Independence Day – A Holiday Reflection

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

 

I loved it.

 

I loved it uncritically as a child.

 

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

 

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

 

America was founded on a compact of lies.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

We have always failed to live up to our ideals.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I find it difficult.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

4th of July

 

Given – 2020.07.04

Given 1st – 2016.07.04

Transform VI – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

07.04.2020

 

Transform   VI

 

 

Change the names.

 

Take down the monuments and memorials.

 

Do it now.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Let’s begin the transformation of America now.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter and Paul

Given First 06.29.2020

Transform, Part III – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.30.2020

Transform, Part III
The past week in my home city of Minneapolis we have been witness to events that have shown the world just how much we need a radical transformation of the social compact.

Minneapolis is the most culturally homogenous city of its size in the country. We are not just white we are ulta-white, northern European, Scandinavian white, this has made our social-compact fragile, brittle and as evidenced this week…broken.

On Monday, an unarmed African-American man was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer with cruel and calculated indifference. That white police officer was aided by three of his fellow officers.

They squeezed the life out of him, even as he pleaded with them, calling on his deceased mother to protect come for him, and protect him.

They police kneeled on his neck for nine minutes while he lay handcuffed, face down in the street, one officer applying that crushing weight, while two others held him at the midsection and at his legs.

He was not resisting.

Even as they were killing him, he was polite addressing them as sir, begging for relief.

They held him down for three minutes after he had become unresponsive, and did not register a pulse, while they denied an EMT access to him sixteen times, which might have saved his life.

They filed false police reports, even though it was all caught by their own body cameras, by surveillance cameras, and by the cell-phone video footage of bystanders who were witness to the killing.

The police officer who knelt directly on his neck, knew the man, they both worked as Security guards at a nearby nightclub.

They killed him in broad daylight, in public, in front of witnesses, they killed him with reckless indifference because in their heart they believed they would get away with it, and the sad thing is, that even though all four of them were fired and the worst among them has been charged with third degree murder, they still might get away with it, because justice is not impartial, our social compact is broken, our police behave like predators and kill with impunity, expecting and receiving the complicity of their brothers and sisters in uniform.

This corrupt and unjust system demands transformation.

There have been protests, without which the officers would likely still be employed.

Those righteous protests have been coopted by white supremacists and other bad actors who have looted and set our city on fire.

We have been burning for three days: police stations and post offices and libraries and banks, businesses and homes.

The smoke is thick in the air, I can taste it. It is horrible, but at least I can still breathe, unlike the man who’s murder set these events in motion, unlike George Floyd.

A Homily – The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension

First Reading – Acts 1:12-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1,4, 7-8 ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 4:13-16 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18
The Gospel According to John 17:1-11 ©

(NJB)

The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension
Be mindful!

Prayer is good, though it is nothing without charity.

Go out and do good, love one another as Jesus did.

That is what we are meant to take away from the reading from the Book of Acts.

God is good.

Open your eyes and you will see God’s goodness, you will see the goodness of God even in the faces of your adversaries.

See them.

God is good.

Open your ears and you will hear God’s goodness, even in the voices of your opponents.

Listen to them.

God is good.

God loves you, and God loves all people.
Open your heart to the people, even your enemies, invite them to your table

Share with them.

Be mindful!

If you share in the sufferings of Christ, know that you are on the side of justice and mercy.

And know this, if you are suffering and it is not because of the love you bear to all people, then your suffering is not the suffering of Christ

One way or another, do not boast of your suffering, it is unseemly and arrogant.

Be humble!

You will get nothing extra for your service to God, your share in God’s blessing will be the same as that of anyone and everyone else.

Remember the laborers in the vineyard.

We may have faith in this, because God loves all people equally, and the spirit of God, of God who created the universe; that spirit rests on all people without distinction, we share in it the same.

Good and bad, we are the same.

God, the creator of the universe, God abandon’s no-one.

God will leave no orphans, no-one shall be left apart, stranded in the throws of sin.

Not one of us will be lost.

Consider the Gospel for today.

Consider how the apostles get it wrong…again

Be mindful of how the writers of John’s Gospel reveal their fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus and mission.

Strive to be more patient than they were.
Listen!

The ministry of Jesus was centered on real people, actual people living real lives, facing real hardship in the real world.

His gaze was focused toward us on Earth with him, not on the heavens, or some imagined and ephemeral glory.

Jesus was not here to seek glory, or power, or dominion over mankind.

Jesus was selfless and meek; he gave everything away, including his life.

There is a kind of power in this, but it is not power in the sense of force or energy, or miltant might. Our word power, comes from the Latin potens, potare, meaning ability.

Jesus possessed power insofar as he possessed the ability to love.

Jesus was not a Gnostic, but the writers of John would make him out to be one.

He did not teach a secret doctrine.

He himself wrote nothing down.

Jesus taught by the word of his mouth, and more significantly through his actions.

He proclaimed justice and promoted love; through healing and sharing, and community work.

Jesus prayed, but he only gave us one prayer, in that prayer he prayed for bread to feed the people, he asked for mercy, and the strength to be merciful.

Know this

If or when the Church is finally able to emulate the life and teaching of Jesus, then and only then will Christ have risen within it.
First Reading – Acts 1:12-14 ©

The Apostles All Joined in Continuous Prayer

After Jesus was taken up into heaven the apostles went back from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1,4, 7-8 ©

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

Alleluia!

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
‘Seek his face.’

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 4:13-16 ©

It is a Blessing for You When They Insult You for Bearing the Name of Christ

If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you. None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18

Alleluia, alleluia!

I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you,
and your hearts will be full of joy.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 17:1-11 ©

Father, It is Time for You to Glorify Me

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.

And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world was. I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give me.

They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.

I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’
The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension

Transform, Part II – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.23.2020

Transform, Part II
It is much easier to point out a problem than it is to imagine a possible solution, and it is much easier to resolve a problem in your imagination than it is to formulate an actual plan to deal with it.

Even more difficult is implementation, and the difficulty increases by an order of magnitude as the number of people increases who have to be trained and oriented to the task at hand.

The most difficult thing of all is to evaluate your work and progress, this is made even more difficult when the goal is fluid, requiring a dynamic process of evaluation and change re-evaluation.

In order for us to come through the era of COVID-19 as a whole and functioning society, we are going to have to transform, we are going to have to have a plan, we are going to have to work together, and we are going to have to face the fact that the goal, more than being fluid is actually unknown.

We do not yet know where we are going, because we do not know the full scope of the problem, we are going to have to stay active, exercising our imagination in an ever changing present, forecasting our way to an ever changing end, evaluating and re-evaluating, imaging and re-imaging the path forward.

Nothing good will come from this experience so long as we are lying to ourselves about the scope of the problem, and deceiving one another to satisfy our petty egos and indominable IDs.

The first step we have to take is to admit to ourselves that we are all in this together, we need each other to make it through.

The next thing we have to do, and I mean WE the people of the United State of America, is to take control of our government, to make it work for us, not the political class, and the top 10% of money earners and wealth hoarders.

We have the power to demand the change we need to see happen, we can do it if we stick together, and over the next six months we have to focus on that task.

Many of us are out of work, we have more free time than we have had in a long time. Let’s get out there and win this election for the people.

Let’s pass Universal Health Care, let’s pass a Green New Deal, let’s pass Universal Education, let’s rebuild America, wipe out debt, repurpose empty office buildings to house the homeless, get our fellow American’s off the streets.

We can do it, we can return America to the people, we don’t have to put the top 10% of the money hoarders in the poor house, but we do need them to pay.

Our government is meant to represent the will of the people, by the people, for the people, of the people. We have to stand up as the majority and demand that the government exercise its mandate, to defend us from this virus and all the nasty things that will flow from this era of economic collapse and uncertainty, to promote the general welfare, and to ensure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

Denial – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.09.2020

Denial

This week we learn that Pete Ricketts, the Republican Governor of Nebraska will not report confirmed COVID-19 cases coming out of meat packing plants, hampering his state’s epidemiologists ability to track the spread of the virus and protect the citizens his state.

Why would he want to do this?

Nebraska was late to impose any kind of stay at home order and among the first to lift them, against the guidelines approved by the pandemic task force at the White House.

Even though Donald Trump approved those guidelines, he has been working to undermine them ever since. Donald Trump Pete Ricketts and others among the Republican leadership are beginning to make a forceful argument that America just has to accept the risk and the loss of life, and they seem determined to withhold information and lie to us in order to justify it.

They are beginning to do what they accuse China of doing, hiding and concealing the number of cases of people who have contracted COVID-19.

It is disgraceful.

Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida is doing the same thing, refusing to report out the spread of the virus, they do not want the people to know how dangerous it is to go to the beach.

Alex Azar, the Trump administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Pat Roberts, the Republican Senator of Kansas are blaming the workers at the meat packing plants and their social life for the spread of the COVID-19 in the work place, and not the working conditions themselves.

They want to pretend that the exponential increase in cases of COVID-19 in meat packing plants across the country has nothing to do with the way that work is managed and is uniformly the fault of lifestyle choices made by that population.

They are scapegoating; it is shameful and anyone who makes excuses for these criminals is just as shameful and disgraceful as they are.

Americans will suffer and die because of this malfeasance.

This week the Chief Justice of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, a Republican, was caught on audio suggesting that the lives of meatpackers are less important than those of so-called “regular” citizens, as if the meat packers were not entitled to equal protection under the law.

Let’s face folks, it is as I have always said, we are not people in their eyes, we are assets, things, not human beings, we are expendable, and the fools cheering these monsters on need to be stopped.

 

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

First Reading – Acts 2:14,36-41 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23) ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 2:20-25 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14
The Gospel According to John 10:1 – 10 ©

(NJB)

The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Remember this!

We are not saved for the things we do. We are saved because God loves us. The creator of the universe loves every single one us, and in the superabundance of God’s love everyone is saved.

Be mindful.

Baptism does not mark you as one of the elect, it marks you as someone who elected to follow in the teaching of Jesus, to follow the way. Keep to it.

Be mindful of this and be humble.

Everyone has received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we were created in the divine image and from the moment of our inception we are blessed by God.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

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

If we walk in the way of God, then we will be 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 moment, if we thirst, or experience any other lack, know that it is temporary.

Trust in God, there is peace in faith.

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

If your table is full then share it with the world, when you open up to those in need, you generate an opportunity to turn enemies into loved ones.

If you are able to live up to the example of Jesus, to bear insult and injury, even if you are called to endure torture that leads to death, make sure that you do so for a good reason.

Jesus endured what he endured for the sake of his disciples, his friends and family, for those who followed him and listened to his teaching. He submitted to the ordeal because he loved them.

Jesus did not go to his death to satisfy some cosmic imperative, or pay some debt that God owed to the Devil. Set aside those childish notions, they are fantastical and unreal.

Jesus accepted his fate at the hands of the Romans and the Sanhedrin so that those around him could live.

If anyone one of us should find ourselves in the same position, then we would be a blessing to our people if we were able to follow the his example, but few can do this, and God does not look askance on those who fail to meet the measure..

There is wisdom and truth in the readings for today. There is also folly, misconstrual, fear and lies…there are many lies.

It is sad and unfortunate that the priests and the bishops of the Church, the hirelings who put themselves in positions of managing the way, it is sad and unfortunate that they forget this. They have done great harm to God’s children because of their fear and their greed, and their shortsightedness.

The self-appointed leaders of the church believed that were only responsible for a few of the sheep, when in reality that were tasked with protecting the entire sheepfold.

Many of them, even from the earliest days of the church, presented themselves as both sheep and shepherd to the community, but they were really rustlers and wolves who came to devour the flock; they wounded and hurt it.

Remember, God does not love the shepherd because the shepherd laid down his life, but rather it is in recognition of God’s love and trust in God’s plan that the shepherd laid down his life.

Love preceded the sacrifice; the sacrifice did not engender love.

Consider the Gospel for today.

The writers of John’s gospel lived generations after Jesus. They lived in a period of time when the Church was under persecution. It was persecuted by the Roman State, the early Church was in an existential conflict with traditional Judaism, communities which stridently sought to differentiate themselves from the early Christians before the law and the Roman state. Through their protestations they sought to deny the Christians among them access to the historical protections that Rome had always afforded its Jewish citizens, a significant demographic which made up about ten percent of the population of free Romans.

The early Christians were also beset by the rise of various popular movements that sought to trade on the rapid spread of the early Church to communities outside of Palestine.

The writers of John made every effort they could to stand against these types of persecutions, and corrupting influences, like those of the Gnostics or the practitioners of the Qabalah, which was the foundation of Gnosticism.

They became protectionists, and their protectionist ways had their own corrupting influence on their presentation of the ministry of Jesus.

Be mindful.

Jesus gave to everyone, with the only qualification being that they trust in his vision of the way. He encouraged their faith as a means of promoting charity among them, charity and mercy, love and forgiveness.

The authors of John get it wrong when the write about gates, and gatekeepers, thieves and brigands.

They gates of heaven are always open. The table Jesus set, he set for everyone.
First Reading – Acts 2:14, 36-41 ©

‘God Has Made Him Both Lord and Christ’

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’

Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23) ©

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

Alleluia!

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.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 2:20-25 ©

You Have Come Back to the Shepherd of Your Souls

The merit, in the sight of God, is in bearing punishment patiently when you are punished after doing your duty.

This, in fact, is what you were called to do, because Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow the way he took. He had not done anything wrong, and there had been no perjury in his mouth. He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was tortured he made no threats but he put his trust in the righteous judge. He was bearing our faults in his own body on the cross, so that we might die to our faults and live for holiness; through his wounds you have been healed. You had gone astray like sheep but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my own sheep and my own know me.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 10:1-10 ©

I Am the Gate of the Sheepfold

Jesus said:

‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’

Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them.
So Jesus spoke to them again:

‘I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold.

All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them.
I am the gate.

Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’
The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

Under Threat – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.02.2020

Under Threat

When you show up on the steps of the capital with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When you show up at the home of a sitting governor with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When you force your way into the legislative chambers of your state government with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When show up in these places waving the flags of the enemies of the United States, the flag of the Confederacy, the swastika of Nazi Germany, it does not matter if some of the people in your throng also carrying the American flag, disrespecting it, wearing it on their clothes, dragging it around. When you do these things you are making it clear that you are un-American, and that you are a threat.

These people are dangerous.

It may be true that not all of them are white separatists, white nationalists, members of hate groups, and domestic terrorists, but it is certain that there are many in those mobs who are, and everyone else participating in these travesties are enabling them, providing them cover, carrying their water and furthering their sedition…that includes Donald Trump.

These are not good people, they are attempting to destroy the fabric of our society, the are dangerous, they are predatory and like all predators they should be stopped.

A Homily – The Third Sunday of Easter (Year A)

First Reading – Acts 2:14, 22-33 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15(16):1-2, 5, 7-11 ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 1:17-21 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 24:32
The Gospel According to Luke 24:13 – 35 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Listen!

It is a disservice to the memory of Jesus and to the way he taught, the way he would have us live by, to make of him a figure of mythic power and a demi-god.

Be mindful.

Jesus was a man, as Peter says; he was a Nazarene. His preaching was a sign of God’s goodness, he spoke the truth and lived a humble life, he called us to the path of justice, and demonstrated what justice was through his constant humility, compassion and kindness.

His life itself was a miracle; he performed no feats of magic.

Remember this:

Jesus’ death was a political murder. He was crucified by the Romans, on behalf of the Herodians and the Sanhedrin. Upon the death of his body he entered into eternal life with God, as all of God’s children do.

There is no doubt of it.

Consider the worlds of the psalmist.

Trust in God, faith and confidence are their own reward.

God is good, and all that is good flows from God, as everything flows from God.

Look for the good of God in all creation, in everything that unfolds for you.

There are no alien gods, there are no foreign gods, as the psalmist refers to them, there are only misconceptions of the one God, each and every one of us carries is responsible for our own.

All of our cherished but errant images of God are merely idols, whether they are made of metal, of stone, of wood or of words, whether they are painted on canvass, or merely colored in the mind, they are idols.

Know this:

God calls all of Gods children to God’s self, no one is left out, the true God calls us from the center of our heart, speaking through the masks we use to personify the divine.

Be mindful!

The apostle is right when he tells us to be scrupulous, to be careful; we are to take care, not only when you are away from home, but to be careful and wise in all things.

The apostle is wrong when he says: by the blood of Jesus a ransom was paid for us. There was no ransom, God forgave us all of our sins, God forgave us freely.

In freedom we received it.

Be mindful!

If the example that Jesus gave you was ever alive in you, you must know that it is just as corruptible as anything else in this world. It is easier to turn your baptism toward an evil purpose than it is to turn an evil act toward the good.

Just because you have been baptized does not mean that you are incorruptible, God will not prevent you from sinning, from sinning more and on greater degrees.

But God will forgive you in the end.

Ransom was not paid to free anyone from sin, or any way of life. Jesus was not a sacrificial lamb, the cross upon the hill of Calvary were not analogs of the sacred altar in the Holy of Holies. God, the creator of the universe; God does not desire blood sacrifice or burnt offerings, or the smell of animal fat rising to the heavens, these are human machinations. Such things are wholly ineffectual, and the product of magical thinking, of immature minds, and immature cultures.

Jesus of Nazareth, though he was the Christ; he was a man like any other.

Consider the Gospel for today.

From the earliest days of the Church the apostles and the Gospel writers became confused with questions about who Jesus was, about his rank among the prophets, about his historical connection to Moses, about the proof of his ministry that could be found in the scriptures.

In their confusion they began to make up stories to validate their claims, it was all unnecessary, and the lies they told brought the nascent Church down terrible paths to disastrous ends, completely contrary to the way Jesus taught.

Be mindful.

Jesus did not perform miracles to prove to anyone that he was a child of God, such things never happened. What Jesus did was stress the fact that we are all the children of God, even the leper and the thief, the unmarried woman and the outcast.

The only miracle he performed was to convince his followers that this was true, and to bring dignity to the lives of the unfortunate.

Jesus did not come to work magic, flash signs and show wonders, because that is not how God, the creator of the universe, that is not how God works in the world.

The core truth in this Gospel passage is not the long story about encountering Jesus, or listening to him expound the scriptures, offering proofs and arguments to prove to the disciples who he was.

The signal truth is this, “They recognized him in the breaking of the bread.”

Listen!

The disciples had the opportunity to see Jesus in the man they encountered on the road, but they did not see him in the stranger.

They had the opportunity to see him in the faith of the woman at the tomb, but they could not understand it and they refused to recognize her.

Jesus was dead and yet the way which he personified remained, the living witness of God’s intentions for creation, from the beginning to the end of time.

The disciples were finally able to see the way, they finally saw it when they broke bread with the stranger they encountered on the road.

They found the way in community, they found it once they humbled themselves.

The way is sharing things in common. The way is love.
First Reading – Acts 2:14, 22-33 ©

God Raised this Man Jesus to Life, and All of Us Are Witnesses to This

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.

So my heart was glad and my tongue cried out with joy; my body, too, will rest in the hope that you will not abandon my soul to Hades nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.

You have made known the way of life to me, you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15(16):1-2, 5, 7-11 ©

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

Alleluia!

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.’

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 1:17-21 ©

Your Ransom was Paid in the Precious Blood of Christ

If you are acknowledging as your Father one who has no favourites and judges everyone according to what he has done, you must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home. Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ; who, though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake. Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 24:32

Alleluia, alleluia!

Lord Jesus, explain the Scriptures to us.
Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 24:13 – 35 ©

They Recognized Him at the Breaking of Bread

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
The Third Sunday of Easter (Year A)