Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary What it means to obey

Jess theses statement in LukeThe Gospel and the First reading for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time involves the Shema. Shema means to hear and therefore to listen. Obey comes from the Latin form Ob Audio, which means to listen. Israel means to struggle with God and comes from Genesis 32:29.

The Name of God comes from Exodus 3:14, “God replied to Moses: I am who I am. This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead but of the living. Mark 12:26-27 quoting Exodus 3:6

“God of the living is in the Hebrew construct case. He is also the living God. He is the God who brings life understood in its grandest sense.

Our word, “God,” comes from two places and means largely the same thing. God comes from the Old High German got, German Gott, Old Norse guð, Gothic guþ),; perhaps from PIE *ghut- “that which is invoked” (source also of Old Church Slavonic zovo “to call,” Sanskrit huta- “invoked.”

Etymology of GodThe root word for “God in Hebrew means to point. It is that which one points to as the entity which saved them from their enemies, who carried them to their goals. On the negative side, El is who we point to in cursing, blaming them for our failures.

Seder plate small
Jesus’ last Supper recalls what it means to suffer, to be imperfect, to make mistakes.

“Listen, Israel.” This is not a simple allowing of sounds to enter our ears. It means meditation, contemplation. God addresses this with those who struggle with him, the scrub cattle of the earth who lead hard lives. It is for those who struggle to understand him and why their lives are the way they are.

The one who is who he is, in Hebrew tradition called The Name, Ha Shem, or Adonai, the leader, LORD, is the El in the plural/superlative sense. He is the one we point to, not the government, not our employer, not ourselves, nor our neighbors, or our spouse, or even our parents as children.

Some rabbis argue that “Other Gods,” is in the construct case so can be translated as the gods of others as in the gods who are others. If we come to Mass to be seen by others or do good works to be seen by others, they are our gods.

God is One. We can’t trust our one God or the Pantheon of Market, Militarism, and Money, the God of Mercury, Mars, and Moneto Juno. God is our ultimate goal and all else gets in the way.

“Love the one who is, the one you point to for salvation with all your hearts, with all your animate being, and with all your measure.” In the Hebrew Hearts is in the plural and your is in the singular. We all have multiple hearts, multiple inclinations. Hebrew speaks of the inclination to the satisfying and the rotten. Christians speak of having God’s image within us, his inclination within us, and Original Sin. Our mortal drives are not intrinsically evil, Freud would have us know; it is how we use them.

St. Francis and the leperHebrew for Father is Abba. The Hebrew for the one who comes the one we welcome into our lives is Ha Bah.  The Hebrew word for love is A Ha Bah. The second section of Shema tells us to welcome into our lives the one who is, with all our hearts, with our good inclinations and our evil ones. If we have many faults, we struggle with God often. We are Israel! Hebrew also speaks of the Baal Teshuvah, the Master of Penance. We, like the younger son in the Prodigal Son story, know what it is like to err. We are better than the angels because we know and they do not. Following AAs Twelve Steps, we work to bring that salvation to others.

What is the difference between Nephesh, animate being, soul, and blood? Leviticus 17:11, and 14. “Since the life of the flesh/Bashar/Gospel is in the blood.” “The life of all flesh is its blood. I have told the Israelites: You shall not consume the blood of any flesh. Since the life of all flesh is its blood, anyone who consumes it shall be cut off.”

Pro-lifeEvery animal with blood in it has life, from conception to the grave. Blood is the only organ touching every other organ. Blood is also the only organ that moves. “Living Water,” is flowing, moving water. The more something moves, the more life it has. The more vibrant and vivacious something is, the more life it has. The more blood moves through the body, caused by a more rapidly beating heart, the more life it has. God is the God of life, wanting all to have the maximum of himself, Life.

If we measure who we are by our wealth, and Americans do, God calls us to love him with our wealth. If we pride ourselves on our strength and the strength of our military, God calls us to love him with that. If we are patriotic, God calls him to love him with our patriotism, to vote for life for all people.

Words of InstitutionSo, what do we give someone who already literally already has everything? We respect what is his. God already owns everything. That means a real concern for our planet, for climate change, and the welfare of all that is around us. In particular, that means a real concern for Life. God is the God of Life, the Living God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:46 that as we treat the least of us we treat God. That means seeing the potentiality in all life and striving to help all people fulfill that potentiality. One is not more or less alive on either side of the vaginal tube. To vote for the lesser of two evils is to vote for evil.

A century ago, Pope Pius X whose picture is on our mural at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, called us to Catholic Action and that means working to have candidates who support Catholic Social Teaching. Having nobody to vote for is not an excuse. We have had a century to recruit the seventy plus thousand students graduating from Catholic Universities each year, develop them in the faith, fund their political campaigns, and get them elected. We clearly have not. What we really need is a synod to get ourselves started again so we can do the job. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his I Have a Dream Speech, “Now is the time for action.”



Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jesus told blind man, “Go your way; Lech Lech ah your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. Gospel for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.Jesus heals the blind man

Jesus tells the blind man to go his own way and the blind man follows him. He didn’t here the command to go his own way?

Now the Name told Abram, “Go out of your country, and from your kin, and from your father’s house, unto the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1

The Gospel really begins with Mark 10: 45. “The Son of man also came not to be served/dwelled with, but to dwell with, to serve, to attend, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Jericho is Hebrew for the moon. Tam can mean to things. If it comes from the Greek it means value. Bar Timaeus could mean Son of Value. If it comes from the Hebrew, more likely, it means completeness and therefore perfection, innocence, or simplicity. When referring to Jacob and Esau Genesis calls Jacob Tam. He is the opposite of his brother, staying home, and studying the traditions of his family.

The Gospel refers to Jesus in two ways. Jesus Ben Nazareth and Jesus Ben David. Jesus means salvation. Ben means both “Son” and “To build.” One builds a home; one builds a son and a daughter until they are adults. “Nazareth means to guard or to bloom. In the Psalms of Salomon King Solomon says “Dodi Li U Ani Low.” “My beloved is to me and I am to him. “Dodi” “David” means beloved and romantic love.

Jesus calls Bar Timaeus. This calling is another word pregnant with meaning. The Latin is “Vocare” from which derive our word, “Vocation.” When we read the readings at Mass, the Hebrew word is again Car ah. It is proclamation an inviting to live the events, again, for the first time. moon

In our Gospel Jesus stands on the lifeless moon. The previous verse tells us this story is about his serving and not being served. A blind man, the son of Simplicity comes to Jesus screaming through the crowd for mercy. In Hebrew Mercy comes from the same word as Womb. He screams for a compassion only a mother can know for her children.

In Jewish liturgy where one sits is very important. The Rabbi, knowing the most, sits in the center. The further out one goes the less one knows and the less pure they are. The blind man begins the liturgy with a call for mercy, compassion. Jesus, Salvation, comes, bringing the fresh blooming of new life. People being who people are, then and now, try to stop the outcasts from receiving salvation. It is for the middle-class and not the outcasts.

Jesus does not simply ask for the crowd to call the man to come over to him, but uses that vocare. He invites Bar Timaeus the same way God invites Abraham. Lech Lech ah. It is not to instant gratification, wealth and riches. It is not to being Tam. He started with that. It is to leave those things and to leave modern day Basra, where Abram started, and to leave his family, everything he holds dear and to head out into the unknown.

The sheep of his flockIn Hebrew, seeing Rah, is related to being part of the flock, Rah, spelled differently. It is to be part of God’s flock and to proclaim salvation, Jesus to others. It is to a called life of mercy, being a womb for others, proclaiming how he was saved to others. It is being a son of love to others.

One last key word in the passage is faith. Faith and truth are the same word in Hebrew. True faith heals, not Jesus, according to the passage. Jesus brings faith and truth together. He brings us into contact with truth, reality, others, being in touch with others needs, seeing the world in its totality. The blind man then follows Jesus by going out into the desert as Abraham did. Are we up to the same calling?

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the American Revolution

Seder plate smallFor the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time the Gospel and the second reading carry the main message. Luke’s version, properly translated, holds the key to the passage. “Who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves.”

That last question seems out of context with the conclusion and there is a reason. It implies the one sitting at table, the ruler, is the greater.

Koine Greek has no punctuation or word order to its grammar. The passage could just as well translate, “Who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table! I am among you as the one who serves.”

Chapter 1 verse 10 of the Ethics of the Fathers says, “Love work, loath mastery over others, and avoid intimacy with the government.” This comes from the cultural background from which Jesus lived and taught. A saying from this culture is, “Whosoever acquires a Jewish slave has acquired himself a master.”

James and John the sons of Zebedee ask, “Grant to us to sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left, in your glory/Chabod/importance.” The important one, the one with glory and honor is not the one sitting at table. Rulers throughout history found this out the hard way. Mary Antoinette and King Louis lost their heads over it as did Maximilien Robespierre when his grew too big.

King GeorgeKing George was right in the taxes he raised on the colonies. Someone had to pay for the French and Indian War. Up until the time of the Revolution the British were known for their hands-off approach to the colonies who largely governed themselves. King George saw himself as the important one. When a bunch of drunks threw tea into the sea, King George thought he had enough. He called the venerated Benjamin Franklin, at that point an advocate of the King and told him off, in public. Ben Franklin became an advocate of the Revolution.

The British saw the white man as God’s gift to humanity, the important race. Born in Liverpool, Robert Morris a Founding Father of the United States financed the American Revolution, oversaw the striking of the first coins of the United States, and signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, and the United States Constitution. During the war the combined expenditures of Robert Morris towards the American Revolution and subsequent events would be in excess of $15,575,000,000 today not including materials and ships and the balance of the colonist would contribute $800,000. Along with Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin, he is one of the founders of the American financial system. Did we notice how Morris was from Liverpool. He was Irish, not British. The Revolution was as much about Irish rights denied by the British as it was about taxes.

Friendly Sons of St. PatrickMorris was an honorary member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick as was George Washington. This organization had five Revolutionary War generals as members and a commodore who was also an employee of Robert Morris. His head grew too big and he died in poverty, his house being used to plan the Crossing of the Delaware, and the Battle of Trenton.

Thinking you are the master race or the master nation has negative consequences. The British ended slavery in 1833 without an American Revolution. If the U.S. had not left the British empire, slavery here would have ended in 1833. The Native Americans sided with the British in the Revolution. The British promised a limit on westward expansion. If the American Revolution had not happened, Native American Nations might be prospering and not living on reservations. The U.S. with all its economic power would have entered WWI and WWII when Britain did. Think of the lives lost because King George was so full of himself.

This brings us to the first reading, “The NAME was pleased to crush him in infirmity. If he gives his life as an offering for deviation, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the NAME shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify any, and their guilt he shall bear.”

Simons mother in lawThose who have not suffered do not know what it means to suffer. That is why God crushes in infirmity. It is through infirmity that we see the light. The Jewish community has its Baal of Teshuva, or Master of Penance. This person, because he suffered for his faults is said to be master even over the angels. He is greater than the angels and all others he meets. Why? Because he knows what it means to err and how easy it is to err. He is meek and humble, always contrite, watching his step to make sure he does not err again.

What of those of us who have never really suffered. In our Mass’s Anamnesis we die with Jesus and we rise with him. We sit at Gethsemane and walk with him, denying him three times, recalling how easy it is to do. “I knew the great teacher, not this guy who made claims about destroying the temple, for God’s sake.” Through the Anamnesis we become Baal Teshuva liturgically, if we pay attention to Gospel and readings.

Jesus heals the blind manLet us therefore always remember who is the greater, “It is not the one seated at table.” It is the one who serves. Who is important, Mary Antoinette and King Louis, easily replaced by Maximilien Robespierre who was easily replaced by Napoleon, who was in turn easily replaced by others, or the people planting the potatoes for the Irish to eat or the wheat for the French of the Revolution to eat, sparing Europe the 19th and 20th century of constant war. Without the meek and humble worker, nobody eats. That is what Jesus tells us today.