As a Roman Catholic Theologian, and a student of philosophy, Saint Katherine of Alexandria is my patroness.
I have this image of her, painted by the renaissance master Raphael tattooed on my right arm.
Her legend tells us that she was born in Alexandria, Egypt around the year 287 CE, and that she died as a martyr during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maxentius c. 305.
She was broken on the wheel; she was tied to it, impaled on its spikes, and crushed beneath it as it was rolled through the streets.
Katherine was only eighteen years old but gifted with a rare intellect. She was from a wealthy family and used her fortune to hold salons where she invited pagan philosophers to debate with her and other Christian scholars on matters concerning the central tenets of the faith and the doctrines of the Church.
Katherine is always depicted in the saffron and ochre robes of the philosopher, which had been the tradition throughout the ancient Near East and Hellenistic Civilization since at least the time of Socrates (mid-fourth century BCE). It is likely that these colors, and their association with philosophy come from the Buddhist missionaries travelling west from as early as the sixth century BCE.
Look after the well-being of all who come your way; as you treat the stranger, so do you treat God, the creator of the universe.
God looks out for everyone, the whole of the flock, humanity, is in God’s care, and God is determined not to lose a single one of us. God will seek out the lost, bring back the stray, heal the wounded and strengthen the weak.
As the psalmist says:
God, the creator of the universe, God is shepherd to us all.
If we walk in the ways of God, we will be as a shepherd to our sisters and brothers.
Whatever it is that we experience of lack, our time in this world is not the end of all things. It is transitory. If we are hungry, we are hungry only for a time. If we thirst, it is but for a moment.
Trust in God and find peace therein. In the end you will be fulfilled.
It is not only because God loves you that God guides you, but it is for the God’s own sake that God blesses you.
The power of death and sin are temporary, it is only God that endures forever, and we are the children of God, the divine dwells within us.
If God has set a table before you, share it with the world; turn enemies into loved ones.
Be mindful of the apostle’s words.
The Apostle has a deep liking for circular arguments. The reading for today begins in circularity. Paul insists that Christ must be raised from the dead or his faith, and the faith of Christians everywhere is in vain, because the faith of Christians everywhere is not in vain, he says that we must believe that there is a resurrection, and the risen Christ is the proof of it.
This is not a reasonable argument. Set it aside, because it has no bearing on the main point of this passage.
The main point is this:
Sin and death enter through the world from a single point in time, and it is another singularity that brings sin and death to an end.
Adam causes the fall, Christ lifts creation back up.
The scope of their work is equal and includes the totality of all living beings: past, present and future.
Listen to the apostle; who understand the ways of God. We are created all-together as one. We are one creation in God. In our failures and our faith we are one.
God is not a king, a prince or a lord.
The Church, following in the way Jesus taught, can never be the extension of a royal dynasty, and should not be seen as one.
The reading for today contains much of what is true, and much that is false.
Let us begin with this:
Jesus is not a king, nor is he an emperor.
Jesus is our brother, Jesus is a friend.
The glory of Christ is expressed in his mercy, you will not find Christ seated on a throne, commanding armies of angels, with the nations assembled before him.
It is the duty of all Christians, of all who would follow in the way of Jesus to reject such images. They lead to fallacies.
What is true is this:
Our love and fidelity to God and Christ is expressed in how we treat one another; rich or poor, weak or strong, right or wrong.
Among the ancient Hebrews, both the sheep and the goats were integral to their community, the Hebrews tended and cared for flocks of each. Both the sheep and the goats belonged to the community..
We are one human family, we are not sheep and goats, we are never divided by God, we are only divided by each other.
We must reject all such efforts to divide us.
In our human family there is good and bad, there are right and wrong. We are called on to foster the good, and forgive the bad. We are called by Jesus to forgive even those who do us harm.
The Lord says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness. I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.
As for you, my sheep, the Lord says this: I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats.
Christ Will Hand Over the Kingdom to God the Father; So that God May Be All in All
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 11:10
Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David!
I Was Naked and You Clothed Me; Sick, and You Visited Me
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”
‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’
The Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Solemnity of Christ the King
It is vanity to believe that God will come to your aid when you are engaged in a dispute with your sisters or brothers, or in any dispute in all.
It is vanity and foolishness to believe that God will secure the foundation of your house or the peace of your city, the stability of your nation or the well-being of the world.
It is vanity and hubris to assume that those who labor from dawn to dusk are loved less by God than those who do not toil at all.
It is vanity and hubris to believe that God places sons in the wombs of the mothers on behalf of the fathers whom God loves.
God does not favor husbands over wives, God does not favor brothers over sisters, God does not favor sons over daughters.
God does not intervene in our affairs.
Listen to the apostle!
When Saint Paul says that we belong to the light, he is speaking to all of the children of Adam, to the entirety of the human race. He is speaking to the world, his audience is everyone; the message is timeless, unbounded; it comes from the infinite.
The gift of grace is not transactional; God gives it freely, the creator of the universe gives grace to all, no one is excluded.
God is present throughout creation; there is no place where God is not. God touches every person, God sustains every living-breathing thing, God undergirds the whole created order, Christian and non-Christian alike, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Consider the Gospel reading for today:
It is heartbreaking to see the teaching of Jesus betrayed so completely by the writers of the Gospels.
The authors of Matthew, writing a hundred years or so after the death of Jesus, were more concerned with building up and retaining church property than they were with teaching the good news, that Christ has risen, that God loves the sinner, even the worst of them.
It is impossible to know how the way came to be betrayed in such a fulsome and complete manner, but I am thinking it has to do with the fact that over the course of a hundred years, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the leadership of Christian communities throughout the Empire fell to the wealthy, bishops were selected from among leading merchants and tradespeople, from among landowners and people of status.
It is not surprising that in this time the way that Jesus preached about came to be imagined as a kingdom, while abba, the father, became a king.
This parable views God or Jesus as a merchant and a banker, instead of a fisherman or a carpenter, a shepherd or a farmer.
The parable begins with the idea that God will distribute challenges and tasks to the people according their ability, that God knows both the powers and liabilities of God’s children, and consequently God knows what to expect from them.
Therefore, it is out of character for the loving and knowing God to punish the servant who buried his one talent. God knew that this is what this servant would do.
According to the way of Jesus, the servant who buried the talent should be the recipient of mercy, of a loving ministry, not cast out and left in the dark.
One hundred years after the death of Jesus, the leaders of the church had forgotten this.
The servant who hid the talent was not lazy, as the “master” said, but was fearful because he knew that the man he was beholden to was a hard person, who took what he had not worked for, robbing others of the fruit of their labor.
This servant did not multiply his talent as the others had done because he did not want to emulate the corrupt practices of his master as the others were willing to do.
Again, the master, who represents either God or Jesus in this parable, does not deny being hard of heart, and does not deny the charge of being a thief, reaping what he had not sewn, and gathering what he had not scattered.
He is proud of it, and that is the type of behavior he intended to promote.
He charges the frightened servant with laziness, with neglect and stupidity, calling him a good-for-nothing and has him thrown into the dark, into the place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, into hell, the place of death.
Through this twist in the narrative the authors of this parable up-end Jesus’ teaching, that the last will be first and the first shall be last.
The true reading of this parable is this:
The man who was thrown out represents the figure of Christ. Like Christ he refused to emulate the wicked practices of the rulers, he refused to profit from the suffering of others, he knew that he would be punished and he accepted the consequences. He was proven right, and he was killed for his convictions.
God Will Bring with Him Those Who Have Died in Jesus
You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.
But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.
Gospel Acclamation – Revelation 2:10
Even if you have to die, says the Lord, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life.
Alternative Acclamation – John 15:4, 5
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. Whoever remains in me bears fruit in plenty.
You Have Been Faithful in Small Things: Come and Join in Your Master’s Happiness
Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.
‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”
‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’
The Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
God, the creator of the universe; God has nothing to do with the appointment of kings or the management of kingdoms.
Wise men and despots alike rise to the role of ruler, though it is more difficult for the wise man than the despot. Justice and mercy, kindness and grace, these qualities are always received as blessings to those in need of them, and the exhibition of them blesses those who administer them as well. However, the kind and the merciful are easily overrun by those whose thoughts are only for themselves.
A despot may rule for generations, founding dynasties that abuse the people whom they are charged to uplift and defend.
This is the way of the world, and this is the way that God made it, even though it is not the way God desires it to be.
God created the universe and our world within it, God brought forth human beings but not the character of human culture, God has left that in our hands, and God calls us to sanctify it.
Consider the words of the psalmist.
It is right to thank God; the creator of the universe for all the good things that come our way, but do not blame God for the hardships we suffer in this life, in these bodies.
The good and the bad come to us irrespective of who we are, what we do or have done or who we might become. There is no plan it. God is no respecter of persons, and God does not love anyone of God’s children more than God loves any other.
Praise God and give thanks for the good; do not dwell on the bad.
There is peace to be had in patience and contemplation, in meditation and prayer. Make your life a constant prayer for the grace which comes from God and brings peace to you spirit.
Let the peace of God within you bubble up like a fountain an overflow so that others may quench their thirst and be nourished by it
Be mindful of what the apostle says!
Jesus rose from death; this is the gospel, and it will be the same for those who have died in him.
The living have no advantage over the dead. Jesus will bring all of those who die in him, with him, to life everlasting.
Now remember the teaching of John!
All things and beings exist in the Word who is God, and not one thing exists without God.
Through God all things came to be and in God all things continue.
The future history of the world has not been written.
Any suppositions about our future on earth are guesses. We can speak in terms of possibility and probability, but we cannot know anything about the days and nights to come.
There are thousands of ways in which the plans we have laid and the hopes which we cherish can come undone; lightening will strike, a tornado will blow, a meteor will fall, a volcano explode. A person in the fullness of their life may trip and fall, hit their head and die, leaving everything behind them.
The promises we have received from God are not of this world. God has promised to bring an end to suffering, injustice, hunger, illness. It is wise to believe in these promise, but not to expect them in this life.
Our belief in a loving God, our hope in the words of the prophets, our trust in the Gospel, these allow us to believe that this is true. But anyone who pretends to know for certain, they are over stating their case.
Consider the Gospel for today.
The parable is a rank betrayal of the way.
The writers and editors of Matthew’s gospel, did not understand the basic meaning of the most prevalent teaching that Jesus’ gave, “the last will be first and the first will be last.”
These imposters in the early church betrayed the teaching of Jesus providing justification for their miserly behavior and ambitions. Those who would withhold from others the gifts they had received from God under the mistaken notion that the gifts of heaven are distributed according to some standard other than the selfless love God has for all of God’s children, those people do harm to the promise of the Gospel and obscure the way. A person is not rewarded in because they are smart, people are not punished because they are foolish or unprepared.
The commandment that Jesus issued is simple: Love one another, as I have loved you.
To be a Christian means that you have made a commitment to love God with all your heart, and all your strength and all your mind. A Christian is meant to love their neighbor even as they love themselves. Jesus tells us that within these words the entire code of the law, and all of the teachings of the prophets are contained.
Jesus expressed his understanding of this law in the most beautiful synthesis: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.
This parable in today’s Gospel betrays that teaching. The writers of Matthew’s Gospel put a lie in the mouth of Jesus, in doing so they did great damage to everyone who sought to follow in the way after them.
We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus: God will bring them with him. We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching, that any of us who are left alive until the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have died. At the trumpet of God, the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds, together with them; to meet the Lord in the air. So we shall stay with the Lord for ever. With such thoughts as these you should comfort one another.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 24:42, 44
Stay awake and stand ready, because you do not know the hour when the Son of Man is coming.
Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’
The Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
The multitude that John witnessed in his vision was numberless, there number was without measure, without end.
It is the full number of those who have experienced the persecution of the living, and have come to God, the creator of the universe over their long sojourn through time and space.
It is all of us, all of God’s children gathered together as one people, with none of us lost.
Have faith! The good shepherd has ensured it.
We do not arrive in this place by the blood of the lamb, not the literal blood, not by the blood Jesus shed on the cross. That is a metaphor, we are not sanctified by animal sacrifice. We never have been and we never will be.
The world does not operate by such magical principles.
We are sanctified through the way, by fulfilling God’s will for us, as God leads us down the path.
We come into God’s presence when we have let go of all our enmities, when we have finally forgiven all who have wronged us, as God has forgiven us, and when we have accepted the forgiveness of those we have wronged.
It is then and only then that we stand in the presence of the fullness of God, together with that great number of all our sisters and brothers, the number of people John witnessed, the number that is impossible to count.
Do not look for God in the vestiges of glory and power and honors; for those kinds of illusions are easy to dwell on…cling to, and easy to misunderstand. Remember the humility of Jesus, and look for God there, in his wisdom, as if God were as soft and gentle as a lamb.
Consider the psalm for today.
All things and person have their being in God, who is the foundation of all that is and without whom there is nothing, true nothingness in which there is not even the possibility of something.
If you wish to climb the mountain to find God, that is fine, though God might prefer for you to turn to your neighbors to see God reflected in their face.
See them, behold the face of God, and in that holy presence give thanks.
Be mindful, and do not worry about your own holiness. Know that God loved you before the creation of the world, when only the possibility of you and all that you are existed. And know that all things and everyone who are loved by God, are holy.
There is no vanity in emulating the love that God bears for all of God’s children.
Look for God’s blessing in the service you provide to your neighbor, to your mother and father, to your sister and brother. Seek justification through the quality and extent of your mercy.
If you look for the God of Jacob, instead of seeing God in Jacob you will only be looking at idols. God is not confined to the pages of a book, of by the inked letter on a scroll, neither is God bound by the history and mythology of a people. Look to those things for glimpses of God, and remembrances of past encounters, but seek the living God in living beings.
Be mindful of the words of the apostle…he is not always right, and in the reading for today he is wrong.
Every person is a child of God. God, the creator of the universe, God loves all people equally, and there is not a single one of us whom God rejects.
Understand this, the devil has no children.
There is no devil.
Acknowledge your own faults without blaming the “forces of evil.”
Every one of us has sinned, no one is free from it. Living a saintly life does not wipe out sin, or make it so that the sins we have committed never happened. God’s promise is not to erase our sins as if they never happened, but to undo the harm they have caused to us and others, to transform the consequences of those sins into something good.
The teachings of Jesus cannot be treated like a shell game, though they are, and have been since the beginning, as Matthew’s illustrates.
The way of Jesus is not a long con, it is not a bait and switch, it is a simple teaching that cannot be controlled or owned by any one group of people.
The truth 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.
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.
It is an endless cycle, and the way 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.
Just because a person may be wise and powerful, learned and clever, or a child of the Church, does not mean they will inerrantly 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 that determine how you will fulfill the calling to follow Jesus. What matters is what is in your heart, and your willingness to trust in the content of your hope, the hope you hope for yourself and the hope you hope for everyone.
Consider the Gospel for today.
Much has been written about the sermon on the mount. It is hard for me to believe that I would have anything new to add to that discussion, but adding something new is not as important as sharing the story itself, and how it shapes our understanding of the Gospel.
It is important that we share our perspective and keep the conversation moving.
In this teaching Jesus shares a way of seeing the world, of living in society, of understanding our relationship to the creator; it is a teaching that reverses the expectations that were prevalent in his time.
He might have said; the providence of heaven belongs to all people, regardless of who they are or where they came from or how far they think they are from the love of the creator, no matter what creed they profess, or what traditions bind them, and no matter how little they may think about God.
The gentle seek no possessions, they have nothing to guard, are themselves unguarded and free. By freeing themselves from their desires they have gained everything.
Have hope, all sadness and all mourning come to an end.
Strive for what is right and just, for what is universal and true, for what touches all people, give up your concerns for yourself and your tribe.
The narrow path leads to misery, and the broad road leads to joy.
Mercy follows upon mercy, as the sun follows the rain.
All people will come to the vision of God, as certain as they will come to know their true selves. The fullness of God is at the center of all people; it is the indelible bond that connects us to one another, from the beginning of time to the end.
Accept the parentage of the divine. Take up the task God has set before us. Love justice, be merciful, make peace.
The providence of heaven belongs to all people, to possess it you must share.
If you are abused and persecuted for the sake of peace and mercy. Have no fear, the powers of sin and evil, and the pain they bring, the reality of sickness and death, these are temporary; they will end.
I Saw a Huge Number, Impossible to Count, of People from Every Nation, Race—Tribe and Language
I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.
After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’
One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’
We Shall be Like God Because We Shall See Him as He Really Is
Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him, therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.
Surely everyone who entertains this hope must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.
God wills that we take care of the stranger in our company, that we do not oppress her or him.
This is the way to holiness.
Love the immigrant and the alien, show compassion to the widow and the orphan, do not abuse the poor or put them in your debt.
There are times when a psalm of thanksgiving is little more than an appeal to vanity; the psalmist gives credit to God for saving him, but it was not God. God did not hear his voice alone among all of the others and fly from the temple to save him.
The psalmist saved himself, or he was saved by his allies, though he may have been spared only by chance.
We know this is true because God, the creator of the universe, God does not favor one child over another, not one family, not one tribe, not one nation, not one sect. God loves all of God’s children equally, no matter whether they live in sin and rebellion or in the peace that comes through faith.
God, the creator of the universe; God is not like Zeus or Jupiter, Indra or Thor. God does not step onto the battlefield, shoot arrows and hurl lightning.
It is foolish to think so.
Therefore be mindful of the life you live and set the example for all those you meet as you follow the way.
God is with you. God will hear you, and though God will not intervene in this world to spare you any pain, God has a plan to resolve all pain in a place beyond time and the bounds of space.
Be mindful of this! The grace of God is not transactional, and while love fosters love, there is always love and God is always with you. The divine love is always present to you, even when you are at your worst, when you are most hateful and your most destructive self.
Consider the Gospel reading for today.
This is the way, it is the core of Jesus’ teaching, it is the sacred path to the divine.
Any interpretation of Jesus’ life and mission that do not reflect these teachings are false.
Every pericope and parable; every metaphor, simile and analogy; every story, fable and myth must adhere to this canon.
We only encounter God through each other, in relationship to one another. We serve God through the service we give to the other another. The love we bear toward God is only made resplendent in this light.
If You Are Harsh with the Widow and Orphan, My Anger Will Flare Against You
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the sons of Israel this:
‘“You must not molest the stranger or oppress him, for you lived as strangers in the land of Egypt. You must not be harsh with the widow, or with the orphan; if you are harsh with them, they will surely cry out to me, and be sure I shall hear their cry; my anger will flare and I shall kill you with the sword, your own wives will be widows, your own children orphans.
‘“If you lend money to any of my people, to any poor man among you, you must not play the usurer with him: you must not demand interest from him.
‘“If you take another’s cloak as a pledge, you must give it back to him before sunset. It is all the covering he has; it is the cloak he wraps his body in; what else would he sleep in? If he cries to me, I will listen, for I am full of pity.”’
You Broke with Idolatry and Became Servants of God; You Are Now Waiting for His Son
You observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, and you were led to become imitators of us, and of the Lord; and it was with the joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the gospel, in spite of the great opposition all round you. This has made you the great example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Open our heart, O Lord, to accept the words of your Son.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’
Oscar Romero became the Arch Bishop of San Salvador in 1977, at the age of sixty.
He was assassinated three years later.
He was murdered because her refused to give up his ministerial work on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised people of his country, killed for speaking out against the abuses they suffered at the hands of the ruling class, conditions of systemic poverty and virtual slavery with no recourse to the law or justice of any kind; they endured forced internment, torture and the imposition of the State in their religious life, including denying them the right to worship and receive the sacraments. Oscar Romero stood against these abuses and for that he was martyred.
Saint Romero was considered to be a scholarly and aesthetic man whose appointment to the Arch Bishopric was intended to be un-controversial and un-threatening to the political regime of El Salvador.
They were wrong.
Once he was elevated to that position of trust and authority he began to speak out against the abuses of power he witnessed the people enduring every single day.
In his sermons, his writings and his radio program he spoke out against them:
“In less than three years, more than fifty priests have been attacked, threatened, calumniated. Six are already martyrs–they were murdered. Some have been tortured and others expelled [from the country]. Nuns have also been persecuted. The archdiocesan radio station and educational institutions that are Catholic or of a Christian inspiration have been attacked, threatened, intimidated, even bombed. Several parish communities have been raided. If all this has happened to persons who are the most evident representatives of the Church, you can guess what has happened to ordinary Christians, to the campesinos, catechists, lay ministers, and to the ecclesial base communities. There have been threats, arrests, tortures, murders, numbering in the hundreds and thousands…. But it is important to note why [the Church] has been persecuted. Not any and every priest has been persecuted, not any and every institution has been attacked. That part of the church has been attacked and persecuted that put itself on the side of the people and went to the people’s defense. Here again we find the same key to understanding the persecution of the church: the poor.”
Saint Romero bore witness to these atrocities while they were happening and because of it he was murdered.
Soon we may be called to stand-up and bear witness to the abuses of our own government, against the dismantling of our democracy, the abandonment of constitutional government and human rights abuses not seen in this country in generations.
The prophet asks us to do the same; to hope for it, to pray for it, and to wait for it in humility, with kindness and patience.
Everyone has a seat at the table; all people of all nations, from every clan and tribe, everyone will be healed.
Listen to the psalmist!
God is shepherd to us all, and if we walk in the way of God, we may serve as a shepherd to our sisters and brothers.
Whenever the circumstances of our life are such that we struggle with wants and needs, when we experience a sense of lack in our lives, know this: our time in this world is not the end of all things.
Everything is transitory.
If we are hungry, we are hungry only for a time. If we thirst, it is but for a moment.
We live and breathe but for a time, before we are called to the divine.
Trust in God, there is peace in it.
The power of death and sin are temporary, it is only God that endures forever, and we are the children of God.
It is not only because God loves you that God guides you, but it is for God’s own sake that God blesses you. Follow the way, when your table is set share it with the world, and turn enemies into loved ones.
Consider the life of the apostle:
It is sad to read of him begging for money. This is not something that Jesus is ever depicted doing in the gospel.
Jesus never asked for anything for himself, but only for the poor.
It is sad to read of the apostle promising the communities of believers that God will reward them lavishly now that they have given him everything he needs…neither salvation not its promise is a commodity to be exchange.
Much harm has come to the world because of these words, many priests and bishops and would be prophets have enriched themselves while doing little for the poor.
Do not repeat the errors of John, do not depart from the message that all people are the children of God, we do not come into being by any other power, not by a power that comes from within us, neither by a power that is external to us. We are born as children of God, created in the Word, by the Word and through the Word.
Our status as children of God is as unconditional as God’s love for us.
Remember this, and meditate on the life of Jesus, and God; whom he called Father
May each and every one of come to the full knowledge of God. There is hope in the knowledge of God, and remember this, the hopes you have for yourself and for those you love are meant to be extended to everyone; even those you do not love, for that is the way God leads us and that is the way God heals us.
If you think that God has promised riches and glories to be the inheritance of the saints; remember that the first will be last and the last will be first, and that riches are not counted in gold and silver and precious things.
Know this, God considers the greatest glory to be the divine parents living in relation to us, that is the secret of the Gospel.
Consider the Gospel reading for today:
It is shameful when the Gospel writers betray the teaching and mission of Jesus, when they allow their own fears and their own reflections on the tribulations they suffered to warp the Good News that Jesus proclaimed as the way to God.
Let it be understood that heaven is not a kingdom, it is a garden, and God is not a king, god is a loving parent. Jesus is not a princeling, he is our brother.
Any reflection on the way that does not reflect those principles, is a distortion or a deliberate deception.
God does not command troops, God is not a warrior, God does not deliver the death sentence as punishment for any crime.
God’s Justice is merciful, it is loving and kind.
As Isaiah said, God has laid a table for everyone to share. God has invited the good and the bad alike, the rich and the poor, the friend and the stranger, everyone to a place there.
The feast at God’s table is less a wedding celebration and more of a family reunion, the feast is not to celebrate the joining of two, who were not one already, but the celebration of a unity that pre-exists all things.
All people are the children of God.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we know it or not.
At the feast in the garden, there are no wedding garments, we wear no badges, we are not asked to present credentials. Everyone is welcome and none are rejected, there will be no darkness, no weeping and no gnashing of teeth.
With the Help of the One Who Gives Me Strength, There Is Nothing I Cannot Master
I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can. Glory to God, our Father, for ever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Acclamation – John 1:14, 12
The Word was made flesh and lived among us: to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.
Alternative Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our mind, so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.
Jesus began to speak to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’
The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
God, the creator of the universe, God does not directly intervene in the affairs of human beings, but nevertheless there is an intention behind creation and God is pulling all of us toward God’s desired end.
God wills that we be good and just, loving and kind, humble and accepting, but God does not create us with these qualities fully matured, preferring that we develop them naturally throughout the course of our lives.
The prophet likens humanity to a vineyard:
In one generation a vineyard will produce beautiful fruit, in another generation it will be sour.
A single vine in the vineyard will produce fruit of mixed quality, some branches will dry up and wither, while others go on to produce a wonderful bounty.
In one year a vineyard will go to rot, in another it will be restored.
Briar patches and thorns may impede the vine in one season, while at the same time returning vitality to the soil.
This is the way of things, and it is the way of all human institutions, it is the way of civilization, and the Church is not excepted from this rule.
Be mindful of the writings of the psalmist, the psalmist frequently misunderstands how historical events unfold in relation to the will of God.
God did not rescue the Israelites from Egypt. God did not send the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Ptolemy’s, or the Romans. God did not destroy the temples, and God will not protect you, or show you favor in this world no matter how fervently you pray.
God is the shepherd of all people, not of Israel only.
God does not reside on a throne and God is not a general who comes at the head of an army. When we imagine God thus we do a disservice to the divine.
God’s face shines on everyone, look for it in the face of your neighbor, in the face of your enemy, in the faces of those who persecute you.
It is up to us, God’s children, to love, to show mercy, and to care for those who are downtrodden.
It is the desire of God that all people be well and happy. God desires that we be tolerant of one another and care for one another, that we serve the happiness of our neighbors with a spirit of charity. Therein rests the peace of God, in the work of a servant
Meditate on what is true, to the truth that ennobles us and is rooted in love. Commit yourself to what is good, known by the good fruit that goodness bears and the benefit that is derived in the community from it.
Be mindful of those who seek honors, speak of virtue and love praise, these are good and lofty things, but we are easily deceived by them and easily deceived for them.
The greatest commandment is love, and love is the whole of the law.
To love one another, to give of one’s self to another in love, there is no greater gift.
The love that we are called to is not the love we call desire, though to desire and be desired is an experience of great joy.
We are called to move past desire and to move past the love we have for family and friends, because to love those nearest to us is only a short extension of the love we have for ourselves, seeing ourselves in the faces of our mothers and fathers, seeing our ambitions as tied to the ambitions of our friends. It is good to love in this capacity but we are called to love in a greater capacity than that.
We are called to love to the point of selflessness, to love even those who are against us, to love our enemies, to forgive those who have hurt us and done us harm, to feed the stranger and protect them…to do so out of love.
This is the great commandment.
Consider the Gospel for today, it is a piece of pure propaganda. It is an apology.
It is an attempt by the writers of Matthew’s Gospel, written in the first generation after the Roman conquest of Palestine and the destruction of the Temple, to explain to a largely Jewish audience, the divine purpose behind those events.
While Matthew’s community was predominately Jewish, there were gentile converts among them, and the warning to the readership is this: if you do not give up your insistence on retaining your distinctively Jewish traditions, you will be destroyed and the gentiles among you will take your place a heirs to the promises that God made to your ancestors.
The narrative is one that the writers of Matthew borrowed from the early prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, whose books were also written in the apologetic mode, to explain the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians, the destruction of Judea by the Babylonians and the invasion of the Holy Land by Antiochus Epiphanes.
The basic move that all of these writers make is to explain current events through the lens of past events. In this case they are putting a prophecy in Jesus’ mouth to explain the Roman invasion of Palestine and the destruction of the temple, along with the ongoing persecution of the Jewish people.
The lesson they intended to impart is this:
Everything unfolds according to God’s plan. If you resist God’s plan you will be destroyed and all of your hopes will be dashed. It has happened before and it will happen again.
All good things come from God.
Nothing you have belongs to you, it can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things that you learnt from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Gospel Acclamation Jn15:15
I call you friends, says the Lord, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.
Alternative Acclamation – John 15:16
I chose you from the world to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last, says the Lord.
This is the Landlord’s Heir: Come, Let Us Kill Him
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?
‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’
The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
As much as we might wish it to be so, divine justice is not an analog of human justice, even when human justice is being represented at its best.
The goodness or wickedness of a human being is not based on the sum of their actions, as if you could measure their merit or weigh them in a scale. The relative values of good and evil are considered in relation to a person’s disposition and orientation to those values.
No human can judge the ultimate value, in terms of good and evil, of any person deeds, including their own. The things we do go out from us and take on a life of their own. Good intentions have harmful consequences, and evil deeds have good ones. This is one of the great mysteries. The things a person does in their life continue to shape the world long after they are gone; what matters in terms of merit or culpability is the intention that motivates the action and the reflection that follows.
Consider the words of the psalmist.
Lift up your spirit and give your life to God, the creator of the universe, to God who has given you everything.
Do not expect God to take sides with you in any conflict, because God loves all of God’s children equally. God does not discriminate. God does not pick favorites.
If you ask God to punish the faithless and the promise breakers, you must know that you are asking God to punish you—yourself.
Pray for wisdom and guidance, knowing that God desires for you be well, but God has made you and all of creation free, God will not intervene in the course of your life.
God is merciful, and God has allowed for your existence even knowing of all your crimes; Giod has known these since the beginning of time. God will forgive you for them but God will not forget them.
Remember; all the ways of God are kindness and mercy.
Walk humbly, love justice, act with mercy and compassion. This is the way of faith, which is trust in the Good News; the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God is not concerned with glory. Jesus is not interested in having a name above all other names. Jesus is not a price or a king, he was our friend and brother.
Do not worry about bending the knee, just confess the truth that God is love, reflecting the love of God in your own life, in all the things you do.
Love fosters love, but there is always love and God is always with you.
Be mindful of this: the grace of God is not transactional.
Everyone who is, everyone without exception, follows in the way God has set for them, there is no other way. Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey that another person is on, God is guiding them, just as God is guiding you.
If you resist, God will be patient.
If you delay God will wait, as God waits for everyone out of a superabundance of patience, kindness and love.
God will not lose a single one of us; none of us will be lost to God. God is with us and there is no place where God is not.
Consider the gospel reading for today, it is a piece of pure politics.
The writers of Matthew’s gospel are making a direct appeal to the remnants of John’s followers, which is a recurring theme in Matthew, who would have us believe that John and Jesus were cousins.
The writers of Matthew are doing everything they can to bring John’s followers into the way, into the new church, both by convincing them that Jesus was the heir to John’s ministry, and by convincing the new church to accept the outcasts, to bring them in and not treat them as outsiders.
The words in the Gospel appear to be directed to the chief priests and elders of the temple, as well as the rabbinical authorities who were the leaders of the synagogues outside of Judea, but at the time Matthew’s gospel is being written they temple had been destroyed and the Jews had been scattered.
In reality these words are being addressed to the leaders of the new church, telling them to make room for the outsider, for the tax collector and the prostitute and the Children of Israel who were fleeing Judea in exile, those remnants of the people looking for safety and comfort in a new home.
When the Sinner Renounces Sin, He Shall Certainly Live
The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘You object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’
If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:
His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.
But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him.
Tax Collectors and Prostitutes Are Entering the Kingdom of God Before You
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’