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 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)

Why I am Supporting Bernie Sanders – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
02.08.2020

Why I am Supporting Bernie Sanders

With all of our eyes on the presidential campaign, and the nominating process in the Democratic Party, with all of the interested parties taking up positions and staking out ground in loosely organized “caucuses,” such as the so-called “progressive-caucus,” we have to be mindful of the fact that there is a lot more at stake in 2020 than the presidency.

We need a Democratic president to sign Democratic bills into law, but if we seriously hope to get any of our bills to the signing desk, we need to keep control of the House of Representatives, we need to increase the majority of the democratic caucus in the House and we need to take control of the Senate, we need to send Mitch McConnel packing.

This is why it matters who we pick for our standard bearer.

Even if we lost the presidency, taking control of the Senate would put more power behind progressive causes and give us more effective oversight over the executive branch. We need a candidate who can generate that enthusiasm and get people to the polls, and we need to stick together.

It is not just the presidency that is on the line in this election, it is Congress, and it is not just the 2020 Congress that is on the line, it is the make up of Congress for the next five elections.

The most important thing the legislature will do in the next congress is redistricting, following the apportionment of Congressional seats after the census. If we are serious about pursuing our progressive agenda for the long term, we must control this process. If we want the government to respond to the will of the majority on any number of things: from taxation to gun control, from executive oversight to a woman’s right to choose, from criminal justice reform to the War Powers Act, from…you name the issue, if we want to be governed by the will of the majority we must control this process.

The apportionment of electoral college votes follows the apportionment of congressional districts. We cannot eliminate the electoral college unless we are able to pass constitutional amendments, I will address these numerical challenges shortly.

If we want to see more equitable representation of the majority in the electoral college right now then we must control congressional apportionment and redistricting. If we have simple majorities in congress, and a democratic president who is willing to act, we can make the apportionment process fairer. Even if we don’t have a president willing to change the apportionment laws in US Code Title 2, simple majorities in congress will help us to create congressional districts that represent the people on a more equitable basis.

Keep this in mind, until we get the number of votes in congress, in the House and the Senate, and in State Houses across the country, unless we get a sufficient number of Governors and a President willing to pass a constitutional amendment there won’t be any constitutional amendments and the struggle for justice and equality will have to take place through the legislative process.

There are two ways to amend the constitution: the process either requires that two thirds of the members of both houses of congress vote to approve it, and then it must be ratified by two thirds of the states, or that two thirds of the states call for a constitutional assembly to amend the constitution in which proposed amendments must be ratified by three fourths of the states.

People talk about passing constitutional amendments all the time, but this is a very difficult process and if want to see it happen, to do this we would need:

1. 290 votes in the House of Representatives, the house is currently divided 233D to 197R, there is one independent (who typically votes with the republicans, and there are four seats currently vacant.
2. 67 votes in the Senate, the Senate is currently divided between the democratic and republican caucuses 53R to 47D (this includes independents who caucus with the party most closely aligned to their values) with a tying vote going to the republican voce president.
3. 34 States to ratify, State governments are currently divided between democrats and republicans 26R to 24D, while their legislatures are divided 67R to 37D

These numbers represent the numerical hurdles the people would have to cross in order to affect enduring changes to the structure of our democracy. We cannot pin our hopes on this, it is pie in the sky thinking.

If we intend to do this then we are back to where we began this essay, the absolute need to control the redistricting process after the census, we must have a willingness to change congressional apportionment if we win both chambers of congress and the presidency in November.

We must elect a president who is willing to sign into law enforceable provisions to restrain presidential power, to enforce the authority of congress to engage in oversight, and to reshape the federal judiciary including the addition of justices to the Supreme Court.

We are in a precarious time, and we must hold together, we cannot attack each other with broad labels intended to vilify one another, we cannot afford to pit so-called democratic socialists against so-called corporate democrats, so-called liberal progressives against so-called pragmatic progressives. There is too much at stake to allow ourselves to be divided this way.

We have to resist it.

I know a lot of people who like to pretend that both parties are the same, and they may have a point, but here is the truth: it is not the parties that are the same, the Democratic party and the Republican Party have radically different platforms.

It is the politicians who are the same, because it is the nature of these politicians, regardless of what side of the political spectrum they are on, it is in their nature to be feckless, cowardly, deceptive, ego-maniacs those are the unifying characteristics of all politicians.

This is not to say that they completely unreliable, that they do not love their families, or that they are all wicked people, but it is to recognize that the power of high office attracts the highly corruptible.

There are two tasks in front of us right now, as voters who care about our liberal and progressive causes, as people who ant to see the Voting Rights Act reinstated and expanded, who want to see structural changes to our representative democracy that takes big money out of politics and returns power to the people, who want to see a woman’s right to equal pay, equal treatment under the law and the right of self-determination to be protected, who want to enforce the separation between Church and State, if we want to curb the rise of white nationalists and domestic terrorists; the first thing we have to do is hold together through the next nine months, and we have to bring more people into the voting process, we have to these things thoughtfully, carefully and deliberately, even if the party does not nominate the candidate we prefer.

With that being said, when I look at the field of candidates running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, when I look at the size and strength of their respective coalition’s, when I weigh them against each other, I have to conclude that our best bet is to support the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, not because I support all of his ideas, though I am in favor of most of them, it is because he is steady, his support is steady, his message is good, his vision is good for America, and if we all get behind him we will win.

Observation – February 5th, 2020, Wednesday

It is chilly outside, but not cold for February

The sun is shining through a cloud filled sky

Pale patches of blue speak of an early spring

Kitty is sleeping by the window as I write

I am listening to the news, it is a sad day

Donald Trump is to be acquitted of his crimes

America has become a lawless place, maybe

It always was a place of deep divisions

Where the laws are applied differently

On behalf of the rich and against the poor

Maybe nothing has changed at all, America

Is just naked now, reveling in all its flaws

Take Out the Trash – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
01.25.2020

Take Out the Trash

You heard the impeachment managers from the House of Representatives, it is time for the Senate to do their work and clean out the oval office.

Donald J. Trump must go!

Sadly it is not likely to happen. The GOP has turned into a cult of personality, it is not the Grand Old Party anymore, it is now the Great Oligarchichal Party of America, completely unmoored from its founding as the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower.

It has become the party of anti-intellectual no-nothings, totally corrupt, self-dealing self-serving garbage, and we have to throw the bums out.

We all know that the republicans in the Senate are faithless, craven cowards. They have abandoned their oath of office, which they never meant to uphold, and they are planning to sell out the constitution for their personal short term political gain.

We must hold them accountable. If they are unwilling to hold Donald trump accountable, the rest of must hold them all accountable, take our country back, and uphold the rule of law.

This means we have to stick together.

We have to stay unified, all the way through the campaign season which is now in full swing.

We have to get behind and stay behind the candidate who captures the momentum, we have to stop letting our idealism get in the way of progress.

Let the republicans have their moment over the next few days, because it is their moment, and there is nothing we can do about it. Let them have it, they can stew in their garbage until the next election when we clear them all out in a clean sweep.

Remember people, this election year is a census year, and whoever control congress controls redistricting, if we let that slip away we give up the whole game for the next ten years.

Trump is getting to be acquitted, not in the interest of justice, but because fifty four Republican Senators are not able to bear witness to Trump’s corruption through the filters they have set up to blind themselves to their own.

A Homily – The First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Baptism of Jesus

First Reading – Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 28(29):1-4, 9-10 ©
Second Reading – Acts 10:34-38 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 9:8
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

(NJB)

The First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Baptism of Jesus
Listen!

God, the creator of the universe, God wants nothing more from us than this: that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly through the length of our days.

This is way Jesus taught us. Listen to Isaiah, who made straight the way before him.

Be mindful.

The savior is the person who brings justice to the nations, you will not hear him shouting for the sake of vanity in the streets or on the airwaves, you will not see her cutting people off from their potential, putting them down or diminishing them.

The savior teaches us that justice is expressed through mercy, and that the law subservient to it.

As Jesus taught in his own day: love God with all your strength, and all your heart, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

This is the Shema, and it is the first article of our faith.

Be kind to the stranger, be of service to your neighbor, love and forgive even your enemies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and do not do to them what you would not have done to you.

This, Jesus told us, is the whole of the law and the teaching of the prophets.

Keep to this law, keep it as a covenant, keep it as promise between yourself and God. Preach it until the blind see and all those who are the captives of sin have been freed.

Consider the psalm for today:

It wise to believe in the God of creation.

God’s power is infinite and it undergirds everything that exists.

God’s power is present in all times and places.

Truly God is everywhere, there is no place where God is not.

God knows all things, God knows you, even as you know yourself.

Know this: it is not God’s voice we here in the wind above the waves. We do not hear God in the thunder. God does not splinter trees or rend them asunder. God is not active in the affairs of human beings; rather God has made creation, and us in it, free.

God is not a king.

Listen!

God does not intervene in creation, or the free choices of human beings.

God did not so much anoint Jesus, as did Jesus accept the mantle of sonship to God, and the full burden that this entailed, even to the extent that he went to his death and suffered on the cross.

Jesus was free to reject the ministry that was before, but he did not. He was faithful to the end. Setting an example to us all.

Few people will be called to serve in the capacity that Jesus served; few will be called to be tortured, and executed for bearing witness to what is right and good.

Few of us have the capacity to love justice so much that they could humbly endure what Jesus endured, and that is why we call him the Christ.

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

Be merciful; be a source of healing in the world.

This is the way of Christ. Do the best you can, not for the sake of your salvation, but for the good of your sisters and brothers, for all women and men.

Be mindful

The reading for today is a pure distillation of mythological tropes common among the Hebrew people.

It carries forward a set of theological themes that were very important in the first century.

It also situates the early Jesus Movement clearly within Rabbinical Judaism, which is otherwise known as Pharisaical Judaism.

In the reading for today Jesus is presented as a Pharisee, as a Jew of the Synagogue, his followers address him as Rabbi, and the central concern among the actors: Jesus, Peter, James, and John, concerns the foretelling that Jesus will rise from the dead.

Know this.

In ancient Judaism, only the Pharisees taught the resurrection of the dead.

Beyond these immediate concerns the writers of Mark’s Gospel were also interested in conveying the message that their teachings were in total alignment with historical Judaism, therefore they depict Jesus as another Abraham, who was also visited by divine messengers, and they show him changed, as Moses was changed on the mountain; furthermore, they show him being given the endorsement of Moses, and also of the prophet Elijah.

This trope is a concrete expression of the faith of the Jesus Movement that their teaching was in alignment with the tradition of the Patriarchs of the Covenant, with the Law Giver and the Prophets.

The writers of the Gospel wanted to convey the message that In Jesus the whole history of the people was complete.

Know this: the narrative is a fiction, these events never happened, they are a literary invention.

It does not transmit a historical truth about the Life of Jesus, but rather a historical truth about what people believed concerning Jesus, roughly fifty years after his death.
Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

Jesus was baptized by John.

It was the first moment of his public career.

He was baptized, he was purified, he was shriven.

The forms had been obeyed, and the gathered crowds were there to witness, the heaven open, and the Spirit of God, creator of the universe, descending on Jesus like a dove.

John was like Moses at the river Jordan. He was never meant to walk in the promised land. Jesus was like Joshua, he ushered the people in.

John was the elder son, he was not meant to inherit. Jesus was the promised son, in whom the hope of humanity was carried.

John was the goat, at the rite of expiation, Jesus was the lamb taken to slaughter.

High priest and king, they were one with each other.

Believing it does not make it true.
First Reading – Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ©

Here is my Servant, in Whom My Soul Delights

Thus says the Lord:

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights.

I have endowed him with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets.

He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice; he will neither waver, nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth, for the islands are awaiting his law.

I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right; I have taken you by the hand and formed you; I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 28(29):1-4, 9-10 ©

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

O give the Lord, you sons of God,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.
Adore the Lord in his holy court.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The Lord’s voice resounding on the waters,
the Lord on the immensity of waters;
the voice of the Lord, full of power,
the voice of the Lord, full of splendour.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The God of glory thunders.
In his temple they all cry: ‘Glory!’
The Lord sat enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits as king for ever.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Second Reading – Acts 10:34-38 ©

God Had Anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

‘It is true, God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all men. You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.’
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 9:8

Alleluia, alleluia!

The heavens opened and the Father’s voice resounded:
‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

‘This is my Son, the Beloved’

Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.’ At this, John gave in to him.

As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.’

Assassination – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
01.01.2020

Assassination
We have arrived at this, foreign policy by political murder.

I will not pretend that the United States hasn’t always employed this tool to carry out its agenda, we have been in the assassination game for quite some time, from the beginning in fact. This is not anything to be proud of even though it is something we must acknowledge.

This ass assassination is different. It is in the open, it is public.

It hearkens back to when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney attempted to normalize torture. We had to acknowledge that the United States tortures people, we always have, and it is no good.

Torture is a criminal act, so is assassination, even in a time of war these things are criminal, they must remain criminal, when they are discovered those responsible must be held accountable.

If we turn the corner and move toward accepting these things as a normal way of conducting our international affairs, we are doomed.

Donald Trump and his ilk are lazy and feckless, they want what they want and they want it now. They are no interested in developing constituencies, in building consensus, in forging alliances or long term cooperative effort.

They just want to hurry to the end, cheat and lie, violate our standards, breach the norms, and throw ethics out the window.

Their vision of the social order is not just, there is no compact, there is only might makes right.

The reason why we do not assassinate the leadership of those we face on the battlefield, is so that we have someone to make peace with when the battle is over. If we eliminate the leadership of our adversaries we cannot engage in meaningful negotiations, agreements cannot be arrived at, or if they are arrived at they cannot be enforced.

Donald Trump has brought us to another low, he has made our relationship with the Iranians much more dangerous. American’s will be killed because of what he has done, it he cannot say that his actions have protected anyone.

Assassination is a shameful thing, those who are justifying it are behaving shamefully, the shame does not belong to Donald Trump alone. It belongs to all of us.

Impeached – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
12.21.2019

Impeached
Something good happened this week in Washington D.C., it doesn’t matter what the motivation for it was. It was good and it doesn’t matter that the impeachment of Donald Trump was a partisan affair, though it is a stain on our societal-conscience that it had to be. What matters is that the man was impeached and that is good.

It was just.

Donald Trump conspired with a foreign adversary to win the presidency, he has been lying to the American people about that and many other things since before he took the oath of office.

He has committed many crimes since then, including fraud, perjury, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, obstruction of congress, and lying to the FBI, submitting false reports to congress, ordering federal agencies to lie to the American people and to produce false reports, and he is profiting from his office by receiving emoluments both from the States, and from foreign governments.

Donald Trump is corrupt to the core and it is good that he has been called to account.

We must do more.

Donald Trump has been protected from being indicted by a Department of Justice policy that does not have the force if law, He has been protected from being investigated for his crimes by his Attorney General, and so his impeachment in the house was the only path forward to hold him accountable.

Despite the best efforts of the Republicans in the House of Representatives the impeachment was passed. The majority of the American people want this man removed from office, but there are no republicans in congress who support it.

They must be voted out as well. Such feckless people cannot be allowed to have access to power. They have violated their trust and their oath of office.

Donald Trump is unworthy of the presidency. The Senate must hold him accountable, remove him from office and bar him from ever seeking to hold federal office again.

It is time for Republicans in the Senate to do the right thing, to stand up for principle, to stand up as patriots and put the orange menace out.

Tear the band-aid off and do it.

Strip Mitch Mc Connell of his office while you are at it, appoint a new majority leader, appoint someone committed to justice, to America, and to protecting our constitution.

Reject the tyrant and his minions, do it now.

Every day that Donald Trump remains in office he poses a threat to the security of the United States. Inauguration day 2021 is to far away.

Donald Trump has sold us out to our adversaries, weekend us on the world stage and he threatens to set the American people against each other in something like a civil war.

The time for action is now.

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

First Reading – Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):6-10 ©
Second Reading – James 5:7-10 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)
The Gospel According to Matthew 11:2 – 11 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Listen to the prophet, this reading from Isaiah is a prayer of hope.

Be mindful, do not take the words that are given here as literal truth.

This is a prayer for healing and restoration, a prayer for salvation, something which God will lead everyone to…but not in this life, this is not a prayer concerning our expectations for this world.

The things we hope for, God’s deliverance, those hopes are for the next world, God will not intervene in the events of our lives, not in the here and now.

We have the choice to live our lives as if we believe in the things we hope for, which is faith, or whether we do not.

In the next world we shall witness the whole creation in the exultation of God, we shall not be concerned with ephemeral things, such as glory.

We will face our fears and watch them disappear. Have courage now, and patience while we wait.

Do not wish for the vengeance of the God, or divine retribution to be visited on your enemies, rather seek to have no enemies, forgive those who have hurt you, and ask for their forgiveness in return.

This is a prayer for healing, seek in your own heart the will to see everyone healed.

In that moment you will experience something of the everlasting joy that awaits us all the love God.

Listen to the psalmist!

Praise God, creator of the universe. Praise God, with words and song.

God is the author of our salvation, do not trust in princes and kings. And know that God is not a king.

The life of a human being, the time of humanity on earth, our window on life is only a brief flash in the night. We are born, we breathe for a time, and then we are gone.

The Earth itself will not survive the dying of the sun.

Happy are those whose help is God, the creator. Happy are those who assist God in the divine work of mercy and justice:

Lift up the oppressed, wherever they are: feed the hungry, free the prisoner, teach the ignorant.

Pray for your own faults to be forgiven, your own blindness lifted.

Advocate for those who need an advocate, care for those who cannot care for themselves. Find those who are lost in their wickedness and bring them home.

Be mindful!

If we think of the second coming of Jesus as an actual return; we are mistaken. Jesus will not return in the flesh, because that is against nature, and we each have only one life to live on Earth.

If we think of Jesus coming to Earth as God, of his coming to bring about the end of time; we are mistaken. God will not intervene in the life cycle of our planet, because God made us and our planet free.

The apostle was wrong to engage in prophecy of this nature.

Be mindful of this error. Do not repeat it.

Take these words to heart: be patient, live a good and loving life; even in the midst of turmoil. When we live in the promise of the divine way, the divine way becomes the reality of our lives.

Praise God, and pray for God’s servant. When the will of God is done, the message is clear and the mission is pure.

Love one another, as God loves you.

Consider the Gospel for today:

John came before Jesus. It is said that they were cousins, but the evidence for this claim is scant.

It is said that James, the apostle and bishop of Jerusalem was Jesus’ brother, but that claim has long been rejected by the Church.

There is no way for us to know the veracity of these claims, and it does not matter.

John came before Jesus, for a time they worked as contemporaries. It is said that they met at the river Jordan where John was carrying out his ministry of baptism, for healing and repentance.

John baptized Jesus at that time, the moment is presented in the Gospel as a passing of the torch from John to Jesus.

There is no way for us to know if this event ever even happened, or if it did that John and Jesus viewed this moment in this way.

It does not matter. The legacy that has been preserved in this accounts informs us in ways that the actuality behind those events cannot…because the actuality is unknown and unknowable

John prepared the way for Jesus as the Gospel for today indicates. He was arrested shortly thereafter, and shortly thereafter he was murdered.

John and Jesus belonged to a movement, a movement of the people, the am haaretz, a movement for the people, a movement calling for justice, for unity, and salvation.

They saw their work as something connected to the prophets. They were reformers, they were people whose preaching synthesized the sacred texts. They boiled the commandments down to their essence and returned them to the people in the simplest form.

“Love God, with all your strength and all your heart, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

That is the whole of the law, and all the words of the prophet were summarized therein.

Many of John’s followers became followers of Jesus. Leaders in John’s group became leaders among Jesus’ disciples, but not all who had followed John came along. It is to these people that this gospel is pointed.

It was written to remind them of the sequence of events; first John, then Jesus.

It this was the exploitation of an ancient theme among the Hebrews. It is a story reflected in the patriarchalt narratives, God’s expressed favoritism for the younger son; for Able over Cain, for Isaac over Ishmael, for Jacob (Israel) over Esau, for Joseph over all of his brothers.

The gospel of today is a piece of politics. It is a message to the holdouts among John’s camp, expressing love and pride in the work of John, while telling them in no uncertain terms that the way forward was with Jesus.

This was the beginning of Church politics, and as with all such actions, it healed some aspects of the divide, while exasperating others.

Such is the way of human beings.

Be mindful.
First Reading – Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 ©

God Himself is Coming to Save You

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil, let it rejoice and sing for joy.

The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid.

‘Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.

They will come to Zion shouting for joy, everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them and sorrow and lament be ended.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):6-10 ©

Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free,

Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.
Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who loves the just
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

Come, Lord, and save us.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – James 5:7-10 ©

Do Not Lose Heart; the Lord’s Coming Will Be Soon

Be patient, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. Think of a farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon. Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. For your example, brothers, in submitting with patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

Alleluia, alleluia!

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 11:2 – 11 ©

‘A Greater than John the Baptist Has Never Been Seen’

John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’

As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says:

‘Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way before you.

‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’
The Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)

The Great Oligarchical Party of America – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
12.14.2019

The Great Oligarchical Party of America
Watching the impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee this week led me to conclude that the Grand Old Party, the GOP, has shed its final pretense to republican values.

We cannot call them republicans anymore.

The GOP has abandoned its commitment to the rule of law and constitutional government. It has succumbed to a cult of personality, they are cheering on an autocrat, clamoring for a dictator, trumpeting the rise of a tyrant.

The GOP now stands the Great Oligarchical Party of America. It has forgotten Lincoln, Teddy.

We watched this week as member after member of the House of Representative screamed in protest about the Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump; he will be the third president in our history to be impeached, impeached for: abuse of power and obstruction of congress.

After soliciting foreign interference in 2016 to aid his campaign in his first bid to become president, after conspiring with Russia to help him over the finish line. After his personal Attorney went to prison for crimes he committed on Donald’s Trump’s behalf, to cover-up hush money payments to playboy models and adult movie stars, payments which amounted to campaign contributions that went undisclosed and unreported, after Tramp’s lawyer went to prison, pleading guilty to charges in which Donald Trump was named as “individual number one” in the indictment, and after his campaign chairmen went to prison as well, and his deputy campaign chairman, and his National Security Advisor and so on all went to prison; some pleading guilty some being found guilty at trial after all of that Donald Trump will now be impeached for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 campaign. He is doing it again.

Donald Trump is a loser, bankrupt, a fraud and a criminal. He cannot win if he campaigns fairly.

Even with the help of the Russian government he still lost the popular vote by millions of votes cast. On his first day in office he began breaking the law, ordering government agencies to falsify reports and lie to the American people about such trivial and mundane things as the size of his inauguration crowds.

He could have been impeached then, he should have been.

The FBI continued its investigation of the Trump administration after he was elected. The orange tyrant sought to interfere and intervene, he abused his power and authority by firing the director of the FBI, he admitted to it on national TV, and to the Russian Foreign Minister in an oval office meeting.

Donald Trump suborned perjury, intimidated witnesses, ordered executive branch officers and staff not to testify before congress, he did it all to please his Russian masters, he did it in the vain hope that he himself could become an American oligarch, styled after them.

He should have been impeached then. His GOP minions let him off the hook.

Now he is being held to account.

He used duly authorized foreign aid to extort the government of Ukraine, to solicit their interference in the 2020 campaign, and once again he did this to the benefit of his Vladimir Putin and his other Russian Masters.

Now he will be impeached!

However, Mitch McConnell, lovingly referred to as “Moscow Mitch,” The senior Senoator from Kentucky, and the current Senate majority Leader has promised to defend Donald Trump. The Fake President on the floor of the Senate at his trial. Mitch McConnell has promised to work hand in hand with the White House attorney’s to ensure that Donald Trump will not be held to account.

Mitch McConnell and the entire GOP have decided that it is okay to solicit foreign interference in our elections, to place the national security of the United States in jeopardy while doing so; that it is okay for the White House to refuse to respond to lawful congressional subpoenas, to withhold testimony and documentary evidence of his wrong doing, to stall investigations in perpetuity so that the American voter never has a chance to judge for themselves the rightness or wrongness of the tyrant’s deeds.

Moscow Mitch is taking the Great Oligarchical Party of America over the cliff, and if they succeed we will no-longer be living in a constitutional republic.

This is it my fellow citizens. We must oppose them. Put them out of office, Send them all home before they can do more harm.