See what you hear, of three Gospel readings in ordinary time.

What is the difference between Mark’s Gospel’s short ending and the Gospel reading for the Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary time? The short ending of Mark’s Gospel reads:

When Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices… They were utterly amazed. He told them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. Go and tell his disciples and Peter…’” They went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone.

Black AngusSo ends Mark’s original version of his Gospel. Some speak of a Messianic Secret of which nobody has of yet given a reason. One possible reason is this ending. St. Mark juxtaposes the earlier healings/miracles  with this greatest one. Jesus heals Jarius’ daughter. In Jarius’ small town, every body knew the child was dead. Now, explain her presence on the playground the following day.

Our reading for the Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary time ends, “Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them to tell no one… He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

In the first reading above, the angels tell the women to tell the disciples what they saw and they tell nobody. In the second, Jesus tells people to tell nobody and they tell everybody. Why is this?

The Gospel reading reads, “The people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd, put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, bring his tongue near…” There is a pun in this passage, which only works in Aramaic. The word for “Spitting,” is “Rack,” and the word for “Touching,” used in this passage is “Car of.” “Rack,” and “Car” use the same letters in Aramaic, only in inverse order. What does Jesus touch his tongue with? His fingers are in the other man’s ear. More importantly, why does Jesus only heal the man’s deafness, but this also heals his inability to speak.

Lake Tahoe by Spread Peace RenoGod gave humankind two ears and only one mouth,for a reason. In order to speak, we must first be able to hear. The people are not part of the great healing of the deaf man. The women at Jesus tomb are very much a part of what is going on. The resurrection happens to them, and by extension to us. We are one with Jesus; what happens to one member happens to all. When one cow in a herd is spooked, the whole herd bolts. The cows in the field next door look, but do not act. The women at Jesus’ resurrection are part of Jesus’ flock. What happens to him happens to them as well. The crowd at the healing of the deaf man are excited about seeing a healing, but they are not one with the deaf man, so do not feel the religious awe of the women at the resurrection.

Mark 7 has this story of the deaf man. The next chapter has the healing of the blind man, and the message is much the same. “He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ Looking up he replied, ‘I see people looking like trees and walking.’ He laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.”Red hens courtesy Examiner Cheryl Hanna

Both stories involve spit. Both stories have the same message. Related, is the parable of the sower. In this passage, Mark 4:24 reads in Greek, “See what you hear, the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. The one having more will be given more; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

See what you hear. The deaf man has his ears opened, and is able to speak. The blind man first sees walking trees. The Aramaic word for tree and counselor is “Eights.” He first sees counselors, occupations, stodgy old men filling a role. The second time he sees real people with real feelings and everything. Speak of the parable of the sower, just what does separate the good soil from the bad soil? The bad soil is “Path.” It is trampled down and hard. Scrub cattle have lived a hard life and find it hard to forgive. The good soil is aerated. “Spiritual,” is a fancy Latin word meaning, having air in it, aerated. Aerated soil is soft to the touch, and touching is important in all of these stories. Greek has two words for soft, “απαλός,” and, “μαλακός.” In the case of the good soil, the appropriate word is “απαλός.” The second word appears throughout the Gospels, once in reference to the weak, that is to say boys used for prostitution. In the four Gospels it is used exclusively for weakness as in the sick of whom Jesus heals. Conservatives like to use weakness exclusively in the negative sense, as a fault. It is the weak Jesus comes to heal, not the strong. Matthew 9:12 quotes Jesus in reference to the weak when he says he came to heal them, not the healthy.

“See what you hear.” When we truly look and see the other person, seeing who he is as a human being, and when we truly listen to the other person, striving to understand where he comes from, even if we must disagree, we start the movement toward becoming a community. We become one with Jesus, sharing in his resurrection. We become soft, aerated, spiritual people, people other nations would strive to be like. Are we up to the task?

The mural at our Cathedral speak to our readings for the Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

What do our readings for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time have to do with our mural at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada? First let us read that Gospel reading again:

Rivers of life

People brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” “Be opened!” Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.”

First, the man comes forward with a speech impediment. Jesus does not address this issue, at least not directly. “He put his finger into the man’s ears…” The problem with most of us is in the listening. In our politics, we speak past each other. Our side is the righteous side and the other side is stupid for not seeing things the way we see them. In religion, our side is the righteous side and the other side is stupid for not seeing things our way. In our daily lives we have the same problem. We are right and, by extension, the other side is wrong. The result is that people don’t listen to us; we have a speech impediment.

Zechariah, in Hebrew and Aramaic, means remembrance. His wife, Elizabeth? Her name? The Oath of Elijah. The Oath of Elijah is sterile, a vain remembrance of greater times gone by. Gabriel, the Strength of God, comes calling and Zechariah, Remembrance, says, “How will I know this?” He does not listen with his ears or his heart to the very strength of God and the result? He is not able to speak. Before we can speak, we must first be able to listen.

There are five levels of listening. The first level, the one most of us do, is called non-attending. This is what we do in politics and religion. This is when we are so certain we are right we do not have to listen to the other side. We look down on the person we listen to, or we think about our response, and not what the other person says. In the second, we respond to content. The other person might continue talking but we are not communicating. In the third level we listen not just to content, but to the person as a flesh and blood human being. We listen for the heart and for the content. We listen for the feelings of the other side, and for the real meaning of what they try to tell us. In the next level, we personalize the thoughts, feelings, and meanings with the other person. This is when we start to become family with them. We relate, not on an abstract level, but as two human beings with a common history. This is what society is supposed to be about. At the final level, we begin working as a community to define goals and work to make the world a better place to live.

This is where we come to our first reading:

Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God; he comes with vindication; with divine recompense, he comes to save you.

The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; the lame will leap like a stag, the tongue of the mute will sing.

God comes when we first say, “Be strong, fear not…” When we work as a community, listening to the views of the other side, whatever that other side is, asking where their perceptions come from and then working as a community to help resolve those concerns, then and only then, God comes to help us make the world a better place. This only means understanding where their heart, mind, and soul is so we can find real solutions for the betterment of both sides. So, what does this have to do with our mural at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada?

At the top of our mural sits Pope Pious X who wrote Il Fermo Proposito. Section 2 states, “We wish to recall those numerous works of zeal for the good of the Church, society, and individuals under the general name of “Catholic Action,” which by the grace of God flourish throughout the world as well as in Our Italy. You well know, Venerable Brethren, how dear they are to Us and how fervently We long to see them strengthened and promoted.”

Section 3 “Catholic Action is extremely vast. It does not exclude anything, in any manner, direct or indirect, which pertains to the divine mission of the Church. One can plainly see how necessary it is for everyone to cooperate in such an important work. This is not only for the sanctification of his own soul, but also for the extension and increase of the Kingdom of God in individuals, families, and society. each one works according to his energy for the good of his neighbor by the propagation of revealed truth, by the exercise of Christian virtues, by the exercise of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”

Section 7 They seek to restore Jesus Christ to the family, the school and society by re-establishing the principle that human authority represents the authority of God. They take to heart the interests of the people, especially those of the working and agricultural classes. They not only inculcate in the hearts of everybody a true religious spirit (the only true fount of consolation among the troubles of this life) but also by endeavor to dry their tears, to alleviate their sufferings, and to improve their economic condition by wise measures. They strive, in a word, to make public laws conformable to justice and amend or suppress those which are not so.

Our Gospel tells us, first to listen, then to speak and act through Catholic Action for the common good of all.

Dancing in the Twenty Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

What does the reading from the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time have to do with last week’s readings? In the article, “The divine dance and bringing God’s flame to the world,” the concept of the divine dance was presented. In this week’s readings the concept of religion as it was understood to the first century Gospel writers is presented. This word, “θρησκεία,” “religion,” is not well defined in the Greek dictionaries. On the other hand, the earliest Aramaic translators did translate this word into the Aramaic Peshitta Bible. In doing so, they used the word from which Samson was named. Jastrow, in his dictionary defines “θρησκεία/religion,”  as, “to handle, to be busy at, to minister, to officiate.” Cohen is the Hebrew word for a priest and also translates as an official. From this comes the idea of an attendant, servant, or waiter. The Greek seems to have defined religion in relation to the temple services.

Our second reading reads:

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. The one who peers into the complete instruction of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one is blessed in what he does. Anyone thinking he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and uncommon before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

The one who looks into the complete instruction of freedom looks into the divine fire. The Hebrew word for religion is also related to the word for our sun. When we look to God we look into the divine fire, and we begin to participate in the divine dance. We cannot help but to do so. When we look to God and start to participate in the divine dance, we hope others will look to us, also see the divine fire in us, and also participate in the dance. This is where our first reading comes into play.

In your observance of the Mitzvah of the NAME, your God, I enjoin upon you, you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it. Guard to do them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’ What great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the NAME, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? Or what great nation has customs and precedents as just as this whole instruction I set before you today?”

The meaning is clear. If, as a nation, we participate in the divine dance, if as Catholics we participate in the divine dance, we will set the example of other nations and for other denominations. They may envy us, but they will not hate us. There is no need to force our faith on other people. Our example will lead the way. Some of us are officials, attendants of The Word in our Sunday liturgy. All of us are part of the universal priesthood of the faithful. We are all attendants of the word living in us through the divine fire of the divine dance, given to us through the Holy Spirit. James is clear in what this means. As one nation, one people born together, by common heritage, if not by place of birth or by blood, we care for one another. We make sure all have sufficient food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, transportation, and the common needs of life.

Jesus speaks the same message in our Gospel reading. What makes a person common, no better than the other nations is failure to participate in the divine dance. We become full of “rotten thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.” In short, we put ourselves first, and not the rest of our nation/[people born together/family, the rest of mankind, and the rest of God’s planet. The Hebrew word for wicked is Russia and refers to those who put themselves first. The common people are this. This is the many who are called. The special people, the few who are chosen, put God’s creation first and choose to participate in the divine dance. Let’s dance.

The Story of Adam and Eve, the Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, and our Catholic and American Heritage

What do the readings for the Twenty Second Sunday of Ordinary time have in common with our national heritage and the story of Adam and Eve? Many people look to the great story of Adam and Eve and Eve’s great sin, the great fall. A close reading of the story says, “Not so!” This is what our liturgical reading says about listening to God:

In your observance of the Mitzvah of the NAME, your God, which I enjoin upon you, you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.

Read the great exchanges between God and Adam and then between Eve and the Serpent:

The NAME God commanded the man: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. Genesis 2:16-17

“Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” The woman answered : “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” Genesis 3:1-3

The Serpent quotes God correctly. Eve is not rebellious; she is overly pious. She adds, “or even touch it.”

The Gospel reading adds to this theme. It is no secret to the Jewish establishment, it is only a matter of time before the Romans come and level Jerusalem. The historian Josephus reports Rome has already attacked many Israeli cities, several times, in the last quarter century. Their method of operation is well established. The Jewish establishment took pains to make sure the people were ready. They took the rituals of the temple liturgy and required the common people to follow these in their homes. They added to the Commandments given by Moses. They were not rebellious; they were overly zealous. They failed to understand the section from Deuteronomy 4:

The nations, who will hear of all these customs and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’ What great nation is there that has gods so close to it, as the NAME, our God is to us whenever we call upon him? Or what great nation has customs and precedents that are as just as this whole Torah/teaching I set before you today?”

In our nation, we face the same problems. Some desire to push an overly pious approach to church and the running of the nation. They would force rote resuscitation of church prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance and other documents of our national heritage. They do not push understanding what these words mean.

The Jewish national understanding and America’s national understanding have much in common. They both preach, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” “As Christ died to make men Holy, let us die to make men free…” They both preach the equality of all men. They both preach we are a nation rescued from over there, wherever over there is, to over here, Israel/America. When we practice the words of our sacred documents, people say, “This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.”

When we preach law, order, and following the rules for the sake of following the rules, they rename Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina, evict all its residents and bring in replacements, burning the city to the ground. The choice is ours. Do we want to live our heritage, or do we want to add to God’s rules and bring down his wrath?

Deuteronomy 4:13 is the only passage numbering the Ten Commandments as ten. “He proclaimed to you his covenant, commanding you to keep: the ten words, which he wrote on two stone tablets.” The key term is “Ten,” “Asher” in Hebrew. “Asher” means Ten, but also means “Happy.”

We are happy when we follow the simple rules God gave Adam and Eve. “The NAME God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to guard it and to care of it. The NAME God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of the satisfying and the rotten. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you will die, die.” Genesis 2:15-17.” God set us here to guard and care for his garden, all of it, including each other. The command is just that simple.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 God says, “Here Israel, (you who struggle with God) God is Almighty, God is One. Love God with all your hearts, with all your animate being, and with all your measure.” How do we love God; what do we give someone who literally already has everything? We respect what is his, in particular that which is made in his image, each other.  God meant for us to take care for each other, to help each other be happy. When we as a community do this we all become happy. There is no room for being solemn. There is no emphasis on rules. There is only the emphasis on the game of life. Taking time to figure out the rules, the game must stop. That is why the typical football game, four 15 minute periods, one hour, takes three hours to play.

The game is not about ritual either; it is about helping everyone to be happy. We share the responsibility, with the goal of making everyone happy. Society does not say, government should do this, private enterprise should do that, and the church does the other. We love God with all our measure, government, private enterprise, church, and each other. The command before us today is to help each other to be happy, no more and no less.

John 6, and the Magnificat

Please notice to the left of our altar as parishioners look at it. What does this have in common with the reading for today? When we think about it, the answer should become clear. In the original Greek, our Gospel for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary time reads, “The spirit is the life maker.” The general translation is, “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.” This implies the Spirit continuously creates life. The Spirit creates life in each person. Our Blessed Virgin speaks of this in the Magnificat, the great poem on the making of life. Indeed, as the Mother of God our Blessed Virgin is the creator of life.

Our Blessed Virgin with Jesus,

“My anima proclaims the greatness of the NAME; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

He has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and dedicated is his NAME.

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with nobility. The rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel (Those who struggle with God) his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Deuteronomy 30 also speaks of the life creator in the Spirit:

Ellis Island courtesy of National Park Service. areal view

This command I give you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it…I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life…!

If the Spirit is in us, it produces life. It asks how to produce life in every instant of our lives. When we see the lowly, the hungry, those who struggle to understand God in their lives The Spirit produces life. It asks, “How I can create the most life for the person standing before me.” Our Blessed Virgin answers this question by first pointing to God as the person to whom she proclaims the greatness. Her Spirit rejoices in God her savior. The Hebrew/Aramaic word she would have used for Savior is “Jesus.” The Spirit rules nothing out. If someone says they love God with all their hearts, animate being and strength, and then says, “Except with,” the Spirit is not in them. If they say the government has no role in feeding the hungry, or the church, or private enterprise, or whatever, the truth is not in them. There is no “Except” in the Spirit.

She looks upon her lowliness. This means always comparing ourselves with God, not with others, the flesh of this world. When we do the latter, there is the great fall of thinking we are better. When we do the former, we realize our humility, from humus, dirt. From dust we were made, and from dust we will return.

In Hebrew and Aramaic, the word for fear, and for looking to, is the same. The Spirit filled life is about looking to God. Jesus asks, “If I ascend…” Our eyes always need to be ascending. The Hebrew and Aramaic word for wicked is “Russia,” and means those who put themselves first. This is the rulers, of all political parties. It takes one who thinks himself first to run for the position. God throws these people down at the second coming. He then raises the humble, those who view themselves as humus/dirt. It is the humble God raises to nobility. If we want to be noble, we must be humble, and we must always look to the humble and always be asking, “How can we make each person coming before us receive the most possible life. The Gospel for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time is all about this.

The divine dance and bringing God’s flame to the world

What do today’s readings have to do with the identity of our Mother here on earth, the Holy Roman Catholic Church? The first reading tells us, “Joshua addressed all the people: “If it does not please you to serve the NAME, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the NAME. The people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the NAME for the service of other gods. It was the NAME, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the NAME, for he is our God.”


Many, in particular fundamentalists and conservatives, in pursuing their own goals and that of their politicians, read the first part of the passage and drop the last. Their church leaders put into the mouth of God, their agenda and say, “This is the word of God; we follow this; we would rather die than follow anything else.” They miss what God’s word is in this passage. It was the NAME, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the NAME, for he is our God.”

God’s word is to remember what it was like to be in Egypt, and then, when we see others suffering, to get that knot in our gut and do something to prevent it from ever happening again. We read these words on our Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Our Battle hymn of the republic has the same sentiments, “In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me. As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on.” In this regard, today’s first read and the sentiments of our founding fathers are really the same. In this regard, when we follow this teaching we become a Christian nation.

Jewish rhetoric has a rule called, “Call and Fruit, and Call.” This translates as, “General, and particular, and general.” The second reading for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time uses this rhetorical flourish. I begins with a general statement, “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The passage also ends with a general statement, “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” “You may derive only things similar to those specified.” What is similar to the general statements is the idea of church as family with Father/God, mother, the church, and the parishioners as children.

Old couple

The key word in this passage is “ὑποτασσόμενοι,” and it does not mean “Obey.” It comes from two words, “ὑπο,” meaning “Under,” and “τασσόμενοι,” meaning to stand in an array, as in an army of oarsmen prepared for setting sail. Do not think in terms of the nuclear family. Think in terms of the movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis: from 1944. What is depicted is husband, wife, servants, and children. The wife, stands under her husband, with a staff in array. The husband is captain of the ship, the wife is executive officer, and everyone else is the crew. When St. Paul speaks of the children in this church family he uses a different word, generally translated as “Obey,” “ὑπακούετε.” It translates, not as “obey,” but as “listen.” When one listens, one learns from mistakes of the person speaking. It means, “Pay attention to what you hear.”

We then listen to the story, the story of the escape from Egypt/Europe/wherever we felt imprisoned in the past, and to the story of our rescue. We relive the story in present time. This is what Christ means in our Gospel reading when he speaks of eating his body and drinking his blood. It means remembering our rescue through his suffering and death in present time. Then, when we see others suffering, we see Christ in those suffering and we do something. We become family.

“He who loves his wife loves himself. Nobody hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. A man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” The Greek Cappadocian fathers came up with a word to describe what St. Paul speaks of here, “Perichoresis.” It translates, “The dance.” St. Paul speaks of the great dance of living as a family. Like a flame, the parts seem to intermingle, becoming one, and sometimes separate, seeming to be multiple extensions of the base fire. Likewise, the family sometimes looks like one family, but at other times looks like its individual parts.

This is how St. Paul sees the church, all loving one another, viewing each other as parts of the one whole family, but still seeing themselves as individuals. St. Paul ends by reminding us, this is not about the nuclear family with everyone doing whatever is asked by the captain of the ship, the husband, and the husband free to do as he pleases. This is about the ideal family being the role model for the church, with all engaging in the divine dance, making like a flame, being on fire for the Father, and bringing his salvation to the world.

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time and Election 2016

What does the reading for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time have to do with the upcoming elections? As we move toward the election season, we see only one thing on the part of all political parties, a combination of self-righteousness and the need to put the other party down. We already see the comments comparing our current president with monkeys, people of the Islamic faith, another favorite whipping boy of the right, and other foreign nationals. If you identify as a liberal you must support abortion, and if you support conservatives, you must believe every nut must own a gun. There is Trump with his wig and the outrageous other statements constantly coming out of the far right.

The first reading and St. Paul in the second reading point out what is missing in all of this, a meaningful discussion of any issues that might make this nation a better nation. Proverbs tells us:

Who is thoughtless, turn now’; the defective of heart, she says: Come, eat my bread and drink my wine. (The Hebrew word is ‘wine,) which I have mixed. Forsake the living death of foolishness, and live. Walk in the way of building up (other people.) If you correct a scorner, you bring to yourself shame. If you reprove those who think themselves first, it comes to him a blot. Do not correct a scorner; he will grind his teeth against you. Reprove a wise man and he will love you.


Look at the phrase, “Defective of heart.” This is the literal Hebrew for the passage. The wise man has a soft heart. In Psalm 95, which religious Catholics pray every morning in the Liturgy of the Hours, it tells us not to harden our hearts. When Jesus tells the parable of the sower, what is the difference between the good soil and the bad soil? The bad soil is the path; otherwise, it is identical to the good soil. The path is stepped upon and in the process of being stepped upon becomes hard. The good soil is aerated/fancy Latin for spiritual. As a result, it is soft.

To those of defective heart, Wisdom tells us to come to communion, receive the spirit, and become soft again. We are to walk in the way of building up of other people. The Hebrew word for understanding is related to the word for a house, the verb form of which means to build. When we understand others, we build them up. Do not compare those who disagree with us with fools, foreigners we might not like, or animals. When we see others doing this, it is a sign we are dealing with people who do not yet have the spirit, liberal and conservative alike.

Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are rotten. Do not continue in ignorance, but try to build up what is the will of the NAME. Do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the NAME in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Kyrie Jesus Christ to God the Father.

Making the most of every opportunity means trying to find points in common with those we disagree with, not calling them names. Focus upon what is God’s will. Read Deuteronomy 5:1-7 and other places: we are to see God in every person we see and we are to see in every person we see the great E Pluribus Unum, From the Many One, fellow travelers, (The Greek word is parochial/parish) people rescued from over there, (wherever of there is) to over here. We find room when greeting others, positive things to sings psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We find room to sing and play to the NAME in our hearts, giving thanks, not just in liturgy, but in life. There is no room in this for name-calling. Does this mean we must agree in everything? No! Following Jesus’ example in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, it means we acknowledge our differences while working for common ground. It means following St’ Peter’s example when he first meets Jesus in Luke and says, “Get away from me, for I am a deviant.” We do not compare ourselves with those we deem to be inferior to ourselves, but to God.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Ninteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the atomic bomb

What does our second reading have to do with American and world history for today?

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.
Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. So reads today’s second reading.

Today also commemorates the bombing of Nagasaki and the three-day anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. In Japanese Hiroshima means “broad island,” from Japanese hiro “broad” + shima “island.” So called in reference to its situation on the delta of the Ota River. It is interesting to note that “Hiro,” is the Greek word from which we get Hierarchy or hierarkhia “rule of a high priest,” from hierarkhes “high priest, leader of sacred rites.” Shema” is the most sacred prayer in the Jewish tradition, “Hear’ Israel, God is Almighty; God is One.” Using Greek and Hebrew, false cognates admittedly, Hiroshima means, “Listening to the Holy Priest. Nagasaki means naga “long” + saki “headland, promontory.”

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In Nagasaki the bomb was dropped a Catholic cathedral. “The epicenter of the blast was the heart and soul of Catholicism in Japan since the sixteenth century.” “Devotion to Mary among the Urakami Catholics was based on a great and proper respect for the Mother’s suffering for them, as her children. This was manifest by the statue outside the entrance of the Urakami Cathedral—Mary standing beside her Crucified Son. Devotion to Mary as Mother of God and their Mother was manifest by widespread, daily devotion to the Rosary.” “Of the 12,000 Catholics in the Urakami district, 8,500 were killed.”

Several military leaders weighed in on the importance of the bombing. Admiral William D. Leahy, the President’s Chief of Staff–and the top official who presided over meetings of both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combined U.S.-U.K. Chiefs of Staff, “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.” “Admiral Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, ‘The Japanese had already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war.” “Admiral William (Bull) Halsey, Jr., Commander U.S. Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946: ‘The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment. . . . a mistake. . . . The scientists had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it. . . . It killed a lot of Japs, who had put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before.”

As a Navy Veteran this writer served aboard the USS Forrestal, the first of America’s post WWII super carriers, now a coral reef somewhere. “In the week before the 5/17 meeting with Truman, Forrestal had questioned the wisdom of having Russia participate in an invasion of Japan. The Dept. of War believed that Russian entry would help save American lives. Forrestal, on the other hand, feared control of additional occupied territory by Russia. He also hoped that postwar Japan might become a counterweight to Russia in the Far East. The Navy favored their blockade as the primary means of defeating Japan.

Strategic importance in winning the war did not provoke the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It may have included being the first blast of the cold war; trying to convince the Soviets, we had the bomb. The Japanese emperor listed as the causes of surrender, both firebombing of his cities, but of more importance, “The domestic situation.” He was well aware that his citizens and his military were on the verge of revolution.

Our readings today give us the real reason for the bombing. “Unconditional Surrender.” Whether part of long-term strategic thinking, or as part of a propaganda campaign, ““Unconditional Surrender” was based upon bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling, as St Paul complains about. It was wall about getting even with the Japanese. It was about Pearl Harbor and what the Japanese did in China.

“Unconditional Surrender” put the Japanese leadership in a bind. They knew about the war crimes trials starting in Europe. They knew what had already happened to most of their allies’ leadership. “Unconditional Surrender” gave the Japanese leadership a choice between dying at the hands of the Americans, in the hands of their own people, or with the shame of war crimes trials. It is never smart to give people a choice of only how they are going to die, and not expect people to go out fighting. Our reading gives us the important dilemma, aught this nation have forgiven the very extreme war crimes of the Japanese leadership, which were as bad as the Germans in that war, or aught the Americans have killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese, many of whom were Catholics in the name of ending that war?

In our eagerness to support “Unconditional Surrender”, we chose bitterness and hatred, and we chose to kill fellow Catholics, when alternatives were available. As we move forward, let us learn our lessons; may it never be “My way or the Highway.” Give the other person an honorable out being mindful of ills others of completed. We learn this lesson in the name of international politics, but also in the name of living with those who live next to us. For convicted criminals, this means capital punishment, putting criminals in the same position as the Japanese leadership when it comes time for their arrest. It also means how we live our daily lives. The important lesson is that we must live with each other. When we hold grudges, the person we hurt the most is not those who hurt us, but often ourselves, and the innocents nearby.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Grieving the Holy Spirit or living in Christ. Our mural and the Eucharist

What does our reading have to do with the mural behind the altar? Our second reading speaks of grieving the Holy Spirit, but how do we do that. The left of our mural depicts Abraham as he prepares to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. To the right of our mural, and balancing Abraham is St. Paul, also with a knife. Above these, sit King David and Melchizadek representing music and harmony, along with the precious body and blood. Charles Borromeo with Sanctus Pascal Baylon the patron of the Children’s Eucharist counterbalance order and harmony with education of child and priest.

Two themes highlight our readings today, and two themes highlight what we see in our mural. The first is what grieves the Holy Spirit. This is the rule of hatred and violence, the rule of bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling and malice. St. Paul counterbalances this with harmony, the music of King David, being kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. This applies to Catholics who hate Muslims or atheists. This includes conservatives who hate liberals, and liberals who hate conservatives. It includes churchgoers who hate non-church goers and the like. Melchizadek is Hebrew for Charitable King, or charitable messenger. We become the charitable messenger when we speak in terms of harmony, melody, rhythm, compassion, forgiving one another and the like.

How do we accomplish this task? The second major theme in our readings and in our mural is the Eucharist. It is by partaking in the Eucharist that we receive Christ. We die with him to all anger and bitterness. We rise with him into harmony, melody, rhythm, compassion, seeing the other person’s point of view, even if we choose to disagree with that view. It is through partaking of Christ in the Eucharist that we receive the Holy Spirit, and with her the only tool we need to each heal and transform the world, Takuun Olam, harmony and treating all people as we would Christ.

Planning for the next Reno Diocesan Synod/ which is hopefully very soon

All steps are subject to guidance and approval of the Bishop and his staff. All steps except step 4 are subject to guidance and approval of the Parish rector and his staff.

Parish Synod is open to all parishioners. All are parishioners and all are free to participate and vote on all issues before the Synod. Synod meets twice each month, on a Saturday, one meeting for those who work on day shift, and one who work on swing shift. Each Saturday constitutes one meeting, regardless of the number of actual meetings.Each Sunday, Parish Synod presents  what it has accomplished to the parish over coffee and doughnuts or other light snacks as appropriate after each Mass. Diocesan Synod budget pays expense.

After each meeting of the Parish Synod, the Parish Synod appoints delegate to a Diocesan monthly meeting to coordinate information and share ideas.

(1) Pastoral Council chairs initial meeting of synod with first order of business being the election of a chair and synod leadership. Parish Synod/ define the Parish as distinct from other parishes in the diocese. This process takes three months or more, with one meeting per month.

(2) Parish Synod/discuss problems. These could include parish budget, parish outreach into the local community, parish influence in the political process, for example that there are 250 Catholic colleges and universities graduating 70,000 students each year, but most Catholics feel there are no candidates to vote for. Politicians are either conservative, ignoring life after birth, or liberal, ignoring life before birth. Most Catholics are uniformed as to the current Catholic understanding of ethics at the local or communal level. Most parishes suffer under the weight of the 80/20 rule. The richest 20% of parishioners, representing the richest 20% of the general population who control 80% of secular wealth, contribute 80% of church revenues. As such, they tend to be over represented in the Pastoral Council, and therefore parish decision making. This process of defining the problem takes three meetings, or more as required.

(3) Parish Synod/ define what a successful Parish synod would be quantifiable and verifiable terms. Define success for the synod in quantifiable and verifiable terms. They define how the Parish will be different after the Synod than before the Synod, in quantifiable and verifiable terms. This takes three meetings or more as required.Parish Synod appoints delegates to the Diocesan Synod.

(4) Diocesan Synod/ Diocese completes first three steps at the diocesan level. Diocesan synod proposes solutions to the Bishop and Diocesan staff. Diocesan Synod defines itself as distinct from other diocese and denominations, being favorable to other denominations. Diocesan Synod meets until the Bishop adjourns the Synod. Synod date is finalized upon completion of the last parish-completing step (3).

(5) Parish Synod/ in light of Diocesan Synod further defines itself in relation to other parishes in the diocese, and other churches close to itself. Develops ecumenical plan for participation with other parishes and local churches. Parish Synod, in light of Diocesan Synod proposes solutions to Parish Rector and Parish Council. Proposes direction for moving forward. This process lasts until Parish Rector adjourns the Synod.