Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jess theses statement in LukeThe Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” He replied, “What did Moses command you?”

From the Sermon on the Mount.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

Jesus replies, “What did Moses command you?” Torah does not change. Torah is both written and unwritten tradition. The teaching on divorce doesn’t change.

Great Assembly

What is the passage context? We are in a room with a large gathering of scholars and they ask Jesus his opinion on a key Torah passage. The passage is like our gun control issue.

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The pro-gun nuts recite the second part of the passage but forget the first part.

We read the Ten Commandments, reciting the last six but forget the first four.

The passage reads, “When a man takes a wife, and marries her, if she finds no favor in his eyes because he found nakedness in her, he shall write her a bill of divorcement….”

The rabbis debated the meaning of “nakedness.” The school Jesus seems to quote defines nakedness as finding her naked with someone else. The other school focuses on “she finds no favor in his eyes,” and argues he can divorce her for no reason at all.

Father Ron Olson
God wants shepherds, not legal experts

“Because of the hardness of your hearts, he wrote you this Mitzvah. From the beginning, ‘God made them male and female. 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/Bashar.

“Who is “Your” of “Your hearts?” Only scholars are present. “Your” must refer to them. They want hardness of heart, to read the Torah as lawyers. Jesus wants softness of heart, to read the passage of elders/counselors of the people.

The Hebrew for Gospel and for Flesh is Bashar. A man leaves his father and mother and joins to his wife, and the two shall become one Bashar/ succulent message/Gospel.’ They are no longer two but one Bashar/succulent message/Gospel.

It is not possible to be one Gospel, one succulent message when fighting. The Gospel is clear in saying our Blessed Virgin Mary was no older than twelve and a half years old when she married Joseph. Joseph was probably not much older. One thing we can count on teen agers to do is fight about petty things. Most couples married at about the same age as Mary and Joseph.

What keeps the couple from fighting? Extended family! A toddler escapes the house and runs across the street to the park… An uncle sees the act. What does he do? Blame the mother and tell her husband about it? If he’s smart and an elder of the community he investigates and finds the door does not have childproof deadbolts on the doors. He installs them and extended family expense, immediately, and worries about cost recovery later.

Word gets out that husband and wife are fighting. What does uncle do? He arrives with his wife and an uncle and aunt from the other family. They give sage advice on how they resolved their issues and one uncle advises, “Next time you have an issue, you get one of your aunts to referee this. Gills and Morses don’t fight like this. We have certain customs. Not hitting women is one of those customs. Not arguing is another. Talking things through rationally is a custom we both share. Could give a shit what your final decision is but following the Ethics of the Fathers, You come to us both perceived to be guilty, misunderstanding the situation, and you will both leave innocent, having re-established your marital bond.”

I can hear an uncle of the first-century saying, “No! You are not divorcing this girl because the eggs are a little greasy. Marriage is sacred. I’ll send Mildred over and show her how to cook eggs the way you like them. Now get you head out your ass and build that crochet stand she wants. If you forgot, come here, I’ll show you.”

Another rule, at least of the Gills and after investigation also of the Morse clan is that there is nothing the other guy can do that justifies bad behavior on the part of Gill or Morse clan members. “The other guy does it too? I’m not talking to the other guy; I’m talking to you and we don’t do those things. It is not our custom! Bend over!”

558680_4898175579913_954615946_nIn his homily, Bishop Calvo took great pains in stating how in first-century culture all property was transferred through the husband to his sons so it stayed in the extended family. The negative aspect of this rule is that if he evicts his spouse, she has no property and no way of acquiring any, other than marrying another.

Bishop Calvo than spent the bulk of his homily discussing how Jesus contemns the hardness of heart of a husband, also a teenager likely, who would discharge another human being to adultery or destitution.

One irony of this Pro-Life Sunday is that a second pervert joined the ranks of the Supreme Court the day before, yesterday. The rule of both coming in guilty, misunderstanding the situation, and leaving innocent, reconciled was not followed.

It is also hardness of heart to listen to women sharing rapes and near rapes in their past and to say they must have lied because the person listening to the charge likes the accuser. The standard excuses are always used, she must have done something to deserve it, reference the remarks about how there is nothing the other guy can do to justify bad behavior on the part of Gills or Morses.  She must have been paid to say this. How much do you need to pay a person with a doctorate to ruin her career and face perjury charges later? The ears and the eyes close and the rape culture continues.

Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick stood by their accusations against Brett Kavanaugh. Misinformation propagated by conservative so-call news sites including conservative Catholic ones claim a single witness came forward who knows or knew Mrs. Ford and doubted her story. Torah is clear in stating a person is convicted on the basis of two or three witnesses. Mr. Kavanaugh had three accusers. Mrs. Ford had only one. These conservative news sites also claim Mrs. Swetnick withdrew her claims, also not true. Conservatives claim we should trust conservative news agencies we know have lied in favor of Mr. Kavanaugh and not trust three witnesses who claim he is guilty.

Supporting this man means you support the culture of death and politics over truth. It is just that simple. Support him before, during, or after attending a so-called pro-life rally and I don’t know what the rally is about and don’t participate. Bad behavior has consequences. If you don’t know what you support, I most certainly don’t.

statue-of-liberty-chainsThis writer actually heard a nun take this position just moments after the Bishop gave his homily in favor of the Me Too Movement and supporting women making these claims. She was completely blind to how the homily related to the Supreme Court case. As a result of her and people like her, we now have two known perverts on the Supreme Court, one confirmed in the month trying to bring awareness to sexual abuse.

This case has clear ramifications. I, an adult white male who has been bullied on the job and who found his stories not believed because he reported supervisor’s find the ramifications scary. Don’t report abuse because of the hardness of heart on the part of conservatives. They won’t believe you anyway. The best option is to put up with the abuse and find work elsewhere. There is no room for Bashar, being one flesh, part of the one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, under these conditions. There is no room for sharing the Good News when your life has been deprived of the Good News by the conservatives. We then listen to them argue pro-life and can only say, “Sick Joke! If I believe that one, will you tell me another one?”

Sometimes we must make up our minds, do we support life and God, or do we support politics? As for me and my house, we serve God. We support the image of God in each and every person; we support life, and that includes the life of Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick, and the millions of those like her, and me. Doing otherwise shows a severe hardness of heart. Again, when we show this hardness of heart those of us who have been abused must ask if we as Catholics support the culture of death or the culture of life.

Instead of this disaster we should be saying, “Americans don’t abuse other Americans. Americans don’t abuse, period. Americans remember what it was like to be oppressed in the land your Europe, in the sweatshops of the 19th century and the plantations of the south. Americans remember what it was to be lied to and about. They don’t share vicious gossip about those bringing negative reports, their life experiences. They investigate and find the truth. Americans take pains to make sure people do not suffer, or they used to. My, how things have changed.

Our synod had two problem categories. How does a sixty-two-year-old liberal and a forty something conservative define two key terms in the categories, “Family,” and “Priest.” Per conservative doctrine, family is one husband, one wife, God, and the children. For a sixty-two-years-old liberal, family includes the children’s children, grand-children… “Nation” is Latin meaning a people born together by common heritage. Extended family includes the entire nation.

“Priest” is Greek for, “Presbyterian/elder.” It ultimately comes from “Cohen,” any appointed official. Hierarch or Hierarchy is the Greek for the high priest. We use the term for secular leaders. Catholic Catechism 1539 “The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:6.

LibertyWe are all priests, all sent out as husband and wife to bring Bashar, the succulent message to all God’s children. Those in the room with Jesus ask for a debate on the legal definition of “Naked.” Jesus argues, ‘You are all counselors, tasked with guiding young people in developing their families to be Bashar, bringing the Gospel, the Good News, the succulent message of love to each other and to their children.” Two people living in close proximity to each other always have differences. Each divorce represents a failure on the part of elders and priests, in fixing these differences. Get off the legal bullshit and serve the community,” Jesus says. Do we support the culture of death with divorce, bullying and the excuses that go with it, or do we support the culture of life.

The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jess theses statement in LukeThe first reading begins with a statement about the prophet hearing.” Being deaf and mute in the Gospels appear together; Jesus heals the deafness first and the muteness healing comes along for the ride.

Hastings’ Dictionary of the New Testament in its article under Deaf and Dumb argues, the Gospel writers use the same Greek term interchangeably for both deaf and dumb.

Along the way, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, others one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ.” The Son of Man must suffer greatly, be rejected by the presbyters/priests, the chief priests/Hierarchs and the scribes/grammarians, be killed, and rise after three days. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him… You think not as God, but as humans.”

St. Francis and the leperWhy bring up a prediction of his passion right after Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ? I have two faults that are major in my communication, being wordy, and academic when a personal approach is called for. I was not allowed to attend the past Synod, why what I learned over the past decades is not open for discussion at Bible Study, and why the diocesan director of faith formation said there was no place for me in the Catholic Church.  I identify with Peter and Paul, worse at it than Peter. The people give human examples.  Peter/the leader, gives an academic one; Jesus is the Messiah, a title.

Father Abbot had a conversation with Deacon Peter. Father asked, “Who do the people say I am?” Deacon replied, “Some say you are St. Augustine, some Thomas Aquinas, others a great preacher.” Father Abbot asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Deacon replied, “You are the anointed of this parish, Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno.

Father Abbot replied, “I have stage four renal cancer. Cysts grow inside my kidneys and are large. I suffer sharp pains constantly, along with in my liver, my spleen, and into my lungs where it metastasized and I feel great pain. I will be dead in six months.” Deacon rebuked him.

Simons mother in lawJesus looks for a personal response. Father John Bain called this a shared “Life Experience.” He looks for a response speaking of finding Jesus while fishing, healing his mother from a fever, the emotion of the healings, traumatic encounters with the hierarchs, the elders, and the grammarians, hearing Torah in a new and more personal way… Peter gives none of this.

Jesus expects the promise of prayers for help in dealing with this, a life experience of shared compassion. Peter gives none of this. We are only told of a rebuke. There is no mention of a pregnant pause. This is the great clown, Peter, Charles Wayne, Francis Augustine Gill, with diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain, engaging mouth before putting brain in gear. This is Peter, Charles Wayne, Francis Augustine Gill thinking only of himself and how he will deal with life with no Jesus/Father Abbot around. This is how humans think.

Father Ron Olson.jpgIn the section immediately, preceding Jesus heals a blind man. The first time the blind man reports everyone looks like walking trees. The word for “Trees” and “Counselors” is “Eights.” Everyone looks like codgy, stodgy men. The second time “his sight was restored and he saw everything distinctly.” He saw people in all their humanity. This is how God sees.

A chapter earlier Mark mentions the healing of the deaf man. His hearing returns first and he speaks. Let us pray that I somehow learn to hear and to see, not the outside, but the inside, be like Father Ron Olson who thinks as God, always looking for the heart, able to look past the academics and the wordiness and to see the real person striving to connect. Let us learn to hear and see Jesus in our neighbor, striving, for a personal relationship with one big life experience from cradle to the grave.

Why the Priest Shortage and Why Another Scandal


Our Gospel reading speaks to both our shortage of priests and the priest scandals of the present and past. First, it must be noted that some six and thirty years ago a Pastor Ken Denneke asked me to consider the religious vocation. This is the reason I learned to play piano and studied Philosophy in college. After completing that Bachelor-of-Arts and a year of graduate school in counseling, in preparation for seminary, the church changed its mind. Such is my life story.

This is not the reason I mention Pastor Ken Denneke. Pastor Ken was a married Lutheran minister. He left ministry to go into dentistry or something because his wife did not want to be parish first lady. He left ministry because he was married.

As I studied group dynamics I learned a powerful but obvious point. The same football teams and for that matter the same in other sports and organizations tend to do well year after year, regardless of who the players are. Change the system structure and the powerful teams become human again. Look at our first reading.

The wilderness and the parched land exult; the desert rejoices and blooms. As the rose it blooms abundantly, and rejoices with joyful song. The weight of the Lebanon is given to it, the splendor of the Carmel/vineyard and Sharon/ the Ishar/upright will see the weight of the NAME, the splendor of our God.

It is the wilderness and the parched among us who God calls to ministry to the rejoicing and the blooming. The passage speaks of the Lebanon. Without the “The” the passage refers to the state of Lebanon. With the “The” it refers to the color, “white.” White refers to the purification of the temple and therefore the temple, our Cathedral. The first reading then refers to Carmel, the vineyard of souls, the Sharon of the Upright.  

100_3846Deuteronomy 17:15 tells us, “Set over you a melech/messenger whom the NAME, your God, chooses. Someone from among your own kindred you may set over you as messenger; Do not set over you a man of distinction, who is no kin of yours.”

As best as I could find, this is the makeup of our priests. Protestant pastors are no different. Most responding ordinands (59 percent) completed college before entering the seminary. When we add the majors of Theology, Liberal Arts, Business, Science/Math and Engineering we have 75% of our college graduates.

Most of our ordinands are not coming from the wilderness and the parched among us but from those who can afford that college degree. Caucasian/European American /white ordinands are over-represented among responding ordinands, relative to their proportion of the U.S. adult Catholic population, while Hispanics/Latinos are under-represented.

Again, we have evidence that we are pulling from the middle-class, the established folk and not from the wilderness and the parched like Deuteronomy and our first reading demand.

Ordinands in 2016 are slightly more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic elementary school. In a 2008 national poll conducted by CARA 42 percent of U.S. adult Catholics report having attended a Catholic elementary school, compared to 45 percent of ordinands who have done so. Ordinands are also more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic high school (41 percent of ordinands, compared to 22 percent of U.S. adult Catholics), and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (41 percent of ordinands, compared to just 7 percent of U.S. adult Catholics).

Catholic colleges are even more expensive than secular ones. We are not recruiting priests who are like us, nor are we recruiting priests who come from the wilderness, the desert, the parched land.

Think of Jesus’ parable of the sower. Over half of our priests were in education before, or business executives, accountants, computers, medicine, engineering, law, or government. We try to recruit priests from the seed that fell in the weeds and wonder at our failure.

The priests who sequestered themselves in their rectories? I suspect these are the priests who burned for companionship and acted on that desire in less than appropriate ways. Catch them before they start and if we can’t do that, at least get them into the public where we can see their behavior early and get them out of the ministry before they hurt our children.

Pope Francis UNWho recruited our priests? Number one is our priests. Then comes friends, parishioners, relatives, teachers, and our catechists. We got them active in church life early. They were in the Catholic youth group, alter servers, lectors, Extraordinary ministers, and catechists. This means our priests were out and among the people. They came to coffee and doughnuts, participated in adult and youth ministries, in particular of the wilderness, the parched land, and the deserted. They attended Eucharistic adoration, prayed the rosary, probably with a priest, and attended Bible studies, which we have far too little of.

When we recruit the right priests the eyes of the blind to God’s calling will be opened, the ears of the deaf cleared. In each healing of the deaf and mute, the deaf are always healed first. One must hear before he can speak. In the nativity, Zechariah does not believe so Gabriel makes him mute. He can’t hear the message so all he speaks comes out as gibberish. The lame, the outcast among us will listen to the voice of other outcasts when we recruit them. They can speak to the outcast in ways priests born and raised in established homes cannot. They can bring hope to the outcast, causing them to bloom in ways priests born into established homes cannot. They can relate to the hopelessness in ways priests who have never experienced hopelessness cannot.

Then it will be said of our Gospel reading, “He ordered them not to tell anyone. The more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” We will have more ordinands than we have schools to hold them and teachers to teach them. Until then, we wait.