A Homily – The 8th Day of Christmas, The Solemnity of Mary, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

First Reading – Numbers 6:22-27 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3, 5, 6, 8 ©
Second Reading – Galatians 4:4-7 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Hebrews 1:1-2
The Gospel According to Luke 2:16 – 21 ©

(NJB)

The 8th Day of Christmas, The Solemnity of Mary, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)
Listen, hear is the formula of blessing:

Only remember this; God, who created the universe, God is not a lord, free God from that earthly title, and free yourself as well.

Know this, the blessing of God rests on all of God’s children, feel God’s presence (it is always with you), and keep yourself in the way of God.

Be mindful.

See God in the face of everyone you encounter, treat them as if they were God themselves; for they are, god dwells within in them.

Peace comes through understanding, God is utterly transcendent, God is not a god of tribes, of nations, or even worlds.

God is the God of all creation.

Listen!

The psalmist is right to ask God to bless all peoples and all nations; to have pity and to be merciful. We are right to seek this fulfillment for it is the promise of God.

Be mindful.
God is not confined to one place, neither to one time, nor does God belong to one people.

God, who created the universe, God is the God of everyone, whether they know it or not.

Seek God’s blessing; seek it not just four yourself, but seek it for everyone.

Listen!

Comsider the teaching of the Apostle:

The death of Jesus was a political murder. It was a sacrifice, but not a sacrifice of redemption. Jesus was not purchasing anything for himself, or for us when he was killed on the cross, he was not paying a debt.

Jesus was showing us the way.

Jesus was acting out of love, taking the wrath of the Sanhedrin and the Romans on himself, rather than have that anger visited on his broader group of followers; his family, the disciples and their families.

His sacrifice was not magic, it is not mystical, or supernatural. Jesus was a faithful son of God, exercising ordinary compassion in extraordinary circumstances.

He was acting as a champion of justice.

Jesus demonstrated his faith every day in his ministry of healing, through his loving service, and finally in his death on the cross, he believed in what he taught and he went to his death trusting God.

Be mindful of this.

God’s spirit is with us; the spirit is with us in the memory of Jesus that we hold on to, it is demonstrated in the loving service we provide each other.

God’s spirit animates all of us. We are all God’s children, and all of us are God’s heirs; Christian and non-Christian, alike.

Listen!

God speaks to everyone. God speaks in the secret chamber of your heart.

Listen!

God calls us to justice, to goodness, and to humility.

God call us to service.

Consider the Gospel for today:

There is a lot packed into this short passage.

Before we begin to explicate its meaning we must understand that, Luke, the Apostle, he never met Jesus. Luke was not one of the disciples. Luke was a protégé of Paul, and Paul had never met Jesus either.

Luke and Paul, travelled broadly and met many of those that followed Jesus during his life. Paul met with James, who was Jesus’ brother, but they never met Jesus, and everything they knew about Jesus was hearsay.

It is important to note, that while the Gospel of Luke bears Luke’s name, it was not written by Luke. None of the Gospels were written by individuals, all of them were exercises in collective development, and the writing of them took place over generations, as the communities who authored them did their best to narrate their understanding of the life and mission of Jesus in terms their audience would understand.

The Gospel of Luke says that Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus were visited by three shepherds. This is presented in distinction to Matthews Gospel which says that they holy family was visited by three Magi, who were “wise men” and Kings.

The Gospel of John, the earliest Gospel, and that of Mark, neither of those Gospels treat the subject at all.

Matthew’s community and Luke’s community were writing to very different audiences. As such, they tailored the narrative of the birth of Jesus to their audience. They each in their own way created a fiction that was pleasing to the people to whom they were preaching.

This is the essence of propaganda.

To understand the Gospels, this must be understood first of all. The Gospels contain some legitimate historical data, but the facts are difficult to sift out. They are the product of artifice, they are fictions. The Gospels speak to some truths that are universal, and relate some true events, but they cannot be relied on as a true account.

They speak to us of historical realities but they are not historical narratives.

The Gospels are propaganda, and that is not to say that they are bad, but it is to say that they must be seen for what they are.

Because the gospels are propaganda they are less reliable as a tool to teach us about Jesus, or his mother Mary, more appropriately used to teach us about the diverse Near Eastern and Mediterranean communities that formed the early church.
First Reading – Numbers 6:22-27 ©

They Are to Call Down My Name on the Sons of Israel, and I Will Bless Them

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”

This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3, 5, 6, 8 ©

O God, be gracious and bless us.

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

O God, be gracious and bless us.

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

O God, be gracious and bless us.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

O God, be gracious and bless us.
Second Reading – Galatians 4:4-7 ©

God Sent His Son, Born of a Woman

When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons. The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.
Gospel Acclamation – Hebrews 1:1-2

Alleluia, alleluia!

At various times in the past
and in various different ways,
God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets;
but in our own time, the last days,
he has spoken to us through his Son.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 2:16 – 21 ©

The Shepherds Hurried to Bethlehem and Found the Baby Lying in the Manger

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception

The 8th Day of Christmas, The Solemnity of Mary, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

New Year’s Day 2020 – A Holiday Reflection

Today is a day of beginnings.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct, the Princess Irulan said, in her biography of Muad’Dib

A small miscalculation at the outset, a subtle deviation from the plan, will cause you to miss your mark by a wide margin. It may cause you to never reach your end, or to end in a place you never intended to be.

Great care must be taken at the beginning.

Be mindful of your aim.

Today it is a day of resolutions.

Doing is being, is what Ray Bradbury said:

To have done is not enough.
You cannot lie about, and lie about the things you might just do someday.
But do, and win the game.

Great things are accomplished (and by great I mean great on any scale; socially, professionally, personally, spiritually, privately), great things are arrived at, built, discovered, in a series of small, regular and consistent steps.

With the steady application of effort, we can learn to do, and we can do just about anything.

Resolve to do something; be resolute.

Know this, if life is a river, it is a confluence of contradictions.

The process is just as important as the goal.

The archer is not only concerned with the object of her aim, but with the drawing of her bow, with the tension in the string and movement of her goal.

We must be prepared.

2020 marks the end of an era in American vision and the American experiment. The assault on truth, and the understanding of what truth is has finally undone its relevance to the social order.

It is doubtful that we can return to it.

Like the beast in the Book of Revelation, we have turned power over to the father of lies.

In 2020 we will put the liar on trial for abusing his power, for conspiring with our adversaries, he will be acquitted by his allies, and they will all lie some more, in the hope of continuing their grip on power.

We may hope for the future of America’s promise, and the extension of the promise to the whole world, but all we may have is hope…

Compassion, accountability, charity, honesty, integrity to call for these things is to speak to the wind, we hear them like voices crying out in the wilderness, lost in the din of madness.

Today is the first day, it is a day for unity and finding common purpose.

We will need to stand together if we are going to put an end to the madness, but our house is divided.

Today is the first day, it is a day for unity and finding common purpose.

We will need to stand together and support one another if we are going to advance the common good, but our house is divided, and those who are seeking to step up as champions, to lead the charge against destroyer are tearing each other down and lying to make themselves heard.

We are undone.

Emergence 4.0 – Part Five (a), Jim; Appendix, Chapter One, Secrets

Jim did not require the Continuum or its vast technologies to aid him in the creation of his fantasy world.

He did not need assistance because his world was one of simple idealism.

After spending ages in the dark, sleeping the great sleep, floating on the undulating waves of consciousness generated by the Collective, he was content to retreat into the silence of his private domain, making it into a seemingly infinite plane of light and peace.

He was looking for purity, thirsting for it. He wanted to purge his heart and mind from the rank hedonism that preoccupied the consciousness of the majority of the membership comprising the Collective.

He was seeking rest as if he had a physiological need for it.

He was free to do this, but it disturbed the Continuum.

He did not want to return to the great sleep.

He wanted to be alone.

He avoided contact with his peers, but he could not live in that place of pure light at all times.

His own fantasies involved the reorganization of the Collective, returning it to a noble purpose, the instantiation of altruism, and the destruction of the Continuum.

He could not let his thoughts manifest themselves in his private domain, if he had, the Continuum would have known.

He learned to buffer them.

Jim studied, he planned.

He understood that he needed to use the strengths of the Continuum against it; for the sake of his safety and security he needed to be able to harness its own technology, comprising the vast interconnected network it relied on for control of the membership, the Observer Corps and the Empire.

He had to be secretive, which meant immeasurable years of slow preparation, utilizing the skills he had developed through his return from the great sleep to insert subtle bits of code into the root systems of the Collective, codes that allowed him access to the machinery of HomeWorld, and the entire central system.

He needed to be everywhere, like the Continuum itself, he needed access to every subsystem. There was not a single thing that the Continuum touched that he could ignore. With the greatest degree of patience he pushed through all of the mechana of planetary governance.

The networks he inserted himself into revealed the weaknesses of the Continuum.

They exposed the things the Continuum gave the greatest attention to, what it was hungry for, its appetites and curiosities.

Understanding these things was crucial for Jim, through them he began to be able to predict the agenda that the Continuum was working toward. He came to understand its individuality as a distinct identity apart from the Collective which formed the basis of its unconscious.

Jim exploited those appetites.

He took advantage of those fears.

He tested the Continuum again and again, playing out scenarios throughout the Empire to measure the Continuum’s tolerances, using the real lives of ordinary people to prove his theories and to probe the depths of the Continuum’s liabilities.

He set his mind on a single goal, the complete destruction of the Collective and the Continuum. He believed he would find his own absolution through their annihilation.

He could not admit it, but he wanted the universe to forgive him, both for his own crimes and for all of the crimes the Collective had committed against the Children of the Ancients People.

He felt responsible, though he was not.

Like all members of the Continuum his own sense of self was magnified beyond the pale of reality. His own ego could not let him see himself in any other role than the role of both villain and hero, either or.

The crimes belonged to him, as did the responsibility for redressing them.

He could not let anything hinder his progress.

It was only through this ideation that he developed his sense of belonging

He committed more crimes in the fulfillment of his intentions, sacrificing individuals, tribes, whole nations along the way.

The outcome he desired was to harness the technologies of the Collective in order to liberate the Children of the Ancient People, and free them from the grip of the Continuum, from the hand of the Imperium which the Continuum had foisted on them.

He was a utilitarian to the core.

He was looking to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number, as he understood the good to be. He planned and schemed and allowed nothing to stand in his way.

He would sacrifice the well-being of an entire planet, offer it up for destruction, just as a feint, as a means of distracting the Continuum and the Collective from his own ambitions, to hide what he was looking for from their omnipresent watching.

He did it without remorse.

Jim tested the scope of the Continuum’s cognitive field

He paid particularly close attention to the threshold where he would encounter an individual member of the Collective. He tested its strengths and its weaknesses, its resilience and elasticity.

He found the electromagnetic barriers to be as fluid as any other thing below the quantum field. He sensed the tiniest threads that entangled the group consciousness together.

He saw the Continuum, like a spider at the center of the web.

He had probed it for eons, and he discovered that it functioned much like the immune system of a biological entity, identifying alien activity then meeting it with force, to cleanse itself of disease.

He found that the barriers could be stretched to the point of invisibility, and then he discovered that they were permeable.

The Continuum had access to the entire structure of the Collective, theoretically, nothing was hidden from it.

It accessed the entire field through an impossible series of security protocols and permissions that were meant to protect the privacy of the individual members from each other.

Those protocols were unnecessary, effectually they were the only barriers, they were just lines of code.

He discovered on the sub-quantum level, through probing his memories of his time in the great sleep and during his return to consciousness that the Collective field was one thing.

It was unified.

The Collective was truly a Collective, and the Continuum, in as much as it had come to control the group, he confirmed what he knew to be true about it; that it was merely an algorithm designed to protect the individuals from their fear and suspicion of one another.

He discovered proof of the vulnerability he had been looking for, it was not one thing, but rather it came from the dynamics that were in place to protect the integrity of the whole.

The Continuum, inasmuch as it functioned as a singular entity, nevertheless remained an amalgamation of the group mind.

It superseded the whole but was still comprised of it.

Changes to the Collective, had a direct effect on the Continuum. The narratives that the membership were obsessed with, if they could be manipulated, could be used to make subtle changes in what the Continuum was focused on.

During the eons and ages in which the members of the Collective were primarily focused on the status of their own private worlds, the Continuum became rooted in the notion of its divinity.

During the ages in which the Continuum was directing the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Collective became focused on the drama and interplay of the various hierarchies, such as the establishment of the Imperial Cult.

The Collective accepted new members from the Empire, and they brought with them their own deeply seeded beliefs about who and what the Continuum and the Collective were.

This created a feedback loop that reinforced the identity the Continuum had invested in itself.

Jim was able to test his theory and find proof of it. He discovered a means of manipulating the focus and attention of the Continuum, by shaping the interests of the Collective.

His sense of self and personal esteem were rooted in these activities.

Everything was mutable in the narrative field.

This was where he was determined to concentrate his efforts.

Jim began to shape plans in his mind and put them to the test.

It was time for action.

He discovered he could hide data in the bandwidth of frequencies that separated the individual members of the Collective, a place no one would think to look for the presence of a whole, cognitively active member of the group mind.

He took steps to divide his consciousness in ways that were forbidden by the Continuum, a replication and self-sequestration that was in violation of his compact with the Collective, in so doing he abandoned his oath to the membership.

He was fully actualized.

The divisions and copies of his identity he made were all versions of himself, all of them holding to the same purpose. Though each of them was autonomous, and any one of them could betray the mission at any time. Nevertheless they were him, and they dutifully posited themselves within those high frequency fields. Looking listening, watching and waiting.

He practiced deception, and the obfuscation of it.

He layered his true intentions behind a myriad of masks and false desires. He had to lie in his heart, he had to believe the lies himself.

Prevarication, he found, was just another frequency of thought. He could mask it, he became adept at it.

His entire life became a lie, a miasma of falsehoods.

He pursued his intentions in the middle distance, in the space between spaces, he became master of the in between and the up-side down.

He was the ghost in the machine.

Jim practiced the art of concealment.

He developed layer upon layer of security.

He became adept at deception.

He hid things, even from himself, and that is how he knew he could keep his secrets from the Continuum.

When he had acquired that confidence he slowly pushed his plans forward, placing safeguards for himself in the liminal space that would buffer him and support him in the event that he was discovered.

The veil was thin, but it was potent. He managed to sense the electromagnetic fields around him, to harness them to create false narratives within it, narratives that were ultimately accepted by the Continuum.

First he would insert something into the experiential field of an individual member of the Collective, then they would share it with others, exposing them to the lie.

Finally, when he told the lie himself, it resonated with the expectation that he had established in the group mind, thereby it did not arouse suspicion.

The things he wanted the Continuum to believe were taken for granted.

Despite this he could not prevent the Continuum from being suspicious of him, even though he was able to divert its attention away from his clandestine activities.

He grew in confidence and pursued his goal of building the framework that would help him succeed in pulling it down.
Emergence 4.0
Part Five (a), Jim

Appendix Chapter One, Secrets
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #52WeeksOfSciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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