The Gospel According to John – 2018.05.06
Names and Dualism
The readings for today are confusing and full of errors.
In the Gospel we are presented with the superstition of the early church and its fixation on names, as if a name held some sacred power, names do not, they are not magic. It is not the name of God, or the name of Jesus (a man from Nazareth whose name was not Jesus, but Joshua) that has power, or the ability to confer power.
There is no power in a name, they are accidental features of our identities and persona. A name may shape a person’s character, but it will not grant them access to them mysteries of the universe, or entrance to the heavenly spheres.
The notion that names had special-power, in and of themselves, was a popular superstition at the time the gospels were written, and it was especially important to other groups of Christians who were later prosecuted for heresy, the so-called Gnostics and their forebers, the Jewish practitioners of Kaballah.
Set all of that aside for a moment, because it is confusing and there is no good reason to carry forward any of that ancient superstition into the modern age.
Pay attention to the errors the Gospel writers but forward, the perpetuation of lies. Today’s suggests that Jesus had kept all of the disciples except one, true to their mission. This fabrication completely over looks how all of the other 11 disciples abandoned Jesus when he was arrested. It overlooks the explicit denials of Jesus made by Saint Peter, not once or twice, but three times on the night he was taken.
There were some who remained faithful, who stayed by his side, but they are not numbered among the twelve and history has largely overlooked their contribution, though it has not been able to erase it completely; Mary his mother, and Mary Magdalene who was the first to see the risen Christ.
Let us dwell for a moment on another troubling claim put forward in the Gospel, that the one disciple who betrayed Jesus, and therefore betrayed God, betrayed them for the sake of fulfilling the scriptures.
How is this possible?
Did the one who chose to be lost, choose it to fulfill the scriptures, or did he have no choice at all and was he was he compelled?
If Judas was merely fulfilling the scriptures, freely, then he had chosen to fulfil the will of God, How is this a crime?
If he was compelled, then he is not guilty at all.
The reading for the day doubles down on a kind of dualism that has dogged the Church from its beginning. It is important to note, that God is everywhere present in the world, God is the sole creator of the world, and all things that exist came to being in and through God
God sustains all things in being.
The church has rejected all forms of dualism in theory, in its philosophy, but not in its practice or practical application.
As Christians, as people who are supposed to be dedicated to the truth, we are called on to strip the errors of dualism from the liturgy, from the scripture and every other place where it persists in the tradition.
Remember this; keep the truth of it in front of you always. God never left us. God is present to us. In all times and in all places, God is with us.
We come to know God through our relationships with one another; in the quality of the love we manifest for all human beings, in how we love all of God’s children.
God, the creator of the universe resides in.
God resides in everyone, but not everyone acts as if this is true, not everyone has faith in it.
It requires faith to love, and greater faith to love the stranger, even more to love your enemy.
The faithful do not require proof of God’s presence; the faithful know that God is present.
God is living in all people, it is not creed and confessions, or ceremonies that make this real.
We manifest our love for God by the love we share with our family and friends, in whom God exists, and even more so when we demonstrate that love to those we do not know, to those we fear, or to those who had been our enemy.
Give thanks to God, the creator of the universe.
We are thankful for the peace of God’s blessing, the blessing of life, of freedom, of self-determination, for our personhood.
Give thanks to those who are loving, we are thankful for the peacemakers, and bless them as you are able.
Bless all of God’s children as God does, love them all, both the good and the bad, the helpful and the harmful, the just and the unjust.
Remember this, God is not a king, God is not a Lord. God does not favor one group over another. God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings. Remember this and keep it in front of you when you read the scriptures, this is the truth and it is the lens through which all interpretations must be made.
Consider the acts of the apostles, and the story of the early church.
The fate of the church was left to a game of chance…if you believe it.
The Book of Acts was written decades, nearly a century after Jesus was murdered, it was written by a men who never met Jesus, who were themselves, the followers of a man who never met Jesus.
It is likely that they had some contact with Peter, and the other disciples, but that contact was limited, and much of what is written in Acts is hearsay, rifled with superstition.
Let us first correct the record, David does not foretell the future, we know this is true because the future is not written. God created us in freedom, and the road in front of us is not paved with certainty.
There was no compulsion among the disciples to name a person to take the place of Judas among the disciples, this was their own invention which they engaged in for their own reason. The structure of the church is a human construction, it has been formed the way it is to suit the purposes of human beings, not God.
The drawing of lots, is a superstitious practice, one that never has and never could reveal the will of the creator, who would never have intervened in such a matter in the first place.
The story of this event must be rejected on its face, because it is full of falsehoods, fabrications and errors of reasoning. It has no place in the sacred text, other than to serve as a reminder that the early church was busy, post facto writing justifications in its narrative for both the decisions it made, and the things which developed organically that it felt it must explain.
First Reading - Acts 1:15-17,20-26 ©
'Let someone else take his office'
One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:
Let someone else take his office.
‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’
Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.
Psalm 102(103):1-2,11-12,19-20 ©
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.
For as the heavens are high above the earth
so strong is his love for those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.
The Lord has set his sway in heaven
and his kingdom is ruling over all.
Give thanks to the Lord, all his angels,
mighty in power, fulfilling his word.
Second Reading 1 John 4:11-16 ©
Anyone Who Lives in Love Lives in God, and God Lives in Him
My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.
We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit. We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God. We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.
Gospel Acclamation John 14:18
I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will be full of joy.
Gospel John 17:11 – 19
Father, keep those you have given me true to your name
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
‘Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us. While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures. But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full. I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’
Seventh Sunday of Easter