Why does the poor widow give her mite?


Entering Reno
Harrah’s Ranch represents the home of the rich.

According to the Journal of Philanthropy, “Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people in more economically diverse communities. When people making more than $200,000 a year account for more than 40 percent of local taxpayers, the wealthy residents give an average of 2.8 percent of discretionary income to charity, about the same as the middle class. Itemizers earning $200,000 or more give 4.2 percent.”

The Guardian reports, “People are much more responsive to charitable pleas that feature a single, identifiable beneficiary…”

The reading for the Thirty-second Sunday, “The Widow’s Mite.” Jesus explains how the widow gives from her poverty. The Journal of Philanthropy tells us of how the rich living in rich neighborhoods give less than those who live in economically diverse communities. They, like the widow, see the poor every day.

Leaders in federal, state, local government, in private enterprise, and in civic organizations, kin with the poor, more readily respond. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 comments on these leaders, and their need to come from the people, never being richer than the people. Luke 7:26-50 speaks of the deviant woman at Simon’s home. Jesus asks Peter, “Do you see this woman?”  In Cleveland, Ohio, the rich live in Bratenahl, the poor in East Cleveland. “The average home price in Bratenahl is $638,729. “The average price for East Cleveland homes is $53,456.” Can people from Bratenahl understand living in East Cleveland? I remember looking for work after college. A rich kid in our dorm gave the advice of spending $20 and using it on the payphone to call perspective employers. Told there was no $20, he advised spending $20 on resumes. There was no concept of not having $20.

Bede writes in the Catena Aurea, “The widow casts two mites into the treasury; the love of God and neighbor. The rich sends his own abundance into the treasury; presuming his own righteousness; the widow sends her whole living into God’s treasury, she understands, her living is not her desert, but Divine grace.” The widow brings, suffering herself, she knows suffering. The rich brings blinded by the world of concepts, his view of right and wrong, he thinks it is right.

The hospital I was born in 2
Where I was born represents the home of the poor.

The rich, the Simons of our world, never see that woman. Jesus asks Simon, “Do you see this woman or an occupation?” Our rich never see the woman. Mark 7 has the Deaf Mute. To speak, we must first hear. If the poor are far away, we cannot hear them, how can we address their needs? Mark 8 has the Blind Man. The first time Jesus touches him, the Blind Man sees walking trees, people’s exterior. The second time, real human beings. How can the Blind Man see other human beings if he walls them off in gated communities?

The widow lives among the poor, seeing their suffering. The rich live apart,  never seeing or hearing. Therefore, she contributes more of what little she has. Do we see?  Hear?

AMOUNT TO DONATE CHART

Thoughts on the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Readings


The Apostolic Constitutions, dated from 375 to 380 AD, tells us:

Three PopesWhen you call an assembly of the Church as one that is the commander of a great ship, appoint the assemblies with all possible skill, charging the deacons as mariners to prepare places for the brethren as for passengers. Let the building be long… In the middle, let the reader stand upon some high place: let him read the books of Moses, of Joshua the son of Nun, of the Judges, and of the Kings and of the Chronicles, and those written after the return from the captivity… and of the sixteen prophets.

The Hebrew word for “Prophet” is “Navy,” fitting. As we look at our Cathedral, we note it is long, as this quote demands. It is also in the shape of a ship. The back of our ship is the Sanctuary. This area is raised just as on a ship where the quarterdeck is. The quarterdeck is isolated from the body of the church as this represents Mount Sinai, where Moses took off his shoes when he saw the burning bush. This is sacred ground.

USS Constitution… Old Ironsides is the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat.The church center is the Nave. The navy people, the sailors, “the ὑπηρέται/uperetai,” Greek for under rowers, sit here. When Luke 1:2 speaks of “Ministers of the Word,” “Minister,” translates “uperetai.” The pews look like sailors benches for rowing. We are the rowers.

The church front is the Narthex. Narthex is the plant Prometheus used to bring fire from the gods.  Our Narthex is the plant used by us to bring the fire of the Holy Spirit into the world.

The Twenty-sixth Sunday speaks of Eldad and Medad, They were Navy, Uperetai/ministers of the word. Joshua, Son of Nun/fish, complains about this. Moses responds, “”Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the NAME were Navy!” Would that all depart the Narthex, grab fire, and bring it to the world.

Our Cathedral in PanaramaThe Gospel reading reverses the roles. John/the graciousness of God complains about someone healing people in Jesus’ name. Joshua/Jesus, Son of the fish, (The apostles were fishermen) replies, “”Do not prevent him. Nobody performing a mighty deed in my name can speak ill of me… He wishes all were fishermen, would grab some of that Narthex as they depart Mitte Est/Mass, his presence.

James speaks to the Word. He speaks to the poor indirectly. He speaks of equality for all people. He condemns those not allowing the homeless in our Kyrie Oichos, or The Name’s House. He speaks of the impending calamity of accumulating wealth at the expense of the least of these my brothers, “Matthew 25:31-46. He speaks of seeing everyone as family. The first reading and the Gospel say. “Would that all the people of the NAME were navy! Would that the NAME might bestow his spirit on them all!” He who is not against us is for us.” We are all equal. This is all there is to Christian morality. Are we ready for the job?

Pope Francis Family Speech Philadelphia Festival of Families


Many will want to state this was a political speech supporting the nuclear family. Politics is not in this speech. This speech opposes politics. Of all his speeches in American, this was his most animate.

Suburban sceneBeauty, goodness, and truth. Once a child asked the pope what God was doing before he created the world. The answer, “Before creating the world God loved, because God is love.” God is perichoresis, the divine dance of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God cannot be egoistic because love is always about the other; that is why he created the world. We are destroying it. The most beautiful thing God created was women and with it family. He gave them everything, to guard it and to keep it, and to love. God gives and shares family to be family, to give and share. All the good/love/perichoresis he has in himself, he gives to us so we can love.

Through the devil, we learn how to divide ourselves. This was far and away the Pope’s move animate speech. The devil is about division. Politics in our country is about division. God is about love, and love does not allow room for division. This concept was central to all of our Pope’s speeches. We must decide what we want to take forward, he told us, love or division.

flamesSo great is God’s love that he walks with us, with all of our faults, finally expressing himself through the divine family, Our Blessed Virgin, St Joseph the worker, and Jesus, in a family. Neither Our Blessed Virgin nor St. Joseph understand what is going on in the nativity, but they accept. God calls us to accept the extended family that includes church and society in general.

We are about helping our families, nuclear and extended, including church and society in general to grow. Families have citizenship, divine citizenship. God gives the citizenship card, the one making us human. This is all about truth, goodness, and beauty. Our Blessed Pope also talked about our imperfections, giving a very animate expression as he wiped his head explaining how “Plates fly,” literally causing headaches. Children also cause headaches. On the other hand, the family is the factory of hope. Families, nuclear and extended, church and society in general is about creating hope. Our Pope tells us love overcomes difficulties. Hate and division of heart cannot overcome difficulties. Only love can do this. Love is joy and moving forward. We must place special emphasis upon children/future, strength, moving us forward. Grandparents are our heritage, transmitting the faith to us. This transmission is love. The family is useful, but there are problems, and inimical relations. His advice: never let the day end without making peace/Shalom. Never let the day end without being in peace. With this came the final blessing.

There was no politics here. This was not about how to pass laws from the top down. This was about building a new world from the bottom up.

The correct Bible Translation


Which translation of the Bible is the correct one? St Augustine writes in “On Christian Doctrine, “In the case of direct signs ambiguity may arise from the punctuation, the pronunciation, or the doubtful signification of the words, and is to be resolved by attention to the context, a comparison of translations, or a reference to the original tongue.”

LectionaryWhich is the correct translation when the solution is a comparison of several translations? Book II Chapter 12 of this text is a full chapter on how we find part of the solution by reading multiple translations. Jewish understanding of “Bible,” has two parts, “הַגָּדָה, אַגָּדָה; “narrative”, and halakhah, “Jewish walk.” The majority of our Bible is narrative. Torah has the Hebrew root of showing. Narrative, a showing, is the key point of the story. Precision of words is not helpful here. In understanding the idea of walk, precision of words becomes important. St. Augustine points to context and a reference to the original languages.

In Vatican II states, “God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers intended… To search out the intention of the sacred writers, give attention to “literary forms.”

Words of Institution 3Learning sacred languages will point to the puns and literary forms. The Beatitudes of Matthew 5 use the literary form, “Chiasmus.” The middle terms are important. The middle terms of the Beatitudes are of justice and mercy, which in Hebrew are related concepts. The ideal society is one in which all remember, first hand, what it was like to be slaves. They develop compassion for the less fortunate; this is mercy. When they act on compassion, this is justice. Imagine a society where all so busy helping one another, nobody had time to harm his neighbor.

A kal vahomer argument is often, but not always, signaled by a phrase like “how much more…,” one of Jesus’ favorite phrases. Jesus uses Hebrew rhetoric. G’zerah Shavah (Equivalence of expresions,) an analogy is made between separate texts using a similar phrase, or word. We see this in John the Baptist and Jesus. “Do not presume to say, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” A chapter later, “The tempter approached and told him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” The lesson is about leadership. Stones refers to people, not stones.

Torah has much more of this rhetoric, too many to present here. Learning these will give a more detailed picture of what the original writer tries to tell us than insisting on one translation. When Augustine speaks of signs, he speaks of words, and chapters drawing a picture. A valid translation must draw an accurate picture, which means drawing a picture, something neither King James nor Douay-Rheims do. For this, we need modern translations, plural.

Pope Francis at the UN


40759_168586576501331_100000499694318_509990_7405809_nIf God is transcendent, he transcends logic. If he transcends logic, he transcends words. If he transcends words, he transcends anything we can say about him. God is also imminent, caring about each person. If God is transcendent, we are obliged to see his transcendence in each person and in the environment. Our Pope told us in his address to the UN, Mankind as chemical and biological components. He is part of the planet, yet spiritual.

Our Pope went on to discuss ramifications of these words. When Jesus gives the parable of the Sower in Mark 4:24, he says, “See what you hear. “ Luke 7:44 has, “Jesus… told Simon, “Do you see this woman?” This idea was a component of our Pope’s speech. Our Pope tells us how the focus must be upon the individual person and not on the abstractions of vocation, ethnic group, or religious preferences. Mark 7:31 begins the story of the deaf man. Mark 8:22 begins the healing of the blind man. In Mark 8:22, the key word is “Trees.” The Hebrew and Aramaic, for “Tree” and four “Councilor,” is “Eights.” The first time Jesus touches the blind man he sees Tees/councilors/ professions/abstractions. The second time he sees differently. He sees humanity as human. Our Pope calls us to the same.

Pope Francis UNOur Pope begins the heart of his presentation, condemning the unlimited power of our technology. He points relates sciences knows the Catholic doctrine of “Natural Law” as the “Law of Nature.” He condemns the unchecked use of “Natural Law.” “Brothers should stand by each other; this is the first law; keep a true bond between you always, at every time because if you fight among yourselves, you’ll be devoured by those outside.”

He mentions, “A true “right of the environment” does exist for two reasons. First, human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect…. Second, every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We… believe the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator…”

Christina Cook 2Our Pope calls us to constant reformation and adoption to approach our final-end, God. He speaks of seeing the humanity in each person. From this comes the desire to eliminate war, global exploitation, capital punishment, and a host of other evils. As he addressed Congress, our Pope speaks of the constant need to look to the general welfare, a technical term used in Catholic Theology and in Secular and Catholic Moral Philosophy. This is the same common good mentioned in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution. Our Pope calls to see ourselves as integral parts of our environment, constantly looking for the common good, and to communion with God.

Three Catholics represent the Magisterium


Three CatholicsEverybody wants “Subsidiarity.” “He who governs least governs best.” The only problem is that capitalists, communists, and anarchists have one view of the term. Socialists also agree with this statement; believing this means government control of all.

Subsidiarity is never doing for another what he can better do for himself. This promotes human dignity. Solidarity is doing everything he cannot. Loving God means seeing government as just one more tool for society to promote the common good. Private enterprise, government, and civic organizations are equal, to be kept in checks and balances, realizing their sole purpose is to promote the common good. Subsidiarity applies to private enterprise/corporations, and civic groups. Leadership comes from the ground up.

The phrase, “Common Good,” the essence of this speech, appears six times. Missing is, “E Pluribus Unum,” “From the many, one.” “Dialogue,” appears twelve times. “Dialogue,” means seeing the image of God and Satan in everyone, including ourselves. It means real dialogue with those disagreeing with us. Our Blessed Pope advances this idea when discussing Thomas Merton, pointing to the violence and the image of God in each person.

Pope Francis“It is important that… the voice of faith be heard, it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies, new forms of social consensus. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good.384309_549304955086309_357628736_n

The truth is embodied in the Shema/Deuteronomy 6:3-9. “Love God with all your hearts, all your animate being, and all your measure.”We love God by caring for his planet and everything, and everyone in it.

“Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good; this is the chief aim of all politics.” True religion is about love that acknowledges differences, but strives for the common ground. This echoes Kennedy’s speech to American University, “Our common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. We are all mortal.” Nation means, “People born together, by common heritage.” If we are nation, we are all brothers and sisters, bound to protect and encourage one another.

Our Pope gave reference to the Golden Rule and Luke 7:44. “Simon, do you see this woman.” He might have added, “Or do you see an occupation.” Truly seeing people means striving to fulfill their humanity. It is to this that we must strive as a society. This common good is the essence of Our Blessed Pope’s speech.

The Beatitudes in the Solemnity of All Saints define justice.


MLK quote“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me…”

The above describes a saint. “The use of chiasmus as a rhetorical device dates back to the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Greeks developed an unmatched inclination for this device and made it an essential part of the art of oration.” The Beatitudes is an example of chiasmus. As we look at the rearranged structure we learn the meaning of the key words.

The emphasis is upon the poor in spirit, the persecuted. This is mentioned in the first verse of the passage, in the next to the last, and in the last. Those suffering persecution inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who mourn are peacemakers. Those who have seen the bestiality of war, the guts spilled out on the ground, the smell of rotting and burning flesh, dying women and children, sons sent off to serve Molech, Hebrew for King, become peacemakers.

The pure heart are meek, comparing themselves to God in every person they see. Halloween teaches us to see the ghost and goblin in all of us. In Halloween we die with Christ. Seeing our faults, we cannot help but to become meek, and this is the pure of heart. On all Saints we rise with Christ.

Statue of liberty lighning strikeIn Semitic thought, mercy and justice are related. The righteous are those remembering what it was like to suffer, remember their rescue, and desire to bring this mercy to others. This is mercy and justice.

John embellishes upon “Children of God.” “We are God’s children now… We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.”

“Nation,” comes a Latin root meaning to be born. We are all born together, by common heritage, the New Colossus on the Statue of Liberty, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and American heritage relate what this means. Catholics all, we are all family. Americans all, we are all family.

Justice is seeing everyone we see as family, showing mercy, and meekness, to all we see, mourning with them in their suffering, and doing something to end that suffering. We will be persecuted and slandered. Welcome to the Catholic religion. Your reward will be great in God’s kingdom.

Nadab and Abihu speak to Leadership , or what does leadership mean?


The second reading for the Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Hebrews refers to Deuteronomy 17:15. “You may set over you a king whom the NAME, your God, will choose. Someone from among your own kindred you may set over you as king….” This is very good advice when choosing a leader. He should be like those he leads. Machiavelli said as much in, “The Prince.” Machiavelli tells the prince how the first thing to do when taking a province is to join the people and learn their ways. Christ does this when he comes to earth and becomes like us.

Leviticus 10 has the story of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu. Sons of Aaron, they are priests and have the authority to offer sacrifices. They offer strange fire to God. For this, God sends fire to consume them. Hebrew has a rule called “Kal Vahomer,” (Light and heavy.) If something applies to a lighter case, it applies more to a heavier one. If Nadab and Abihu are priests and God consumes them for offering strange fire, how much more will he consume those who are not priests but claim to represent God?

8919_1243228163516_2601477_nGreek has three words for “Priest,” “Presbyter,” “Episcopal,” and “Hierarch.” St. Paul uses the third. This translates the Hebrew, “Cohen,” and means an official. Taking on such a role is a weighty decision and one should make sure that is their calling, vocation, profession, before taking it on. A person can be part of a hierarchy and not be religious. The new priest is the head of the corporation, the head of the business.

If we claim the profession of priest, or any vocation, and we are not called to that vocation, we rob God in two ways. First, we claim a vocation that is not ours. Second, we fail to complete our vocation, being too busy trying to be someone we are not. How do we know we have this vocation?

St. Ignatius of Antioch tells us, “As therefore Kyrie did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do anything without the bishop and presbyters. Neither endeavor that anything appear reasonable and proper to yourselves apart; but coming together into the same place, let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy undefiled.”

As with any organization, there must be a leader. When we do anything, we speak with the authority of the Bishop. The Bishop has subordinates, so we can go to the subordinates to find the will of the Bishop.

“Let the presbyters be compassionate and merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor, but always providing for that which is becoming in the sight of God and man;  abstaining from wrath, respecting people, and unjust judgment; keeping far off from all desire, not quickly crediting an evil report against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of deviation.” Polycarp, Philippians, chapter 6

Another test of all leaders is that they are compassionate of their charges, being an example to those who wander, and therefore bringing them back. They visit the sick and the widow. They care for the poor.

The Gospel shows what leadership is. True leaders lead from the front. Today’s leaders lead from behind. They like to be managers. They plan, organize, staff, and control their businesses. They do not lead. They are not from the poor and disenfranchised, nor do they claim to be. The idea is degrading.Most management schools do not even offer classes in leadership, and when they do, the classes are classes in sales, not leadership. These schools focus on controllorship, a fancy word for accounting, running their business by the numbers. Their business is their busy ness, their employees cogs in the wheel of the business, not real human beings. Knowing all about controllorship, and not about people, they sit in their offices and crunch numbers.

The Gospel reading is of Bar Timaeus. “Timaeus,” has meaning in Hebrew and Greek. In Hebrew, it means “innocence,” and “Simplicity.” The Greek, means “Value.” Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage Mary's well Ein Kerem JerusalemThis son of innocence and simplicity, or son of value calls out for pity. Jesus, comes from the poor and outcast so can understand his plight. He engages in what management schools today call, “Management by Walking Around.” Unlike managers of today, or his day, his concern is people. Therefore, he walks around and when he sees suffering, he acts.  St. Francis learned from Jesus and did the same when he met the leper in the road.

The crowd, acting like most crowds, then and today, prevent the blind man from coming to Jesus. When Jesus calls the man, they about face, just like they, and we, do between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. They are poor, but they are not of the same as Bar Timaeus. They do not see each other as part of the same family. Jesus is the just king, Melchi Tzadik, Melchizedek. Deuteronomy 16:20 states, “Tzadik, Tzadik, you will run after.” The first “Tzadik” refers to charity, as a community, and the second to justice. Justice means seeing a piece of ourselves, our family in our neighbors.

The question before us? “Do we see in the least of our brothers, family, a piece of ourselves, or strangers? In preaching to others, do we offer strange fire to God? The Hebrew word for “Fire,” and for “Manhood,” is “Ish.” Do we offer strange manhood to God, or do we offer ourselves, as ourselves? God greets fire with fire, and the last fire is never ending.

Priest, Bishop, Hierarch, and service


What do we mean when we speak of a priest? Our word, “Priest,” comes from the “Old English from the older Germanic represented by Old Saxon and Old High German prestar, the Old Frisian prestere, all from Vulgar Latin *prester “priest,” from Late Latin presbyter “presbyter, elder,” from Greek presbyteros.” When we think of our Bishop, we think of the high priest or the one who is over the priests. “Bishop,” comes from “Late Latin episcopus, from Greek episkopos ” from epi- “over” (see epi-) + skopos “one that watches, one that looks after; a guardian, protector.”

8919_1243228163516_2601477_nThe Greeks called their priest, “Hierarchy.” This is the word the Greeks used for “High Priest” in our liturgical reading for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Hierarchy is, “super-human, mighty, divine, wonderful, holy, hallowed, of one dedicated to a god,” and from this, “offerings, sacrifices, victims, sacred things or rites.” When St. Paul wrote Hebrews, he was thinking of the person who represents God before the people, and the people before God. Jesus is The Great High Priest, the superhuman, mighty, all knowing, wonderful presence. The priest is the humble table waiter offering the one true sacrifice, Jesus himself, in the Eucharist.

The Hebrew for the first reading is, “In knowledge he makes a charitable/just person, a charitable/just person, my servant. Their rebellion he bears.” The word “rebellion” relates to the word for “Eye.” The rebel is crooked, as the eye is round. Isaiah uses the word for someone who intentionally erred. The suffering servant comes to rescue this person. If we only knew the greater glory of God, we would realize our rebellion is but simple error.

The Hebrew for “wicked” comes from the same root as Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year. The wicked put themselves first. In the Gospel reading, Mark writes of James, John, and their wanting to be first, after Jesus, in the kingdom. When the others find out about James and John, they complain, thinking themselves first. Each wants to be first, and engages in the same back-biting office politics we see in government, church, and at our jobs. God rules the kingdom. Jesus tells them how only God has the authority to give fancy titles. God gives vocations/places to sit, not us. In Matthew 23:9-12 he tells his followers how he is not interested in fancy titles. Jesus wants people “dedicated to God, and from this, an offering to others, a sacrifice for others, a victim for others, a sacred person who helps others to see the sacred in themselves.”

Words of Institution 3Many Protestant denominations try to pattern their congregations after the congregational model of the early church. They call themselves Presbyterians, and Episcopalians. Their leaders  are pastors and shepherds. They are elders and overseers. They are new titles for the same overbearing hierarchy haunting us, in church, in government, and in private enterprise. Jesus reminds us of how true service, whether in leadership, or in digging ditches, is about using all we have to service others. That is all there is to Gospel morality.

Being a nation of class


How many of us can list the Ten Commandments from the top of their heads? Not many sadly. When asked Jesus lists only the last six. Does this mean Jesus forgot the first four? The passage for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time begins with the rich young man running to Jesus asking him, “Good teacher…” Jesus responds, “Why do you call me good.” Greek has two words for “Good.” The first two Gospels almost always use Kalos,” or “ὅτι καλῶς.” “Hoti Kalos,” “This is beautiful,” from which we get “OK.” Jesus here uses “Agatha, having class.” John F Kennedy was famous for having class.

384309_549304955086309_357628736_nOne dictionary defines “Good” as, “In early Greek times, good, gentle, noble, in reference to birth. It also meant, “This early sense associated that of wealth and power.” The passage irony is Jesus speaking to the rich young man about what wealthy means.

Jesus lists those commandments. “Do not kill; Do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear vain witness; do not defraud.” The Talmud interprets the last two commandments as, “Defraud.” In Deuteronomy, the word for “false,” is used earlier for vain, as in “Do not take God’s name in vain.” It is possible to tell the truth, but not be able to back up one’s words; idle gossip is vain words.

Jesus goes back and mentions his fifth commandment, “Hold as important mother and father.” This is not acting in blind obedience. Hold them as important, learn from their experiences. Jesus then points to the four missing, which point to God.

Ellis Island courtesy of National Park Service. areal viewThe prologue to the Ten Commandments states,  “The Name, our God, cut a contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the NAME cut this contract, but with us, all of us, alive, here this day.” Remember, “I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of menial labor.” (2) Do not have other gods before my face. (3) Do not invoke the name of the NAME…  in vain. (4) Guard Sabbath…Remember you were once laborers in the land of Oppression… That is why the NAME, your God, has commanded you guarding Sabbath.”

8919_1243228163516_2601477_nThe  prologue points to remembering what it was like being over there (Europe, Latin America, Africa…) and to your rescue over here. “Give me your tired your poor…) To remember means making sure nobody suffers as we did. “It is not to your fathers, I give this command.” In Passover, Jews relive the Exodus in present time. In the Eucharist, we relive the Passion and death of Jesus, rising to new life, in present time. Thanksgiving Day is about Passover and Eucharist/Greek for Thanksgiving. This passage and Deuteronomy 6:5 command love and charity, as a nation. The rich young man cannot remember the first four commandments. By his order, Jesus points us to these first four. The rich young man’s god is wealth. Can people say the same about us? Are we a people of class or a people who need a class. God gives refresher courses.

Happy 4th of July! This guy posed for Terri and Larry Garside as they were coming down through Klamath Falls.