Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time


Jess theses statement in LukeAs presented last week, the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 25 is a complete section with three parts. The first part represents letting our inner light shine for all the world to see. The second section, this Sunday, the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, is not much different.

“A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one– to each according to his ability.”

In first Century Jewish thinking we must see what this section means. Let us look at Genesis 2:15-17. “The NAME Provider took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The NAME Provider gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of the beautiful and the rotten. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.

Adam and EveNow let us look at Genesis 3:2-3 “The woman answered the snake: “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.’”

Notice some differences between the two passages; they are important. Eve doesn’t say which tree. The snake must remind her of this. Second, and this is the most important, look at what she adds. “Or even touch it.”

Eve is more pietistic. She wants to be better than everybody else in the garden. To this, the snake reminds Eve of which tree she will be eating. She will know the beautiful from the rotten. Eve responds by seeing that the tree was “beautiful for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom.” Genesis doesn’t use the more common word for wisdom here, but uses Shekel. Shekel is a weight of silver, three thousand of which make a talent. The two stories seem to come together, if even for a moment.

Genesis 15 tells us, “the NAME the Provider took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.” There is nothing here about being perfect. Matthew 5:48 tells us, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Greek word used shows up in Genesis 6:9. Noah was in his generation a Tsaddik, Tam. Noah walked with God.”

 

53 Huckleberry Lane
The simple hearted live in homes like this, the home I grew up in, in Levittown PA.

Jewish lore traces Tam this way, “Rashi argues that in this case tamim means (not “perfection,” but) “simple-heartedness.” This translation of the word is similar to the Torah’s description of Ya’akov as a tam (Genesis 25:27), meaning a simple, honest person—”one who is not knowledgeable (unlike Eve, he chooses not to eat the apple… whose mouth speaks what is in his heart, and who is not skillful in deceiving others.” To enjoy a complete sense of security in the faith and conviction that the future is safely in G‑d’s hands (v. 13): “Walk with Him simple-heartedly and look forward to what He has in store. Do not probe the future, but rather accept whatever happens to you simple-heartedly.”

 

 

Longfellow
and this. This is the home I went to sixth grade in, in Vandergrift PA. where I was born.

This definition far better fits the context of τέλειός in Matthew 5:48, than to follows Eve’s fault of trying to be the perfect one. God gives to each person according to his ability. Don’t try to be better than God made us to be. The Hebrew word for Wicked is Russia, and it doesn’t refer to the country. It refers to the desire to be first, as Rosh Hashanah is the first Rosh, Russia, of the year.

 

Last week, ten virgins go out to meet the Cat Anna, the covenant which is the bridegroom represented by Jesus Christ. The foolish ones don’t bring fat to burn, carried in kidney shaped vessels, flasks, so are called kidneys, Cali in Hebrew.

We’re now back to Matthew 5 again, which helps define Tam τέλειός. “You are the light Oar, of the Olam. A city/ear set on a mountain/Are cannot be hid. Nor do they light a lamp/Nar and put it under a measure; it is set on a lampstand/Menorah, where it gives light/Oar to all in the house. Your light must shine before others, that they may see your beautiful deeds and hold as important your heavenly Father.

menorahOur light must shine before the world, Olam, that others will want to join us, be like us. Look at what gives the third servant away, “The one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’

Research showed that the talent equaled about 75 pounds of silver, in today’s market, $20,400. We’re not talking the chicken feed modern employers give their workers and then complain when the workers grumble about unjust wages. The denarius was the daily living wage, not anything the employer wished to give. It’s most certainly not $20,400. Jesus must be talking to the leadership in this passage, not the common lot, the Hoi Paloi.

This third person was given $20,400 dollars and hid it in a ditch because his supervisor was, “were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear…” He suffers from a poor attitude. There’s no fat in his kidneys and no Tam in his animate being. He fails to trust.

The Pharisees had long since given up on God and were trying to make their way in the troubled world of less light. They tried to appease the Greeks first, and then the Romans. There was no light in them because there was no trust in them. The US spends more on defense than the next 8 countries combined. We have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population and 31% of mass shootings. The clear solution on the part of some is to cut social welfare spending, privatize healthcare and education and hide behind walls in gated communities. This is the solution of the man with one talent, $20,400.

 

Goats
Looks just like my FFA project in High School.

This passage can’t be about the lowly working stiffs for another reason. Look at the next section, the Address to the Nations. Sheep are grazers; they ramble slowly eating short plants close to the ground. Goats are browsers; they look for leaves, twigs, vines, and shrubs. “Because they browse, goats spend a lot of time investigating things. They are forever nibbling on and eating things,” Cathy Dwyer, a professor at Scotland’s Rural College, tells NPR. “They have more exploratory, investigate behavior because of their feeding style. They appear to be more interactive with the environment, and they are very engaging animals. Because of a goat’s natural curiosity and independence, they can tend to get into more trouble than sheep.” Translation, goats are independent, trusting only in themselves. They believe in the protestant work ethic and rugged individualism.

 

“Sheep are sheepish. They have a very strong flocking instinct and become agitated when separated from their posse. Most goats have horns, many sheep, but not all, are naturally without horns. Goat horns are narrower and usually straighter.” Unlike goats, sheep are Catholic, as Emile Durkheim said in his book on Suicide. We group together, so we trust more. We support each other and have social welfare networks, or did a century ago. Not so much now that we have started to accept protestant ways.  

God wants us to be part of his herd, trusting in him, not in ourselves, as did Eve, Pharaoh, the Pharisees, and the Republicans. Being part of his herd, he asks us to trust God first and his spiritual leaders second. The spiritual leaders, all leaders, must avoid being the man with one talent.

The Pharisees had long since given up on God and were trying to make their way in the troubled world of less light. They tried to appease the Greeks first, and then the Romans. There was no light in them because there was no trust in them. Are we the same? Do we share Christ’s light or the darkness of corporate greed? That is the question for last week, this week, and next week.

 

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Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time


Jess theses statement in LukeJesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will as like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the Cat Ann. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no fat, but the wise brought Cali of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

I remember growing up with my brother. We don’t talk to each other now. He is a conservative and only wants to discuss politics. I, of course, am liberal and born with the same curse. We get along like oil and water now, but when we were growing up we would chide each other when the other made a mistake. Whenever anyone made a full of himself we would say, “It takes kidneys.” 

takes kidneysThe great lesson I found later was that the Hebrew word for a vessel or a flask is “Cali.” It is also the Hebrew word for the kidneys. We have two kidneys symbolizing the mind, the feeling in our gut. One symbolizes in Jewish thinking the inclination to do the beautiful, the healthy, the good. It symbolizes the image of God implanted within us. The other kidney symbolizes the inclination to evil, to put oneself first, to rot, to not being healthy, the inclination to mortal sin. With my brother, it does take kidneys, using the mind and the gut to put politics in its place and see that relationship is more important than which white man with a blue suite is more qualified for leadership positions.

The Hebrew word for the bridegroom in this story is Cat Ann. It means to tie or connect, per Marcus Jastrow, a 19th century Hebrew linguist. From this comes the idea of making a covenant, and protecting those in the covenant. It also means by extension the covenant itself. From this comes the idea of marriage and the bridegroom.

Words of Institution 3So, we have the idea of the Asher which means both happy and ten, as in the virgins who await the covenant in the person of Jesus Christ, the bridegroom. Five did not take their Cali, the full thinking of their gut with them. With no Cali, they had no fat. They did not bring the inner wealth, the fat of who they are as individuals. They could not bring their inner light, the light God calls us to share with the world.

You are the light/Oar of the Olam. A city/Ear set on a mountain/Are cannot be hid. Nor do they light a lamp/N Oar and put it under a measure; it is set on a lampstand/menorah, where it gives light/Oar to all in the house. Your light/Oar must shine before others, that they may see your beautiful deeds and hold as important your heavenly Father.  

Chapter 25 ends with Jesus saying, “As you treat the least of these my brothers you treat me.” The bridegroom, the covenant between Jesus as Second Person of the Trinity, and mankind rests upon how we treat the least of these our brothers. The bridegroom, the Cat Ann coming from the clouds is long delayed so we fall asleep. The dirty little secret is that the Hebrew word for clouds and the Hebrew word for the poor is “Any.” “Bethany” means the house of poverty. We do not see the Can Ann coming with the poor, the people we see every day. We do not let our light shine for the poor and wonder why they hate us so much. They do not see our light through our beautiful deeds so if they hold God as important, it is not because of us.

The five foolish virgins did not bring their kidneys, did not think with their gut, love God with all of their gut, and they paid for it in the end. The next story Jesus gives us is the tale of the talents.

The next story Jesus gives us is the tale of the talents. The ancient talent was an external weight, and therefore a Greek coin. If the vessel referred to in the first story refers to bringing our inner light, our second story speaks to bringing our external resources to the covenant, the covenanted community. We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union… God gives to each person according to his ability. He asks for no more, and as we learn in the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden, he wants no more.

orchestraGod gives to each person according to his ability. As in prior articles, St. Augustine speaks of a republic as being like a one-hundred-piece orchestra. Each instrument has different pitch, timber, and volume. Each orchestra member must play his instrument, and be allowed to play his instrument to the best of his ability if the orchestra is to play Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring well. No instrument must be allowed to take over the song, not the rich with their tubas, nor the poor with their cowbells or their triangles, violas, or clarinets. All must strive for harmony, concord, being like the bridegroom, who joins himself to his bride in mutual covenant. This is clearly not what we have in our nation today where the rich live in white washed tombs with black cast iron grates costing hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars, while the poor live in communities where they are gated in and locked into homes costing less than the rich pay for their cars.

Many don’t notice how the grander section begins and ends:

jesus-cleansing-the-templeJesus entered the temple area and drove out all the buyers and the sellers in the temple. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.

The wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the sellers and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the Cat Ann/covenant came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. The door was locked.

He told them, “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer;’ you make it a den of thieves.” 

In Hebrew and Greek, prayer is a reflexive verb. It isn’t something we ask God for. It is asking God to work with us as we make our planet a better place. Chapter 25 of Matthew is about how to do that.

The blind and the lame approached him in the temple area, and he cured them. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wondrous things he was doing, and the children crying out in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant and told him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus replied, “Yes; and have you never read the text, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nurslings you have brought forth praise’?” Leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany/House of Poverty, and there he spent the night.

Talent“The one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter;  so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.” “To everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Jesus speaks a truth here. The poor who do not have often become bitter when they see the rich, many of whom do not work hard grow rich. They also see that the money tends to go to those who already have, increasing their bitterness.

Jesus tells us that his house is a house of prayer and goes, not with the rich, who grow richer by the day, but to Bethany, the House of Poverty and hangs out with the poor. Jesus gives to the blind and the lame and goes to the House of Poverty. He also gives us the third parable of the chapter. With it comes the end of this section and the beginning of the next one.

Jesus heals the blind manThe next section is the parable of the sheep and the goats. This passage is directed, not to individuals, but to nations, people who are born together. The Hebrew terms that can be translated here either mean inner most identifying group, or a crowd, and motherland. What separates the good group from the bad group is that the good group remembers why we were set on this planet. God put us here to guard and keep the Eden, the planet, in particular what was made in his image, each other, and in particular the poor.

 God calls us to use our innermost aspect, our Cali, our Goim. If we truly feel from our gut what is right, we will be that light to the world, we will use our talents to guard and keep his planet, and that does not mean using the bitterness of the poor as an excuse to marginalize them, but as an irresistible inner force pulling us to help them become part of the great republic, the great orchestra which is our family, our nation. It means seeing Jesus in the poor and then treating the poor as if they are Jesus. Would we let Jesus go hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, marginalized, without adequate healthcare or transportation? Then end these problems for the poor.

Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time


Jess theses statement in LukeYou have made void the Brit of Levi, says the NAME of the procession of Heaven. I, therefore, have made you contemptible and base before all the people, since you do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your decisions. Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us? Why then do we break faith with one another, violating the Brit of our fathers? First Reading for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The key phrase for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time is the Brit of Levi. What is it and what does it mean? First, we must note that Matthew, more than the other Gospels and the Gospel we study this year is a leadership manual more than it is anything else. This week’s Gospel reading and next weeks is directly at the leadership of his day, and ours.

In Torah and Prophets, this is the only time Brit of Levi is mentioned. So, what does it mean? Psalm 133 and Numbers 18 define what the Brit, the Covenant of Levi is. So, in a sense, do Genesis and Exodus 30:23-26

Leah conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now at last my husband will join with me, since I have now borne him three sons”; that is why she named him Levi/to join. Genesis 29:34.

45007.detail.a

Levi means to join, as Leah says in Genesis. Carpenters join things. They connect joints. That is why Jesus was a carpenter. He joins things the way the Levites were supposed to join the community. As Machiavelli points out in his Prince, priests, political and civic leaders can’t do that if they aren’t in and among the people. That is why the Levites did not get their own share of land. They needed to be in and among the other 11 tribes. That is why, after mentioning the priests as judges, it mentions the qualifications of a king, a secular ruler. The first item mentioned is that he must be from the people and be among the people.

Do we pick our leaders from among ourselves, or from among the wealthy? Do our leaders mingle among us during coffee and doughnuts and other times, or go off to the casinos for food, or the rectory? They need to be among us.

Take the finest spices: five hundred shekels of free-flowing myrrh; two hundred and fifty shekels, of fragrant cinnamon; two hundred and fifty shekels of fragrant cane; five hundred shekels of cassia—all according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel; together with a hin of olive oil; blend them into sacred anointing oil, perfumed ointment expertly prepared. With this sacred anointing oil anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the covenant, the Aaron/arch of Witness. Exodus 30:23-26

Exodus 30 contains five dissimilar elements. The role of the Levite, the priest, is to be the leader bring the love of God through the people to disparate people through sacrament and preaching.

St Augustine writes in his City of God, Book 2, Chapter 21:

one hundred piece orchestraNow Scipio, at the end of the second book, says: As among the different sounds which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, there must be maintained a certain harmony which a cultivated ear cannot endure to hear disturbed or jarring, but which may be elicited in full and absolute concord by the modulation even of voices very unlike one another; so, where reason is allowed to modulate the diverse elements of the state, there is obtained a perfect concord from the upper, lower, and middle classes as from various sounds; and what musicians call harmony in singing, is concord in matters of state, which is the strictest bond and best security of any republic, and which by no ingenuity can be retained where justice has become extinct… Scipio reverts to the original thread of discourse, and repeats with commendation his own brief definition of a republic, that it is the good of the people. The people he defines as being not every assemblage or mob, but an assemblage associated by a common acknowledgment of law, and by a community of interests. He shows the use of definition in debate; and from these definitions of his own he gathers that a republic, or general welfare, exists only when it is well and justly governed.

From this Augustine, like Cicero in his Republic, argues that when there is not this harmony and concord, when the general welfare is not promoted, there is no Republic. The covenant of Levi is to be the conductor of this one-hundred-piece orchestra, creating harmony and concord out of one hundred musical instruments of different pitch, timbre and volume, for all the world to see, so that all will want to become Catholic. It is to making the true E Pluribus Unum, from the many dissimilar parts, one.

 AaronEvery day or priests, in reciting the Liturgy of the Hours, recites Psalm 133 which includes, “How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one! Like fine oil on the head, running down upon the beard, Upon the beard of Aaron, upon the collar of his robe. Like dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion. There the NAME has decreed a blessing, life for evermore!”

The goal of the Levites, the priests to cause brothers to dwell together as one. As in Deuteronomy 30, the commandment is for life evermore.

As stated in an earlier article, conservatives to not know what life is. Some argue it is about having a future. Wooden Indians in smoke shops have a future. It is to sit, unmoved, until it is bitter and thrown into the fire. Life is not this.

Cigar-store-indianLife, Vivos, Vivere, vivacity, means more than having a future. It means having a Natural vigor, vital force, a tenaciousness. It means, animated, lively, vivid. Life has potential to be what is possible. Both potential and possible come from Latin terms meaning a power or force. Exodus 30 and Deuteronomy 30 speak of the command for the blessing, to promote life, the life of potency, fulfilled potential for all people from cradle to the grave. In Hebrew, as in Latin, letters also stand for numbers. The Hebrew word for life is Chai. The letters as numbers stand for 18.

Numbers 18 is about what to do with the offerings the people give to the NAME. As such, it’s about the offerings of liturgy. In the middle of this chapter we read… “This is a Brit of salt to last forever before the NAME, for you and for your descendants with you… To the Levites, however, I hereby assign all tithes in Israel as their heritage in recompense for the labor they perform, the labor pertaining to the tent of meeting.

saltThe tent of meaning is where offerings were performed. ““You are the salt of the table. But if salt becomes tefel, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light Oar of the Olam. A city set on an Are cannot be hid. Nor do they light Oar a lamp N-Oar and then put it under measure; it is set on a menorah, where it gives light Oar to all in the house. Your light must shine before others, that they may see your beautiful deeds and hold as important your heavenly Father.

The Hebrew word for “Salt,” is “Molech.” The Hebrew word for an angel or a messenger is “Molech.” You, the assembly of believers, are the messengers of/to the earth.

I was raised a Lutheran and as such we read, “Augsburg Confession Article VII – Melanchthon penned, “It is also taught among us that one holy Christian church will be and remain forever. This is the assembly of all believers among whom the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.”

Our readings for today will at least in part agree with this understanding. The Catholic Church is where the assembly of believers meet, the Gospel is preached in its purity, and the sacraments are administered according to the Gospel. The covenant with Levi is about leading this church or house of Kyrie.

 This Aaron of Witness, this covenant of the Levites is to give the life-giving sacraments and to preach, be the salt for the world, to radiate our light to make each of us a candle on the menorah radiating God’s love to the world.  

In a previous article it was pointed out how Deuteronomy 30, through Aristotle, is a founding point for our Natural Law Theory. One of the documents espousing this theory is our Declaration of Independence.

The separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Life is about pursuit, striving to become what God intended us to be. Promoting life means helping each other in our mutual pursuit of Happiness. The covenant of Levites, the covenant of Aaron is about helping to promote life for all people, the mutual pursuit, the harmony, and the concord of all people, from conception to the grave. 

Interpreting the Shema


How does the atheist know basic right from wrong if he doesn’t have DivineJess theses statement in Luke revelation?

“Teacher, which Mitzvah in the teaching is the greatest?”

He told him, “You shall love the NAME, your God, with all your hearts, with all your animate being, and with all your measure.

This is the greatest and the first Mitzvah. The second is like (dam oat) it: You shall love your neighbor/Rai-a as yourself.

The whole teaching and the prophets depend on these two Mitzvah.”

Deuteronomist plays with this passage which Jesus quotes, first in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In Deuteronomy 6, “Hearts” is plural and “Your,” is singular. In chapter 11, “Your,” is plural.
In chapter 30, we see Deuteronomist playing with the idea again.

 

30-2

“Return to the NAME, your God, listening to his voice, according to all that I Mitzvah to you today, you and your children, with your whole hearts and with all of your animate being.”

30:6

“The NAME, your God, will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you will love the NAME, your God, with your whole heart and your animate being, in order that you may live.”

30:10Cosmos

“You will listen to the voice of the NAME, your God, guard the Mitzvah and customs written in this book of the instruction, when you return to the NAME, your God, with your whole hearts and your whole being.”

“This Mitzvah I give you this day is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth* and in your heart, to do it.”

It is not in the head. Concepts change from time to time and from place to place. That’s why we can’t go, “over there,” to get them. As with the Blessed Virgin who “kept all of these things in her heart,” we find basic right and wrong in our hearts.

All people made in God’s image have this image of basic right and wrong, given by God. That’s the reason dead baby pictures work so well. Pro-choice people can see in their hearts the humanity held within the picture that their brains want to hide.

This pic says it allPro-lifeThe reason dead and dying children pictures work so well in relation to the poor of the world is that we can all see the humanity when faced with them in pictures of the poor. There is no running from the pictures.

Verse 19 continues, “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life!

A rabbi I once read in the Jerusalem Post pointed out how verse 19 is one of the 613 commandments. What would it mean for choosing life to be a commandment? We have seen how chapter 30 removes the “And with all your measure,” and replaces measure with “Life.”

 

Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire
Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire.  Imperial Foods processing plant fire. Bangladesh Rana Plaza collapse. 

The writer of Deuteronomy lived two hundred years before Aristotle, but they seem to have the same idea in mind. Deuteronomist was a pre-Aristotelian, Aristotelian. For Aristotle life is always in the process of becoming what it already is. We will see that Deuteronomist thinks the same way.

 

“Life” is the focus of this chapter. As we meet people on the street God calls us to choose life for them. How do we do this? Jesus quotes Leviticus 19 where it says, The second is like (Dam oat) it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

When God makes mankind in his likeness, the word is “Dam oat). “Neighbor” in Hebrew sounds exactly the same as “To see.” It sounds and spells exactly the same as “Pastor,” and “Herd of sheep.”Four Causes

You will see your neighbor as you see yourself, a human being trying to get from cradle to grave in one piece. You see him as a fellow member of God’s herd, made in his image, trying to find his way to his final end who is God himself. You will see him with hopes and joys, wishes and desires, pains and sufferings, and things he desire to avoid.

 

You will see him with unfulfilled potential and seeing that in yourself, you will strive to fulfill his potential. The atheist has this in his heart as we do. He may be wrong on the final goal, but he has that striving in his heart.

Seeing that potentiality in all people we can see what is radically wrong with the conservative pro-life argument. They are too busy using conceptual, mind, arguments to prove when life begins. The first question is, “What is life.” The Latin words, “Vitality,” and “Vivacious,” give the answer and it isn’t basic subsistence.

If God calls us to see the potentiality in all people and to fulfill that potential, and this is that Jerusalem Post rabbi’s article again, it doesn’t matter when life begins. The fetus in the womb is potential life from the moment of conception until the day it dies 90 years later of old age.

Aristotle is famous for one other very important thing as it relates to this article. During his age, the Greek gods were dying out. They were also far from moral. Aristotle had to come up with another way of defining right and wrong, if it didn’t come from the gods. He came to the conclusion, there was natural law, a law built into our hearts. In this he repeats Deuteronomy even though he probably did not know of Deuteronomist. Through Cicero this concept finds its way to Augustine who returns God to the formula through Divine Law. From Augustine it finds its way to St. Thomas Aquinas, and through some others to John Locke, Rousseau, and Charles-Louis de Montesquieu. Through these men it found its way to Thomas Jefferson who wrote:

declaration-of-independenceWhen in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.

James Madison, who wrote our Constitution was also a part of this chain. It needs to be remembered that “General Welfare” is part of this chain, being found in Cicero’s Republic and Augustine’s City of God. St. Augustine, ever the musician, took pains to relate the Ten Commandments and General Welfare with music, using the Hundred Piece Orchestra example of Cicero.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Happy 4th of July! This guy posed for Terri and Larry Garside as they were coming down through Klamath Falls.But “The liberals do this,” and “The conservatives to that.” The liberal and conservative wings are on the same bird.

God calls us to fulfill the life, the general welfare of the mother at home as she cares for her children, in the factory and office with her spouse, on the streets where she should not fear those with guns, or the polluted air or water. God calls us to stop global warming so her children and great grand children can fulfill their lives. Therefore, yes, God calls us as a nation to fulfill the life of the fetus in the womb.

Deuteronomy 30 and the Shema both call us to love God. How do we love God? What do we give someone who literally already has everything? We love honor and respect what is his, in particular what is made in his image, each other.

Genesis 2:15 gives God’s first command, a command that has never been rescinded, the command to cultivate and care for his garden, our planet. In his planet we help each other live their lives, and pursue the general welfare, and strive in the face of corporate power to keep their liberty. God calls us to cultivate and care for each other too. Loving God by following this command, is all their is to basic right and wrong. The atheist has this in his heart too.

The paradox of paying Taxes to Caesar


Jess theses statement in LukeTell us, what is your opinion: Is it allowed to give the census to Caesar or not?” (The Greek word for “Census” is “Censos.” The Greek word for giving implies religion.)

Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin paying the census tax.”

They handed him the Roman coin.

 

He told them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”

They replied, “Caesar’s.”

He told them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage  coin from 66-73 bce

It is generally argued how this passage means to pay one’s taxes and be a good citizen, whatever that means, and not much else. The problem with this interpretation is context.

The Pharisees say, “You are not concerned with anyone’s opinion; you do not regard a person’s status.” Translation, “You are hard hearted.” For a religion that says Pharaoh’s main deviation was his sclerotic heart, there is no finer insult. Jesus calls them hypocrites, actors. There is clearly no love loss between the two and they are not trying to reconcile.

The Pharisees, trying to avoid confrontation with Rome, would have loved, “Pay one’s taxes and be a good citizen.” Instead, they were offended. Why?

There is another interpretation that better fits the context. Jesus is telling them to return to Rome all that bears Rome’s stamp. That includes the coins, the roads, the bridges, the aqueducts… everything.

This was tried once in the United States, in 1956, six months after my birth. Martin Luther King Jr. ended up serving a year in jail for the boycott. Until recently, segregation ended. Giving back to Rome everything that belongs to Rome can be very powerful.

martin-king
Montgomery Bus Boycott

Jesus’ argument also shows how co-dependent we are on our Rome. They provide the police, the military, the roads, the bridges the sewage system, the water, they take out the trash and more. To affect change, we must give up our co-dependence. Giving to Caesar what belongs to him means not trusting Caesar for our subsistence. It means paying our taxes and otherwise ignoring the government, pretending it is not there.

Jesus’ response brings up a powerful second half, give to God, what belongs to God. What belongs to God?

Deuteronomy 5 gives a good summation of the answer. This is the Ten Mitzvah, the Ten Commandments. There are 15 command statements in this passage. The implied verb of verse six is stated in verse 15. “Remember.” Remember, “I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.”

The Ten WordsTo truly remember is to get that knot in our gut when we see others suffer and do something. It means being so involved as a society in preventing suffering, we don’t have time to cause suffering. It means being so busy in mutually assisting one another become all they can be, there is no room for violation of any other commandments. Giving to God means giving to our neighbor who is made in God’s image.

How do we resolve the paradox? We must give, but the less fortunate must not take.

Rabbi Hillel, who lived a generation before Jesus stated a rule of interpretation. “Analogy made from another passage.” Two passages may seem to conflict until compared with a third, which has points of general though not necessarily verbal similarity.

That third passage is Deuteronomy 28. “If you diligently listen to the voice of the NAME, your God, carefully guarding all his Mitzvah I give you today, the NAME, your God, will set you high above all the nations of the earth.. You will lend to many nations but borrow from none. The NAME will make you the head not the tail, the top not the bottom, if you listen to the Mitzvah of the NAME, your God, which I give you today, guarding them carefully, not turning aside, either to the right or to the left, from any of the words which I give you this day, following other gods and serving them.”

statue-of-liberty-2If we as a society serve only one god, not the Trinity of Mercury, Mars, and Juno Moneto, the markets, the Military, and money, but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there will be nobody in need. We will have created the perfect society, where all make sure nobody suffers.

We’ll be different from the nations, the Goyim, as Israelites and the Yiddish say. “Goyim,” means both a crowd and a corpse. If we read on in our Gospel reading we will read where Jesus tells us, “‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

We aren’t the corpse of the other nations, a Latin word meaning being born together by national heritage if not by blood or place of birth. We are alive, vital, vivacious and God calls us to bring our life to others. Given this, the 1.5% of income given to charity by Catholics is entirely not acceptable. We strive to be a society where all are equal, where nobody is perennially on the receiving end, and nobody is perennially on the giving end, because all of our needs are met, where we all live our lives out in vitality and vivaciousness.

Simile of the Salt, the Ten Words, and the Transfiguration


Jess theses statement in LukeJesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by itself. In front of the faces of them in engaged in metamorphosis. He became as a lamp in front of their faces, as light. His face became as the sun, and the clothing of him as white as light.

You are the salt of the earth, if the salt loses its saltiness, how is it able to become salty again. It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under the feet of men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hid.

saltIn a prior post, we saw the puns in the passage from the Sermon on the Mount. The Hebrew word for salt and for messenger, angel, and king is Molech. The Hebrew word for inhabitable world is Table.  The Hebrew word for salt that has gone by is Tebel. You are the salt and therefore the messenger of the world. If you lose the message, of what good are you but to be trampled under the foot of others who choose not to believe? If we are not salt, a pleasant seasoning with a pleasant message all want to hear, what are we but more darkness for the world?

You are the light, Oar, of the Olam/the organized world, cosmos. A city, ear on a mountain are, is not able to be hid. They do not light a norah and put it under a measure. That would be as the harsh measures put on the Jews by the Romans. They put it on a menorah for all of those who are in the house.

menorahHow many of us have had the privilege of driving south on US 395 from north of Stead at night. As we cross that last hill, we come upon Reno. There we see not one big light but ten thousand little ones and they appear as one big light. We see the same thing sitting on Windy Hill, not one big light but ten thousand small ones. The bully stands up to someone his size, but who stands up to ten thousand bees, or flies?

Jesus talks of putting his norah, his single candle upon a menorah, a seven-pointed candelabra, just like the lights of Reno. As Jesus came to Jerusalem from the moon, Jericho means the moon, he likewise sees Jerusalem all at once, not as one big light but as ten thousand smaller ones.

Jesus leads his closest followers up to a high mountain, just as Moses leads his followers to a high mountain, Sinai. This must be considered when reading this passage. Jesus repeats the same feat with his followers.

Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus, conversing with him. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,* then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen of him. αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε. This is our command to come to Mass and pay attention to the Gospel each Sunday.

This also shows us the key comparison. Mount Sinai is a volcano. When Moses climbs it, it is erupting. Read the key passages again. In Deuteronomy, you will find them in chapter 4:9-14. Likewise, the image of the transfiguration reminds us of a volcano erupting. There is a new light in the world, the light giving the Ten Words, and they reside in the heart of each person who is present. Deuteronomy 5:2-3 Deuteronomy 30: 10-14. This is the point Jesus tries to get across with his resurrection, there is a new light in the world, him, and through him, us.

APTOPIX ICELAND VOLCANOThe NAME, our God, cut a covenant with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the NAME cut this covenant, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day.

In Jewish tradition, this means each time they celebrate Passover, the event is relived fresh, for the first time. Each person who attends is present at the original Sinai. Each person them becomes a messenger of the message, “I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.
You shall say to your son, the one you are building up, “We were once menial servants of the great bully in the land of oppression, but the NAME brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and wrought before our eyes signs and wonders, great and dire, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and his whole house.” Deuteronomy 6: 21-22.  Read the New Colossus on the Statue of Liberty some time as see how our American foundation is the same. Why is it that those who claim to be Christian constitute 75% of the American people, but we only have seating for 24% of them in our pews on Sunday? Why is it that the whole world loves a lover and God commands us to be lovers, but nobody likes a churchgoer?

Then comes Jesus telling us of Elijah’s coming and how he was John the Baptist. Then comes the whole message of our faith. It is not about moving mountains. It is about the epileptic boy. When we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move, not the physical mountains, though humans do that. He shows how we can heal each other; create the perfect community of Deuteronomy 4.

In the metamorphosis, transfiguration, Jesus represents Sinai. He shows us our rescue, how we can heal and transform the world with faith that there is a promised land coming. It is not with a large lamp, one person with a great idea, but with ten thousand lamps, each with a small idea. It is being like salt, a seasoning that shows the beauty, not of the next world, but of this one. If we can’t take care of this world, why should God entrust us with the next one.

Thomas, who is his twin?


Jess theses statement in Luke“These are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” John  20:31

So, why should we believe John? His gospel differs from that of the others in more ways than they agree. All of their words are the words of itinerant fishermen who at least in theory had limited education and an ax to grind with the establishment of their day. The establishment, if we believe the story, killed their leader and then the body ended up missing while in their care.

The answer lies in the story of Thomas, which John just related. Thomas in Aramaic is תאומא, and it means a twin. It’s root is תמ which means the perfection of simplicity. When Marcus Jastrow defines the term, he states it relates to twins who are so close that when one twin feels pain, so does the other. When one feels joy, so does the other. We believe John because we are already members of the community and want to believe, sometimes in spite of the evidence. John lived at a time that was rough for Christians, and so do we. We constantly fight those who worship Mercury, Mars, and Moneta Juno, and some of those claim to be Christian.

Who is Thomas’ twin? It is each of us. Hebrew does not have a past or a future tense. Everything is in the present. The event may be in the past, but the recollection of it is in the present. As we read the gospel, if we read it well, we relive the events in the present. When Thomas Puts his finger into his hands, feels and sees, when he brings his hand and puts it into Jesus’ side, we put our fingers into his hands and into his side. We do this in our participation in the Mass.

As we read earlier in the Gospel, “Mary of Magdala said this turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus told her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus told her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen Kyrie,” and what he told her.

When John writes this, he seems to have the story of Ruth in mind, “Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried. May the NAME do thus to me, and more, if even death separates me from you!”

Why should we believe John? Because the Gospel is not written to non-Christians. It is not written to non-believing Greeks or non-believing Jews. It is written to those who are members of the community already. The appeal is not to become a Christian. The appeal is to follow Ruth’s example. It is to go where Jesus goes. It is to be homeless. Hebrew has two words for lodging. Shekan means to dwell and implies some permanence.  The Hebrew word used in Ruth implies living with no permanent place. Then comes the big demand, “Your people will be my people, your God will be my God. It is an appeal to the community to be just that, a community that cleaves to each other, is one with each other.

Jesus tells Mary not to cleave to him like he is some fuzzy white thing out there. Cleave to the community. Don’t take your bibles to town son, leave your bibles at home. Don’t take your bibles to town. Mary Magdala does not go to the apostles with a great book with proof texts. She goes with what she saw and heard. Likewise, Jesus does not send us out into the world with a proof text. He sends us out into the world with saw we saw and heard, how meeting him in the Mass and in our lives affected us. John does not give us a proof text. He calls us to be twins of Thomas, feeling what he felt, seeing what he saw, hearing what he heard, smelling what he smelled, tasting what he tasted, and so forth.

The one warning is that to do this, we must hear, see, taste, touch, smell, and feel. This required intentionality. This means coming to Mass early and leaving late. It means spending time with the statues and the Stations of the Cross and putting our mind into all that is happing. It means letting the Mas bring us to Thomas, so he can bring us to Jesus.

Don’t Take your Bible to Town Son; Leave Your Bible at Home, and then Go Evangelism


Jess theses statement in LukeThis Lent started with the story of the Samaritan women, which ends with:

The woman left her water jar and went into the town and told the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” They went out of the town and came to him.

Then the angel replied to the women, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” They went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

There is something missing here and it is important. Jesus sees a Samaritan woman and in the entire passage Torah, Navy, and Writings are never mentioned. Both of these passages are about evangelizing. Jesus talks with the woman knowing she has had five husbands and is now on number six. He has already had a lengthy conversation with her. This is important. She thinks she is hiding her faults. She drives the conversation, not Jesus. By engaging in this conversation and let her drive it, Jesus tells her she is in God’s image and well worth talking to. He establishes rapport. Only after she brings up the adultery does he say, in essence, “I already know about that.” He does not focus on the fault. She already gets enough of that from the proper people of her day.  She does not need it from Jesus, or from us, in her time, or ours.

LectionaryThe woman goes back to the Samaritans and says, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done.” She does not seem to have a Bible either.

Now, both passages are about evangelizing. For the First Sunday of Easter, Jesus tells the two women to evangelize to the disciples. Do not use books. Tell people what you saw. He tells us the same. “Go evangelize! Don’t take your bibles to town son; leave your bibles at home! Don’t take your bible to town.” Do as St. Francis said, “Go out and evangelize, and if necessary, use words.”

Show them the tomb of your life. If your life was not a tomb, in both Jewish and Christian traditions, you have a problem. God, through Moses, rescues idol-worshiping slaves in the land of Oppression, which is that the Hebrew word for Egypt means. Their life was a tomb. God rescues them. Again, they did not have a book yet.

הר הזיתיםThe Bible is not a law book. Torah properly means instruction, but it comes in three parts. By far the largest part is Haggadah, Hebrew for “Story,” not “Law.” “Halacha” means, “walk,” not law. Think of the forty-year walk of people who generally lived forty years. It is the walk-of-life. It is guidance on how to live, where “live” means more than basic subsistence, but about getting everyone in the tribe to the land of milk and honey, to the final cause, who is God. The closest word Hebrew has to law is “Cook.” That means “Precedent”, not “law” as we understand the term but the interpretation of Torah.

Many argue that Torah is perfect. Historians repeatedly report how the book contradicts itself and is not an accurate reflection of history. It is an accurate reflection of how four rabbinic schools interpreted history. In that sense, it is perfect. It perfectly reports how people saw history.Seder plate small

When we leave Mass on Easter Sunday, Jesus will tell us the same as he told the women at the tomb. Tell history, his story, your story, like the Samaritan woman, does, telling people how Jesus affects your life. Go out telling people how you saw Jesus in the readings and the Physical Presence of the Eucharist.

Hebrew has another important concept, Kavanagh. That means intention. The Samaritan woman drives the conversation, not Jesus. The women come to the tomb. He does not come to them.

“That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. It happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them”

If we want to see the Physical Presence, which is here regardless, we must engage with what we are hearing, hear and with people out in the street. When we do, Jesus will draw near to us. If we are better than the Samaritan women is, the women at the tomb, the people on Neal Road or Montello Avenue in Reno, or Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh, PA, or Broad Street in Philadelphia, Congress Heights in D.C., we will not engage with them. If we do not engage with them, we will not find Jesus, period. Our priest shortage will continue because we do not look for them, period. They are still in the tomb of Egypt, and so are we.

The Seraph in the desert points to death which leads to life and the crucifix points to death which leads to life.
Do we see the Physical Presence, our rescue in the Eucharist, or are we in real trouble?

Tell people why you are here. Is it because you see something happening here? Your rescue from oppression? Do you see the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?  Does Jesus play a role in your life? Tell them that.

That is what the Samaritan woman does. That is what the women who go to the tomb do. If you come to the afternoon Mass, you will find that is what the men who go to the battlefield of Emmaus do. They see something and come reporting what they saw to the disciples, no great insights, only what they saw. This converts the world.

REFLECTIONS FOR PALM SUNDAY 2017


Jess theses statement in LukeWhen Ben Adam comes in his importance, and all the messengers with him, he will sit upon his weighty throne. All the nations* will be assembled before him. He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. The chief messenger will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ The Tsaddik will answer him, ‘Kyrie, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ The chief messenger will reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus…, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me… The next line is in our Passion account. As we do to our neighbor, we participate in Passover, the Passion. We see this in several key scenes.

Barabba and BarabbasThe first story is the story of Barabbas. Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus Son of the Father.” In Hebrew, Barabbas means Son of the Father. “Who do you want me to release to you, Jesus, Son of the Father, or Jesus, Son of the Father?” The two men have the same name and title. There is a difference. One wants to overthrow the Romans through peace and love, non-violence. The other chooses violence.

Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” The Cohenim Hagedol, with the grammarians and Presbyterians, mocked him said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. So he is the king of Israel! Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

We hear the words, “He chose to be there. It is his fault. We disown the event. This has echoes of Exodus 1:10. Come; let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase.” How Pharaoh deals shrewdly, Exodus does not say, but it implies in the first verses of the passage where Exodus shows how the Hebrews chose to come to the land of Egypt. We are again presented with the idea that the other guys choices rationalize anything we might do to them.

parting of the red seaWe forget Exodus chapters 13-14, where God gives Pharaoh swimming lessons. We forget the beginning of our Passion story, Matthew 25:31-46. This passage addresses the nations, our nation included. How we as a nation treat the least of us is how we participate in the Passion.

God remembers our indiscretion if we voted for those who choose to cut funding for the poor. In the end, God hears the cry of the poor, and he recognizes in it his own cries on the cross.

The trial of Jesus gives us two lessons. First, Jesus says, “From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven…’” What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the slander; what is your opinion?” They reply, “He deserves to die!”

They do not say he is guilty as charged. These people are overly scrupulous with the law. One of the rules is that confessions are not admissible in court. What he says here is not admissible. No! They do not declare Jesus guilty. They say he deserves to die. There is a difference.

In US courts, when double jeopardy, that is the current legal term, comes up, lower state and local courts can and do appeal to federal courts for the filing of federal charges. The murder of African Americans in the south and subsequent acquittals because the killer was white resulted in convictions in federal courts for violations of civil rights. The same occurs in Jesus trial. Unable to get a conviction, the appeal is to the federal court, Rome. When we say the Jews killed Jesus, we speak in error. Their court resulted in a hung jury, not a conviction. It did not get them off the hook for the next two thousand years.

three crossesIn particular, in Luke, we see the same in the two criminals killed with Jesus. One chooses the path of Barabbas, the path of violence. He dies angry, unrepentant, and arguing for Jesus’ death. The other becomes a follower of Jesus, a practitioner of non-violence. Jesus tells him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Paradise is the Persian word for Eden, used in our Latin Vulgate, and in the ancient Greek book of Genesis. Today you will be with me in the Garden. When we get to heaven, their won’t be harps; there will be garden tools. If we cannot take care of this planet, why should God allow us into the next one?

The other little thing about Jesus’ trial. Jesus says, “From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven…” The Hebrew word for cloud is עַנְנֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם. Hebrew would say, “The great flow of the poor,” as עַנְנֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם. It is the same phrase. Jesus seems to be threatening social upheaval and the court views it that way. That is why they are so angry.

“As you treat the least of these my brothers, you do it to me.” There is a clear threat. Jesus will repudiate the violence of Bar Abbas. He is a different Bar Abbas, a different Son of the Father, but the result is the same. It does not matter how the poor became poor. It does not matter if we say they are guilty or if they deserve to die. The result is the same.

As we move forward past Easter, let us remember, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out. I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out. I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Hispanics. I did not speak out. I am not Hispanic. Then they came for the Arabs and the Muslims. I did not speak out. I am not Arabic or Muslim. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Martin Niemöller

READINGS FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT


Jess theses statement in LukeJesus told them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the writings or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. As for the dead rising, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘Ani Elohi Abraham, Elohi Isaac, uElohi Jacob. I am the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not Elohi Mate (as in checkmate, the Sheik is dead) God of the dead but Elohi Chaim, of the living.” Mark 12: 18-27

The Gospel reading for this reading is about the raising of Lazarus. The Hebrew for Lazarus is Eliezer, the helper of God. The discussion focuses upon whether we should focus upon the Second Coming.

horse and carriage at south lake tahoe
The horse goes in front, the cart, and the people in it behind.

Jesus talks about a rising now. St. Paul starts the theme. We often put the cart before the horse when we discuss Christian Ethics. If we do certain things, God will look kindly upon us and let us into heaven.  If we say the right protestant pledge of loyalty to Jesus and undergo baptism, we are going to heaven. Protestant success in the business world shows how God already looks upon our efforts, so allows us to enter heaven and us.

This is not Catholic or Jewish.

Do not say in your heart, “It is because of my Tsaddik the NAME has brought me in to possess/Rosette this land, and because of the wickedness/Russia of the nations the NAME is dispossessing/Rosh ‘im them before me.” No, it is not because of your justice or the integrity of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land. It is because of their Russia oat that the NAME, your God, is dispossessing these nations before you. This is in order to fulfill the promise he made on oath to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Know this, therefore: it is not because of your Tsaddik that the NAME, your God, is giving you this good land to possess/Rosette, for you are a stiff-necked people. Deuteronomy 9:4-6

Statue of liberty lighning strike
If Christ comes to us, it is a shock. He then indwells in us and we live out the words below this statue.

Tsaddik, in Hebrew, means both Justice and charity, that which promotes life. Eliezer, Lazarus, is God’s helper in promoting life, now, here, in this cosmos, order. We need to see the Jewish pun on possession. Possession, Rosette puns off Russia, he who thinks himself first. Those who already possesses think they possess because they deserve it. They are therefore not worthy to possess.

We do not possess because we are worthy. We are a stiff-necked people. We are not worthy, either of heaven or of the nice things of this earth. Christianity has no room for the protestant work ethic. There is no room for rugged individualism. We do not have because we worked hard. We have what we have on this earth because God gave to us, and only for that reason. The Semitic languages have no word for “Mine,” “His,” “Hers,”… Everything is “To me,”… from God to us, for his purpose. Like any employer, do not fulfill the purpose, and…

We like to think we are worthy. Like the Hebrews in the desert, we are worthy of all the water, manna, and quail God provides. He is obliged to provide it. This is Russia. This is wickedness. God rescues us because he made a promise to someone else, E Pluribus Unum, Abraham. There is no other reason.

Now that God already rescued us we read from the Ten Commandments, “Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and judicial precedents I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The NAME, our God, cut a covenant with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the NAME cut this covenant, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day…. (Remember) I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Oppression/Egypt, out of the house of menial labor.”

flames
The Shekinah is like a fire. It is one fire that separates out into multiple flames and seems to dance. As a flame burning within us, it causes us to act. This is Christian morality.

God gives his commandments, and they focus around remembering that rescue, what oppression is like. Then we promote life. God is not the God of life in the past, or in the future, but in the perpetual present. That is Jesus point in Mark 12. Abraham is in the present, not the past. Eliezer is in not in the past or in the future, but in the present.

We do not follow the Ten Commandments to get into heaven. We follow them because we are already at Sinai, already rescued. We see in the incense of the altar, the smoke rising from the volcanic vents at Sinai. We see in our neighbors in the pews, the tents at Sinai. We see, as in the transfiguration, Moses, representing the first reading, the epistle as representing Elijah, and Jesus representing the Gospel. We are at Sinai.

It is not our fathers, who experienced this event. It is the people sitting in the pews, this day. This is a very Jewish understanding of the Ten Commandments, of Passover, and by extension, the Mass.

If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of deviation, the spirit is alive because of Tsaddik. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Shekinah dwelling in you. Second Reading for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

If Christ is alive in us, indwells in us, the spirit is alive, and it brings life to others. We remember what it was like to suffer as immigrants in a foreign land. We promote refuge cities. We look for the reasons people suffer in other nations and we strive to end that suffering. We show that the God of Life, the Elohi Chaim, indwells within us. The Shekinah, the indwelling of God causes us to promote life for all people as made in God’s image. This is the essence of Christian morality. Anyone who says otherwise, anathema.