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Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Homily - The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 - 18 (Year A)


First Reading – Joel 2:12-18 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 ©
Gospel Acclamation Psalm 50:12, 14
The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 - 18


(NJB)

Ash Wednesday (Year A)



The anointed one is not a king, Jesus was not a lord. The Romans crowned him with thorns, they mocked him when they called him king of the Jews.

Jesus was a man of the land, one of the am haaretz. Go to him, follow him, through him enter the way of compassion.

It is right and good to pray for the people. It is even better to leave the temple, to leave the church and be with them when they are suffering, but know this: God does not intervene in our lives, God has equipped each of us to deal with extraordinary grief, and hardship.

When you go to the people go in modesty.

Celebrate, rejoice and be grateful, God is with you and God is merciful, but God makes no intercession for us living in the world.

Listen!

With God there is never justice without mercy.

When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that has already found us.

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

Be mindful!

We are all sinners, we are 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; a life of conscience.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

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.

Listen to the Apostle, who says that our salvation is the work of God. God has done the work, it began as Saint John said, in the first moment of creation.

The fall, such as it is, happens subsequent to and in the context of God’s saving work.

God has done the work already, Jesus revealed the truth of it, and has entrusted all of us who follow the way with the task of sharing that good news.

Here is the gospel: You are reconciled to God. There is no debt to pay. Allow the burden of sin, and the fear of it to fall away.

Be glad.

It was always God’s plan that we fall and rise together, that we rise and fall as one, because we are one in the goodness of God.

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

Hear this!

Everyone is reconciled in God’s love, in God who created the universe. The members of the church are to be ambassadors of this good news. The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, as it is today obsessed with signing up members, for whom the reward is reconciliation.
The reconciliation has already occurred. The mission of the church is to proclaim it.

Proclaim that every day is a day of salvation.

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 come to that knowledge and are contrite, that contrition is a the shower that washes us clean, but God had forgiven us before we ever sinned or came to the knowledge of it.

We are all sinners, 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, to live a life of conscience.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

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.

Know this!

It is God who makes us well, who creates in us the possibility of wellbeing. God is our wellbeing, but God is not a king and there are no other gods.

All creation belongs to God, all that is good and all that frightens us, everything comes from God and will redound to the good.

It is good to show our respect for the creator and to sing songs in praise of God, but remember this and remember it always, that God is our loving parent, and has prepared each of us for God’s blessing.


Be mindful of this!

You will have no reward from God in this life, God does not intervene or interfere in human events.

Do not seek glorify or glorify yourself in public. Do not seek admiration from the world at large.

Pray in private, not in public, do not boast of your piety.

Do not brag on how much you give to the world, or how well you pay your employees, do good for the sake of doing good, be fair for fairness’ sake.

Go to your work and to your disciplines gladly, if you are fasting then fast, smile and be happy.


First Reading – Joel 2:12-18 ©

Let Your Hearts Be Broken, Not Your Garments Torn

‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’

Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.

Who knows if he will not turn again, will not relent, will not leave a blessing as he passes, oblation and libation for the Lord your God?

Sound the trumpet in Zion!

Order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, call the people together, summon the community, assemble the elders, gather the children, even the infants at the breast.

Let the bridegroom leave his bedroom and the bride her alcove.

Between vestibule and altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, lament.

Let them say, ‘Spare your people, Lord!

Do not make your heritage a thing of shame, a byword for the nations.

Why should it be said among the nations, “Where is their God?”’

Then the Lord, jealous on behalf of his land, took pity on his people.


Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17

Our God comes and will not be silent!
Devouring fire precedes him,
it rages strongly around him.

He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth to judge his people:

“Gather my loyal ones to me,
those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for God himself is the judge.

Were I hungry, I would not tell you,
for mine is the world and all that fills it.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of he-goats?

Offer praise as your sacrifice to God;
fulfill your vows to the Most High.

You hate discipline;
you cast my words behind you!


Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 ©

Be Reconciled to God

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.


Gospel Acclamation Psalm 50:12, 14

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

A pure heart create for me, O God,
and give me again the joy of your help.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!




Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!


The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 - 18

Your Father Who Sees All that is Done in Secret Will Reward You

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’


Ash Wednesday (Year A)

Trump’s Indifference is Evil - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
02.29.2020

Trump’s Indifference is Evil

I do not use the word evil lightly, in fact I rarely use it at all, because most of the crimes people commit against each other, happen because someone is not in their right frame of mind.

What T-Rump has been doing, and what his son has been saying, what the other sycophants around have been repeating is being done willfully, not from a place of ignorance, they are sewing confusion, spreading lies, and people will lose their life because of it.

Donald Trump is scared to death of being held accountable for the recent collapse in the stock market, and to a lesser degree he fears being charged with responsibility for the spread of the coronavirus.

He is indifferent to the suffering of his fellow Americas, he does not care if they get sick and die, he only cares about whether or not it makes him look bad, if it puts a spotlight on his incompetence and this is truly evil.

Donald trump Jr. came out and said that Democrats want millions of Americans to fall just in order to hurt his daddy.

T-Rump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney called the media coverage of this public health crises a hoax, and he blamed the fact that T-Rump didn’t act faster on the impeachments proceedings that took place last month.

T-Rump himself has begun to call the looming crises a hoax, and then he passed the buck for managing it to his Vice President Pence, because the president doesn’t want to be bothered with the details.

He doesn’t want the Center For Disease Control to manage it, he doesn’t want doctors and scientists to tell the American people the truth, or to order that measures be taken that T-Rump believes will disrupt trade, disrupt the markets, and reflect badly on himself.

He has been told that his measures are not only inadequate, but counterproductive, the poor choices his administration has made of led to spreading the disease, not stopping it, and he does not care if people die.

Donald Trump is evil, his indifference is evil.

He must be removed from office.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Clowning


Costumed men trying
Desperately to impress
Costumed paramours

Bad jokes and humors
Fake lashes and furtive eyes
Laughter dissembling

Comb overs, up-do’s
Bad cologne, perfume and lies
False codes and signals

Compacts and powder
Cold sores and blisters, lip gloss
Peroxide and lies

We hide from our fears
Clowning, overconfident
Scuffed shoes and threadbare

Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Homily - The Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 8, 10, 12-13 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
Alternative Acclamation – 1 John 2:5
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5:38 - 48 ©

(NJB)

The Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)



Give thanks to God, the creator of the universe. Give thanks for the peace of God’s blessing, the blessing of life, and of freedom, of self-determination and every other aspect of our being that allows us to be persons.

Give thanks to those who are loving, to 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.

God has made everyone free.

The living God dwells within the living you, and in the living I. God, the creator of the universe dwells in everyone, in all beings, at all times, in all places.

God dwells in you, and I, and your enemy (whoever that might be), and where God is present, God is present fully.

Be mindful!

Wisdom is wisdom, and folly is folly, and you are not special except insofar as you are loved.

You are loved no-more and no-less than any other.

You are no-more and no-less wise.

You are no-more and no-less a fool.

We are all journeying in the way, and the way leads to God.

Be Mindful!

The grace of God is not transactional.

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

God dwells in all people, regardless of their character and the quality of the life they have lived.

Some people bear witness through the quality of their lives the love that Jesus showed us and asked us to emulate. In others we are confronted with the need to be merciful, and to demonstrate through our own choices the qualities of mercy and forgiveness Jesus asked us to show.

Remember this!

God is present in every person. Some express the love of God, while others call for a loving response.

Consider the Gospel for today, and be mindful.

The old law was the law of retribution. In it, there was no room for mercy. Under the old law it was thought that whether you do good deeds or bad deeds you are paid back in kind, and you are paid back in equal measure.

Most of the religious systems in the world adhere to a view of justice based on this concept. The laws of Karma articulated in Hinduism, are the most succinctly articulated and concisely conceptualized.

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

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 and the Baha’i, 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 only 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.

Jesus instructed us in the divine law, and the divine law is reflected in the way of mercy; to sacrifice is to forgive, and this is the path to holiness.

Jesus taught us to 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, or to our ancestors.

We are good when we are doing good, we burn brightly when we are on fire with compassion.


First Reading – Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 ©

You Must Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:

‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

‘“You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 8, 10, 12-13 ©

The Lord is compassion and love.

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.

The Lord is compassion and love.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
  who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
  who crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is compassion and love.

The Lord is compassion and love,
  slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
  nor repay us according to our faults.

The Lord is compassion and love.

As far as the east is from the west
  so far does he remove our sins.
As a father has compassion on his sons,
  the Lord has pity on those who fear him.

The Lord is compassion and love.



You Belong to Christ and Christ Belongs to God

Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.

Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.



Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!


Alleluia, alleluia!

Whenever anyone obeys what Christ has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Matthew – 5:38 - 48 ©

Love Your Enemies

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 Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Left is Not Extreme - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
02.22.2020

The Left is Not Extreme

If you listen to the right-wing politicians and pundits spout their invectives against the policies of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and their supporters who number in the tens of millions you would come away thinking that the progressive wing of the Democratic party are raving lunatics.

Even some of those people who are contending for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president from time to time slip into this irrational fervor.

Universal Healthcare, otherwise known as single-payer or Medicare for all, this is not a radical idea.

Free college or trade school tuition, this is not a radical idea.

Forgiving people their student debt this is not a radical idea.

We have to be careful not to get swept up into heated arguments with those who oppose these policies, because these are not radical positions, and we are not extremists for wanting to see them enacted. Democrats in particular need to hold the line against other democrats who are made nervous by these policy proscriptions, we have to normalize them, and this should not be too difficult because they are normal policies.

Universal Healthcare: There are eighteen countries that offer true universal health coverage: Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

These so-called “first world” countries are all our allies and our biggest trading partners, if they can do it so can we. They have figured out the problem. They all have different systems tailored to the individual needs of their societies. They are leading the way, and it is long past time we figured this out for ourselves.

What is extreme is to promote the belief that universal healthcare is not doable by the United States, that is the extreme position. The we can’t do it position is the position that flies in the face of so-called “American exceptionalism.”

We need to confront the naysayers with the truth, and just tell them to relax. We believe in America, we can do this.

Free universal college tuition is less common than universal healthcare but there are seven industrialized countries that offer this to their citizens: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and France, Ireland and Australia. If America is going to continue to promote itself as first among equals in the so-called free world, it is time that we move past the nay-sayers, and hold fast to the position that America can do, because America can do anything.

These countries have different ways of funding these programs, but here is how Australia does it.
If you are accepted to a college or university, and you complete your degree program, and you subsequently become employed in a job where you earn more than 50k per year, then you are subject to a tax that funds the entire program.

If you do not complete your degree, or do not become gainfully employed, or if your circumstances change and you lose your earning power due to some unforeseen circumstance than this tax does not apply to you.

If you go to college, and your degree pays off, if you are earning well then you pay in.

This is simple, it is not radical, this should be easy to normalize.

Some people balk at the idea of forgiving the current load of student debt, they get really incensed by it, as if this proposal involves some kind of crime.

The current load of student debt is 1.5 trillion dollars.

The 2017 Trump tax-cuts cost the country 1.9 trillion dollars.

The second round of proposed Trump tax-cuts are projected to cost the country another 1.4 trillion.

The difference between the tax-cuts proposed by the Republican party and the proposal to eliminate student debt is this.

The tax cuts benefit the wealthiest Americans, allowing them to keep more of their money, without requiring them to put it back into the economy, the stimulative effect to the economy is negligible.

The 1.5 trillion dollars in student debt, is held by Americans who are solidly in the middle class, from the working poor to the upper-middle range. Almost forty-five million Americans are carrying student debt. The average monthly student loan payment (which includes principle and interest) is $393 dollar.

Americans spend 17.5 billion dollars per month servicing their student loan debt. If those revenues were freed up to be used by middle class Americans, it would go directly into the economy. It would be the biggest single economic stimulus for our economy that you could possibly imagine.

This is not radical; it is sound economic policy.

The left is not extreme, we just make sense.