A Homily – Palm Sunday (Year A) Holy Week

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:1 – 11 ©
First Reading – Isaiah 50:4 – 7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 21(22):8 – 9, 17 – 20, 23 – 24 ©
Second Reading – Philippians 2:6 – 11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Philippians 2:8 – 9
The Gospel According to Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Palm Sunday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Be mindful when you read the Gospel, on this day as on any other. There is much that is false carried in the text, and as Christians we are bound to reject it, we cannot excuse it, or apologize for it We must call out the false narrative, take what is useful from our ponderance of them and move on.

It was a common practice in the ancient world to greet a royal person, a king, a victorious commander or a conqueror outside the gates of a walled city, to cheer him and thank him, to curry favor with him, and to do so by throwing flowers and greenery down along the path in front of him, or her. To do so with palm fronds was quite common in the ancient near east.

When the gospel writers placed these elements within the narrative of Jesus’ final days they intended to communicate the explicit notion that Jesus was heir to King David, Lord of all Judea, and the messiah, or savior that the people had long been expecting, the singular man to deliver them from the rule of foreigners, and to reestablish a Jewish monarchy that would allow them to return to the favor of God.

It is unlikely that anything even remotely like what is described here ever happened, and of course we know that the tortured narrative which depicts Jesus riding into town on the back of an ass and a colt, the foal of ass, makes no sense at all.

No such thing happened, it is a rank exercise in apologetics and propaganda.

Our faith in God and God’s plan for creation do not require that we believe these false narratives, such stories diminish the ministry of Jesus, and make those who read the Gospel as if it were true-in-fact into fools and liars.

We must reject them.

Listen to the prophet Isaiah, take comfort in his courage. Isaiah points the way.

Like Jesus, Isaiah sees the necessity of telling the truth. The people need the truth, justice cannot be had without it.

Be mindful, the reward for telling the truth is often condemnation. There are many who do not like to hear it, do not want to believe that God loves their neighbor just as much as God loves them, they worship a jealous god, one made in their own image of jealousy.

The poor and rich alike, do not want to share.

People are afraid, the world has made them this way. They react with anger and violence to any little thing that comes along to upset their resentment filled lives, which challenge their jealousies and call on them to reject their miserliness.

This is the way of it.

Like Isaiah, you must open your ear and listen, listen with you heart. Open your mouth to share the peace and blessing of God, never in condemnation.

Most important of all, reject fear as the state of being within which all human sinfulness incubates.

This will open you to the way.

Consider the words of the psalmist and know this.

If you have heard that God will not listen to you, because you have lived a sinful life or for any other reason, do not believe it.

The creator of the universe is with you, God knows your innermost thoughts. God knows you as you know yourself, God understands all that you are and all that you struggle with. God feels your experience in the world as you feel it. Your struggles are God’s own.

God has given you the power to save yourself, or to choose surrender. To agonize or be at peace, but God will not rescue you. God will never intervene on your behalf, for as long as you are in the world you will remain free, and responsible for your own choices and actions.

Be mindful of this!

It was a mistake for the apostle to use the power of the pen in order to transform Jesus into a divine being.

Jesus was no more divine than you or I, which is to say that Jesus was created in God’s image and carried within him a seed of the Word as we all do. We may believe that Jesus was more highly attuned to the voice of God speaking within him than most, or even any, but Jesus’ status as a child of God was no different than yours or mine.

Jesus was a man. Jesus shared all of the qualities of humanity with us, because he was one of us. He did not descend from another place, he was born here on Earth to Mary and Joseph., and through his father’s lineage he was descended from the House of David.

Jesus is our brother, and God, the creator of the universe, God is parent to us all.

Jesus is not a lord, did not want to be thought of as one, and God is not King.

God does not seek nor desire glory, and neither should we.

God calls us to lead lives of humility, to accept with grace our role as teachers of the faith. To seek justice and to love mercy throughout the course of our days.

Listen!

Jesus lived and died, and death was not the end of him (if you believe it).

This is the central message of the Christian faith, even a man who was executed as a blasphemer and a criminal, could be resurrected and delivered into a state of blessedness in the afterlife, a world of hope, and comfort and joy.

This is the good news, it is the gospel.

This faith is a blessing to the poor, to the marginalized, to the outcast. The faith instructs them that they are known and loved by God, the creator of the universe, that they will be cared for in the world to come.

Every other element of this story should be stripped away.

It is all propaganda.

The core of the narrative may be true, but everything else that flows from it, all the fantastical hyperbole is nothing but a cascading series of embellishments. Jesus did not die in fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus, and the rest of the prophets were not miracle workers and fortune tellers. They were human beings; they died as all human beings do. When they were killed it was at the hands of other human beings, for ordinary human purposes; they were killed out of fear and the motive among their murderers was the strong desire to retain power.
The Gospel According to Matthew 21:1 – 11 ©

Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!

When they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village facing you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her: untie them and bring them to me.

If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them,” and he will send them immediately.’

This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Sion, behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.’

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon.

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest!’

And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’

And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.’
First Reading – Isaiah 50:4 – 7 ©

I Did not Cover My Face Against Insult: I Know I Shall Not be Shamed

The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue.

So that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech.

Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away.

I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults.

So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 21(22):8 – 9, 17 – 20, 23 – 24 ©

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
‘He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.’

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
I can count every one of my bones.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

They divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.
O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
‘You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel’s sons.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Second Reading – Philippians 2:6 – 11 ©

Christ Humbled Himself but God Raised Him High

His state was divine, yet Christ Jesus 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 – Philippians 2:8 – 9

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

Christ 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 names.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
The Gospel According to Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 ©

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ

Key: N. Narrator. ✠ Jesus. O. Other single speaker. C. Crowd, or more than one speaker.

N. One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,

O. What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?
N. They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say,

C. Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?

N. He replied:

✠ Go to so-and-so in the city and say to him, ‘The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.’

N. The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said:

✠ I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.

N. They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn,

C. Not I, Lord, surely?

N. He answered,

✠ Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!

N. Judas, who was to betray him, asked in his turn,

O. Not I, Rabbi, surely?

N. Jesus answered:

✠ They are your own words.

N. Now as they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples and said:

✠ Take it and eat; this is my body.

N. Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, saying:

✠ Drink, all of you, from this, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father.

N. After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them,

✠ You will all lose faith in me this night, for the scripture says: I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered, but after my resurrection I shall go before you to Galilee.

N. At this, Peter said,

O. Though all lose faith in you, I will never lose faith.

N. Jesus answered him,

✠ I tell you solemnly, this very night, before the cock crows, you will have disowned me three times.

N. Peter said to him,

O. Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.

N. And all the disciples said the same.

Then Jesus came with them to a small estate called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples,

✠ Stay here while I go over there to pray.

N. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And sadness came over him, and great distress. Then he said to them,

✠ My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and keep awake with me.

N. And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed:

✠ My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.

N. He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter:

✠ So you had not the strength to keep awake with me one hour? You should be awake, and praying not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

N. Again, a second time, he went away and prayed:

✠ My Father, if this cup cannot pass by without my drinking it, your will be done!

N. And he came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy. Leaving them there, he went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words. Then he came back to the disciples and said to them,

✠ You can sleep on now and take your rest. Now the hour has come when the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let us go! My betrayer is already close at hand.

N. He was still speaking when Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared, and with him a large number of men armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. Now the traitor had arranged a sign with them. He had said,

O. ‘The one I kiss, he is the man. Take him in charge.’

N. So he went straight up to Jesus and said,

O. Greetings, Rabbi.

N. and kissed him. Jesus said to him,

✠ My friend, do what you are here for.

N. Then they came forward, seized Jesus and took him in charge. At that, one of the followers of Jesus grasped his sword and drew it; he struck out at the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. Jesus then said,

✠ Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to my defence? But then, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this is the way it must be?

N. It was at this time that Jesus said to the crowds,

✠ Am I a brigand, that you had to set out to capture me with swords and clubs? I sat teaching in the Temple day after day and you never laid hands on me.

N. Now all this happened to fulfil the prophecies in scripture. Then all the disciples deserted him and ran away.

The men who had arrested Jesus led him off to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. Peter followed him at a distance, and when he reached the high priest’s palace, he went in and sat down with the attendants to see what the end would be.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus, however false, on which they might pass the death sentence. But they could not find any, though several lying witnesses came forward. Eventually two stepped forward and made a statement,

O. This man said: ‘I have power to destroy the Temple of God and in three days build it up.’

N. The high priest then stood up and said to him,

O. Have you no answer to that? What is this evidence these men are bringing against you?

N. But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him,

O. I put you on oath by the living God to tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.

N. Jesus answered:

✠ The words are your own. Moreover, I tell you that from this time onward you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.

N. At this, the high priest tore his clothes and said,

O. He has blasphemed. What need of witnesses have we now? There! You have just heard the blasphemy. What is your opinion?

N. They answered,

C. He deserves to die.

N. Then they spat in his face and hit him with their fists; others said as they struck him,

C. Play the prophet, Christ! Who hit you then?

N. Meanwhile Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came up to him and said,

O. You too were with Jesus the Galilean.

N. But he denied it in front of them all, saying:

O. I do not know what you are talking about.

N. When he went out to the gateway another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there,

O. This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.

N. And again, with an oath, he denied it:

O. I do not know the man.

N. A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter,

C. You are one of them for sure! Why, your accent gives you away.

Then he started calling down curses on himself and swearing:

O. I do not know the man.

N. At that moment the cock crew, and Peter remembered what Jesus had said, ‘Before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people met in council to bring about the death of Jesus. They had him bound, and led him away to hand him over to Pilate, the governor.

When he found that Jesus had been condemned, Judas his betrayer was filled with remorse and took the thirty silver pieces back to the chief priests and elders, saying:

O. I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood.

N. They replied:

C. What is that to us? That is your concern.

N. And flinging down the silver pieces in the sanctuary he made off and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the silver pieces and said,

C. It is against the Law to put this into the treasury: it is blood-money.

N. So they discussed the matter and bought the potter’s field with it as a graveyard for foreigners, and this is why the field is called the Field of Blood today. The words of the prophet Jeremiah were then fulfilled: And they took the thirty silver pieces, the sum at which the precious One was priced by children of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, just as the Lord directed me.

Jesus, then, was brought before the governor, and the governor put to him this question:

O. Are you the king of the Jews?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ It is you who say it.

N. But when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders he refused to answer at all. Pilate then said to him,

O. Do you not hear how many charges they have brought against you?

N. But to the governor’s complete amazement, he offered no reply to any of the charges.

At festival time it was the governor’s practice to release a prisoner for the people, anyone they chose. Now there was at that time a notorious prisoner whose name was Barabbas. So when the crowd gathered, Pilate said to them,

O. Which do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?

N. For Pilate knew it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. Now as he was seated in the chair of judgement, his wife sent him a message,

O. Have nothing to do with that man; I have been upset all day by a dream I had about him.

N. The chief priests and the elders, however, had persuaded the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus. So when the governor spoke and asked them,

O. Which of the two do you want me to release for you?

N. they said,

C. Barabbas.

N. Pilate said to them:

O. But in that case, what am I to do with Jesus who is called Christ?

N. They all said:

C. Let him be crucified!

N. Pilate asked:

O. Why? What harm has he done?

N. But they shouted all the louder,

C. Let him be crucified!

N. Then Pilate saw that he was making no impression, that in fact a riot was imminent. So he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd and said,

O. I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your concern.

N. And the people, to a man, shouted back,

C. His blood be on us and on our children!

N. Then he released Barabbas for them. He ordered Jesus to be first scourged and then handed over to be crucified.

The governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. Then they stripped him and made him wear a scarlet cloak, and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying,

C. Hail, king of the Jews!

N. And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucify him.

On their way out, they came across a man from Cyrene, Simon by name, and enlisted him to carry his cross. When they had reached a place called Golgotha, that is, the place of the skull, they gave him wine to drink mixed with gall, which he tasted but refused to drink. When they had finished crucifying him they shared out his clothing by casting lots, and then sat down and stayed there keeping guard over him.

Above his head was placed the charge against him; it read: ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’ At the same time two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.

The passers-by jeered at him; they shook their heads and said,

C. So you would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days! Then save yourself! If you are God’s son, come down from the cross!

N. The chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him in the same way, saying:

C. He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He puts his trust in God; now let God rescue him if he wants him. For he did say, ‘I am the son of God.’

N. Even the robbers who were crucified with him taunted him in the same way.

From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

✠ Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

N. That is, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’ When some of those who stood there heard this, they said,

C. The man is calling on Elijah.

N. and one of them quickly ran to get a sponge which he dipped in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it him to drink. The rest of them said:

C. Wait! See if Elijah will come to save him.

N. But Jesus, again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

At that, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked; the rocks were split; the tombs opened and the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead, and these, after his resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the Holy City and appeared to a number of people. Meanwhile the centurion, together with the others guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place, and they were terrified and said,

C. In truth this was a son of God.

N. And many women were there, watching from a distance, the same women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him. Among them were Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

When it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, called Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate thereupon ordered it to be handed over. So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. Now Mary of Magdala and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre.

Next day, that is, when Preparation Day was over, the chief priests and the Pharisees went in a body to Pilate and said to him,

C. Your Excellency, we recall that this impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I shall rise again.’ Therefore give the order to have the sepulchre kept secure until the third day, for fear his disciples come and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ This last piece of fraud would be worse than what went before.

N. Pilate said to them:

O. You may have your guard. Go and make all as secure as you know how.

N. So they went and made the sepulchre secure, putting seals on the stone and mounting a guard.
Palm Sunday, Holy Week (Year A)

A Homily – The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

First Reading – Ezekiel 37:12-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 129(130) ©
Second Reading – Romans 8:8-11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 11:25, 26
The Gospel According to John 11:1 – 45 ©

(NJB)

The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Listen!

The bounds of death are no impediment for God’s salvific will. God will transit any threshold to save, God will pierce any darkness to save God’s children.

Know this:

God, the creator of the universe, God is patient, God is loving and God is kind.

God is the spirit of mercy and of justice. Take comfort in the knowledge that God’s justice is never present without God’s mercy, as God’s wrath is never present without God’s.

Learn from God; become like God: be loving, be merciful, be patient, and show kindness to all.

Do not fall into the error of the Apostle.

Be mindful!

Saint Paul misses an important point in the reading for today; he makes a grievous error.

Know this:

The spirit of God lives in all people. There is no question about it. God, the creator of the universe, the God of Jesus Christ, God dwells in all people.

Do not doubt it. We are all God’s children, and God loves every single one of us. There is no exception.

The spirit of Jesus lives in all people. We are all related to Jesus, he is our brother. Our relationship to Jesus is an ontological reality that cannot be abridged or denied. We do not have the power to undo it.

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.

Consider the Gospel for today and be mindful. God is not served by a false narrative such as the narrative we are presented with in today’s reading. Therefore, we must use reason to find a different meaning than the meaning which the narrative plainly delineates.

The story of Lazarus is pure myth, Jesus did not call a corpse from the tomb. The story is either a complete fabrication, or Lazarus was not quite dead when he heard Jesus call him.

We must find the metaphor in the text, because to read it plainly is to subscribe to a lie, which goes against the principles of the Church.

In John the Lazarus narrative became convoluted by politics and the ongoing disputes John’s community had with the Jewish people they lived in proximity to, who they were doing everything in their power to distinguish themselves from.

In John the narrative goes to the issue of who people believe Jesus was, the Christ the Son of God, rather than who he actually was and what he actually taught.

For John’s community it was more important to believe the Church’s dogma, than to live according to Jesus’s teachings, in this way they were no different from the Pharisees and hypocrites Jesus struggled with.

In the end, only our conduct matters, not what believe about Jesus, or his power to raise the dead.

In the end what matters is that we fill ourselves with the spirit that desires to see everyone filled with life and wellbeing.

The metaphor is this: We are all Lazarus, dead to the spirit of love, but if we listen we will be able to rise from the tomb were our selfishness has brought us, to emerge from that place of loneliness and alienation wherein we are working contrary to the will of God.

We can then embrace the light and move forward in God’s love.
First Reading – Ezekiel 37:12-14 ©

I Shall Put My Spirit in You, and You Will Live

The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and I shall resettle you on your own soil; and you will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this – it is the Lord who speaks.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 129(130) ©

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
(Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.)

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Second Reading – Romans 8:8-11 ©

The Spirit of Him who Raised Jesus from the Dead is Living in ou

People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, 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. Though your body may be dead it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified; 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.
Gospel Acclamation – John 11:25, 26

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
The Gospel According to John 11:1 – 45 ©

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

There was a man named Lazarus who lived in the village of Bethany with the two sisters, Mary and Martha, and he was ill. It was the same Mary, the sister of the sick man Lazarus, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent this message to Jesus, ‘Lord, the man you love is ill.’ On receiving the message, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified.’

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when he heard that Lazarus was ill he stayed where he was for two more days before saying to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judaea.’ The disciples said, ‘Rabbi, it is not long since the Jews wanted to stone you; are you going back again?’ Jesus replied:

‘Are there not twelve hours in the day?

A man can walk in the daytime without stumbling because he has the light of this world to see by; but if he walks at night he stumbles, because there is no light to guide him.’
He said that and then added, ‘Our friend Lazarus is resting, I am going to wake him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he is able to rest he is sure to get better.’ The phrase Jesus used referred to the death of Lazarus, but they thought that by ‘rest’ he meant ‘sleep’, so Jesus put it plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe. But let us go to him.’ Then Thomas – known as the Twin – said to the other disciples, ‘Let us go too, and die with him.’

On arriving, Jesus found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days already. Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathise with them over their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus had come she went to meet him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’ ‘Your brother’ said Jesus to her ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said:

‘I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in a low voice, ‘The Master is here and wants to see you.’ Hearing this, Mary got up quickly and went to him. Jesus had not yet come into the village; he was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were in the house sympathising with Mary saw her get up so quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

Mary went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw him she threw herself at his feet, saying, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who followed her, Jesus said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from the heart, ‘Where have you put him?’ They said, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept; and the Jews said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But there were some who remarked, ‘He opened the eyes of the blind man, could he not have prevented this man’s death?’ Still sighing, Jesus reached the tomb: it was a cave with a stone to close the opening. Jesus said, ‘Take the stone away.’ Martha said to him, ‘Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day.’ Jesus replied, ‘Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said:

‘Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I knew indeed that you always hear me, but I speak for the sake of all these who stand round me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with bands of stuff and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, let him go free.’

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what he did believed in him.
The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

First Reading – 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23) ©
Second Reading – Ephesians 5:8-14 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 8:12
The Gospel According to John – John 9:1 – 41 ©

(NJB)

The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A)
The readings for today begin with a proper myth. However, a religion purporting to have been founded by the Spirit of truth, cannot be rooted in this kind of mythology.

It is too easy for the reader to overlook the wisdom predicated in this statement: “God does not look at the man but at the heart,” and focus on the inconsequential issues presented in the reading: “The spirit of God seized David and remained with him thereafter.”

Be mindful!

There was nothing at all special about David, and God, the creator of the universe, God is not a respecter of persons. God does not intervene in the course of human events, God is not a kingmaker.

All of us exist within God, and without God not one of us would be. God carried all of us into existence, seized us from out of nothing and carried us into the light, and from the first moment of our being God has been with us, as God is with everyone.

Listen to the psalmist.

God, the creator of the universe, God is the shepherd of all.

If we walk in the ways of God, then we will be as a shepherd to our sisters and brothers.

Know this, our time in this world is not the end of all things. It transitory. If we are hungry, we are hungry only for a time. If we thirst, it is but for a moment. In times of scarcity we must show our generosity.

Give to those in need. Trust in God and find your peace.

It is not only because God loves you that God guides you. It is for the God’s own sake that God blesses you. God blesses and guides us so that we may in turn may be a guide and blessing to others.

The power of death and sin are temporary, it is only God that endures forever, and we are the children of God.

The divine spirit dwells within us.

If God has set a table before you, share it with the world, turn your adversaries into loved ones.

Consider these words from the apostle; reflect on their meaning:

What is exposed in the light will become light!

The Gospel promises a time when their will be no darkness, when light will cover everything, and everything will be transformed by the light, into light.

We have a choice to make; we can wait for grace to break into our lives, or we can give up our shameful ways, our greed and jealousy, our miserliness and hatreds.

We came give them up and walk into the light on our own.

Let the spirit of grace guide you.

Be mindful!

We are all walking in the way, and the way does not exclude anyone. We are all moving inexorably toward God, the divine source of all being.

Be mindful of the Gospel reading for today!

The intrigue that is presented here casts a pall over the best parts of the Gospel.

Handle it with care.

When the good news of the way is interwoven with internecine conflicts, legalisms and partisanship, its brightness is diminished.

We do best when keep the preaching of Jesus to this core teaching:

The way is light, I am the way, Christ is a light in the world.

Follow it!

In the lighted way the blind will see, even those who have lived in perpetual darkness will see clearly.

Believe it!

The Gospel is hope. Any part of the Gospel that detracts from that hope, is preaching that does not originate in the teaching of Jesus Christ. It is not a part of the lighted way.

Reject it!
First Reading – 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13 ©

David is Anointed by Samuel

The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen myself a king among his sons.’ When Samuel arrived, he caught sight of Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands there before him,’ but the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Take no notice of his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him: God does not see as man sees: man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.’ Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ He then asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ He answered, ‘There is still one left, the youngest; he is out looking after the sheep.’ Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down to eat until he comes.’ Jesse had him sent for, a boy of fresh complexion, with fine eyes and pleasant bearing. The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23) ©

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.
Second Reading – Ephesians 5:8-14 ©

Anything Exposed by the Light Will Turn into Light

You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth. Try to discover what the Lord wants of you, having nothing to do with the futile works of darkness but exposing them by contrast. The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of; but anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light. That is why it is said:

Wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Gospel Acclamation – John 8:12

Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!
The Gospel According to John – John 9:1 – 41 ©

The Blind Man Went Off and Washed Himself, and Came Away with His Sight Restored

As Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?’ ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered ‘he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

‘As long as the day lasts
I must carry out the work of the one who sent me;
the night will soon be here when no one can work.
As long as I am in the world
I am the light of the world.’

Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man, and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (a name that means ‘sent’). So the blind man went off and washed himself, and came away with his sight restored.

His neighbours and people who earlier had seen him begging said, ‘Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some said, ‘Yes, it is the same one.’ Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’ The man himself said, ‘I am the man.’ So they said to him, ‘Then how do your eyes come to be open?’ ‘The man called Jesus’ he answered ‘made a paste, daubed my eyes with it and said to me, “Go and wash at Siloam”; so I went, and when I washed I could see.’ They asked, ‘Where is he?’ ‘I don’t know’ he answered.

They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. It had been a sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and opened the man’s eyes, so when the Pharisees asked him how he had come to see, he said, ‘He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see.’ Then some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man cannot be from God: he does not keep the sabbath.’ Others said, ‘How could a sinner produce signs like this?’ And there was disagreement among them. So they spoke to the blind man again, ‘What have you to say about him yourself, now that he has opened your eyes?’ ‘He is a prophet’ replied the man. However, the Jews would not believe that the man had been blind and had gained his sight, without first sending for his parents and asking them, ‘Is this man really your son who you say was born blind? If so, how is it that he is now able to see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know he is our son and we know he was born blind, but we do not know how it is that he can see now, or who opened his eyes. He is old enough: let him speak for himself.’ His parents spoke like this out of fear of the Jews, who had already agreed to expel from the synagogue anyone who should acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. This was why his parents said, ‘He is old enough; ask him.’

So the Jews again sent for the man and said to him, ‘Give glory to God! For our part, we know that this man is a sinner.’ The man answered, ‘I don’t know if he is a sinner; I only know that I was blind and now I can see.’ They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He replied, ‘I have told you once and you wouldn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it all again? Do you want to become his disciples too?’ At this they hurled abuse at him: ‘You can be his disciple,’ they said ‘we are disciples of Moses: we know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ The man replied, ‘Now here is an astonishing thing! He has opened my eyes, and you don’t know where he comes from! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but God does listen to men who are devout and do his will. Ever since the world began it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of a man who was born blind; if this man were not from God, he couldn’t do a thing.’ ‘Are you trying to teach us,’ they replied ‘and you a sinner through and through, since you were born!’ And they drove him away.

Jesus heard they had driven him away, and when he found him he said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied ‘tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.’ The man said, ‘Lord, I believe’, and worshipped him.

Jesus said:

‘It is for judgement
that I have come into this world,
so that those without sight may see
and those with sight turn blind.’

Hearing this, some Pharisees who were present said to him, ‘We are not blind, surely?’ Jesus replied:

‘Blind? If you were,
you would not be guilty,
but since you say, “We see,”
your guilt remains.’
The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

A Homily – Third Sunday of Lent (Year A)

First Reading – Exodus 17:3-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9 ©
Second Reading – Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 4:42, 15
The Gospel According to John – 4:5 – 42 ©

(NJB)

Third Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Listen!

God, the creator of the universe, God is not a miracle worker, and God does not intervene in human affairs.

God did not cause water to flow from the rock in Horeb. God did not lead the people through the desert.

God had nothing to do with any of the events described in the reading for today, the faith of the Church cannot be built on lies, and the truth is this; none of these things ever even happened.

We may take the narrative metaphorically; if we do then the meaning is this: Trust God.

Trust in the divine, God may not free you from your immediate struggle, but God will heal us all in the end.

Be mindful!

God will make us well, it is God who creates in us the possibility of wellbeing.

God is our wellbeing, but know this: God is not a king.

The whole of creation belongs to God, all that is good and all that we fear, everything comes from God, and everything we experience will redound to the good.

Listen!

It is good to show our respect for the creator and to sing songs in praise of God, therefore remember, God, the creator of the universe, God is our loving parent and has prepared each of us for God’s blessing.

Consider the teaching of the apostle.

When we say that we are judged as righteous, and that we are at peace with God by faith; we mean to say that our trust in God’s promise of peace, and God’s promise regarding the restoration of the entire world, it is our faith in these things that allows us to lead lives that are righteous, just, merciful and humble.

If we boast that our faith, this trust in God’s plan for the entire human race allows us to see the coming of God, it is only because we know that God dwells within us already, and in the relationships we have with each other, when we look into each other’s hearts, then we are able to see the beauty of the divine. It is present in us, and fully manifest when we are loving and caring toward each other.

Know this!

Contrary to what the apostle taught, Jesus was not a sacrificial victim. His blood did not have magic powers. God, the creator of the universe does not love holocausts and burnt offerings.

God loves mercy and God love justice.

Jesus acted mercifully and with full regard for his followers when he allowed himself to be taken to the cross, many would have died if he had not. He gave his life to save them, to save them in their own time and place, he did not give his life as a cosmic sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Consider the gospel for today.

This is not a story about who Jesus is. Though most readers and interpreters of the sacred text treat it as such.

This is not a story about the Messiah or the Christ or living water, and it is not a story about baptism, or the mercy of Jesus.
In sitting down with the woman by the well Jesus was not doing anything extraordinary. He was simply following the way and teaching it through his actions.

This is a story about discipleship, and the first Apostle of the Christian Church; she was a woman, a woman without a husband, she was an outsider and a Samaritan.

It is clear from the text that this Samaritan woman was a person of influence in her community, we know this because after she met Jesus she went to speak with the people of her town, and on the strength of her testimony we are told that the entire community converted to the faith.

They became the very first church, an entire community of believers, formed by the witness of this woman, who shared with them the compassion of Jesus, and brought them into the way.

Jesus says to the disciples who came late in the day after this encounter, that the harvest is already coming in, he was speaking of the work that began with this woman, she began the harvest on her own.

This is why Jesus told the disciples that they would take credit for the work that others had done, because even though this story endured, the woman by the well was never given the credit she deserved, one or another of the disciples took credit for the founding of that community in the end.

Be mindful of this, follow Jesus in the way, not the prideful nature of the disciples.

The Gospel of the day is a remarkable story of egalitarianism, and the way of true Christians, a way that does not define the authority of its members by gender or class, or station. It recognizes the authority of those who have it, having been given it by their acknowledgment of the truth and the spirit that is within them.
First Reading – Exodus 17:3-7 ©

Strike the Rock, and Water Will Flow from It

Tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’

Moses appealed to the Lord. ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’ This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9 ©

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come in; let us bow and bend low;
let us kneel before the God who made us:
for he is our God and we
the people who belong to his pasture,
the flock that is led by his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

O that today you would listen to his voice!
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test;
when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’
Second Reading – Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 ©

The Love of God Has Been Poured Into Our Hearts

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
Gospel Acclamation – John 4:42, 15

Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!

Lord, you are really the saviour of the world:
give me the living water, so that I may never get thirsty.

Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!
The Gospel According to John – 4:5 – 42 ©

A Spring of Water Welling Up to Eternal Life

Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’

His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:

‘If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you:

Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water.’

‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep:
how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’

Jesus replied:

‘Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again:

the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.’

‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’

‘Go and call your husband’ said Jesus to her
‘and come back here.’

The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’

He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’

‘I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:

‘Believe me, woman,
the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know:

for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:

that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.

God is spirit, and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’

The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’

‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’

At this point his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking to her?’

The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’ This brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat; but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples asked one another, ‘Has someone been bringing him food?’

But Jesus said:

‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work.

Have you not got a saying:

Four months and then the harvest?

Well, I tell you:

Look around you, look at the fields;
already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life, and thus sower and reaper rejoice together.

For here the proverb holds good:

one sows, another reaps; I sent you to reap a harvest you had not worked for.

Others worked for it; and you have come into the rewards of their trouble.’

Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’
Third Sunday of Lent (Year A)

A Homily – Second Sunday of Lent (Year A)

First Reading – Genesis 12:1-4 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 32(33):4-5, 18-20, 22 ©
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 1:8-10 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 17:5
The Gospel According to Matthew – 17:1 – 9 ©

(NJB)

Second Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Listen!

It is possible for the entire world to be blessed through the actions of a single person.

God, the creator of the universe, God does not intervene in human affairs. God does not show preference to one nation above another, one tribe over another or one person over their sister and brother.

God does not build nations, or intervene in their progress to make them great.

God does not distribute blessings and curses capriciously.

God has made every person, and the entire universe free.

Be mindful of this!

It is fitting to praise God. It is wise to trust in divine mercy; though do not expect God to rescue you from danger, and do not believe that God’s loves any one of God’s children more than any other.

You have heard this said:

God knows all things, God understands all things, but God’s knowledge is not an abstract knowledge of the particular details of individual events. God understands us, our person, our choices, our lives; God’s understands us even as we understand ourselves, only with a clarity that we could never possess.

Trust in God’s plan for you, and for creation, but do not wait for salvation. God made you well at the beginning, go and share the good news.

We are already saved, our salvation is a gift of grace, and no-one is excluded.

We have been given the power to know the truth and love goodness, we are asked to be kind and show mercy.

Let Jesus show you the way.

Know this!

Before the beginning of time, God’s saving purpose was at work in creation. All that we experience here was conceived in the saving will of God.

Let your mind dwell on this.

God has called us to be holy, at all times the voice of God can be heard speaking in the heart, calling to us, inviting us into a life of compassion and wellbeing.

God, the creator of the universe; God does this out of love. It was God’s plan from the beginning of time, that there would not be one of us, not one child of God, not one being in the whole of creation who is outside of God’s plan.

Jesus revealed this through the love he bore, he showed us the way.

Follow it!

The resurrection does not show us that God has abolished death as much as it reveals that the death of the body is merely a transition, which we all pass through on our journey toward the light.

Consider the Gospel for today:

As Christians we are bound to read it in the context of its truthfulness.

Let the Spirit of Truth guide us, even if it means rejecting the Gospel as it is written.

There may have been an event, when Jesus together with James and John went up the mountain by themselves.

It may have been that in this time Jesus taught his companions the essential message that his ministry was in keeping with that of Moses, the liberator, the law giver; and Elijah, the truthteller.

Something like that may have happened but the supernatural events described in the reading for today did not.

God, the creator of the universe, God does not engage in supernatural activities. God is the author of nature and of its laws. God does not violate these laws for any reason.

It may also be that Jesus wanted to connect his ministry to the mythology of Enoch, he may have taught this to the disciples, to preparing them for his passing and his eventual return.

Jesus did warn the disciples that his ministry would lead to his death, but like Enoch, the Son of Man, death would not stop him.

Jesus may have wanted them to believe this, just as he may have wanted them to believe that the ministry of John the Baptist was being carried on through him.

Be mindful!

Read the Gospel in such a way that you strip from it the fantastical elements, the magic and miracles if they are not treated as metaphors, elucidate nothing. Insisting they are real is contrary to the way.
First Reading – Genesis 12:1-4 ©

All the Tribes of the Earth Shall Bless Themselves by You

The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing.

‘I will bless those who bless you: I will curse those who slight you.

All the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you.’

So Abram went as the Lord told him.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 32(33):4-5, 18-20, 22 ©

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.

The word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
May your love be upon us, O Lord,
as we place all our hope in you.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 1:8-10 ©

God Calls and Enlightens Us

With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy – not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has only been revealed by the Appearing of our saviour Christ Jesus. He abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 17:5

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!

From the bright cloud the Father’s voice was heard:
‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
The Gospel According to Matthew – 17:1 – 9 ©

His Face Shone Like the Sun

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.

As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’
Second Sunday of Lent (Year A)

A Homily – First Sunday of Lent (Year A)

First Reading – Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17 ©
Second Reading – Romans 5:12-19 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:4
The Gospel According to Matthew – 4:1 – 11 ©

(NJB)

First Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Be mindful!

This is the story of creation and the origins of humanity, it is an etiological myth attempting to explain the origins of sin.

It does not explain anything.

The narrative demonstrates a belief that God, who created the universe on the macro scale, is also responsible for bringing life to all of the things and beings with in it. The myth intends to convey the message that creation is good, and that human beings are good.

The myth also conveys the notion that there are laws that govern creation, and human beings were intended to be subject to them, but that we are also free and that the violation of God’s law has consequences.

What is important to know about the divine law and justice is this: With God there is never justice without mercy. When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that already found us.

When we are contrite, our contrition is like a shower that washes us clean. God has forgiven us, god forgave us even before we ever sinned or came to the knowledge of sin.

We are all sinners, animals, we are no different than the wolf or the lion, but God speaks to us from our innermost being, God is present at our core; in this way God gives us the power, and the grace to overcome our animal nature and live a holy life; to live a life of conscience.
Know this!

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

Do not look for God’s hand in the tribulations we suffer here, or the rewards we enjoy on earth, they are like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral.

Listen!

The scope of the creature’s actions, and the consequences that flow from sin, cannot exceed the scope of divine intention and the power of grace to heal.

Consider the Gospel reading for today and know that there is no devil, there is no deceiver except the deceiver that lies in our hearts.

God, the creator of the universe, God has given us the ability to know the truth, and to discern good from evil. God has also given each of us the ability to deny the truth, reject it and lie.

The lies we tell always originate in our own heart. We tell them first to ourselves, before we try to convince others about the truth of what is not true.

We face many temptations as human beings. The reading for today highlights three of the most basic forms that the temptation to do evil might take.

The temptation to turn stones into bread is not the temptation to perform a magic trick, it is an acknowledgement that we are at times tempted toward injustice by the simplest and most ordinary things…by hunger and thirst, by the necessity of meeting our most basic needs.

Any of us, when faced with making those hard choices, the choice to feed ourselves, our children, the ones we love, any of us will contemplate breaking the laws of the state, and the laws of God as well.

The temptation to throw himself off the wall of the temple, was not the temptation to rely on a supernatural power for safety and protection, it was the temptation to vanity. The temptation was to believe in ourselves so much that we can risk any danger, even risk our own lives, and therefore the well-being of everyone who depends on us out of the belief that we can do no wrong, or that nothing can harm us.

The third temptation was not the temptation to rule the world, because that is the temptation to fantasy. The temptation is based on the love of wealth and power in any of its species. This is the most ordinary temptation of all.

To succumb to these temptation, to yield to any of them is to suborn our faith in the way that Jesus taught us, and to put in its place faith in our own machinations.

The way of Christ is what Jesus summarized in his presentation of the golden rule; do unto others what you would have them do unto you. Love God with all your strength, and all your heart, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Walk humbly, serve justice and be merciful all the days of your life.
First Reading – Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7 ©

The Creation, and the Sin of Our First Parents

The Lord God fashioned man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being.

The Lord God planted a garden in Eden which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned. The Lord God caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.

Now the serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that the Lord God had made. It asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realised that they were naked. So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17 ©

Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.

My offences truly I know them;
my sin is always before me
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Second Reading – Romans 5:12-19 ©

However Great the Number of Sins Committed, Grace was Even Greater

Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. Sin existed in the world long before the Law was given. There was no law and so no one could be accused of the sin of ‘law-breaking’, yet death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even though their sin, unlike that of Adam, was not a matter of breaking a law.

Adam prefigured the One to come, but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. The results of the gift also outweigh the results of one man’s sin: for after one single fall came judgement with a verdict of condemnation, now after many falls comes grace with its verdict of acquittal. If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous. Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
The Gospel According to Matthew – 4:1 – 11 ©

The Temptation in the Wilderness

Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ But he replied, ‘Scripture says:

Man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

The devil then took him to the holy city and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple.

‘If you are the Son of God’ he said ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says:

He will put you in his angels’ charge,
and they will support you on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says:

You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘I will give you all these’ he said, ‘if you fall at my feet and worship me.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan! For scripture says:

You must worship the Lord your God,
and serve him alone.’

Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.
First Sunday of Lent (Year A)

A Homily – The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 – 18 (Year A)

First Reading – Joel 2:12-18 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 ©
Gospel Acclamation Psalm 50:12, 14
Alternative Acclamation Psalm 94:8
The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 – 18

(NJB)

Ash Wednesday (Year A)
Remember this:

The anointed one is not a king, Jesus was not a lord. The Romans crowned him with thorns, they mocked him when they called him king of the Jews.

Jesus was a man of the land, one of the am haaretz. Go to him, follow him, through him enter the way of compassion.

It is right and good to pray for the people. It is even better to leave the temple, to leave the church and be with them when they are suffering, but know this: God does not intervene in our lives, God has equipped each of us to deal with extraordinary grief, and hardship.

When you go to the people go in modesty.

Celebrate, rejoice and be grateful, God is with you and God is merciful, but God makes no intercession for us living in the world.

Listen!

With God there is never justice without mercy.

When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that has already found us.

When we possess knowledge and we are contrite, that contrition is like a shower that washes us clean, but God had forgiven us before we ever sinned or came to the knowledge of it.

Be mindful!

We are all sinners, we are animals, no different than the wolf or the lion, but God speaks to us from our innermost being, God is present at our core; in this way God gives us the power and the grace to overcome our animal nature and live a holy life; a life of conscience.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

Do not look for God’s hand in the tribulations we suffer here, or the rewards we enjoy on earth, they are like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral.

Listen to the Apostle, who says that our salvation is the work of God. God has done the work, it began as Saint John said, in the first moment of creation.

The fall, such as it is, happens subsequent to and in the context of God’s saving work.

God has done the work already, Jesus revealed the truth of it, and has entrusted all of us who follow the way with the task of sharing that good news.

Here is the gospel: You are reconciled to God. There is no debt to pay. Allow the burden of sin, and the fear of it to fall away.

Be glad.

It was always God’s plan that we fall and rise together, that we rise and fall as one, because we are one in the goodness of God.

The apostle tells us, in the simplest of terms that the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation.

Hear this!

Everyone is reconciled in God’s love, in God who created the universe. The members of the church are to be ambassadors of this good news. The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, as it is today obsessed with signing up members, for whom the reward is reconciliation.
The reconciliation has already occurred. The mission of the church is to proclaim it.

Proclaim that every day is a day of salvation.

With God there is never justice without mercy. When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that already found us.

When we come to that knowledge and are contrite, that contrition is a the shower that washes us clean, but God had forgiven us before we ever sinned or came to the knowledge of it.

We are all sinners, animals, no different than the wolf or the lion, but God speaks to us from our innermost being, God is present at our core; in this way God gives us the power and the grace to overcome our animal nature and live a holy life, to live a life of conscience.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

Do not look for God’s hand in the tribulations we suffer here, or the rewards we enjoy on earth, they are like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral.

Know this!

It is God who makes us well, who creates in us the possibility of wellbeing. God is our wellbeing, but God is not a king and there are no other gods.

All creation belongs to God, all that is good and all that frightens us, everything comes from God and will redound to the good.

It is good to show our respect for the creator and to sing songs in praise of God, but remember this and remember it always, that God is our loving parent, and has prepared each of us for God’s blessing.

Be mindful of this!

You will have no reward from God in this life, God does not intervene or interfere in human events.

Do not seek glorify or glorify yourself in public. Do not seek admiration from the world at large.

Pray in private, not in public, do not boast of your piety.

Do not brag on how much you give to the world, or how well you pay your employees, do good for the sake of doing good, be fair for fairness’ sake.

Go to your work and to your disciplines gladly, if you are fasting then fast, smile and be happy.
First Reading – Joel 2:12-18 ©

Let Your Hearts Be Broken, Not Your Garments Torn

‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’

Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.

Who knows if he will not turn again, will not relent, will not leave a blessing as he passes, oblation and libation for the Lord your God?

Sound the trumpet in Zion!

Order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, call the people together, summon the community, assemble the elders, gather the children, even the infants at the breast.

Let the bridegroom leave his bedroom and the bride her alcove.

Between vestibule and altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, lament.

Let them say, ‘Spare your people, Lord!

Do not make your heritage a thing of shame, a byword for the nations.

Why should it be said among the nations, “Where is their God?”’

Then the Lord, jealous on behalf of his land, took pity on his people.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17

Our God comes and will not be silent!
Devouring fire precedes him,
it rages strongly around him.

He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth to judge his people:

“Gather my loyal ones to me,
those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for God himself is the judge.

Were I hungry, I would not tell you,
for mine is the world and all that fills it.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of he-goats?

Offer praise as your sacrifice to God;
fulfill your vows to the Most High.

You hate discipline;
you cast my words behind you!
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 ©

Be Reconciled to God

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.
Gospel Acclamation Psalm 50:12, 14

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

A pure heart create for me, O God,
and give me again the joy of your help.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Alternative Acclamation Psalm 94:8

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 – 18

Your Father Who Sees All that is Done in Secret Will Reward You

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’
Ash Wednesday (Year A)

A Homily – The Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 8, 10, 12-13 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
Alternative Acclamation – 1 John 2:5
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5:38 – 48 ©

(NJB)

The Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Listen to the word of God and know that there is no justice without mercy.

Give thanks to God, the creator of the universe. Give thanks for the peace of God’s blessing, the blessing of life, and of freedom, of self-determination and every other aspect of our being that allows us to be persons.

Give thanks to those who are loving, to the peacemakers and bless them as you are able.

Bless all of God’s children, as God does, love them all, both the good and the bad, the helpful and the harmful, the just and the unjust.

Remember this, God is not a king, God is not a Lord. God does not favor one group over another. God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings.

God has made everyone free.

The living God dwells within the living you, and in the living I. God, the creator of the universe dwells in everyone, in all beings, at all times, in all places.

God dwells in you, and I, and your enemy (whoever that might be), and where God is present, God is present fully.

Be mindful!

Wisdom is wisdom, and folly is folly, and you are not special except insofar as you are loved.

You are loved no-more and no-less than any other.

You are no-more and no-less wise.

You are no-more and no-less a fool.

We are all journeying in the way, and the way leads to God.

Be Mindful!

The grace of God is not transactional.

Love fosters love, but there is always love and God is always with you.

God dwells in all people, regardless of their character and the quality of the life they have lived.

Some people bear witness through the quality of their lives the love that Jesus showed us and asked us to emulate. In others we are confronted with the need to be merciful, and to demonstrate through our own choices the qualities of mercy and forgiveness Jesus asked us to show.

Remember this!

God is present in every person. Some express the love of God, while others call for a loving response.

Consider the Gospel for today, and be mindful.

The old law was the law of retribution. In it, there was no room for mercy. Under the old law it was thought that whether you do good deeds or bad deeds you are paid back in kind, and you are paid back in equal measure.

Most of the religious systems in the world adhere to a view of justice based on this concept. The laws of Karma articulated in Hinduism, are the most succinctly articulated and concisely conceptualized.

Every religion that points its believers to some kind of afterlife, has some variant of a mythology that shows the individual being weighed or measured on the scales of justice, before receiving their eternal reward, or punishment, as the case might be.

In the aforementioned Hindu system of beliefs, the individual remains on the wheel of life until the scales are balanced, and then they are released.

The Jains, the Sikhs and the Baha’i, all imagine something very much the same. They imagine that the soul enters the world in a state of purity and light, but life in the flesh entangles them in the dirty business of existence.

They become soiled.

The task then is to move toward the light, avoiding all things that contaminate the soul. Until, at the end they are once again burning pure and bright.

The old law was a law of retribution.

It was only one stage better than the law of terror which read:

Not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but a head for an eye and a tribe for a head.

Jesus instructed us in the divine law, and the divine law is reflected in the way of mercy; to sacrifice is to forgive, and this is the path to holiness.

Jesus taught us to go beyond what is ordinary, surpass the conventions, teach love and mercy, by being loving and merciful, even to those you would shun or fear.

This is the way and there is no other.

Both Jesus and the Buddha believed that a person could balance the scales in a moment. It did not take lifetimes, we are not in bondage to our past, to our history, to our station, or to our ancestors.

We are good when we are doing good, we burn brightly when we are on fire with compassion.
First Reading – Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 ©

You Must Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:

‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

‘“You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 8, 10, 12-13 ©

The Lord is compassion and love.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.

The Lord is compassion and love.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is compassion and love.

The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.

The Lord is compassion and love.

As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.
As a father has compassion on his sons,
the Lord has pity on those who fear him.

The Lord is compassion and love.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 ©

You Belong to Christ and Christ Belongs to God

Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.

Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 1 John 2:5

Alleluia, alleluia!

Whenever anyone obeys what Christ has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5:38 – 48 ©

Love Your Enemies

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
The Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118(119):1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68
Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 11 :25
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5: 17 – 37 ©

(NJB)

The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Listen!

God has prepared the way for you, look ahead you can see it. The lane is clear and smooth and yours to take, but on the margins there are ruts and grooves, there are stones and roots, and other things to stumble on.

You may take which ever path you like, because all paths lead to God.

Look into the fire and there is God, dip your cup in the well and there is God.

Water cleanses without hurt, fire cleanses as it burns, in both fire and water we encounter the divine, turn around and God is with you, plant your feet and God is there. Close your eyes and stop your ears, God remains.

God is with you in your heart.

Nothing evil comes from God, and all things bend toward the good.

Be mindful!

God’s law is written in our hearts. God speaks to us there. All other versions of God’s law are merely reflections of the divine law that each of us carries with us.

God’s law is a living flame. Look into your heart see it shimmering there, wrapping itself around the coals.

God’s law is to love, and there is no other law. To love is its own reward. You will receive no other.

Remember this!

Those who do not love are not unloved by God. We are called on to love, even the hateful, love is the only cure for their hatred.

When you petition God; the creator of the universe, do not petition God for favor. Do not ask God for special treatment, do not ask God to prefer you over any other one of God’s children. Do not promise to do for God what is not within your power to do.

Be wise and ask for wisdom.

Do not lie to God, or yourself when you petition God.

Do not ask from God what it already lies within your power to do for yourself.

Be mindful of the sacred text, it has been made a tool for human beings, and there are places, many places that offer us a window on human vanity and nothing more.

There is no mystery in the sacred text, there is only the commandment that we love one another as God loves us. This is the demand that the divine law makes on our conscience; to act mercifully in the interest of justice.

Live a life filled with compassion, and you will be following the way.

When a leader arises in our midst, we must acknowledge them and their appointment if it is a reflection of the will of the people.

When that leadership is pure, and we see that their work is holy, we must acknowledge that, but in the acknowledgment of these things it is important to not embellish.

Remember that god speaks to all people.

God, the creator of the universe; God speaks in the human heart.

Be mindful of what the gospel teaches!

Here is the good news; God loves you, and you are saved. You are not saved for anything that you have done, you did not earn it, you are saved because God loves you.

The promise of salvation is not that you will be spared from suffering and torment in hell, or that when you are judged God will forgive you.

God has already forgiven you. You are already saved.

God has prepared you and everyone for eternal life.

Believe it!

Let the goodness of the promise flow through you, begin to live your life as if it were true.

We are not called to believe in the idea that Jesus is this or that, the Holy One of God, we are called to act on the principles of his faith, to live lives of charity and service to each other.

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

God, the creator of the universe, God has hidden nothing from you. 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, the understanding of justice, the freedom to 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 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.

That is the way Jesus asked us to follow.

Just because a person is be 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 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 the calling to follow Jesus. What matters is what is in your heart, and your willingness to trust in the content of your hope.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

The way is simple and elegant, and it is among the most difficult of challenges.

The writers of Matthew’s Gospel attempted to summarize Jesus’ teaching on the law. Those who had known Jesus, or who had been instructed in the faith by those who did know him, they believed sincerely that they knew what was in Jesus’ heart.

Nevertheless, their summary of it fell short of the mark, because, as with all matters pertaining to the divine, and to God, the creator of the universe, our human understanding falls short.

Know this, in this passage, the kingdom of heaven which Jesus refers to, is not a place beyond this world. It is the world we live in; it is not the world as it is, but the world as it could be, if we set aside our sins.

Know this, the hell which the gospels refer to is not a place beyond this world, it is not the diametric opposite of heaven, it is the realm of the dead, it is the place where we are, as we are still caught up in our sin.

We have a choice, a choice we can exercise right now; to live in the way of the divine, in a community of peace and love, or to live in a world conditioned by fear and greed, characterized by strife and pain.

If we chose the way, no matter how much we may desire it, we cannot have it, be in it, bring others to it, if we are not reconciled to the community that we live in. If we hold a grudge, if there is enmity, we must address these first and come to a place of healing.

In the way, what we do matters, but our intentions matter as much or more.

A person may not be a thief, but if they covet their neighbor’s possessions there is no peace between them. What we hold in our heart, that determines the nature of our relationships with each other.

Forgive and be forgiven, this is not a transaction, it is a simple injunction.

Let go of the hardness and covetousness in your heart, accept the mercy that is offered to you.

Be loved, and love.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21 ©

God Predestined Wisdom to Be for Our Glory Before the Ages Began

If you wish, you can keep the commandments, to behave faithfully is within your power.

He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer.

Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given him.

For vast is the wisdom of the Lord; he is almighty and all-seeing.

His eyes are on those who fear him, he notes every action of man.

He never commanded anyone to be godless, he has given no one permission to sin.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118(119):1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34 ©

They are happy who follow God’s law!

They are happy whose life is blameless,
who follow God’s law!
They are happy who do his will,
seeking him with all their hearts.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

You have laid down your precepts
to be obeyed with care.
May my footsteps be firm
to obey your statutes.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Bless your servant and I shall live
and obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
the wonders of your law.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Teach me the demands of your statutes
and I will keep them to the end.
Train me to observe your law,
to keep it with my heart.

They are happy who follow God’s law!
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 ©

God Predestined Wisdom to Be for Our glory Before the Ages Began

We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity: not a philosophy of our age, it is true, still less of the masters of our age, which are coming to their end. The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began. It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; we teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.
These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68

Alleluia, alleluia!

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.

Alleluia!
Alternative 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 – 5: 17 – 37 ©

You Have Learnt How it was Said to Our Ancestors; but I Say this to You

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.

‘For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.

‘It has also been said: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you: everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

‘Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’
The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), The Presentation of the Lord

First Reading – Malachi 3:1-4 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):7-10 ©
Second Reading – Hebrews 2:14-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:32
The Gospel According to Luke – 2:22 – 40 ©

(NJB)

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), The Presentation of the Lord
Remember this; when you study the myths that fill the scriptures:

God, the creator of the universe; God is not a lord, God is not a king. God does not come into the world at the head of an army.

The temple of God is not a building, it is the human heart.

God does not speak to us through intermediaries and priests, God speaks from the seat of conscience, and there is no other place to listen to God, the conscience of another man or woman, shared with you, cannot replace your own.

Have hope, both for yourself and for all people, God is working within each one of us, God intends to bring us all through the fire. God’s fire does not destroy, it refines, and there is not a single one of God’s children who is exempt from God’s plan.

We will all pass through the fire.

Know this!

All things and person have their being in God. God is the foundation of all that is. Without God there is nothing, and in nothing there is not even the possibility of something.

If you wish to climb the mountain to find God, that is fine, God is there.

God is in all places at all times and there is no place where God is not.

You will find God on the mountain, or turn to your neighbor and see God reflected in their eyes.

Look in the face of the stranger, see it, see them and behold the face of God, in that holy presence give thanks.

Do not worry about your own holiness, or the holiness of any other person, we all run hot and cold.

Be mindful!

God loved you before creation, when there was only the possibility of you drifting in the latent currents of potentialities, God loved you then before all that you are existed, just as God loves all things and everyone; we are loved by God, and God has made us holy.

There is no vanity in emulating the love that God bears for all God’s children, rather we are command to do it, to approximate that love as best we can.

Look for God’s blessing in the service you provide to your neighbor, to your mother and father, to your sister and brother, find your justification in the quality and extent of the your mercy.

If you look for the God of Jacob, if you do not see God in Jacob you are only looking at an idol.

Listen!

God is not confined to the pages of a book or by the ink on a scroll, neither is God bounded by the history and mythology of a people. Look to those things for glimpses of God, and remembrances of past encounters, but if you seek the living God, you will have to look into the heart of living beings.

Remember this, return to the origins of our myths!

The first time we saw God, when the first parent walked with the creator, the world was a garden and that was paradise. In that place there was no talk of kings, or the glory of battle.

Let us return to that.

Listen!

Shun the false narratives and the irrational arguments.

Know that the spirit of God is the spirit of truth, and nothing false has a place in God’s house.

Consider the reading from Paul’s letter for today, it is replete with error.

This is not to say that Paul was dishonest when he wrote this missive, I do not believe that is the case, but you must understand that his view of the world, of the nature of reality, his understanding of that was fundamentally wrong.

Understand this, there is no devil!

There is no power I the universe other than God’s. We are not at war with the forces of darkness, everything is as God wills it.

Pau is telling the truth when he says that Jesus came to set us free from the fear of death, that is the good news in the resurrection, but this was not accomplished by magic or alchemy, such as Paul describes here, it did not happen on the cross.

Jesus was not a priest, and we were not saved by his blood, blood offerings have never accomplished anything for anyone, Jesus was not slaughtered like a sheep on the altar.
He did not atone for our sins through his death, we are accountable for ourselves.

The good news is this:

God loves us, God has always loved us, and we were forgiven even before we sinned.

Jesus did not effectuate the atonement, either with his life or with his death, he came to announce that God had made us as one, we have been one with God since the beginning, Jesus came to instill that faith in us, the understanding that no power can tear us apart.

Consider the Gospel for today, read the narrative carefully.

It is mythology and propaganda, as such it is a deviation from the way, for the way is always found in the service of truth.

The gospel writers gave us narratives concerning the early life of Jesus that are works of fiction, and while their intention was to help spread the Good News, and while they were not acting with malice. Nevertheless, they subverted the real teaching of Jesus, and left the burgeoning movement exposed to human corruption.

The authors of Luke’s gospel ask us to believe this narrative concerning Jesus: that he obeyed the “law,” following the forms of ritual and blood sacrifice that were proscribed in the books of his ancestors, ostensibly lending credibility to claims of Jesus’ holiness.

Jesus did not need this, he did not need these stories told about him to boost his image in the eyes of the people, these lies were a disservice to them and only helped to deliver the church into the hands of priests.

Jesus rejected the traditions that were not helpful to the people, to the poor, the marginalized and disenfranchised, he adhered to the prophetic tradition which insisted that God preferred acts of mercy over animal sacrifices.

Jesus taught us that the way was to be found in service; both in service God, the creator of the universe, and more importantly through the service we provide to one another, not in the fulfillment of corrupt rituals, blood-magic, and paying duties to the temple.

Jesus was not a magician, Jesus was not a supernatural being. Jesus was an ordinary man, who led an extraordinary life, and was killed for ordinary reasons: greed, jealousy and fear.

Jesus only merited the status of Christ insofar as Jesus led a life of service, which he did, serving his people to the bitter end.

We are all Christ, baptized or not, insofar as we follow the way of his example, we are anointed in our service, through our mercy, and by the pursuit of justice.

The mythologization of Jesus was a subversion of the way because it suggested that the ordinary service Jesus called us to, the service he exemplified, came from a place of supernatural power, it didn’t it came through the ordinary compassion of a human being.
First Reading – Malachi 3:1-4 ©

The Lord You Are Seeking Will Suddenly Enter His Temple

The Lord God says this: Look, I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for, yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will then be welcomed by the Lord as in former days, as in the years of old.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):7-10 ©

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

O gates, lift high your heads;
grow higher, ancient doors.
Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

Who is the king of glory?
The Lord, the mighty, the valiant,
the Lord, the valiant in war.

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

O gates, lift high your heads;
grow higher, ancient doors.
Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

Who is he, the king of glory?
He, the Lord of armies,
he is the king of glory.

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.
Second Reading – Hebrews 2:14-18 ©

He Took to Himself Descent from Abraham

Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, Christ too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:32

Alleluia, alleluia!

The light to enlighten the Gentiles
and give glory to Israel, your people.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke – 2:22 – 40 ©

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.
The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), The Presentation of the Lord