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Showing posts with label Elijah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elijah. Show all posts

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saint Patrick’s Day

The feast of Saint Patrick, we celebrate the day of his sainthood, the ascendancy to heaven of a British man, who was of Roman heritage, and lived sometime in the fourth and fifth centuries of the Common Era.

He is the patron saint of Ireland, but he was not Irish at all, he was a Roman of the Patrician class, he was from a family of rank, and privilege.   

He is credited with converting the people of Erin, to faith in the Universal Church, the Church of Jesus, separating the Celtic people from their Gaelic traditions, and subordinating them to Catholic Church of Rome.

Small wonder that he was named a saint for this, Patricius. He won with the word what could not be accomplished through war.

It should be noted here that Saint Patrick has never been canonized, or even beatified by any Pope. He is not officially a Saint of the Catholic Church, but he is recognized in the annals of Saints of the Church of England.

History tells us that he was a humble man, a rare quality for those of rank. History also tells us that he proofed the plan of spreading the faith through the conversion of chieftains, he was a politician first.

He spread the faith, he established churches earning the rank of Apostle.

History tells us that his mother was a relative of Saint Martin of Tours, the patron Saint of Soldiers, Saint Martin of the Sword whose Biography was written by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, and is in fact a fiction, Saint Martin never lived, but his story gave license for Christians to be soldiers and brought the Roman legions into the fold.

He is said to have had heroic piety, praying day and night, in the mountains and the woods, through storms of snow and ice and rain, he should be the patron saint of post men if this were true, but all hagiographies are lies.

His story tells us that he spent six years as a captive and servant to a Celtic Chieftain and Druid named Milchu in Dalriada, where he mastered the language and their stories.

However, it is more likely that he fled his home to wander abroad in order to escape the duties that were expected of him as the son of a noble. Such departures were so common that it was referred to as the “flight of the curiales,” boys running from their responsibilities.

Rather than being taken captive it is more likely that he paid for asylum in Milchu’s house, and paid for the the services of teachers to help him learn the language.

The Druids were great teachers and oral historians that much is true.

The story of his escape (if it was in fact an escape from servitude), and subsequent journey were of his own account. He cast the entire experience in dramatic, even biblical terms, both to cover up his crimes of abnegation, and to acquire fame.

It is said that he escaped from Milchu and fled to the mainland of Europe, entered the priesthood and became a missionary. On his return to Ireland however, the first place he went was to his former home in Dalriada. Where, after some period of conflict and the affectation of some miracles, Milchu immolated himself to make way for Patrick. He threw himself on a fire after burning the collected scrolls and mysteries of his people, a human sacrifice at the foundation of the church in Ireland.

It looked more like the ritual destruction of the Celtic people in favor of the ascending Romano-British invaders.

On Easter Sunday, 433 a conflict of will ensued, the historians mythologized it as a battle of divine forces likening the contest between the Roman Saint Patrick and the CelticArch-Druid, Lochru, to the contest between Moses and the Egyptians, or Elijah and priest of Baal, and this contest ending with Saint Patrick magically hurling Lochru into the air, and breaking him to pieces on a sharp rock.

It was another ritual murder at the foundation of the Celtic Church, a human sacrifice to be sure.

This same Saint Patrick was said to have been able to raise the dead.

It should be noted the Columbanus, who was the most significant representative of the Irish Catholic Church after the Dark Ages, who lived and wrote and sent missionaries from Ireland to Continental Europe, building Churches and found religious communities, he makes no mention of Saint Patrick at all in his writing, and asserts that the Church in Ireland was founded by a man named Palladius.

The entire legend of Saint Patrick could be a myth designed to subordinate the Irish heart to a British noble of Roman descent.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Homily – Matthew 17:1 - 9 ©

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.03.12

The Transfiguration

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.

  As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’

Constructing Idols in Narrative

As Christians we are bound to read the Gospel in the context of its truthfulness.

Let the Spirit of Truth guide us, even if it means rejecting a passage such as this.

There may have been an event, when Jesus together with James and John went up the mountain by themselves.

It may have been that at such event Jesus connected for his followers the essential message that his ministry was in line with that of Moses, the liberator, the law giver; and Elijah, the truthteller.

The supernatural events described here did not happen.

God, the creator of the universe does not engage in supernatural activities. God is the author of nature and its laws. God does not violate these laws for any reason.

The disciples were also to understand that the ministry of Jesus was also in keeping with that of Enoch, for Enoch is the Son of Man, and he was expected to return.

Jesus warned the disciples that his ministry would lead to his death, but like Enoch, the Son of Man, death would not stop him. He would return.

Always read the gospel in such a way that you strip from it the fantastical elements. Those are not elucidating and they are contrary to the way.

Read through those fantasies only to understand what they tell us about what they people believed who witnessed Jesus’ life, and wrote his story. There is no other wisdom to be had from them.

2nd Sunday of Lent

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 31, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 4:21-30 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.01.31 (Sunday)

The Prophet at Home

Jesus began to speak in the synagogue: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’

  But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’ And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

  ‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

  When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away. (NJB)

Calling, Gifts, and Responsibility

There is a pattern in the Gospel narrative that plays itself out through all of the books. The pattern is this; the people who purportedly know Jesus best, understand his mission least. He is best understood by the marginalized, the stranger, the outcast, and the voiceless.

Those who are best acquainted with Jesus, the people of his home town, the disciples, Saint Peter--chief among them; they are quick and eager to accept him, but are often confounded, and left bewildered when Jesus does or says something unexpected.

The reading comes to us near the beginning of Luke’s narrative and it highlights this dilemma. In the first paragraph the are delighted by Jesus and love the things he says, but Jesus discerns something in them that causes him change his tone, he cautions them; give them a warning. He reminds them of how quick people are to turn against the ones they love and revere, to turn against their leaders and prophets as they did in the past with Elijah, and Elisha.

The warning is stern, the blessings of God will not flow if you are only looking after your own interests, and if you are uncaring about the interests of your neighbor, of the alien, and of the stranger.

Justice and mercy, love and hope, these things flow from God only insofar as they flow from the human heart. This is not quid pro quo. God is not in the business of matching our contribution, our gifts of compassion are God’s gifts of compassion, human agency is the only path by which God enters the lives of human beings.

If we are not doing the good work of God, the good work will not get done.

The people of Jesus’ village mistook the power that Jesus had; to heal and restore, and the fame that was gathering around him, as something belonging to them, something they had a right to, something to use for themselves, and because of this self-interest they were not able to receive it at that time.

In the same way the disciples continuously misunderstood Jesus’ ministry. They chastised him for talking to women, for eating with outsiders, and they abandoned him on the night he was arrested. Saint Peter, the rock of the Church, denied him publicly. Only a handful of women, remained by his side until the very end.

Most Christians today are in the position that the townsfolk of Nazareth were in, at the time Jesus delivered this teaching. They believe that being a Christian gives them some special status in the world, as if God loved them more than God loves any of God’s children. The believe that God will reach down and save them, while letting so many billions of others go to burn.

People who believe this could not be more wrong.

The only thing you receive from being a follower of Christ is the burden of responsibility to love your neighbor as God loves them, to love them as you love God.

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time