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

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

(NJB)

The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Listen!

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

Know this:

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

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

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

Do not fall into the error of the Apostle.

Be mindful!

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

Know this:

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

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

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

Our relationship to God and Jesus is a determinative factor in the nature of our being, as all of our relationships are, no matter how remote or distant from us in time and space they might be.

Do not forget this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

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

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

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

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

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

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

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

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

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

People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him. Though your body may be dead it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified; and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.
Gospel Acclamation – John 11:25, 26

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!

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

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

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

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

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

‘Are there not twelve hours in the day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

Be mindful!

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

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

Listen to the psalmist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The divine spirit dwells within us.

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

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

What is exposed in the light will become light!

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

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

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

Let the spirit of grace guide you.

Be mindful!

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

Be mindful of the Gospel reading for today!

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

Handle it with care.

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

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

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

Follow it!

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

Believe it!

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

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

David is Anointed by Samuel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything Exposed by the Light Will Turn into Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus said:

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

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

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

The Feast of Saint Patrick – Patron Saint of Ireland

Saint_St_Patrick_Enlightener_of_Ireland_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_2_2Today is the feast of Saint Patrick, today we celebrate his sainthood, and the ascendance to heaven of a British man, of Roman heritage, who lived sometime between the fourth and fifth centuries CE.

Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but he was not Irish at all, he was a Roman of the Patrician class, from a family of rank, and privilege.

Patrick (Patricius) is credited with converting the people of Erin to faith in the Universal Church, the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, in so doing he separated the Celtic people from their Gaelic traditions, and subordinated them to the Catholic Church in Rome.

It is no wonder that he was named a saint for this, Patricius.

He won with the Word what could not be accomplished by through war, by sword and spear, by fire and blood.

It should be noted that Saint Patrick has never been canonized, or even beatified not by any Pope. Therefore Patrick is not officially a Saint of the Catholic Church, and nevertheless, he is recognized in the annals of the Saints of the Church of England, I hope that all my Irish kinfolk appreciate the irony of this.

It is worthy of song.

History tells us that Patrick was a humble man, a rare quality for those of rank. History also tells us that he proofed the plan of spreading the faith by converting Irish chieftains first. Patrick was a politician of great skill. Every missionary who followed him, emulated this method.

He spread the faith, he established churches and he earned the rank of Apostle, by popular acclamation.

History tells us that his mother was a relative of Saint Martin of Tours, the patron Saint of Soldiers, Saint Martin of the Sword whose biography was written by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, but we know that was a work of pure fiction. Saint Martin never lived, even so, his story gave license for Christians to become soldiers, to serve in the army, and as such it brought the Roman legions into the fold.

Patrick was said to have had “heroic piety,” praying day and night, in the mountains and the woods, he prayed through the rain, and through storms of snow and ice, he should be the patron saint of post men if this were true, but then again…all hagiographies are lies.

His story tells us that he spent six years as a captive and servant to a Celtic Chieftain, the Druid named Milchu in Dalriada, where he mastered the language of the common folk and learned all of their stories.

However, if you appreciate history you will know that it is much more likely that he fled his home to wander abroad in order to escape the duties that were expected of him as the son of a nobleman. Such departures were common in his time, they were referred to as the “flight of the curiales.” Patrick was no captive at all, he was a boy running from his responsibilities.

Rather than being taken captive it is more likely that he paid for asylum in Milchu’s house, and that he paid for the services of tutors to help him learn the language.

The Druids were great teachers and oral historians that much is true.

The story of his escape (if it was in fact an escape from servitude), and subsequent journey were of his own account. He cast the entire experience in dramatic, even biblical terms, they served both to cover up his crime of abnegation, and also to establish his fame.

It is said that Patrick escaped from Milchu and then fled to the mainland of Europe where he entered the priesthood and became a missionary. On his return to Ireland however, the first place he went was to his former home in Dalriada. Where, after some period of conflict with his former captor (or patron) and the affectation of some miracles on Patrick’s part, Milchu immolated himself to make way for the upstart, throwing himself on a fire after burning the collected scrolls and mysteries of his people.

This event may be seen in metaphorical terms as Milchu offering himself as a human sacrifice, at the foundation of the church in Ireland.

That’s how Patrick wrote it.

In reality. the whole episode denotes the ritual destruction of the Celtic people in favor of the ascending Romano-British invaders.

On Easter Sunday, 433 a conflict of will ensued between Patrick and the Celtic Arch-Druid Lochru, historians mythologized it as a battle of divine forces like the contest between Moses and the Egyptians, or Elijah and priests of Baal, and it ended with Saint Patrick magically hurling Lochru into the air, and breaking him to pieces on a sharp rock.

It was another ritual murder at the foundation of the Irish Church, another human sacrifice to be sure. There is no other way to read this, it was a good old-fashioned Roman slaughter.

On a side note, while speaking of his vaunted magic powers, not to be outdone by Jesus, this same Patrick was said to have been able to raise the dead.

It should be noted the Columbanus, who was the most significant representative of the Irish Catholic Church after the Dark Ages, who lived and wrote and sent missionaries from Ireland to Continental Europe, building Churches and founding religious communities, makes no mention of Saint Patrick in his writing, not once, not anywhere, Columbanus tells us that the Church in Ireland was founded by a man named Palladius.

The entire legend of Saint Patrick is little more than a myth designed to subordinate the Irish heart to a British noble of Roman descent, and a fictitious one at that.

Be mindful when you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day!
Revised 2020.03.17

Given First 2018.03.17

Trog

There is movement all about me, forms I can’t discern, floating in my dreams
There are shadows on the cavern walls, wavering in chaotic streams

Questions scrape my bones like hungry wraiths, solutions never see the light of day
Bundle up the answers, bind them like sheaves of straw, set to fire in the night

The furies rise from the ash beds, there is no phoenix, no morning sun

Bury seeds in the cold-field, bits of knowledge, pushed into the wet earth
Fragile little plantlings hungry for life, set their roots and stretch out for the light

Heedless of the storm descending, turn to face the darkened horizon, resisting
As dreams fall like stars from the sky, the harvest rots while and fields are set on fire

There is phoenix rising, only the furies fly from the ash beds, their swarm blots the sun

We heard the promise and followed its call, we stood beneath the open sky
To bask in the solar wind, blind as the troglodyte emerging from the cave

A Homily – Third Sunday of Lent (Year A)

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

(NJB)

Third Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Listen!

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

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

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

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

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

Be mindful!

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

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

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

Listen!

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

Consider the teaching of the apostle.

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

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

Know this!

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

God loves mercy and God love justice.

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

Consider the gospel for today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strike the Rock, and Water Will Flow from It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Love of God Has Been Poured Into Our Hearts

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

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

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

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

A Spring of Water Welling Up to Eternal Life

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

His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

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

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

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

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

Jesus replied:

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

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

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

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

The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’

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

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

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

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

that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Jesus said:

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

Have you not got a saying:

Four months and then the harvest?

Well, I tell you:

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

For here the proverb holds good:

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

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

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

A Homily – Second Sunday of Lent (Year A)

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

(NJB)

Second Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Listen!

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

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

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

God does not distribute blessings and curses capriciously.

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

Be mindful of this!

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

You have heard this said:

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

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

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

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

Let Jesus show you the way.

Know this!

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

Let your mind dwell on this.

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

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

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

Follow it!

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

Consider the Gospel for today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be mindful!

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

All the Tribes of the Earth Shall Bless Themselves by You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Calls and Enlightens Us

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

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!

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

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

His Face Shone Like the Sun

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

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

A Homily – First Sunday of Lent (Year A)

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

(NJB)

First Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Be mindful!

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

It does not explain anything.

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

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

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

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

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

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

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

Listen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Creation, and the Sin of Our First Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Temptation in the Wilderness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(NJB)

Ash Wednesday (Year A)
Remember this:

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

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

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

When you go to the people go in modesty.

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

Listen!

With God there is never justice without mercy.

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

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

Be mindful!

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

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

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

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

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

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

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

Be glad.

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

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

Hear this!

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

Proclaim that every day is a day of salvation.

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

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

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

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

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

Know this!

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

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

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

Be mindful of this!

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

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

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

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

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

Let Your Hearts Be Broken, Not Your Garments Torn

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

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

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

Sound the trumpet in Zion!

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

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

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

Let them say, ‘Spare your people, Lord!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Reconciled to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Reading – Isaiah 8:23-9:3 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1, 4, 13-14 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:23
The Gospel of Matthew 4:12 – 23 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Listen!

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

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

Be mindful.

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

The prophet was wrong to speak this way, his error being the error of human ambition, representing the limits of the human imagination, it is a reflection of our sinful nature and our own obsession with personal pride.

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

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.
Listen!
It is wise to trust in God.

It is less than wise to have a high esteem of your own self.

Embrace God’s judgment!

This should be easy for a person of faith who knows that God’s judgment never appears without God’s mercy, and that God’s wrath never appears without God’s love.

Do not boast about standing upright. No one is innocent.

God does not need to test you, God already known you, better than you know yourself.

Do not shun your neighbors, even if you perceive them to be frivolous, even if they plot; do not be quick to call them evil. Sit where you are invited, open your door to all; only then will you be in the service of God.

Be mindful of this, at all times be mindful:

A house divided against itself cannot stand, and if it cannot stand then it cannot be used for any good, it will shelter no one, harbor no one, the people cannot gather there, talk together, share a meal together or lift up their voices in song.

Do not look to the pulpit or the person preaching there as the final word on the way.

Look to the teaching of Christ, of Jesus who says this: no greater love can a person show than that they give their life for their brother or sister, and that is exactly what Jesus did when the time came, when he was arrested at Gethsemane, put on trial and killed.

Follow the way: love God with all your strength and all your heart and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, this is the whole of the law, and all the wisdom of the prophets.

Be mindful, and be wary of the Scriptures, especially when the authors of the text are attempting to fit their narrative of Jesus’ life into a picture that makes it look as if he is fulfilling a prediction made by a prophet from past ages.

In these cases the literal story is always false, it cannot be relied on for anything, even metaphors, if they rest on false foundations they are suspect and should be treated guardedly.

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

This is the bedrock of truth, and we know it is true because the future is not predetermined, it never has been and it never will be. God, the creator of the universe made us, and creation free.

Prophets only speak of the future for two reasons; to engender hope, and to warn of danger. There is no other purpose and there is no predictive power in it.

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

Listen!

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 his mission 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, they do it 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.

The narrative in the Gospel for today informs the reader of this, and that is its main intention.
First Reading – Isaiah 8:23-9:3 ©

In Galilee of the Nations the People has Seen a Great Light

In days past the Lord humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in days to come he will confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of Jordan, province of the nations.

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.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1, 4, 13-14 ©

The Lord is my light and my help.

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?

The Lord is my light and my help.

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.

The Lord is my light and my help.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!

The Lord is my light and my help.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 ©

Make Up the Differences Between You Instead of Disagreeing Among Yourselves

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe’s people have been telling me, my dear brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. What I mean are all these slogans that you have, like: ‘I am for Paul’, ‘I am for Apollos’, ‘I am for Cephas’, ‘I am for Christ.’ Has Christ been parcelled out? Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul?

For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom
and cured all kinds of sickness among the people.

Alleluia!
Gospel According to Matthew 4:12-23 ©

He Went and Settled in Capernaum: in This Way the Prophecy of Isaiah Was Fulfilled

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
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.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.
The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)