Put on the new self during the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is what I say and witness in Kyrie. No longer live as ethnics do, in the purposelessness of their minds. They are darkened in the way they think. They are separated from the life of God through their not knowing, because of the petrifaction of their heart. They became separate from any sense of sorrow/remorse, and handed themselves over to brutality for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess…

Be renewed in the breath of your minds. Put on the new man, founded as a city, according to God, in charity and in the dedication of truth.

Saint Paul has tells us in the second reading for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. What does he mean? We must first understand St. Paul as a first century Jew. Deuteronomy 5:1-7 is central to Torah and Gospel:

Moses summoned all those who struggle with God, “Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and correct judicial precedents, I proclaim in your ear, this day, for you to learn them and guard to do them. The Personal name, our Almighty Judge, cut a Brit with us at Mt. Sword. Not with our father did the Personal Name cut this Brit, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, the house of menial labor.

Before then, the Jewish people were oppressed, menial labor under Pharaoh, a government employer, who ran sweatshops in the land of oppression. After this time, the Jewish people were a free people, on their way to the Promised Land. They were on their way to a new life. With this in mind, we note Pharaoh’s hard heart. We see St. Paul chastising the ethnics for petrifaction, hardening of their hearts. We are the opposite, having soft hearts, caring for others. They are not others. They are a part of us.

When your son asks in time to come, “What do the witnesses, and the customs, and the correct judicial precedents, mean which the Personal Name our Almighty Judge commanded you? You will tell your son: ‘We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Oppression; and the Personal Name brought us out of Oppression with a mighty hand…” He brought us, each of us, personally out of oppression. We are each members of that rescued community.

“It is not to your fathers that I give this Mitzvah, but to us, each of us, alive, here, this day…I am the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression.” The Jewish community has the concept of the Physical Presence. For the Jewish community the Physical Presence is the Physical Presence of the escape from oppression. Each generation relives the event for the first time, each time, they relive Passover.

Keep in mind how the Last Supper, the first Eucharist, was commemorated at the feast of Passover, Friday, 3 April 33 A.D. Our transformational event is Sunday 5 August 2012, as we relive the saving event for the first time through participation in Eucharist.

On his journey, as Saul approached Damascus, a light from the sky flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a φωνή/phone/sound/tone, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul replied, “Who are you, Kyrie?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless. They heard the φωνή/phone/sound/tone but could see no one.”

St. Paul had a near death experience. He literally died that day and met Jesus. He also underwent a transformational experience as at Sinai. That is why those with Saul only heard a sound, and saw nobody. After this event, things could not be the same, ever. This transformational event is what St. Paul talks about in the second reading for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Jewish community relives this event at Passover. We relive the event in the Eucharist.

We see the same transformation in the Gospel reading. “They asked him, “Kyrie, give us this bread always.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, whoever believes in me will never thirst.” This brings us to this new life. St. Paul tells us:

Put away falsehood, speak the truth. We are members one of another. Be angry but do not fail… The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work with his hands, to have something to share with the needy.”

Notice the reason the thief labors to do honest work. We are all members one with another. We are one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We work with our hands to share with the needy, and we do so, as a nation.

Only noble language should come from your mouths. Noble language builds up the needy, and imparts kindness to those who hear your words. Do not grieve the Dedicated Spirit of God. The Dedicated Spirit sealed you for Redemption Day. Remove all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling, and ignobility. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as the Mighty Judge forgives you in Christ. This is how Eucharist transforms our lives. This is putting on the new person.

Look to see the art that went into the writing

Father Francisco’s Bible Study class, formation of Torah as we know it Part 1 discusses the two-audience theory of Biblical interpretation. It is correct in relating how Torah writers had to convince both the Persians and the Jewish/Israeli people that the Jewish/Israeli population was one people.

One thing lost in the discussion is the two-writer theory of Biblical interpretation. When our sages wrote Torah, Navy, Writings, Gospel, and Letters, most people did not write. They dictated to γραμματικός. These γραμματικός were not secretaries who wrote in shorthand, then returned to their desks and typed what was in their notes. These were skilled professional writers, learned in the art of rhetoric and poetics.

We hold a static view of the Middle East in the time of our sages. We forget how the Jewish people spent generations in Egypt and in the Babylonian Exile. We forget Abraham was born in Basra, Iraq. He was influenced by the Babylonian culture. A look at the geography of Greece shows a hilly, mountainous region. To grow, the Greeks needed to look to the sea. The Minoan and other Greek cultures were all sea-based powers. When we look at Aesop’s fables, and compare them with the parables of Jesus, and the writings of the Jewish Midrash, we see how similar they seem.

Rhetoricians like Aristotle influenced the Jewish γραμματικός. Jesus warns us of the dangers of reading Torah with too fine tooth a comb, as a law book. He tells us, “Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk?” The two-writer theory of Biblical interpretation warns us. When we ask why the writer chose one word against another and assume it must be to say a particular thing, we forget the second writer in the discourse, the γραμματικός.

Aristotle tells us, “There are persons who, by conscious art or mere habit, mimic and represent various objects through the medium of color and form, or again by the voice. So in the arts, the imitation is produced by rhythm, language, or ‘harmony,’ (ποιουνται την μῑμησιν εν ῥυθμῶι και λογωι και ἁρμονίᾱι) either singly or combined… There is another art which imitates by means of language alone, either in prose or verse- which verse, again, may either combine different meters or consist of but one kind…”

This is the art of the γραμματικός. The reason he chooses one word or one phrase over another has nothing to do with the precision of the words to reflect what the original writer saw, but has much to do with how it looks on the page and sounds in the hearing. The picture this professional writer gives us must present the actual events, but it is through the lens of his art.

The modern study of Form Criticism, Exegesis, and Hermeneutics all come into play. They expose the paintbrushes used by the artist. This includes the Seven Rules of Rabbi Hillel. We see the professional writer using his lens to filter the information of his charge. This allows us to look past this lens to see the original event. The Beatitudes use Chiasmus:

Seeing the couplets helps us understand the words. The poor in spirit are poor in spirit because they are persecuted. The peacemakers are the people who mourn. They see what war brings and suffer when they see it. The clean of heart are the meek. In Hebrew, charity and justice are the same. The idea comes from the Ten Commandments with its implied first commandment, “Remember, I am God your Almighty Judge who rescued you from Oppression.” Remember what it was like to be there, and remember your rescue. When we remember our own oppression, we suffer when we see others suffer. This causes action. This action is charity. This action is justice.

St. Matthew lists the Twelve in a photo in the enclosed slide show.

In this set of couplets, the order adds no meaning to the list. One rule of human learning is, the mind only learns in groups of threes, and groupings of four. We can learn four groupings of four, or three groupings of four, the Simon group, the James group and the Philip group, of which St. Matthew lists himself last. Ephesians 2 also uses the device to great effect, as an accompanying photo shows. As we read Torah, Gospel and letters closely, also look to see the art that went into the writing.

The mother and child reunion is central to the pro-life debate

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

This must be the foundation upon which we decide what the proper role of government is. This includes the pro-life debate. We have the right to life. Now, before we can decide when life begins and when it ends, we must first decide what it is.

Section 355 of our Catholic Catechism tells us, “Man occupies a unique place in creation: he is “in the image of God”; in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; he is created “male and female”; God established him in his friendship.”

Section 357: “Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons.”

If the purpose of government is in fact promoting life, there comes a point when religion and government can and must cross. The separation of church and state is not a new idea. Moses had his Aaron. King Saul lost his job because he mixed religion and state. I Samuel 13:9

In most regards, church, and state do not mix. Life is not one of these regards.

Torah tells us, “Whoever sheds the blood of Adam, in man his blood will be shed. In the Shalom of God he made Adam. Genesis 9:3-6 Man is made in the Shalomצַלְמֵ/image of God. He is also made in the likeness/דְמוּתֵ “Damoth” feminine plural of Dam/blood of God.” “God said, ‘The voice of my blood/דְמ of your brother cries to Me from the ground. Genesis 1:26 argues, “We make man in the shalom/image and in our blood/ likeness.”

God tells Cain, “Dami/my blood, of your brother calls to me from the ground.” This is very personal for God. When others suffer, the image of God suffers in them. Any attack upon any individual, no matter how well intended is ultimately an attack, upon the likeness of God. As we treat our neighbor, we treat God. Life is life lived in the image of God.

Deuteronomy 12:23 states, “Do not eat the blood; blood is life, you will not eat the anima with the flesh.” What is it that makes blood so different? Blood is the only organ of the body constantly in motion. It is also the only organ in contact with each and every other cell of the body. Blood is present when there are two cells, nourishing them both. I became human when I had blood, two cells.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day; I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; Choose life, to live!” This is one of the 613 Mitzvahs. “Choose life!” is a Mitzvah. What would it mean for choosing life to be a Mitzvah/a rule?

All life is life in potentiality. Exodus 20:23 tells us how the temple was not to be built with steps. We are either going up the steps or down the steps. There is no staying in one place. In relation to our neighbor, we must promote his life, life lived in the image of God. That means promoting life lived to its fullest. There is no room for austerity. Paul Simon had a song, Mother and Child Reunion, a song about chicken and eggs for breakfast.

It can just as easily refer to the great so-called pro-life debate. Mother and child will reunite, in life with a happy and healthy mother with a job paying a living wage for herself or for her spouse, or in death on that breakfast plate. We cannot talk about pro-life for the child if we do not talk about pro-life; life lived in the image and likeness of God for the mother, as worker, and for her spouse.

Our constitution demands that we promote life for all people. It also demands that we promote liberty for all people. Liberty to choose which taskmaster/employer/landlord will bully us is no liberty at all. It requires we allow others to pursue happiness. The pursuit of happiness is vain if it does not have a reasonable chance of success. God made us all in his image and likeness. How we treat each other is the way we treat God. That is the definition of life. Now we can discuss when it begins and when it ends.

The capstone will thresh out the three monkey’s rotten harvest

At our Reno Cathedral this Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sharon Parker read from Jeremiah 23:1-6. Jeremiah scolds the leadership for “misleading and scattering the flock.” “The shepherds who shepherd my people have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your rotten harvest.” Joe Bell read from the second chapter in Ephesians:

Remember how at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called the lack of circumcision by the circumcised, were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the Brit of promise, without hope and without God in the cosmos. In Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. He is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of division, through his flesh…  You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the dedicated ones, members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as capstone… In him, you are growing into a dwelling of God.

After Mass, an alarming conversation was in the nave, the central approach to our altar, the main body of our Cathedral. One man, probably in his fifties, commented how he used to be a working person. He used to be a working person, but is no longer. He was not retired. He is not so rich that he no longer works. He is one of the shepherds, a leader, whose job it is to shepherd the secular flock in the secular cosmos.

“Cosmetology” and “Cosmos” are related. The cosmos is not any world. “Cosmetology” is the study of “cosmos,” or “order,” as it relates to people’s hair and nails. The cosmos is the ordered world we see around us. “The treasury is being part of a living community,” relates a centurion’s faith, as he requests Jesus to heal his servant. He is not separate from his servant, but part of the grander community, including servants under him, and his superiors over him.

The treasury is being part of a living community,” presents the Jewish tradition of the Four Sons and relates this tradition to our liturgy. The foolish son cuts himself from the community, as does the man saying he is not part of the working community. He does not look up at our mural to see Pope Pius X pointing the working people, dressed in working class clothes, to the four rivers of life.

He does not look to the right and see St. Joseph the Worker, embodiment of all of us, retired and not retired, working class, and people of both lower and higher standing. He does not see in the Eucharist the words of St. Paul who through Jesus Christ calls us to be, “Fellow citizens with the dedicated ones, members of the household of God… with Jesus as capstone.”

Jesus told them, “Did you never read in the writings: ‘the stone the builders rejected became the capstone; by the Personal Name this has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” God will take his kingdom from you and give it to a people that will produce its fruit. The one falling on this stone will be crushed; it will crush anyone on whom it threshes.” The capstone threshes and Jeremiah tells us, “I will take care to punish your rotten harvest.” The imagery is intentional.

The capstone of the temple is not like the capstone of our Cathedral, rendered in the slideshow. If it were, how could the builders reject it and it become the capstone, the first stone set in building the temple? The capstone is the last stone set, the one set as the grand cosmetic edifice in the building. That is the high altar. If we do not produce fruit, are we better than the Pharisees, crushed by the altar, the capstone of the building they set as more important than the people?

Barbara debates Ken about the sound of silence part I,” “Part 2” and “Seven reasons Catholics leave including our Cathedral and Diocese in Reno,” relate the plight of workers in contemporary America. They relate how our leadership is so much like the leadership of Jeremiah 23:1-6. We are not gathering in the common workers, the lost sheep of the house of Israel; we are scattering.

Four years ago, CNN gave us the election results from the presidential election. These results reflect a disturbing pattern still existing today. If only people of European/Caucasian ancestry had voted, John McCain would have won the election and won it handily. People from other races did vote, and our President is Barack Obama. The alarm is not that minorities voted, of course, but the clear divide between the one established European community, the leaders, those who are supposed to shepherd, and the sheep.

The established community insists it can play the role of the three monkeys who see, hear, and speak no evil, and the problems will just go away. God will hold them accountable for their intentional blindness.

Play the flute to be beautiful fruit, and live

Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go into the desert to see? A reed vibrated by the wind?” “To what shall I compare this generation? It is as children sitting in marketplaces, calling one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.” “He will not quarrel, or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.

Turn, Turn, Turn, Yardbirds

A bruised reed he will not break nor a smoldering wick will he quench, until he brings charity to victory.” The flute is of the woodwind family. Like most woodwinds, it produces notes by vibrating wind inside it. John the Baptist is the bruised reed Jesus will not quench. An important rhetorical devise used in the first century was G’zerah Shavah/גזרה שווה. The writer uses foreshadowing of words to bind sections of the Gospel together. Another rules is, “בניית אבא מכתב אחד,” or “Building up a father from one writing.”

Another important rhetorical tool was, “דבר הילמאר מ ענין” Find the context, where the section begins, and where it ends. This tells us how to interpret a word, a sentence, or a paragraph. The idea of reeds/ woodwind instruments ties the section together. That is how the bruised reed of Matthew 12:20 refers to the vibrating reed in Matthew 11:7. The flute players who do not dance refer to John the Baptist.

Jesus tells us, it does not matter whether or not we play the flute or sing dirges. There is time for each in the seasons of our lives. Jesus asks, “How much more valuable a person is than a sheep?” This is the Semitic rhetorical rule of “קל בכומר.” If the rule applies to something as light, as sheep, it should apply to something heavier, like people. The rabbis wrote:

Of Sabbath it is written: “It is holy to you.” To you: The Sabbath is for you, not you for the Sabbath. R. Simeon b. Menasseh says: “The children of Israel will keep Sabbath.” The Torah enjoins us: Violate one Sabbath, to keep many Sabbaths. Samuel said: If I had been there, I would have said better; namely, it is written, “You will keep my customs and my correct judicial precedents, if a man do them, he will live by them, live by them, not die by them.”

“Sabbath is made for man, not man for Sabbath.” Mishnah says this. Jesus says this, Matthew 12:8. Jesus says, “Something greater is here.” There is something greater than the temple here, and it still is, human life.” Jesus is the Son of Man; he epitomizes human life. Jesus silences the rabbis with his arguments. He teaches well within Jewish tradition. They do not like it.

Jesus replied to the followers of John, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the Good News proclaimed to them.”

Declare the tree beautiful and its fruit beautiful, or the tree sapron/rotten and its fruit sapron. A tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers, how can you say noble things when you are toilsome? From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. A noble person brings nobility out of a store of nobility, but a toilsome person brings forth toil out of a store of toil.

Jesus is the beautiful fruit. Likewise is John. “The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor hear Good News proclaimed to them.”

The poor hear the Good News, not the wealthy and powerful. The wealthy and powerful dress in soft clothes and they live in castles.” The saints are men like John the Baptist, who dress in camel hair with a living skin around his waist. Jesus’ complaint against the Pharisees and the grammarians of his day is about attitude. They are about toil and pain. They are about the rules. The rules keep people in their place. The rich and powerful like it this way. Jesus and John the Baptist are about life.

This Mitzvah which I give you, this day, is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, for you to say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us?” It is not across the sea, for you to say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us?” No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it… I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” This is from the famed 613 Mitzvahs the Jewish Community finds in Torah.

The Mitzvah is always to choose life, for oneself, for each other and for the community. “You will not ascend to my altar by steps.” One is either ascending or descending. We are either promoting life, life lived to its fullest for ourselves, for each other, and for the community, or we descend. The beautiful fruit is ascending the ramp of the altar. Creating a life of toil for others or ourselves causes us to descend that ramp from the altar and from God.

The treasury is being part of a living community

“When you pray, go to your treasury/ταμεῖον, close/κλείω/celebrate the door/θύρα/, and pray to your Father in secret/κρυπτός/crypt. Your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

The key work is “treasury/ταμεῖον.” Treasury is not a place, but a value, an attitude, a way of being. The idea of this treasury shows itself when Jesus discusses pearls. “Do not store treasures on earth, where moth and meat/ βρῶσις destroy… Store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys…. Where your treasure is, there is your heart.”

Jesus builds to a crescendo, discussing how the eye is the lamp of the body. We cannot serve two masters, God, and the market, that meat which destroys. Jesus tells us what to worry about, and it is not the things of this cosmos/ordered world. “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own defect/ κακία.”

Stop judging, that you may not be judged. As you judge, so will you be judged.”

St. Luke takes up the theme, “Someone asked Jesus, ‘Tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.’ Jesus replied, ‘Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?’ Jesus is about separating us from our things, not deciding who goes with what. In this election season in Reno Nevada, we hear all the ads from all sides. The candidates are after votes. That is where their treasure is. They desire us to judge their case.

Jesus tells us how this world is “defect/κακία.” Jesus calls us to something more. After telling us to judge, Jesus tells us how we can judge a tree by its fruit, a contradiction. Jesus is talking about this defective world. Matthew 7:6 begins a new sub-section within the Sermon on the Mount. “Do not…throw your pearls before swine, or they trample them underfoot, turn, & tear/ῥήγνυμι you to pieces.” This sub-section ends at Matthew 8:34, “The demons pleaded, “Send us into the herd of swine…” They came entered the swine, the herd rushed down the steep bank and drowned.” The pigs mentioned in Matthew 7:6 do as Jesus says. They take what is valuable, and cast in underfoot, drowning in the sea.

Matthew 9:17, “No one sews an ragged holy patch with new cloth. Its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. People do not put new wine into old wine skins. The skins burst/ῥήγνυμι, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined.” Matthew 7:6 uses ῥήγνυμι in reference to the pigs. ῥήγνυμι is mainly used in reference to storms, and there is the storm caused by a σεισμός/a seismic event, which threatens to tip over the boat Jesus is in. Catch, it is a “holy” ragged patch. We, the poor, are the “holy” ragged patch.

St. Matthew discusses the pearls in Matthew 13:45. “The kingdom of heaven is as a merchant searching for pearls… The angels will separate those who think themselves first/The Russia, from the charitable, the Tzaddic. He will throw the Russia into the furnace, where they will wail and grind their teeth.”

St. Matthew mentions this grinding of teeth in Matthew 8:12. Matthew 8:12 details just what the pearl is, and what Jesus wants from us. “Kyrie, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. I am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. I tell one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me.” He is very small part of a grander whole. The centurion is an intermediary who cares for his charges. “The messengers will drive the children of the kingdom who do not see themselves as part of the grander whole into the darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” These people think of themselves first. They trust in themselves, not God or the grander whole. They must guard what they acquire.

The Jewish Passover Seder reads, “Your son will ask, “What do these testimonies, customs, and correct judicial precedents which the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, enjoined on you, mean? You will respond, “We were once menial labor of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Personal Name brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand… against Egypt… He brought us from there, to here, bringing us in, giving us the land he promised on oath our ancestors.”

Moses summoned all those who quarrel with God and told them, Hear, you who quarrel with God, the customs and correct judicial precedents I proclaim in your hearing, this day, to learn them and take care to guard them. The Personal Name, cut a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our ancestors did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day.”

The Jewish Passover Seder has four sons. The foolish one asks why “You” do these things. He is not a part of the community. The wise son asks why we do these things. He is a part of the community. ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” The treasury is being part of a living community reaching back centuries and to God.

Please feel free to check out my Liturgy of the Hours website.

Be ἅλας to be ἁλιεῖς

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Ethnics, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”

St. Matthew wrote these words and they serve as the beginning of the Galilean Ministry. May in Reno, Nevada presuppose that Jesus and his followers were poor, fisherman by trade. Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ closest followers, present at his crucifixion, and at his resurrection. On the shores of Lake Galilee was a village, Magdala Nunayya, or the Tower of the fisheries. Mary Magdalene was from this village. In the Jewish War, 3:10, Josephus tells us the town, being a place of fisheries, was very wealthy.

Herod Antipas built Sepphoris, a town about nine miles from Jesus’ home at Nazareth. He also built his capital Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Flavius Josephus wrote, “One may call this place the ambition of Nature.” Josephus also reported a thriving fishing industry at this time, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake. The Sea of Galilee was very much like Lake Tahoe, the lake on the Nevada, California border where all the rich people live.

This brings us to Matthew 4:15. “Galilee of the Ethnics,” tells us something very important about this region. “Galilee” is Hebrew for “Land of the Rolling Hills.” Galilee is the land of the rolling hills and it is the region of the Ethnics.

John 18:33 has Jesus and Pontius Pilate in extended dialogue. It would be less than feasible to expect a backwoods carpenter to discuss issues in Latin, the language of Pontius Pilate. The Romans had the same problem with their administrators that Americans have with their diplomats. The Roman Emperor picked people based upon their political positions, not their diplomatic skills. The Lingua Franca of the region was Koine Greek. The fishermen of that region, and by extension Jesus, were bilingual, speaking both Greek and Aramaic. Pilate, coming from that region, was bilingual, speaking Latin and Greek. The conversation was in their common language, Koine Greek.

Another intentional pun in St. Matthew comes in Matthew 9:16 and 9:24. The Aramaic word for wineskin and the Aramaic word for a little girl is, “טלית.” One does not poor new wine into an old wineskin. In the same way, the little girl rises into new life, not like she lived in the past. St. Matthew uses puns from both languages. He was bilingual, as were the other apostles.

If Jesus and the apostles were bilingual, and came from prosperous fishing villages, we must again look at who they were as people. They were not backwoods people like the back villages of Appalachia. They were sophisticated people from a place like Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. We can look at the Gospels and see artisans in the art of writing.

The Gospel of St. Matthew relates, “Walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting nets; they were fishermen/ἁλιεῖς. Jesus them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They left their nets and followed him. He saw two other brothers, James, and his brother John the son of Zebedee. They were in a boat, with their father, mending/doing catharsis/καταρτίζοντα, their nets.”

A chapter later St. Matthew quotes Jesus, “You are the salt /ἅλας of the earth. If salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer strong for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Fishermen/ ἁλιεῖς and salt/ ἅλας alliterate nicely with each other. This is an artisan at his craft. We are both the fishers sent out by Jesus and salt, which seasons the earth.

The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When full, they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is beautiful into buckets. What is toilsome they throw away.” The fishermen, now fishers of men cast off their nets. Some they accept while others they cast off. The ones they accept have ἅλας, salt. The people the apostles accept add flavor to the world. They become fishermen, giving catharsis to the world. They mend the people, giving them the salt/flavor they need to survive in a very hostile world.

When the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He asked, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ The man was reduced to silence. The king commanded his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

What did this hapless man do? What is the wedding garment? It comes back to being that ἁλιεῖς, that ἅλας. He did not have flavor. He was not that spice of life for others. In spite of the hostility of this world order, this cosmos, he did not flavor himself. He did not put on the new man. Somebody has to be the leader. When nobody else leads, when nobody else is the light of the world, remember, there are a billion stars in the sky. If the sun does not shine, let your star shine before men.

In this election season, we again complain that there are no leaders willing to promote Catholic Social Doctrine. We graduate 70,000 students from 225 Catholic colleges, universities, and law schools each hear and we have nobody to run for public office. We should provide that leadership, and not wait for others to do it for us.

There is a role for political leadership in the running of private enterprise

St. Mark has a “Μυστήριον/mystery of Jesus,” section. “The Sacrament is the μυστήριον,” relates how “Μυστήριον” was a jargon word in the early church pointing to the sacraments. The Gospel Reading for the Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time relates, “When Jesus disembarked he saw the crowd; his heart was moved with pity for them; they were like sheep without a shepherd.” It is important to note that this begins the move to the great climax of this section, Mark 8:22-26.

The beginning of this section is, “Mark 1:4,” the teaching of John the Baptist. St. Matthew more fully relates the preaching of John the Baptist. “Do not presume to tell yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you, God can raise children to Abraham from these stones. The ax lies at the root of the trees. Every tree not bearing beautiful fruit will be axed, literally, and thrown into the fire.”

Note the end of the section, Mark 8:22-26. As in “Mark 1:4,” the discussion is about trees. The article, “The rich young man and the paralytic/us,” relates how the Hebrew word for “Tree,” and the Hebrew word for “Counselor is the same.” As in the reading for the Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the discussion is about secular, political, and religious leadership, our shepherds. The first time Jesus heals the blind man, he sees the counselors as walking trees, something, not someone. When Jesus heals the blind man again, he sees people in their full humanity.

A chapter earlier, relates the healing of the deaf mute. “The man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly…” Jesus touches the man’s ears and his tongue. The two are related. In order to speak clearly, we must hear.

The people are as sheep without a shepherd. The feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand follows. The shepherd/leader is to help his sheep find the best grazing land. This is leadership, the proper role of secular, political, and religious government. Some political parties teach otherwise. They need to read Psalm 72, “The end of the psalms of David, son of Jesse.” It begins, “To Solomon.” This is a psalm by King David to his son about the proper role of government. The advice says:

God, give your judgment מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ to the king; your justice צִדְקָתְךָ to the king’s son; that he may govern יָדִין your people with justice, בְצֶדֶק your oppressed with correct judicial precedent, “בְמִשְׁפָּט.” In Hebrew, “צִדְקָ” “Justice,” and “Charity” are the same word. “Your lip,” “מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ” and “Your Justice,” are the same word. Judgments coming from the leadership are as though they came from God himself at Sinai. As the leaders speak, they represent God before the people. God holds them accountable for how they represent him.

“May he judge the poor of the people, and save the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor.” “Let the “צִדְקָ/just/charitable” flourish, and find abundance of peace, till the moon is no more.” “Kings, will prostrate themselves before him; all nations will serve him.” “He will deliver the needy when he cries; the poor also, those with no helper.” “He will pity the poor and needy, and the animate beings of the needy he will save.” “He will redeem their animate being from oppression and violence, and precious will their blood be in his sight.”

There is a role for political leadership in running secular government/private enterprise. Psalm 82 continues,” Elohim stands in the congregation of El; in the midst of the Elohim he judges/מִשְׁפָּטֶ.” “How long will you judge תִּשְׁפְּטוּ unjustly, and respect those who think themselves first/רְשָׁעִים. Judge/give your lips /מִשְׁפָּטֶ to the poor and fatherless; Make justice “צִדְקָ” to the afflicted, the destitute.” Rescue the poor and needy; deliver them from the hand of those who think themselves first/רְשָׁעִים.” “You are Elohim, all of you sons of the Most High.”

They cannot be gods. There is one God. As judges they stand in the place of God and represent God. In that sense, they are Elohim. When the political leadership does not fulfill the role of representing God properly, “they die like men, and fall as the princes.” There is a role political government for controlling the way the rich and powerful behave. Any political party saying otherwise is in mortal error and anyone voting for that leadership stands outside of grace.

This is the great mystery of St Mark and his Gospel. As leaders, we must open our eyes to the humanity inside of all, to the cry of the less fortunate so, when we speak we can speak clearly. When we attend Mass, we undergo transformational processes. St. Cyril of Jerusalem speaks of this transformational process in this Catechetical Lectures.

We also have the writing of St. Augustine, “So how can bread be his body? And what about the cup? How can it (or what it contains) be his blood?” My friends, these realities are called sacraments because in them one thing is seen, while another is grasped.” ” If you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle Paul speaking to the faithful: “You are the body of Christ, member for member.” [1 Cor. 12.27] If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table!” “What is seen is a mere physical likeness; what is grasped bears spiritual fruit.” That spiritual fruit is leadership that feeds the flock of Christ and the whole human race, with food spiritual and physical.

There is a role for the religious and political leadership in the running of secular/private enterprise.

The Sacrament is the μυστήριον

“In all wisdom and insight, he made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor.” This comes from the second reading for our Fifteen Sunday of Ordinary Time. Sacrament is derived from the Latin, meaning “a consecrated thing, “something holy”; a Church Latin translation of the Greek μυστήριον, “mystery.”

What you see is simply bread and a cup – this is the information your eyes report. Your faith demands far subtler insight: the bread is Christ’s body; the cup is Christ’s blood. Faith can grasp the fundamentals quickly, succinctly… “Unless you believe, you will not understand,” “אִם לֹא תַאֲמִינוּ, כִּי לֹא תֵאָמֵנוּ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, The source of his flesh took it from the Virgin Mary. Like any infant, he was nursed and nourished; he grew; became a youngster; suffered persecution from his own people. He was nailed to the wood; on the wood, he died; from the wood, his body was taken down and buried. On the third day he rose… So how can his body be bread? What about the cup? How can it be his blood?” My friends, these realities are called sacraments because in them one thing is seen, while another is grasped.

Listen to the Apostle Paul speaking to the faithful: “You are the body of Christ, member for member.” [1 Cor. 12.27] If you are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table!

Our Beloved St. Augustine, who stands at the right side of the mural of our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, wrote these words.

The holy day of the Passover is touching us. You, beloved in Christ, are to be enlightened by the baptismal font of regeneration. You will again be taught what is required, if God so will; with how great devotion and order you must enter in, for what purpose each of the holy mysteries of Baptism is performed, and with what reverence and order you must go from Baptism to the Holy Altar of God, and enjoy its spiritual and heavenly μυστήριον.

These are the words from Catechetical Lecture 18 from our Blessed Cyril of Jerusalem. As we can see, St. Cyril of Jerusalem uses “μυστήριον,” the same way we use the term, “Sacrament.” Protestants argue that the Catholic Church came up with the idea of “Sacrament” in the fourth century. Our Blessed St. Cyril of Jerusalem and our Most Blessed St. Augustine wrote at this time. When we read the writings of these blessed saints, we find their writings presuppose their doctrine had been around for a long time. The problem is in the translation.

What changed in the fourth century is semantics of the word. Using sign theory, which St. Augustine invented, what changed was the sign. Μυστήριον, became sacrament. The mystery remains. In our academic language, we call this historical criticism. We need to understand the doctrine of St. Paul and what he meant when he said “μυστήριον,” He meant the sacraments. Our doctrine of the seven sacraments was at least that long ago.

As Catholics, we must also understand what St. Paul meant when he discussed “μυστήριον,” “These realities are called sacraments because in them one thing is seen, while another is grasped.”

Something happens at that altar, other than Father Francisco or Father Joseph saying an epiclesis and reciting a narrative. Jesus dies on that cross, again, for the first time, each time, and we die with him. We become new people, who know what it means to suffers. We then become Jesus for the world, showing the world what our resurrection means and how the world can join us, if it but wills. We must remember, first, what is going on at that altar. A man is dying, and we are dying with him, nothing more and profoundly, nothing less. Something happens on that altar and if we see it, there will be a  faith response. If we see it, we will be transformed. If we see it, we will put on the new self, created in God’s way in charity, dedication, and truth. At mass, do we see it?

Compare Amos, Amaziah, and us

The Personal Name was standing, plummet in hand, by a wall built with a grief/plumb line. The Divine Judge asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” I answered, “A plumb line/grief.” Then the Divine Judge said, “I lay grief in the midst of my people, those who struggle with God… The high places of the laughing will become waste, the dedicated places of Israel, desolate….

Amaziah the priest of Beth-el told Amos: Go seer, flee into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there; but do not prophesy more at Beth-el/house of God. It is the dedicated place of the king,a royal house, the Beth/house of the king.” Amos answered Amaziah: “I was no prophet, or a prophet’s son; I was a herdsman/distinguisher, one who makes indistinguishable those of Shechem/Sycamore/the established.”

We read this warning for the first reading in the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. There are puns through the passage. The Hebrew word for “Grief” is the same as for a plumb line. The plumb line is a string with a heavy weight that can fall upon a head, causing grief.

God tells Amos to tell the king, the high places, the places of the wealthy will become an indistinguishable waste. Amaziah the priest of Beth-el lays out the charges against the king far better than Amos could. He tells the prophet to flee and eat, not meat, but humble bread.

Beth-el means, “House of God.” For Amaziah it is not the house of God, but the place dedicated to the king. The high and mighty replaces God with king. Amaziah lays the same grief upon Amos that he lays upon the people. Amos is to eat bread, not meat. The Greek word for “Evil,” “πονηρός” means “Toilsome, Painful, Grievous.” Everyplace and time we see great wealth we also find great poverty, toil, pain, grief.

The Hebrew word used for a herdsman also means “Morning.” “Morning,” is the time of day things start to become distinguishable. The root idea is “to distinguish.” Shechem was Israel’s capital; Jerusalem the capital of Judah. Another important pun compares the high and mighty in Shehem with the Sycamore, known as the fruit tree of the poor, not native to the region, transplanted by the hated Egyptians. The tree grows as far north as northern Judah, not the northern kingdom of Israel.

Amos faithfully relates what God told him to tell the king. The established people will become like the sycamore, the fruit of the poor. It will become and indistinguishable clump. The first will be last and the last will be first. Amaziah is the wise sage of the king. Amos is the herdsman working with sycamores.

St. Paul warns about debates, “The message of the cross is foolish to the perishing; to the saved it is the power of God. “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; I set aside the learning of the learned. Where is the wise? Where is the grammarian? Where is the debater of this age? God made the wisdom of the cosmos foolish. The cosmos did not come to know God through wisdom. The will of God, through the foolishness of the proclamation, saves the faithful.”

The wise distinguish properly. God wants no part of that and no part of the great debaters of this age. He wants those who are, “United in the same mind and in the same purpose.” “Amos” means the one who stammers.” Our Blessed Virgin also warns us of Amaziah’s faults. “He shows might with his arm, dispersing the arrogant of mind and heart. He throws the rulers from their thrones but lifts the lowly. The hungry he fills with nobility; the rich he sends away empty.”

“Amos,” “Iah” and “Amos,” sound similar. On the other hand, “Amos” means the one who stammers.” “Amaziah,” sounding so much like “Amos,” means “the strong.” Like St. Paul, “Amos” was the man with the heavy tongue, not the great debater of the age. Amaziah was the strong man of God, in his own mind.

In Reno Nevada, there was a class at Our Lady of the Snows. One of the questions asked was, “Would we do differently than Amaziah?” All in the class but one gave all the reasons why they would repent and do things differently. When we hear the strong, established people attacked, do we feel threatened? We hear how 20% of the population bringing home 71% of the income while the poorest 50% of the population only bring home 19%.

We hear how this causes 5% of the population to account for 50% of healthcare costs.

They are mentally depressed because they do not have the funds to buy adequate food clothing, shelter, and transportation. They become chronically sick. We hear of the 45000 who die each year from a lack of healthcare. We hear of the 5,000 workers dying each year in preventable accidents. We hear of the 8,000 babies who die each year because their parents cannot afford adequate health care, nutrition, or housing. Do we become defensive like Amaziah, or do we repent? Be honest, when the charge is turned upon us, do we respond differently?