A Homily – The Annunciation, Mary Queen of Heaven, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

First Reading – Ezekiel 43:1-7 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85):9-14 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 118:36, 29

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 23:9, 10

The Gospel According to Matthew 23:1 – 12 ©

 

Memorial

 

First Reading – Isaiah 9:1-7 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 112(113):1-8 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:28

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26-38 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, The Annunciation, Mary Queen of Heaven

A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

 

 

Be mindful!

 

It is wrong to place write about the fears and prejudices of human beings, human morality, xenophobia, and to write about them as if they belonged to God.

 

Know this: God does not interfere in the lives of human beings, the creator of the universe does not intervene in our politics.

 

All lands belong to God, all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; everything and everyone that is in them belong to God, we dwell within God, and not one thing exists without God.

 

Be wary of the sentiments of the psalmist. God did not end the captivity of Jacob, the people did.

 

This is not blasphemy, this is not hubris. It is a greater hubris to think that God loves a special people above all others, far more prideful than to come to the understanding that that the Israelites escaped the bondage of Egypt under their own power.

Always bear this in mind:

 

The things you ask God to do for you are in truth a statement of your intentions for how you want to live your life and the things you want to see happen in it.

 

If you wish to ask God for things and tell God about your desires, that is fine, just know that whatever it is you wish for, it is incumbent on you to make those things happen, and if you should seek divine sanction for your intentions, limit that to you desire to live a lawful life, to understand God’s will, and to transcend the human condition.

 

God has given us the gift to know and desire a holy way of life, but God will not live that life for us; the burden is on us to make the choices that keep us on the path of justice.

 

God’s law has been written on your heart, you may see the path toward its fulfillment reflected in the face of your neighbor, you may see it there when you see yourself looking back at you in their eyes, and know that God is with you.

 

As we traverse the narrow way, and walk the path of truth, you must remember that the closer we are to understanding it the easier it is for us to deceive ourselves.

 

Look to the myths of concerning the fallen angels, remember how Icarus fell when he flew too close to the sun, these stories carry the wisdom of this, and look to the corrupt and the false prophets who are near to us.

 

When you petition God; do not petition God for favor. Do not ask God for special treatment, do not ask God to prefer you over any of God’s children, and do not promise to do for God what is not within your power to do… that is not the way.

 

Do not lie to God or yourself when you petition God. Do not ask from God what it already lies within your power to do for yourself, rather, be wise and ask for wisdom.

 

Listen!

 

The way is one of humility.

 

The way is the path of love.

 

It costs us nothing to be polite.

 

Be humble, walk humbly, perform humble service.

 

This is the way of God.

 

Listen!

 

The prophet errs when he ascribes a divine motive, or more, divine action to any event that transpires here on Earth.

 

God the creator of the universe, God made us in freedom; as individuals God made us in freedom, and the whole creation God made free as well.

 

God does not confer glory on anyone, not on any tribe, not on any nation, not on any church; God does not seek glory for God’s self.

 

All such talk is vanity, springing directly from the hearts of men, coming through the mouths of men, falling on the ears of other men.

 

The prophet was wrong to speak of glories, his error being the error of human ambition, representing the limits of the human imagination.

 

However, the prophet was right to speak of this: to speak of hope like a light shining in the darkness, which once perceived gladdens the heart and brings joy.

 

Hope is the way of Jesus and hope leads to God.

 

Be mindful!

 

God’s light shines on us from beyond this world, we will not see the fullness of the divine light until we have left the world behind.

 

Say it again, and carry the knowledge of it in your heart:

 

God does not intervene in the lives of individuals or in the course of human history.

 

God has made us, and the whole of creation free. We are radically free.

 

Praise God, that is wise, be thankful for existence itself, but do not look to God for favor, or justice. In this world, those things are always determined by human agency.

 

Consider the gospel for today.

Whatever the truth is regarding the birth of Jesus, a man who would have been known by his family and his people as Joshua son of Joseph, if in fact there was such a child born to Joseph and Mary, if Joseph and Mary were in fact historical persons, the mission of Jesus as reported in the scriptures, the way of Christ is not served by false narratives.

 

The stories of Jesus’ birth, the annunciation as we have it presented here, these are myths, they are propaganda and lies.

 

The way of God is not served by lies, because God, the creator of the universe, the God of all people is the God of truth.

 

 

First Reading – Ezekiel 43:1-7 ©

 

The Vision of the Coming of the Glory of the Lord to the Temple

 

The angel took me to the gate, the one facing east. I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east. A sound came with it, like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with his glory. This vision was like the one I had seen when I had come for the destruction of the city, and like the one I had seen on the bank of the river Chebar. Then I prostrated myself.

 

The glory of the Lord arrived at the Temple by the east gate. The spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; I saw the glory of the Lord fill the Temple. And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the man stood beside me. The voice said, ‘Son of man, this is the dais of my throne, the step on which I rest my feet. I shall live here among the sons of Israel for ever.’

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85):9-14 ©

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,

a voice that speaks of peace,

peace for his people and his friends.

His help is near for those who fear him

and his glory will dwell in our land.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

Mercy and faithfulness have met;

justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth

and justice look down from heaven.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

The Lord will make us prosper

and our earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him

and peace shall follow his steps.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 118:36, 29

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Bend my heart to your will, O Lord, and teach me your law.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 23:9, 10

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

You have only one Father, and he is in heaven; you have only one Teacher, the Christ.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 23:1 – 12 ©

 

Practice What you Preach

 

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

 

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’

 

 

Memorial

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 9:1-7 ©

 

A Son is Given to Us

 

The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.

 

You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time, as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.

 

For the yoke that was weighing on him, the bar across his shoulders, the rod of his oppressor, these you break as on the day of Midian.

 

For all the footgear of battle, every cloak rolled in blood, is burnt, and consumed by fire.

 

For there is a child born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.

 

Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end, for the throne of David and for his royal power, which he establishes and makes secure in justice and integrity.

 

From this time onwards and for ever, the jealous love of the Lord of Hosts will do this.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 112(113):1-8 ©

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Alleluia!

 

Praise, O servants of the Lord,

praise the name of the Lord!

May the name of the Lord be blessed

both now and for evermore!

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

From the rising of the sun to its setting

praised be the name of the Lord!

High above all nations is the Lord,

above the heavens his glory.

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Who is like the Lord, our God,

who has risen on high to his throne

yet stoops from the heights to look down,

to look down upon heaven and earth?

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

From the dust he lifts up the lowly,

from the dungheap he raises the poor

to set him in the company of princes,

yes, with the princes of his people.

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:28

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!

Blessed art thou among women.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26-38 ©

 

‘I Am the Handmaid of the Lord’

 

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

 

 

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, The Annunciation, Mary Queen of Heaven

A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

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

First Reading – 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85):9-14 ©

Second Reading – Romans 9:1-5 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alternative Acclamation – Psalm 129:5

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:22 – 33 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen!

 

God, the creator of the universe: God is not a maker of kings. God is not a general leading armies. God does not desire sacrifices of flesh and blood.

 

God, the creator of the universe is a god of love and mercy, of justice and compassion, of humility.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist and know that all things belong to God:, all lands, all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; everything and everyone that is in them.

 

God did not end the captivity of Jacob, the tribe of Jacob did.

 

This is not hubris. What is hubris is thinking that God loves a special people above all others, and that God would do for them things that God would not do for others, not the understanding that the Israelites escaped their bondage in Egypt under their own power.

 

Know this:

 

God was never angry or indignant with the people, it is not due to God’s anger that people suffer. God does not rescue us from our plight or from the miseries of the world; that is for us to do, we must rescue ourselves and deliver the other.

 

Be mindful!

 

There are no individuals, there are no families, no tribes, no clans, there are no nations of whom it may be said that God loves them more than any other people.

 

Do not chase after vanities, trust in the judgement of God, trust in God’s plan for creation, trust that God loves everyone and desires their salvation.

 

Have faith that God will accomplish what God wills.

 

Remember this, God is not king, or a lord.

 

The creator of the universe does not wear a crown.

 

We do not seek glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation.

 

As we follow the way of Jesus we seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, we seek to serve those in the deepest dark and return them to the light of love.

 

God, creator of the universe, God is patient, loving and kind. God is merciful and just, God is humble and desires that we emulate the divine in these ways

 

Learn from God; become like God, loving, merciful, patient, humble, just and a blessing to all.

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

 

Bear in mind that the events it describes never happened.

 

This myth is a metaphor.

 

It is intended to communicate the idea that Jesus is not merely the Son of God, but the king of the gods. In it Jesus is depicted as master of the storm and lord of the deep, like other God-Kings, in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean region.

 

The image of Jesus walking on water, abating the winds, mastering the weather, and calming the storm, is analogous to the triumph of Zeus over the sea monster Typhon, or Marduk over the forces of Chaos represented in the dragon Tiamat.

 

In the reading for today Jesus is depicted as triumphant over the same forces, walking over the water just as Zeus and Marduk stood over the bodies of their vanquished foes in victory.

The myth is also intended to convey that the early church, represented by Simon Peter, was not entirely comfortable with this narrative, though it set aside its fears and embraced it nonetheless. In this metaphor Peter is the Church (Peter is always the church in Matthew’s Gospel), and the Church has been shaken by the death of Jesus.

 

Jesus had disappeared, returning only as an apparition. Peter moves toward the ghostly figure seeking to embrace it, but he is terrified and begins to lose heart. Peter does not know if they can transform the life and death of his friend and teacher into the grandiose and spectacular narrative that the people who had followed Jesus, who were now following him and the disciples into the narrative that they are hungry for.

 

In the end Peter embraces the mythology, the church sets aside the historical Jesus and embraces it too, in so doing the chaos that was shaking their movement in the wake of the crucifixion settles down. The mythological narrative is advanced and Jesus rises from the dead, he is no longer an ordinary man, the rabbi from Galilee; he is the Son of God, he is Christ the King.

 

Peter understood that in this way the church would survive, the storms would abate, if he and the others could convince people to believe this above all other things.

 

 

First Reading – 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 ©

 

The Lord was Not in the Wind, or the Earthquake, or the Fire

 

When Elijah reached Horeb, the mountain of God, he went into the cave and spent the night in it. Then he was told, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ Then the Lord himself went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85):9-14 ©

 

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

 

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,

a voice that speaks of peace.

His help is near for those who fear him

and his glory will dwell in our land.

 

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

 

Mercy and faithfulness have met;

justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth

and justice look down from heaven.

 

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

 

The Lord will make us prosper

and our earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him

and peace shall follow his steps.

 

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 9:1-5 ©

 

I Would Willingly be Condemned if it Could Help My Brothers

 

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood. They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Psalm 129:5

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:22 – 33 ©

 

Jesus Walks on the Water

 

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’

 

 

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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

First Reading – Isaiah 55:1-3 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-9, 15-18 ©

Second Reading – Romans 8:35, 37-39 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:13-21 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen to the prophet, and know that the grace of God is free, all the good things God has in store for us free, and God promises to deliver to everyone.

 

The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the covenant God made with Moses,  Joshua and David, the covenant God made the prophets and with Jesus and is meant to a blessing on all people, wherever they are, because God is with them as God is with you even when you feel lost and alone.

 

God promises to deliver everyone to a state of blessedness, even the stranger and the sinner.

 

God works God’s will through grace, this is the way Jesus instructed us, this is the way to the fruits of paradise.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist and know that he is mistaken, God is not a king.

 

God is the creator of the universe, God is present in all times and places; God is there in the deepest places of the human heart but does not intervene directly in human events.

 

God only issues an indirect influence in our lives. God’s power does not interfere with our freedom.

 

Contemplate the vast power of God and contemplate the ways of God’s love and mercy, take it for yourself and identify with it, passing through the narrow arch and into the way of goodness and justice and mercy.

 

Consider the words of the apostle, everything he says is true, but it is true for all people, not just for Christians and Jews.

 

It is true for everyone.

 

Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ; not one thing, either from within or from without.

 

Jesus loves us.

 

Remember this, God is not a lord. The creator of the universe does not wear a crown.

 

As Christians we are called on to set aside grandiose notions of glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. We are called on to follow Jesus and seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, seeking to serve those in the deepest dark, returning them to the light of love.

 

If we live merely to eat we are no different than the beasts of the field and the forest, merely following our noses and the hunger in our bellies, ruled by thirst and subject to the vicissitudes of desire.

 

We can be more than that, we were made to be more than that, we are meant to look beyond ourselves and to be drawn out of ourselves to see in our neighbors another-self and the divine spark that unites us spiritually, that we may be transcendent in following the way.

 

Consider the Gospel for today and the feeding of the multitude.

 

The miracle of the loaves and fishes is a metaphor, read it carefully.

 

The feeding of the multitude may have happened, though it is just as likely that the narrative is pure myth. The truth of it does not matter, what matters is the way in which the metaphor supports and endorses a principle of communal living and sharing.

 

The disciples were concerned for Jesus, they wanted to separate him from the crowds, and separate the crowds from his ministry.

 

Jesus would not have it.

 

The disciples as is typical of them, argued for the wrong thing, they wanted to send everyone away, put them on their own, have them fend for themselves.

 

This is not the way.

 

Jesus did not rebuke them, as he often did when they erred like this. He simply showed them the way.

 

Jesus took all that they had and shared it with the multitude, the crowds saw his generosity and shared of what they had, everyone contributed according to the rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, love your neighbor as yourself, serve God by serving the other.

 

Together they generated a superabundance of food, more than enough to feed everyone, and the lesson ended there, with no magic and no miracles, with simple generosity and love.

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 55:1-3 ©

 

Come and Eat

 

Thus says the Lord:

 

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come!

 

Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk.

 

Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy?

 

Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy.

 

Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live.

 

With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favours promised to David.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-9, 15-18 ©

 

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

 

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

How good is the Lord to all,

compassionate to all his creatures.

 

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

 

The eyes of all creatures look to you

and you give them their food in due time.

You open wide your hand,

grant the desires of all who live.

 

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

 

The Lord is just in all his ways

and loving in all his deeds.

He is close to all who call him,

who call on him from their hearts.

 

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 8:35, 37-39 ©

 

No Created Thing Can Ever Come Between Us and the Love of God Made Visible in Christ

 

Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.

 

For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Man does not live on bread alone,

but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:13-21 ©

 

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

 

When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

 

When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining; twelve baskets full. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

 

 

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

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)

A Homily – Holy Week, Maundy Thursday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Isaiah 61:1 – 3, 6, 8 – 9 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):21 – 22, 25, 27 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 1:5 – 8 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)
The Gospel According to Luke 4:16 – 21 ©
First Reading – Exodus 12:1 – 8, 11 – 14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 115(116):12 – 13, 15 – 18 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 26 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 13:34
The Gospel According to John 13:1-15 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Maundy Thursday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Listen!

We cannot make the mistake of celebrating the martyrdom of Jesus and using it as a vehicle to prop-up Christian vanity and pride.

You have to understand that Jesus was not a king or a priest, and we were not meant to be priests ourselves. Jesus was a prophet, and he asks us to be servants to one another.

Know that God does not favor one nation above any other, or one person over their sister and brother, one family, one tribe or one nation.

That is not the way.

The way is found in love, equality and equanimity.

The way is found in justice tempered by mercy and humility.

Jesus followed the way, from the outset of his ministry to the cross on Calvary.

Be mindful.

The sacred texts cannot be a repository for our nationalism and jingoistic instincts.

God is a God of love and mercy, not a God of palace intrigues, God is not the god of war and battle.

Jesus is not a king or a ruler, he is not a priest but a prophet. He came to us in friendship, as a comforter and healer. He came to show us the way.

Be mindful of the intentional way that Jesus begins his ministry, and the way he connects it to the work of the prophet Isaiah.

The way is meant to bring relief to those who suffer, give sight to the blind and freedom to those in captivity. This is true whether their blindness is physical or spiritual, whether their bondage is of this world or the next.

The way is found in love.

Be mindful.

God is not a sorcerer, and there is sorcery prescribed in these sacrificial rites.

There are depictions of God in the scripture, that are false, monstrous, and immoral.

Consider the cult of animal sacrifice there is no merit in it, there never was. The sacrificial medium is a vehicle of corruption and a tool of oppression for the masses, it always has been..

Know this!

It is unjust to punish the people for the crimes of its leaders.

Justice does not divide human beings into the blessed and damned, worthy and unworthy, the ugly and beautiful. Justice is blind.

Listen!

Trust in God not in men: For all men are liars, and all women too; but that is not important.

Take no oaths, take no vows, allow your resolve to stand in their place, and be true to it, all the while knowing that you will fail at many things.

The promises that God makes for our wellbeing and salvation are not of this world. While the expectation of justice in this world must be rooted in human relationships.

Trust God, be merciful, live justly, walk humbly these are the hallmarks of the faith.

Remember this!

Throughout your days, until their end, be generous and share your table. Serve those who have less than you. Share your cup and your bread.

This is the way.

Forget the apocryphal imagery and mythological symbolism of the “Son of Man,” the cryptic words about the glory of God; in whom and how it appears. Forget those things because they are irrelevant.

Know this, love one another. To follow Jesus is to lead with love.

Love as Jesus loved. Be caring, be merciful, be just.

Be prepared to risk everything for the sake of love, even your life.

In this way you will be true to Jesus, and everyone will see the truth of it.

There is no other way.

Faith (which is the trust we place in God); faith is not about words, it is about actions, it is about love. Faith is not ideology, it is not partisan, it is not dogmatic, it is not doctrinaire. Faith is not a legally binding agreement. Faith is not concerned with creeds, or secrets, or magic words.

Faith is trust and love is its natural expression.

Read the Gospel for today carefully, read it as the authors intended it to be read, as a record of the love Jesus bore toward the world.

Keep that love in front of you, always, and do this:

Forgive Judas, he is one of those about whom Jesus said to God, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Do as Jesus did, pardon him. Forgive Judas as you are meant to, forgive him as you are meant to forgive all who have done you harm. Forgive him when you seek forgiveness for the hurts you have caused others.

This is the way, and there is no other.
First Reading – Isaiah 61:1 – 3, 6, 8 – 9 ©

The Lord Has Anointed Me

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord, a day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all those who mourn and to give them for ashes a garland; for mourning robe the oil of gladness, for despondency, praise.

But you, you will be named ‘priests of the Lord’, they will call you ‘ministers of our God.’

I reward them faithfully and make an everlasting covenant with them.

Their race will be famous throughout the nations, their descendants throughout the peoples.

All who see them will admit that they are a race whom the Lord has blessed.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):21 – 22, 25, 27 ©

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

I have found David my servant
and with my holy oil anointed him.
My hand shall always be with him
and my arm shall make him strong.

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

My truth and my love shall be with him;
by my name his might shall be exalted.
He will say to me: ‘You are my father,
my God, the rock who saves me.’

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.
Second Reading – Apocalypse 1:5 – 8 ©

Jesus Christ Has Made Us a Line of Kings and Priests

Grace and peace to you from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-Born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father; to him, then, be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. It is he who is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. This is the truth. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

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

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

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Gospel Luke 4:16 – 21 ©

The Spirit of the Lord Has Been Given to Me, for He Has Anointed Me

Jesus came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’
First Reading – Exodus 12:1 – 8, 11 – 14 ©

The Passover is a Day of Festival for All Generations, for Ever

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:

‘This month is to be the first of all the others for you, the first month of your year. Speak to the whole community of Israel and say, “On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock, one for each family: one animal for each household. If the household is too small to eat the animal, a man must join with his neighbour, the nearest to his house, as the number of persons requires. You must take into account what each can eat in deciding the number for the animal. It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old; you may take it from either sheep or goats. You must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel shall slaughter it between the two evenings. Some of the blood must then be taken and put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where it is eaten. That night, the flesh is to be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. You shall eat it like this: with a girdle round your waist, sandals on your feet, a staff in your hand. You shall eat it hastily: it is a passover in honour of the Lord. That night, I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, man and beast alike, and I shall deal out punishment to all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord! The blood shall serve to mark the houses that you live in. When I see the blood I will pass over you and you shall escape the destroying plague when I strike the land of Egypt. This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honour. For all generations you are to declare it a day of festival, for ever.”’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 115(116):12 – 13, 15 – 18 ©

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.

How can I repay the Lord
for his goodness to me?
The cup of salvation I will raise;
I will call on the Lord’s name.

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.

O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.
Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
you have loosened my bonds.

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.

A thanksgiving sacrifice I make;
I will call on the Lord’s name.
My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people.

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 26 ©

Every Time You Eat this Bread and Drink this Cup, You Are Proclaiming the Death of the Lord

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.
Gospel Acclamation – John 13:34

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!

I give you a new commandment:
love one another just as I have loved you,
says the Lord.

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
The Gospel According to John 13:1 – 15 ©

Now He Showed How Perfect His Love Was

It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.

They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter ‘not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are.’

When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’

Holy Week, Maundy Thursday (Year A) A Holly Day of Obligation

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

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

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

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

We will all pass through the fire.

Know this!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be mindful!

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

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

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

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

Listen!

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

Remember this, return to the origins of our myths!

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

Let us return to that.

Listen!

Shun the false narratives and the irrational arguments.

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

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

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

Understand this, there is no devil!

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

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

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

The good news is this:

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

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

Consider the Gospel for today, read the narrative carefully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord You Are Seeking Will Suddenly Enter His Temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He Took to Himself Descent from Abraham

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Reading – Isaiah 49:3, 5-6 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 39(40):2, 4, 7-10 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14
Alternative Acclamation John 1:14, 12
The Gospel According to John 1:29 – 34 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Be wary of the voice of God.

Be wary!

Be wary when you hear God speak to you, especially in secret and in private. What you perceive as the voice of God is almost always the voice of your own desires.

Be mindful.

God made us all to be God’s servants, God made us all from light, and to light we shall return.

Listen!

God has provided for our wellness.

Be careful that you do not substitute your will for the will of God, for the will of God who created the universe.

Consider the wisdom of the psalmist who declares that God is the God of mercy, and of listening.

Bend your ear to God; listen with the ear of your heart.

Stretch out your feelings and you will find your way through the troubles of life on Earth, through its filth and misery, as the psalmist says:

Seek salvation, seek wellness, seek freedom from your own sins and do not dwell on the sins of others.

When you are beset with difficulties do not cast blame on others, rather look to yourself, to your own transgressions and seek relief from them by following the way of God, whose command it is to love.

Listen, and be mindful.

We have all been appointed by God to be apostles, to share the gospel, the good news of God’s love for us, and the promise that God has prepared the way for our salvation, for the salvation of humanity, for the salvation of all people in all times and all places.

We are all people of the way; we are all saints in the making.

Remember this!

Jesus is not a lord, he is not our king, he was our brother; Jesus is our friend.

Let us dwell on this for a moment longer; God is not king, or a lord. The creator of the universe does not wear a crown. We do not seek glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. As we follow Jesus we seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, we seek to serve those in the deepest dark, returning them to the light of love.

Listen!

Do not repeat the errors of John

Proclaim the truth, we are all born into the family of God; we are God’s children. We are not made the children of God by any power, not by a power that comes from within us, neither by a power that is external to us. We coming into being as children of God, in the Word, by the Word and through the Word.

Our status as children of God is as unconditional as God’s love for us.

Remember this always.

Consider the Gospel for today:

The Gospel of John was written more than one hundred and twenty years after the death of Jesus. None of its authors knew Jesus, or John, and not any of them knew anyone who knew them.

Like all of the other Gospels, John was not written by a single person. It was written by a community of people, and more than any of the other Gospels, it was written as propaganda.

The Gospel of John was written with the intention of arguing for that community’s beliefs about who Jesus was, what the weaning of his life was, and what his death meant to
Christians of their day, it was written to communicate those beliefs to the world.

By the time Johannine Gospel is written, the early church no longer had any concern about ameliorating John the Baptist’s followers, as they did when they earlier gospel’s were drafted. The ethnic Jews in John’s community had either become Christians, or they were considered by the community to be enemies of the nascent Church.

John’s Gospel is overwhelming concerned with depicting Jesus as the cosmic savior. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the Word of God, who comes to take away the sins of the World.

Jesus is God.

When John the Baptist encounters Jesus, he provides witness for this.

The Baptist does not Baptize Jesus, as he does in the other Gospels, even though he, himself is busy at the work of baptizing.

When he sees Jesus approach, he announces to his followers that Jesus has come, a man greater than himself, one who existed before him (even though he was born in time after him), one on whom the Spirit of God rests, one who will complete the baptism of every believer, because he will baptize them with Holy Spirit and not mere water.

The Gospel of John was the crowning achievement of the early Christian propaganda. Through this vehicle the Church transformed the man, Joshua son of Joseph, into the being through whom the entire universe came into existence.

And this is fine, but it must be understood for what it is, as the expressions of faith and hope, not the recitation of history and fact; it is metaphor, allegory and myth.
First Reading – Isaiah 49:3, 5-6 ©

I Will Make You the Light of the Nations so that My Salvation May Reach to the Ends of the Earth

The Lord said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I shall be glorified’; I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.

And now the Lord has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him:

‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 39(40):2, 4, 7-10 ©

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.
He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,
but an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and victim.
Instead, here am I.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

In the scroll of the book it stands written
that I should do your will.
My God, I delight in your law
in the depth of my heart.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

Your justice I have proclaimed
in the great assembly.
My lips I have not sealed;
you know it, O Lord.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 ©

May God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ Send You Grace and Peace

I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle, together with brother Sosthenes, send greetings to the church of God in Corinth, to the holy people of Jesus Christ, who are called to take their place among all the saints everywhere who pray to our Lord Jesus Christ; for he is their Lord no less than ours. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessings on the King who comes,
in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest heavens!

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation John 1:14, 12

Alleluia, alleluia!

The Word was made flesh and lived among us:
to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 1:29 – 34 ©

‘Look: there is the Lamb of God’

Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’
The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 24:1-2, 8-12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20 ©
Second Reading – Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Timothy 3:16
The Gospel According to John 1:1 – 18 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)
Be mindful!

There is truth in the sage’s reflection, and much that is false.

God has given us the Spirit of Wisdom, Sophia, who from eternity has issued from the creator like God’s own breath.

The Spirit of Wisdom is God’s own spirit and that spirit animates all that live, all who ever lived, and all who ever will be.

Now Listen!

God’s spirit is not a gift that belongs to a specific people, in a specific place at a specific time.

The Spirit of Wisdom is not property that can be transmitted like an inheritance.

It does not belong in Jacob’s tent, on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem or the house of Israel.

There are no people on the face of the Earth, or anywhere in the universe, who occupy a privileged place in relation to God.

God loves all of God’s children equally.

The creator establishes the material conditions for all things. In God’s wisdom God has established the cycles of life and death. Material power is of no concern to God, ignore the Psalmist when he dwells on these topics, they are not instructive.

God does not seek power, God seeks to be honored by God’s creatures, and we honor God through the service we provide one another.

We honor God when we emulate God’s love for creation, through ministries of healing, taking care of the hurt and the sick, feeding the hungry and welcoming the exile.

Do not follow the Psalmist into error.

The Psalmist fails to recognize that God is truly the God of all people; not merely the God of Jerusalem, of Zion, of Judah and Israel.

God does not favor one people over another, one tribe or one nation.

God does not the fill the belly of one person while allowing another to starve.

God does not favor one army over another, one city over another in time of war.

God does not favor war at all.

The season of winter, of summer, of spring and fall; they do not reflect the judgement of God, they are cyclical, and the weather is wild, it expresses the freedom and chaos of the natural order. In relation to human behavior it only reflects the laws of consequence and causation.

Be mindful!

A good winter is not evidence of God’s grace, neither is a bad summer evidence of God’s judgement.

Love God, and show that love by the love you exhibit to your enemies, to the stranger and to the less fortunate among you.

Remember the life of Jesus, and God; whom he called Father

Consider this:

If you are caught up in the consideration of God’s glory, ask yourself this: What is glory?

God is the creator of the universe. God’s greatest place is in relationship to us, God has said so, and we are God’s children, and God is our loving parent.

Pray this:

May each and every one of us come to the full knowledge of God.

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and remember that the hopes you have for yourself and those you love is to be extended to everyone, even those you do not love, for that is the way that leads to the knowledge of God, and our understanding of our relationship with the divine.

If you think that God has promised riches and glories as the inheritance of the saints, remember this, the first will be last and the last will be first. Know that spiritual riches are not counted in gold and silver, and precious things, but in love, companionship and friendship with God, which we experience primarily through our friendship with one another.

We all need each other.

Good governance requires good people. Know them, understand who they are before you appoint your leaders, put them through a process of discernment.

Choose well.

Be mindful.

Christian faith is not about who Jesus was and how the world saw him, our faith means trust in God, and trust can only be based on our understanding of the creator as a loving and caring being.

Let us reflect for a moment on the Gospel for today.

John’s Gospel is unlike the others. Its authors were the farthest removed from the life of Jesus. They wrote their narrative of his life between 120 and 150 years after his death.

John’s Gospel is also the furthest removed from the actual ministry of Jesus, it is more concerned with the cosmic identity of Christ, with Jesus as the Word of God, more than with the lives of actual people or the ministry of healing, mercy, and justice that was Jesus’ actual occupation.

The gospels of Mark, Luke and Matthew are commonly referred to as the synoptic gospels. The events that they narrate are closely linked to each other and follow the same basic pattern; even though there are differences.

Luke and Matthew rely largely on Mark for their structure; Mark having been written first.

Luke came second and took a little step farther back in time than Mark. Whereas Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus, Luke begins with the story of his birth.

Matthew, coming third in the sequence goes a little farther back in time than Luke. Matthew opens with the story Jesus’ descent from Abraham. While John, coming last, takes the reader all the way back to the beginning of time.

John narrates some of the same events as the other gospels do, but with a markedly different character, all designed to tell us who Jesus is, God’s own self.

The historian in me objects to this treatment of the life of Jesus, but it is what it is, and this fiction, having taken hold of the Christian imagination represents a historical reality all of its own.

John’s prolog, which we are given today, tells us very little about the persons of Jesus, or John the Baptist, but a great deal about what Christians believed about God, the creator of the Universe, and about creation itself.

Even though it was a common view in the ancient world that our material condition was essentially corrupt; as evidenced by our experience of pain, sickness, and death. The Christian community of John was articulating faith in its essential goodness.

It affirms the unity and oneness of all creation; having been brought into being through the Word of God, the Logos; God’s reason, or rational will. This tell us that life itself has purpose, it is not random, it not the product of chaotic forces. Creation comes from the goodness and light of the eternal God, it informs that not one thing or being exists apart from God.

The Gospel encourages us in the hope that no matter how bad things are for us as we experience the drama of creation, the darkness will not overcome the light. Also, that the world and humanity itself are worthy of the love of God, so much so that God becomes a human being, living and suffering with us in the spirit of compassion and solidarity.

This teaching is also remarkably esoteric and deeply personal. While encouraging the believer to have hope, it also reminds the reader that they must also persevere in the face of rejection and violence.

Many people to not want to hear the truth. They prefer their own cozy view of the world, they prefer their tribal and national gods, their totems and taboos, their neat philosophies and mores, their magical-realities and superstitions to the sober understanding of what it means to be a child of God.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 24:1-2, 8-12 ©

From Eternity, in the Beginning, God Created Wisdom

Wisdom speaks her own praises, in the midst of her people she glories in herself.

She opens her mouth in the assembly of the Most High, she glories in herself in the presence of the Mighty One; ‘Then the creator of all things instructed me, and he who created me fixed a place for my tent.

He said, “Pitch your tent in Jacob, make Israel your inheritance.”

From eternity, in the beginning, he created me, and for eternity I shall remain.

I ministered before him in the holy tabernacle, and thus was I established on Zion.

In the beloved city he has given me rest, and in Jerusalem I wield my authority.

I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord’s property, in his inheritance.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20 ©

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
Zion, praise your God!
He has strengthened the bars of your gates
he has blessed the children within you.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

He established peace on your borders,
he feeds you with finest wheat.
He sends out his word to the earth
and swiftly runs his command.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

He makes his word known to Jacob,
to Israel his laws and decrees.
He has not dealt thus with other nations;
he has not taught them his decrees.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 ©

Before the World Was Made, God Chose Us in Christ

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.

Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved.

That will explain why I, having once heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and the love that you show towards all the saints, have never failed to remember you in my prayers and to thank God for you. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Timothy 3:16

Alleluia, alleluia!

Glory be to you, O Christ, proclaimed to the pagans.
Glory be to you, O Christ, believed in by the world.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 1:1-18 ©

The Word Was Made Flesh, and Lived Among Us

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him.

All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.

His name was John.

He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him.

He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world.

He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him.

He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims:

‘This is the one of whom I said: He who comes after me ranks before me because he existed before me.’

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received – yes, grace in return for grace, since, though the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)

A Homily – The 8th Day of Christmas, The Solemnity of Mary, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

First Reading – Numbers 6:22-27 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3, 5, 6, 8 ©
Second Reading – Galatians 4:4-7 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Hebrews 1:1-2
The Gospel According to Luke 2:16 – 21 ©

(NJB)

The 8th Day of Christmas, The Solemnity of Mary, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)
Listen, hear is the formula of blessing:

Only remember this; God, who created the universe, God is not a lord, free God from that earthly title, and free yourself as well.

Know this, the blessing of God rests on all of God’s children, feel God’s presence (it is always with you), and keep yourself in the way of God.

Be mindful.

See God in the face of everyone you encounter, treat them as if they were God themselves; for they are, god dwells within in them.

Peace comes through understanding, God is utterly transcendent, God is not a god of tribes, of nations, or even worlds.

God is the God of all creation.

Listen!

The psalmist is right to ask God to bless all peoples and all nations; to have pity and to be merciful. We are right to seek this fulfillment for it is the promise of God.

Be mindful.
God is not confined to one place, neither to one time, nor does God belong to one people.

God, who created the universe, God is the God of everyone, whether they know it or not.

Seek God’s blessing; seek it not just four yourself, but seek it for everyone.

Listen!

Comsider the teaching of the Apostle:

The death of Jesus was a political murder. It was a sacrifice, but not a sacrifice of redemption. Jesus was not purchasing anything for himself, or for us when he was killed on the cross, he was not paying a debt.

Jesus was showing us the way.

Jesus was acting out of love, taking the wrath of the Sanhedrin and the Romans on himself, rather than have that anger visited on his broader group of followers; his family, the disciples and their families.

His sacrifice was not magic, it is not mystical, or supernatural. Jesus was a faithful son of God, exercising ordinary compassion in extraordinary circumstances.

He was acting as a champion of justice.

Jesus demonstrated his faith every day in his ministry of healing, through his loving service, and finally in his death on the cross, he believed in what he taught and he went to his death trusting God.

Be mindful of this.

God’s spirit is with us; the spirit is with us in the memory of Jesus that we hold on to, it is demonstrated in the loving service we provide each other.

God’s spirit animates all of us. We are all God’s children, and all of us are God’s heirs; Christian and non-Christian, alike.

Listen!

God speaks to everyone. God speaks in the secret chamber of your heart.

Listen!

God calls us to justice, to goodness, and to humility.

God call us to service.

Consider the Gospel for today:

There is a lot packed into this short passage.

Before we begin to explicate its meaning we must understand that, Luke, the Apostle, he never met Jesus. Luke was not one of the disciples. Luke was a protégé of Paul, and Paul had never met Jesus either.

Luke and Paul, travelled broadly and met many of those that followed Jesus during his life. Paul met with James, who was Jesus’ brother, but they never met Jesus, and everything they knew about Jesus was hearsay.

It is important to note, that while the Gospel of Luke bears Luke’s name, it was not written by Luke. None of the Gospels were written by individuals, all of them were exercises in collective development, and the writing of them took place over generations, as the communities who authored them did their best to narrate their understanding of the life and mission of Jesus in terms their audience would understand.

The Gospel of Luke says that Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus were visited by three shepherds. This is presented in distinction to Matthews Gospel which says that they holy family was visited by three Magi, who were “wise men” and Kings.

The Gospel of John, the earliest Gospel, and that of Mark, neither of those Gospels treat the subject at all.

Matthew’s community and Luke’s community were writing to very different audiences. As such, they tailored the narrative of the birth of Jesus to their audience. They each in their own way created a fiction that was pleasing to the people to whom they were preaching.

This is the essence of propaganda.

To understand the Gospels, this must be understood first of all. The Gospels contain some legitimate historical data, but the facts are difficult to sift out. They are the product of artifice, they are fictions. The Gospels speak to some truths that are universal, and relate some true events, but they cannot be relied on as a true account.

They speak to us of historical realities but they are not historical narratives.

The Gospels are propaganda, and that is not to say that they are bad, but it is to say that they must be seen for what they are.

Because the gospels are propaganda they are less reliable as a tool to teach us about Jesus, or his mother Mary, more appropriately used to teach us about the diverse Near Eastern and Mediterranean communities that formed the early church.
First Reading – Numbers 6:22-27 ©

They Are to Call Down My Name on the Sons of Israel, and I Will Bless Them

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”

This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3, 5, 6, 8 ©

O God, be gracious and bless us.

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

O God, be gracious and bless us.

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

O God, be gracious and bless us.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

O God, be gracious and bless us.
Second Reading – Galatians 4:4-7 ©

God Sent His Son, Born of a Woman

When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons. The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.
Gospel Acclamation – Hebrews 1:1-2

Alleluia, alleluia!

At various times in the past
and in various different ways,
God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets;
but in our own time, the last days,
he has spoken to us through his Son.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 2:16 – 21 ©

The Shepherds Hurried to Bethlehem and Found the Baby Lying in the Manger

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception

The 8th Day of Christmas, The Solemnity of Mary, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

A Homily – Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 62:11-12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1, 6, 11-12 ©
Second Reading – Titus 3:4-7 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:14
The Gospel According to Luke 2:15-20 ©

(NJB)

Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)
Listen and be joyful!

What Isaiah says concerning Zion is intended for all the children of God, this means everyone.

The savior does not come as a conqueror, but as a healer, the victory is not over hostile forces, but over death and the trophy is life.

We are the sought after. Wherever we are, in whatever city we dwell, there in that place you will not be forsaken.

The creator comes with blessing for all.

Listen!

It is human beings who are obsessed with questions of kingship, set aside such fetishes.

God is Abba, father; Jesus is brother, teacher and friend.

God is the keeper of a garden, not a palace.

Let Earth rejoice and all people in it. Let us understand that God is a mystery. Let us know that all people are God’s children, and that God has no enemies.

God is the creator of all things, and all things obey the will God, what is in God’s will is justice, and mercy and love.

In the presence of God there will be no dismay. God will wipe away the tears from everyone’s face, all will be invited to the table. The feast will not commence until all of the invited have arrived.

If you have never worshipped a carved image, do not think you are superior to any who have, because idolatry can be found in more than the worship of objects, it is most insidious in the form of ideas and beliefs, doctrines and dogmas and decretals.

Be mindful.

God, the creator of the universe; God loves us.

God offers salvation to all people, and provides for it. Salvation is wellbeing, both in this world and the next. Salvation does not require rituals or rites, nor the magical of mechanism of justification. The salvation God has promised does not happen here in this world, though we can create a facsimile of it if we try happens, salvation takes place in the next world because God wills it. Our salvation does not depend on us at all.

But we are saved in this world simply by trusting in the word of God, by believing in what we hope for, goodness and justice and love.

Do not boast.

Be mindful of how the praise of God can lead a person astray.

God is not in the highest heaven, God is everywhere and in the hearts of all people.

All of God’s children are beloved by God.

God finds favor in all.

Do not let your faith circumscribe God’s love.

Consider the gospel reading for the day:

There is a lot packed into this short passage. Before we begin to explicate its meaning we must understand that Luke the Apostle, he never met Jesus. Luke was not one of the disciples, rather, he was a protégé of Paul, and Paul never met Jesus either.

Luke and Paul travelled broadly and met many of those that followed Jesus during his life. They met with James, who was Jesus’ brother, and Peter, and others, but they never met Jesus, everything they knew about Jesus was hearsay.

It important to note that while the Gospel of Luke bears Luke’s name, it was not written by Luke. None of the Gospels were written by individuals, each of them were exercises in collective development, and the writing of them took place over generations, as the communities who authored them did their best to narrate their understanding of the life and mission of Jesus in terms their audience would understand.

The Gospel of Luke says that Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus were visited by three shepherds. This is presented in distinction to Matthew’s Gospel which says that they holy family was visited by three Magi, who were “wise men” and Kings.

The magi were priests in the tradition of Persian Zoroastrianism.

The Gospel of John, which was the last to be written, and that of Mark, which was the earliest, those Gospels do not treat the subject at all.

The communities of Matthew and Luke were writing to very different audiences. As such, they tailored the narrative of the birth of Jesus in very different ways. Each in their own way created a fiction that was pleasing to the people to whom they were preaching.

This is the essence of propaganda.

Be mindful!

In order to understand the Gospels, this must be understood first of all: the Gospels contain some legitimate historical data but the facts are difficult to sift through. They are the product of artifice, they are fictions, at best they are allegories, analogies and metaphors dressed in myth.

The Gospels speak to some truths that are universal and relate some true events, but they cannot be relied on as a true account of anything.

This is not to say that they are bad, it is to say that they must be seen for what they are.

Because the Gospels are propaganda, they are less reliable as a tool to teach us about Jesus and more appropriately used to teach us about the diverse Near Eastern and Mediterranean communities that formed the early church.

Remember this at Christmas, the saturnalia, and the birth of Mithra.
First Reading – Isaiah 62:11-12 ©

Look, Your Saviour Comes.

This the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your saviour comes, the prize of his victory with him, his trophies before him.’

They shall be called ‘The Holy People’, ‘The Lord’s Redeemed.’

And you shall be called ‘The-sought-after’, ‘City-not-forsaken.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1, 6, 11-12 ©

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.

The Lord is king, let earth rejoice,
let all the coastlands be glad.
The skies proclaim his justice;
all peoples see his glory.

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.

Light shines forth for the just
and joy for the upright of heart.
Rejoice, you just, in the Lord;
give glory to his holy name.

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.
Second Reading – Titus 3:4-7 ©

It Was No Reason Except His Own Compassion that He Saved Us

When the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to men who enjoy his favour.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 2:15-20 ©

The Shepherds Hurried to Bethlehem and Found the Baby Lying in the Manger

Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.
Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)