The Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time helps us define Christian

Put to death the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.

voiceSt. Paul, in this passage talks about a physical death. In baptism, and in the Eucharist, we die with Christ, and in baptism and the Eucharist, we rise with Christ. Our Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Second Reading tell us, “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Gustavo Gutierrez, in his Book “On Job: God Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent” translates Job 17:15-16 in this way: “Where then is my hope? Who can see any happiness for me? Unless they come down to Sheol with me, all of us sink into the dust together.” He says it well. Unless we die with Christ, we cannot understand the suffering of others. Happily, through baptism and the Eucharist, we die with Christ; we suffer with him.

8919_1243228163516_2601477_nIf we fully participate in the Eucharist, if we really feel the pains of Jesus’ death, we rise with him, and we come to understand the suffering of others. St. Paul speaks of the identity of Idolatry in our second reading. St. Paul describes it in this way, “greed that is idolatry.”

Our Blessed Pope Francis also speaks of Idolatry. Faith by its very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a face, which will unveil itself personally in its own good time. Martin Buber once cited a definition of idolatry proposed by the rabbi of Kock: idolatry is “when a face addresses a face which is not a face. In place of faith in God, it seems better to worship an idol, into whose face we can look directly and whose origin we know, because it is the work of our own hands.

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage  coin from 66-73 bce He goes on, “Before an idol, there is no risk that we will be called to abandon our security, for idols “have mouths, but they cannot speak” (Ps   115: 5). Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the center of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation, which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another.

Idols are the work of our own hands. They are not necessarily something we posit that is out there, or up there, or down there. They are anything we make with our hands. They cause us to put ourselves at the center of all reality, because we posit ourselves, and not God as the force who made them. As Pope Francis states, our orientation breaks down into the multiplicity of our desires. We fail to see the big story of God’s creation and we focus on the short term, the myriad of unconnected instants. We pass from one lord, possession, to another.

dollar-billThe Jewish Creed comes from three places in Torah. Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41. The last is the most telling for our readings for Our Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:

Speak to those who struggle with God; tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, fastening a violet cord to each corner. When you use these tassels, the sight of the cord will remind you of all the Mitzvah of the Personal Name and you will do them, without prostituting yourself going after the desires of your hearts and your eyes.

You will remember to do my Mitzvah and you will be dedicated to your Almighty Judge. I, the Personal Name, am your Almighty Judge who brought you out of the land of מִצְרַיִם/Oppression/Egypt to be your Almighty Judge: I, the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge.

Going after the heart and the eyes is juxtaposed with God. It is either one or the other. Greed, putting possessions first, is idolatry. When we die with Christ, we put that away. We put on a new focus, being Christ like. That is what Christian means. It comes from Christ, with a stem meaning to be like-ian. To find out what that means, we need to read the Gospels to find out who Jesus was/is and what he did. Then we need to copy that.

Later in Colossians 3, St. Paul describes the Christian life, “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, dedicated and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and long suffering, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Personal Name forgives you, so must you also do for others. Over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection/Shalom. Let the peace/Shalom of Christ control your hearts, the /Shalom/ peace into which you were also called in one body. Be thankful/Eucharistw/Eucharist. This is what being Christian means.

Born on the Forth of July and Tommy point our way to understanding the Book of Job

The scene is Arthur’s Bar in 1970, the Movie is “Born on the Fourth of July,” psychedelic lights present Montezuma’s Revenge, a Credence Clearwater “Suzy Q” type sound, amplified bass beat, a young local group, along with long hair, sullen demeanors…their gals dancing in strapless tops, chewing gum; working class mama with short hair in green t-shirts (“Sure I raise Hell, So what?”) and black shiny slacks; the papas in jeans, a hint of Presley in their hip rolls as they dance; college boys swilling beer in sweat shirts with signs on them, ‘Olympic Dining Team’, sockless loafers, long sideburns, the hair getting longer…

The Back Room – A Girl, Jenny, in jeans playing pool, cigarette to lips, lining up a shot. Ron is in his chair on the outside of a corner booth with Timmy, several beer pitchers in front of them. With them are two Guys in their 40’s, crew-cuts, windbreakers with ‘Brigadier Factory Renegades Baseball Team’ written across the back. A sign on the wall over them: ‘If you’re Drinking to Forget, Pay before you Start…’

Man#2, “Why don’t you shove it up your ass pal… okay? Just ‘cause you’re in a fuckin’ wheelchair you think everybody’s gotta feel sorry for you?

Ron, “What”

Man #2, “You ain’t the only Marine here. I was on Iwo Jima. We lost six thousand the first day. Se don’t go crying in your fucking beer to me. You served, you lost, and now you gotta live with it. You’re a Marine, Semper Fi, they didn’t pick you. You… you picked them so stop moaning and pissing about it.”

When we read the book of Job, we see much the same thing. Job says, “יְהוָה נָתַןוַיהוָה לָקָחיְהִי שֵׁם יְהוָהמְבֹרָךְ.” “The Personal Name gives and the Personal Name takes; the name of the Personal Name is Blessed.”

Job’s wife told him: ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Bless God, and die.’

Job told her, “You speak as one of the disgraced women speaks. What? Will we receive what is satisfying at the hand of God, and shall we not receive rot?’ For all this did not Job sin with his  בִּשְׂפָתָיו lips/judgments. Job next gives his first speech.

Eliphaz the Temanite begins his first speech, “You have instructed many, and made firm their feeble hands. Your words have upheld those who stumble; you have strengthened faltering knees. Now that it comes to you, you are impatient; when it touches you, you are dismayed. Is not your piety a source of confidence, and your integrity of life your hope? Reflect now, what innocent person perishes Where are the upright destroyed?

  Lion and lambAs I see it, those who plow mischief and sow trouble will reap them. By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his wrath they are consumed. Though the lion roars, though the king of beasts cries out, yet the teeth of the young lions are twisted; The old lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.

Some jump upon the words, “Those who plow mischief and sow trouble will reap them.” They compare this with Deuteronomy and the Law of Retribution. The problem is that Eliphaz speaks in the abstract. He does not accuse Job of anything.

Eliphaz says of Job, “You have instructed many, and made firm their feeble hands. Your words have upheld those who stumble; you have strengthened faltering knees. Now that it comes to you, you are impatient; when it touches you, you are dismayed. Is not your looking to God a source of confidence, and your hope “Hatikvah” (Hebrew: הַתִּקְוָה,”) “the וְתֹם דְּרָכֶיךָ”?”, the simplicity of your ways

There is no deviation, no sin mentioned here. He instructed many who suffered in the past. He made firm their feeble hands. He did all the right things. Now he suffers. No! Job is not guilty of anything in the mind of Eliphaz. Rather, Eliphaz stands in much the same position as the World War II Marine of Born on the Fourth of July. Though the lion roars, though the king of beasts cries out, yet the teeth of the young lions are twisted; the old lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered. Here is Eliphaz’s charge against Job. Job is the old lion who has seen his better day. Now the young lions twist their necks around Job’s throat and the old lion roars in pain. Eliphaz’s charge against Job is simply that he is past his prime and he should get over it and let the next generation take over.

To the degree Eliphaz does accuse Job, we need to look at his words. Job is the violent one who received what he has by being the old lion, the dominant one. Eliphaz speaks to a man who lies in sackcloth and ashes and who recently lost all his children in several accidents.

Notice what Eliphaz says of his children, here and in the next chapter. “The cubs of the lioness (by implication, his wife) are scattered.” “May his children be far from safety; may they be crushed at the gate without someone to rescue.” If Job attributes these words to himself, Eliphaz’ words are biting to the core. This is the same man who sat with Job for a week, seven days and seven nights, in the biting cold and blistering heat of a Mid-east, desert day.

Davis Creek Park Jeff ThompsonJob says cold things of himself when he speaks of God giving and God taking away. The time for God’s giving seems to have come and gone, and now it simply God’s to take away,

Gustavo Gutierrez, in his book, “On Job, God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent,” misses a key play on words in Job that supports his position. In the Heavenly Court, and when Job talks to his wife there is a gross mistranslation of words that calls attention to the point Gustavo tries to make.

מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו בֵּרַכְתָּ וּמִקְנֵהוּ פָּרַץ בָּאָרֶץ”

“The work of his hands you bless, and his possessions are increased in the land.”

Now comes the key part:

וְאוּלָם שְׁלַח נָא יָדְךָ וְגַע בְּכָל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ–אִם לֹא עַל פָּנֶיךָ, יְבָרְכֶךָּ”

“Only send your hand out now and also that which is to him, if he will not to your face bless, “Barack” you. `

וְעָרֹם אָשׁוּב שָׁמָּה–יְהוָה נָתַן וַיהוָה לָקָח יְהִי שֵׁם יְהוָה מְבֹרָךְ”

“Naked/Clever I will return. The Personal Name gives and the Personal Name takes. The Name of the Personal Name is blessed.”

In chapter 2:

וַתֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִשְׁתּוֹ, עֹדְךָ מַחֲזִיק בְּתֻמָּתֶךָ בָּרֵךְ אֱלֹהִים וָמֻת”

Job’s wife told him, “Do you still hold to your תֻמָּתֶךָ your innocence, your simplicity?” “Barack,” bless God and die.

Davis Creek Park 2 Jeff Thompson

Are the words for blessing a cursing the same word? Just a few verses later, at the start of chapter 3:

אַחֲרֵי כֵן פָּתַח אִיּוֹב אֶת פִּיהוּ וַיְקַלֵּל אֶת יוֹמוֹ”

The Hebrew word for cursing is “וַיְקַלֵּל” It is not Barack.” Gustavo Gutierrez argues forcefully that one of the main points of the book of Job is that we need to talk properly about God in the face of human suffering. Here is the main point in favor of his position and he misses it. When we are suffering, the writer of Job argues, God wants us to be honest with God about our suffering, and not praise him, but give meaningful lament.

Eliphaz hits on the same points:

“הֵן בַּעֲבָדָיו לֹא יַאֲמִין וּבְמַלְאָכָיו יָשִׂים תָּהֳלָה

Only in his servants he does not amen/trust. In his messengers/angels he charges with Tehillim. Tehillim is the Hebrew Psalter, or Psalms of Praise,” not “Folly” as is most generally translated. Eliphaz, like Job’s wife, wants Job to fall back on empty praise, and that is something the honest Job is not willing to do.

Job’s response to all of this comes from the Rock Opera, “Tommy,” another anti-Vietnam War song. In his book, “On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent,” Gustavo Gutierrez makes the key point that Eliphaz and his friends are not mean. They, like the pre-disaster Job, as simply hopeless academics. In Job 16, and in his Chapter on “Sorry Comforters” in the section on “Two Theological Methods” Gustavo Gutierrez tells us, “The Speeches of Eliphaz and his companions take certain doctrinal principals as their starting point and try to apply them to Job’s case.” “Job likewise feels sure, not of a doctrine but of his own experience in life.”

Incorrectly, Gustavo Gutierrez tries to pin the problem on the Law of Retribution he finds in Deuteronomy.

This Mitzvah I give you today 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.

I today set before you life and good, death and evil. If you listen to the Mitzvah of the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, I give you today, loving the Personal Name your Almighty Judge God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his Mitzvah, customs and Correct Judicial Precedents, you will live and grow numerous. The Personal name, your Almighty Judge, will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. If, however, your heart turns away and you do not obey, but are led astray and bow down to other gods and serve them, I tell you today that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:  I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life!”

The Law or Retribution is here. Look at what also is here. The Law/Torah/teaching is not in a rule book, carved in stone. The Torah is written in the human heart. It is written in experience, as Job tries to tell us. Another place to look is 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 which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name our Almighty Judge, cut a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am the Personal Name your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.

The addition in the gloss adds, “You will remember what it was like to be there, and you will remember your rescue. “Choose life,” as chapter 30 states. Make life at its fullest for all people. That is the Mitzvah, not some Law of Retribution. That is what Job comes to understand. That is what all those who have suffered come to understand. That is what Eliphaz and his friends who have not suffered cannot understand. Suffering brings transformation.

Part of the Jewish Passover liturgy includes the words of chapter 6:20-23:

Later on, when your son asks you, “What do these witnesses, customs and correct judicial precedents mean, which the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, enjoined on you, you will tell your son, “We were once servants of Pharaoh in Oppression/Egypt, but the Personal 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. He brought us from there to bring us in and give us the land he had promised on oath to our ancestors.

Our Eucharist comes directly from the Jewish Passover. The Passion occurred during Passover and the Last Supper was the Jewish Passover meal. The two are linked. In our Eucharist, we die with Christ and we rise with Christ. In the Passover the Jewish community relives the Exodus experience for the first time, each time, the celebrate Passover. This brings Torah, teaching into the present. This allows Deuteronomy 30 to apply. We see the suffering of others in our suffering at Passover/Eucharist. That calls us to act, and that is the whole point of the book of Job.

It is important to define church in light of Exodus Part 2

View of the Sea of GalileeWe come to Mt. Sinai, the shattered remnant of ex-slaves from the Deep South, from Egypt, from Ireland, from the wars of 19th century Europe, from 20th century Europe, from the poverty of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We come to the synagogue, or the syn-with, Ago, leading, leading together, coming together, to participate in the great dance, perichoreo, χορεύω of life in the spirit of God. We come with our ethnic heritage and our WWII heritage, our boomer heritage and generation X heritage. We come to God as Americans, and most important as human beings.

As to the rules and how strongly we are to listen to them:

Amram married his aunt Jochebed, who bore him Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. Amram lived one hundred and thirty-seven years. Exodus 6:20

None of you shall approach a close relative to have sexual intercourse. I am the Personal Name. Leviticus 18:6

You shall not have intercourse with your father’s sister, since she is your father’s relative. You shall not have intercourse with your mother’s sister, since she is your mother’s relative. Leviticus 18:12

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is nauseating. Leviticus 18:22

The Jewish community was opposed to marrying outside of the Jewish community. Nehemiah 10:31 Exodus 2:16-21 relates how Moses married Zipporah, a Midianite, not a Jew.

Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land the Personal Name your Almighty Judge gives you. Exodus 20:12

Moses passes a law against his father marrying his mother. Hold as important your father and your mother. He marries an outsider.

Remember Sabbath; dedicate it. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day Sabbath of the Personal Name your Almighty Judge. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. Exodus 20:8 I

Maccabees relates the interesting story. “Mattathias and his friends heard of it, they mourned deeply for them. They said to one another, “If we all do as our kindred have done, and do not fight against the Gentiles for our lives and our laws, they will soon destroy us from the earth.” So on that day they came to this decision: “Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the Sabbath, so that we may not all die as our kindred died in their secret refuges.”

What makes this story interesting is that the Jewish nation had survived as a nation, from Moses, through the judges, the kings and the prophets, and never had to address the issue of foreign people attacking on Sabbath before. The injunction could not have been interpreted strictly before.

We also must relate the story of Acts 6:15-29. The question was on listening to the Jewish dietary laws. The decision was, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.”

To understand this ruling we must read Genesis 9, the code of Noah. It reads the same. To require non-Jews to listen to Jewish law would constitute a change in the laws. The 613 laws of the Torah are designed to make one Jewish, not Christian. That is the decision of Acts 15.

It is important to define church in light of Exodus Part 1

The article, “These are the things we need to consider in the Reno Diocesan Synod,” makes an interesting point about the Ten Commandments, as translated directly from the Hebrew. The Prologue to the Ten Commandments states:

Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, You who struggle with God, the customs, חֻקִּים and correct judicial precedents,מִּשְׁפָּטִים I proclaim in your hearing, this day, to learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name cut a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.

The article then goes on to discuss the difference between customs, correct judicial precedents and how they relate to our lives. Another interesting question comes to mind; “How does this relate to ecclesiology? Does this relate to ecclesiology? After all, it was Jewish people on that mountain; the synagogue was not even around yet.

The first thing we notice is that Moses did not receive the Ten Commandments for himself. Nor did he receive them for himself and his offspring. He received them for all the Hebrew People. “Hebrew,” is Hebrew for homeless. It refers to all people who search for a homeland, a nation,  to be a people born together, by heritage if not by proximity of birth or blood. More specifically, it refers to the twelve tribes of Israel, those who struggle with God, who struggle to understand God.

Meadow in IsraelJudges 12 tells an interesting tale, the Shibboleth Incident. This story is important for understanding ecclesiology, and for that matter, understanding the correct pronunciation of Hebrew, because it relates how the tribe of Ephraim, as early as the judges, could be distinguished because they had no “SH” sound in their dialect. This means the tribes could distinguish themselves; they were different one from another. It also means there was not one correct pronunciation of Hebrew. Different tribes at different times had different correct ways to pronounce the terms.

What met at Mt. Sinai was not one tribe, but twelve. Cardinal Walter Kasper speaks of his perichoretic formula. This comes from χορεύω, which means to dance. Exodus 32:19 presents the penchant of the Jewish people for merriment and dance. On a more positive side, Karl Rahner speaks of the remnant, as in the remnant of the Jewish people who returned from Babylonian exile, the synagogue, which formed during the Babylonian exile, and the altar community.

As Americans, we need to think in terms of E Pluribus Unum. We might also think of a candle. Just as the flames of twelve candles dance around each other to form one large flame above the candles, the twelve tribes, who often fought one another, came to Mt. Sinai to form one large flame, one large community at Sinai. They never gave up being the twelve tribes; they never gave up being authentic about who they were, but still they joined together to become one large community, Israel.

Likewise, as Americans we are E Pluribus Unum; from the many, one. We never cease to be German, Jewish, Anglo-Saxon, Hispanic, Haitian, and more. We never cease being baby boomers, the WWII generation, or generation X. Still we are all Americans. Likewise, as Catholics, we join the grand dance as the altar community.

horse and carriage at south lake tahoeExodus 20-32 presents us with an imperfect community of twelve discernible ethnic groups with different customs and ways of speaking their words. Karl Rahner also speaks of the altar community, and at Mt. Sinai, with all of their difference, and with all of their faults, they still manage to say, if only for a moment, “All of this we will do.” Likewise, as Christians, we are not one community.

As a Christian community, “We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” Acts 2:9-11

In the twenty-first century, we are all German and Jew, Irish and Ango-Saxon, Polish and Russian, Hispanic and Native American. If we come to Mt. Sinai as anything else, we come to Mt. Sinai as inauthentic. We lived through World War II, as German and as Jew. We came through Vietnam as the soldier who served and as the student who served by protesting. We came through the Iraq wars as the soldiers who served, and as the students who protested.

We remember what it was like when the only means of electronic communication in the home were the radio and the telephone. We remember when TV was the next big thing. We remember when color TV was the next big thing. We remember when MTV was the next big thing. We remember when stereo was in, and the transistor.

We remember when computers small enough to do our math homework filled a room. We remember when they talked about a mouse meant that nasty thing in the trap in the kitchen. Some of us can remember none of these things. Some can remember only some. We are all of these people. We are all different, and we are all one.

We all dance around the altar community of Sinai. If we come to Sinai pretending to be those who remember, or do not remember these things, we come to Mt. Sinai inauthentic. We come to Mt. Sinai, just as we are, without one plea.

We come to Mt. Sinai, the shattered remnant of ex-slaves from the Deep South, from Egypt, from Ireland, from the wars of 19th century Europe, from 20th century Europe, from the poverty of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We come to the synagogue, or the syn-with, Ago, leading, leading together, coming together, to participate in the great dance, perichoreo, χορεύω of life in the spirit of God. We come with our ethnic heritage and our WWII heritage, our boomer heritage and generation X heritage. We come to God as Americans, and most important as human beings.

The diocesan synod is soon for Reno

This Pentecost Sunday of 2013, we read a letter from Bishop Calvo in our bulletin. It stated that our diocese needs a synod to to gather and pray together, to reflect and discern what the Holy Spirit calls and directs us to be and to do to fulfill our mission in our particular place and time.

Our Blessed recent Pope Benedict wrote:

Statue of liberty lighning strikeIndeed, according to the Fathers, ontologically, the Church-mystery, the Church that is one and unique, precedes creation, and gives birth to the particular Churches as her daughters. She expresses herself in them; she is the mother and not the product of the particular Churches. Furthermore, the Church is manifested, temporally, on the day of Pentecost in the community of the one hundred and twenty gathered around Mary and the twelve Apostles, the representatives of the one unique Church and the founders-to-be of the local Churches, who have a mission directed to the world: from the first the Church speaks all languages.

This brings to mind the question once raised at 9:30 Mass, “What time is it?” Dwelling on several people venturing guesses between 10:00 and 10:05, the proper answer comes. Bernard Lonergan writes:

On the Ptolemaic system there did exist a single standard time for the universe, since the outmost of the celestial spheres, the primum mobile, contained the material universe and was the first source of all local movement. With the acceptance of the Copernican theory, there vanished the primum mobile, but there remained a single standard time, a survival Newton explained by distinguishing true and apparent motion and by conceiving true motion as relative to absolute space and absolute time. Finally, with Einstein, Newton’s absolute time vanished, and there emerged as many standard times as there are inertial reference frames that are in relative motion.[1]

Deuteronomy 5 writes:

Our mural in Reno Nevada
Our mural in Reno Nevada

Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, You who struggle with God, the customs, and correct judicial precedents, I proclaim in your hearing, this day, to learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name cut a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.

The interesting thing about customs and judicial precedents is that they develop over time. By definition, they could not have come directly to Moses at Horeb. How does Torah say this? All the customs and judicial precedents, which came over time, are to be viewed as if they came at Horeb. This is because, as the Jewish people relive their salvation at Passover, and we relive ours in the Eucharist, we relive the Passover, the Passion event, again, for the first time, each time. Einstein was Jewish and his understanding of time was Jewish.


It is like a big wormhole that connects each time we celebrate Passover and Eucharist. It makes no sense to discuss if the universal church is prior to the particular churches. Through Passover and Eucharist, we leave time. When there is no time, there is no before and after.

We notice from our Blessed recent Pope Benedict, “The Church is manifested, temporally, on the day of Pentecost in the community of the one hundred and twenty gathered around Mary and the twelve Apostles, the representatives of the one unique Church…” Those acquainted with Jewish tradition know of the men of the Great Assembly, the men who codified Torah, as we know it, and the Jewish liturgy, which is the foundation of our Catholic Mass.

Like the 120 who were present at the founding of the Catholic Church at Pentecost, the Great Assembly had 120 men. Those present at Pentecost were well aware of the tradition of the 120 men of the Great Assembly. They got the connection. Mary and the apostles are the men of the Great Assembly, formed, for the first time, this time, at Pentecost.

Our recent Pope argued with Cardinal Walter Jasper, before he became Pope. Then Cardinal Ratzinger argued that authority springs from before, and through the 120 men,  presently the Roman curia. Cardinal Walter Jasper argues with our Declaration of Independence, that authority comes from below:

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, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Given the new, Jewish definition of time, we see that both men are incorrect. Through the sacrament of Holy Communion, we exit time. Time becomes irrelevant. With Pope Benedict, we believe that all custom and correct judicial precedent is to be viewed as if it came from Moses at Horeb.

On the other hand, we receive truth through our experience of Eucharist and Passover, which we relive for the first time, each time we celebrate Eucharist. True authority comes from this experience of salvation. If we have not suffered, and been rescued, judicial precedent, no matter how authoritative and correct, seems meaningless. For those who have experienced death and resurrection, no proof is required. For those who have not, no proof is sufficient. This is the very point Pope Benedict tries to make in his letter to the bishops on “Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion.”


The Jewish nation reforms, makes itself new, again, just as it did at Horeb, and just as it did with the Great Assembly, at Pentecost. In our upcoming synod, we reform again, looking back to the basics. We do not need to look far to find our basics:

Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, You who struggle with God, the customs, and correct judicial precedents, which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name cut a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.

Doing all you can

Remember, “I am the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/oppression, out of the house of menial labor.” You will remember what it was like to be there, and you will remember your rescue.”

When your son asks, “What do these traditions, customs and correct judicial precedents mean?” which the Personal Name our Almighty Judge, enjoins on you, you shall say to your son, “We were Pharaoh’s servants in Egypt. The Personal Name removed us from Egypt/ Oppression with a strong hand and wrought before our eyes signs and wonders, great and dire, against Egypt/Oppression and against Pharaoh, the oppressor and his whole house. He brought us from there to give us the land he had promised on oath to our fathers. Deuteronomy 6:20-23

Pope Benedict wrote:

The concept of communion lies ‘at the heart of the Church’s self-understanding’(4), insofar as it is the Mystery of the personal union of each human being with the divine Trinity and with the rest of mankind…”[2]

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage Synagogue of Magdala

If the concept of communion, which is not a univocal concept, is to serve as ecclesiology key, it has to be understood within the teaching of the Bible and the patristic tradition, in which communion always involves a double dimension: the vertical (communion with God) and the horizontal (communion among men).

The new relationship between man and God, established in Christ and is communicated through the sacraments, also extends to a new relationship among human beings. As a result, the concept of communion should be such as to express both the sacramental nature of the Church while “we are away from the Lord”), and also the particular unity which makes the faithful into members of one and the same Body, the Mystical Body of Christ, an organically structured community.

We need to understand our faith as coming from the Bible itself, from Horeb, and through the customs and correct judicial precedents, which come from Horeb. There is the double dimension in our transfiguration. Mark 9:2-8. God reaches down to us as we reach up to him. We then descend from that mountain and meet the epileptic at the bottom of the hill.

The key sentence in Mark’s account is when Jesus tells his followers, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” Mark 9:29. There is only one prayer in the entire exchange, “The boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief!” Through the Eucharist we cry out to God, “Help my unbelief.” “Help me to see you in the Eucharist, to relive the Eucharist every day of my life.” “Help me to heal my son, in my direct offspring,” and in the sons and daughters of all mankind.” “Help me to be an instrument in removing all suffering in the world. Help me to end disasters like happened twice in Bangladesh in the past year.”

“The new relationship between man and God, established in Christ and is communicated through the sacraments, also extends to a new relationship among human beings,” as Pope Benedict tells us. We relive the exodus event, each time and for the first time we celebrate Eucharist.” We die with Jesus on the Cross, and we rise with him to new life. This is a very literal death and rebirth. We remember what it was like to be there, and when we see others suffering, it brings back the bad memory, and we do something.

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage Sea of Galilee 4

“A Voice of Their Own,” quoting Cardinal Jasper, speaks of the great perichoretic formula. Perichoresis comes from a fancy Greek word meaning a dancing around. Just as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dance around each other, we join the dance with all of mankind. We become one with the Trinity. We notice how Pentecost begins with tongues of fire. The Hebrew word for fire, also means Mensch, or “Men.” The tongues of fire intermingle within us and make us men in the grandest sense of the term, people who care for other people. That needs to be the great message of our synod.

[1] Lonergan, Bernard (2012-05-23). Method in Theology: Volume 14 (Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan) (Kindle Locations 2718-2723). University of Toronto Press. Kindle Edition.


There are more important languages to learn than Latin

This past Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Easter of 2013 saw a debate between an orthodox conservative and an avowed liberal. The conservative discussed a fellow parishioner who had kneeled while taking the blood of Christ, and had asked for the blessed chalice before in a complete kneeling state.

Lake Tahoe     This did not seem to upset the liberal in any way. The orthodox conservative next presented the view that Latin is the official language of the church and should be the preferred language to learn. The liberal argued for other languages to be the preferred language to learn.

Unlike Protestants, who believe in Solo Scriptura, Catholics and Semitic people have a strong preference for reading the divine writings in light of tradition. They receive this idea from the Ten Commandments, which begins:

Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and correct judicial precedents, which I proclaim in your ear, this day, that you may learn them and guard to observe them. The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, cut a Social Contract with us at Mt. Sword; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day. Deuteronomy 5:1-7

In the Summa Theologica, The Second Part of the Second Part, Question 81 noted how our word, “religion,” relates to the Latin understanding of the concept.

Religion may be derived from “religare” [to bind together], wherefore Augustine says (De Vera Relig. 55): “May religion bind us to the one Almighty God.” In addition to the founding of Rome itself, the Roman sense of authority comes from the sanctity of house and hearth. The Romans understood how the gods had Shekinah, (presence) lived among the Romans, so was re-ligatus, bond together in present time, through all time, with the people.

Scene from GalileeThe interesting things about customs, “הַחֻקִּים” and correct judicial precedents, “מִּשְׁפָּטִים,” is that they develop over time. They do not develop over night, and are therefore not the kinds of things Moses could have received at Mt. Sword. The Jewish tradition is that all the rulings that have come since are the customs and correct judicial precedents, which we are to view as if they came from Moses at Mt. Sword. Catholic and Easter Orthodox teachings mirror this ancient Semitic understanding.

The Ten Commandments begins by telling us, “Not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day.” To argue that the Roman Rite is somehow different from any other rite is to argue that it does not link back, tie back to Mt. Sword in present time. It is to cut the church off from its roots, both the roots of Sinai, and the roots of the cross.

This brings us to the idea of home and hearth. Revelations 12:17 tells us how the great sea serpent went off to wage war with the woman and her offspring, those who keep faith with the witness and the Mitzvah of God. Revelations 12:5 tells us how this woman gave birth to a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.”

This child is clearly Jesus, so the woman must be our Blessed Virgin. We, alive, here, this day, are the offspring of Our Blessed Virgin, in present time, as are all those who lived from the time of Our Blessed Virgin until today. To argue for Latin, the Roman Rite in Latin is to cut ourselves off from this woman, Our Blessed Virgin, who almost certainly did not speak Latin.

The orthodox Catholic is correct in understanding that it is important for the blood of Christ not to fall on the floor. The liberal thinker was also correct in understanding that there is something more at issue here than wine, the blood of Christ falling on the floor. Through the Eucharist, we relive the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. We also relive the events of Mt. Sword, our rescue from oppression. We undergo a religious transformation from death to new life.

IsraelSt. Paul tells us in Romans 5 and Galatians 2, “We, who are Jews by nature and not deviants from among the nations, know that a person is not justified by works of Torah but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

St. Paul comes from the Jewish neighborhood of Tarsus, Turkey. The native language of the first century for that town was Koine Greek. On the other hand, St. Paul comes from the Jewish neighborhood of that town. We need to think of the late nineteenth century, and early twentieth century Brooklyn Jewish neighborhood. The people of Brooklyn spoke English.

horse and carriage at south lake tahoeThe Brooklyn neighborhoods, on the other hand, spoke the languages of the immigrants who lived there. The people of the Jewish quarter spoke Yiddish. When the more religious of that neighborhood went to college, they went to Yeshiva, most likely in Jerusalem. Likewise, St. Paul learned the Yiddish of his time, Aramaic. As a religious, he went off to Yeshiva in Jerusalem, the Academy of Shammai. There he learned Hebrew.

Thinking in Hebrew, St. Paul would have meant, using the Hebrew and Aramaic word for Justice, Tzaddic, We, who are Jews by nature and not deviants from among the nations, know that a person is not Tzaddic/made charitable by works of Torah but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be Tzaddic/made charitable by faith in Christ and not by works of Torah, because by works of Torah no one will be made charitable.”

Elsewhere, St. Paul tells us, “Put on the new self, created in God’s way in Tzaddic and dedication of truth.” The rest of the chapter, of which Ephesians 4:24, resides describes this Tzaddic as God means for us to live out our everyday life.

Deuteronomy 6:20-25 tells us what St. Paul meant by Tzaddic as well:

Incline Village homeWhen your son asks, “What do these witness statements customs and correct judicial precedents mean?” which the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, enjoined on you, you shall tell your son, “We were once slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Personal 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.

He brought us from there to bring us in and give us the land he had promised on oath to our fathers. The Personal Name commanded us guard all these customs in fear of the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, that we may always have as good a life as we have today. This is our justice/Tzaddic.

In our transformation, we no longer worry about the little things. Our neighbor in Christ is far more important than even the blood of Christ falling on the floor. Christ will protect his precious blood. During the Passion, far more blood that is precious fell on the floor, the Via Delarosa, than the few drops that might fall if the chalice spills. Yes, we do need to be careful with the precious blood, but the precious blood points to something even more important, human life as life lived in the image of God.

Meadow in IsraelThis brings us to the importance of Latin in Mass. For doctoral seminary, Latin might be an important language to learn, in order to read the Summa, the City of God, the Moralia, and other writings of the church fathers. If we plan to discuss theology with the church doctors at the Vatican, Latin could come in handy. For the rest of us, Latin is a great language of nostalgia, to help us remember the Tridentine Mass of Pre-Vatican II.

Presenting this view, brought the discussion of whether Jesus knew Latin. Interesting it was, that the liberal presented the view that Lake Galilee, where Jesus and the apostles did their preaching and fishing, is so much like Lake Tahoe. So interesting it is how the orthodox Catholic opposed this view. They are the same, inland, crystal blue lakes. They are lakes famed for being resort hot spots where celebrities and other rich folk lived out their lives. As such, to live in these areas, one almost has to be multilingual.

The “Church Language” of the first century was Hebrew. The language of the masses was Aramaic, which people of the time mistakenly referred to as Hebrew. As a rabbi, Jesus would have known both Hebrew and Aramaic. To be a fish trader on Lake Galilee one would almost certainly have had to know the language of trade, Koine Greek. St. Peter shows an understanding of this language in the two letters he wrote, and which are in our New Testament. James also shows fluency in Greek, in his New Testament letter, as does St. Paul, in his letters.

The question is about Latin. The Latin people had the ethnocentric trait Americans have. They sent their soldiers and state department officials to countries with no training in the languages or cultures of their conquests. If Jesus talked with soldiers as he did in Luke 7:1-10, it was almost certainly in Latin.

Further, in John 18:28-40 Jesus has a discussion with Pilate. If Pilate did not speak any language other than Latin, the discussion must have been in Latin. St. Mark calls the crazy man Jesus heals, Legion, a Latin name.

Dei Verbum, from Vatican II states:

God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to “literary forms.” For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts, which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse.

This means, the question is not, whether Jesus, or anyone else could have had an intelligent discussion in Latin, but in what language Jesus and the apostles thought, and that language was Aramaic. In the case of Torah, Navy, and Writings, that language is Hebrew. Because the oldest extant writings are in Koine Greek, Koine Greek has a claim for study.

It is important to notice how Greek, Latin, and the Semitic languages used the present tense. From our pre-Vatican II days, we use to interpret Matthew 3:1-2, “In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, saying, “Do Penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” English has what grammarians call the “dandy do.” The original word in Greek, Latin, or the Semitic languages can be interpreted as, “Repent,” “Be Penitent,” or “Do Penance.” In church language, “Do Penance” means going to confession and doing as the priest asks as one’s “Sign of contrition.” Those not knowing ancient languages were confused by this ambiguity.

Dei Verbum, from Vatican II tells us that we need to read the text in light of how the original writers understood the text. Our “Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels,” tell us, “The sacred writers when composing them followed the way of thinking and of writing current amongst their contemporaries.” John the Baptist wrote long before confession, as we know it today, so could not have had this in mind as he preached. Contemporary translations correctly translate the text as “Repent,” and not, “Do Penance.” Learning Latin would help us understand the ambiguity of Pre-Vatican II history, but not help us much in understanding current translations of the Bible.

This brings the questions of which languages would be important to learn, for the serious Bible scholar. Clearly, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek make this list. Where does Latin fit in? Jesus probably spoke Latin, but “Legion,” is one of the very few Latin words used in any of the Gospels, and the New Testament never uses Latin in the context of explaining Christian doctrine.

The church fathers used Latin, but most of the Scholastic teaching is being replaced by German existentialist teaching through the writings of Johann Mohler, Karl Rahner, Richard Rohr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bernard Lonergan. Learning German would be far more beneficial in the academic setting than Latin.

The goal of reading any ancient language is being able to present what we learn to the masses. That means learning French, German, Polish, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese, and with the rapidly growing African church, the African languages. Latin is way down the list.

We need to understand what is going on at Mass. We need to understand how we are not just taking in bread and wine. We are taking in the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That means know who Jesus Christ the first century Jew, and the Son of God is. That means enmeshing ourselves in the Semitic culture.

“Jesus is the same, Yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” Hebrews 13:8. “At the beginning, Personal Name, you established the earth, you are the same, and your years will have no end.” Hebrews 1:10-12.  The word of God did not change as the church moved from a Semitic group to the Latin church, as those who emphasis the Latin Rite would have us believe.

The difference between corporeal and spiritual food lies in this, that the former is changed into the substance of the person nourished. It cannot avail for supporting life except it be partaken of. Spiritual food changes man into itself, according to that saying of Augustine (Confessions 7.  Third Part of the Summa Question 73 Article 3

I found myself to be far from You, in the region of dissimilarity: I am the food of strong men; grow, and you will feed upon me; nor will you convert me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be converted into me. Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 10

Jesus was the great healer and forgiver. If we are to get into him, who is what we are to become, we need to become healers and forgivers.

In Reno, we had a discussion with a university professor part 2

In Reno, We Had a Discussion with a University Professor Part 1 answers why Torah was written, by whom and for whom. It was written to prove Israel and Judah were one people. It was written to convince the Jewish people, and to the Persian satrap who represents China. It also explains many of the contradictions in Torah. It was written to disparate groups, all of whom had to be appeased.

Our Cathedral in Panorama 2

In the conversation with a university professor, we discussed some of these disagreements. Jewish law prohibits eating meat and milk products. Genesis 18 tells the story of how Abraham fed three strangers, angels. He fed them meat and milk products. Why should we care what some sheepherder fed three strangers, four thousand years ago? 2 Kings 18 tells the story of finding what was probably our book of Deuteronomy. This book gives the command against mixing milk and meat products. As such, it comes before Genesis with the story of Abraham feeding meat and milk to angels. The virtues of this rule must have been subject to debate and our story of Abraham reflects this debate in the community.

Exodus 6:20 reflects how Moses’ father married his aunt. Exodus 20:12 tells us to honor father and mother. Leviticus 18:12 commands that we not marry our father’s sister, exactly what Moses’ father did. Tradition relates that Moses wrote this rule, in essence condemning his father. Further, the Ten Commandments, is written to the people of Israel, whose parents were not worthy to enter the Promised Land. Honor your father and mother.

This can cause a lack of faith. We must put our silver Torah through the flames so that we can grow. We must test the spirits to see if they are true.

Our test shows how the founding fathers of post-exile Israel/Judah, were comfortable with ambiguity and were writing a dynamic and truthful text about who they are as a people. It reflects a dynamic community who were passionate about their faith traditions. It is like our nation is a dynamic community. Each region of our great nation, each ethnic and economic group, and our groupings of rural, suburban, and urban peoples are passionate about our traditions.

We see the same thing in our New Testament, as was related in the conversation with the university professor. St. Matthew relates the story of the star of Bethlehem. Most scholars date this star as coming in the spring and fall of 7 B.C.E. Scholars also date the Passion as being 1 April, of 33 of the Common Era. That means Jesus was born in the fall, Yom Kippur or the feast of atonement of 7 B.C.E. It also means Jesus died when he was 40. The temptation scene in 4 Matthew and in Mark reflect 40 days of temptation, one for each year of Jesus’ life.

Luke states Jesus was 30 when he died. Further, if we date Gabriel appearing to Zechariah on Yom Kippur, when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, and count nine months, John was born in June of the following year. Luke tells us Jesus was born six months later, in December, as in December 25. John tells us Jesus is not yet 50. John also tells us how Jesus said he would destroy the temple and raise it in three days, but the temple refers to his body. The Pharisees confused his reference with the temple, which was 47 at the time. In John, Jesus was 47.

The university professor protested, accurately, that most do not care when Jesus was born.

What is important is that the first century Christian community was comfortable with ambiguity, up to and including when and where Jesus was born. It was comfortable with different understandings of key words and ideas. There was room for disagreement on key issues. None of the Gospels have Jesus explicitly say how old he is. The narrative, not the dialogue, implies that in Matthew, Mark, and John, and states it in Luke. The narrative states the tradition of the particular community of the gospel writer, not the actual age of Jesus.

What is important is to whom our texts were written. Our texts were written to people who were comfortable with disagreement, and who looked to the bigger picture, who they were as a people. Elijah, after all, would come and straighten out the details later. Our Torah and New Testament were written by people who were passionate enough about their faith traditions to relate them, even if they caused ambiguity.

Most scholars agree, St. Mark probably wrote first and that St. Matthew and St. Luke used St. Mark’s Gospel as a guide while writing their gospels.

We need to notice how St. Luke begins his gospel, “Many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us. Those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and rowers of the word have handed them down to us. I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you.”


St. Luke claims to be one writer among many of those who “Have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events…” The fact that he follows St. Mark so closely implies St. Mark is one of those witnesses. There were many traditions floating around, and St. Luke is following good theological reflection to discern which stories are best attested. He believes, based upon his research, that Jesus was 30. St. Mark, getting his word from St. Peter, believes he was 40. Like St. Luke, St. Matthew also gets his word from St. Mark. The difference is that he follows St. Mark’s dating. St. John is on his own.

Also, St. Matthew and St. Luke probably wrote from the same city, so probably knew each other.

This means they were passionate enough to relate their disagreements about how old Jesus was born, and when he was born, but also understanding enough to allow the other understandings to exist beside theirs.

This also gives us an understanding about God. Our God is a God who allows for disagreement, yet is passionate and calls us for be passionate about what we believe, but not at the expense of forcing our beliefs upon others.

Our God is a relational God who believes in E Pluribus Unum, from the many ideas of him, one. Peace, a true sense of tranquility within our communities is to be our main goal. Our question this Lent is, “Do we allow room for legitimate disagreement?

Jesus tells us how a house divided against itself cannot stand. In our pluralistic society is there room for, “Scripture (My denomination’s interpretation) says it; I believe it; that settles it?” Is there room for St. Matthew and St. Mark to believe Jesus was 40, St. John that he was 47, and St. Luke that he was 30? Is this the essence of our faith, or is the cross and the moved stone on Sunday morning the essence of our faith?

Can we put the details aside and allow John the Baptist/Elijah to give us the correct details later, or must we undergo what happened to first Israel, and then Judah, and undergo the humiliation of figuring it all out in committee under the oversight of a foreign satrap?

Our Reno Cathedral mural helps us understand our Eucharistic Heritage pt 3

No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, Ben Adam. Just as Moses lifted up the Taanah in the desert, so must Ben Adam be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Our mural in Reno Nevada
Our mural in Reno Nevada

Mountain Scene spray 100_1804 100_1808 In the beginning there was the blizzard 581398_356529854436705_624617725_nAs we look toward the center of the mural, we see to the center right, Jesus with the apostles St. Peter and St. John. Behind Jesus is St. Paul with a sword. St. Paul is never depicted with a sword. We wonder about the meaning of the sword. The Hebrew word for sword is Horeb. In Deuteronomy, the mountain of God where Moses receives the Ten Commandments, is Horeb.

We look to the left of the mural and again find a sword, held by Abraham as he prepares to sacrifice Isaac, whose name means, “Laughter,” which sounds like, “Crying out,” in Hebrew.

The Talmudic sages teach that Isaac was thirty-seven, likely based on the next biblical story, which is of Sarah’s death at 127, being 90 when Isaac was born. On the right side of the altar, is the Omer, the Word, the Lamb of God, who we sacrifice in the Mass. On the left is the one who cries out, Isaac, the sacrifice who is replaced by a ram.

If we follow the dating of Jesus birth in St. Matthew and St. Mark, Jesus was also around 37 years old at the start of his ministry. Most scholars date the star of St. Matthew as a conjunction of planets, which occurred in the spring and fall of 7 B.C. Jesus crucifixion is firmly established as 6 April, 33 A.D. In the temptation of Jesus, Jesus was tempted 40 days and 40 nights. The Great accuser left Jesus. The living beings, in Aramaic, Chai, came and ministered to him. This is where we would expect to find the thesis statement in St. Matthew and St. Mark.

Each day is one year for each year of Jesus’ life. The Chai are Jesus’ followers, and the messengers are the apostles. If we follow a three-year ministry for Jesus, Jesus is 37, the same age as Isaac at his binding, when he begins his ministry. Our Jewish brothers commemorate this main event in the life of Isaac in the reading of the Acheidah, the binding, Genesis 22:15.

The right side of our mural represents Isaac through the person of St. Tarsicius the first martyr of the Sacrament. A rabble attacked Tarsicius, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, and he suffered death rather “than surrender the Sacred Body,” as New Advent quotes Pope Damasus.

A sixth-century legend makes Tarsicius, an acolyte. The death of this martyr occurred in one of the persecutions that occurred between the middle of the third century and the beginning of the fourth, around the time of St. Augustine. No matter how unimportant we think we are, even a low acolyte, through dedication to the Blessed host, we can find ourselves represented on our great mural.

On the right center of our mural, in downtown Reno Nevada, Jesus holds the elements of our Eucharist, the Bread and the wine. Melchizadek, on the left side of the mural, counterbalances Jesus. Jesus is Melchizadek, or Melchi, Hebrew for “My King,” or “My Messenger is Charitable.” Melchizadek is the charitable king who greeted Abraham at Salem, which becomes, “City of Salem” or “City of Peace,” in Hebrew, Jerusalem.

We notice that people looking for freedom from oppression in Egypt come to Jerusalem, the City of Peace. All people looking for true freedom come to cities of peace. People looking for true peace do not go looking for freedom. True freedom only comes when there is true peace between man and his brother.

Two Israelite men kneel on the left side of our mural. They represent the Jewish people as they find the manna in the desert. Why choose two unknown men to represent the manna? To the right, are St. Peter and St. John. Even the city, the capital of the nation can seem like the desert when there is suffering. The men on the mural’s left look for manna in the desert. We look for the manna, the bread of life in the person of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

One Latin word for God is Dominus, from which we get our word, “Dominate,” and more important, our word, “Domicile,” our home. The Greek word is Oikos, from which we derive our word, “Economy.” God is the great provider of our house, our economy. The Hebrew word for head of the house is “Baal”; God is the Husband of our home, the only economic force we look to for spiritual and physical subsistence in our economy, our home.

This is part three, please click here for part 2

Please click here for part 1



Our Reno Cathedral mural helps us understand our Eucharistic Heritage pt 2

In our mural in Reno Nevada, we see St. Joseph the worker, whose feast is May 1, of each year, Labor Day in most of the world. Above the statue, again, is a depiction of the Holy Family. St. Joseph is central. This is the moment of his death. Jesus and Our Blessed Virgin hover next to him, symbolizing how the Lamb of God and Holy Mother Church are with us from our birth to the moment of our death. “Pray for us, Holy Mother of God, now and at the moment of our deaths.”

Isabel Piczek
Isabel Piczek
Our mural in Reno Nevada
Our mural in Reno Nevada
Lambs of God
Lambs of God

Our Lady Seder plate small Our Cathedral in Panarama

Shalom means much more than Peace.
Shalom means much more than Peace.
Great scholars like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and John Locke have discussed Justice, giving us an idea of what "Holy," might mean.
Great scholars like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and John Locke have discussed Justice, giving us an idea of what “Holy,” might mean.

Over the past 32 years many of us have ceased being manual laborers, and no longer identify as workers. As bankers, lawyers, salespersons, and yes, even retired or unemployed, we are still workers. “White collar, unemployed and retired” are still just adjectives modifying, “Worker.”

In English, we have two key words, “Vocation,” and “Profession.” “Vocation” is but a fancy Latin word meaning our calling, as in our calling from God. “Profession,” comes from the root meaning to profess, whether we like it or know it, or not. We profess our faith, and fulfill our vocation, our calling from God, through what we do as professional bankers, lawyers, and salesmen. This statue of St. Joseph constantly serves to remind us that we are all one community, a community of workers in service to God.

Our mural in Reno Nevada is the opus of renowned artists, Edith and Isabel Piczek. Edith died this past year. She referred often to her lifetime vocation of “visualizing God’s Word and His creation. It takes constant studying of Scripture and theology to find the images, shapes, and forms to translate God’s beauty.”

The artist is creating visual representation … to see the sacred in each of us, to show the love of God through art for the Church.” Edith told The Tidings in 2000. “We came to bring God closer to people and people closer to God, through the work we do. We are not rich, but we have more happiness, more fulfillment, more satisfaction, through the kind of work we do, serving God, and through God serving his people.”

Edith and Isabel named our mural, “The Adoration of the Lamb of God, our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist.” A work of art, it has incredible balance, with exactly 16 people representing each the Torah, and the New Testament. For each person representing Torah, there is a corresponding person representing the New Testament, and vice versa.

As we look at our mural, we first notice that this is a Thomistic mural. We see Franciscans in the mural and St. Augustine, no Thomas Aquinas. Still, the mural is full of Thomistic images if we know where to find them. The Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God at the top of the mural. We also notice to the bottom left of the mural, Abel, whose name means “Mist,” holding a lamb. To the right, we again notice, the Lamb of God, in Aramaic, the Omer Elohim, in the person of the infant Jesus. The Aramaic word for lamb, “Omer” also means “Word.” St. John tells us:

In the beginning was the Omer/Word/Lamb. The Omer/Word/Lamb was with God; the Omer/Word/Lamb was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him, nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Soon afterward St. John tells us, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, “Behold, the Omer/Word/Lamb of God, who takes away the failure of the cosmos. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.”

We notice the triangle, the lamb which Abel holds, the lamb which Our Blessed Virgin holds, and the lamb atop the mural. The characters in our mural form a triangle, with the Lamb of God atop the mural. The three points of the triangle represent the theological virtues, Amen, Hatikva, and Ahabbah.

Amen is faith. Hatikva is hope, and is Israel’s national anthem, the hope for the coming of God. Ahabbah comes from Haba, the one who is to come, the Paraclete, the Lamb of God, and the Father, Abba. We notice the four rivers of life atop the mural.

This house stands by four corners for this reason, the firm fabric of our mind is upheld by Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice. This house is grounded on four corners. The whole structure of good practice is raised in these four virtues. Four rivers of Paradise water the earth. Sometimes self-love invades the mind, makes it swerve by a secret declension from the straight line of justice: and in the degree that it refuses to refer itself wholly to its Maker, it goes contrary to the claims of justice.

‘A strong wind strikes the four corners of the house,’ in that strong temptation, by hidden impulses, shakes the four virtues; and the corners are struck, the house is uprooted, when the virtues are beaten, the conscience is brought to trouble. Gregory the Great, Moralia, Book 2

We notice seven groupings of people in our mural. On the right and the left, each represents what had been the focus of Catholic moral teaching until some thirty years ago. On the right Abel, we clothe the naked; Melchizadek, we give the thirsty something to drink: Moses, We ransom the captive; the manna we feed the hungry; Ruth, We harbor the harbor-less; John the Baptist, we visit the sick; Abraham, we bury the dead.

On the right are also seven groupings: Our Holy family comforts the afflicted; St. Augustine instructs the ignorant; St. Clair counsel the doubtful; St. Tarsicius bears wrongs patiently; Jesus, forgives offences willingly; St. Charles Borromeo, admonishes sinners; Pope Pious X prays for the living and the dead.

The lamb Abel/Mist holds, foreshadows the lamb our Blessed Virgin holds on the right side of our mural. Both of these lambs point to the lamb at the head of our mural, the Lamb of God who stands over the four rivers of life.

Cain represents those who raise themselves above their brothers, thinking they are owed more, because, and then give a reason. Abel stands alone with his lamb, symbolizing how short and brutish life is when we face the wrath of Cain, without the help of our neighbor. Cain asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” All the angels in heaven respond, “Now that you mention it…” In the original Hebrew God tells Cain, “My blood of your brother calls to me from Adam.” “My blood,” for God this is personal. God’s blood calls from Adam, the first man. We are all related.

The lamb to the right of the altar symbolizes the Divine family and the benefits of the grander community. Our Blessed Virgin is the mother of us all. As Eve and Cain bring death into the world, Jesus and Our Blessed Virgin bring life into the world, and not just life, but as St. John tells us in John 10:10, life lived to its fullest, for all people. This bringing of life into our world is the hallmark of our faith.

On the other side of our mural stands Moses. The mural tempts us to believe that the natural pair for Moses is St. Augustine who appears opposite Moses in the mural. This is not correct. Moses does not appear in the traditional pose, holding the Ten Commandments.

It is no accident that Moses holds the bronze serpents. If we look to the right, we see St. Joseph in an interesting pose as he places his robe, the same color as the bronze serpents, around our Blessed Virgin, and by extension, Jesus. The robe causes us to look up to our New Moses and to Jesus’ death.

This is part 2 of the series. For part 1 please click here.

Of the creed and creation

Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν Πατέρα παντοκράτορα ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων·

We believe in One God, the father, All-powerful, maker of heaven and earth.

In the beginning there was the blizzard      In the beginning, the Almighty Judge created the heaven and the earth. The earth was a great blizzard, with biting wind and stinging snow. Darkness was upon the face of the blizzard as the snow was deep. High above, in the howling wind, a great spirit hovered upon the blow snow as an eagle hovers over its brood, brooding over its young in the chaotic howling winds below.

The Almighty Judge said, “Light be!” Is light.

Suddenly, the overpowering darkness of white was replaced by the radiant colors of red, green, and blue, orange, purple, and yellow. Dead and lifeless snow was replaced by birds, flowers, trees, effervescent, vital, and vivacious life. First among these was an Omer, a lamb, the word of God, incarnate among us. What appeared were the ὁρατῶν, the formed, and the ἀοράτων, the unformed, the educated and the wise, the simple and the foolish. What appeared were the quarks, the microscopic reality generating all life, and the huge gas giants of the heavens/stars, some visible, and some billions of light years away, and invisible.

What appeared was the visible, starting with my beautiful wife sitting with us, and each of us, and visible and vibrant before us. What also appeared were the invisible, the man on the street corner begging for food, the dead and the pre-dead, waiting to die from a lack of food, on Neal Road and Montello, on Second Street and Arlington, in Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. What appeared were the vibrant, visible soldiers ready for war and the invisible Veterans with PTSD begging for shoes.

We believe in one Kyrie, Jesus Christ, the only generated son of the Father, Jesus Christ, generated before all eons. He is Light from Light, True God from True God.

He is light as light lived, incarnate among us, Luke 4

“The Breath of Kyrie is upon me; he anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,  and to proclaim a year acceptable to Kyrie.”

He is True God from True God: Psalm 82

God takes a stand in the divine council, gives judgment in the midst of the gods.

“Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy.

Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the Russia, those who think themselves first.”

He gives light to those who are not gods, “Yet like any mortal you shall die; like any prince you shall fall.” He gives warning to the shepherds who are not shepherds:

Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.

I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before are thieves and robbers. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. He works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. John 10

γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί

He was generated not made, one in Being to the Father.
δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο· Through him all things are generated. There is only one Great Provider, one head of the house. There is only one Baal, one husband to the divine economy: It is not Baal, or Hermes, or Mercury, some market or invisible hand. God is Almighty and God is one.

τὸν δι’ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν who for us men and for our salvation/Jesus/.ישועתנו Yes, the Hebrew word for Salvation is Jesus, and yes Jesus and Salvation are One.

κατελθόντα ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα. Descended from the great flow of the sky, he took on flesh from the Dedicated Spirit and our Blessed Virgin Mary, and became man.

σταυρωθέντα τε ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου καὶ παθόντα καὶ ταφέντα. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered, died, and was buried.

καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανοὺς. He arose on the third day, according to the writings, and ascended into heaven.

καὶ καθεζόμενον ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Πατρὸς. He sits upon the right hand of the Father.

καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον μετὰ δόξης κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς . He will come again with doxology/good thoughts, to judge the living and the dead.

οὗ τῆς βασιλείας οὐκ ἔσται τέλος. His kingdom will have no end.

καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον τὸ Κύριον καὶ Ζωοποιόν. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Kyrie and maker of life.

τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον τὸ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συμπροσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον. He proceeds from the Father and the Son and with them we bow down and give doxology.

τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν.  As spoken through the Navy, the prophets.

εἰς μίαν ἁγίαν καθολικὴν καὶ ἀποστολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν. We believe in one Holy Catholic and apostolic called out community.

ὁμολογοῦμεν ἓν βάπτισμα εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν· We acknowledge one baptism for the freedom from our failures.

προσδοκῶμεν ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν καὶ ζωὴν τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος.  We look for the rising from the dead and the life of the coming eons.