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)

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

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118(119):1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68
Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 11 :25
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5: 17 – 37 ©

(NJB)

The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Listen!

God has prepared the way for you, look ahead you can see it. The lane is clear and smooth and yours to take, but on the margins there are ruts and grooves, there are stones and roots, and other things to stumble on.

You may take which ever path you like, because all paths lead to God.

Look into the fire and there is God, dip your cup in the well and there is God.

Water cleanses without hurt, fire cleanses as it burns, in both fire and water we encounter the divine, turn around and God is with you, plant your feet and God is there. Close your eyes and stop your ears, God remains.

God is with you in your heart.

Nothing evil comes from God, and all things bend toward the good.

Be mindful!

God’s law is written in our hearts. God speaks to us there. All other versions of God’s law are merely reflections of the divine law that each of us carries with us.

God’s law is a living flame. Look into your heart see it shimmering there, wrapping itself around the coals.

God’s law is to love, and there is no other law. To love is its own reward. You will receive no other.

Remember this!

Those who do not love are not unloved by God. We are called on to love, even the hateful, love is the only cure for their hatred.

When you petition God; the creator of the universe, do not petition God for favor. Do not ask God for special treatment, do not ask God to prefer you over any other one of God’s children. Do not promise to do for God what is not within your power to do.

Be wise and ask for wisdom.

Do not lie to God, or yourself when you petition God.

Do not ask from God what it already lies within your power to do for yourself.

Be mindful of the sacred text, it has been made a tool for human beings, and there are places, many places that offer us a window on human vanity and nothing more.

There is no mystery in the sacred text, there is only the commandment that we love one another as God loves us. This is the demand that the divine law makes on our conscience; to act mercifully in the interest of justice.

Live a life filled with compassion, and you will be following the way.

When a leader arises in our midst, we must acknowledge them and their appointment if it is a reflection of the will of the people.

When that leadership is pure, and we see that their work is holy, we must acknowledge that, but in the acknowledgment of these things it is important to not embellish.

Remember that god speaks to all people.

God, the creator of the universe; God speaks in the human heart.

Be mindful of what the gospel teaches!

Here is the good news; God loves you, and you are saved. You are not saved for anything that you have done, you did not earn it, you are saved because God loves you.

The promise of salvation is not that you will be spared from suffering and torment in hell, or that when you are judged God will forgive you.

God has already forgiven you. You are already saved.

God has prepared you and everyone for eternal life.

Believe it!

Let the goodness of the promise flow through you, begin to live your life as if it were true.

We are not called to believe in the idea that Jesus is this or that, the Holy One of God, we are called to act on the principles of his faith, to live lives of charity and service to each other.

The teachings of Jesus cannot be treated like a shell game, though they are, and have been since the beginning, as Matthew’s Gospel 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 you. 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, the understanding of justice, the freedom to 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.

That is the way Jesus asked us to follow.

Just because a person is 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 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.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

The way is simple and elegant, and it is among the most difficult of challenges.

The writers of Matthew’s Gospel attempted to summarize Jesus’ teaching on the law. Those who had known Jesus, or who had been instructed in the faith by those who did know him, they believed sincerely that they knew what was in Jesus’ heart.

Nevertheless, their summary of it fell short of the mark, because, as with all matters pertaining to the divine, and to God, the creator of the universe, our human understanding falls short.

Know this, in this passage, the kingdom of heaven which Jesus refers to, is not a place beyond this world. It is the world we live in; it is not the world as it is, but the world as it could be, if we set aside our sins.

Know this, the hell which the gospels refer to is not a place beyond this world, it is not the diametric opposite of heaven, it is the realm of the dead, it is the place where we are, as we are still caught up in our sin.

We have a choice, a choice we can exercise right now; to live in the way of the divine, in a community of peace and love, or to live in a world conditioned by fear and greed, characterized by strife and pain.

If we chose the way, no matter how much we may desire it, we cannot have it, be in it, bring others to it, if we are not reconciled to the community that we live in. If we hold a grudge, if there is enmity, we must address these first and come to a place of healing.

In the way, what we do matters, but our intentions matter as much or more.

A person may not be a thief, but if they covet their neighbor’s possessions there is no peace between them. What we hold in our heart, that determines the nature of our relationships with each other.

Forgive and be forgiven, this is not a transaction, it is a simple injunction.

Let go of the hardness and covetousness in your heart, accept the mercy that is offered to you.

Be loved, and love.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21 ©

God Predestined Wisdom to Be for Our Glory Before the Ages Began

If you wish, you can keep the commandments, to behave faithfully is within your power.

He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer.

Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given him.

For vast is the wisdom of the Lord; he is almighty and all-seeing.

His eyes are on those who fear him, he notes every action of man.

He never commanded anyone to be godless, he has given no one permission to sin.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118(119):1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34 ©

They are happy who follow God’s law!

They are happy whose life is blameless,
who follow God’s law!
They are happy who do his will,
seeking him with all their hearts.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

You have laid down your precepts
to be obeyed with care.
May my footsteps be firm
to obey your statutes.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Bless your servant and I shall live
and obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
the wonders of your law.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Teach me the demands of your statutes
and I will keep them to the end.
Train me to observe your law,
to keep it with my heart.

They are happy who follow God’s law!
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 ©

God Predestined Wisdom to Be for Our glory Before the Ages Began

We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity: not a philosophy of our age, it is true, still less of the masters of our age, which are coming to their end. The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began. It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; we teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.
These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68

Alleluia, alleluia!

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.

Alleluia!
Alternative 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!
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5: 17 – 37 ©

You Have Learnt How it was Said to Our Ancestors; but I Say this to You

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.

‘For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.

‘It has also been said: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you: everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

‘Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’
The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68
Alternative Acclamation – 1 Peter 1:25
The Gospel According to Luke 17:5 – 10 ©
Listen!

We are guaranteed nothing in this life; neither justice nor injustice, though we may reasonably expected a share of each, there is no certainty. Be just toward all those you meet, and seek to do no harm.

God is not a mover of people, save by the pull of grace and love; a force like gravity, by which God calls every one of God’s children. It pull on us, though we are free to ignore, and even when we recognize it, most of us often do.

God is the creator of the universe, the cause of all that is. God made each of us free, the entire creation is free.

In our capacity as free agents we must work out our own justice.

Be mindful, we only have the power to be just to one other, we cannot seize justice for ourselves.

You will not be the cause of your salvation.

It is God who makes us well, who creates in us the possibility of wellbeing.

God is our wellbeing, and its final realization is not of this world.

Do not look for salvation in this world, it will not come from kings and princes, from popes or presidents.

God is not a king, and there are no other gods.

All of creation belongs to the creator, all that is beautiful and everything that frightens us, all things comes from God, and everything redound to the good.

God has prepared each of us for God’s blessing.

Consider the faith of Timothy

These are the words of political prisoner, exhorting us to faith and reminding us of our heritage; belonging to a tradition that places service to others over individual liberty.

Not everyone can follow the way to the end that Timothy did, or Jesus. They are the leaders of the faith, they point the way to the blessed life; a life that is just and merciful and good.

Be like Timothy if you can, follow the way of Jesus as well as you are able, but do not despair if you fail.

You will fail, and God will continue to love you.

When leaders rise among us. We must acknowledge them. When leadership is pure and we see that their work is holy, we must acknowledge that.

In acknowledging these things it is important to not embellish.

Remember:

God speaks to all people. God, the creator of the universe, God speaks in the human heart. God is present for anyone who will listen, but God does not favor some over others, and God does not appear in visions.

God leads us in silence, except in the rhythm of the heart, the tug and pull of our conscience as it resonates with the good.

Here is the Gospel; God loves you, and you are saved. You are not saved for anything that you have done, you did not earn it, you are saved because God loves you.

The promise of salvation is not that you will be spared from suffering and torment in hell, or that when you are judged God will forgive you.

Share the word!

God has already forgiven you. You are already saved.

If you feel unworthy, stop. God has a plan for you.

God has prepared you and everyone for eternal life.

Believe it!

Let the goodness of the promise flow through you now, and start living this life as if it were true.

Do not be concerned with creeds and confessions, with decrees and decretals, or the doctrine of the church, those do not save.

Right belief does not save.

We are not called to believe in the idea that Jesus is this or that, the Holy One of God, we are called to act on the principles of his faith, to live lives of charity and service to each other.

Share the Gospel, share the good news.

Be mindful!

Pay close attention to the Gospel, especially on those occasions when the message is cryptic, or the meaning of the parable is unclear.

Interpret these passages from the middle of the way; interpret them through the lens of love, with hope and justice.

Faith means trust, it is not magic. Our faith is neither the content of our beliefs, neither can it be measured for quality, quantity, or intensity.

Faith is trust, which a person either has or does not have.

If we trust in the promise of the Gospel, if we trust in the good news that Jesus preached, then we may be able to free ourselves from greed and corruption, from the class-consciousness that foments injustice around the world.

In the Gospel for today we see Jesus rebuke the disciples, who then became the Apostles of the church. He rebuked them because he knew where their hearts were, and the spiritual poverty they were beset with, he knew that they are using their position in the community of believers to place themselves in positions of authority and influence over the average believer.

He rebuked them because they had abandoned the way, and he encouraged them to return to the place of the servant.

Jesus responded to their error with love, he did not reject them, he gave them further instruction, and he comforted them.
First Reading – Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4 ©

The Upright Man Will Live by His Faithfulness

How long, O Lord, am I to cry for help while you will not listen; to cry ‘Oppression!’ in your ear
and you will not save?

Why do you set injustice before me, why do you look on where there is tyranny?

Outrage and violence, this is all I see, all is contention, and discord flourishes.

Then the Lord answered and said, ‘Write the vision down, inscribe it on tablets to be easily read,
since this vision is for its own time only: eager for its own fulfilment, it does not deceive; if it comes slowly, wait, for come it will, without fail.

See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.’
Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9

LORD, avenging God, avenging God, shine forth!

Rise up, O judge of the earth; give the proud what they deserve!

They kill the widow and alien; the orphan they murder.

They say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

Understand, you stupid people! You fools, when will you be wise?

Does the one who shaped the ear not hear? The one who formed the eye not see?
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14 ©

Never Be Ashamed of Witnessing to Our Lord

I am reminding you to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God.

Keep as your pattern the sound teaching you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. You have been trusted to look after something precious; guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68

Alleluia, alleluia!

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 1 Peter 1:25

Alleluia, alleluia!

The word of the Lord remains for ever.
What is this word?

It is the Good News that has been brought to you.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 17:5 – 10 ©

Say, ‘We Are Merely Servants’

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.

‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”? Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”’
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – 1 Samuel 26:2,7-9,11-13,22-23 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4,8,10,12-13 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Alternative Acclamation – John 13:34
The Gospel of Luke 6:27-38 ©
(NJB)
This reading from Samuel is meant to tell us something about the piety of David. It makes a big to do out of the fact that David would not take the life of his king, even though the king was seeking his.

Do not be confused, this is piety, but it is not love.

There are many things happening in this text, many errors to correct, the first of which is to make sure that the reader does not confuse David’s lawfulness, his refusal to take the life of God’s “anointed” for the command that Jesus in the gospel reading that comes later; the command that we love our enemies.

David does not spare Saul out of love, but from a sense of duty. He may very well be motivated by superstition also, and he is almost certainly motivated by a desire to uphold the law with rigor, because he himself expected to be king after Saul.

A lawbreaker, someone who was himself guilty of regicide, would have had a hard time with that.

David does not want to establish the precedent that it is permissible to kill a king. Or he might find himself at the wrong end of his own spear in later years.

He was wise in this.

David’s piety is laudable, nevertheless, it is not love, it is calculating, shrewd and savvy, but it is not love.
Be mindful!

God does not appoint kings. God does not intervene in human affairs, God has made us free.

God does not reward the good or punish the wicked. These are the works and contrivances of people, do not confuse our doings with those of the divine.

Listen to psalmist:

Give thanks to God, the creator of the universe.

Give thanks for the peace of God’s blessing, the blessing of life, of freedom, of self-determination, and every other aspect of our being that allows us to be persons as we are.

Give thanks to those who are loving, be thankful for the peacemakers, and bless them as you are able.

Bless all of God’s children, as God does, love them all, both the good and the bad, the helpful and the harmful, the just and the unjust.

Remember this, God is not a king, nor a kingmaker. God is not a Lord.

God does not favor one group over another. God loves all of God’s children equally.

Be wary of the teaching of the apostles, they are often wrong, just as the disciples were wrong, misunderstanding Jesus and his teaching at every turn.

In the reading for today, from Corinthians the apostle presents a soliloquy from rank speculation, concerning matters that he knows nothing about.

It is has been great tragedy for the Church, and serious misfortune to people everywhere that these teachings came into the tradition.

Beyond expressing faith and hope that the spirit continues beyond the death of the body, which is good, there is nothing else that needs to be said on this subject.

We fall into error when we allow our philosophies to frame our understanding of events that are yet to come, but that none of us have seen.

Be mindful, be present, and know this.

God hear you, God is with you, Immanuel.

God knows you even as you know yourself, God knows you better.

Listen!

Forget the apocryphal imagery and the mythological symbolism associated with the “Son of Man.” Set aside the cryptic language that John presents regarding the glory of God; pretending to tell us in whom and how it appears.

Forget those things because they are irrelevant.

Know this:

To follow Christ is to walk in the path of love, to love one another.

To follow Jesus is to lead with love.

Be loving as Jesus was loving. Be caring, be merciful, be just.

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

In this way you will be true to Jesus, anyone who is a witness to it will bear witness to that truth.

This is the way and there is no other.

Faith (which is the trust we place in God); faith is not about words, it is about actions. Faith is trust, and it is rooted in love.

Faith is not ideology, it is not partisan, it is not dogmatic, it is not doctrinaire. Faith is not a legally binding agreement. Faith is not concerned with creeds, or secrets, or magic words.

Faith is trust in God, and it is rooted in our experience of love.

Jesus calls us to love, not in the ordinary sense, not in a way that you might expect; Jesus call on us to love radically.

Love your enemies, Jesus says. Love them!

Love them as God loves them. Love your enemies, no matter who they are, because like you, your enemies are children of God, they are brothers and sisters of Christ.

They are your brothers and sisters. God dwells in them as God dwells in you. Love them, because enmity is an illusion, it is a disease of the heart, love them and be good to them, because goodness is its own reward.

Be kind to one another, serve God through the service you give to your neighbors, to the stranger, even those who have done you harm.

This is the expectation of God.

This is the way of Jesus, who prayed to God on behalf of those who tortured and murdered him, he prayed that they be forgiven, even as he was dying on the cross.

Be compassionate, do not let your imagination fail you in considering the countless ways which you can find to be loving to one another.

Do not judge so that you will not be judged, or pardon so that you will be pardoned, or give so that you will receive a reward. Love is not transactional.

Pardon because you have been pardoned, set your judgement aside as God has done for you already, give so that you may share your reward.

This is the love that Jesus calls us to.
First reading – 1 Samuel 26:2,7-9,11-13,22-23 ©

Do Not Lift Your Hand Against the Lord’s Anointed

Saul set off and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, accompanied by three thousand men chosen from Israel to search for David in the wilderness of Ziph.

In the dark David and Abishai made their way towards the force, where they found Saul lying asleep inside the camp, his spear stuck in the ground beside his head, with Abner and the troops lying round him.

Then Abishai said to David, ‘Today God has put your enemy in your power; so now let me pin him to the ground with his own spear. Just one stroke! I will not need to strike him twice.’ David answered Abishai, ‘Do not kill him, for who can lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt? The Lord forbid that I should raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed! But now take the spear beside his head and the pitcher of water and let us go away.’ David took the spear and the pitcher of water from beside Saul’s head, and they made off. No one saw, no one knew, no one woke up; they were all asleep, for a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen on them.

David crossed to the other side and halted on the top of the mountain a long way off; there was a wide space between them. He called out, ‘Here is the king’s spear. Let one of the soldiers come across and take it. The Lord repays everyone for his uprightness and loyalty. Today the Lord put you in my power, but I would not raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4,8,10,12-13 ©

The Lord is compassion and love.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.

The Lord is compassion and love.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is compassion and love.

The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.

The Lord is compassion and love.

As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.
As a father has compassion on his sons,
the Lord has pity on those who fear him.

The Lord is compassion and love.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 ©

The First Adam Became a Living Soul; the Last Adam, a Life-giving Spirit

The first man, Adam, as scripture says, became a living soul; but the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. That is, first the one with the soul, not the spirit, and after that, the one with the spirit. The first man, being from the earth, is earthly by nature; the second man is from heaven. As this earthly man was, so are we on earth; and as the heavenly man is, so are we in heaven. And we, who have been modelled on the earthly man, will be modelled on the heavenly man.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – John 13:34

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!
The Gospel of Luke – 6:27-38 ©

Love your enemies

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’
The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

A Homily – The First Sunday of Christmas

First Reading – 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 ©
Alternative First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©
Alternative Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 83(84):2-3,5-6,9-10 ©
Second Reading – Colossians 3:12-21 ©
Alternative Second Reading – 1 John 3:1-2,21-24 ©
Gospel Acclamation – cf. Ac 16:14
The Gospel of the Day – Luke 2:41-52 ©
(NJB)
If you were to take the reading from Samuel and regard it only as narrative extoling the virtue of giving thanks to God, the creator of the universe, giving thanks for the good things we receive in this life, if you were to go no further than to accept the piety of Hannah as a woman intent on keeping her promises then you would be reading this passage well.

If you go further, and you sink into the notion that God actually granted her prayer when she became pregnant with Samuel, then you would be mistaken. God does not intervene in the lives of human beings. God does not work miracles like magic in the wombs of barren women.

If you were to accept the piety of the sacrifices she rendered at the temple as a thanksgiving for what she perceived was God’s direct hand moving over her in answer to her prayers than you would be compounding your mistakes. There is nothing pious in the act of an animal sacrifice, God does not desire it, and unless the food you offer is distributed to the poor, then nothing good comes from it.

Listen:

There is wisdom in the writings of Ecclisasticus and there is also falsehood, they present themselves as binary messages in the same reading.

Honor your father and mother, but do not expect a reward for it, neither from heaven or even from them, for there are no guarantees in this life.

Honor you mother and father, your sister and brothers, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, your nieces and nephews, honor them all. Honor your teachers, and your classmates, your co-workers and your employers, honor the stranger who comes into your midst, honor them.

To honor people is good in its own right. You honor yourself in doing so, and through the service you give to everyone, near and far from you, through that service you also serve and honor God.

Do it without the thought of reward to yourself, because you will not be rewarded.

Remember:

Do not fear God. There is no blessing in it. Fear is not a blessing but rather the path to sin and darkness.

Trust in God, have faith and confidence in God’s love and in God’s word.

Remember God’s servant; Job. Remember that the Sun will burn you, as readily as it will warm you; scorch the earth as easily as it will feed the crops.

God sends the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.

If you find yourself asking: Where is the house of the God? Know this, it is not a palace, or a temple. God, creator of the universe does not dwell in Zion; Israel, God is not a king, not a lord, and not a god among gods or the ruler of many gods.

God is infinite and beyond our comprehension, God is in all places at all times and in the hearts of each and every one of God’s children.

God dwells in the human heart, the heart is the temple of God, and that is where we true worship takes place.

Look into your own heart, and into the heart of your neighbor, you will see the face of God peering back at you.

Happy are they who dwell in the place of God.

God, the creator of the universe, is loving, compassionate, and wise. God created all of us with the capacity for each of these qualities, but God also created us in freedom and we are capable of much more. We are capable of their opposite and find it far to easy to fall into their darkness/

God has chosen you as God has chosen everyone. We are all of us, God’s children, it is for each of us now to choose God.

Be loving and compassionate, show genuine good will toward all of your sisters and brothers. Do not just mimc the expression of love you are most fond of finding in the world, this is the way to proceed in life, let it unify everything that you do as a servant of God, in the service of humanity.

A life of faith requires support and nourishment, we need it from those near to us. It is not absolutely necessary, but it is most helpful. You may practice your faith in isolation, but it is more difficult. The life of faith is not meant to be lived in a vacuum, it is meant to be lived through relationships and in community.

Be aware:

Live a life of prayer; yes, but the Apostle is wrong to ask you to do all things in the name of God.

Do what you do in your own name. Take responsibility for your actions, both good and bad, whether they were well intentioned or ill, whether you have succeeded or failed.

Strive to live a life of prayer.

If you are living and working for God. In whatever industry, in whatever capacity, at whatever calling has come to you through the world, you will be doing it on behalf of your neighbor, your sisters and brothers, your fellow human beings.

You will be working for the benefit of all people, now and in all generations yet to come.

If your work does not allow to you to do this…abandon it. Remember this always and hold it close to your heart.

When you are preaching and speaking to others about the faith, you are speaking to the children of God, the creator of the universe.

There is nothing you can do to affect their salvation. There salvation, as yours, has already been accomplished by God.

Love is its own reward, do not seek anything else in return for love, accept it as you find it in the spirit with which it is given.

Nothing good at all comes from believing in a name, it is only in loving, and in the act of caring that good things come through us and to us.

God is alive in all people, no one is excluded from the love of God. There is no proof of this, it is only faith that informs us that it is true.

Faith is not belief in a particular doctrine, or article of dogma, faith is trust in God. Faith is trust.

Trust and yet be discerning:

Beware of false prophets, go, look to everyone around you, especially those who claim to be “true believers.” Look to yourself. We are all imperfect, and we all have false understandings of who God is.

Each of us in our own way confounds our knowledge of the truth with our hopes and desires for ourselves.

Trust God, and be mindful God is beyond the propositions we generate about God.

The purpose of the church is to foster belief in God, which means to nurture faith, and faith is trust.

Trust God, trust the image of God that was present in Jesus. That same image that is present in you.

Trust God and forgive.

Accept forgiveness.

Allow yourself to love, and be loved.

You are worthy of it, as is everyone, and you no-more than anyone.

God lives in the obedient and the disobedient, the faithful and the unfaithful alike. Remember this, God lives in all people, God knows you and God knows them, God knows us, even as we know ourselves.

God knows us better.

God will hear you, God is with you.
Take the things we have been preaching on and apply them to the Gospel for today:

The narrative is a myth. It does not give us any reliable information about who Jesus was, or about his relationship with his parents; even though it purports to do so.

This is unfortunate but it is the normative experience of reading the gospels.

The reading for today does tell us something about what the author of Luke wanted us to believe about Jesus. That his parents were faithful and observant Jews. He wants us to believe that they obediently went to Jerusalem for the Passover as required of them by the law, where they were counted and made their offerings to the temple.

The authors of Luke were also trying to tell us that Jesus was wise beyond his years, that he was capable of self-direction, that he had a sense of mission and purpose for his life, even as a child. The authors of Luke also want us to believe that Jesus understood at this early age, long before his adult ministry began, that he was, in a unique way, a child of God. Finally, Luke wants us to understand that his submission to the authority of his parents was voluntary.

What is unfortunate about this narrative is this; instead of informing us about who Jesus is, it muddies our understanding by mythologizing him, and instead the reading only tells us what the authors of Luke wanted us to believe, what their followers hoped was true.

Though the authors of Luke could not foresee this, these writings would come divide the Christian community, to divide it from itself and precipitate centuries of bloody conflict over the question of Jesus’ divinity, his humanity and the relationship between the two.

I contend that the man who was Jesus of Nazareth, Joshua son of Joseph, would have been aghast at those developments. Jesus, the man spent his life and went to his death as a champion of justice, an advocate for mercy, as a healer, as an advocate for the poor, for the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the widow and the orphan.

Luke’s narrative is therefore a cautionary tale, reminding us of the necessity to cleave to the truth at all times, to separate our hopes, our desires, and most importantly our fears, from values we wish to convey.

Then and only then do we honor God, then and only then do we show the reality of our faith.
First Reading – 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 ©

This is the Child I Prayed For: He is Made Over to the Lord.

Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’

When a year had gone by, the husband Elkanah went up again with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfil his vow. Hannah, however, did not go up, having said to her husband, ‘Not before the child is weaned. Then I will bring him and present him before the Lord and he shall stay there for ever.’

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her together with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’
Alternative First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17 ©

He who fears the Lord respects his parents

The Lord honours the father in his children, and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.

Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins, he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.

Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own, he shall be heard on the day when he prays.

Long life comes to him who honours his father, he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.

My son, support your father in his old age, do not grieve him during his life.

Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy, do not despise him in your health and strength; for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten but will serve as reparation for your sins.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!
Alternative Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 83(84):2-3,5-6,9-10 ©

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord, God of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer,
give ear, O God of Jacob.
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield,
look on the face of your anointed.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.
Second Reading – Colossians 3:12-21 ©

Family life in the Lord

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.
Alternative Second reading

1 John 3:1-2,21-24 ©

We are Called God’s children, and That is What We Are

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are.

Because the world refused to acknowledge him, therefore it does not acknowledge us.

My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.

My dear people, if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience, we need not be afraid in God’s presence, and whatever we ask him, we shall receive, because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life that he wants.

His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us to.

Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him.

We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.
Gospel Acclamation – cf. Ac 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!
Gospel – Luke 2:41-52 ©

Mary Stored Up All These Things in Her Heart

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.

The First Sunday of Christmas
Feast of the Holy Family