A Homily – The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Zechariah 9:9-10 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):1-2, 8-11, 13b-14 ©

Second Reading – Romans 8:9, 11-13 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

The Gospel According to Matthew 11:25 – 30 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen!

 

God. the creator of the universe, God is not the God of war, or victory in battle.

 

God is not the God of nations, of tribes and churches but the God of all people.

 

When we express God’s universality is not to express God’s dominion over all things, or the hope that God will conquer all people, bringing them to heel in Zion.

 

God is the God of all people, wherever they are. God always have been and God always will be.

 

What is good and true in the prophet’s words are these:

 

God desires that we be at peace with ourselves and one another, God desires this above all other things.

 

Do not make the same mistake as the psalmist, God is not a king.

 

God is the creator of the universe; God is present in all times and places, including the deepest recesses of the human heart.

 

Remember:

 

God does not intervene in human events. God’s influence over God’s children is indirect. God’s power does not interfere with human freedom.

 

When you contemplate the power of God, contemplate the ways of God’s love and mercy, contemplate the humility of Jesus.

 

Know this:

 

The Apostle misses an important point in so doing he makes a grievous error.

 

The spirit of God lives in all people. Do not doubt it. We are all God’s children, and God loves every single one of us. Everyone is a child of God, from the most disciplined and devout, to the most reckless and devilish.

 

The spirit of Jesus lives in all people. Jesus is our friend and brother, our relationship to Jesus is an ontological reality, one that we cannot undo, no matter how hard we might try.

 

Our relationship to God and Jesus is a determinative factor in the nature of our being, as all of our relationships are, no matter how remote or distant from us in time and space they might be.

 

Do not forget this.

 

We are free to live spiritual lives, lives governed by our most altruistic hopes and values. We do not have to live as animals.

 

Be mindful!

 

The teachings of Jesus cannot be treated like a shell game, though they often are, and have been since the beginning, as Matthew’s Gospel illustrates.

 

The way of Jesus is not a long can, it is not a bait and switch, it is a simple teaching that cannot be controlled or owned by any one group of people.

 

Pay attention to the second paragraph in today’s reading, there is truth, but the first paragraph is the lie.

 

Know this!

 

God, the creator of the universe, God has hidden nothing from us.

 

Because we are created in the divine image, because we carry a seed of the word inside us, knowledge and understanding of the truth is available to us, it is in the open for anyone to see.

 

The wise and the powerful, the learned and the clever, the weak and the meek, everyone has access to the same truth, to the knowledge of God, of justice, of hope, and love.

 

Consider this:

 

Who are the wise and powerful?

 

Who are the learned and the clever?

 

Who are the faithful and childlike?

 

In every generation, you will see a new group labeling the elder group as out of touch, blind, privileged, in the dark, corrupt, and because we are talking about human beings it may very well be true, but it is not necessarily true.

 

This is a cycle that is seemingly without end, and the truth remains the same; love justice, be merciful, do good, serve God through the loving service you provide to one another: your family, your friend, your neighbor, the stranger, even your enemy.

 

Walk in the spirit of humility.

 

Just because a person is wise and powerful, learned and clever, or a child of the church, does not mean they recognize the truth when they see it, or act upon it when they do.

 

It is not your station in society, it is not how other people regard you, it is not the titles you have earned or the ways that you have been marginalized that give us the tell on how you will fulfill your calling to follow Jesus and the way. What matters is what is in your heart, and your willingness to trust in the content of your hope, for that is the essence of faith.

 

 

First Reading – Zechariah 9:9-10 ©

 

See Now, your King Comes Humbly to You

 

The Lord says this:

 

Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion!

 

Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem!

 

See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

 

He will banish chariots from Ephraim and horses from Jerusalem; the bow of war will be banished.

 

He will proclaim peace for the nations.

 

His empire shall stretch from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):1-2, 8-11, 13b-14 ©

 

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

 

Alleluia!

 

I will give you glory, O God my king,

I will bless your name for ever.

I will bless you day after day

and praise your name for ever.

 

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

 

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

How good is the Lord to all,

compassionate to all his creatures.

 

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

 

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,

and your friends shall repeat their blessing.

They shall speak of the glory of your reign

and declare your might, O God.

 

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

 

The Lord is faithful in all his words

and loving in all his deeds.

The Lord supports all who fall

and raises all who are bowed down.

 

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 8:9, 11-13 ©

 

If by the Spirit You Put an End to the Misdeeds of the Body, you Will Live

 

Your interests are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him, and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.

 

So then, my brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Blessed are you, Father,

Lord of heaven and earth,

for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom

to mere children.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 11:25 – 30 ©

 

You Have Hidden these Things from the Wise and Revealed them to Little Children

 

Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

 

‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

 

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

Independence Day – A Holiday Reflection

I have always loved the fourth of July; the mid-summer holiday, the nostalgic look back at the victories of the Continental Soldiers, the American revolutionaries who threw off the yoke of tyranny and the oppression of kings.

 

I loved it.

 

I loved it uncritically as a child.

 

I loved it without thought or question, and a part of me still does.

 

As I grew older and learned more about the real history of the revolutionary war, the real politics of the founders, the philosophies that drove them, the numerous ways in which they were morally and ethically compromised (compromised is too light of a word), compromised by war mongering and profiteering, compromised by slave-holding and the exclusion of women from governance; compromised by religious intolerance and a greed that drove them against the First People, as I learned more about these historical-truths it became self-evident that the nation was founded on a carefully balanced set of ideals that the founders themselves did not have the courage to live up to.

 

America was founded on a compact of lies.

 

The preamble to the constitution states that all people are created equal, that all people inherently possess rights which we cannot be separated from, the foremost of which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident that these rights are inalienable, or so we are told. We are told that these rights do not derive from government, they derive from God, the creator of the universe, God the creator of every person in it, these rights do not belong to us because we are Americans, they belong to us because we are human beings and the American purpose is to defend those rights, both within our borders and around the world.

 

We have only ever paid lip service to these ideals. It was never more than wishful thinking, and today within our own borders we are trampling all over these rights, rights which belong to everyone, including, the immigrant and the alien among us, including our black and brown skinned sisters and brothers, including the working poor, and the homeless and everyone struggling to get by.

 

Instead of welcoming and protecting and sheltering the poor and the disenfranchised who have come to us for asylum, we are imprisoning them, denying them due process, dehumanizing them, abusing them, and it is breaking my heart.

 

Instead of protecting and serving the citizenry we are paying huge sums of money to police forces that kill the people with gross prejudice and criminal discrimination.

 

We have always failed to live up to our ideals.

 

The expression of these self-evident truths in the Declaration of Independence, and its codification in law in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, did not at the same time abolish the institutions of slavery, give women the right to own land, to vote and other modes of self-determination, neither did it not outlaw wars of aggression against the sovereign nations of the First People. These self-evident truths, these inalienable rights, did not prevent the United States of America from entering a campaign of genocide and extermination against them.

 

The founders applied these principles to themselves and their “peers,” they used those principles to justify their separation from the dominion of the kings of England, they used these principles to protect their property after the War of Independence had been won, but they refused to extend these principles to everyone within the aegis of American power; we continue to live with those failures today.

 

The 4th of July is Independence Day, it is a day to celebrate our freedom, and our victory in the Revolutionary War, there is much to celebrate in that.

 

I am a veteran, I know that war and battle create many opportunities for selflessness and displays of courage that most human beings cannot help but admire and applaud, even though the antecedents of war and the causes of conflict are always unjust, morally vacant and abhorrent.

 

Always and without exception war represents a failure of human beings to live up to the purpose we were created for.

 

In my heart, I want to celebrate the revolutionaries, their courage, the flag which unifies us as a nation, but I find it difficult. The story of America, beginning on July 4th, is one that has many bright moments, but we are foolish, cold-hearted and ignorant if we do not at the same time recognize the millions of slaves who built our first cities, who farmed the plantations, who established our first industries and the millions of people belonging to sovereign nations that we crushed in our westward expansion, starving and killing them without mercy, displacing them, outlawing their religion and customs, erasing their languages.

 

I find it difficult.

 

Who among us, knowing that history, finds it easy?

 

You would have to be a monster to be unmoved by the tragedies that ensued after the signing of our Declaration.

 

Yesterday Donald Trump held a political rally at Mount Rushmore, a sacred site that was stolen from the First People and carved up into a monument to honor a group of men, who may have been brilliant and wise and courageous, but who were also deeply flawed and guilty of the worst crimes against humanity

 

Donald Trump did it to exacerbate the racial tension that has griped the country in the fourth year of his presidency. He held it there like a cartoon villain, bankrupt and with no good reason to continue, he did it to stroke his ego to cover up the blemish of his incompetence at handling the worst public health crises the country has ever seen.

 

The 4th of July should be a time of soul searching and deep reflection and community, forget about the flag waving and jingoism.

 

Ask yourself what it means to be an American; immigrant, refugee, stolen people, enslaved people, conquered people, vanquished people, and the revolutionary. We are the descendants of them all, the immigrant, the refugee, the stolen, the enslaved, the conquered, the vanquished; we are their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren…we are one people with a common history, and a common set of ideals we should be continuously striving to live up to.

 

We are a great nation, if and only if we remember it all.

 

4th of July

 

Given – 2020.07.04

Given 1st – 2016.07.04

Transform VI – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

07.04.2020

 

Transform   VI

 

 

Change the names.

 

Take down the monuments and memorials.

 

Do it now.

 

There is plenty to be proud of in the American tradition, and much to be ashamed of. If we want to transform our culture into one of enduring justice then it is time for us to stop elevating what is reprehensible in our collective story and time for us to promote what is truly good and beautiful, the things that unite all of us and speak to our common humanity.

 

We must stop fetishizing the flag, the national anthem, the military, war.

 

Bravery is good. It is good that men and women are willing to put their lives on the line and even die for their brothers and sisters in arms, but war itself is reprehensible and always marks a failure of human beings to navigate the maze of their self-interest.

 

Slave holders, including men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson presented in history as the men that they were: brave, brilliant, despotic.

 

There was much to be admired in them, but also much to be abhorred and we should not shirk from our responsibility to tell their story in full.

 

What I was taught to admire in human beings was the quality of perseverance we see in human beings who have to struggle to overcome adversity, what we find in and women who rise to the challenge of their circumstances, when the world is set against them and they triumph as the underdog, while demonstrating grace in victory, humility and love for their fellow human beings.

 

Our memorials and monuments should be dedicated to men and women who display those characteristics, and it is the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised who possess those qualities in seemingly infinite capacities.

 

Just look at our “essential workers” our minimum wage-earning heroes and heroines who are keeping the economy running, the hospital cleaning staff, just as much as the doctors and nurses, all risking their lives to fight the pandemic.

 

We do no need monuments dedicated to men who broke treaties, enslaved their fellow human beings, justified that slavery with ridiculous arguments that were only intended to cover up their otherwise naked greed.

 

We do not need memorials dedicated to traitors the traitors that took our country to civil war, in order to defend their “right” to buy and sell human beings as property.

 

We do not need men and women holding office who cannot understand this, they should step down, and not run again.

 

Let’s begin the transformation of America now.

 

 

 

 

The Feast of Saint’s Peter and Paul, Founders of the Church

Not all Christians celebrate the lives of the Saints, but many do, and today is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, who after Jesus were the principle founders of the Church.

We celebrate their feast on the day of their ascension, which is most often the day of their death, in the case of Peter and Paul it is the date they were martyred, the day they were killed as enemies of the Roman State.

Their influence on Christian doctrine was greater than Jesus’, more enduring. Paul, through his letters wrote the core pieces of Christian Doctrine, and Peter was the first pope, the Bishop of Rome, and Patriarch of the Latin Church.

Peter and Paul did not always see eye to eye, though Peter bore the title of chief among the disciples, Paul was the greater teacher and more closely approximated the way of Christ.

As I mentioned, Peter is given credit for founding the church of Rome, the lore of the Church tells us that he was its first bishop, this is a myth however, that title was not even in use during Peter’s day.

It is accepted as true that both men were put to death in Rome, martyred there on account of their commitment to the Church and its mission, they were mot put to death so much for the content of their beliefs, but for leading the kind of secretive society that was feared by the emperors of Rome. Christians were perceived as a threat that has to be curtailed.

Paul was a Roman citizen, he travelled broadly throughout the empire and for from his home of Tarsus. He founded many churches in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, his letters are the earliest known Christian writings, and though not all of those ascribed to him were written by him, Paul’s actual influence is imeasureable.

A casual observer of history may find this odd because Paul he never met Jesus, and prior to his conversion he was the type of man who would punish other members of his community if they were not properly observing the traditions of his synagogue, Christians were his chief target.

After Paul’s conversion to Christianity he led the mission to the gentiles, opening the teachings of the church to the masses, he made it so that a person did not need to become Jewish first in order to become a Christian.

Peter initially opposed him in this but once their dispute was settled at a meeting in Jerusalem officiated by Jesus’ own brother Saint James, the matter was settled and the gentiles were allowed the full franchise of membership in the community of the blessed.

Peter and Paul

Given First 06.29.2020

The Feast of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons

Irenaeus served as the bishop of Lugdum (now Lyons), in France. He was born c. 130 CE and died c. 202 CE, serving during the Apostolic era, and he is listed in the ranks of the martyrs of the Church, though the details of martyrdom are unknown.

Irenaeus was a prolific writer. He was connected to the Bishop Polycarp who was himself connected to the Apostle John, making him only three steps removed from the ministry of Jesus.

Irenaeus’ surviving works show how he was deeply committed to the unity of Christian doctrine. He ardently opposed the heretical sects of groups like the loosely affiliated Gnostics, as well as the Montanists, and he was among the first to argue for the doctrine of apostolic succession, positing that a bishop of the church should stand in an unbroken line of succession that goes back to the first apostles.

What is most important about Irenaeus’ work is something referred to as the Irenaean theodicy, this is why I lift him up and write about him.

Theodicy is the specific field of theological work devoted to understanding the problem of evil, and its ultimate resolution by God.

The Irenaean theodicy was the leading doctrine in the church up until the time that it was supplanted by Augustine’s teaching on original sin, three centuries later, after which Saint Augustine’s teaching became normative throughout the Christian world.

St. Augustine suggests that creation was made perfect and without blemish, and then there was a fall into sin, which came from nowhere and nothing resulting in a degree of chaos and disorder which completely separates creation from God. Whereas Irenaeus posited that the though the world is fallen it is not wholly fallen, making it so that the breach is not irreparable, putting forward that God’s plan for the resolution of evil is to slowly draw all things to the divine.

For saint Irenaeus the perfection of the created order happens as a process of assimilation, which he calls recapitulation, imagining that each individual-being is on a journey, coming ever closer to God; as we draw near our imperfections fall away.

Irenaeus’ theology, which was never condemned, provides a strong theological grounding for the theology of universal salvation which has persisted as a teaching among Christians from the very beginning of the Church, though only among a stark minority.

Irenaeus

A Homily – The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – 2 Kings 4:8-11, 13-16 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):2-3, 16-19 ©
Second Reading – Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Alternative Acclamation – 1 Peter 2:9
The Gospel According to Matthew – 10:37 – 42 ©

(NJB)

The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Read the ancient texts with an ear bent toward discernment. The historical books especially, they are replete with myths that do little to elucidate the way, and they often confuse it.

Such is the case for the reading from the book of Kings for today.

Know this:

God does not interfere in our lives, not in the lives of individuals and not in the course of nations.

The future is not fixed because God, the creator of the universe, God made us and the whole of creation free from divine coercion.

Listen!

The sacred texts are no place for nationalism and jingoism, do not follow the path of the psalmist. God does not favor one person over another, one family, one tribe or one nation.

God is a God of love and mercy, not a God of palace intrigues, not a God of battles.

Be mindful.

The apostle overstates what is at stake in the sacrament of baptism.

Baptism is intended to be filled with symbolic power, Saint Paul articulates this well, and that symbolism is meant to instill in us the same faith by which Jesus willingly went to his death, but this is the exception, it is not the rule.

We are not called to this same fate, Jesus went to his death to save the lives of his family, friends and followers, not to set the stage for their demise.

Jesus was not raised to new life for an extraordinary reason, but for the ordinary reason that God intends to raise all people to life; God restores the whole of creation because God loves us.

Eternal life is not the reward that a Christian should seek, as if it were payment for having lived a just life.

We are called to the exhibition of grace and mercy because that is the way to an authentic life. We are living truly when we are faithful to the way and live well.

We defeat death when we stop fearing it, when we free ourselves from the fear of death we are able to live for what is good and beautiful and true, this is the way that Jesus followed, the way of justice and humility and peace.

Ask for wisdom, God will hear you, God is with you, as God is with us all.

Know this!

The Apostle is wrong. Saint Peter errs when he suggests that some people are set apart and excluded from the divine plan for mercy.

There are no people set apart, there are only people who set themselves apart. All people are the people of God, there is no chosen race, no consecrated nation. God, the creator of the universe, God is looking for prophets not priests. God is calling all people, God desires us to represent the divine voice in the world, and to repeat the call.

Remember!

All people are the subjects of God’s loving mercy, no-one is left outside of the gate, the table has been set for everyone, and the feast will not commence until we have been gathered together as one.

Be mindful.

Faith and the rewards of faith must not be constructed in transactional terms. Faith is trust, it is the simple belief that the things we hope for will come true.

Christian faith is rooted in the hope for and belief that we can live in a just society, one founded in love, a society that exhibits mercy in the furtherance of justice, one which cares for all people.

There are many circumstances in which a Christian may be called to reject the structure of their family or their culture, if those structures are unjust they should be rejected. We cannot simply hold onto them because our parents lived unjustly or because we are concerned for the inheritance of our children.

We cannot cling to systems of injustice for the sake of tradition, that is antithetical to the way.

Matthew speaks truly when he speaks to this point, but the point he makes in this Gospel reading requires further exposition.

A Christian is not called to reject their family for the sake of rejecting their family, they are called to walk away from their family if an only if their family is engaged in the institutionalization and promotion of injustice, and Matthew goes too far, he fundamentally misunderstands the way when he suggests that Christians must make the strong commitment strong, a commitment unto death, for the sake of their faith.

If Jesus had desired this he would have called his disciples to die with him in Calvary. That was not what he desired, he gave his life so that they might live.

Know this!

Salvation is not transactional. Faith and the rewards of faith are not a quid pro quo.

Remember Saint Peter!

He rejected Jesus, he denied him three times on the night Jesus was arrested. He fell apart in the grip of fear even though he was not a man of a cowardly disposition. Nevertheless, he refused to follow Jesus to the cross. Then, after Jesus was killed he continued the ministry, his faith led him through the rest of his days, eventually he gave his life for the sake of his ministry, for bringing good news to the poor, and caring for the widow.

The rewards of faith are not transactional they are emergent.

Trust engenders trust, as love deepens love, and hope fosters hope. One does not purchase the other, but rather they grow with each other like seedlings from seed whose roots bind together to sand fortify the garden.

In the seed the whole is contained in the part, and the potential is infinite.

Be mindful, welcome the prophet, welcome the holy person, and just as important, welcome the sinners, the outcasts, even those who have persecuted.

This is the way of Jesus, and the way of faith.
First Reading – 2 Kings 4:8-11, 13-16 ©

This is a Holy Man of God; Let Him Rest Here

One day as Elisha was on his way to Shunem, a woman of rank who lived there pressed him to stay and eat there. After this he always broke his journey for a meal when he passed that way. She said to her husband, ‘Look, I am sure the man who is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God. Let us build him a small room on the roof, and put him a bed in it, and a table and chair and lamp; whenever he comes to us he can rest there.’ One day when he came, he retired to the upper room and lay down. He said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Call our Shunammitess. Tell her this: “Look, you have gone to all this trouble for us, what can we do for you? Is there anything you would like said for you to the king or to the commander of the army?”’ But she replied, ‘I live with my own people about me.’ ‘What can be done for her then?’ he asked. Gehazi answered, ‘Well, she has no son and her husband is old.’ Elisha said, ‘Call her.’ The servant called her and she stood at the door. This time next year,’ he said ‘you will hold a son in your arms.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):2-3, 16-19 ©

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord;
through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth.
Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever,
that your truth is firmly established as the heavens.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

Happy the people who acclaim such a king,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
who find their joy every day in your name,
who make your justice the source of their bliss.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

For it is you, O Lord, who are the glory of their strength;
by your favour it is that our might is exalted;
for our ruler is in the keeping of the Lord;
our king in the keeping of the Holy One of Israel.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.
Second Reading – Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 ©

When We Were Baptised We Went into the Tomb with Christ, So that We too Might Live a New Life

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.

But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – 1 Peter 2:9

Alleluia, alleluia!

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a people set apart to sing the praises of God,
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew – 10:37 – 42 ©

Anyone Who Loses His Life for My Sake Will Find It

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows:

‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.

‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.

‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.

‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’
The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

The Big City – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
06.27.2020

The Big City
I spent the last week in New York City.

I arrived there on Saturday morning, driving through the Lincoln Tunnel. I took the streets East through Midtown to Union Square.

On Saturday the city was still shut down, they were in Phase One, there was no sitting down in a restaurant to eat. But there was some street life, and there was curbside service for pick up, there was delivery.

The corner bars, of which there are many, those who had not shuttered their doors completely were serving drinks directly to their patrons on the street, through make-shift to go windows.

People gathered at those places where they would have gathered normally because in New York the average person lives their life outside of their apartment. Dining out, being out gathering together for their social life.

I have been travelling to New York once or twice a year for the past decade, and it is the friendliest city I can think of.

When I drove in last Saturday at about 2:30 pm. The streets were practically empty. Instead of vibrant, teaming, bustling Manhattan I might have been in downtown Minneapolis. That is how sparsely populated the sidewalks were…and the quiet, it was eerie.

Ninety five percent of the people I encountered were wearing masks. No body complained. To complain would have been unthinkable. There was a point at which New York was experience its greatest loss of life when 1,000 people were dying every day, and everybody knows someone who has passed away from having contracted the COVID-19, novel corona virus.

On Monday the city entered Phase Two, restaurants and bars opened for patio dining and limited capacity. We had breakfast outside at a Ukrainian diner, called Vaselka on 9th Street and 2nd Avenue in the East village, pierogis with eggs and kielbasa and a blintz.

It was delicious.

We were interviewed by a reporter for Univision who wanted to know how we felt about being able to dine out again; my friends were happy, and nervous and guarded. The instinctive mood was to be cautious and not let the rediscovered freedoms go to your head.

On Tuesday we went to the beach. We drove through Brooklyn to Far Rockaway. People were returning to work, the streets were busier, noisier, but still everyone was masked, social distancing, following the rules, getting along.

I saw it as an extraordinary exercise in civic mindedness, and I hope that the rest of the country can learn from it before they to have to experience the incredible loss of life in their own communities as New York has. Even on the beach where the wind was blowing hard, those people who were not wearing masks, had them ready to put on if they should get close to other people, or have the need to go into a store.

That kind of conscientiousness was not evident on the drive to New York, or back. I only saw people masked in the stores and gas stations that belonged to national chains with national policies to guide them.

During my time on the road, the virus has taken over the South and West on the United States, our fat is in the fire and things are only getting worse.