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Showing posts with label Christ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christ. Show all posts

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Homily – Luke 24:13 - 35 ©

The Gospel According to Luke – 2017.04.30


Where Can I See the Risen Christ?

The Gospel writers became confused with questions about who Jesus was, about how rank among the prophets, about his historical connection to Moses, about the proof of his ministry that was given in the scriptures/

In their confusion they began to make up stories to validate their claims, and this was all unnecessary.

Jesus did not perform miracles, to prove to anyone that he was a child of God. He stressed the fact that we are all the children of God, even the leper, and the thief, the unmarried woman and the outcast.

Jesus did not come to work magic, and give signs and wonders, because that is not the God, the creator of the universe, works in the world.

The core truth in this Gospel passage is not the long story about encountering Jesus, listening to him expound the scriptures, offering proofs and arguments.

The signal truth is this, “they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.”

They had the opportunity to see Jesus in the man they encounter on the road, but they did not see him in this stranger.

They had the opportunity to see him in the faith of the woman at the tomb, but they could not understand it.

Jesus was dead, and yet the way, which he personified remains, the way is the living witness of God’s intention for creation.

The disciples were finally able to see the way, when they broke bread with the stranger they encountered on the road.

They way is community. The way is sharing things in common. The way is love.


They Recognized Him at the Breaking of Bread

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

  Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

  Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

  When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

  They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.


3rd Sunday of Easter

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 9:18-24 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.06.19

Son of God, Son of Man – The Open Secret

One day when Jesus was praying alone in the presence of his disciples he put this question to them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ And they answered, ‘John the Baptist; others Elijah; and others say one of the ancient prophets come back to life.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ It was Peter who spoke up. ‘The Christ of God’ he said. But he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.

‘The Son of Man’ he said ‘is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’

Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it.’

(NJB)

Propaganda

Jesus lived among us and taught through words and deeds. He never wrote a thing. He gave us the spoken word, the oral command “love one another, as I have loved you.” He told us in the simplest of terms, that this is the whole of the law, and the only way to serve God. He went to his death as an exemplification of the rule.

He spoke in parables, but their no mystery in them. He spoke plainly, and he spoke true. This was the source of the power in his teaching. That is why he shook the world.

In the generations that followed him, the message became contorted, and distorted. The story of his life became filled with myths, tales of power. It was not enough to tell the truth as Jesus himself told it, they had to make of him a King, the Christ, Kyrios, the anointed one, a prophet like his predecessor John, or the hero Elijah, a mysterious figure known in arcane literature, the Books of Enoch; as the Son of Man, and exalted figure, and more…he became known as the Son of God, and even as God’s own self, dwelling amongst us in the flesh.

That is the trajectory of the propaganda that dogged the story of Jesus, replacing the real with the fantastic and surreal.

Jesus was a man, he taught us about the good, and the just, and the demands of love.

We should honor the truths that he spoke to so eloquently, by seeing him for who he truly was; a human being, like the rest of us, a role-model we should aspire to.


12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 9:28-36 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.02.21 (Sunday)

The Transfiguration of Christ

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen. (NJB)

Myth and Reason

Theology; the words we use to speak about God. These words are only good and useful, if they are grounded and rational.

Mythology; the words we use to contextualize our experience, when we wish to speak in metaphors, and analogies, so that we may link our experiences to the world beyond ourselves.

These two modes of narrative are not necessarily at odds with each other, but they can be. Myth can be grounded and rational, when the motif of the metaphor, or the allegory are understood and properly balanced, when you engage this narrative with your eyes wide open. By the same token theology can be irrational, when the assumptions we make about the nature of reality, the nature of humanity, the nature of the divine, and the divine economy are not rooted in truth. Or worse, if they are rooted in fear, hate and greed.

The mythology behind the transfiguration is easily, and often misinterpreted. It is likely, that this is so because the root of the narrative in itself has its origins in a fundamental misunderstanding of who Jesus was.

It may be the case that those who first gave voice to the narrative, and those who first penned it, only intended the message to be that Jesus stood in the same tradition as Moses; the lawgiver, and Elijah; the prophet.

The motif of the cloud descending on Jesus may have only been meant to suggest that Jesus’ authority, his understanding of the divine will, came from a place of mystery.

The voice from the cloud naming Jesus as “son,” may have only been meant to convey the message that Jesus is the “heir” to the Abrahamic tradition, and not merely a “teacher” in that tradition.

This is the grounded and rational interpretation of this myth.

However, as happens most often, the interpreters of this myth point to the more sensational images in the narrative; the bright lights, and the shining garments, the presence of Moses, and Elijah (as if they were actually there), their journey into the cloud with Jesus (as if they went there bodily), the voice from that cloud naming Jesus as God’s son, as an actual declaration of paternity.

This fantasy-based in interpretation has led to great confusion through the centuries. Incredible conflict has ensued based on these fantastic beliefs; conflict and bloody warfare among Christians, and with non-Christians. All because they felt the need to take sides on the question of who Jesus was, and defend their side with violence.

It is a tragedy.

Jesus was a human being, like any other. Like all creatures he carried a seed of the divine within him, and where the divine is, the divine is present fully. The fullness of God dwelt within Jesus, just as the fullness of God dwells within each of us. We are connected and in relationship to God, and Jesus, just as we are connected and in relationship to every creature who ever was, is, or yet will be.

What differentiated Jesus from his followers was his understanding of these truths and his ability to apply that understanding in a way that points the way for us; to live in a moral and just society to, for our own understanding of that truth to flow from it.

2nd Sunday of Lent

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.01.24 (Sunday)

Purpose and Witness

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.

  Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.

He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ (NJB)

Following Jesus

Something happened in Palestine, something happened in old Judea, a movement began in Galilee, and spread throughout the world.

The Gospel of Saint Luke purports to have been written by Luke, who was physician, and a follower of the sainted Apostle Paul. Together Luke and Paul brought the “good news” to the diaspora, and to the gentiles. In the good news, there was hope, and trust and love; it was the blue print for a community that was not of this earth, in it was the promise of salvation.

Luke’s Gospel, however, was not written by a man named Luke, it was written by the community he formed, decades after his passing, and it was not dedicated to a man named Theophilus, but to all of God’s children, everywhere.

This passage tells us of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth; a Jewish man who taught in synagogues, as his followers would do in later years. He was a Jew of the diaspora. People called him Rabbi, this marked him as a Pharisee, a teacher of the law.

Jesus taught in the prophetic tradition. He exhorted people to action, he performed works of service, and he told the truth as if it had descended on him like the Spirit of God.

Any of us who have taken on the work of carrying the mantle of Christ; we must adhere closely to the central point of this reading:

Our ministry is to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives, to restore sight to the blind, and to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the jubilee (a year of favor, the forgiveness of debts).

This is working is never done, even though it is fulfilled every day.

As long as the world endures, this ministry will need to be proclaimed, the year of God’s favor, the jubilee; that year never ends. It is God’s year, it is eternal.

If you envision yourself as a servant of God, then you must be a servant of the people; there is no other way to serve God. Your teaching must be joyful, and full of hope.

If you are going to proclaim liberty to the captives, you must set people free. In the time of Christ the captives he spoke of were the populations of people who had been taken from their homes as the spoils of war. The Romans called these people servi, servus meaning servant, meaning slave. The slave economy of the ancient world does not look the same today as it did then, but there are hundreds of millions of people living in servitude, without rights, without recourse to the law. If you follow in the footsteps of Jesus, you must call for justice, and the freeing of these people.

You must restore sight to the blind, which is to say you must convince the rulers of the world, and their armies, the powers that be; you must convince them that there is other way to peace, and security than for them to relinquish their power, give up their wealth in order to foster justice for all. 
The blind are the world’s elite, the 1%, and the only cure for their blindness is the truth.

This is how you will set the downtrodden free, forgive their debts, not just once every seven years, but now and forever.


3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time