Third Sunday of Advent

Jess theses statement in LukeThe spirit of the NAME GOD is upon me, because the NAME has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the NAME, a day of vindication by our God. Isaiah 61: 1-11

When one writes essays or biographies one has an introduction, a thesis statement, the body of the story and the conclusion. Matthew and Luke’s introductions are the nativity. The Temptation follows this, and the thesis statement.

Matthew’s thesis statement is, “The Accuser left him and, behold, messengers came and ministered to him.

Mark’s thesis statement is, “He was in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan; And he was with the living beings; And the messengers ministered unto him.

Each of these thesis statements are brief. The Accuser and the Pharisees in these stories play very similar roles. The messengers are the Apostles. The living beings are us, at least us in the person of the first century Jews.

menorahLuke’s theses statement patterns after our first reading. If we read the first chapter of The Ethics of the Fathers and compare it with a reading from St. James we see why this is important.

  1. Shammai would say: Make your Torah study a permanent fixture of your life. Say little and do much. And receive every man with a pleasant countenance.
  2. Rabban Gamliel would say: Assume for yourself a master; stay away from doubt; and do not accustom yourself to tithe by estimation. (Compare with James, “But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.)”
  3. His son, Shimon, would say: All my life I have been raised among the wise, and I have found nothing better for the body than silence. The essential thing is not study, but deed. And one who speaks excessively brings on deviation.

At first reading sections fifteen and 17 contradict each other. One says Torah study is important, the second states how its not important. Shimon may well have been our Simeon from Luke’s nativity, the one who greets Jesus in the temple when he’s born. Together with section fifteen it says that Torah study is important, but it means nothing if deeds don’t follow.

flamesJames tells us in his first chapter, “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: he sees himself, and goes away, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. The one who stoops sideways into the Tam instruction of freedom, perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.”

A key word hear means to stoop sideways, like one who is with a small child and stoops down to pay attention to that child. The person who stoops sideways is like Shammai who studies the Torah with diligence, reading it in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He gets a master to explain what Torah means in light of tradition. [i]

James points to the essence of the question with is examples. The hearer of the word reads it for debate, to defend who he is as a person. He uses Torah to point to himself. The doer of the Word focuses meditates upon it. He looks at it from all angles. St. Augustine was once asked which version of the Bible was the right one. St. Augustine says of differing interpretations, “the examination of a number of texts has often thrown light upon some of the more obscure passages…[ii] In essence, St. Augustine says to read all the translations.

What separates Jesus from the rest of humanity isn’t that he read Torah, but that he did the Torah. He embodied it. It is Luke who has it right. It is interesting to note that Jesus never quotes Scripture to the masses. He says in the Sermon on the Mount, “You heard that it was said,” not “Scripture says.” In debating the Pharisees and Satan, he quotes Torah and the prophets early and often. He knew and studied Scripture. What set him apart was act.


If you expand this picture out you can see chains at the feet of Liberty, the broken chains of slavery

What was the act? Now that is what our first reading is all about. “He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the NAME and a day of vindication by our God.


This brings us to what it means to be a Christian. Do we not mean we were born of Christ? Does not St. Paul say, “So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” Therefore, to be like Christ is to love the poor as fellow children. That means not making excuses like, “The Church should do that and not the state,” and then give only 1.5% of our income as Catholics. Think this 1.5% isn’t accurate? Take your net pay, the pay on your last paycheck and divide that into how much is in that envelope you’re about to turn in. If it’s less that 1.5%, there’s your proof. If it’s about 2% you give what most protestants give. If it’s 4% you give about what most poor protestants give.

AMOUNT TO DONATE CHARTHow much should we give? Luke as John the Baptist say, “He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”

Rather than give a precise figure, however, let us look at that first reading again. “The spirit of the NAME GOD is upon me, because the NAME has anointed me.” The Holy Spirit is within us. The Jewish Community notes how first God rescued the Jewish people from Egypt/Oppression. Then and only then does he take them to Sinai. It’s only when they are rescued that he gives them Torah/instruction. We don’t follow Torah to get to heaven/salvation. We follow Torah because we’re already there. How much we give is a litmus test of how much of that salvation, how much of God’s Presence in the Eucharist gets into our hearts, first through hearing the Word, and then by how much of him we receive in the Eucharist.

When Jesus is asked the first commandment he quotes, not the Ten Words, but the Shema. “Hear Israel, (You who quarrel with God) God is Almighty, God is One. Love God with All your Hearts, all your Animate Being, and with all your measure. If we’re patriotic, that means loving God with our patriotism, and that means helping God serve the people through the state. Yes, it means the church through Peter’s Pence and other forms of church charity. Yes, it means through volunteer work and donations to other charitable groups, but yes, it means with everything. God doesn’t want 10%. He wants ten time 10%. He wants it all and he wants it to serve the least of our brothers.

Remember the example of St. James. If we give to serve ourselves, we’re just looking in the mirror and then forgetting who we are. Then we become paranoid and think the world is out to get us. If we serve God first, if Torah and Gospel are our focus, we will prevail.




[i] Augustine, Saint. The Complete Works of Saint Augustine: The Confessions, On Grace and Free Will, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, Expositions on the Book Of Psalms, … (50 Books With Active Table of Contents) (Kindle Locations 25349-25350).  . Kindle Edition.


[ii] Augustine, Saint. The Complete Works of Saint Augustine: The Confessions, On Grace and Free Will, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, Expositions on the Book Of Psalms, … (50 Books With Active Table of Contents) (Kindle Location 25365).  . Kindle Edition.


Second Sunday of Advent

Jess theses statement in LukeAs we read the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent we first come the name of Isaiah. Isaiah in Hebrew is largely an alternate spelling of Joshua, which in English translates as Jesus. The story for Mark begins with Jesus and it ends with Jesus. Quoting Isaiah, Mark says, “Prepare the way of the NAME, make straight his paths.”

How do we do that? That is the question for the Second Sunday of Advent. The rest of the passage describes John the Baptist. Hebrew is an interesting language. It’s alphabet, like all Semitic alphabets has two letters with no sound, “Aleph” and “Ayin,” which resembles our “Y.” It has two “S,” letters and three “K’s. It also has two “Ts.”

A Hebrew word for the world, meaning a verdant place, livable place is “Table,” with one “T”. Its word for baptism is “Table,” with another “T.” The idea behind baptism is not punishment but preparing us for “Table,” the verdant, literally spiced place. “Baptism” appears twelve times in Torah and Prophets to translate “Table.” In every case but one the clear reference is to the priest dipping sacrifices. 2 Kings 5:14 could mean dipping or immersion. The word appears one more time, Job 9:31 where it clearly refers to plunging into a ditch.

John the Baptist“John the Baptist, in most of the remaining Gospel reading for today is described to look like Elijah. The Gemara cites another verse and interprets it homiletically. It is stated: “The NAME showed me four craftsmen” (Zechariah 2:3). Who are these four craftsmen? Rav Ḥana bar Bizna said that Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida said: They are Messiah ben David, Messiah ben Yosef, Elijah, and the righteous High Priest, who will serve in the Messianic era.” Sukkah 52:b

Elijah will be the herald of the eschaton. Messiah ben Joseph will wage war against the evil forces and die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel. In the Sefer Zerubbabel and later writings, after his death a period of great calamities will befall Israel. God will resurrect the dead and usher in the Messianic Era of universal peace. Messiah ben David will reign as a Jewish king during the period when God will resurrect the dead.

Of the righteous High Priest, one Targum says, “And Melchisedech, the king of Jerusalem — he is Shem the Great — brought out bread and wine, for he was a priest ministering in the high priesthood before God Most High.

jm_200_NT1.pd-P7.tiffJohn the Baptist points to Jesus who is a Carpenter, whose Father is Joseph, who dies in battle, some sources say against Rome, and against Gog which is Hebrew for “Roof,” and the Temple is one big roof. Elijah also points to penance as Elijah is a Teshuvah which means penance.

Our first reading gives the answer of what we are baptized to. “A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the NAME! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. The importance of the NAME shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the NAME has spoken.

As to what penance is penance to, we read Leviticus 14. This chapter is about the purification of lepers. In the Septuagint or Greek Bible, “Baptize” appears three times. The passage talks of dipping a living bird into the blood of a dead one. The dead one is dipped into running water. The original word, faithfully translated into Greek is “Living Water.” The Gospel of John will take this up when Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman.

White swan

We are baptized into life. The dead bird is sacrificed so we may live. Living is defined in this passage to. Living water is flowing water. It is water that shows the dynamics of what it means to be alive. St. John shows he agrees with this definition by also talking of living water. We get to this life by being what the Jewish people call “Tam.” This means perfection but in the sense of leading simple, humble lives where there are no people representing valleys, depressed, hungry, thirsty, and the like because all the mountains and hills, all the greedy people are made low. All the rough, vulgar, average people who are made rough by their pain will be made smooth. We will all be Tam, because God is ruler and all the rest of us are sheep. Are we up to the task of helping to build this world, or must God look for others?

Why Mark begins his Gospel with John the Baptist

Jess theses statement in LukeNoah, give Noah to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she received from the hand of the NAME double for all her mistakes.

A voice cries out in the desert prepare the way of the NAME! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. The importance of the NAME shall be revealed. All people shall see it together; the mouth of the NAME has spoken.

The Hebrew word for “Comfort” used in this passage is “Noah.” Give Noah to my people. What does Noah represent? Noah and his family are the only people who survived the flood. Noah is the last person through whom all the rest of the human race finds life.

Second_TempleIsaiah next mentions Jerusalem. “Jeru” means “City,” and “Shalom,” of course means, “Peace.” It means more than peace. “Shalom,” is also the word for “Complete,” and therefore, “Perfect.” Shalom means the perfect kind of peace that only comes with tranquility, feeling satisfied with what we have, as a nation. Proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt expiated. What guilt?

Hebrew has no punctuation. We are told to proclaim. In Hebrew service, the word is proclaimed by being sung. The cantillation of the rabbis is “A Voice cries out, in the desert prepare the way of the NAME.” That is the way the Egyptian monks of the first century understood the passage. They went out into the desert, built cells, and prepared for God. In the desert all were equal. This idea found its way through Athanasius to the Cappadocian Fathers to St. Ambrose and to St. Augustine, all of whom founded monasteries and rules for them, all of which taught equality amongst people. It also includes St. John Cassian.

St. Francis and the leperSaint Hilary of Poitiers as well as of St. Martin of Tours form a link which goes to Columbus, to St. Patrick, and the Irish Catholic Church. There’s no desert in Ireland, but there is plenty of countryside, and it is to the countryside that the Irish went. The monks confessed their sins to each other. The purpose for going to the desert is to remove guilt and to return to a state of equality. In Ireland, the monks went out to the people and heard confession. That is where our understanding of confession comes from.

“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” Isaiah wasn’t talking about mountains and hills, rugged land and plain, the rough broad. He talks of people. The mountain people, those who are filled with themselves will be made low. Those who lead tough lives, of whom I’m one, will be made smooth. The roughness of our lives will be smoothed out and we’ll receive that Noah, that comfort. We’ll live in the broad valley, as sheep, a community of equals. That’s why our first reading ends, Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.

John the BaptistIn Jewish tradition, no word in scripture is present with no purpose. Elijah first appears in I Kings 17 as Elijah the Tishbite. “Teshubah,” is the Hebrew word for repentance. In I Kings 19 says of him that he ate cakes baked on coals. It also mentions a Staff a Cush of water. This can also mean a batter dripped on a hot grill with honey. Then it mentions that he drank water. II Kings 1:8 tells us that Elijah wore the camel’s hair and a leather belt. John the Baptist comes in the same tradition wearing the same clothes and eating the same food.

A look through the Greek Septuagint looking for Baptize will show us that the word translates as both to dip as we baptize our babies as Catholics, and as emersion. The idea is for a symbolic cleansing from the secular way we were, to become Tishbite, to repent and live a new way. This is the way of equality, where all are equal, all eat the same foods, and dress in the same dress.

Sin is inequality, were some live in fenced in communities, drive nice cars, and consume with impunity, knowing that across the street people go hungry. They look out their churches and see people with no homes who drown out their misery with alcohol. Let us work to build a community of equality. Then God will come and choose to dwell among us. Then we will feel his presence as it fills us in the Eucharist. This is why Mark begins his Gospel with John the Baptist.


Jess theses statement in Luke“You do not know when the Kyrie of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'” Gospel First Sunday of Advent

What does it mean to watch?

“Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgement. Establish many pupils. And make a safety fence around the Torah.

Great Assembly
Men of the Great Assembly preparing to speak the Word of God to the people.

“Shimon the Tzadik was among the last surviving members of the Great assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G‑d, and deeds of kindness.

“Let your home be a meeting place for the wise; dust yourself in the soil of their feet, and drink thirstily of their words. Let your home be wide open, and let the poor be members of your household. When the litigants stand before you, consider them both guilty; and when they leave your courtroom, having accepted the judgement, regard them as equally Tzadik. Increasingly cross-examine the witnesses. Be careful with your words, lest they learn from them how to lie.

AaronHillel would say: Be of the disciples of Aaron–a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loves the creatures and draws them close to Torah. One who advances his name, destroys his name. One who does not increase, diminishes. (Either do your part or you help to tear the community apart) (If you don’t continue learing and using you will lose what you have and you will help to tear the nation apart.) One who does not learn is deserving of death. If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” Ethics of the Fathers Chapter 1

“Shammai would say: Make your Torah study a permanent fixture of your life. Say little and do much. And receive every man with a pleasant face.”

Rabban Gamliel would say: Assume for yourself a master; stay away from doubt.”

Raphael presentation in the temple“His son, Shimon, would say: All my life I have been raised among the wise, and I have found nothing better for the body than silence. The essential thing is not study, but deed. By three things is the world sustained: instruction, truth and peace. As is stated (Zachariah 8:16), “Truth, and a judgement of peace, you should administer at your [city] gates.” (That is not strict constructionist interpretation and that is not Stare Decisis. Peace is peace and having a sclerotic interpretation of law is having a sclerotic interpretation of law.)

The Men of the Great Assembly comprised such prophets as Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (who is Ezra), Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, Nehemiah among others. The Great Assembly is simply designated as “Ezra and his court of law.” This may well be the redactor of the Old Testament as we largely know it today.

Hillel and Shammai were the leaders of the two great schools of the generation before Jesus. Hillel can be rightly called the Jewish St. Francis, or more precisely, St. Francis can be called the Catholic Hillel. Shammai was an engineer and thought as one. The emphasis for Hillel was love, peace and community, and for Shammai it was on thinking in terms of math and building in the way an engineer builds.

In relation to Hillel’s first quote read the article, Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Rabban Gamliel is mention in the book of Acts: 5-34. His son Shimon may well be the Simon mentioned in Luke 2:25-35.

What is their advice in relation to watching? Be cautious in judgement. Establish many pupils. And make a safety fence around the Torah, study it often, preferably in Hebrew.

“Shimon the Tsaddik was among the last surviving members of the Great assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G‑d, and deeds of kindness. The flip of establishing pupils is to first be one. It is constant study of Torah in the hand of tradition, listening to the elders and picking a particular elder, school to learn under. Make a fence around Torah means to know it so well that one can’t be fooled by false interpretations.  The service of God is liturgy.

The Ten WordsHillel brings this in when he discusses Aaron. Aaron also means Ark. Inside the Ark was the Ten Commandments, which in Hebrew are called the Asher Hadebarim. “Asher can both mean “Ten,” and “Happy.” If we count the Command statements in the next chapter, Deuteronomy 5, we find there are as many as 18 command statements. These commands, when followed, are designed to make us, each and every one of us in the community, Happy. Aaron represented liturgy as a way to teach people how to bring a true sense of a community of happy people.

Hillel summarizes this by saying that Aaron is “a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loves the creatures and draws them close to Torah.”

ambroseInside the advice to community leaders is the command to view all people coming to court as guilty. John Locke states that no man is a fair judge in his own case. Second Treatise on Government. Each person, we must presume, is wrong in at least some details of the case. The community leader’s role is those to examine under every rock and show each side where they’re wrong. It is to get them to also see where the other side is right in some details. When each leaves the court, they leave reconciled and that means Tam, innocent, of a simple, humble mind, ready to rejoin the community. Likewise, when the community leader examines the witnesses, it is thorough, but at the same time, as not to teach them to lie. We teach children, and people in general to lie when we are harsh, punishing with word and dead.

Our judges, of course do neither. They run on the premise of doing neither. They are “Tough on criminals.” Conservatives in particular don’t care what the effect of their decision will be. Everything is according to stare decisis, the standing of the decided, or precedent. This is what the Pharisees did. They spoke of ruling to bring piece, but everything was based upon being tough on criminals and on precedent.

Then comes deeds of kindness. Simeon is correct in saying that deeds need to come before study in relation to Torah. “Faith without Works is Dead,” Our letter of James says. If we know everything and do nothing, what is our study for. If we do everything and don’t study, we may have the concepts wrong, but we still did the right thing. In speaking to the knowing Pharisees, doesn’t Jesus say that prostitutes and deviants will see the Kingdom of God, before them?” If we don’t study, how will we know what good deeds are?

Simons mother in lawIt’s a balance between the three, Torah, liturgy and good deeds that the Fathers speak of. When they speak of putting a fence around Torah, they speak of the same thing Jesus does when he speaks of watching. Study Torah and Gospel so we know basic right and wrong. Participate fully in liturgy to have what the Jews call Cavanaugh, or intention, so we can learn basic right from wrong, but must important of all, is to do what we learn to do. Without it, all the rest is putrid flesh. Jesus will come when we least expect and in a way we don’t expect, a poor homeless baby of an unwed mother who’s an immigrant. We’ll be harsh on him, like the Pharisees the first time around, and we’ll pay the same price they did.

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Jess theses statement in LukeSon of man, prophesy against the shepherds* of Israel. Prophesy and say to them: To the shepherds, thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds pasture the flock? The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly. As for you, my sheep, says the NAME GOD, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.” First Reading, The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

takes kidneysOver the past two weeks we have been reading Matthew 25. We found that the key word for the first Sunday was the flasks the wise virgins carried. It is “Cali” and is the same word the Jewish people use for “Kidneys.” They kidneys are the organ the Jewish people identified with “Mind.” There are two kidneys and there are the two main thought processes, the inclination to the beautiful, and the inclination to the rotten. God calls us to love him with both. Deuteronomy 6:4-9. The virgins burn fat in their kidneys, bowls producing light. We are the light of the world, as Jesus says. For this, we must be ready, having the fat of our inner resources, our gut, to spread our light to the nations.

Catholics in this nation only give 1.5% of their income to charity, and the bulk of this goes to church upkeep, what we give ourselves. Doubt this? Consider your gross pay for the past week. Now look at how much you gave to charity this past week. What percentage did you give to the church? About a third of charitable giving is to the church, most going to church upkeep. Remember renting out the school so we could pay our bills? Remember the church debt we keep being reminded about? Is this going out with full kidneys to give light to the world?

The reading for last week, addresses the opposite concern. The key word in this passage literally translates “From under the beginning,” and therefore, “According to its nature.” So, “To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his nature.” God expects each of us to give according to our nature, no more and no less. The one given one talent, about $20,000 to invest grumbles. He wants more. He wants to be more than God called him to be. When he finds out God only wants according to his nature he says, “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.’

TalentThis is, of course, an insult to God. The man develops a bad attitude because, it appears, we have been through this before. The man wants to be more than God calls him to be. God only wants us to be ourselves. One of the rules of Jewish rhetoric is that there are no unnecessary details. Why One, Two, and Five talents. There are five books of Torah. There is the Torah and the Gospels, and there is the current leadership, Pharisee and Christian. As discussed last week, Tam means both perfection and simplicity or simple innocence in Hebrew. It is used that way in Genesis 6:9, translating the Greek word used in Matthew 5:48 as Tam. Examples also include Deuteronomy 18:13.

It is important to note that this section does not refer to the masses. It refers only to the leadership, those who have been given that talent, the $20,000 plus for investing.

Now we come to the third section of Matthew 25, the address to the ethnics, the nations. If we have that light within us, guiding us in the way we aught to go, and if we know our limits, we still need to know the task at hand. It is not a literal investing at the tables. The Greek word for bank literally translates as table. The banks were originally tables set out. The prime examples are the ones Jesus overturned in the temple.

jesus-cleansing-the-temple“When the Son of Man comes in his importance, and all the messengers with him, he will sit upon his shining throne, and all the ethnics will be assembled before him. He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Gospel Reading.

Son of man, Navy against the shepherds of Israel. Navy and tell them: To the shepherds, thus says the NAME GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves. Should not shepherds pasture the flock? You consumed milk, wore wool, and slaughtered fatlings, but the flock you did not pasture. Ezekiel 34:1 from our First Reading.

In light of this we read, The richest 0.1 percent are now worth more than the entire bottom 90 percent of the U.S. population.” Pew research. Our leadership is making the same mistakes as the Pharisees two millennium ago, but on steroids. There solution is to give tax cuts to the rich, further fueling the wage gap, to bribe them to bring their money back to the US and invest it. If they make this kind of money now, would the bribe really bring the money back to America?

You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the stray or seek the lost but ruled them harshly and brutally. So, they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. First reading.

Pro-lifeThe US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of those in prison. We have 31% of the Mass Shootings. Nations in Civil War don’t have as many mass shootings as America has. The solution of the wealthy is to cut funding for health care, further fueling the sick not being healed and the injured not being bound with dressings. We don’t go to the city streets looking for the stray and they lost, but put supervisors over them with no training in leadership who rule them harshly.  They feel scattered.

Dr. Martin Luther King stated in his “I have  Dream Speech, “We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.”

Another Baptist Minister accused of being a Socialist wrote our Pledge of Allegiance

If our nation was plagued by anything in this last election it was the view that we have nothing, or nobody to vote for. What is the role of Catholics? “Here We wish to recall those numerous works of zeal for the good of the Church, society, and individuals under the general name of “Catholic Action,” which by the grace of God flourish throughout the world… These civil rights are of various kinds, even to the extent of directly participating in the political life of the country by representing the people in the legislative halls. 

This concession places a duty on all Catholics to prepare themselves prudently and seriously for political life in case they may be called to it. Hence it is of the utmost importance that the same activity (previously so praiseworthily planned by Catholics for the purpose of preparing themselves by means of good electoral organization for the administrative life of common and provincial councils) be extended to a suitable preparation and organization for political life.

Above all else he must remember to be and to act in every circumstance as a true Catholic, accepting and fulfilling public offices with the firm and constant resolution of promoting by every means the social and economic welfare of the country and particularly of the people, according to the maxims of a truly Christian civilization, and at the same time defending the supreme interests of the Church, which are those of religion and justice. The last three paragraphs all from Pope Pius X IL FERMO PROPOSITO June 11, 1905

Working class familyThese words have been repeated in all the statements from Rerum Novarum to the present. They are Jesus’ words from our readings today.

He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ They will answer, ‘Kyrie, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’ Gospel reading.

We need to keep in mind the next verse as we read these words and ask if they really apply to us, “When Jesus finished all these words, he said to his disciples, “You know that in two days’ time it will be Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” The chief priests Heir Archy, and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, hierarch who was called Caiaphas…” Caiaphas is Hebrew for boiled fat. If we fatten ourselves at the expense of the poor, the people will refer to us as boiled fat.

Jesus heals the epilepticThis is of course the opening words of the Passion. As we treat the poor, we participate in the Passion. God has a contract with the poor. As you treat them, you treat him. If you treat him badly, God has a way of getting even. To say it is the church’s role to feed the poor is not consistent with our passages this day. It is addressed to Israel, the whole community, not the priests, or those whose sole role is liturgy. The address is to the nations, not individuals. As we treat the poor, we treat the Trinity and the Trinity has ways of getting even. We need to remember that. Not having people to vote for is not an excuse either. Pope Pius X, whose picture graces our altar, tells us to be, or at least educate the people to vote for. God calls all of us to be the light to the nations, not just those who attend church, the Kyrie Oichos on Sunday. We truly have much to do before November 2018, and not much time to do it.

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 EveLet 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 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.” The Greek word appears twice in the Septuagint and both times the translated Hebrew word is Tam.


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.”

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.

We then conclude that Eve eats from the knowledge of the satisfying and the rotten, she is no longer Tam, but wise, Shekel. Like our modern merchants she places her hope in her self and her shekel, the coin.

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 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. In the nativity we see similar. Zachariah doesn’t trust. He asks, “How will I know such things?” Gabriel replies by taking away his ability to speak. All Zachariah says comes out as Babel. So it is when leaders don’t trust God or the people. All they say comes out as Babel. They find themselves in the position Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of in his I Have a Dream Speech. “When the Negro in New York has no one for which to vote.” If the people are going to have light, the leadership must have light.

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, spend more on defense, and hide behind walls in gated communities. This is the solution of the man with one talent.

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.

German Shepherd herding

“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.


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.


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.

Don’t we speak of the living and the dead, the quick and the dead, the quick current president and the late President Kennedy, with late meaning he’s dead? There is something quick about life and something late/non-moving about non-life.

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. When we read about the parable of the Talents we read that the master give each according to his ἀπεδήμησεν, or “according to his nature.” Promoting life means helping each other in our mutual pursuit of Happiness, to live according to his, and not our nature. 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.



“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.”


“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.”


“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.

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.