Spock, the Priestly Blessing, and our Catholic Sacraments


spock“Put/Shemo My name/Shemi upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” This passage relates to leadership, first to the leadership of the Cohen/official, and then to the specific official we call the priest. When Leonard Nimoy felt the need to come up with the Vulcan Salute, he fell back on his Jewish heritage. The Vulcan Salute is the Hebrew Shin, and it stands for “El Shaddai,” or God of the Lump, as in mountain, “God of the Heights.” “When they put my name on them when I brand them with my name.” It also stands for Shalom/Tranquility, and for Shekinah, the Holy Spirit who comes with the Priestly Blessing. The picture of Leonard Nimoy links to the video.

Those also who fell asleep received the seal of the Son of God. “Before a man bears the name of the Son of God he is dead, but when he receives the seal he lays aside his deadness, and obtains life. The seal, then, is the water: they descend into the water dead, and they arise alive. And to them, accordingly, was this seal preached, and they made use of it that they might enter into the kingdom of God.”[1] Shepherd of Hermes: Similitudes 9: Chapter 16 The seal is about life, not rules.

Ἀνάγκην, φησίν, εἶχον δι’ ὕδατος ἀναβῆναι, ἵνα ζωοποιηθῶσιν· οὐκ ἠδύνατο γὰρ ἄλλως εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰ μὴ τὴν νέκρωσιν ἀπέθεντο τῆς ζωῆς αὐτῶν τῆς προτέρας. ἔλαβον οὖν καὶ οὗτοι οἱ κεκοιμημένοι τὴν σφραγῖδα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ εἰσῆλθον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ· Similitudes 9:Chapter 16.

τὴν σφραγῖδα is a stamp like the Roman military used to brand its troops.

“Now inquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may turn   himself unto military service, and whether the military may be admitted   unto the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior grade, to whom   there is no necessity for taking part in sacrifices or capital   punishments. There is no agreement between the divine and the human   sacrament,  the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil,  the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters–God and Cæsar.”Tertullian: On Idolatry: Chapter 19, On Military Service.

On the subject of the sacrament, which he receives…the signs of divine things are things visible, but that the invisible things themselves are also honored in them.[2] On Catechizing the Uninstructed: Chapter 26

“God the Father sealed Him.” What is to seal, but to put some particular mark? To seal is to impress some mark, not confounded with the rest. To seal is to put a mark on a thing. When you put a mark on anything, you do so lest it might be confused with other things, and you should not be able to recognize it.[3] Lectures on the Gospel of S. John Lecture 25 Chapter 11.

tatooIn Numbers 6, the stamp, the τὴν σφραγῖδα, is the name of God and the Cohen places it on the people with a blessing. The sacramental sign, the sacramental seal, is a blessing. Read the first part of Numbers 6.

“When either man or woman shall clearly utter a vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to consecrate himself unto the NAME, he shall abstain from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar of wine or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat fresh grapes or dried…. All the days of his being a Nazarene dedicated he is to the NAME… this is the law of the Nazarene. When the days of his consecration are fulfilled…: he shall present his offering unto the NAME, one he-lamb… for a burnt-offering, and one ewe-lamb… for a sin-offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings.”

ani-ldodiAt the end of being a Nazarene, the person brings a sin offering. What is his sin, if he did it all according to the program? A Jewish source points out how the key phrase is that the man or the woman utters the vow. Leviticus 10 tells the story of Nadab and Abihu who offered sacrifices not commanded. “Nadab” means to offer willingly. “Abihu” means “He is my Father.” They are not trying to rebel, but are overzealous in their giving.

In the story of Adam and Eve we read God’s command, “The NAME God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of what is satisfying and what is rotten.” Eve tells the snake of the command. “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘you shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’”

Adam and EveNotice the addition about touching. There is a Midrash to the effect that the snake grabbed Eve and pushed her into the tree. “There, now you have touched it.” God knows our limits. He does not give commands that surpass them. When we try to surpass them, we become bitter and when we become bitter as leaders, we treat our charges bitterly. God’s way is toward life and blessing. Our baptism, our mark is to be toward life and blessing, not rules and rot. The sin of the Nazarene is that he goes beyond what God requires; he is more pious than God desires him to be. God is the God of Life, not of rules. He wants each of us to live. God wants us to be better leaders, not bitter ones.

As a point of reference, Spock was the Star Trek peacenik. When we are joy-filled, we are peaceful people. When we are bitter, we sub-consciously try to resolve the conflict, and that means hurting other people. Jerusalem means, “City of Peace.” “David,” means “Beloved.” If we are going to live in the city of peace, we must be beloved, like David, and Jesus. The star translates, “I am to my beloved/David and David/my beloved is to me.” Shin refers to peace, the peace of completion. Shalom translates as completion, and therefore, as peace. We truly are only complete when we are happy, not bitter, when we are at peace with ourselves.

Our Blessed Virgin with Jesus, the Chai Rho at her side.

Read the Gospel for this Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. “Joseph also went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his Kiddushin, who was with child.” The proper translation of the Hebrew for “Kiddushin,” is married. As presented in recent blogs, Jewish marriage has two stages, Kiddushin, and Nassau. The only difference is that in Nassau marriage, the bride has moved in with the groom and has conjugal rights.

 

spiceThe purpose for this rule, as the rabbis relate, is to focus upon what Catholics refer to as S.P.I.C.E. Spiritually sharing of life between bride and groom through praying together and meditation. It included Physical closeness with plenty of hugs, kisses, holding hands, snuggling, and such. It also included Intellectual stimulations, the need to bounce ideas off one another. It included the need to be Communicative/Creative, and to Express feelings, desires, and joke together.

Marriage is a sacrament having invisible and visible parts. The invisible part is that it reflects the divine dance of the three persons of the Trinity as they with each other, and indwell in us. Leonard Nimoy correctly pointed out how in our First Reading, when the Cohen ends the blessing, the Shekinah, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells among us. He does so through S.P.I.C.E. This means having fun, living life to its fullest, John 10:10.

St. Paul relates this in our Second Reading, “We receive adoption as sons. As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are a son and if a son then an heir, through God.” We are not servants to be hired and fired, tormented and let go. We are fellow children who have to live with each other for the rest of our lives, eternity. Mary does not keep these things in her head. “She kept these things in her heart,” as our Gospel, tells us.

Luke has the shepherds find Jesus. John 10 is about the Good Shepherd. Shepherds are the leaders of the community. “Pastor” is a fancy German word for a Shepherd. Shepherds/ Pastors went in haste to Bethlehem Beth Lechem/House of Bread, which is in the land of Judah/ Thanksgiving/Eucharist and found Mary/Aramaic for Leader and Joseph, Hebrew for Heal, and the infant lying in the manger/a feeding trough. When they saw this, they made known the message told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.

8919_1243228163516_2601477_nThe invisible aspect of this sacrament is that we find Jesus in a feeding trough, in the house of bread, in the Eucharist. Shepherds, humble people, find him. Future readings this month will focus on how dark things are. They are dark. We did just elect a sadistic, woman and minority hater who wants to go against God’s will by cutting services for the poor, supporting a nuclear war and building a wall to keep minorities out of our land of immigrants.

Leonard Nimoy makes an interesting comment in the above video when he says that everyone would cover their eyes during the Priestly Blessing. He says the Shekinah comes then, and if we see the Shekinah, the Shekinah could blind us or even kill us. The Priestly Blessing is done every morning in Jerusalem, and this may have been so in the first century. With this read about Pentecost. “When the time for Pentecost (Service) was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” Acts 2:1 “Others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.” Acts 2:13 “These people are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.” Acts 2:15 “Birkat Kohanim is a throwback to the priestly Temple service. A Kohen who had imbibed even a small quantity of an intoxicating beverage was barred from performing any Temple service until the drink’s effects had worn off.” The listing of the time of day tells us not only what the time of day it was, but also why it is important that no alcohol was involved. It also tells us that Kirkat Kohanim was part  of the service and what the people were doing before this event.

This also relates to the importance of our Mass. Shekinah, the Presence of God comes in the Eucharist. It is not to be taken lightly.

Our readings are for the leadership. He will tell us, “See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples.” We must see this if we are going to be effective leaders, but in the midst of all of this doom and gloom, he will also tell us, “Upon you the NAME shines and over you appears his weight. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.”

This is the Semitic you. “The NAME, our God, cut a Brit with us at Horeb; not with our Fathers did the NAME cut this Brit, but with us, all of us, alive here, this day.” Deuteronomy 5. The Semitic “You,” in this passage is not the audience who originally read this passage, but you, the reader, alive, here, today.

The Cohen/official is not someone who died two plus millennia ago. Times are dark and gloomy. “Upon you, the NAME shines and over you appears his weight. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you.” live-long-and-prosperThe sacrament calls us to be happy people with happy leaders. We complain about how our nation has a lack of leaders. In our recent election, we did, in fact, elect a distorted cross between Nero and Caligula. There is plenty of room for doom and gloom. There is a leader in every home. The secret is not in being pious or overly devout. The secret is in being family. If you cannot find the leader in your home, you are it, bless the people! Help bring Shekinah! Remember, Christianity beat Nero and Caligula once. It took 300 years, but we accomplished the task, starting with one man who realized he was the leader in his home, the small outcast village of Nazareth. The message of Advent is not doom and gloom, but hope for the future. We beat him once; we can beat him again. Live long and prosper.

[1] Schaff, Philip. Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 2 – Enhanced Version (Early Church Fathers) (Kindle Locations 2529-2532). Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Kindle Edition.

[2] Augustine, Saint. The Complete Works of Saint Augustine: The Confessions, On Grace and Free Will, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, Expositions on the Book Of Psalms, … (50 Books With Active Table of Contents) (Kindle Locations 137465-137466).  . Kindle Edition.

[3] Augustine, Saint. The Complete Works of Saint Augustine: The Confessions, On Grace and Free Will, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, Expositions on the Book Of Psalms, … (50 Books With Active Table of Contents) (Kindle Locations 121637-121640).  . Kindle Edition.

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