A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

First Reading – Deuteronomy 18:15-20 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9 ©

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:16

The Gospel According to Mark 1:21 – 28 ©

(NJB)

The priesthood, any priesthood, perhaps every priesthood that ever was, none of them were ordained by God, but by human beings. Priests and priesthoods, both were ordained to serve the interests of human beings, typically those of the ruling class, most often their own. Even those individuals who are well intentioned serve human motivations, even when they come close to approximating the divine, it is only the pale image of the divine they hold in their hearts that they are attempting and most often failing to approximate.

There are no prophets, there is no prophecy, there are only human beings. Human beings have the innate ability to perceive and recognize what is true. But we are all, each of us compromised; every expression of the truth coming from a human being is conditioned by that compromise, and therefore it is necessarily flawed, and yet despite these flaws we sometimes do good work, but because of these flaws all human works are suspect.

Listen to the psalmist!

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

All of creation belongs to God, all that is good and all that frightens us; everything, no matter how distressing or troubling, everything comes from God and will redound to the good.

It is good to show our respect for the creator and to sing songs in praise of God, remember! Always remember that God is our loving parent, and has prepared each of us for the divine  blessing.

Be mindful!

Even the apostle is liable to asserting his personal beliefs and foibles into the rubrics of the Church. Not everything he says should be accepted on its face as wise and good.

Paul believed that people should withdraw from public life, stop procreation and wait on God to deliver humanity from the miseries of the world. If he could have, he would have had all of us living chaste and celibate lives behind the walls of the cloister, men living with men and women living with women.

The apostle errs, but the church is not obligated to follow him in this error, the more humble thing would be to acknowledge the truth and move on.

This is the truth:

It is the desire of God, the creator of the universe, it is the desire of God that we follow the way that Jesus taught, to be merciful, love justice and walk humbly all the days of our life, to prosper and multiply.

Know this!

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

The way of Jesus is not a long con, it is not a bait and switch, it is a simple teaching that cannot be controlled or owned by any one group of people.

God, the creator of the universe, God has hidden nothing from us. The truth is in the open for anyone to see. The wise and the powerful, the learned and the clever, the weak and the meek, everyone has access to the same truth, to the knowledge of God, of justice, of hope and love.

Who are the wise and powerful, who are the learned and the clever, who are the faithful and childlike? In every generation, you will see a new group labeling the elder group as out of touch, blind, privileged, in the dark, corrupt. It is an endless cycle, and the truth remains the same; love justice, be merciful, do good, serve God through the loving service you provide to one another: your family, your friend, your neighbor, the stranger, even your enemy.

Just because a person may be wise and powerful, learned and clever, or a child of the Church, does not mean they recognize the truth when they see it, or act upon it when they do.

It is not your station in society, it is not how other people regard you, it is not the titles you have earned or the ways that you have been marginalized that give us the tell on how you will fulfill the calling to follow Jesus. What matters is what is in your heart and your willingness to trust in the content of your hope.

When you speak from the scriptures be careful.

When you observe the authors attempting to fit their narrative of the life of Jesus into a picture that makes it look as if he is fulfilling a prediction about the future, be wary; this is always a falsehood.

Even if a prediction had been made, and even if Jesus did the thing that was predicted, it is a false narrative to suggest that Jesus’ actions were in fulfillment of prophecy.

Prophets only speak of the future for two reasons; to engender hope and to warn of danger.

The words of a prophet are always addressed to the people in their own time, in their own place. Prophecy is never meant to guide the lives of future generations, except in the cases when the prophet is addressing an issue of universal truth, such as the nature of justice, which is itself unchanging.

Know this!

The Gospel writers were propagandists; they fabricated many of the details of Jesus’ life. They fabricated those details to suit their narrative about who Jesus was, why he was necessary, and what his life and death meant for the early church.

In this narrative the Gospel writers place Jesus directly in the tradition of John the Baptist, with the words “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

This is a continuation of that narrative, meant to harness the energy of John’s movement, after his arrest and murder.

Consider the Gospel for today, it is packed with nuance.

Begin by unpacking:

This is the first record of Jesus in his ministry as a public teacher.

He is still in Palestine but he has travelled to the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. He is beyond the borders of Judea, half-way between Jerusalem and Damascus.

He gives his teaching in a synagogue, indicating his status as a Rabbi. The synagogues belong to the diaspora, Jewish communities outside of the Holy Land. Synagogues are the seat of the Pharisaic sect of Judaism, and Rabbis are teachers in that movement. Pharisees are a distinct group of teachers; they promulgate the law. They are different from the Scribes, and the priests of the temple. All of these distinctions are communicated in the opening paragraph:

Jesus the Pharisee, Jesus the Rabbi is teaching with authority, unlike the Scribes in Jerusalem.

One man calls him out. Not because he is possessed by demons, but because he afraid of what Jesus’ teaching represents.

He asks a good question, “What do you have to do with us?” This indicates that Jesus is an outsider.

He asks, “Are you here to destroy us?” This indicates that he perceives Jesus’ teaching to be a threat to the established order, and therefore quite possibly to his entire community.

He addresses the claim that Jesus’ followers are promoting, that he is the “Holy One of God.” He asserts this in an unfriendly manner, quite possibly as a charge against Jesus: a charge of hubris at the least, though it is potentially a charge of blasphemy.

By raising this charge he intends to undermine Jesus’ authority in the synagogue. Jesus commands the man to silence, and Jesus prevails. This scene is depicted dramatically in the gospel, as if Jesus were commanding an unclean spirit to come out of the man, a spirit of disobedience and falsehood. It is presented as Jesus casting out a demon or demons, and healing a man who was possessed. Though it should be presented as Jesus commanding his authority to convert a dissident into a believer.

The narrative does not depict a supernatural challenge to Jesus’ authority, but an ordinary challenge from a member of the community. It was not easy for Jesus to convince the man, it was a convulsive struggle, but Jesus prevailed; he prevailed because the community had been ready to receive Jesus’ teaching at the outset, and his victory in the disputation with the man who argued with him, how he managed the situation as a healer bolstered his authority all the more.

Be like Jesus in your ministry, be a healer; it is the best way to serve the interests of the divine.

First Reading – Deuteronomy 18:15-20 ©

I Will Raise Up a Prophet and Put My Words into His Mouth

Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen. This is what you yourselves asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the Assembly. “Do not let me hear again” you said “the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die”; and the Lord said to me, “All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him. The man who does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name, shall be held answerable to me for it. But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”’

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9 ©

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

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;

  hail the rock who saves us.

Let us come before him, giving thanks,

  with songs let us hail the Lord.

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

Come in; let us bow and bend low;

  let us kneel before the God who made us:

for he is our God and we

  the people who belong to his pasture,

  the flock that is led by his hand.

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

O that today you would listen to his voice!

  ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

  as on that day at Massah in the desert

when your fathers put me to the test;

  when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

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

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ©

Give Your Undivided Attention to the Lord

I would like to see you free from all worry. An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband. I say this only to help you, not to put a halter round your necks, but simply to make sure that everything is as it should be, and that you give your undivided attention to the Lord.

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to mere children.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:16

Alleluia, alleluia!

The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 1:21 – 28 ©

Unlike the Scribes, He Taught Them with Authority

Jesus and his disciples went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

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

First Reading – Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ©

Gospel Acclamation  Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

The Gospel According to Mark 1:6 – 8, 19 – 28 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Consider the teaching of the prophet!

Praise God and praise God’s servant when the will of God is done, praise God when the divine way is taught with clarity and purpose.

Know this, God is the author of our well-being, if we are able to lead lives of integrity it is God, the creator of the universe who has shown us the way, guiding us and drawing us the divine.

This is God’s constant desire and it is right to praise God for the good things we experience and the good things we are able to do in this world insofar as all good things emanate from divine.

Be mindful, while it is true that God is the eternal source of all goodness, God waits on us and the choices we make for good ness and integrity to manifest themselves in our lives.

Rejoice in the divine, rejoice that we who are infinitely less than the infinite have been graced by the blessing of God.

Rejoice in God’s mercy and do not fear; rejoice.

Consider the teaching of the apostle and know that these words are meant for everyone, for all of God’s children whether they have entered the church or not.

It is God’s desire that we be happy and give thanks for all that we receive, for this is the way that Jesus taught us to live by.

Look for the spirit of God in all whom you meet, because God is with them as God is with you.

It is right and good to pray for perfection, but do not expect to find it in this world, its promise will find you in the next.

Listen!

The reading for today is a revisionist narrative. It does not represent the teaching of Jesus.

It is false and propagandistic, demonstrating the worst tendencies of the early church to stifle dissent among its members and sweep its competitors away, to sweep them out over the fast-hold of the threshing room, the followers of John among them.

Be mindful!

Jesus was not God, Joseph and Mary’s son is not the creator of the universe, and John was not sent by God to bear witness to anything; this is true even though John bore witness to much.

John and Jesus, like all prophets, bore witness to injustice and spoke against it where they saw it.

They were killed for it, put to death by the prevailing powers of their day.

In their heart, they heard the voice of God, they listened to that voice in the same place where God dwells and speaks to each of us, through that aspect of ourselves that God created in God’s own image, the imago dei.

Know this!

All of us bear a seed of God’s Word within us, the divine logos is present to us, and where God is present, God is present fully.

God was present in Isaiah, in John, in Mary, in Jesus, in Paul, as God is present in you and me and everyone.

The light that John bore witness to, is a light that dwells within us all.

Christians are called to follow the way of Jesus, as Jesus followed in the way of John; the way is a path of service and sacrifice, anoint yourself with these and you will be a light to others.

First Reading – Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11 ©

He has Sent Me to Proclaim a Year of Favour from the Lord

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.

‘I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity, like a bridegroom wearing his wreath, like a bride adorned in her jewels.

‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow, as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord make both integrity and praise spring up in the sight of the nations.’

Responsorial Psalm – Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 ©

My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul glorifies the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.

He looks on his servant in her nothingness;

henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

My soul rejoices in my God.

The Almighty works marvels for me.

Holy his name!

His mercy is from age to age,

on those who fear him.

My soul rejoices in my God.

He fills the starving with good things,

sends the rich away empty.

He protects Israel, his servant,

remembering his mercy.

My soul rejoices in my God.

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ©

May You All be Kept Safe for the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything – hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.

Gospel Acclamation  Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

Alleluia, alleluia!

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.

He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 1:6 – 8, 19 – 28 ©

‘There Stands Among You the One Coming After Me’

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.

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

a voice that cries in the wilderness:

Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

A Homily – The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 ©

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

Second Reading – 2 Peter 3:8-14 ©

Gospel Acclamation Luke 3:4, 6

The Gospel According to Mark 1:1 – 8 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Consider the words of the prophet:

There is great hope expressed by Isaiah, a profound hope for the future wellness of all people,

As seen through his understanding of our common destiny as children of God, the creator of the universe. The prophet expresses certainty in regard to the expectation of atonement, not just for the people of Israel or the children of Judah, but for all people.

Be mindful!

This teaching serves as the principle foundation of the early church, and the whole of Christian faith accordingly.

John the Baptist, stood in the tradition of Isiah, his was a voice crying out in the wilderness; he called the faithful to action, instructing them to prepare the way. His was a voice of expectation instructing the faithful that the entire creation will bend to the will of God; every valley and every mountain, from the cliffs to the plains, everything will yield to God.

Furthermore, we are instructed to believe that despite the omnipotence of God, we are to regard the creator like a shepherd who feeds the flock, like a mother ewe among her children, not as a lord or a king or a general leading armies.

To be clear: Isaiah also speaks of God as the punisher, reminding the people of Judah of the punishment they have suffered for their crimes and of future punishments to come if they persist in their sinful ways.

Remember this, their crimes were crimes against the people, their crimes took place in the world. They made enemies among foreign powers and they suffered on account of their wickedness and vanity, and broken promises. They were not punished by God. The justice they encountered was the justice of human beings. It was harsh, it was painful, many people were slaughtered, many more were taken into captivity, but this was not the work of God, the creator; we know this  because God does not intervene in the affairs of the world.

In the midst of all the that the children of Israel and the people of Judah suffered came Isaiah, whose voice cried out in the wilderness, then came John followed by Jesus hundreds of years later, reminding the people that God is with them still, and that in the end all things will be resolved in love.

Listen!

God is the creator of the entire universe, everything belongs to God; all lands, all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; everything and everyone that is in them.

You should know that God did not end the captivity of the children of Israel, they did.

This is not hubris.

It is greater hubris to think that God loves a special people, one tribe above all others, it is much greater to think that than to think that the Israelites escaped bondage under their own power.

Know this!

God is never angry or indignant with the people,  neither does God rescue us from our plights or the miseries of the world; that is for us to do for ourselves, it is for us to do for each other.

Bear witness to Peter’s struggle.

His mission was to call people to holiness and to a just way of life. He spoke about the fruits of such a life and the reasonable expectation that if you live a good life good things will come to you…though if truth be told there is no guarantee of that.

Peter knew this.

Treating all people with goodness and mercy, telling the truth as best as you understand it, in no way does doing these things guarantee that you will be treated the same. Therefore we may understand that the divine promise is not that you will experience justice and mercy in this world, but that there will be justice and mercy in the next.

Peter had been preaching on this and the return of Jesus for many years, believing that the Church would usher in the new world of justice and grace, but two thousand years has gone by and it has not happened, not yet.

You should know that there are many people preaching the same message, not for the good of others but for their own enrichment, as the years and decades and centuries and millennia pass, the teaching on Christian hope has become elongated elongated, the expectation is no longer that you will receive justice in this life with the return of Jesus, but in eternity.

Be mindful!

God will bring the world to an end only when God’s purpose for the world has been fulfilled. Trust that God is loving and God is patient, and it is God’s desire to save everyone. It is God’s desire to leave no one behind, and that is the true foundation of Christian faith, in keeping with the tradition of Isaiah.

Read your histories. Though it has had a mixed record of success the Christian tradition has always attempted to root itself in historical realities.

The study of the Christian tradition gave birth to modern historical and literary criticism, without which, as a culture, we would have no understanding of the uses and limitations of history whatsoever.

Appreciate the fact that this took eighteen hundred years to develop.

Our narrative concerning the life and mission, the arrest and killing of Jesus are a part of the testimony of our faith. These stories helps us to locate in time the singular moment when our cultural commitment to the teachings of Jesus took place.

Through the liturgy we remember the rule of Tiberius, heir to Augustus, the Herodian dynasty and Pontius Pilate. We recall the role that Pilate played in killing of Jesus, we shout it out at every hour of every day in all parts of the world; that Jesus suffered under his hand, was crucified and buried. This story is told unceasingly and without end.

Be mindful!

It is long since time that we, as heirs to the ministry and teaching of Jesus, forgive Pilate for the role he played in that political murder.

John the Baptist taught us to repent and be forgiven, but Jesus taught us to simply forgive. He forgave those who killed him even as they were torturing him; and he asked God to forgive them when he was up on the cross breathing his last painful breaths. It is time we followed his example and did the same. The promise of Isaiah, which John echoed in the wilderness cannot be received by us unless and until we do.

Know this!

God is the author of our salvation but we are the agents of it, and it is incumbent on us to proceed with the healing, if the human race is to be healed.

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

Isaiah did not predict the coming of John and Jesus. We know that this is true, because we believe that God, the creator of the universe, created us in freedom, and nothing in the world is pre-determined.

Isaiah’s movement took place over the course of a decade or more, its followers and proponents witnessed the collapse of David’s kingdom and the scattering of the Israel into the remote reaches of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.

Neither did John the Baptist predict the coming of Jesus, though he may have expressed the hope that someone like Jesus would come after him and continue his work.

In the time of John and Jesus the people of Judah and the children of Israel were in much the same place as they had been six hundred years earlier. They had rebuilt their cities, re-dug their wells and constructed a new temple in the land of their forebears, but they were still divided among themselves, factionalized and politically weak. They were still subject to foreign powers, and still subject to the capriciousness of kings.

John saw his death coming because he understood the political temper of the men and women in power in his day, like Jesus who came after him he accepted that death rather than risk the lives of his followers in a vain attempt to forestall the inevitable.

First Reading – Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 ©

The Glory of the Lord Shall be Revealed and All Mankind Shall See It

‘Console my people, console them’ says your God.

‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord.

Make a straight highway for our God across the desert.

Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low.

Let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion.

Shout with a loud voice, joyful messenger to Jerusalem.

Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him.

The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him.

He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

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

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,

  peace for his people.

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 – 2 Peter 3:8-14 ©

We Are Waiting for the New Heavens and the New Earth

There is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, ‘a day’ can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and fall apart, the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up.

Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.

Gospel Acclamation Luke 3:4, 6

Alleluia, alleluia!

Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight, and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 1:1 – 8 ©

A Voice Cries in the Wilderness: Prepare a Way for the Lord

The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:

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

A voice cries in the wilderness:

Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.”

And so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

A Homily – The First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – Isaiah 63:16-17& 64:1, 3-8 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 79(80):2-3, 15-16, 18-19 ©

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 84:8

The Gospel According to Mark 13:33 – 37 ©

(NJB)

The First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Listen to the prophet and trust in God, God the creator of the universe.

Listen!

God is parent to us all, and we are all laden with guilt, bearing countless transgressions: transgressions that have born fruit in the world, transgressions that have festered in our hearts, transgressions that have done real harm to ourselves and others.

As the prophet says: we wear our integrity like a filthy cloth.

And despite all of this, God loves us. God has promised to deliver us, all of us together.

Be mindful!

The psalmist misunderstands how historical events unfold and how the will of God is manifest in them.

Know this:

God is the shepherd of all people, not of Israel only.

God does not reside on a throne and God is not the general of armies. Those are human institutions and when we imagine God thus we do a disservice to the creator of the universe, the divine parent.

God’s face shines upon everyone, look for it in the face of your neighbor, in the face of your enemy, in the faces of those who persecute you. Know this, and know that God will rescue no-one from the human conditions, from the dilemmas face, the machinations of other people, or natural catastrophe.

God did not rescue the Israelites from Egypt.

God did not send the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Ptolemy’s, or the Romans, to punish the people.

God did not destroy the temples.

God will not protect you, or show you favor in this world.

It is up to us, God’s children, to love, show mercy and care for those who are downtrodden.

This is the task we have been given.

Listen to the Paul and be mindful!

If you have been baptized you have been appointed by God to be an apostles and to share the good news, 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, 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 and know that Jesus is not a lord, he is not our king, he was our brother, and he is our friend.

God is faithful, but God, the creator of the universe; God does not work in the world the way the apostle imagines.

God is revealed every day in the good works done by one human being for another, whether they are done in the name for God that we recognize or not.

Be mindful!

God will not steady you and keep you without blame.

God has made you free, whether you live a good life or a bad life is up to you. God will speak to you, from your heart, God will speak about the good life, but so will the voices of fear and greed, and hate.

It is for you to decide which you will listen to, and because you are human you will vacillate.

Whichever way you wander, God will forgive you, just as God asks that you forgive those who have harmed you, God also asks you to accept the forgiveness of those you have harmed, and ultimately to forgive yourself.

Remember:

God is the creator of the entire universe, all lands belong to God; all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies, everything and everyone that is in them.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

We are called to diligence and mindfulness, to perpetual and continuous watchfulness.

That is what it means to be in the way.

The way of loving service is never ending, but so long as we are engaged in it, we are living in the garden.

Love is love, hope is hope, and trust is trust…to live out the faith means to actively trust in the goodness, the mercy and the justice of God, God the creator of the universe.

To live in a state of hope, requires only that we extend the hope we have for ourselves, for our friends and for our families, to the stranger in our midst, to the person who owes you money, to the person to whom you are indebted, even to your enemies.

To be in love, you must be loving.

Stay awake, be mindful, keep the lamp lit.

The way is like a great river; it is flowing, flowing all the time.

First Reading – Isaiah 63:16-17& 64:1, 3-8 ©

O That You Would Tear the Heavens Open and Come Down

You, Lord, yourself are our Father, ‘Our Redeemer’ is your ancient name.

Why, Lord, leave us to stray from your ways and harden our hearts against fearing you?

Return, for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your inheritance.

Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down!

– at your Presence the mountains would melt.

No ear has heard, no eye has seen any god but you act like this for those who trust him.

You guide those who act with integrity and keep your ways in mind.

You were angry when we were sinners; we had long been rebels against you.

We were all like men unclean, all that integrity of ours like filthy clothing.

We have all withered like leaves and our sins blew us away like the wind.

No one invoked your name or roused himself to catch hold of you.

For you hid your face from us and gave us up to the power of our sins.

And yet, Lord, you are our Father; we the clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 79(80):2-3, 15-16, 18-19 ©

God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,

  shine forth from your cherubim throne.

O Lord, rouse up your might,

  O Lord, come to our help.

God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,

  look down from heaven and see.

Visit this vine and protect it,

  the vine your right hand has planted.

God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,

  the man you have given your strength.

And we shall never forsake you again;

  give us life that we may call upon your name.

God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 ©

We are Waiting for Our Lord Jesus Christ to be Revealed

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ. I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 84:8

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 13:33 – 37 ©

If He Comes Unexpectedly, He Must Not Find You Asleep

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake. So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

The First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

A Homily – The Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Solemnity of Christ the King

First Reading – Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23):1-3a, 5-6 ©

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Mark 11:10

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:31 – 46 ©

(NJB)

The Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Solemnity of Christ the King

Consider the words of the prophet, this is the divine injunction: Carry out the will of God, the impetus for which is in your heart.

Be forgiving.

Be just.

Be mindful.

Be humble.

Be watchful.

Be caring.

Look after the well-being of all who come your way; as you treat the stranger, so do you treat God, the creator of the universe.

Know this!

God looks out for everyone, the whole of the flock, humanity, is in God’s care, and God is determined not to lose a single one of us. God will seek out the lost, bring back the stray, heal the wounded and strengthen the weak.

As the psalmist says:

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

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

Whatever it is that we experience of lack, our time in this world is not the end of all things. It is transitory. If we are hungry, we are hungry only for a time. If we thirst, it is but for a moment.

Trust in God and find peace therein. In the end you will be fulfilled.

It is not only because God loves you that God guides you, but it is for the God’s own sake that God blesses you.

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

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

Be mindful of the apostle’s words.

The Apostle has a deep liking for circular arguments. The reading for today begins in circularity. Paul insists that Christ must be raised from the dead or his faith, and the faith of Christians everywhere is in vain, because the faith of Christians everywhere is not in vain, he says that we must believe that there is a resurrection, and the risen Christ is the proof of it.

This is not a reasonable argument. Set it aside, because it has no bearing on the main point of this passage.

The main point is this:

Sin and death enter through the world from a single point in time, and it is another singularity that brings sin and death to an end.

Adam causes the fall, Christ lifts creation back up.

The scope of their work is equal and includes the totality of all living beings: past, present and future.

Listen to the apostle; who understand the ways of God. We are created all-together as one. We are one creation in God. In our failures and our faith we are one. 

Remember this!

God is not a king, a prince or a lord.

The Church, following in the way Jesus taught, can never be the extension of a royal dynasty, and should not be seen as one.

The reading for today contains much of what is true, and much that is false.

Let us begin with this:

Jesus is not a king, nor is he an emperor.

Jesus is our brother, Jesus is a friend.

The glory of Christ is expressed in his mercy, you will not find Christ seated on a throne, commanding armies of angels, with the nations assembled before him.

It is the duty of all Christians, of all who would follow in the way of Jesus to reject such images. They lead to fallacies.

What is true is this:

Our love and fidelity to God and Christ is expressed in how we treat one another; rich or poor, weak or strong, right or wrong.

Among the ancient Hebrews, both the sheep and the goats were integral to their community, the Hebrews tended and cared for flocks of each. Both the sheep and the goats belonged to the community..

We are one human family, we are not sheep and goats, we are never divided by God, we are only divided by each other.

We must reject all such efforts to divide us.

In our human family there is good and bad, there are right and wrong. We are called on to foster the good, and forgive the bad. We are called by Jesus to forgive even those who do us harm.

First Reading – Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17 ©

The Lord Will Judge Between Sheep and Sheep

The Lord says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness. I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.

As for you, my sheep, the Lord says this: I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23):1-3a, 5-6 ©

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

The Lord is my shepherd;

  there is nothing I shall want.

Fresh and green are the pastures

  where he gives me repose.

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

Near restful waters he leads me,

  to revive my drooping spirit.

He guides me along the right path;

  he is true to his name.

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

You have prepared a banquet for me

  in the sight of my foes.

My head you have anointed with oil;

  my cup is overflowing.

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

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me

  all the days of my life.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell

  for ever and ever.

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

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28 ©

Christ Will Hand Over the Kingdom to God the Father; So that God May Be All in All

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.

Gospel Acclamation – Mark 11:10

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David!

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:31 – 46 ©

I Was Naked and You Clothed Me; Sick, and You Visited Me

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

The Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Solemnity of Christ the King

The Feast of Saint John, the Baptist

A Homily

John came, and john bore witness to the light
John, born in darkness as all of us are
John saw the light, shing in the deep night
Comforted by its warmth, John felt it first
Feeling it while he was still in the womb
Kicking in the waters, as the light dawned

John was not a man prone to vanity
You would not have seen him chasing the wind
Like a servant, John harvested honey
Faithful to the way, not puffed up with pride
John was a friend and brother to Jesus
The elder cousin of the messiah

Herald and prophet, man of the desert
John turned to us, saying reflect, repent
He came like an angel, with a pure heart
A divine messenger, pointing the way
The way is not in stillness or silence
The way is a path of service and love

He took on the burden and paid the price
John showed us how to stand against power
He came into the world ahead of Christ
Drawing breath while he listened in the womb
The breath he drew was ruha, the spirit
Holy Sophia filled John with wisdom
.
John lived and breathed, washed in the divine flame
Dipping his cup in the fountain of life
Walking with him, by whom all things were made
John’s path was the way of humility
Obedient, unphased by paradox
Born first, and the first to be sacrificed

He lived by the Jordan, serving the light
Not perplexed, or tempted to turn away
He saw in his cousin the end of night
He made a place for him in the desert
He prepared the way as God’s own herald
Ministering to the sick and grieving

Jesus and John. the Son and the herald
Working together in the name of God
Baptizing all into the way of peace
Bathing their flock in the way, in the light
Keeping to their mission even to death
John showed us the way, turn and be blessed!

John the Baptist

 
From the Gospel According to Mark – 2018.06.22

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

First Reading – Exodus 19:2-6 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):2-3, 5 ©
Second Reading – Romans 5:6-11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27
Alternative Acclamation Mark – 1:15
The Gospel According to Matthew 9:36-10:8 ©

(NJB)

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Listen!

We must always be diligent when reading scripture and participating in the rituals in the church, and expose the false theology that lingers in the fables and myths.

If we took these stories seriously we would have to uphold the traditional view that human beings need an intermediary, like Moses, to pass messages back and forth between the of humanity and God.

We would have to accept as vital and necessary the institution of a priesthood.

We would have to accept the idea that God, who created the universe, has chosen one tribe out of the whole world, to represent God’s will to the people.

We would have to lie to ourselves, and to the world if we were to support this doctrine, for this doctrine is false.

Let us reflect on the psalms for a moment:

God is with us wherever we are.

Wherever God is, that is God’s temple.

Enter the temple with hope and joy.

Serve God, by serving your sisters and brothers, look into the face of your neighbor and see the face of God shining back at you.

When the scriptures tell we are God’s people; those words are not directed to the audience who first heard and read them, nor to us as we are reading them now, they are directed toward every living being that ever was, ever has been, and ever will be.

This is the way, follow it; follow it to the world without end, where we belong to God and God’s mercy lasts forever.

Know this!

Jesus was not a sacrificial victim; his blood did not have magic powers.

God, the creator of the universe, God does not love holocausts and burnt offerings. God loves mercy, the humble spirit, the contrite heart, and justice.

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

The Apostle is wrong when he describes our relationship with God as one of enmity. We were never enemies with God. Though in our ignorance of God we have rejected God, but God, the creator and sustainer of all being, God has not rejected us. God loves us, and that is the way.

Listen!

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather, it is the shepherd who chooses the sheep. God, the creator of the universe, God is our shepherd. In God there is no lack or want.

There is one shepherd, one sheepfold, we are all in this together.

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text. Do not be jealous of how the shepherd speaks to your sister or your brother, to your neighbors or the stranger.

The shepherd speaks to everyone; those who are willing, listen.

Everyone is beloved by God, each and every one of us are following in the way that leads to God, there is no other way. Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey any other person is on, God is guiding them, as God is guiding you.

For those who resist the way, God is patient, God waits with a loving heart, and love is patient as love is kind.

Have faith!

God, the good shepherd, God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God.

God is with us!

Repent, which means turn, turn and believe.

Believe not so that you can be saved but believe that you are saved already.

God will make you well.

Believe that you are saved and turn, turn away from the selfishness, wickedness and injustice, turn toward the way of love, communitarianism and truth.

The way of God, the path to the garden, it is as near to you as the heart beating in your chest, turn toward it and you are there.

Do not look back.

Listen to Jesus and keep to the way.

Give without asking, share the grace of God.

Do not seek rewards or honors.

This is the way, and there is the gospel.
First Reading – Exodus 19:2-6 ©

I Will Count You a Kingdom of Priests, a Consecrated Nation

From Rephidim the sons of Israel set out again; and when they reached the wilderness of Sinai, there in the wilderness they pitched their camp; there facing the mountain Israel pitched camp.

Moses then went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Say this to the House of Jacob, declare this to the sons of Israel, “You yourselves have seen what I did with the Egyptians, how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. From this you know that now, if you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all the nations shall be my very own for all the earth is mine. I will count you a kingdom of priests, a consecrated nation.”’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):2-3, 5 ©

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Know that he, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the sheep of his flock.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Indeed, how good is the Lord,
eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from age to age.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
Second Reading – Romans 5:6-11 ©

Now We Have Been Reconciled by the Death of His Son, Surely We May Count on Being Saved by the Life of His Son

We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

Alleluia, alleluia!

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice,
says the Lord,
I know them and they follow me.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation Mark – 1:15

Alleluia, alleluia!

The kingdom of God is close at hand:
repent, and believe the Good News.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 9:36-10:8 ©

The Harvest is Rich but the Labourers are Few

When Jesus saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.’

He summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the one who was to betray him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows:

‘Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge.’
The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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

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

(NJB)

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

Prayer is good, though it is nothing without charity.

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

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

God is good.

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

See them.

God is good.

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

Listen to them.

God is good.

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

Share with them.

Be mindful!

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

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

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

Be humble!

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

Remember the laborers in the vineyard.

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

Good and bad, we are the same.

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

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

Not one of us will be lost.

Consider the Gospel for today.

Consider how the apostles get it wrong…again

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

Strive to be more patient than they were.
Listen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He did not teach a secret doctrine.

He himself wrote nothing down.

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

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

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

Know this

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

The Apostles All Joined in Continuous Prayer

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

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

Alleluia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

Father, It is Time for You to Glorify Me

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

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

Be mindful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the psalm for today:

It wise to believe in the God of creation.

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

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

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

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

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

God is not a king.

Listen!

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

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

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

Be mindful

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

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

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

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

Know this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus was baptized by John.

It was the first moment of his public career.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is my Servant, in Whom My Soul Delights

Thus says the Lord:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

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

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

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

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

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

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

God Had Anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

‘This is my Son, the Beloved’

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

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

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)