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

First Reading – Isaiah 58:7-10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 111(112):4-9 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 8:12
The Gospel According to Matthew 5:13 – 16 ©

(NJB)

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Listen.

Meditate on the scriptures and consider their meaning when they refer to the light of God, in this moment we should reflect on the teaching of Isaiah, as Jesus often did.

Be mindful of these precepts:

We are light when we are shine like the justice of God, we are light when we are merciful, we are light when we speak words of love and perform acts of service to those who are in need, this is when we are light.

We are light when we feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the poor, and clothe the naked. When we are light we are healed of our own sickness, the sickness in our hearts and in our minds, the disease which clamors for us to horde our wealth, and feed our greed.

When we are giving we are good, and God’s light shines through us like a beacon, it shines in all directions and says to those who see it that we have made a dwelling for God in our heart.

We are light when we release the poor, when we uncurl the clenched fist, when we speak with kindness, and raise up the oppressed, this is when we are light.

When we are light we shine in the darkness, and our shadow departs from us as if we were standing beneath the sun at noon.

Be mindful!

This is what the scriptures are speaking to when they preach to us about God’s light.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

God, the creator of the universe, God is just, righteous and filled with compassion.

The destiny of each and every one of God’s children, is God’s own self; when the seed of the Word that God has planted in each of us, sprouts and comes to fruition, the fullness of the blossom is God’s own self.

Listen!

Righteousness and compassion are their own reward, nothing extra comes to you from God for in exchange for doing good. The Godly life is not a matter of commerce.

Be mindful, what is good true does not require a letter of introduction. A person’s past deeds are not necessarily a prelude to their future actions, the good may to ill, and the wicked may do good.

Take each day as it comes.

We are not called to be guarded or suspicious of each other’s motives, neither are we called on to blindly accept a person’s credentials.

Listen!

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

Consider the Gospel for today and know that there are no guarantees in life.

Listen to Jesus as he teaches his disciples, he understood the natural failings of human beings. Jesus knew that a person can be salient and good in one moment, bitter and coercive in the next.

Not even the disciples, as close as they were to Jesus, were free from these propensities. Why would it be any different for the Christian man or woman who follows them.

If you set out to teach, and be a light in the world, then do that. It requires you to live intentionally.

Be mindful of what Jesus said; a lamp, once lit, should be put on the lamp-stand, but even still it requires constant attention. The lamp oil must be refilled, the wick must be trimmed, replaced, and the soot must be cleaned from it.

If you intend to live your life as an exemplar of the way, you must be diligent, watchful, mindful of yourself and humble.

In your pursuit of the light, reflect on the teaching of Isaiah:

“Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin.”
First Reading – Isaiah 58:7-10 ©

Then will your light shine like the dawn

Thus says the Lord:

Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin.

Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you.

Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word, if you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 111(112):4-9 ©

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

He is a light in the darkness for the upright:
he is generous, merciful and just.
The good man takes pity and lends,
he conducts his affairs with honour.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

The just man will never waver:
he will be remembered for ever.
He has no fear of evil news;
with a firm heart he trusts in the Lord.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

With a steadfast heart he will not fear;
open-handed, he gives to the poor;
his justice stands firm for ever.
His head will be raised in glory.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ©

The Only Knowledge I Claimed Was of the Crucified Christ

When I came to you, brothers, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed. During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ. Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great ‘fear and trembling’ and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.
Gospel Acclamation – John 8:12

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 5:13 – 16 ©

Your Light Must Shine in the Sight of Men

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’
The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

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)

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

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

(NJB)

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

Be wary!

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

Be mindful.

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

Listen!

God has provided for our wellness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen, and be mindful.

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

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

Remember this!

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

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

Listen!

Do not repeat the errors of John

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

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

Remember this always.

Consider the Gospel for today:

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation John 1:14, 12

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

‘Look: there is the Lamb of God’

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

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

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

Be mindful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the psalm for today:

It wise to believe in the God of creation.

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

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

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

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

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

God is not a king.

Listen!

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

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

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

Be mindful

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

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

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

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

Know this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus was baptized by John.

It was the first moment of his public career.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is my Servant, in Whom My Soul Delights

Thus says the Lord:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

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

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

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

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

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

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

God Had Anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

‘This is my Son, the Beloved’

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

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

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

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

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

The creator comes with blessing for all.

Listen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be mindful.

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

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

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

Do not boast.

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

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

All of God’s children are beloved by God.

God finds favor in all.

Do not let your faith circumscribe God’s love.

Consider the gospel reading for the day:

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

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

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

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

The magi were priests in the tradition of Persian Zoroastrianism.

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

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

This is the essence of propaganda.

Be mindful!

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

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

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

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

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

Look, Your Saviour Comes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

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

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

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

First Reading – Isaiah 7:10-14
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):1-6 ©
Second Reading – Romans 1:1-7 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 1:23
The Gospel According to Matthew 1:18-25

(NJB)

The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Listen!

God is not a politician.

The creator of the universe is not a kingmaker. God does not give victory in battle; appointing winner and losers. God, Immanuel, the God of Jesus Christ is with all people, at all times, in all places.

God loves each and every one of God’s children equally.

God stands with all people, whether or not any of them stand with God.

Be mindful of 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 being.

If you wish to climb the mountain, to find God, that is fine, do it, God is there. Or, you may simply turn to your neighbor, and see God reflected in their face. God is there.

See them, behold the face of God, in that holy presence give thanks, give thanks with your neighbor, demonstrate God’s faithfulness to you, demonstrate it through love.

Do not worry about your own holiness. God loved you before the creation of the world; when only the possibility of you existed, you were loved. This is true of all things and beings, of everyone; as they are loved by God, they are holy.

Look for God’s blessing in the service you provide to your neighbor, to your mother and father, to your sister and brother. Be justified in one thing, the quality and extent of your mercy, the degree to which you cleave to justice, and the service you give to those in your midst. .

Remember this:

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, for the remembrances of past encounters, but seek the living God in living beings.

Always bear this metaphor in mind: the first time we saw God, when the first parent walked with the creator, the world was a garden, and that was paradise. There was no talk of kings, and no talk of glorifying God in battle. Let us return to that.

Do good and reject evil.

Remember, Paul was not chosen. He chose to preach the Gospel.

Remember this, Jesus was descended from David through his father Joseph.

Remember, Jesus was not a lord or king. He was a Rabbi and a healer

Jesus lived among us an example of grace and its fulfillment. He was not a conduit of grace. His mission was not to confer on human beings something that they lacked, but to activate in them something that is inherent, an innate capacity for good and a receptivity of the love of God.

Consider this:

Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Joseph was of the House of David. She became pregnant before their wedding, according to the design God had put in place for the propagation of human life.
Joseph had second thoughts about marriage, and about being a father, but in a moment of conscience, listening to the spirit of grace within him, he made a choice, and he embraced the truth, taking on the responsibility to raise his child.

He took Mary as his wife; he brought her into his house. They named their child Joshua, after the great hero of the Israelites. In that trust they pinned their hopes on him, in that hope and trust (faith) they encountered the presence of God. They knew then that God was with them, inasmuch as they were with each other.

If Joseph had succumbed to his fear and weakness (and that was a real possibility), in that time and place Mary would have been destroyed. She would have become an outcast, she would have had no standing in her community, she and her child would have died.

Joseph was humbled by his weakness and his moment of doubt. In that moment he learned what it means to truly love.

He choose good, he rejected evil.

If you believe it.
First Reading – Isaiah 7:10-14

The Maiden is With Child

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’

Then Isaiah said:

‘Listen now, House of David: are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men without trying the patience of my God, too?

The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign.

It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):1-6 ©

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the waters he made it firm.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart,
who desires not worthless things.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

He shall receive blessings from the Lord
and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.
Second Reading – Romans 1:1-7 ©

Our Apostolic Mission is to Preach the Obedience of Faith to All Pagan Nations

From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.

This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 1:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 1:18-25

How Jesus Christ Came to be Born

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year A)

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the psalmist!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be mindful!

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

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

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

Be mindful of this error. Do not repeat it.

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

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

Love one another, as God loves you.

Consider the Gospel for today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such is the way of human beings.

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

God Himself is Coming to Save You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come, Lord, and save us.

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

Come, Lord, and save us.

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

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

Come, Lord, and save us.

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Second Sunday of Advent, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

A Homily

2019.12.08
First Reading – Isaiah 11:1-10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 71(72):1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 ©
Second Reading – Romans 15:4-9 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 3:4, 6
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:1 – 12 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Advent, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception
A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)
Listen!

Let your heart be filled with hope, let it overflow.

Consider the words of the prophet, his encouragement to the people; he speaks with one eye on the past and one eye toward the future, Isaiah dwells in the midst of crises and promises the people a return to the way of justice, of peace for the people, of an end to the violence and conflicts that had come to be an ordinary feature of life..

Hope is eternal, and though God, the creator of the universe, though God does not interfere in our lives or with the order of creation, nevertheless the divine purposed is draw all things and all people to God’s own self, through the eternal mystery of God’s own being. If not in this world then in the next.

God’s promise is real and true, but God will not come to our rescue in this world.

God has made you and me, God had made us, and the world absolutely free, God will not intervene in our choices or spare us from their consequences.

Remember this, God is not a king.

Listen to the apostle; the teaching of the prophets, of all our sages and seers, consider the lives of the patriarchs as they are recorded in the sacred texts, they have one purpose, to furnish hope in the hearts of the people.

Our path is lit by the lamp of hope, so that in its light we may abandon fear and find ourselves free to love one another as Jesus taught us.

Our faith is belief in the things we hope for; a world governed in justice and mercy, a world at peace.

Be mindful!

The understanding of history is a great tool. The Christian tradition has always attempted to root itself in historical realities, though with greater and lesser degrees of success.

The study of our tradition gave birth to modern historical criticism; without which, as a culture, we would have no understanding of the uses and limitations of history whatsoever, and that took eighteen hundred years to develop.

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

We remember the rule of Tiberius, heir to Augustus, and the reign of Herod, and governance of Pontius Pilate.

We recall the role that Pilate played in the killing of Jesus, we shout it out at every hour of every day in all parts of the world; that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried. This story is told unceasingly and without end.

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

John the Baptist taught us to repent, and be forgiven, but Jesus taught us to simply forgive, and thereby to accept the forgiveness that has already been issued.

Jesus forgave those who killed him he asked God to forgive them when he was up on the cross.

It is time we do the same.

The promise of Isaiah, which John echoed in the wilderness, this promise cannot be realized until we take up our part in it.

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

Remember!

John the Baptist was a social critic, and that is the role of the prophet, he stood within the tradition and criticized its institutions.

John the Baptist was not alone in this, he dwelt on the margins of society along with those who saw and experienced the same troubles as he did. They were on the margins both figuratively, and literally, they represented a new movement and preached a new path for the people. They were so controversial that they had to do their preaching away from the towns and cities. That is what they did, the preached in the wilderness and the people came out to see them.

Isaiah did not foretell the coming of John the Baptist. In fact, Isaiah was not a real historical figure, but the school of Isaiah, those who wrote in his name, they offered their criticism of their tradition, and assured people that when they were gone others would come.

They foresaw that.

John did the same thing. He knew his days were numbered, and he knew another would come after him. He might even have known that Jesus of Nazareth would pick up his work, but that fact is unimportant, because he knew that if not Jesus, then another would follow; sooner or later another would follow.

That is still true today.

The prophets are among us, they are preaching and teaching and pointing out the way. The prophets are present in every generation. The voice of the prophet is present in the heart of every human being; waiting, nascent, patient, desiring to be voiced and heard.

Do not believe that being baptized and being a Christian makes you special. Being a member of one of the tribes of Israel did not make the Sadducees or the Pharisees special.

Being a Christian does not impart a special gift to anyone, only a special responsibility, a sacred burden to speak with the voice of a prophet, to demand that the unjust be just, to kindle hope in the hopeless, and to be merciful toward the outcast.

This is the way: serving the good, loving justice and being merciful to all of those within your power, or whom you have the power to help.

Do not be distressed or afraid of the harsh language in the gospel. Do not be afraid of the fire, because in scripture, fire is a symbol of our encounter with God. The fire that never ends, the eternal fire burns in the heart of God. We know this because God, and God alone is the arbiter of the eternal, and there is no other eternal being who is not God.

Listen!

Our encounter with God is a moment of transformation, of transfiguration, it comes to every person, and depending on who you are or how ready you are to experience it, the encounter might be painful, but it is not destructive.

The fire of God refines, just as the power of love, and justice, and mercy do.

Be like John. Preach the faith, love what is good, walk humbly in justice and mercy.

Spread the good news; God loves you.
First Reading – Isaiah 11:1-10 ©

A Shoot Springs From the Stock of Jesse

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots: on him the spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)

He does not judge by appearances, he gives no verdict on hearsay, but judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.

His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless, his sentences bring death to the wicked.
Integrity is the loincloth round his waist, faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid, calf and lion feed together, with a little boy to lead them.

The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together.

The lion eats straw like the ox.

The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand.

They do no hurt, no harm, on all my holy mountain, for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters swell the sea.

That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples.

It will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 71(72):1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 ©

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
and your poor in right judgement.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

In his days justice shall flourish
and peace till the moon fails.
He shall rule from sea to sea,
from the Great River to earth’s bounds.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

For he shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

May his name be blessed for ever
and endure like the sun.
Every tribe shall be blessed in him,
all nations bless his name.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.
Second Reading – Romans 15:4-9 ©

Christ is the Saviour of All Men

Everything that was written long ago in the scriptures was meant to teach us something about hope from the examples scripture gives of how people who did not give up were helped by God. And may he who helps us when we refuse to give up, help you all to be tolerant with each other, following the example of Christ Jesus, so that united in mind and voice you may give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It can only be to God’s glory, then, for you to treat each other in the same friendly way as Christ treated you. The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing to your name.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 3:4, 6

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:1 – 12 ©

The One Who Follows Me Will Baptize You With the Holy Spirit and Fire

In due course John the Baptist appeared; he preached in the wilderness of Judaea and this was his message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ This was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.

This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers, who warned you to fly from the retribution that is coming? But if you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit, and do not presume to tell yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones. Even now the axe is laid to the roots of the trees, so that any tree which fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire. I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’

The Second Sunday of Advent, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception
A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

A Homliy – The First Sunday of Advent, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 2:1-5 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 121(122):1-2, 4-5, 6-9 ©
Second Reading – Romans 13:11-14 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Palms 84:8
The Gospel According to Matthew 24:37 – 44 ©

(NJB)
Listen to the prophet

The Law of God is one law for all people. The purpose of the law is to lead the people to peace.

This is the law:

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

Remember this: Zion is a metaphor, it stands for the center of our being, Zion represents our heart, each of us individually and the whole of us collectively.

Zion is the heart of hearts, and in the deepest chamber of our heart is the holy of holies, the place where God; the creator of the universe has written the immutable law.

It is there in the heart of hearts where God has inscribed the indelible commandment; that we love one another as God loves us, and that we return God’s love through the service we give to our neighbors, our friends and family, and the stranger in our midst.

It is in the other that God is present to us.

When the law is fulfilled in us our salvation is complete and the savior’s work is done, death will have been defeated, pain and suffering will have departed from the world.

When the law has been fulfilled we will have no need for anyone to come with power and authority to adjudicate between us. When the law has been fulfilled the world will be at peace, the people of God, all people in all places at all times, God’s children will be as one.

Consider the wisdom of the psalmist: you were conceived in the womb of salvation

Open your eyes, you do not have to seek that which has already found you.

Consider again the words of the psalmist and forget all the talk of secure cities, and ramparts, and thrones. God has nothing to do with them.

God, the creator of the universe, the living God is not a tribal deity.

God, the creator of the universe, the eternal God does not belong to one people, one nation, one world or one galaxy.

God is infinite and eternal and beyond our comprehension, and God yet with us and within us; God is the being through whom and in whom we have our existence.

Stay awake!

Listen to the apostle; it is always dark somewhere in the world, and somewhere in the world it is always light. It is easy to hide in plain sight. It is hard to work for the good and keep it private. Whether in private or in public, live up to the expectations you have set for yourself in your relationship with the divine.

Know that God loves you; Act as if everything you do will be known by all, because it will in the end when God is all in all.

Forget all about dressing God in glory, God is not a nationalist, and promoting that image of God is to promote a god of fear, a false image.

Promote the God of love, a God beyond all tribalism, all national borders and boundaries.

Reject the image of God as king, dread lord, and tyrant.

Promote a God of humility, as Jesus was humble and taught us to be; live decently and free from addiction.

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

God did not end the captivity of Jacob, they Israelites did.
Be mindful, this is not hubris; it is the truth.

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

Know this!

God is never angry or indignant with the people, God will not rescue us from the plight and misery of this world; that is for us to do for ourselves, but more importantly it is for us to do for each other.

Consider the Gospel for today, and know that the future history of the world has not been written.

Any suppositions about our future on Earth is merely guesswork. Some guesses are more informed than others, we can speak in terms of possibility and probability, but we cannot know anything about the days and nights to come.

Nothing is fixed, change is the only constant and everything is uncertain.

There are thousands of ways in which the plans we have laid, or the hopes that we cherish can come undone; lightening will strike, a tornado will blow, a meteor will fall, a volcano explode. A person in the fullness of their life may trip and fall, hit their head and die, leaving everything behind them without, it can happen without warning.

The promises we have received from God are not for this world.

God has promised to bring an end to suffering, injustice, hunger, illness. We can believe in this promise, but those promises are not of this world. These promises concern the world to come, a world in which human beings are not subject to the vicissitudes of the material condition, or the hungers of the flesh.

I cannot speak of that world, I will not pretend to because I have never seen it.

No one living has.

Our belief in a loving God, our hope in the words of the prophets, our trust in the Gospel, these allow us to believe that this world is real, but anyone who pretends to know for certain is over stating their case, or simply lying.

This is what we have been taught, and we should stick to it: we can live out our present lives as if the actuality of those promises were real.

That is the secret of the Christian way.

If we are just and loving, if we care for one another, then we do not have to wait for the end of time, or the world to come. We can experience something of the promise in the here and now.

In those moments, God is with us. God is always with us, but in those moments when we are working with God to bring about that better world, then God is with us in a special way, in a sacramental union.

If we trust in the reality of the things we hope for, we make it easy to live our lives as if it were true, and thereby manifest it for ourselves.

To the extent that fulfill the promise in our own lives, the presence of God is engendered among us. It is like inviting Jesus to have a seat at the table, he will have come. That will not the end of things, but the beginning.
First Reading – Isaiah 2:1-5 ©

The Lord Gathers All Nations Together Into the Eternal Peace of God’s Kingdom

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days to come the mountain of the Temple of the Lord shall tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills.

All the nations will stream to it, peoples without number will come to it; and they will say:

‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths; since the Law will go out from Zion, and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

He will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles.

Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war.

O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 121(122):1-2, 4-5, 6-9 ©

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

I rejoiced when I heard them say:
‘Let us go to God’s house.’
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

It is there that the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord.
For Israel’s law it is,
there to praise the Lord’s name.
There were set the thrones of judgement
of the house of David.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
‘Peace be to your homes!
May peace reign in your walls,
in your palaces, peace!’

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

For love of my brethren and friends
I say: ‘Peace upon you!’
For love of the house of the Lord
I will ask for your good.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’
Second Reading – Romans 13:11-14 ©

Our Salvation is Near

You know ‘the time’ has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon – let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light. Let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gospel Acclamation – Palms 84:8

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 24:37 – 44 ©

The Son of Man is Coming at an Hour You Do Not Expect

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.

‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’
The First Sunday of Advent, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

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

First Reading – Isaiah 66:10-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 65(66):1-7,16,20 ©
Second Reading – Galatians 6:14-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 15:15
Alternative Gospel Acclamation – Colossians 3:15,16
The Gospel According to Luke 10:1-12 & 17-20 ©

(NJB)
Consider the reading for today.

Say this to the daughters of Zion; stop! Do not wait for a savior, your only victory is peace, and the path to peace is reconciliation.

You will fulfill Isaiah’s vision through justice and mercy, there is no other way.

Seek it.

Do not look to aggrandize yourself with trophies, do not keep the “promised land” as a kind of idol. You have turned it into one already and you are suffering for it. Worse yet, you are committing crimes to defend it, you are visiting pain on others.

Listen!

God has forgiven your debts, you have no need to be redeemed. You are loved, even in your calumny

You are only as holy as you are in your daily life, and the measure your holiness is the service you provide your community, remember this; your community includes everyone, it includes, the stranger, it includes the Palestinian, it includes those with whom you are aggrieved, and those by whom you are hurt.

Forgive them, seek forgiveness through service.

It is boastful and dishonest to proclaim that God, the creator of the universe; that God has shown any one of God’s children, any family, any tribe, any nation…any amount of favor aver and above the favor God shows to anyone, even to the worst of us..

God does not intervene on behalf of any people or person, does not change the course of their lives. God does not break chains or crush rebellions. God does not establish kingdoms or promise that they will rule forever, God does not bless the conqueror or curse the vanquished.

God is not a land guarantor.

To the extent that your faith is rooted in such a notion, you have failed to see the way, you have substituted your own desires for the will of God and that kind of hubris is blasphemy.

Listen to the Apostle.

Set aside your pride, and your fixation with material world; with its honors and signs of membership, the marks on your flesh that tell you what tribe you belong to, forget the customs of your culture for a moment, forget the idea that anything depends upon your fulfilling them, nothing depends on it, they will all be forgotten.

Forget about the importance you place on how you cut your hair, what clothes you wear.

Forget about it.

What matters to the way is what you carry in your heart, the service you give, the peace you bring, what you endure for the sake of others, especially those weaker than you, less fortunate, those in need.

Give up your fetishes and the idols you have subordinated yourselves to. Give up your sacred books, set down the bible, stop pretending that God has made you a land grant, or given you special permission to do anything.

God did no-such-thing.

Give it all up for the sake of the way.

Remember this!

The greatest commandment is love, love is the whole of the law.

To love one another, to give of one’s self to another in love, there is no greater gift.

The love that we are called to is not the love we call desire, though to desire and be desired is an experience of great joy.

We are called to move past the love we have for family and friends, because to love in that way is only a short extension of the love we have for ourselves. We see ourselves in the faces of our mothers and fathers, we see our ambitions as tied to the ambitions of our friends. We are called to love in a greater capacity than that.

We are called to love to the point of selflessness, to love even those who stand against us, to love our enemies, to forgive those who have hurt us and done us harm, to feed the stranger and protect them…to do so out of love.

Love and be compassionate; carry good will toward all of your sisters and brothers, that is the way to proceed in this life.

Let it harmonize everything that you, including your faults and failures, let love and compassion proceed you as a servant of God.

The way is not easy, a life of faith needs support and nourishment from others around you. We discover ourselves in community, through our relationships we find the path to serve God.

Be mindful.

The Gospel of the day has a quality that reminds of me a recruitment manual, there are heavy notes of propaganda, it is filled with dishonest mythology.

The good-reader has no choice but to regard it as a false narrative.

The propaganda begins with the formal address of the “Lord,” an appellation given to Jesus, who was not a lord or a king of any kind, and never coveted such titles.

The first paragraph concludes with a statement of need. It tells the reader that there is much work to do, but not enough people to do it. The movement needs people, but not just any people; it needs people who are able to work covertly, to pass as lambs among the wolves. It needs people of the utmost discretion; people who are able to work without drawing attention to themselves.

It needs special people, and it tells the reader that they might be one of them.

The people who carry out this mission will be taken care of, this is the promise, they will be fed, they will be housed. The Gospel tells them to stay with those who are willing to give, when they
find those people to remain with them.

The third paragraph promises the recruits special powers; the extraordinary ability to cure the sick, to cast out demons, and the ordinary power to bear witness against the inhospitable.

In the fourth paragraph, the promise of special powers are confirmed; the reader is told that if they accept the mission, they will not only be able to cure, and condemn, but that even devils will bow to them, and that neither serpents nor scorpions can hurt them, and that their names will be written, like those of the heroes, their names will be written in the stars.

These promises take us far from the way. They are demonstrably false.

The way is love, the way is service, the way is compassion, the way is justice.
First Reading – Isaiah 66:10-14 ©

Towards Jerusalem I Send Flowing Peace, Like a River

Rejoice, Jerusalem, be glad for her, all you who love her!
Rejoice, rejoice for her, all you who mourned her!

That you may be suckled, filled, from her consoling breast, that you may savour with delight her glorious breasts.

For thus says the Lord:

Now towards her I send flowing peace, like a river, and like a stream in spate the glory of the nations.

At her breast will her nurslings be carried and fondled in her lap.
Like a son comforted by his mother will I comfort you.
And by Jerusalem you will be comforted.

At the sight your heart will rejoice, and your bones flourish like the grass.
To his servants the Lord will reveal his hand.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 65(66):1-7,16,20 ©

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

Cry out with joy to God all the earth,
O sing to the glory of his name.
O render him glorious praise.
Say to God: ‘How tremendous your deeds!

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

‘Before you all the earth shall bow;
shall sing to you, sing to your name!’
Come and see the works of God,
tremendous his deeds among men.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the river dry-shod.
Let our joy then be in him;
he rules for ever by his might.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

Come and hear, all who fear God.
I will tell what he did for my soul:
Blessed be God who did not reject my prayer
nor withhold his love from me.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.
Second Reading – Galatians 6:14-18 ©

The Marks on My Body Are hose of Jesus

The only thing I can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. It does not matter if a person is circumcised or not; what matters is for him to become an altogether new creature. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, who form the Israel of God.

I want no more trouble from anybody after this; the marks on my body are those of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, my brothers. Amen.
Gospel Acclamation – John 15:15

Alleluia, alleluia!

I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.

Alleluia!
Alternative Gospel Acclamation – Colossians 3:15,16

Alleluia, alleluia!

May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts;
let the message of Christ find a home with you.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 10:1-12 & 17-20 ©

Your Peace Will Rest on that Man

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.

‘Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.

‘Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’

The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)