jesus meets this definition. His mother is Our Blessed Virgin. Her children are those who keep God’s Mitzvah.”

That is all of us! At our Cathedral for the Third Sunday of Easter, we will read from the Epistle of I John. John writes:

I write to you… an old Mitzvah that you had from the beginning… Whoever says he is in the light, yet grinds his teeth at his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light. See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.

The person who acts in tzadickis a tzadick, just as he is tzadick… No one who fails to act in tzadick belongs to God, or anyone who does not love his brother. In Hebrew, Tzadick means both “righteousness” and “charity.” This is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another.

The message is plain. The original quote is Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Jesus’ Great Commandment, and the beginning of the Jewish Creed to this day. The old Mitzvah is Deuteronomy 5:1-7. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 begins as an address to community. Deuteronomy 5:1-7 begins with the foundations of the community. “I am the Personal Name your Mighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.

As a community, God rescued the entire Jewish community from oppression. As a community, we have a common/shared rescue/religious experience. As Americans, we read of that shared rescue experience at the Statue of Liberty. Through the Passion of Jesus, which we live through the first time and each time we celebrate the Eucharist, God rescues us. Through reliving this event, we become children of God.

We show we are children of God by loving one another. This is love in action, feeding the poor, giving water to the thirsty, clothing those in need, providing housing, transportation and healthcare for those in need, the corporal works of mercy. This is being a Tzadick, righteous. This joining as community, marrying each other, is being Holy. God is Holy in that he is the groom at the royal wedding. Our Virgin Mary and our Catholic Church is Holy because she is the bride. The icons throughout the church are Holy because they are like a wedding ring, reminding us of our wedding. We, as the children of God, are Holy because we are the fruit of that wedding.

Catholics realize the importance of being community. We realize how, as community, we have a common mother, Our Blessed Virgin. We are fellow children and children help each other through this walk to the Promised Land/heaven. We see in Passover, as discussed in Deuteronomy 5:1-7, the forerunner of our Eucharist.

Are we Lazarus or Martha and Mary” compares Mass with a romantic dinner. Our Mitzvah is simply to be part of that romantic couple. The entire world loves a romantic couple. If we are the ideal romantic couple, God, and his Church, the world should love us. If not, we are not showing our love of the Father.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy Sunday

Father Francisco delivered the Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. During his homily, Father mentioned St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who was an Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. One of the parishioners was born on June 17, 1955, the Feast of the Sacred Heart that year. Father Francisco also noted that St. Margaret Mary started the First Friday Devotion and a Thursday Devotion to the Concept of the gift of mercy, still practiced at our Cathedral and worldwide to this day.

Jesus calls us to Mercy, transcendence, and imminence

Father noted the work of Saint Faustina Kowalska who worked tirelessly to promote the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He noted three core concepts in relation to the Sacred Heart. We must look at the violence in our world, including the violence directed at Jesus Christ, on the cross two millennium ago, We must also loot at the violence directed at Jesus Christ who lives on this planet and who has ever lived on this planet.

Many, including many at our own Cathedral in Reno Nevada, and in our Diocese of Reno, are confused in thinking that the first century rabbis should have read Torah in Septuagint Greek. If they had, they would have seen that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. This would be like asking the US Supreme Court to abandon all judicial precedent and US heritage and read the Constitution in Spanish when making its decisions.

The first century rabbis had Aramaic as their first language, and Hebrew as their academic language. They were like our modern Pope; the Lingua Franca of Rome is Latin, just as the Lingua Franca of Jerusalem was Hebrew. Why would they want to abandon their first and second languages and read Torah in translation, Septuagint Greek, which they were not necessarily fluent in? Also, our tradition, as per Dei Verbum states:

Since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.

In the Gospels Jesus often complains about the generation he lived in. We are wise to find fault in the culture we live in. The government wants to change the fuel economy rating on cars because people do not drive as well as they did forty years ago. Those who are older often comment about how people are not as smart as they were forty years ago. We are a generation completely different from the generation of Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver. We are people of our heritage and our time. We need to see the people in history and ourselves as creators of their time. When we see people in the context of the web of time and space, we cannot help but have mercy on them.

One of the important tenants of Adlerian Psychology is that people tend to view reality as a concrete whole and they get their understanding of how to put that whole together through their community. People view their world as a concrete whole and they view the world through their world view, not ours. We need to see the world from the world view of the first century Jew if we are to understand why they did what they did or did not do. That society is two thousand years and eight thousand miles removed from our world and or world view. If we claim to understand their world view through the prism of our world view, we fool only ourselves. We must try to understand that world and its world view, while at the same time, understanding our extreme limitations, and this means mercy.

The second item Father mentioned about Divine Mercy Sunday is the importance of seeing God, not just as transcendent, beyond all knowing, but also imminent. Deuteronomy 5:2 The Personal Name, our Mighty Judge, made a Brit with us at Horeb;  not with our fathers did the Personal Name make this Brit, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.” Deuteronomy also states, “I am the Personal Name your Mighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression out of the house of menial labor. It is not to your fathers… but with us, all of us, here, alive!” The Jewish community remembers this event at Passover. The Jewish Seder incorporates from Exodus 13:8: “You will explain to your son, ‘This is what the Personal Name did for me when I came out of Egypt/ Oppression.” He did not do it for someone else; he did it for me, personally. God did not rescue my fathers. He rescued me, personally. Therefore I remember what it was like to be there, and I remember my rescue. If I remember what it was like to be there, I will remember that suffering, and the excuses Pharaoh gave to rationalize that suffering. Then, when I see others suffer, it will hurt me, by bringing back bad memories. Then I will do something.

At Passover Jesus gave us the Last Supper. In the Last Supper, the Eucharist, Jesus comes for the first time, each time, with his mercy. Through our participation in the Eucharist, we relive that suffering with Christ, the excuses of the Pharisees and the Romans, and the anguish of his death. We remember the extreme poverty of the time and look at the poverty of our time. We also remember the fear of the eleven as they wait for the authorities to come after them.We remember this suffering, and then, when we see others suffer, we do something.

Horeb means sword, and many believe it was a volcano, probably at Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Standing at a volcano would be a very traumatizing  experience. It is that moment when Jesus, part of the Trinity who is God, becomes imminent in our lives.

The third element of Divine Mercy Sunday is Hatikvah. That is the great hope of Jesus return and our return to the great City of Shalom/Peace/Tranquility. For this, Divine Mercy calls upon us to be thankful. Let us be thankful and show this thanks by spreading the mercy God gives us to the entire world.

The HHS Mandate and fighting the good fight in Reno Nevada

Don’t fight losing battles. Move with wisdom, not emotion. Let strategy guide your actions, not pride or anger. Always focus on your ultimate goal. Sun Tsu

In all of our fights we must show concern for the Sheep because they belong to God and not to us.

That is sage advice for Catholics in our Diocese of Reno Nevada as we battle the HHS Mandate. Pick your battles wisely. It is possible to win the battle and lose the war. Japan won decisively at Pearl Harbor, and in the process lost the war. America won almost every battle, if not every battle in the Vietnam War, but lost the war.

The point, as conservative Catholics discuss the HHS Mandate at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, before Mass, after Mass, at socials after Mass, and at other places, is not that Catholics, our church leaders, or the President is right or wrong. The point is that we must pick our battles well or we could win the battle and lose the war.

In Luke 14 Jesus tells us, “What king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?”

Put aside the strict merits of the case. We do not want to pay for contraception, as we are pro-life. In 1969, the poorest 50% of the population received 27% of all income. Today they receive 19% of all income and that figure is dropping. In terms of net worth, the top 20% controls 85.1% of all net worth, while the bottom 80% controls 14.9% of all net worth.

Some 50.2 million people lived in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Some 12.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with very low food security.

Catholics in Reno Nevada upset about the HHS Mandate ask what this has to do with their subject. Many perceive our Church to be a conservative institution promoting the welfare of the establishment. Secular people look at our beloved church, including the Diocese in Reno and see a parish priest, who runs a building we call a church, with a staff, which is a franchise of a larger organization controlling many churches, hospitals, kitchens, retail stores, and more. They perceive our bishop, not as a shepherd and apostle in the lineage going back to Christ, but as a corporate CEO.

These people look and see how, as a corporate CEO, he argues with other corporate CEOs. They have the right to control what benefits their employees receive. That includes how much income their employees receive, and the result is the dropping incomes of the poorest. Instead of secular people seeing the Church as their champion, as Jesus calls us to be, they see the Church as being the champion of the wealthy.

Our Bishop is not a corporate CEO; he is a representative of the Good Shepherd. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of St. Luke:

The Basilicos (Greek for Ruler) of the Goim (Hebrew for not Jew) lord it over them. Those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors.’ Among you it will not be so. Let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. Who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table!

I am among you as the one who serves. You have stood by me in my trials. I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me,so you may eat and drink at my table in my Basilica; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.(Own translation.)

Our own sages tell us:

– the damage inflicted by the aggressor must be lasting, grave, and certain;

– all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

– there must be serious prospects of success;

We are not looking for solutions that would find a common ground with our opponents without sacrificing our principles. In the longer fight our current approach has no chance of success.

With the help of a very conservative SCOTUS, we may win this battle. At least 50.2 million people will turn against us, and we will lose the greater war of winning human hearts to Christ, and lose big. Already, the CNN article, “Seven reasons Catholics leave church,” as discussed in the Examiner article, “Seven reasons Catholics leave including our Cathedral and Diocese in Reno,” tells us how Catholics are leaving our church and listing the conservative politics of the church as a reason.

God will call us before his court to answer for this. Let us choose our battles, and let us choose them wisely. Let us choose to promote life and promote it in all of its forms, from conception until natural death. Let us fight the good fight, but let us fight wisely.

The road to Emmaus and Jewish heritage in Acts

Many have noted how geographically similar the Truckee Meadows is with Israel. Lake Tahoe is very similar to the Sea of Galilee and both regions have large areas of desert. Lake Tahoe is a resort and the Sea of Galilee is the resort where King Herod had his headquarters.

Not far from here history met the Truckee Meadows region and the Donner Party

Donner Summit, where the Donner party met its fate is not far from Reno. It could have survived if it had come back down from the mountain, but during its travels, it met the Paiute tribe and had skirmishes with them. These same Paiutes fought the “Two Battles of Pyramid Lake” a few miles north of Reno.

The Two Battles of Pyramid Lake is very similar to the Battle of Emmaus fought between the Third Greek Expeditionary Force of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Hanukkah, the great Jewish Feast is a commemoration of that battle. Nevada is the Battle Born state, becoming a state four years after the Two Battles of Pyramid Lake. Many of Nevada’s early settlers fought in the American Civil War. General Reno was a member of the Burnside Expeditionary Force and fought Stonewall Jackson during the Second Battle of Bull Run. General Reno also fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The Truckee Meadows has much in common geographically with first century Israel.

As we read the Gospel, Jesus discusses who he is with Cleopas, “Keys of Father.” Cleopas, his friend, and Jesus, walk on the Battle of Emmaus battlefield, a battlefield tying them with their heritage. Cleopas has the keys of hope, but does not yet recognize the fact. The keys of hope lie with an understanding of Scripture and heritage. The heritage of the Jewish people is the escape from oppression in Egypt, and the victory against overwhelming odds in the Battle of Emmaus.

In their discussion on the way to Emmaus, in the battle, the participants are on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. After the battle, the discussion with Jesus, the participants immediately return to Jerusalem and purify the temple; they recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. In the battle and in the breaking of the bread the hearts of the participants burn within them. This burning of hearts, not intellect is a part of Jewish heritage.

We retain our heritage as we walk on the battlefield of Gettysburg and hear the words echoing through our history. This is not southern heritage, the heritage of the plantation owner, but southern black heritage:

Eleven score and sixteen years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. We meet on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live… We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract… It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated to the unfinished work… have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… This nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

The first reading tells of how St. Peter walks through the Beautiful Gate in Jerusalem, a gate ornate with silver and gold. He tells a man, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk.” Our faith comes with a heritage, and it is not a heritage of silver and gold.

When Herod built the second temple, he did not “Get it.” As the Babylonians built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, they used slave labor to build those gardens. Many slaves were Jews. One of the reasons for the Babylonian invasion and the Jewish captivity was for the Babylonians to acquire the gold of the temple for their building programs.

Rome built the Coliseum with slave labor, and gold from the Jewish temple. Wherever we see extreme wealth, we find extreme poverty. The poor do not applaud the great buildings their slave masters force them to build. They resent their taskmasters. We see in the Titanic sinking of exactly one century ago, the Monongah Mine Disaster, and the Triangle Shirtwaist fire where grand building leads us and what the poor think of those grand buildings.

Life is a rock, but our radio, our beacon to the future, our DJ, “Der Jesus” in German, points us our healing. Our yoke is easy and our burden is light. We do not have to build grant buildings to please our God. We need to build heritage, the idea that we take each other by the hand, χείρ, and build a common community, and hand on our heritage to those coming after us.

Our heritage is the Living Physical Presence in the Eucharist, and those holding the key, Cleopas, to the Kingdom. We have it through seeing Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

The Ten Commandments begin with our rescue from Egypt/oppression. If we are not among those the Egyptians persecuted, the Ten Commandments do not apply to us, but then again, neither does God’s rescue. We see Jesus and God when we see a new nation, a nation rescued from other there, wherever over there is, conceived in liberty & dedicated to the proposition that God creates all men equal.

We see God when we have a new birth of freedom, and a government of the people, by the people, for the people that shall not perish from the earth, because people are not corporations, or their grand buildings but are flesh and blood. That is what our God calls us to do.

What color is light

What color is light? Our blessed Bishop Randolph Calvo asked this question as he presented his homily for the Easter Vigil this past Saturday as he discussed the first reading from Genesis 1. Bishop Calvo pointed out that the patron saint of our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, also wrote many of the hymns we sang at our Easter Vigil. Our patron saint looked at his prior writing and noted it was straw to him. To understand the word of God, our heart sings, and our mouths remain silent. We begin to understand why the Aramaic word for “word” and the Aramaic word for “lamb” as in “The Lamb of God,” is the same word. At our Easter Vigil in Reno Nevada, we began by walking out in the Franciscan Garden outside of our Cathedral to remind us of our role in Jesus’ death two millennia ago.

We do not see light, but light as it is diffracted into our world.

As children, we liked to think we knew what color light is. It is white. Some in our Cathedral teach high school science class. We have all taken science classes where we learned that light is not white. Light, which is invisible, reflects off objects in the cosmos and makes vision possible. Light is diffracted light having no color of its own. Light acquires its color by reflecting the world. Genesis 9 tells us:

I establish my Brit between you and between your seed after you, with all having the soul of life that was with you: the birds, the animals, tame and wild that was with you, all who came out of the taba. You make this contract with me. I will establish my Brit with you. Never again, will the waters of a flood destroy all flesh; there will not be another devastating flood upon the earth. This is the sign of the Brit I am making between me and you and all who have the soul of life with you for all ages to come: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the Brit…

Before this statement, God commands us concerning the eating of flesh with blood in it. The blood and the soul are the same thing in Jewish thinking, and we are not to eat the soul of anything, animal, mineral, and vegetable. The contract is not just with Anglo-Saxons, or Jews, or Muslims, Catholics, or Protestants, or even just all people. It is a Brit/ a Social Contract with all life. Some complain how people with a certain alternate lifestyle we will not mention, have taken over the sign of our Brit, our rainbow. They cannot take it away.

That Social Contract and the rainbow is a sign to all of what God including those with alternate lifestyles, those who we either do not like or do not like us. Our Social Contract is one of peace, where peace means more than a cessation of hostilities, but joining in tranquility. Shalom, peace means completeness, that sense of completeness that only comes when we see ourselves in each other, and the image of God in each other. It comes when we are satisfied with what we have because we know God gives us all we need.

When Jesus tells us he is “The light of the cosmos,” he is not saying he is something physically present that we can see. After the resurrection, he is the light allowing us to see each other, as having the soul of life, the image of God implanted within us. He is the way, the truth, the the life. This takes faith. In Hebrew, faith and truth are the same word. The image for the way is the Israeli walk with Moses through the Negev desert on its way to the Promised Land. The truth is, God allows us to see it through the light of faith. Jesus is the invisible light allowing us to see him in each other and in everything upon this planet.

As we began to process into our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we started by singing, “Christ is our Light.” As we passed the candle at the entrance to the church, we passed the light from candle to candle, representing how we enlighten each other, not with our rules and regulations, but with the smiles and the joy that comes from seeing Jesus in each other. The question before us is, “Is that a piece of liturgy, or is our liturgy a liturgy (Greek for service) of peace?”

It is all in the packaging in Reno and that packaging is Eucharist/Passover

“It is all in the packaging.” That is a phrase often quoted and that has much meaning when interpreting the article “7 reasons Catholics leave church.” Many conservative Catholics, including those at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada give the moralism of the Catholic Church for one of the reasons so many parishioners are leaving the Catholic Church. A return to the old values of the Catholic Church, when the church exploded onto the world scene would be a solution to this problem. Romans 1 is a prime example.

It is all about Jesus and how we live our lives in his exampleRomans 1discusses what “They’ do.” “They” refer to the ways of the Greeks and the Romans. Romans 2: 17 makes it clear that the audience is the Jewish Christians who are in Rome. “Procreation and Contraception” tells how the School of Hillel interprets Genesis 1:28 as being stricter than the major competing first century school on the subject. It is a Mitzvah/ rule to marry, procreate, and have children. Torah forbids us to waste seed.

“They” are the Greeks and the Romans Saint Paul is trying to convert. “They” are famous for being homosexual, and for the use of contraception. In Romans 1:18-32 St. Paul sets up his Jewish Christian audience. The charge they raise against the Greeks and the Romans is true; that is why the Jewish population looks down upon them. St. Paul capitalizes upon this in Romans 1:18-32and pounces upon his audience in the rest of his epistle.In Matthew 23:15 Jesus tells of the Separate Ones, “Woe Grammarians and Separate Ones, you actors. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of the Jerusalem Landfill twice as much as yourselves.”

Greeks wanted to convert to the Jewish religion, but without the rules making Jews Jewish. These Separate Ones were the early evangelicals, those converting the world to their cause. The world wanted to convert, but without having to become Jewish. Christianity thrived because Greeks and Romans could convert to the Judea-Christian religion without becoming Jewish.Acts 15:28-29 discusses whether one can be Christian and not be Jewish.

The Didache states, “You shall not commit murder, you will not commit adultery, nor not commit pederasty… You will not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.” Pederasty, as noted in the article from the link, was common in Greek and Roman society. It was something, “They” did.

How is it that Christianity did so well? If Greeks and Romans had to give up the pederasty, and contraception, to follow the dictates of a many times conquered people, why did they convert? Look closer at Romans 1:18-32 and The Didache. St. Paul never says in his letters that what “they” do is OK. Our fundamentalists and conservative Catholics jump on this fact. The answer lies in the packaging. This may well be “In the Law,” but “Law is not about this. Torah is not about this. Gospel/Christian law is not about this.

At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we focus upon Gospel. In our Cathedral this Sunday, we will celebrate Easter. Included in this is our Eucharist. We will also read from Colossians, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God… Put on the new self… in the image of its creator… Christ is all and in all… put on love, the bond of perfection.

When St. Paul says, “You have died,” he means it literally. St. Paul died on the road to Damascus. Today we say he had a near death experience. Part of that near death experience caused him to change his personality. This focus, is what the Eucharist, the heart of the Christian near death experience, and Christianity itself is all about.  This focus is what Passover is all about. St. Paul mentions, “Putting on the new self,” putting on love and being community.

The Jewish community encounters its near death experience at Sinai. This sense of love and community is what appealed to the Greeks and Romans. This is why they gave up their life-style, in spite of what the moralists in the early church taught. Our moralists need to do the same. The rules did not prevent the church from exploding in its first four centuries and they need not prevent it from exploding in growth today. Conservatives complain liberals with their alternate life-styles are a threat to the church. If we live our faith, our faith is a threat to their life-styles. “They” will want to be like us.

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