commemorate the anniversary of the end of World War I, the war to end all wars, we were told, though regrettably it was not.
I am a
veteran, as is my father and some few of my friends (very few).
From the end
of World War I, until 1954, we celebrated this day as Armistice Day, as a
remembrance of that moment in that first great-global-conflict, when the
fighting stopped along the lines, in the trenches at the fronts.
suddenly, it stopped all at once.
It came to a
halt at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month; as if the
war had a director who yelled “cut!” And all the actors on the stage, all the
pawns in the field, all the millions of people in their graves could get up
from what they were doing and go home.
That is not
twenty million people were killed in World War I, twenty million families
broken, with many millions more suffering in the aftermath.
World War I was
perceived by those who endured it as so horrible
that it would end war itself, end it for all time, but that would not be
The gods of
war are busy, always
conflicts they sew never end, not ever
We hunger and
we thirst for war
It is the failure of humanity
Today is the
feast of Saint Martin of Tours. He is the patron saint of soldiers, St. Martin
of the Sword, he is called.
was the first Christian Soldier.
It was in
recognition of him, and his feast that this date was selected to bring World
War I to a close.
have come sooner for the soldiers in the struggle, but the politicians acting
like art directors wanted to wait for a symbolic moment, to bring the curtain
hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, it was easy to remember.
Gregory the Great, the man who gave us the modern calendar, he was the one who penned
Saint Martin’s hagiography. Though it is not likely that Martin ever even lived.
Most of Gregory’s writings were works of fiction, either cut from whole cloth,
or steeped and dyed from a scintilla of truth.
great Popes were great prevaricators, and great recipients of the penchant for
Even if the
life of Saint Martin was based on the life of a real person, his hagiography is
a fiction nevertheless, our celebration of him is a piece of propaganda, it is just
another terrible lie.
hagiography is a fable, penned with a terrible purpose, through it Pope Saint
Gregory gave permission for Christians to takes up arms.
Christian soldiers leave to march to war, a vocation which had been theretofore
forbidden to the followers of Jesus, and a matter of deep contention in the
of conflict have a will of their own…their will is our own human nature.
There is no
god of war, there are only human pretenders.
President Eisenhower, the man who had been the Supreme Allied Commander in
World War II, he changed the nature of the November 11th holiday;
from Armistice to Veteran’s Day, in honor of all Veterans who had fought in any
conflict, anywhere in the world.
foe, ally or adversary, we celebrate the courage of the average person, woman
or man, who was willing to risk everything for their tribe, their nation or their
That is what
we celebrate today on Veteran’s Day.
We do not
celebrate the end of war, because it seems that war itself will never end.
We do not
celebrate the fictional life of a fictional saint, whose usefulness as a tool
of propaganda suggested that it was possible to serve Jesus with a sword, and we
do not celebrate the lie that peace could ever be the fruit of war.
The fruit of
peace springs from a different seed altogether.
celebrate today is the character of those men and women who have had the
courage to enlist, to risk their lives for the sake of their sisters and
brothers, whether at home or beside them in the field.
always celebrate that quality of character, while simultaneously naming the
flaws in our own that lead us to war; fear and greed, anger and hatred, all of
our calamitous attributes.
of conflict have a will of their own…the children of Aries; Fear, Panic and Strife,
they own a piece of us each of us.
years after the end of World War I, we are still waging war all around the
world. We the United States of America are waging war in Afghanistan, in
Africa, selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, fighting a war by proxy with Iran in
Yemen, and feeding other conflicts in every sector of the globe.
I served in
the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, from 1990 – 1994.
during the first Gulf War, though I did not serve in the theatre of combat where
we killed 300,000 Iraqi people in the space of a few months.
served for twenty-two years; the first four as a Marine, the next eighteen in
the Air Force. Our nation went to war once during that time, in Southeast Asia where
my father served multiple tours of duty, a war in which we killed 3,000,000 people
killed millions more in many other nations in the decades since then, leaving
millions of families broken.
terrible, profligate killers, we are experts at it, we Americans.
In the last
few weeks we have been talking about how the President of the United States
sold out the Kurdish people, a people without a country who have been serving,
fighting and dying beside us for the last several years in our conflict with
the soldiers of the Islamic State,
He sold them
out to the Turks, who immediately set out on a campaign of ethnic cleansing
against them. Those same Kurdish people in the weeks leading up to Donald Trump’s
betrayal of them, turned over intelligence that led to the killing of the ISIS
leader, and Donald Trump took credit for that.
We have been
talking about how the President of the United States, in an effort to extort
the people of Ukraine withheld vital military support from them, support they
needed to defend themselves from the constant pressure of Russian incursion, he
withheld that aid because he thought it would benefit his own narrow political
interests, and because he believed it would benefit a man he is beholden too;
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
same man will participate in a ceremony that honors the lives of fallen
soldiers, a man who never served, who lied to avoid the draft, a man without a
shred of honor.
true that every bullet we fire, every missile we launch, each of them is an
admission of our failure as diplomats and as human beings.
does not beget peace. Violence it begets violence, and so it will always be
and reconciliation can bring about peace reconciliation.
another; pay respect to the inherent dignity of every human being, regardless
of your disagreements, regardless of the pain you are carrying from your past.
To be free
from the repercussions of our history of violence requires that we forgive one
another and seek forgiveness for ourselves.
If you want
to honor our Veteran’s then commit yourself to meet conflict with love, respect
all people, even your adversary, this is the thanks you can give to a Veteran
The crisis brought catastrophe to the Collective and the Continuum,
striking rapidly at the heart of the Central System, and thereafter reaching
the Empire in a slow moving wave, rolling outward in a series of concussive movement.
As awareness of the event spread through the Observer corps, the Empire
The Imperial forces had little familiarity with being on the defensive,
or with entering a conflict zone in which the parameters of the battlefield
Observers across the galaxy faltered, half of them exhibited no care at
all about the fate of the Central System, some among them even desired the
complete collapse of the Continuum. “Let it fall apart, do nothing,” they said
They were apathetic.
Those Observers loved the lives they lived, there only desire was to exist
as fully embodied beings in the fields of time and space, eating and drinking and reveling in their physicality.
These Observers had long since stopped feeling any sense of obligation to
the Collective or the Continuum, which they knew as the most corrupt and
despotic force in all the galaxy.
They felt no sense of duty to the Central System, to HomeWorld, or to
their shared ancestry with their brothers and sisters in the Collective.
They saw in this moment an opportunity to free themselves from the
expectations of their station.
When the Collective established the Imperial Schools and formed the
Imperial Cult, it never intended to create a monolithic structure, or a society
that eliminated all dissent.
The Continuum did, and it desired the conflict ensue from it.
It wanted the hot drama of resistance, and it felt safe, it felt secure in the belief that such conflicts would never
The Continuum fostered rebellion on the fringes of the Empire, among the
outcastes and the lowest classes, as well as in the hierarchy.
It gave the ruling families, the high priests and leading generals just
enough knowledge of the truth to allow skepticism to creep into their
worldview, and thereby have a perpetual foothold in the Empire.
The Continuum sewed dissent with one hand and crushed it with the other.
There were many people in the higher orders of the priesthood and in the
leadership of the armed forces who knew enough to have lost their faith in the
Imperial system, its religion, and its social norms.
They knew the lies that were told to the masses.
They were nihilists, they
believed in nothing.
In the moment of crises some among them argued that they do nothing in
response to the conflagration occurring on the Central Planet.
They wanted to wait and see what would happen.
They knew that they were controlled by a supernatural force called the
Continuum, a power that consumed the resources of star systems to feed its
endless appetite for minerals and energy, they knew it and they desired to be free
of it. Though they had never before imagined that they could.
They saw this moment as an opportunity, they could do nothing and allow
the Continuum to collapse. If they did nothing they would be safe, or so they
If the Continuum did not falter, if it survived and they did nothing,
they might not be held accountable for active insurrection.
A debate raged among the general staff.
Most wanted to do something to free themselves from the malevolent
influence of the Continuum, they did not believe in its teaching.
Most of them were in fact atheists,
they abhorred the imperial cult and their subservience to the priesthood.
They were as divided as the members of the Observer Corps stationed among
Regardless of their desire to take action, to change the fate of the
Empire, only a few of the commanders believed the best course of action would
be to move against the Central System in its moment of weakness and
These were the bravest among them, perhaps the most reckless.
They had no idea what they would find there.
Not even the Observers knew what they could expect and could not counsel
them, they had never been privy to the defenses of the HomeWorld, of the
Continuum. They could only assume that those defenses would be formidable.
The Observers guided the discussion as best they could while trying not
to give away the fact that they had special knowledge of what was taking place.
Very few of the senior staff believed in the dogma of the Imperial Cult.
Their hesitancy was not based on religious fear or superstition, it was
based on the lack of familiarity with fighting against a power with
One which they had been conditioned to fear above all things
There was only one person that any of them could think of turning to in
this moment of existential dread, but he had left the general staff decades
ago, and was now the high priest at the temple of the Imperial Capital.
Fear of the unknown ruled them, fear of the Continuum, fear of failure.
At the urging of the secret Observers, they sent an invitation to the
high priest to join their conspiracy, the man who had been their most exalted
They asked him to join their conclave, and in that moment they knew that
they had played their hand, they were committed.
If El accepted, they would belong
to him, he would take them to victory, or down in defeat but they would follow
him to the end.
There were far more members of the hierarchy, both in the priesthood and
among the general staff who would never have even considered the notion of
rebellion against the Continuum.
They were traditionalists, they
There were a far greater number of Observers guiding them than those who
plotted against the Continuum.
They were cardinals and bishops and priests.
They were planetary governors and star system commanders.
They were members of royal houses.
They held leadership positions throughout the Empire, across a million
worlds. They were loyal to the Empire and its institutions, regardless of their
faith (or lack of it) in the religious beliefs and the promises of the
They had the absolute majority.
When the crises struck, the Observers associated with this faction were
quick to leave their post, to return their consciousness to HomeWorld, to
attempt to forestall the collapse of the Continuum.
They were trapped in their mechanoid bodies when they arrived. They were
caught in their tiny little prisons, deaf, dumb and blind.
They were effectively sequestered, by Jim who had taken control of the
Central System and HomeWorld.
The traditionalists were unprepared for the violence which came at them
from all sides.
The Observers among them had been in key positions of leadership, they
could not develop a strategy without them.
Being unprepared, they were trapped.
The conditioning that every citizen underwent, both through the Imperial
Schools and the Imperial Cult was extraordinary.
Very few citizens were able to resist it.
Among the armed forces the standard conditioning was augmented by a force
of cohesion referred to as esprit de
The ordinary soldier did not doubt the vision of advancement, of
resurrection, of reincarnation and eternal life, that was promised by the
Empire through the great religion.
More than anything else a soldier was focused on those rewards, and the esteem of their comrades.
This made any soldier a very dangerous enemy. They were true believers.
The rank and file could not afford to doubt the things they had been
taught. Their willingness to sacrifice themselves depended on it.
Doubt would cripple them in combat, it would leave them vulnerable to
feelings of shame at the horrors they were routinely asked to commit.
They risked everything for those beliefs, for fidelity to the Empire, the
royal family, the high priesthood and the promise of the Continuum, including
their own lives, and the lives of those under their command.
They would follow any order and obey the chain of command in everything.
It made killing their enemies easy and all of their crimes forgivable.
Through the command structure they were fully realized and completely actualized beings.
Without it they were nothing.
Any person, city or planet that they were ordered to attack was to them a
The small faction among them calling for rebellion were not incautious
men, they understood that they would face fierce opposition from their friends
and comrades, people who knew them well, who they had served with, had trained
with, or had trained under.
Among those serving in the armed forces, the most dangerous people to the
rebellion were those seeking advancement to the priesthood. They were
derisively called the God-Fearers. Their ambitions for
themselves and their families hung on the slender thread of these hopes.
They were not necessarily true believers, but their ambitions made them
They were the most senior commanders, or soldiers whose social rank
placed them nearest to the threshold between castes. They were determined to
rise in the service of the Continuum, and its Empire.
The God-fearers were ruthless, determined, and dogmatic. They controlled
the bulk of the Imperial forces spread across a million worlds.
Few of these people ever did advance, but the hope they clung to burned
in them like a fever, they saw this moment of crises as the moment for them to
shine, to prove themselves worthy.
They mobilized the defenses.
They mustered all of their forces from shore leave.
They executed their maneuvers perfectly.
The fleet was under their control.
They gathered together to defend the Imperial throne, which was the only
known portal to the HomeWorld of the Continuum.
They were martyrs for their
There is a beauty to military formations when lighted in the ocean of
space, a sublime blend of the simple and the complex; every ship, every vessel
in motion, it is the greatest of all dances.
The god-fearers never considered that any faction within the Empire would
oppose them. They had been conditioned to expect obedience, they cultivated it
among their subordinates, rewarded it in those who evinced the greatest
capacity for following and sending those who did not to their death in combat.
This was a serious flaw.
They had never engaged a military power in which they did not possess the
greater force. The Empire rolled over everything, every person, every planet
who would oppose them. The power they brought to bear was only limited by their
objectives, their code of conduct, and the rules of engagement those codes
Every objective, every code, every rule was relative, a dispensation for
deviation from a rule or a violation of orders could be had at any time from
the Emperor, or the priesthood, speaking on behalf of the Continuum.
The underlying truth that governed the reality of their experience was
this: Might made Right.
The Imperial forces were supreme, they were accustomed to being on the
offensive, it was an offensive posture that they took where they gathered. They
thought nothing of their defenses.
Their maneuvers were totally predictable by those on the general staff
who had decided to rebel. From the reserve forces that were left behind on each
of the million worlds, to their planetary and star system defenses, which in
this moment of conflict were little more than auxiliaries, to where the
majority of the fleet had gathered in preparation for the jump to the Central
System, there was nothing unscripted about their planning.
They were slaughtered in each of the places where they had gathered; they
were slaughtered en-masse.
In a singular moment of surprise, choreographed in a million place at
once, they were utterly defeated.
the reading for the second Book of
Maccabees; and know thatfrom
time to time we are forced to deal with the false witness of scripture.
mindful and know that these writing are entirely contrary to the way Jesus preached,
how he taught and encouraged us to live.
is to the enduring shame of the Church that we continue to carry forward these
misguided tropes from the cannon of scripture. We are not obligated to do so,
and there is no good reason for it.
Jesus is not a king, God is not a king. God, the creator of the universe, and
Jesus bear no likeness whatsoever to the kings of the world.
these titles and all of the connotations they carry with them.
does not prefer that we go to our deaths rather than violate the traditions of
our ancestors, their dietary customs or their way of life. There is no glory in
it, there is only death. God wants us to live, to care for our families, to
make a garden of the world to be at peace.
loves you and God loves your enemies too. God takes no sides in the conflicts
that rage between human beings, kingdoms and cultures.
that God is the source of salvation for all people, and all people receive it
in the end because all people are subject to God’s love and mercy.
faith! God hears you.
the creator of the universe knows your thoughts even before you speak them.
understands what is behind your thinking, God knows the content of your heart
and plead to God for understanding and wisdom, and peace, but do not expect God
to act on your behalf.
will not rescue you, God does not favor one child over another.
you claim that there is no deceit in you, then you deceive yourself.
not be boastful or puff yourself up with pride, do not try to prove yourself
with rash deeds which cause you to deviate from the way.
you expect to be favored in God’s judgment you will come to disappointment.
Rather live your life as you believe that God would have you live it, and take
comfort in that.
not pretend to eschew violence while asking God to be violent on your behalf.
not wish violence on another, but rather cleanse your heart through the power
of mercy and forgiveness; do it no matter how much it galls you to do so.
this, no matter how much you pray God will not protect you from your enemies.
Follow in the way and pray for your enemies, love them even as God loves them.
they advance on you, ask for mercy; forgive, and be forgiven.
enemies are not beasts, they are not monsters, they are the children of God.
you treat them this way, all enmity will disappear.
will strengthen you, pray for it and you will be strengthened. The praying
itself will strengthen you, but do not expect God to reach into the world and
change your fate just because you prayed.
made you a free creature, and God will not intervene in your life, either to
aid you or to hinder you. God has left you to your own devices.
mindful! Seek the strength of your companions, encourage them on the way, and
they will bolster you in turn.
will falter and fail, but if you keep the faith you will rise again.
the end God will deliver you.
is right to wish grace and peace on your brothers and sisters in the world; no
matter what differences there are between you.
them peace and grace!
is our witness, but not our king. God is not a lord.
God nor Jesus sits on a throne, nor do they intervene in the politics of human
forgave us our sins before we sinned, even before we came into being God
forgave us for all of our crimes. We entered into life as the beloved of God,
it is God will that will all be saved. It is God’s will that saves us. Our
salvation has nothing to do with the blood of Christ.
the Gospel for today:
Christians, we should never be like the Sadducees who are depicted in this
the trap of legalisms, and the legalistic perspective or approach to faith.
should be simple, in the way that Jesus himself expressed it. Faith means
trust. We are called to trust in our greatest hopes, to believe in them as a
remedy for fear.
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 with
what it means to be married.
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 who are bound by it.
some cultures marriage has come to have many other meanings. For many, marriage
concerns love and romance, commitment and trust. Nevertheless, the core of
marriage remains the same, it is a contract.
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, where material
needs have altogether vanished, in which 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.
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.
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
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, and that there is no death.
is no death, not now, not ever. It is on this faith that the church was
'The King of the World Will
Raise Us Up to Live For Ever'
were seven brothers who were arrested with their mother. The king tried to
force them to taste pig’s flesh, which the Law forbids, by torturing them with
whips and scourges. One of them, acting as spokesman for the others, said,
‘What are you trying to find out from us? We are prepared to die rather than
break the laws of our ancestors.’
his last breath the second brother exclaimed, ‘Inhuman fiend, you may discharge
us from this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up, since it
is for his laws that we die, to live again for ever.’
him, they amused themselves with the third, who on being asked for his tongue
promptly thrust it out and boldly held out his hands, with these honourable
words, ‘It was heaven that gave me these limbs; for the sake of his laws I disdain
them; from him I hope to receive them again.’ The king and his attendants were
astounded at the young man’s courage and his utter indifference to suffering.
this one was dead they subjected the fourth to the same savage torture. When he
neared his end he cried, ‘Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men’s
hands, yet relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by him; whereas
for you there can be no resurrection, no new life.’
May the Lord Strengthen You
in Everything Good that You Do or Say
our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who has given us his love
and, through his grace, such inexhaustible comfort and such sure hope, comfort
you and strengthen you in everything good that you do or say.
Finally, brothers, pray for us; pray that the
Lord’s message may spread quickly, and be received with honour as it was among
you; and pray that we may be preserved from the interference of bigoted and
evil people, for faith is not given to everyone. But the Lord is faithful, and
he will give you strength and guard you from the evil one, and we, in the Lord,
have every confidence that you are doing and will go on doing all that we tell
you. May the Lord turn your hearts towards the love of God and the fortitude of
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?’
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