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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Ego

 A hall of mirrors

Children crawl along the floor

Through the shards of glass

 

Tiny reflections

A million refractions

Illuminations

 

Every image cuts

Sharp screams stream from wailing throats

Bereft of ego




Monday, September 28, 2020

Miles Davis – Musician, Bandleader, Artist and Knight

 I purchased my first jazz album in 1986, Round Midnight by The Miles Davis Quintet.

 

I had been encouraged to listen to jazz by a man named Howard who I met Uptown, in Minneapolis, and who has remained a friend throughout my life.

 

I had a couple of other Miles Davis albums in a collection of records I shared with my friend Josh, Bitches Brew and Kind of Blue, it was through these albums that my eyes were opened to this uniquely American art form, and to Miles Davis, who remains its greatest practitioner, having transformed the genre numerous times throughout the course of his life.

 

I saw him play at the Orpheum theatre in Minneapolis, in 1988. My mom and I went together with my Josh, outside of the venue we talked with a couple of other friends of ours from the neighborhood Sean Pike and Greg Fox

 

Even though this was not my favorite era of his music, it was the greatest performance I have ever seen and I regret that I missed an opportunity to see him play a second time, in 1991 shortly before his death.

 

In 1993 I was on a flight from L.A. to D.C. and the man who had been his bass player, Joseph “Foley” McCreary sat next to me on the plane. I was wearing a T-shirt with Robert Johnson printed on the front, Foley’s had a depiction of Miles. I told him that I had seen him play, he told me that he was on the stage that night, we talked for a couple of minutes before he tuned me out, but he gave me a copy of his recent release, Seven Years Ago, Directions in Smart Alec Music, which featured a tribute to the memory of miles and some unbelievable guitar work by Prince, and he got off the plane in Ohio.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w0PnAwW9Tc

 

During that trip I picked up a copy of Miles’ autobiography, co-authored with Quincey Troupe. It was fascinating.

 

Miles dished up all the good stories on everyone he ever played with, it was a deep lesson in American history. He didn’t pull many punches, including critical reflections on himself.

 

By 1993 time I had fallen in love with the album, Sketches of Spain, I was not surprised to read that Miles considered this the most difficult album he had ever recorded. He offered an anecdote about it in his biography, saying that an old Spanish cattleman had listened to it, and when it was finished he felt compelled to go out into the field and fight a bull, that is how deep this music spoke to the Spanish soul. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSS5p9BdNGU

 

In 1988 Miles Davis was knighted by the King of Spain, inducted into the Hospital Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, otherwise known as the Knights of Malta and Rhodes, and two months before his death he was knighted in France and inducted into the Legion of Honor.

 

In his biography he mused that being knighted allowed him to enter seventy some different countries without having to pass through customs.

 

In 2008 I was taking classes at Saint John’s School of theology, in Collegeville Minnesota. I was in the kitchen early one morning when one of the monks was coming through the tunnel from the monastery, which is famous for its music studies program.

 

The monk was humming the tune for Bye-Bye Blackbird, one of the songs from that first Miles Davis Album I ever purchased. I caught the tune and named it as the monk was passing by me.

 

He gave me a questioning look, and I informed him about my discernment. He had no idea what I was talking about, informing me that it was the tune of a song written in the era of the troubadours, between the 10th and 12th centuries, and was associated with the Cathar Heresies of Central Europe...that made me smile.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vQuPIjK1Ks

 

 


 

Given First - 2020.09.28

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Homily - The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Ezekiel 18:25-28 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 24(25):4-9 ©

Second Reading – Philippians 2:1-11 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alternative Acclamation – John 10:27

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:28 - 32 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Be mindful of the teachings of the prophet.

 

As much as we might wish it to be so, divine justice is not an analog of human justice, even when human justice is being represented at its best.

 

The goodness or wickedness of a human being is not based on the sum of their actions, as if you could measure their merit or weigh them in a scale. The relative values of good and evil are considered in relation to a person’s disposition and orientation to those values.

 

No human can judge the ultimate value, in terms of good and evil, of any person deeds, including their own. The things we do go out from us and take on a life of their own. Good intentions have harmful consequences, and evil deeds have good ones. This is one of the great mysteries. The things a person does in their life continue to shape the world long after they are gone; what matters in terms of merit or culpability is the intention that motivates the action and the reflection that follows.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist.

 

Lift up your spirit and give your life to God, the creator of the universe, to God who has given you everything.

 

Do not expect God to take sides with you in any conflict, because God loves all of God’s children equally. God does not discriminate. God does not pick favorites.

 

If you ask God to punish the faithless and the promise breakers, you must know that you are asking God to punish you—yourself.

 

Pray for wisdom and guidance, knowing that God desires for you be well, but God has made you and all of creation free, God will not intervene in the course of your life.

 

God is merciful, and God has allowed for your existence even knowing of all your crimes; Giod has known these since the beginning of time. God will forgive you for them but God will not forget them.

 

Remember; all the ways of God are kindness and mercy.

 

Walk humbly, love justice, act with mercy and compassion. This is the way of faith, which is trust in the Good News; the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

God is not concerned with glory. Jesus is not interested in having a name above all other names. Jesus is not a price or a king, he was our friend and brother.

 

Do not worry about bending the knee, just confess the truth that God is love, reflecting the love of God in your own life, in all the things you do.

 

Love fosters love, but there is always love and God is always with you.

 

Be mindful of this: the grace of God is not transactional.

 

Everyone who is, everyone without exception, follows in the way God has set for them, there is no other way. Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey that another person is on, God is guiding them, just as God is guiding you.

 

If you resist, God will be patient.

 

If you delay God will wait, as God waits for everyone out of a superabundance of patience, kindness and love.

 

Believe!

 

God will not lose a single one of us; none of us will be lost to God. God is with us and there is no place where God is not.

 

Consider the gospel reading for today, it is a piece of pure politics.

 

The writers of Matthew’s gospel are making a direct appeal to the remnants of John’s followers, which is a recurring theme in Matthew, who would have us believe that John and Jesus were cousins.

 

The writers of Matthew are doing everything they can to bring John’s followers into the way, into the new church, both by convincing them that Jesus was the heir to John’s ministry, and by convincing the new church to accept the outcasts, to bring them in and not treat them as outsiders.

 

The words in the Gospel appear to be directed to the chief priests and elders of the temple, as well as the rabbinical authorities who were the leaders of the synagogues outside of Judea, but at the time Matthew’s gospel is being written they temple had been destroyed and the Jews had been scattered.

 

In reality these words are being addressed to the leaders of the new church, telling them to make room for the outsider, for the tax collector and the prostitute and the Children of Israel who were fleeing Judea in exile, those remnants of the people looking for safety and comfort in a new home.

 

 

First Reading – Ezekiel 18:25-28 ©

 

When the Sinner Renounces Sin, He Shall Certainly Live

 

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘You object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 24(25):4-9 ©

 

Remember your mercy, Lord.

 

Lord, make me know your ways.

  Lord, teach me your paths.

Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:

  for you are God my saviour.

 

Remember your mercy, Lord.

 

Remember your mercy, Lord,

  and the love you have shown from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth.

  In your love remember me,

  because of your goodness, O Lord.

 

Remember your mercy, Lord.

 

The Lord is good and upright.

  He shows the path to those who stray,

He guides the humble in the right path,

  He teaches his way to the poor.

 

Remember your mercy, Lord.

 

 

Second Reading – Philippians 2:1-11 ©

 

Be United in Your Love

 

If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:

 

His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.

 

But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – John 10:27

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:28 - 32 ©

 

Tax Collectors and Prostitutes Are Entering the Kingdom of God Before You

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

 

 

The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)




Saturday, September 26, 2020

Editorial, The Week in Review - Vote X

 Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

09.26.2020

 

Vote X

 

There are thirty-eight days to go until the votes begin to be counted.

 

There are thirty-eight left on the calendar for us to take decisive action in determining the fate of our republic.

 

Stay vigilant in these remaining weeks and days.

 

Vote early, vote in person if you can. Check your ballot and ensure that all of the procedures outlined by your state have been followed, if you are mailing it in.

 

Vote the orange menace out!

 

The tyrant is losing and he knows it, he is getting increasingly desperate. He will employ more absurd and violent rhetoric, he engage increasingly dangerous activities, he will encourage his supporters, both in government and on the street to break the law and put our fellow American’s at risk to stir up chaos and generate the fog of war.

 

Look at what the governor of Florida has just done, with cases of COVID-19 rising across his state he has ordered that all businesses, restaurants and bars fully open. With thirty-eight days before the election the impact of this order will be felt on or about election day, it is a travesty.

 

Listen!

 

Forget about his Supreme Court pick, they are going to appoint her and she will be sworn in. Their hypocrisy notwithstanding, they have the political power to do it and they will. We can deal with that and deal with the abuse that the republicans have done to the federal courts after the election, first we must win, and win big.

 

Your voice is important, more now than ever, keep the conversation focused on Trump’s horrific failures, his inability to protect the American people from this virus, or even to understand the scope of the threat.

 

The economy in tatters, ten million unemployed, the rich getting richer, the poor being thrown of their homes, off of the insurance roles, American service men and women attacked and killed by the Russians.

 

Remind your friends and family of that, focus on the concrete examples of his criminality and negligence.

 

Vote!  




Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sunday, September 20, 2020

A Homily - The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

First Reading – Isaiah 55:6-9 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):2-3, 8-9, 17-18 ©

Second Reading – Philippians 1:20-24, 27 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alternative Acclamation – Acts 16:14

The Gospel According to Matthew 20:1 - 16 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen, and remember!

 

God is always near to us, God is present--even in the hearts of the wicked; with the loving God there is always the possibility of repentance, conversion, kenosis, metanoia.

 

It is wise to reflect on the notion that God, who created the universe and everything in it, that God has a deeper appreciation for the life of creation than we can possibly imagine from our position, conditioned by time and space and the exigencies of nature.

 

Be mindful of the way the psalmist speaks:

 

God, the creator of the universe, God is not a king, and know that God is present in all times and places, even in the deepest recesses of the human heart.

 

While God cares for us, God does not intervene directly in human events. The creator only issues an indirect influence over our lives. God’s power does not interfere with our freedom.

 

Contemplate the vast power of God and contemplate the ways of God’s love and mercy, God’s humility and compassion, the workings of God’s justice toward the benefit of all creation.

 

Be mindful of the works of the apostle, here he speaks like a contrarian, and that is fine; insofar as his motive is pure. However, his words are easy to misinterpret.

 

The apostle speaks about life in the flesh as a burden, though a happy burden if he is living as a servant of the Gospel; he speaks of eternal life with Christ as something he desires and something in which he expects the greatest joy, he speaks of this as his greatest reward, when he does so he is speaking in anticipation of his mortal demise, he is talking about death.

 

The apostle speaks as someone looking forward to the rewards of martyrdom, in so doing he is putting the cart before the horse.

 

He also calls it a good thing when corrupt preachers teach the gospel even if they do so from impure motives, believing that it is good insofar as they are spreading the fame of Christ.

 

This is misguided, and there is a lot in this words that are suspect.

 

Be mindful!

 

Walk humbly, love justice, act with mercy and compassion all the days of your life.

 

This is the walk of faith, which means trusting in the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Know that God is not concerned with glory. Jesus is not interested in having a name above all other names. God is not a king and Jesus is not a prince, God is our loving parent and Jesus is our friend and brother.

 

When you preach to the people, just as when you stand before God, do not worry about beowing and scraping, just confess the truth that God is Love.

 

Remember!

 

The creator of the universe does not wear a crown, and we are not seek glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. Following Jesus we are meant to seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, seeking to serve those in the deepest dark and return them to the light of love.

 

When you are in the darkness God will hear you, God is with you.

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

 

This parable represents the true teaching of the church.

 

It is one of the most commonly repeated themes, it is a message to every person who would claim to be a follower and teacher of the way.

 

If you follow the teaching of Jesus you will be rewarded; you receive your reward through the simple act of following. By keeping to the way, you bring Heaven to earth.

 

The way is not toilsome, though it may require a lifetime of work; the way is gift that when received, is shared with others.

 

In following the way, we do not layup treasures in Heaven; we do not amass wealth, privilege or honors. Such concerns do not belong to the way.

 

God, the creator of the universe rejoices and gives the same blessing to the first as God does to the last.

 

In the eyes of God, the bishop is the same as the priest, the priest the same as the parishioner, they merely have different duties, they are each beloved by God, just as the sinner is loved in equal measure to the saint.

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 55:6-9 ©

 

My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

 

Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near.

 

Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts.

 

Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.

 

Yes, the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):2-3, 8-9, 17-18 ©

 

The Lord is close to all who call him.

 

I will bless you day after day

  and praise your name for ever.

The Lord is great, highly to be praised,

  his greatness cannot be measured.

 

The Lord is close to all who call him.

 

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,

  slow to anger, abounding in love.

How good is the Lord to all,

  compassionate to all his creatures.

 

The Lord is close to all who call him.

 

The Lord is just in all his ways

  and loving in all his deeds.

He is close to all who call him,

  who call on him from their hearts.

 

The Lord is close to all who call him.

 

 

Second Reading – Philippians 1:20-24, 27 ©

 

Life to Me Is Christ; but Death Would Bring Me More

 

Christ will be glorified in my body, whether by my life or by my death. Life to me, of course, is Christ, but then death would bring me something more; but then again, if living in this body means doing work which is having good results – I do not know what I should choose. I am caught in this dilemma: I want to be gone and be with Christ, which would be very much the better, but for me to stay alive in this body is a more urgent need for your sake.

 

Avoid anything in your everyday lives that would be unworthy of the gospel of Christ.

 

 

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 – Acts 16:14

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 20:1 - 16 ©

 

Why Be Envious Because I Am Generous?

 

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.” In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’

 

 

The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)