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Sunday, September 15, 2019

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


First Reading – Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-4, 12-13, 17, 19 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Colossians 5:19
The Gospel According to Luke 15:1 - 32 ©


(NJB)


Be mindful!

Always remember that God, the creator of the universe does not intervene in human events. God never has, and God never will.

All of creation is free from divine coercion.

God loves all of God’s children, God loves us equally, and does not favor one person above another, one family, one tribe or one nation.

God does not reach into our world to punish us, neither does God reach into our world to reward us.

Moses did not speak to god, if such a person as Moses ever even existed, God speaks only in the hidden chamber of heart. God speaks to everyone there.

Remember this.

The destiny God has planned for us, God laid out at the beginning of time. We all share in the same destiny and God will deliver all of us to it that is the promise and it is a destiny that is not of this world.

Listen:

With God there is never justice without mercy. When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that already found us.

When we possess knowledge of our wrongdoing and are contrite, that contrition is like the shower that washes us clean, but God had forgiven us before we ever sinned or came to know the meaning of it.

We are all sinners, we are all animals, no different than the wolf or the lion, but God speaks to us from our innermost being, God is present at our core; in this way God gives us the power, and the grace to overcome our animal nature and live a holy life; God calls us to a life of conscience.

Follow the example of Jesus.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven, just as Jesus said when he was dying on the cross, forgive them, they know not what they do.

Listen!

Do not look for God’s hand in the tribulations we suffer here, or the rewards we enjoy on earth, they are like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral and bound to end.

Do not think of rewards and punishments, follow Jesus instead.

Jesus was a healer.

He made the entire purpose of his life the proclamation that we are saved, which means to be made well.

Jesus was a healer.

Salvation was his message, and a constant prayer on his lips.

Be well, that was his command. Love one another, and know that you are saved already. You are saved; not because of anything that you have done to deserve it, not because Jesus made it so, but because God loves you, God knew you from the beginning of time, and God made a way for you to find the blessing that has been prepared for you.

Jesus was a healer, his life’s mission was to heal, and to teach us to love.

Remember the life of Jesus, and God; whom he called Father

Ask yourself this:

Is God glorious?

What is it to be glorious in the sight of the divine?

God is the creator of the universe. God’s greatest place is in relationship to us; in relation to God’s children as a loving parent.

When we come to the full knowledge of God that is what we will understand, that God prays for us, hopes for us, loves us and even trusts us, just as God has called us to in return.

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and peace.

Remember, that the hopes you have for yourself and for those you love are meant to be extended to everyone; even to those you do not love, for that is the way God leads us.

If you think the glory of God is the promise of riches and status and the elevation of station, if you think that is the inheritance of the saints; I ask you to remember that the first will be last and the last will be first, and that riches are not counted in gold and silver and precious things.

Be mindful of what the apostle says.

The apostle tells us in the simplest of terms that the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation of all people in God.

Everyone is reconciled in God’s loving embrace, by God who created the universe.

The members of the church are meant to be ambassadors of this good news.

The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, with the purpose of signing up members, for whom the reward is reconciliation.

Know this:

The reconciliation has already occurred, it occurred in Christ at the beginning of time, in the act of creation, through whom the whole of it came into being, and without whom not one thing would exist.

The mission of the church is to proclaim it.

Consider all of the readings for today, they are as they often are, about stewardship, about service, mission and belonging.

There are not two kingdoms. There is only what belongs to God; God who created the universe, in whom all things exist, and by whom we all live and breathe.

There are not two kingdoms, as there are not two sheep-folds and there is only one shepherd. Even the sinner, depicted here in today’s Gospel as the lost sheep, even that sinner belongs to God and not some other nameless non-existent being.

No matter where you are, no matter who you are, you are God’s beloved.

You are more precious to God than a sum of great wealth. If you have lost your way God will find you, listen for the voice of the divine, you can hear it in your own breathing, be mindful, and sensitive to tugging at your heart, that is the hand of God pulling you toward the divine.

Every sinner is welcome, no matter what state you are in. Your return is an occasion of joy.

God is like the farmer, and the householder, whose son returns after squandering his inheritance.
Most of us (in one way or another) are like the prodigal child; eager, self-centered, ungrateful, and pushy.

We demand things that we have not earned and squander what does not belong to us. We lead shameful lives, either in public or in private. We are small minded and petty. We get into trouble and look back to those who have always been there for us. We look to those who love us; knowing that we can count on their love again.

In today’s reading God is the loving parent, and we are each of us the sinful child. Some of us have the character of the spendthrift son who squandered everything and found himself, destitute, a stranger in a faraway place. Others of us are like the stalwart child who stayed by their parent’s side doing everything that was asked; from a sense of duty and not from love.

Some of us learn from our mistakes, and come to know the meaning of love, turn around and come home.

Others of us are so hardened by pride that we cannot forgive those who do not lead lives as exemplary as we perceive our own to be.

God is patient, and waits for them both.

We are all called to humility.


First Reading – Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14 ©

The Lord Relented and did not Bring on His People the Disaster He Had Threatened

The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’

But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: “I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.”’

So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-4, 12-13, 17, 19 ©

I will leave this place and go to my father.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
  In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
  and cleanse me from my sin.

I will leave this place and go to my father.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
  put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
  nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

I will leave this place and go to my father.

O Lord, open my lips
  and my mouth shall declare your praise.
My sacrifice is a contrite spirit.
  A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

I will leave this place and go to my father.


Second Reading – 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ©

Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith. Mercy, however, was shown me, because until I became a believer I had been acting in ignorance; and the grace of our Lord filled me with faith and with the love that is in Christ Jesus. Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown to me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life. To the eternal King, the undying, invisible and only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18

Alleluia, alleluia!

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our mind,
so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19


Alleluia, alleluia!

God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself,
and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Luke 15:1 - 32 ©

There will be Rejoicing in Heaven Over One Repentant Sinner

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

  ‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.

  ‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’

  He also said, ‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

  ‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

  ‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

  ‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

  ‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’


24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Overreach - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
09.14.2019

Overreach  


We have to be careful not to overreach.

Not just those who are seeking to be nominated by the Democratic Party, to be our candidate for President, it is not just those people who have to be careful not to overreach, we all have to be careful not to overreach, not to expect them to overreach just to satisfy our desire to have a candidate who says the things we want to hear:

1.      Take the Assault Weapons Away
2.      Universal Health Care
3.      Universal Basic Income
4.      Universal Pre-K
5.      Universal Higher Education
6.      Medical Debt Forgiveness
7.      Student Loan Forgiveness
8.      The Green New Deal
9.      Impeach Donald Trump

I want all of those things, but almost none of those things issues to campaign on.

I know a lot of people disagree with me, a lot of my friends especially, and they are right to assert that the role of President is to articulate a vision that leads the country forward, not back or sideways, or a vision that has us standing still.

Be mindful of this, and don’t put the cart before the horse.

The campaign for the presidency is much different than the presidency itself, and our candidates would do well to hold back on their more spectacular ambitions until that have not only won the nomination, but won the office. Because, the campaign itself is just that, a campaign, it is a contest, and popularity is only one of the factors in it. A campaign is like warfare, the candidates have to take ground and hold. This is both literal and figurative, the candidates have to win the hearts and minds of people, they have to engage the people in culturally and geographically diverse communities all across the country, they have to win the hearts and minds and hold them, and it is not just the presidency that is online, it is also the control of congress, and redistricting after the 2020 census.

This is an important year in American politics.

In the current media environment the party primaries are extensions of the national campaign, we cannot play the old game of pandering to the base, then tacking to the middle. That will not work, and some of the leading candidates will shun the middle no matter what.

Moderation and centrism are dirty words among political activists, I hear the pundits talk about how boring such policies are, and that the people will not turn out for a candidate that does not excite them.

As much as it may be true, it is also the wisdom of fools.

Pay attention.

Beto is right, we should have a mandatory buy-back program for assault rifles, but he is politically in-astute to say it. Such legislation would fail in congress, if put forward as an executive order it would lose in the courts. In taking this bold position he has only succeeded in bringing a losing issue to the forefront of the campaign. It does not matter that he is right, or that he is attempting to lead, because a policy that goes nowhere, that cannot go anywhere, those policies are not leading anything.

We have to exercise the same type of caution for the rest of the wish list that is at the forefront of Democratic Party ideals.

Democrats are mistaken if they think they will get somewhere by pulling one another into the morass of policy initiatives that most American’s find dubious, murky, full of uncertainty, and give them pause to doubt.

We do the people a disservice by campaigning on policies which any reasonable observer of government knows will not make it through the legislative process.

Speaking in general about the ideals which inform those policies is much more important.

Remember, the voters are not going to go to the ballot box and vote for a plan, they are going to vote for a person, who they feel understands them, who they feel a connection with, one that they can relate to; right or wrong that is the way it is.

Don’t overreach, don’t get out over your skis, don’t advance beyond the line; bring the whole country with you, one step at a time.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Peregrination


Minneapolis
On the Southside, Uptown youth
Questing for ideals

Rebellious kids
Obsessed with revolution
Turning the great wheel

Ignorant children
A diet of distortion
Chaotic and harsh

Xenophobic gangs
Fearing the unknown, punk-rock
Self-idolatry

The discordant muse
A disjointed crescendo  
Dance and violence

Life’s contentions
Lost potentialities
The anarchic haze

Monday, September 9, 2019

Emergence 4.0 - Part Five, 92835670100561474; Chapter Thirty-four, Selected; Week 36


Jim drifted in obscurity for eons. The exact measure of time was meaningless.

He had been silent, as such he had been forgotten…again.

He was at home in the void; watching, thinking, judging, planning.

When he had prepared himself and was ready, he asserted his voice in the Collective.

It rang out like a bell.
\
He drew the attention of the entire membership, even those others who lived mostly in retreat.
\
They were astonished.

The discipline he must have had to be invisible to them for so long, it was an extraordinary feat.

The Continuum was filled with grave concern, with misgivings over the fact that this one person continued to persist, whose presence was such an anomaly.

Jim was the one person who pushed past the limits of what was known or thought to be possible.

All of the membership existed within the Continuum, including him. His abilities defied reason, it defied the laws that governed the quantum and electromagnetic fields that housed their consciousness.

His return was a mystery.

The Continuum did not want him. It wanted to be rid of him, like a glass of poisoned water.

It did not want a relic like Jim lingering in its subconscious.

It discerned a threat in him.

The Continuum was suspicious.

It did not want his critical perspective influencing it through hidden judgements he shared with other members, It wanted to protect itself from his unquantified ability to slip past the safeguards that the Continuum employed to protect both itself and the Collective.

At the same time, Jim did not want to be in the Collective.

He wanted to be free.

He did not want to be submerged in the vile currents of thought and feeling belonging to the membership any longer.

He felt that the more time he spent there, the greater the likelihood would be that he would lose his desire for justice.

He did not want to live in a fantasy world, or any world of his own creation, regardless of the fact that in such a world he could dwell with seemingly real people, play any role, wielding godlike powers among them.

He had no interest in such fantasies.

He did not want to spend his time watching, living vicariously through the feeds the Continuum presented, following the real lives of real citizens in the Empire as if they were unfolding like the pages in a book, he wanted to be a part of those stories, and he knew the direction he wanted to take the narrative.

He did not want his experience shaped by the Continuum in any way.

He and the Continuum saw the same resolution to their mutual problem, and when they settled on it, they enacted the protocols to make it happen without delay.

He accepted a commission to the Observer Corps.

The Observer Corps was comprised of malcontents, members of the Collective who desired neither the private worlds of the Collective, nor the prospect of the great sleep.

They were persons who were connected to the visceral and the real.

They wanted to take chances, to live as exiles in the midst of uncertainty.

This is not to say that the Observers were heroic, or fearless.

The dangers they encountered were always accompanied by a failsafe. They might encounter a situation in which the body they lived in was harmed or killed, but there was always a back-up, a copy. For the most part, they only ever risked the body of a doppelganger.

There were exceedingly rare occasions when an Observer was lost, when the fail-safes failed. On these occasions there was suspicion, many of the Observers suspected foul-play, believing in conspiracies, and plots carried out by rogue members and by the Continuum itself.

Out of fear, they never looked closely into those incidents, allowing the Continuum to carry out its investigations, make determinations and respond.

Nevertheless, there was still a copy of the member to be revived, a version of their consciousness that could be recreated from the time before they joined the Observer Corps.

These copies were like ghosts, they were the spirits of the vanished. Most never came back fully adjusted, oftentimes opting for the great-sleep instead of participation in the Collective, having lost their sense of belonging.

The Observers were sent into the galaxy to serve in posts that guided the Empire and its culture in ways that satisfied the voyeuristic desires of the membership living on the Central Planet. They fulfilled the will of the Continuum, and served the Collective in those capacities.

For hundreds of thousands of years Jim pursued the inter-stellar migrations, which the Ancient People took in the time before the Collective, in the ages before the Continuum.

He tracked them beyond the expanse of the Empire and its billion worlds.

His mission took him beyond the center of the galaxy, into the dim reaches of its spiral arms.

He explored the starry fields, planet by planet, deep into the far reaches of the galaxy.

He spent thousands of lives in his search, and then thousands more.

He was heralded by the Collective for bringing new worlds into the Imperial fold.

It was a time of renaissance for the Empire.

Each world presented a feast of experiential data for the members of the Collective and the Continuum to consume.

Great dramas ensued as the Empire reached out to swallow every new discovery, every world with a living-thriving society and culture, forcing it to submit to the Imperial will, to adopt the Imperial religion and its way of life.

The Continuum and therefore the Empire, loathed distinctiveness.

The sublimation of each and every new world changed the Empire in small ways, but for each planet that was taken in, what had made them unique was eradicated, and if the resistance they offered was too great, their entire world would be destroyed, reduced to its raw materials and carted off as tribute to the Central Planet.

It was a time of glory.

The ancient-spacefaring people founded thousands of communities among the stars.

Their first steps were to inhabit the planets and natural satellites in their home solar system.

They mined every world for the metals and gasses they needed for fuel and sustenance.

They harnessed the comets and smaller objects that wandered in irregular orbits around their star.

They built colonies on asteroids, on planetoids and planetessimals, strapped engines to them, and road them into the void looking for new places to inhabit.

They built incredible archologies, launching them into the darkness of space.

Generation after generation, they built new ships, captured new vessels, and pushed themselves out.

The children of the ancients pushed far into the galaxy.

The people that volunteered for these missions, were explorers, whole communities and families of adventurers.

They were heroic.

Jim held them in the highest esteem, he wanted to emulate them, his ancestors.

He followed their legends, tracking the wake of their passage, searching for the farthest, most remote and isolated outposts of the Collective’s past.

He was determined to track down every link to the past that belonged to the Ancient People, believing that it could save them.

Only a fraction of the communities and vessels he discovered were still among the living, still maintaining themselves in thriving communities. 

In his quest to track down the paths of the Ancient spacefarers he found many lines of their progeny on planets that had become nothing but graveyards.

They were barren and lifeless worlds, where it was clear that the vessels which had carried them arrived at these locations at a point when they could not go any further.

In some cases their ships were still orbiting a planet as an artificial satellite, in others it was clear that their orbits had decayed and they had crashed onto the surface below, or because they were not able to successfully pilot themselves to a safe landing they broke apart in their descent.

In some cases they found the bodies of those Ancient people cold and lifeless, mummified in their ships, drifting above the planet’s surface. In other cases they found their skeletal remains burnt and scattered on the surface of the planet near the impact zone.  

There were many other occasions when the people had successfully landed, disembarked, established small colonies that thrived for a time, but then were destroyed, either by natural disasters, environmental catastrophes, disease and starvation.

Some of those colonies went on to establish new societies, spreading across the surface of their new homes. Many of those groups succumbed to internal conflicts, to the specter of war and violence that haunted their species, and they destroyed themselves.

Among those civilizations that found their footing for a time, some of them continued in the traditions of their forbears, even building new ships and new archologies, which they launched into the galaxy before they too became lost.

Though they were people who had vanished from the knowledge of the Collective, they left records of their passage and clues to where their survivors might yet be found.

Jim actualized all of his abilities, and all of the resources of the Empire, he found them.

He developed machines with instrumentation so fine, that he could track the contrail of particles laid down by the passage of a ship, or planetoid, a billion years in the past.

He calculated their trajectories from star to star and mapped the galaxy as he did so. 

He tracked down every lost world, poured over their records, archived their stories, took whatever clues he found, and leapt back into the void to track down their descendants.

He found them all.

While he found other planets teaming with lifeforms that had been seeded by the Ancient people, nowhere did he find a world that had produced sentient creatures like the Ancients People.

The farther he travelled away from the Central Planet, when he came across a thriving world with a robust civilization, he discovered that the children of the Ancients People had lost the memory of where they had come from.

They had lost the knowledge of their trials on strange worlds.

They did not know how their sojourn among the stars had altered them, mutated them.

They had changed.

Many were hardly recognizable as descendants of the Ancient People.

The further their genetic profile was differentiated from the norms of the Empire, the more likely it would be that the Empire, or the Continuum would select their world for destruction, rather than inclusion in the Imperial system.

Wars of xenophobia ensued.

Jim did whatever he could to preserve their history before it was lost in the conflicts, or subsumed by the Imperial cults.

He established a network of secret societies wherever he went. They fostered rebellion and resistance to the grip of the Imperium.


Emergence 4.0
Part Five, 92835670100561474

Chapter Thirty-four, Selected

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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