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Showing posts with label 1 John. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1 John. Show all posts

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Homily – The First Sunday of Christmas


First Reading - 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 ©
Alternative First Reading - Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©
Alternative Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 83(84):2-3,5-6,9-10 ©
Second Reading - Colossians 3:12-21 ©
Alternative Second Reading - 1 John 3:1-2,21-24 ©
Gospel Acclamation - cf. Ac 16:14
The Gospel of the Day - Luke 2:41-52 ©
(NJB)


If you were to take the reading from Samuel and regard it only as narrative extoling the virtue of giving thanks to God, the creator of the universe, giving thanks for the good things we receive in this life, if you were to go no further than to accept the piety of Hannah as a woman intent on keeping her promises then you would be reading this passage well.

If you go further, and you sink into the notion that God actually granted her prayer when she became pregnant with Samuel, then you would be mistaken. God does not intervene in the lives of human beings. God does not work miracles like magic in the wombs of barren women.

If you were to accept the piety of the sacrifices she rendered at the temple as a thanksgiving for what she perceived was God’s direct hand moving over her in answer to her prayers than you would be compounding your mistakes. There is nothing pious in the act of an animal sacrifice, God does not desire it, and unless the food you offer is distributed to the poor, then nothing good comes from it.

Listen:

There is wisdom in the writings of Ecclisasticus and there is also falsehood, they present themselves as binary messages in the same reading.

Honor your father and mother, but do not expect a reward for it, neither from heaven or even from them, for there are no guarantees in this life.

Honor you mother and father, your sister and brothers, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, your nieces and nephews, honor them all. Honor your teachers, and your classmates, your co-workers and your employers, honor the stranger who comes into your midst, honor them.

To honor people is good in its own right. You honor yourself in doing so, and through the service you give to everyone, near and far from you, through that service you also serve and honor God.

Do it without the thought of reward to yourself, because you will not be rewarded.

Remember:

Do not fear God. There is no blessing in it. Fear is not a blessing but rather the path to sin and darkness.

Trust in God, have faith and confidence in God’s love and in God’s word.

Remember God’s servant; Job. Remember that the Sun will burn you, as readily as it will warm you; scorch the earth as easily as it will feed the crops.

God sends the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.

If you find yourself asking: Where is the house of the God? Know this, it is not a palace, or a temple. God, creator of the universe does not dwell in Zion; Israel, God is not a king, not a lord, and not a god among gods or the ruler of many gods.

God is infinite and beyond our comprehension, God is in all places at all times and in the hearts of each and every one of God’s children.

God dwells in the human heart, the heart is the temple of God, and that is where we true worship takes place.

Look into your own heart, and into the heart of your neighbor, you will see the face of God peering back at you.

Happy are they who dwell in the place of God.

God, the creator of the universe, is loving, compassionate, and wise. God created all of us with the capacity for each of these qualities, but God also created us in freedom and we are capable of much more. We are capable of their opposite and find it far to easy to fall into their darkness/

God has chosen you as God has chosen everyone. We are all of us, God’s children, it is for each of us now to choose God.

Be loving and compassionate, show genuine good will toward all of your sisters and brothers. Do not just mimc the expression of love you are most fond of finding in the world, this is the way to proceed in life, let it unify everything that you do as a servant of God, in the service of humanity.

A life of faith requires support and nourishment, we need it from those near to us. It is not absolutely necessary, but it is most helpful. You may practice your faith in isolation, but it is more difficult. The life of faith is not meant to be lived in a vacuum, it is meant to be lived through relationships and in community.

Be aware:

Live a life of prayer; yes, but the Apostle is wrong to ask you to do all things in the name of God.

Do what you do in your own name. Take responsibility for your actions, both good and bad, whether they were well intentioned or ill, whether you have succeeded or failed.

Strive to live a life of prayer.

If you are living and working for God. In whatever industry, in whatever capacity, at whatever calling has come to you through the world, you will be doing it on behalf of your neighbor, your sisters and brothers, your fellow human beings.

You will be working for the benefit of all people, now and in all generations yet to come.

If your work does not allow to you to do this…abandon it. Remember this always and hold it close to your heart.

When you are preaching and speaking to others about the faith, you are speaking to the children of God, the creator of the universe.

There is nothing you can do to affect their salvation. There salvation, as yours, has already been accomplished by God.

Love is its own reward, do not seek anything else in return for love, accept it as you find it in the spirit with which it is given.

Nothing good at all comes from believing in a name, it is only in loving, and in the act of caring that good things come through us and to us.

God is alive in all people, no one is excluded from the love of God. There is no proof of this, it is only faith that informs us that it is true.

Faith is not belief in a particular doctrine, or article of dogma, faith is trust in God. Faith is trust.

Trust and yet be discerning:

Beware of false prophets, go, look to everyone around you, especially those who claim to be “true believers.” Look to yourself. We are all imperfect, and we all have false understandings of who God is.

Each of us in our own way confounds our knowledge of the truth with our hopes and desires for ourselves.

Trust God, and be mindful God is beyond the propositions we generate about God.

The purpose of the church is to foster belief in God, which means to nurture faith, and faith is trust.

Trust God, trust the image of God that was present in Jesus. That same image that is present in you.

Trust God and forgive.

Accept forgiveness.

Allow yourself to love, and be loved.

You are worthy of it, as is everyone, and you no-more than anyone.

God lives in the obedient and the disobedient, the faithful and the unfaithful alike. Remember this, God lives in all people, God knows you and God knows them, God knows us, even as we know ourselves.

God knows us better.

God will hear you, God is with you.
Take the things we have been preaching on and apply them to the Gospel for today:

The narrative is a myth. It does not give us any reliable information about who Jesus was, or about his relationship with his parents; even though it purports to do so.

This is unfortunate but it is the normative experience of reading the gospels.

The reading for today does tell us something about what the author of Luke wanted us to believe about Jesus. That his parents were faithful and observant Jews. He wants us to believe that they obediently went to Jerusalem for the Passover as required of them by the law, where they were counted and made their offerings to the temple.

The authors of Luke were also trying to tell us that Jesus was wise beyond his years, that he was capable of self-direction, that he had a sense of mission and purpose for his life, even as a child. The authors of Luke also want us to believe that Jesus understood at this early age, long before his adult ministry began, that he was, in a unique way, a child of God. Finally, Luke wants us to understand that his submission to the authority of his parents was voluntary.

What is unfortunate about this narrative is this; instead of informing us about who Jesus is, it muddies our understanding by mythologizing him, and instead the reading only tells us what the authors of Luke wanted us to believe, what their followers hoped was true.

Though the authors of Luke could not foresee this, these writings would come divide the Christian community, to divide it from itself and precipitate centuries of bloody conflict over the question of Jesus’ divinity, his humanity and the relationship between the two.

I contend that the man who was Jesus of Nazareth, Joshua son of Joseph, would have been aghast at those developments. Jesus, the man spent his life and went to his death as a champion of justice, an advocate for mercy, as a healer, as an advocate for the poor, for the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the widow and the orphan.

Luke’s narrative is therefore a cautionary tale, reminding us of the necessity to cleave to the truth at all times, to separate our hopes, our desires, and most importantly our fears, from values we wish to convey.

Then and only then do we honor God, then and only then do we show the reality of our faith.


First Reading - 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 ©

This is the Child I Prayed For: He is Made Over to the Lord.

Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’

When a year had gone by, the husband Elkanah went up again with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfil his vow. Hannah, however, did not go up, having said to her husband, ‘Not before the child is weaned. Then I will bring him and present him before the Lord and he shall stay there for ever.’

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her together with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’


Alternative First Reading - Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17 ©

He who fears the Lord respects his parents

The Lord honours the father in his children, and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.

Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins, he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.

Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own, he shall be heard on the day when he prays.

Long life comes to him who honours his father, he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.

My son, support your father in his old age, do not grieve him during his life.

Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy, do not despise him in your health and strength; for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten but will serve as reparation for your sins.


Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord
  and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
  You will be happy and prosper.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
  in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
  around your table.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Indeed thus shall be blessed
  the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
  all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!


Alternative Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 83(84):2-3,5-6,9-10 ©

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
  Lord, God of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning,
  is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
  to God, the living God.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

They are happy, who dwell in your house,
  for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
  in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer,
  give ear, O God of Jacob.
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield,
  look on the face of your anointed.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.


Second Reading - Colossians 3:12-21 ©

Family life in the Lord

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.


Alternative Second reading

1 John 3:1-2,21-24 ©

We are Called God's children, and That is What We Are

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are.

Because the world refused to acknowledge him, therefore it does not acknowledge us.

My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.

My dear people, if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience, we need not be afraid in God’s presence, and whatever we ask him, we shall receive, because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life that he wants.

His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us to.

Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him.

We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.


Gospel Acclamation - cf. Ac 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!


Gospel - Luke 2:41-52 ©

Mary Stored Up All These Things in Her Heart

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

  Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

  He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.

The First Sunday of Christmas
Feast of the Holy Family

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Homily – The Gospel of John 20:19-31 ©


The Readings of the Day – 2018.04.08

First reading: Acts 4:32-35
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 117(118):2-4,15-18,22-24
Second reading: 1 John 5:1-6
Gospel Acclamation: John 20:29
The Gospel of John: 20:19-31


Faith is Trust, Not Belief

The Gospel for today moves us for away from the ministry of Jesus and into the life of the early church.

Note well, John’s Gospel was written roughly one hundred-twenty years after Jesus died. This reading contains some fascinating glimpses into the life of John’s community, and it tells us less about the ministry of Christ.

John’s Gospel says that the apostles hid in the upper room for fear of the Jews; this indicates that deep division has already taken place in the nascent church, between the Pharisaic Jews who founded it, and the far greater number of gentiles who quickly became the majority of its members.

Jesus and the apostles were Jewish. Ninety years before John’s gospel was written, Saint Paul was active in his ministry to the gentiles, arguing with Saint Peter over the question of whether gentiles must first become observant Jews before they could join the church.

St. Paul was against this, and he won the argument. The church, in its infancy, opened itself to the world, and after ninety years of transformation it would come to see the Jewish tradition and its people, from which it was born, as anathema to itself.

There was great concern for the church and its authority in this time. Jesus is transformed from prophet to priest, he does priestly things; commissioning the disciples, instantiating their office, and empowering them to pass judgement on people, to forgive or not forgive sins as the disciples (and their heirs) saw fit.

This portrayal is a betrayal of the actual ministry of Jesus and it flies in the face of the historical account.
Jesus was not a priest, he was a prophet.

Jesus forgave sins, and encourages the disciples to forgive sins, not because they had the special power to do so, but because God, the creator of the universe, forgive sins.

When Jesus and the disciples forgave sins, they were not so much performing a deed as they were proclaiming God’s intention for creations, and God’s abiding love for the creature.

When the prophet proclaims absolution, they are not exercising a special power, they are articulating the will of God, they are announcing that God has already forgiven them.

This Gospel reading encourages the people to respond to mystical deeds and magical happenings; to ghostly apparitions and visions, as if the claim that these supernatural events took place could lend a greater authority to their position in the church and the work that they did.

Many people are taken in by this sort of thing, but every appeal that the teaching authority makes on the conscience of the believer that relies on the magical and the super-fantastic must always be understood as fabrication, as a failure of those authorities and seen for the lies that they are.

At is core we must always uphold that Jesus calls us to abide by the Spirit of Truth in our service to the church. When we lie, we undermine its foundation

In the final passage of the Gospel for today, the writer puts forth the notion that the miracles were real, that they were performed so that people would believe that Jesus is (in a special way) the son of God, and that through this belief (as if their belief were the key to a secret door) they would come into the church named after Jesus, and thereby become candidates for eternal life.

The construction of this ideology is:

Come to the church where the Gospel is given, learn the name of Jesus Christ, believe in it. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believe this and you will be rewarded with eternal life.

The scheme of this idiom is essentially Gnostic, a system of believe that the Church attempt to reject in this same era, but ultimately it could not. The Gnostic strain of thought had significant appeal and the teachings of the Church reflect compromises that its leaders made with those movements in order to allow their adherents to set them aside and join the mainstream.

We should to, continue the work of rejecting those Gnostic strains of thought; their reliance on magic, the super-natural, and the fantastic. More importantly, we should reject the notion that there is some kind of exchange that must take place before one of God’s children can become the beneficiary of God’s saving will. Salvation is not transactional, it is a natural movement of the will of God, moving from the Divine out toward the creature.

The meaning of faith is trust; the faithful trust in God.

The meaning of faith is not belief, belief is something we hold in a proposition or an article of dogma.

A person may have faith in a belief, they may also believe in the things they trust in. But faith and belief are not the same thing. The distinction between them is important.

Christian faith is not this; believe in Christ so that you can be saved.

Christian faith is this; trust God, you are saved already.

Everyone who is, was begotten by God. We are loved by God, we are called upon to love God in return, to love the ineffable, the transcendent, the infinite.

The ministry of Jesus, the ministry we follow, call on us to act out of our love for God, to love all of God’s children; to love them equally and without preference, whether or not they believe what we believe or trust in the same things.

Note well, the profession of an ideology, of beliefs doctrine, this is not an act of love.

Keep God’s commandment, as Jesus said: love your neighbor as you love yourself, care for them as you care for your own, do not equivocate.

Do not assume that just because a person professes to love God; God who created the universe, that this person actually has love in their heart. Such a profession is a good first step, but it is not proof of anything. The profession of love is not the act of loving.

Know this; being a Christian, being a follower of Jesus, this does not confer any special benefit on a person; not in this life or the next.

Being a Christian, having accepted the responsibilities of following Jesus, this only confers a special responsibility on the follower; the responsibility to treat all people as God would, as beloved members of the divine family.

Hold to this truth: God is kind, loving, and merciful. Wherever God is present (and God is not, not present in any place), God’s kindness, God’s love, and God’s mercy are also present. We are called to trust in this, and to encourage that trust in others. God comes to God’s children in this way, always with kindness, and love, and mercy, even when God is exercising judgment, and administering justice.

Remember this, God has no enemies. God’s power is absolute, and without limit. God is infinitely greater than…

God does not dwell behind the wall of a city, the eternal abode of the divine is not a fortress.

There are no gates barring access to God, God is present with you, and in you.

God is in all places, at all times, in the hearts of all people. You do not need to invite God to come in. God set the table.

God does not favor one child above another. Cain and Able, Ishmael and Isaac, Essau and Jacob, Saul and David, these stories reflect the tribal and dynastic machinations of small minded and sinful creatures. They are not a reflection of the Divine will.  

God is a bringer of life, not death. God loves peace, not war.

Do not confuse a victory in battle, with God’s will, neither should we confuse our suffering, nor the suffering of anyone, with God’s will.

Consider the reading from acts for today. The author of acts is informing us of the way things ought to have been, rather than to the way things were.

We know this, the church did not conduct its daily business according to its most lofty ideals. The letters of Saint Paul to confirm it. More importantly, we have the judgement of common sense and our own experience to confirm this as well.

The reading from Acts informs us of what our aspirations should be. It is good that the author directs people toward the unity of heart and soul that we aspire to.

However, it is a disservice to hold that aspiration over the people of the Church as a factual representation of a “golden-age” that has been lost.

The apostolic era was a period that was rife with conflict.

There was conflict and misunderstanding among the disciples, even those closest to Jesus, even while he lived with them, and taught them. They denied him and betrayed him.

The conflicts of the apostolic era ended with the age of heresies, the age of heresies ended with advent of the Imperial church, after which, new heresies were persecuted through the power of the state, leading to centuries of war and bloody conflict, to the inquisition and the reformation that has never ended.

The Last two hundred years have brought us an ebb in the tide of those conflicts, but the structure of those conflicts remain.

Note well, they could be reignited at any moment.

There is not a single teaching of the Church that all Christians have agreed upon the meaning of, not a single teaching that has been held in all times and all place, by all people. Even the teaching on the resurrection has been a point of division, both among the disciples and in the early church.

It is not the teaching we believe, not doctrine, nor dogma that lifts us up and saves us. It is only the ever present love of God, the creator of the universe. Our salvation is to trust in that, not that it will happen, but that it already has


First reading: Acts 4:32-35

The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul

The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.
  The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all given great respect.
  None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need.


Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 117(118):2-4,15-18,22-24

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Let the sons of Israel say:
  ‘His love has no end.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
  ‘His love has no end.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
  ‘His love has no end.’

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
  his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
  and recount his deeds.
I was punished, I was punished by the Lord,
  but not doomed to die.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

The stone which the builders rejected
  has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
  a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
  we rejoice and are glad.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.


Second reading: 1 John 5:1-6

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has already overcome the world

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God; and whoever loves the Father that begot him loves the child whom he begets.

We can be sure that we love God’s children if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us; this is what loving God is – keeping his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult, because anyone who has been begotten by God has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world – our faith.

Who can overcome the world?

Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:

Jesus Christ who came by water and blood, not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness – since the Spirit is the truth.


Gospel Acclamation: John 20:29

Alleluia, alleluia!
Jesus said: ‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
Alleluia!


Gospel: John 20:19-31

Eight days later, Jesus came again and stood among them

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.

Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

(NJB)


2nd Sunday of Easter