Martin Luther King Day 2020 – Monday, January 20th

Today we celebrate the life and work of the Reverend Doctor, Martin Luther King Jr., a man who fulfilled the role of prophet in our time, as a voice of conscience, and like so many prophets before him he was killed for speaking the truth.

Martin Luther King was a prophet, not in the sense that he saw the future (though he did), that is not what a prophet does. A prophet is not a seer, or an augurer. He was not a prophet in the sense that he had a unique channel to God, the creator of the universe, or that God spoke to him in a privileged way.

God speaks to all of us in the same way, and that is one of the things that the Reverend Doctor spoke to us about, the responsibility we all have to listen to the demands of our conscience when we here it speaking to our hearts.

Martin Luther King had no more and no less access to supernatural powers than any of us, what made him different was that he chose to listen.

He listened to the voice of God that speaks to each and every one of us. He heard the voice of God and he responded to the call by cleaving to the message and sharing it with the world.

He loved mercy, he worked for justice and he walk humbly, as an example to us all.

There are many memes circulating today of the good Reverend Doctor, memes like the picture I have pasted at the beginning of this essay.

Today we are given countless opportunities to reflect on his likeness, to consider his words, to reflect on their meaning and on the life of an American Saint (if there ever was one), and we are wise to do so.

We are wise to remember the man, Martin Luther King Jr., a rare person whose measure exceeded the ordinary flaws that make us all human, he lived beyond them.

Martin Luther King Jr. transcended even death, though he was taken by the assassin’s bullet. He lives now in our collective consciousness, our collective conscience, in our global psyche, speaking to us from the dimension of myth; a human being who was more than human, a child of God, a man overflowing with grace and wisdom, sharing its cup so that upon drinking we may aspire to do the same.

He spoke truth to power, and offered hope to the powerless, and he was murdered for it.

He was once considered by the director of the F.B.I. to be the most dangerous man in America, and from that status he became our most beloved hero, the prime exemplar of what it means to be an American.

He was beaten and arrested dozens of times for the crime of seeking justice.

His life was threatened daily. His reputation was smeared without regard for the truth, or appreciation for his selfless works.

He was killed for his efforts, shot down, but not destroyed.

He was, and continues to be an example to us all.

Our prophet, The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. still points the way, lighting the long journey that still lies ahead of us, a journey toward justice that will not be denied.

mlk

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

First Reading – 1 Kings 19:16, 19-21 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15(16):1-2, 5, 7-11 ©
Second Reading – Galatians 5:1, 13-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 3:9, John 6:68
The Gospel According to Luke 9:51-62 ©

(NJB)
Listen!

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

God is a god of love and mercy, of justice and compassion.

Be mindful of this at all times.

Trust God, faith and confidence are their own reward.

God is good, all that is good flows from God, as everything flows from God.

Look for the good of God in all creation, in everything that unfolds for you. Look and you will find it.

There are no alien gods, there are only misconceptions of the one God.

Be mindful when you read this; because this includes our misconceived notion of the God we pray to.

The gods of the Greeks and Romans, the gods of the Persians and Egyptians, the gods of all the nations, the God in all our Churches and temples, they are one.

All images of God are the stuff of idols, whether they are made of metal, of stone, of wood, or of words, whether they are painted on canvass, or merely colored in the mind; they are idols.

Know this, God speaks to us where we are, in the language we speak, in te language of the heart.

God calls all of Gods children to God’s self, no one id left out.

We are brothers and sisters to each other, sons and daughters, and the human family includes everyone.

Read this passage carefully. The central message is this:

Love your neighbor as yourself, this is the whole of the law.

This is a shortening of the Shema, and of Jesus’ Golden Rule, the whole of which reads; Love God with all your strength and all your heart and all you mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, do not do to them what you would not have done to you.

As clear as these rule are they can still be subject to misinterpretation, as anything that passes through our hands can be.

Be mindful of how you live this command, do not seek the destruction of your neighbor because you yourself wish to be destroyed.

Do not withhold care from the needy, because you do not wish to be cared for.

Be mindful.

The impetus for the rule is your commitment to serve God, to love God with all your strength, which means that you must be open and honest and forthright in your loving, just as God wishes you to be.

God does not live with us here in the world, we cannot show our love for God directly; by clothing God, or feeding God, or providing God with a place to rest.

That is why we are called to serve our neighbors and the stranger, and even those with whom we quarrel (especially them), because the divine dwells within their spirit, they are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

By serving them you serve God who sent them.

Remember this, always.

Listen!

The reward for your faithful service is peace, it is peace in this life, and the knowledge that you have lived well, acted justly, done good.

God has prepared you for eternity, but eternal life is not your reward for doing good and avoiding evil.

The Gospel reading for today gives us an example of just where the early church went astray, It was at the beginning, at the very-start we deviated from the teaching of Jesus, and the lived experience of the way he taught.

We are given the thoughts of Saint Peter to reflect on, Saint Peter the Rock, who would have us believe that he follows Jesus because Jesus has the secret message of eternal life, as if this were the purpose of the gospel as if believing that Jesus is the “Holy One of God” is the key to receiving the gift of eternal life.

That is a false construction; there is no secret, there is no key, there is only God’s plan for that was drafted in eternity.

We are asked to believe that God the Father parcels out access to Jesus, to the truth, to the reality of life everlasting, allowing some to come to it while refusing others. None of this scheme is true.

Listen!

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.

There is no mystery, it is as simple as that.

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 now, and start living in the way 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.

Now!

Reflect on this passage from Luke.

Have some empathy for Jesus. The road that the prophet walks is a lonely road. Even those closest to him are rebuked, Jesus critiques them harshly, again and again, because they do not understand his mission.

Jesus has been out in the countryside, preaching outside Judea; he has been in the wider region of Palestine, and when he turns his eye toward Jerusalem, toward the completion of his mission the Samaritans reject him.

Jesus, who had opened his ministry to everyone, encounters the sectarianism he is working to dissolve. It is a sorrowful moment.

James and John, the “Sons of Thunder,” offer to rain destruction on the Samaritan village as a penalty to them.

Jesus rebukes them, they are his companions, they have been travelling with him for nearly three years, and they still do not understand the works of mercy he is engaged in.

Jesus then encounters a sequence of people who are all seemingly willing to follow him, but they are busy, they have obligations. For them the time is not now.

Jesus laments.

Little has changed for human beings since his time. The divine work that Christians have been commissioned to undertake; that work requires a full commitment, and the understanding that at its heart there must be mercy.

Mercy, this is the easiest thing of all to forget when you are angry, lonely, tired, hungry and feeling slighted.
Mercy is the basic disposition that all Christians have been instructed to foster.
First Reading – 1 Kings 19:16,19-21 ©

Elisha leaves the plough to follow Elijah

The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, you are to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’
Leaving there, Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’ Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15(16):1-2,5,7-11 ©

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.’

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.
Second Reading – Galatians 5:1,13-18 ©

When Christ Freed Us, He Meant Us to Remain Free

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.

Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.
Gospel Acclamation – 1saiah 3:9, John 6:68

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 9:51-62 ©

Jesus Sets Out For Jerusalem

As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.

As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’

Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Prayer

Listen to my prayer, hear it echoing in the dark chamber of my heart

Take me from this island, free my shadow beneath a shower of light

Listen to the music, the harmony of the spheres, the rolling wave beneath the tranquil sea

Remember me, the forgotten, the poetry of Anonymous

The greatest philosopher who never was, the poet of graffiti artists

Pray for the travelers, trudging through this life, marching forward with their doubts

Listen to the forsaken, the wailing of the self-defeated, stretched and thin

Enlightenment reaches everyone, in the end; like the sun-going super nova, small comfort

Pray for the release of the captive, the deliverance of the addict, I pray for you

Say a prayer for me, for mercy on the sinner, broken from the first breath I drew

Pray, as I pray for you

Mercy

Goddess of mercy
Come comfort me, hear my plea
To be whole and well

Sister, full of grace
Gentle sister, mend my heart
Mend the ruptured seal

Oh joy of Heaven
Drain the ocean of my pain
Wash me in your light

Compassionate one
Lead me to the perfect life
With your touch, lift me

Virgin, come take me
Stay this flow of blood, anguish
Set my past on fire

Mother, have mercy
Lead me to the starry field
Mother hear my prayer

Crone, I am nothing
Lead from the walk of time
Free me from the world

Melancholia

An ocean of tears

Shed in sorrow and silence

Voiceless agony

 

Angel, have mercy

Sing, wash me in your echo

Your cleansing music

 

The withering world

The divine presence binds me

I will not perish

 

Free me from myself

Intoxicated by light

Memories of love

 

Calm me with reason

Soak me in lucidity

Lift me from sorrow

 

A brief affair, love

Perpetuate the moment

Being, in silence

 

Falling, I will not

Make a sacred offering

In the deep abyss

 

Fall back into dreams

Ethereal perturbations

Slipping past the waves

 

Set the world on fire

Raise me to your orbit, lift

Set me in the stars

 

#Poetry

#Haiku

A Homily – Matthew 18:21 – 35

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.09.16

 

 

Mercy

 

Listen!

 

Forgive, be merciful.

 

Forget every word in this passage except these:

 

Do not settle on merely forgiving someone seven times, but forgive them seventy-seven times.

 

Do not place limits on your mercy.

 

If it is your power to forgive someone, forgive them.

 

Forgive your sister and brother, your father and mother, your neighbor, the stranger, even the one who persecuted you.

 

Forgive them from your heart.

 

Do not be like the servant who receives mercy, and then refuses to be merciful.

 

Do not be like Peter who time and time again failed to understand the teaching of Jesus.

 

The writers of Matthew’s Gospel remembered to articulate the endless bounty of Jesus’ compassion. They remembered this and placed that at the beginning of this passage.

 

Forgive the wrongdoer, Jesus said, not once, not twice, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 

They remembered this and then quickly drafted a parable in which the principle actor fails to follow suit, forgiving his servant once, but not a second time.

 

 

Mercy

 

Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

 

‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’

 

 

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

The Death Penalty (Collected Parts)

Part I

 

There are executions taking place in the country all the time.

 

Some states like Texas, and Oklahoma have systems of capital punishment that move people through, bringing them to their final-end with systematic ease.

 

In recent years there are many states who have had to change the methods by which they execute people because the drugs that they used to bring about a painless death have been restricted from the use in capital punishment by their manufacturers.

 

The stock piles of these drugs have run out, or expired. There are no new protocols for how to carry out lethal injections, and because these protocols are required to be spelled out in advance, and adhered to closely, some states have had to discontinue their executions.

 

Some states have tried to approve different methods, such as the firing squad, or hanging. They have encountered challenges in court on the grounds that those methods meet the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

 

Other states, have tried illegally to procure the drugs spelled out in their protocols. There are investigations and prosecutions underway for these crimes.

 

Some states have simply made up new rules, approved new drug protocols, without testing them, these executions have had horrible results, causing the subjects pain, having to be halted after hours of failure, restarted and failed again.

 

Capital punishment in the United States is a fiasco, the motivations behind it are fraudulent and a facade.

 

The death penalty does not deter crime, it does not make the public any safer. It is revenge killing, plain and simple, and because our systems of justice are flawed, innocent people are put to death.

 

I hear apologists for the death penalty suggest that this is okay, that Americans are willing to accept an imperfect justice system, even one that occasionally executes innocent people, as long as they also believed that it deterred crime.

 

It does not actually have to deter crime, the people just need to believe that it does.

 

Former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, William Rhenquist said: “Innocence is not a bar to the implementation of justice.”

 

The sentiment is this: as long as a person has been duly convicted, and properly sentenced, given adequate representation and had their day in court. Their actual guilt or innocence does not matter.

 

 

Part II

 

There was a time, and it was a brief time, when the conscience of America had arrived at a place where it recognized that Law is the Servant of Justice, and that justice without mercy is dead.

 

In that time we had abandoned the death penalty, having accepted the conclusion that it was inhumane, it did not deter crime, innocent people were on death row, innocent people were wrongly convicted and wrongly executed on a regular basis, it did not serve the interest of public safety.

 

It was believed then that the taking of human life for any other interest than one that served the general good, would be categorically immoral. But slowly other interests crept into the consideration. People began talking about victim’s rights, and the death penalty returned as a vehicle of punishment and satisfaction.

 

Today, almost every advocate of the death penalty uses an argument based on vindication, retribution and victim’s rights in defense of the proposition.

 

They disregard the facts that the death penalty does not deter murder. Other industrialized nations who have outlawed the death penalty have a lower murder rate.

 

Our own crime rates respond more to economic forces than juridical pressures.

 

Education and full employment, housing and access to markets do more to reduce crime at every level, than the threat of extreme penalties under the law for the commission of crimes.

 

I had been recognized as a universal truth, as a Kantian Imperative that vindication and retribution are not grounds for administering the death penalty.

 

Our system of justice is not based on Hammurabi’s Code, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

 

Vindication does not provide a moral justification for taking life.

 

The death penalty can only be considered to have moral force, if it in fact prevents the loss of life, but it does not, it only ensures the loss of life, and makes us all the perpetrators of state sponsored murder.

 

 

Part III

 

I firmly believe that every human being is ultimately responsible for their own actions. I also believe that human beings are social creatures, and in a Platonic way the whole of society is present within every person.

 

We are a collective.

 

According to this logic, every society that produces a murderer bears some responsibility for that murderer.

 

We can never disown our criminals. We have a collective responsibility for them, and that is why the death penalty is out of the question.

 

The death penalty is ritual murder.

 

Increasingly it is only justified on the grounds that it brings satisfaction to the victims of criminals.

 

The death penalty does not deter anything.

 

No-one has a right to this kind of satisfaction.

 

I grew up on the streets. I know many criminals. I know that that when people are involved in criminal life the last thing they are thinking about is the penalty that they will pay if they are caught.

 

They do not believe that they will be caught, or they do not care. They have no appreciation for the consequences of their actions.

 

Many studies have been published regarding the capital punishment system in America, pointing out its critical flaws. I find it amazing that a national moratorium on the death penalty has not been enacted.

 

Many reputable politicians, and thought leaders have called for such a moratorium, but not enough, they are only a minority.

 

Key issues of unfairness in cases involving the possibility of the death penalty involve the defendant having inadequate representation at trial, an inadequate appeals processes, inadequate sentencing alternatives for juries, and inadequate evidentiary requirements.

 

Statistics show that a disproportionate number of poor and minorities are ever even considered for the death penalty.

 

In America, poor people and minorities are more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be arrested when stopped, more likely to be charged with a crime when arrested, more likely to remain in custody when charged with a crime while they await their trial. They are more likely to be found guilty, and more likely to receive the highest punishment, including the death penalty.

 

This disproportionate justice is not just reflected in our capital punishment system only, but in our system of criminal justice as a whole, in a prison population that is larger than any other prison population in the world.

 

This is a sad state of affairs and a stark indictment on our own society.

 

A Homily – John 17:1 – 11 ©

The Gospel According to John – 2017.05.28

 

 

Getting it Wrong, Again

 

The writers of John’s Gospel reveal, once again, their fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus and mission.

 

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

 

His gaze was focused toward the Earth, not toward the heaven.

 

Jesus was not here to seek glory, or power, or dominion over mankind. He was selfless and meek, and gave everything away, including his life. There is a kind of power in this, but it is not power in the sense of force, or energy, but in its root, potens, potere, meaning ability. Jesus possessed the ability to love.

 

Jesus was not a Gnostic, but the writers of John would make him out to be one. He did not teach a secret doctrine. He himself wrote nothing down. He taught by the word of his mouth and through his actions. He proclaimed justice, and promoted love; through healing, and sharing, and community work.

 

Jesus prayed, but he only gave us one prayer. He prayed for bread, and mercy, and the strength to be merciful.

 

If the church is finally able to be like Jesus, then Christ will have risen in it.

 

 

Eternal Life

 

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’

 

 

7th Sunday of Easter

A Homily – Matthew 5: 38 – 48 ©

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.02.19

 

 

The Law of Human Making

 

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.

 

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

 

 

The Law of Divine Aspiration

 

The old law was the law of retribution. There was no room for mercy in it. Whether you do good deeds or bad deeds you are paid back in kind. You are paid back in equal measure.

 

Most of the religious systems in the world are based on this concept. The laws of Karma from the Hindu system, being the most highly articulated and widely conceptualized.

 

Every religion that points its believers to some kind of afterlife, has some variant of a mythology that shows the individual adherent being weighed or measured, on the scales of justice, before receiving their eternal reward.

 

In the aforementioned, Hindu system of beliefs, the individual remains on the wheel of life until the scales are balanced, and then they are released.

 

The Jains, the Sikhs, the Baha’i, they all imagine something very much the same. They imagine that the soul enters the world in a state of purity and light, but life in the flesh entangles them in the dirty business of existence. They become soiled. The task then is to move toward the light, avoiding all things that contaminate the soul. Until, at the end they are once again burning pure and bright.

 

The old law was a law of retribution.

 

It was one stage better than the law of terror which read:

 

Not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but a head for an eye and a tribe for a head.

 

The law of the divine way, is the law of mercy. To sacrifice is to forgive, that is the path to holiness.

 

Jesus taught this, go beyond what is ordinary, surpass the conventions, teach love and mercy, by being loving and merciful, even to those you would shun or fear.

 

This is the way and there is no other.

 

Both Jesus and the Buddha believed that a person could balance the scales in a moment. It did not take lifetimes, we are not in bondage to our past, to our history to our station, tour ancestry. We are good when we are doing good, burning with the bright light, when we burn with the light of compassion.

 

When we choose the divine way, we are free, at least for a moment, for that moment we are free.

 

 

7th Sunday of Ordinary Time

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 20.27 – 38 ©

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 20.27 – 38 ©

 

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.11.06

 

 

The Letter of the Law

 

Some Sadducees – those who say that there is no resurrection – approached him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, that if a man’s married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers. The first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died Now, at the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife since she had been married to all seven?’

 

Jesus replied, ‘The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all men are in fact alive.’

 

 

Legalism Rejoined

 

As Christians, we should never be like the Sadducees depicted here in this narrative.

 

Avoid the trap of legalisms, and the legalistic perspective or approach to faith.

 

Faith should be simple, in the way that Jesus himself expressed it. Faith means trust. Trust in our greatest hopes.

 

Christian hope is founded in the resurrection. It is not merely a belief that we continue in the next world, but that the next world is governed by God, in justice, and love.

 

Marriage today is much the same as it was in the ancient world, it is a contract; sometimes between two people, sometimes between families. It concerns the ownership of property. It is a transaction, it concerns the promise of future transactions, and the disposition of properties; that will have grown or diminished in value according to the circumstances and choices of the individuals.

 

In some cultures marriage has come to have many other meanings. For many, marriage, is more about love and romance, commitment and trust. Nevertheless, the core of marriage remains the same, it is a contract.

 

In the next world, the Christian promise is one in which the need for private property has disappeared. It is one in which there is no want, material needs have altogether vanished. We relate to the personhood of one another on an altogether different level and so there is no need for marriage.

 

The question that the Sadducees put to Jesus is moot.

 

Jesus, however, gets to a deeper point. He takes his interlocuters on a faith journey, and he instructs them from the teaching of Moses, regarding Moses’ own faith in the next life.

 

He takes them on this journey because the Sadducees were a conservative group within the Hebrew tradition. They did not believe in the afterlife, and they considered themselves to be strict interpreters of the books of Moses and the law.

 

Jesus shows them that Moses’ own words suggest that God, the creator of the universe, that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph, expressed in the present tense not the past. Indicating that God is the God of the living, not the dead, concluding this teaching with an expression of the universal faith that all people are alive to God, that there is no death.

 

There is no death, not now, not ever.

 

 

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time