It’s not about marriage or divorce, it is about playing the game

The Gospel reading for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time endangers much misinterpretation and confusion. Many choose to take the center of this passage out of context and argue Jesus was against divorce.

Children at play

“Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this… Jesus told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

The passage begins, “Because of the hardness of your hearts.” The passage  gives two examples, divorce and children. It ends with a blessing. It is about the game of life. When the game  focuses upon the rules, the game stops and all debate the rules. Bald parents try to decide who goes with what or who hit whom first.  They are bald from pulling out their hair in frustration. Smart parents say, “Be nice and play!” The same with adults, and divorce.

People were bringing children to him…When Jesus saw this he became indignant, “Let the children come to me… for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these..”

Hasidic rabbiOne rabbinic story tells of a rich man who decided to kill his wife. Wanting it to be legal, he asked the rabbi how to do this. The rabbi simply stated, “Go to the altar, promise to give God $10,000 if she lives and remains happy, and then break your promise.” This the rich man did. After six months, his wife was still alive and healthy. He returned to the rabbi and asked why. The rabbi retorted, “God is not stupid; you must go through the motions of loving your wife. Then maybe God will be convinced, and…” This the rich man did. His wife responded and he fell in love with his wife again. His wife became ill, and lay on her deathbed. The rich man returned to the rabbi in grief and asked what to do. The rabbi responded, “There is the little matter of $10,000.

Save your $10 grand. Think of baseball: it needs rules; four balls and you are on first base. Three strikes or you are tagged, or someone catches your hit, and you are out. Overly precisely define the strike zone, try to decide within fractions of a second if the runner or the ball arrived into the glove, and the game stops. Bald adults focus up such as this. It makes them bald. Children want to play. Husband and wife marry. At one time, they found something in common with each other and can find it again. Jesus is not teaching about divorce; he is teaching about marriage, the game of husband and wife learning to live together as one flesh.

In marriage, and in life it is about the game, being pastoral with each other. Always imagine ourselves as a sixth graders. Be lighthearted and playful. For Jesus, the focus is not upon divorce, or none, but upon being leaders who play the role of the rabbi in the above story, and teach people how to live together.

In the sower  parable the good soil is aerated soil; the soil of the path, trampled down and hard. Our Gospel ends, “Jesus embraced them, blessed them, and placing his hands on them.”  The inclusio begins by condemning hard hearts. It ends with Jesus example, being soft. Be pastoral and help each other play the game of life. Le Chaim, to life!

Our mural and faith of the mountain

Whoever is not with me is against me; whoever does not gather with me scatters. Matthew 12:30 Whoever is not against us is for us. Mark 9:40


Words of InstitutionIf you are not for Jesus, you are against him. If you are not against him, you must be a member of his camp, so are for him. I envy the Amish lifestyle. It is simple and everyone looks out for everyone else. When outsiders come in and attack them, they are quick to forgive. The Amish may not be Catholic, but they are with us. They gather to the Christian faith.

Words of Institution 3Jesus continues, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will surely not lose his reward.” James continues, “Let him show his works by a beautiful life.  The wisdom from above is first pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and noble fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. The fruit of Tzadic/charity/justice is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” This is the Christian lifestyle.

Jesus continues, “”Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to deviate, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck…” This address is for John in each of us. When we condemn someone not  Catholic, … we cause the little one, the Non-Catholic/Christian preaching in God’s name to deviate from the true faith. It would be better for all of us if we sleep with the fishes.

Words of Institution 2James continues, “Come, rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries….” James speaks of those who do not rely upon the indwelling spirit coming from Eucharistic participation. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. This presupposes a faith mountain. The water of the four rivers flowing from Eden represented in our mural represent our faith. The Eucharist flows down like the rivers.Amos 5:24

James says, “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead; “Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” Mass is short for “Mitte Est,” “Let us depart to know and serve Kyrie.” It represents how we live our faith after we leave Mass. Faith comes from the Hebrew, “Ameth.” “A,” In Hebrew is upside down and represents the horns of leadership. “M” is the Hebrew letter of the alphabet, and represents baptism. “T,” is in the shape of the cross, and is the last letter of the alphabet. Together, they represent the Alpha and the Omega. They represent being in tune with God, the world, and all in it. This, faith, produces works.

We need a faith built upon love of God, reaching out through works to all those who work to make the world a better place.Whoever is not against us is for us, including Muslim and Jew. If people are not willing to make the world a better place, “Whoever is not with us is against us, whoever does not gather, scatters.”

What do John 10 and Matthew 25:31-Matthew 26:1 have to do with the readings for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time?

lionOnly lions, tigers, and other predators have reason for rules of etiquette. The Gospel reading is about the twelve and who is first. The first write rules of etiquette. Like our modern pushers of etiquette, the main push was for where one sat.

The sheep of his flockSheep are fussy eaters, their mouths specialized for eating grass. Goats are mixed feeders, eating plant life which is above the ground, leaves, berry stalks... Sheep are communal, goats individualists and innovators. Goats have fighting horns to defend their space. Sheep require others to defend them This requires sheep herders to have goats.

When Jesus speaks of separating the sheep from the goats, he speaks of separating the guard from the communal animals. Matthew 25:31-26:1 is about communal people.

Predators are about competition. Predators establish rules to protect themselves. Otherwise, they will compete and destroy each other. Predatory/competitive people need etiquette. The sheep eat grass; there is plenty of grass for everybody.

GoatIn the first reading, “The Russia say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us…” “Russia/wicked” is Hebrew with the same root as “Rosh,” as in “Rosh Hashanah,” or head, first of the year. “Russia,” think themselves first. They are the goats/competitors of the human world.

James presents,” Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder… The wisdom from above is first pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, and full of mercy… The fruit of charitableness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” This is being like sheep. “Talah,” lamb is the Aramaic base for “Talitah,” child.

Our Gospel brings up who will be first. James and John come to Jesus using bad etiquette. In bad faith, they choose to engage in office politics. They come behind the other apostles trying to win first chair. The others complain to Jesus about this use of bad etiquette, this bad brown nosing to win the game. They all engage in back biting office politics; they just want competition using good etiquette. Jesus hates the office politics of who is first. Talah/talitah, need no etiquette, no office politics.

Jewish justice springs from the escape from Egypt. “Bring me your tired, your poor, those yearning to breathe free. Bring these, the tempest tost to me.” “As Christ died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” It is tied to being rescued from over there, wherever ‘Over there.”  It is about feeling the pains of being ‘Over there,” and the sense of freedom coming from being ‘Over here,” and bringing that sense of rescue to others. There is no room for who is first.

Jesus tells us to be like Talitha’ lambs/children. Jesus and James teach people to be like sheep. They are about helping all the sheep to find that plentiful grass, to be healthy and happy. Are we rugged individualists, individuals like the goats, or do we desire to be the sheep of God? Read Matthew 25 again and see what happens to the goats.

What do the Tom Brady and Kim Davis cases have to do with our recent liturgical readings, and do we ‎have a clue what we are debating in these cases?‎

What do the Tom Brady and Kim Davis cases have to do with our recent liturgical readings, and do we have a clue what we are debating in these cases?

BradyAn important precedent was set in the Tom Brady decision. “The suspension was “premised upon several significant legal deficiencies” including the failure to notify Brady of potential penalties…” The federal judge decided Tom Brady’s case using the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Private enterprise must use the same rules of jurisprudence in their decisions as the courts use in theirs. Employers must not only tell employers what they are charging them with. They must also present with the evidence to back up these charges.  Tom Brady did labor a big favor.

A founding principle of our republicThe Tom Brady decision speaks of rights. Kim Davis speaks of responsibility Does an employee working in a store selling cigarettes have the right to refuse to sell them? They do kill people. Employees represent the store. They promised to sell store products. Where do religious freedoms end and those of the customer begin?

Kim Davis refused to give licenses to marriages she disagreed with. What of the parish priest who refuses to perform the ceremony? A licensed representative of the state, certifying state contracts, he is obliged to perform the ceremony. The marriage certificate is a legal document and as a representative of the state, he endorses said document. We discuss something more complex than we were originally presented. Who really thinks the founding fathers had religious marrying gay people, or anyone else not a member of their church?

In our Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time readings, “In your keeping of the Mitzvah of the NAME, your God, I enjoin you, not to add to what I command you nor subtract.” Did our founding fathers wish for our leaders in private enterprise to be subject to the same jurisprudence rules as government judges? Most were business owners. In the Gospel reading we read how the Pharisees applied the temple rules to the family home. Jesus opposed this as adding to Torah. Tom Brady decision and the Pharisaical decisions both add to the charters of their nations, however well intentioned.

DivisionWhere do one man’s rights end and another man’s begin. Should gay people marry? When a plumber joins to pieces of pipe, he says he marries them. Is he talking about  sacramental marriage? When Romans and Soviets married people, were they talking about sacramental marriage? When the priest performs a marriage, he does something different from the plumber or the state officials of Roman, Moscow, and the local courthouse. Should priests be obligated to perform non-sacramental marriages in his church?

Do we see this person, or do we see a lifestyle?We have opened Pandora’s Box to discuss what what the nation is about. If government is about promoting life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, forming a more perfect Union, establishing Justice, insure domestic Tranquility… what are the limits of that government? The point is not to answer these questions; it is to ask them.

Who do you say I am? Say it in pantomine.

What do the readings for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time have to do with these photos?

DadJesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the Naviim/prophets.” He asked, “Who do you say that I am?”

Take out the names of those listed, and put in the name of your father and other relatives. Along the way Dad asked his children, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “You are just like Uncle Dick. Others say you are like Uncle Tom, still others one of the other uncles in our extended family.” This changes the passage but it makes a powerful point. Can you describe God or Jesus in the same way you would describe your father. God is the ultimate father. What is he like? What does he stand for? What is his personality like?

“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.” (CCC 2223) Jesus goes on, “Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and told them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Our Gospel tells us, we must take on the same personality as Jesus. If we do not know or care about who Jesus is, what he is like, what his personality is, how can we strive to become like him?

558680_4898175579913_954615946_nIt was impossible to upset my father. He would either say when I told him a lie, “I heard that story before…that is what I told my dad and he did not believe me either,” or the ever popular, “Boys will be boys… and dads will be dads. ” It was OK to be imperfect. There is a natural consequence. Jesus was perfect, but only quotes scripture to Satan and the Pharisees. Jesus knows human temptations. In the Navy in New York Harbor for the bicentennial, a gay sailor would always say when he saw others make mistakes, “Welcome to the human race.” God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are like this. The Trinity expects us to act like this.

James writes, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? Faith without works is dead.”

courtesy Dor Smeltzer Beacon 3 Nation comes from Latin and shares the same root as nativity. Nation means, family,  born together by common heritage. The extended family, the rest of nation and humanity, has a role in supporting the nuclear family. We make sure none hunger, thirst, lack adequate clothing, housing, healthcare, or transportation. We tell people who Jesus is, not by our words, but by our actions.