First Sunday of Advent and Planning for the 2036 Presidential Election


You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation/ Jess theses statement in LukeJoshua is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day… put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. Second Reading for the First Sunday of Advent.

Our last election saw candidates from two angry branches of the electorate competing against each other through their chosen candidates. Tom Hanks, in a Saturday Night Live skit, captured that difference through the game of Black Jeopardy. He played the white contestant, and competed strongly, as his answers were the same as the minority contestant answers, until the final round. “What lives Matter.” One identified with minorities, the other with citizens of European descent. Their commonality, they both identify as poor, working class. If we do not fix our problem, Germany of the 30’s gives us fair warning. In the meantime, the one thing that is clear is that in half a century we have learned nothing. If we want to know what the issues of the day are, just ask what they were 50 years ago. The only difference is that they have festered for two quarters of a century.

Another great American wrote most of the words that follow. Another great American wrote a song, “Cats in the Cradle.” The song was about how one generation insists on making the same mistakes as the last one. They are the same issues. We know not when Christ will come in the clouds. In Hebrew the word for cloud used in Matthew 26:64 is עַנ. The Hebrew word for “poor” used in Matthew 5:3 is .עֲנִ Now, listen to the words of that first great American and ask what is different, if anything, because now is the time.

Advent comes to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. Now is not the time to settle for second best, because the opposition is even worse than who or what we choose to lead us. Now is not the time to argue for non-negotiables on the one side against some supposed disagreement between those who argue for solutions, which do not work, against other solutions which our own pope has already told us, has never worked in world history. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of income inequality to the sunlit path of justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

martin-king

Seven Score and thirteen years ago, a great American, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. In a sense, Advent comes to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That is where the pursuit of Happiness presumes a reasonable chance of success. America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her poorest citizens are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the poorest of Americans a bad check, a check, which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. Advent comes to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as lonMLK quoteg as the poorest American is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality, as we count the number of unarmed Americans killed by the hands of those paid to protect them. We can never be satisfied as long as maids, and janitors, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities in which they work. We cannot be satisfied as long as basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity.

We cannot be satisfied as long as our poorest citizens cannot vote because they do not have a plastic card or a birth certificate, and a citizen in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. We face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, the thickness of their wallet or the size of their market portfolio, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

Jesus heals the blind manI have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood, as St. Augustine says in Book 2, chapter 21 of his City of God.  With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

If America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

Not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Kiss of Peace from Father Peter Jammeh, Assistant Pastor
Put on the habit/ hoplite of Christ

Put on the armor (ox’s hoof) of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. Christ did not have ox’s hooves on his body. He had the cross. He did not have wealth. He had is poverty, and the ability to heal. Putting on Christ/being Christian/Christ like, means caring for all of those Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about. It is not settling for second best.

Professor Woodrow Wilson once said that every man sent out from a university should be a man of his nation as well as a man of his time, and I am confident that the men and women who carry the honor of graduating from this institution will continue to give from their lives, from their talents, a high measure of public service and public support.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace– based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions–on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace–no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process–a way of solving problems. With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations.

384309_549304955086309_357628736_nSo, let us not be blind to our differences--but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. We must show it in the dedication of our own lives–as many of you who are graduating today will have a unique opportunity to do. But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because the freedom is incomplete.

The field of Catholic Action is extremely vast. In itself, it does not exclude anything, in any manner, direct or indirect, which pertains to the divine mission of the Church. Accordingly one can plainly see how necessary it is for everyone to cooperate in such an important work, 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 working 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.

This concession places a duty on all Catholics to prepare themselves prudently and seriously for political life in case they may be called to it. Hence it is of the utmost importance that the same activity… be extended to a suitable preparation and organization for political life. Above all else he must remember to be and to act in every circumstance as a true Catholic, accepting and fulfilling public offices with the firm and constant resolution of promoting by every means the social and economic welfare of the country and particularly of the people, according to the maxims of a truly Christian civilization, and at the same time defending the supreme interests of the Church, which are those of religion and justice.

pope-piux-xThis all means not starting to plan for the next election as we did the last one, the February before the election. The time to plan for the 2036 election is today. Now is the time. The first speech above spoke of, “We cannot be satisfied as long as our poorest citizens cannot vote because they do not have a plastic card or a birth certificate, and a citizen in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.” The same problem exists today. Now is the time to start resolving the problem by looking for the young people Pope Pius X spoke of and preparing them for public office and then helping them run for public office.

We must find candidates willing to support all of Catholic Social teaching. He currently does not sit in the halls of power. He sits in a classroom at one of our 283 Catholic colleges and Universities, a Political Science Major. Maybe he is a recent graduate, looking for a job, or a student having completed his academic load, now looking to fulfill his practicum. Now is the time to look to find him. It means following the teachings of Catholic Action, now, looking for candidates now! It means looking for secular leaders and church leaders willing to carry the load, Now!

Christ the King Sunday, Choice, and Le Chaim


Jess theses statement in LukeThe rulers sneered at Jesus, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him, there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” Christ the King Sunday

A new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, rose to power in Egypt. He told his people, “See! The Israelite people have multiplied and become more numerous than we are! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave the land.” Exodus 1:8-10

“Come, let us deal shrewdly with them,” I remember forty-two years ago, and many times since when this question came up. How did Pharaoh deal shrewdly with the Hebrews? What did he tell them? Exodus does not say, directly. But it is implied.

refugeeIsrael set out with all that was his. When he arrived at Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. There God, speaking to Israel in a vision by night, called: Jacob! Jacob! He answered, “Here I am.” Then he said: I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you a great nation. I will go down to Egypt with you and I will also bring you back here after Joseph has closed your eyes. So Jacob departed from Beer-sheba, and the sons of Israel put their father and their wives and children on the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. They took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan. So Jacob and all his descendants came to Egypt.” Genesis 46:1-7

The first thing Pharoah said in the name of being shrewd was, “You chose to be here. That the one true God called them, vocare, vocationed them to enter Egypt was simply left out. Pharaoh did not believe in the God anyway. Likewise, in the case of Jesus, God called Jesus to be on that cross, to save us all. Likewise, God calls each person on our planet to live where they live, and to do what they do for a living. People today call the poorest of the poor to save themselves. When they leave their places of poverty, in particular when it is south of the border, they then tell them they are not welcome here, to go back.

‘We, your servants, like our ancestors, have been owners of livestock from our youth until now,’ in order that you may stay in the region of Goshen since all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.”

They are the wrong vocation, the wrong vocation. They are not C.P.A.s and they do not have M.B.As. Many do not have high school diplomas. They are janitors and file clerks and are therefore not welcome in the proper community. They are liberals, not good conservatives because they want help digging out of their poverty. They come asking for help, just as Joseph and his brothers did. We also read of Goshen, Delta land. Delta is about the last place one wants to put herds of sheep. They will trample the ground and the ground will not recover. Pharaoh can then say, “See, we gave them the best of the land, and look what they did to it. They do not deserve any more. Let them die in poverty.”

Last, comes Genesis 47:1-26.  This long section tells of how Joseph swindled the Egyptian people out of their land and gave it to Pharaoh, and to foreigners living in their land. Pharaoh can say, “You did it to us first.”

558194_10152070618540191_1924808260_nWe then read Exodus 13:18 and chapter 14. God, in essence, says, “Hold on Moses; I want to give this clown swimming lessons.” We read in these chapters of how Pharaoh has sclerosis of the heart. “Sclerosis,” is the Greek term the Septuagint uses to describe Pharaoh’s heart. The warning is clear. Eat your vegetables and stay away from the alcohol, grease, and meat that will give you sclerosis. Be compassionate and kind, not carnivores of others.

St. Paul writes in this regard, “In him, all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him, all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

For St. Paul, if Christ is really at our head, there is no room for any of Pharoah’s excuses. We also read in Luke 13:1-17 “At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He replied, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on themdo you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!…

Returning to where we started
The great escape in Deuteronomy, Finding Mt. Horeb.

“He was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. A woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. The leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, replied to the crowd, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” Kyrie replied, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated, and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.”

Why 18? Why not, “Almost twenty.” We have Roman numbers. “I” is 1, “C” is a hundred. “V” is five, and “L” is fifty. Hebrew does the same thing. “I” is ten and “CH” is eight. Chai spells eighteen and it also spells, “Life.” This is our first clue as to what Luke tries to tell us in this passage. Life comes before everything else except God, who is Life. Again, we read about bad choices. The Pharisees come complaining about the bad choices of others and Jesus, in essence, says, “It was not their choice, but if you do not straighten up and get your act straight, you are next.” There is only room for seeing Christ as the head of his Church, and that he calls us to see each other as differing pieces of his body. In relation to that, there is no room for excuses. If one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.

flamesSt. Paul speaks of perichoresis, the word from which we derive our words, choir, chorus, and choreography. There is only the one divine dance of the Godhead, Father/Son/and Holy Spirit. Within that, we dance as the bride of Christ. There is simply no room for finding the faults of others within this dance. There is only room for helping others to have the full potentiality of life. Le Chaim!

Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, watching out for false leaders


Jess theses statement in Luke“In days to come, The Mountain of the NAME’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it. Many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the NAME’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” For from Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the NAME from Jerusalem.

“He shall judge between the nations and set terms for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” Isaiah 2:2-4

courtesy Dor Smeltzer Beacon 3Our Bible has a love/hate relationship with secular authority and the concept of society in general. On the one hand, we read how God calls nations, not individuals to his mountain. Mathew 25:31-46 is an address to nations, not individuals. The Greek word for nation is, “Ethnos,” from which we get our word, Ethnic. That is people born together, by heritage if not blood or place of birth. Our word, nation, comes from the same root as nativity, people born together, through shared heritage. With this in mind, we read the Gospel reading for the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time.

“See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!  When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he told them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky. Gospel Reading for the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

declaration-of-independence
A founding principle of our republic is about heritage, not personality cults.

First, we read about how false Messiah’s, saviors, will arise. The German word for a healer, and therefore a savior is “Heil.” “Heil Hitler” means “Healer Hitler,” or “Savior Hitler.” There is only one healer and that is God. Like all false messiahs, Hitler went pointing to false enemies. He told people of wars and insurrections. He told the German people nations would rise up against his nation and Reichs against his Reichs. He told them of all the quakes that would come in his world, of the famines of war, and the plagues that would come from place to place. We will hear of wars and rumors of wars, and his warriors, the Hitlers of the world will tell us of those wars. When people warn us about the enemies coming to get us, whether they be the bad Hombres coming from south of the border, or from the Middle East, rest assured, the false messiah warns us of this war because he plans to cause this war.

Jesus gives us a powerful message here. When people come telling us they will make this nation great again, Hitler said that. If you want to see the results of that, look at Dresden in ’45, or Hamburg, or Berlin.

 

Dresden, zerstörtes Stadtzentrum
Dresden ’45

The Torah tells us the same thing, “A king is not saved by a great army, nor a warrior delivered by great strength. Useless is the horse for safety; despite its great strength, it cannot be saved. Behold, the eye of the NAME is upon those who fear him, upon those who count on his mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive through famine. Psalm 33:16-19

 

Put no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save. Who breathing his last, returns to the earth; that day all his planning comes to nothing. Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the NAME, his God. Psalm 146:3-5

detroitBetter to take refuge in the NAME than to put one’s trust in mortals. Better to take refuge in the NAME than to put one’s trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9

They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead you to give testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. Gospel for the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Jesus is not talking about High Christology. You find that in John’s Gospel. Jesus speaks of a far more basic message. “He shall judge between the nations and set terms for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” Our message is one of non-violence.

cdr

There is no man who does not wish to be joyful, neither is there anyone who does not wish to have peace. For even they who make war desire nothing but victory—desire, that is to say, to attain to peace with glory. For what else is victory than the conquest of those who resist us? When this is done there is peace. It is therefore with the desire for peace that wars are waged, even by those who take pleasure in exercising their warlike nature in command and battle. Peace is the end sought for by war. For every man seeks peace by waging war, but no man seeks war by making peace. For even they who intentionally interrupt the peace in which they are living have no hatred of peace, but only wish it changed into a peace that suits them better. St. Augustine City of God Book 19 chapter 12

Our message is in not about raising legitimate love of our ethnic group, America, to the level of idolatry, putting the secular ruler first. It is not about having peace on our terms. We must love our ethnic group, America, but not at the expense of other ethnic groups. God will judge the other ethnic groups. The Hebrew term is “AM,” and means mother, as in motherland, people born of the same mother heritage. We must be people of non-violence. The patriots will hate us, accuse us of not being patriotic if we do not support every conflict fearless leader puts us in conflict with. They will lead us to kings, presidents, governors, and judges to explain our lack of patriotism.

This is what gives us the chance to give testimony, not to the abstractions of Trinity, but to the idea that God is One, God comes first, and his property comes second. That is the environment and everything in the environment, in particular, what God makes in his image, each other.

Where do the wars and where do, the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You desire but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Do you suppose that the scripture speaks without meaning when it says, “The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy”? He bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:1-6

Irish bragadeTheir land is full of silver and gold, there is no end to their treasures; their land is full of horses, there is no end to their chariots.  Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the works of their hands, what their fingers have made… People will go into caves in the rocks and into holes in the earth, at the terror of the NAME and the splendor of his majesty, as he rises to overawe the earth. Isaiah 2:19

We also read of what happens to those who those trusting in false treasure in Isaiah 2:19. Revelation 6 gives the same warning for the end of the age.

The kings of the earth, the nobles, the military officers, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in caves and among mountain crags. They cried out to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. Revelation 6:15-16

If the candidate for public office speaks of massive amounts of military spending, listen to what the above quotes say about that military spending. They do not save. Huge military expenditures do not save the king, and they do not save you. The need for those expenditures should also cause us to look at our value system. Do we worship, a fancy German word meaning give worth to gold and silver, the work of human hands, or do we give value to God? In particular, we read that in Torah, in Isaiah 2:19 today.

 

Marriage and All Saints Day


Jess theses statement in Luke“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” Thomas told him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Gospel Reading for the Feast of All Souls.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18 Gospel Reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

The sign from heaven is not up there, but down here.Jewish marriage comes in two parts. They call the first Kiddushin, or Holy things. It was customary to wait for about a year between the ceremony of kiddushin and that of Nassau, the second stage of marriage. Kiddushin was carried out “according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”

This is similar to cannon law. There were three ways to establish kiddushin marriage. In the words of the Mishnah: “A woman is acquired in three ways … through money (kesef), through a document (shetar) and through sexual relations (bi’ah)” (Mishnah, Kiddushin 1:1). There was no such thing as pre-marital sex. Sexual relations consummated a marriage. If you did it, you were married. I Corinthians reflects this. “Anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.” I Corinthians 6:16. A chapter later, it says in verse 7-8, ‘To the unmarried and to widows, I say: it is a beautiful thing for them to remain as they are, if they cannot exercise self-control they marry; it is better to marry than to remain on fire.” Corinthians 7:36 has, ‘If anyone thinks, he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, and if a critical moment has come and so it has to be, let him do as he wishes. He is committing no deviation; they are in the act of marrying.”

Gerard van Honthorst Anbetung der HirtenMatthew 19 reads, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate…” Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Whoever divorces his wife except on account of nakedness and marries another commits adultery.”

Marriage is more than two people sharing their lives; it is the fusion of animate forces. In Trinitarian language is it peri-choresis, or reflecting the divine dance in our lives. During kiddushin the couple is married, but the couple may not express that union physically. Catholic tradition has what we call S.P.I.C.E.

S represents Spiritual sharing, expressed through praying together or meditation.
P represents the Physical, expressed through closeness such as just being close to one another without genital contact.

I represents the Intellectual, expressed through sharing a project, a book or new learning.
C represents the Communicative/Creative and is expressed through an increase in written or verbal communication or other shared activities.

E represents the Emotional and can be expressed through sharing feelings, desires and humor.

Seder plate small

Only after we grow together using S.P.I.C.E. during kiddushin, laying the foundation for a soulful marriage, can we proceed with the Nassau, the physical aspect of marriage. As Catholics, we also believe marriage requires up to a year wait between announcing engagement Kiddushin Marriage, and Nassau Marriage. Counseling also states a year wait is advantageous. We must make sure we have S.P.I.C.E. or we will fall back on the physical aspect of marriage, and marriages built on the latter, generally fail.

What we experience in this earthly realm reflects a higher super-reality. Marriage between man and woman follows the model of a cosmic marriage between God, the groom, and Israel/the Church, the Bride of Christ. This wedding also consists of the same two stages. In the first stage, bride and groom do not live together. Rather, the groom goes and prepares a place for his bride.

In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? This is Kiddushin language. The groom goes to prepare the house, and the bride herself. We prepare ourselves by practicing S.P.I.C.E in our lives with everyone on the planet? Through his death and resurrection, Jesus gives the ultimate wedding gift. His ring for the bride is the Passion. He then goes to prepare the new home for his bride.

wine
Jesus turns the water into wine, at a wedding

God descended on Mount Sinai and gave us Torah and Mitzvah. He took His most precious and treasured possession, his Torah, and used it as a wedding band. From that moment onwards, we are His and He is ours. Jesus told him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is Torah incarnate. Jesus does not say the only way to get to heaven is by being in the right earthly club, the church. Rather, he says that he is the way, the truth/Emeth/ and the light. The way to heaven is through his death and resurrection. The fruits of this are S.P.I.C.E with every person on this planet, and with the planet itself. The way is following Torah, which starts with remembering our rescue and who it is that rescued us. That is the prologue to the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy states the prologue as relating, “It is not to your fathers that I gave these Mitzvah/Commandments. It is to you, standing here, this day.” Each generation relives the escape from Egypt in present time, for the first time, each time they celebrate Passover. Our Passover commemorated in the Gospel reading for All Saints, is the Eucharist. We relive the Passion in present time, for the first time, each time we celebrate Eucharist. It is our ticket to the divine dance. Let us live that way.

 

 

The Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time


Jess theses statement in LukeThey are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘THE NAME,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Gospel for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Hebrew has what they call the construct case. “Elohim Chaim” can translate as both, “Living God,” and “God of Life.” God is not the God of death, war, famine, disease, and destruction, but of life. He made us in his image. We are to be gods, little g, of life, living examples of who made us. He calls us to life, and to promote life in all of creation. That is why Jesus invokes the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

The God of Abraham. That is the God of E Pluribus Unum, from the many one. God loves our diversity and calls us to keep our various manifestations of ethnic heritage. If we do not become autonomous selves, different from everybody else, we are not fully human.  God calls us to be majorities of the whole, and minorities of one.

Statue of Liberty 3We read that God is the God of Isaac. לִזעוֹק Isaac, means to cry. לִצְחוֹק, Isaac means to laugh. The two words spell slightly different, but pronounce the same. Life is all about both laughing and crying. This only comes from fully living life.

“Jacob” means “the heel.” We need to understand that we are not the first. One tradition states that God created man on the sixth day to teach us that he thought of the gnats and the flies before he thought of us. We come last. מָה-אֱנוֹשׁ כִּי-תִזְכְּרֶנּוּ וּבֶן-אָדָם כִּי תִפְקְדֶנּוּ “What is man that you remember him, the son of man that you think of him.” וַתְּחַסְּרֵהוּ מְּעַט מֵאֱלֹהִים “You have made him as a little less than the messengers.” We remember that we came last in God’s creation. We are humble, yet we somehow, in spite of ourselves, not because of ourselves supplant. That is how we are like Jacob.

The disciples approached Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child/peidos over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children/peidos, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. Matthew 18:1-5

children looking out the windowWe all have heard of pediatrics. This is the field of medicine that deals with children. It comes from the Greek root that also means being a servant. We do not cease being peidos/children when we complete grade school, and the physical changes that come with it. “They are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.” We do not cease being peidos when we turn 18 or 21. We are peidos all of our lives. Where did we get the crazy idea that when we turn 12, or 18, or 21 boys become better than girls, or vice versa? We are all God’s children. Where did we get the crazy idea that if people have more, or less, melanin in their skin, they are more or less human, or adult? We are all God’s children. Where did we get the crazy idea that if we have more money than the other guy, we are more human, so are entitled to more? Do we not know that is the peidos, the children, who rise, and not the adults who rise. If we are not like children, seeing each other as equals in the great game of life, we are not going to heaven.

God set mankind into the garden to guard it and keep it as it says in Genesis 2:15. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us to love God with all of our hearts, animate being, and measure. How do we love God? What do we give someone who literally already owns everything? We guard and keep, treasure what is his. We respect his property, in particular what is made in his image, including ourselves and each other.

Deuteronomy 30 goes on to tell us that the law is not far from us. It is within us. It then commands us to choose life. God is the God of Life and he is the living God. Life is all about finding the potential in all people, from conception to the grave. It is then helping that person to be all they can be. That is what being people of life is all about. We speak of our Catholic tradition of promoting the General Welfare, of the Natural Law, The Law of Nature. This idea ultimately comes from Deuteronomy 30. It goes through Aristotle, then through Cicero with his “Republic,” and then finds its place in Augustine’s City of God. From there it finds its way into our parish’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas Aquinas

The great thinkers of later centuries, including John Locke/Second Treaty on Government, Montesquieu/The Spirit of the Laws, David Hume/Leviathan, all assume this Catholic tradition of Natural Law. Deuteronomy then points to Divine Law as the place from which it comes. It all comes down to promoting life, where life means  life lived to its fullest for all people. It imbeds itself in Catholic tradition, in Greek tradition, and finally in our Declaration of Independence where we state all men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights. It finds itself in our Constitution in the Preamble, and in Article 2 Section 8. “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare.”

declaration-of-independence

As we meditate on who we are as Catholics and as Americans, preparing to vote in this election, let us remember the ultimate commandment. It is guarding and keeping the garden. It is loving God by loving what is his, in particular each other. It is being servants of Abraham, seeing ourselves in our diversity. It is being sons of Isaac, living life, with all of its pleasures and pains. It is remembering that we are the heel, created last, but being first in the eyes of God. It is remembering that we are all children, servants, doing what our parents told us to do when we were small, “Play nice.”

The republican and the tax collector


Jess theses statement in LukeThe reading for the Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time again presents with Judaism’s Baal Teshuvah/The Master of Repentance. The Gospel focuses upon the Pharisee, a Hebrew word meaning the Separate One. He is of the middle class. In the first century, he was the craftsman who had time to study Torah and learn all of its intricate details. He took great pride in knowing the wisdom of the fathers. They had adequate food, clothing, shelter, and transportation and they looked down on those who did not. They were part of the great flight from the inner cities and villages to their own enclaves. They were much like our middle class with the great white flight out of the inner cities.

Being separate from the masses, he says, “I am not like the rest of humanity.” Not like the rest of humanity, he says. “Faith” comes from the letters, “Aleph,” the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “Mem,” the middle letter, and “Tav,” the last letter. “Aleph,” stands for leadership. “Mem,” is in the shape of waves and stands for Baptism, and “Tav,” is in the shape of a cross. It stands for not being separate, but part of total reality.

The Pharisee brags that he is not grasping, uncharitable, or adulterous.  He is like the great mass of, all too often churchgoers, who brag about the 1.5% of their income they give to charity. They brag that they have more than 2,500 local agencies that serve 10 million people annually. Their 18,000 parishes spent an average of $200,000 on the needy every year beyond what they contribute to any of these charitable organizations. Their affiliated charity amounted to 17 percent of the funds spent by nonprofits on social services.

PovertyThe homeless, the poor, the tax collectors who felt compelled to go elsewhere for a living than to their established brothers and sisters for a living are the Baalim Teshuvah. They are the masters of repentance who are constantly trying to find their way back into established community. As individuals, they cannot brag about the billions of dollars they give every year. Many have nothing to give at all. They are the ones who stand with the tax collector begging for repentance for the money they could not give, because they did not have it.

They are the ones who say with St. Paul, “At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf. Everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! The NAME stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the nations might hear it.” Unlike the Pharisee who separates himself from the common masses, the Baal Teshuvah comes from the common masses and knows he cannot escape from them. The Baal Teshuvah cannot help but follow Jesus’ command in Luke 7:44, “Simon, do you see this woman? He cannot help but see her, because, all too often, he is her.

Mark 7 tells us, ““Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot make common/vulgar, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” “What comes out of a person, that is what makes common/vulgar. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All this rot comes from within and makes common/vulgar.”

1911 portrait of mill workers from Lawrence, Massachusetts. Taken four months before a massive strike swept the city.Read a couple of more passages to understand how God sees things. The first is our first reading for this Sunday. “Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed. The NAME is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint. The one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right, and the NAME will not delay.

Of our leaders it says, “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; you may not set over you a foreigner, who is no kin of yours. He shall not have a great number of horses; nor shall he make his people go back again to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the NAME told you, Do not go back that way again. Neither shall he have a great number of wives, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he accumulate a vast amount of silver and gold.” Deuteronomy 17:15-17

There are no excuses. We have an obligation to pick leaders at the local level who will move on to the state and federal levels who are part of us. They are rich. If they are rich, that disqualifies them from public office. They are not like us. They are not to have multiple wives, as one of our candidates for public office has. He has three. God does not recognize his divorces unless the wives are unfaithful. He was the unfaithful one, not his first two wives. Both candidates for public office are rich. Both are disqualified under this rule.

384309_549304955086309_357628736_nOur definition of the proper role of government is found in Psalm 72. This begins, “Le Solomon/to Salomon. It ends, “The end of the psalms of David, son of Jesse.” This is King David’s definition of the proper role of secular leaders. It includes looking to the needs of the oppressed, defending the oppressed, saving the children of the poor and crushing the oppressor, he rescues the poor when they cry out, the oppressed who have no one to help. He shows pity to the needy and the poor and saves the lives of the poor. From extortion and violence, he redeems them, for precious is their blood in his sight.

The king does these things, not because he is merciful to those not like him, but because he knows that he is part of them. He is Amen. He is faith incarnate. He is Emeth, faith, seeing God as the great leader, remembering his baptism, and looking to the cross and his resurrection in the Eucharist. The same applies to presidents, congressman, senators, assemblymen, C.E.O.s and Union Chiefs. It also applies to priests and Bishops. God calls us all to be Baal Teshuvah, remembering our own faults and that we are human, from humus. On Ash Wednesday we put humus on our foreheads and remind ourselves, “From dust you came, and to dust you will return.” We all have our faults. We all need to see ourselves as Baal Teshuvah. We are all just a few steps from living the life of the homeless. Let us strive to save the homeless from their fate. God does feel free to give refresher lessons.