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Showing posts with label Hebrews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hebrews. Show all posts

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Homily - The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), The Presentation of the Lord


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):7-10 ©
Second Reading – Hebrews 2:14-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:32
The Gospel According to Luke - 2:22 – 40 ©

(NJB)

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), The Presentation of the Lord


Remember this; when you study the myths that fill the scriptures:

God, the creator of the universe; God is not a lord, God is not a king. God does not come into the world at the head of an army.

The temple of God is not a building, it is the human heart.

God does not speak to us through intermediaries and priests, God speaks from the seat of conscience, and there is no other place to listen to God, the conscience of another man or woman, shared with you, cannot replace your own.

Have hope, both for yourself and for all people, God is working within each one of us, God intends to bring us all through the fire. God’s fire does not destroy, it refines, and there is not a single one of God’s children who is exempt from God’s plan.

We will all pass through the fire.

Know this!

All things and person have their being in God. God is the foundation of all that is. Without God there is nothing, and in nothing there is not even the possibility of something.

If you wish to climb the mountain to find God, that is fine, God is there.

God is in all places at all times and there is no place where God is not.

You will find God on the mountain, or turn to your neighbor and see God reflected in their eyes.

Look in the face of the stranger, see it, see them and behold the face of God, in that holy presence give thanks. 

Do not worry about your own holiness, or the holiness of any other person, we all run hot and cold.

Be mindful!

God loved you before creation, when there was only the possibility of you drifting in the latent currents of potentialities, God loved you then before all that you are existed, just as God loves all things and everyone; we are loved by God, and God has made us holy.

There is no vanity in emulating the love that God bears for all God’s children, rather we are command to do it, to approximate that love as best we can.

Look for God’s blessing in the service you provide to your neighbor, to your mother and father, to your sister and brother, find your justification in the quality and extent of the your mercy.

If you look for the God of Jacob, if you do not see God in Jacob you are only looking at an idol.

Listen!

God is not confined to the pages of a book or by the ink on a scroll, neither is God bounded by the history and mythology of a people. Look to those things for glimpses of God, and remembrances of past encounters, but if you seek the living God, you will have to look into the heart of living beings.

Remember this, return to the origins of our myths!

The first time we saw God, when the first parent walked with the creator, the world was a garden and that was paradise. In that place there was no talk of kings, or the glory of battle.

Let us return to that.

Listen!

Shun the false narratives and the irrational arguments.

Know that the spirit of God is the spirit of truth, and nothing false has a place in God’s house.

Consider the reading from Paul’s letter for today, it is replete with error.

This is not to say that Paul was dishonest when he wrote this missive, I do not believe that is the case, but you must understand that his view of the world, of the nature of reality, his understanding of that was fundamentally wrong.

Understand this, there is no devil!

There is no power I the universe other than God’s. We are not at war with the forces of darkness, everything is as God wills it.

Pau is telling the truth when he says that Jesus came to set us free from the fear of death, that is the good news in the resurrection, but this was not accomplished by magic or alchemy, such as Paul describes here, it did not happen on the cross.

Jesus was not a priest, and we were not saved by his blood, blood offerings have never accomplished anything for anyone, Jesus was not slaughtered like a sheep on the altar.
He did not atone for our sins through his death, we are accountable for ourselves.

The good news is this:

 God loves us, God has always loved us, and we were forgiven even before we sinned.

Jesus did not effectuate the atonement, either with his life or with his death, he came to announce that God had made us as one, we have been one with God since the beginning, Jesus came to instill that faith in us, the understanding that no power can tear us apart.

Consider the Gospel for today, read the narrative carefully.

It is mythology and propaganda, as such it is a deviation from the way, for the way is always found in the service of truth.

The gospel writers gave us narratives concerning the early life of Jesus that are works of fiction, and while their intention was to help spread the Good News, and while they were not acting with malice. Nevertheless, they subverted the real teaching of Jesus, and left the burgeoning movement exposed to human corruption.

The authors of Luke’s gospel ask us to believe this narrative concerning Jesus: that he obeyed the “law,” following the forms of ritual and blood sacrifice that were proscribed in the books of his ancestors, ostensibly lending credibility to claims of Jesus’ holiness.

Jesus did not need this, he did not need these stories told about him to boost his image in the eyes of the people, these lies were a disservice to them and only helped to deliver the church into the hands of priests.

Jesus rejected the traditions that were not helpful to the people, to the poor, the marginalized and disenfranchised, he adhered to the prophetic tradition which insisted that God preferred acts of mercy over animal sacrifices.

Jesus taught us that the way was to be found in service; both in service God, the creator of the universe, and more importantly through the service we provide to one another, not in the fulfillment of corrupt rituals, blood-magic, and paying duties to the temple.

Jesus was not a magician, Jesus was not a supernatural being. Jesus was an ordinary man, who led an extraordinary life, and was killed for ordinary reasons: greed, jealousy and fear.

Jesus only merited the status of Christ insofar as Jesus led a life of service, which he did, serving his people to the bitter end.

We are all Christ, baptized or not, insofar as we follow the way of his example, we are anointed in our service, through our mercy, and by the pursuit of justice.

The mythologization of Jesus was a subversion of the way because it suggested that the ordinary service Jesus called us to, the service he exemplified, came from a place of supernatural power, it didn’t it came through the ordinary compassion of a human being.


First Reading – Malachi 3:1-4 ©

The Lord You Are Seeking Will Suddenly Enter His Temple

The Lord God says this: Look, I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for, yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will then be welcomed by the Lord as in former days, as in the years of old.



Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

O gates, lift high your heads;
  grow higher, ancient doors.
  Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

Who is the king of glory?
  The Lord, the mighty, the valiant,
  the Lord, the valiant in war.

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

O gates, lift high your heads;
  grow higher, ancient doors.
  Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

Who is he, the king of glory?
  He, the Lord of armies,
  he is the king of glory.

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.


Second Reading – Hebrews 2:14-18 ©

He Took to Himself Descent from Abraham

Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, Christ too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.



Alleluia, alleluia!

The light to enlighten the Gentiles
and give glory to Israel, your people.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Luke - 2:22 – 40 ©

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.


The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), The Presentation of the Lord

Sunday, August 25, 2019

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


First Reading – Isaiah 66:18-21 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 116(117) ©
Second Reading – Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
Alternative Acclamation – John 14:6
The Gospel According to Luke 13:22 - 30 ©


(NJB)


Listen!

The scriptures often point out for us what the promise of a good life should be.

If we are to have good things; they will not come from God as if by magic.

Do not expect it.

We will experience the good if we live a just life, together, if we live together as one people, caring for one another we will experience that as good.

The good life will come for everyone if our society, our civil structures, our courts, and every other apparatus of government are structured in the light of compassion, of justice and mercy, we will have fellowship, and that will be good.

It will be good in our hunger our thirst, in our sorrow and our joy, it will be good.

Be mindful!

The God of creation is the God of all people.

The God of creation is the God of all nations.

The God of creation cares for God’s children, God cares for everyone and touches all with mercy.

Trust in God. Have faith, it will lighten the burden.

Know this:

You are loved.

You will not be tested beyond what you can endure.

Though God made us into creatures capable of suffering, and we know this much to be true, we also know that God will not heap it upon us.

God does not interfere in our lives in any way. God does not lift us up or put us down, God has made us and the entire creation free.

Free to do good free to do evil, subject to sorrow and capable of joy.

There is no system of rewards and punishments laced through the things we experience in this life, those things simply are.

Be Mindful.
The grace of God is not transactional. While love fosters love, you must know this; there is always love and God is always with you.
Remember!

Jesus instructs us in the way to lead a truthful life, a life dedicated to the good of all God’s children. Jesus points the way, follow it!

When Jesus encourages us to seek the narrow way, he is encouraging us to live the best life we can, the best life we are able to live, we conceive of this as going through the narrow door, not because the path is delimiting, but because it is difficult and few will even attempt it.

God knows how difficult it is, and only asks that we aspire to it, God will lead us on the way, and through the challenges that rise before us.

The door is merely narrow, it is not locked.

The narrow door is the way of justice and mercy, of love and forgiveness, it is the way of salvation and well being.
Be mindful.

Jesus understands the human condition, he knows that nearly everyone desires to follow the way, but few can live this way completely. He also knows that the world is a better place, in direct proportion to the efforts that each of us make to live out our lives according to the way.

Our individual and collective well-being depends on our willingness to forgive those who injure us, to accept forgiveness from those whom we hurt, to be compassionate, merciful, and just.

Jesus is not the master who locks the door, God is not the judge who tells God’s servants that they are unknown. God knows each of us, even as we know ourselves. God knows where we come from, and where we are going.

God knows what is in the heart of every person, God knows, God, loves, and God forgives.

If the gatekeeper seeks to lock out any of God’s children, they do so not because they are on the narrow path, but because they are on the other path, the same path that most of the rest of us are walking.

They are on the broad path.

The broad path is nevertheless a path, it is the way that most of us sinners follow, it is a way we share with the patriarchs; with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with the prophets, all of whom were sinners like ourselves, and who were nonetheless the objects of God’s love.

Every person is the object of God’s love, whether they are on the narrow path or the broad path, whether they are trying to hold the gate closed or keep it open, they are all welcome to God’s table. God welcomes all because God is love, God is patient and God is kind.

Always bear in mind the teaching of Jesus, the last will be first and the first will last. Think nothing of your place in society, of your office or of your power, unless you are thinking of how to use those things for the benefit of others.


First Reading – Isaiah 66:18-21 ©

They Will Bring All Your Brothers from All the Nations

The Lord says this: I am coming to gather the nations of every language. They shall come to witness my glory. I will give them a sign and send some of their survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put, Lud, Moshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant islands that have never heard of me or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory to the nations. As an offering to the Lord they will bring all your brothers, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, on dromedaries, from all the nations to my holy mountain in Jerusalem, says the Lord, like Israelites bringing oblations in clean vessels to the Temple of the Lord. And of some of them I will make priests and Levites, says the Lord.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 116(117) ©

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

O praise the Lord, all you nations,
  acclaim him all you peoples!

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

Strong is his love for us;
  he is faithful for ever.

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

Alleluia!


Second Reading – Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 ©

The Lord Trains the One He Loves

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons. Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness. So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.


Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!


Alternative Acclamation – John 14:6

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.’

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Luke 13:22 - 30 ©

The Last Shall be First and the First Last

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

 ‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

 ‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

 ‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’


21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Homily - The Fourth Sunday of Advent


First Reading - Micah 5:1-4 ©
Responsorial Psalm - 79(80):2-3,15-16,18-19 ©
Second Reading - Hebrews 10:5-10 ©
Gospel Acclamation - Lk1:38
The Gospel of the Day – Luke 1:39-44 ©
(NJB)


The prophet Micah foresaw the coming of the Prince of Peace, of Jesus of Nazareth, who was Joshua bin Joseph, the child of Mary, who Saint Paul called the Christ.

Note well; Micah’s prophecy was not a reading of the future. We know this because the future is not predetermined. God, the creator of the universe, God made us and it free.

Micah’s prophecy is an expression of hope, of trust in the way of love, which he believed all people are called to.

As all prophets must do, Micah called our attention to the troubling times we are facing. There is sorrow and there is pain and there is a deep sense of alienation felt among the people, of isolation from each other and of separation from God.

This is the human condition

As a good prophet does, Micha pointed toward our future, to the hope that the Christ will come, the archetype of peace to which all human should aspire, a peace that all leaders should seek to serve.

It is easy to read things the wrong way, consider the words of the psalmist for today

The psalmist misunderstands the natural unfolding of historical events for the will of God. God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings, God is not the author of our history past, or our future histories; we are.

God is the shepherd of all people, not of Israel only, and not of the Church founded in Christ’s name.

God does not reside on a throne and God is not the general of armies. Armies and kingdoms are human institutions and when we imagine God in the role of emperor or king, price or warrior we do a disservice to God, who created the universe, and everything in it. God who loves all of God’s children with the same equal share of the divine, the infinite and eternal love.

God will not rescue anyone from human the human dilemma, not in this life, whether it is long or short, easy or hard, there is no deliverance from it, save by our own action, and but for the love of our family and friends, or the stranger if we are so fortunate.

Remember this:

God’s face shines on everyone, look for it in the face of your neighbor, in the face of your enemy, in the faces of those who persecute you. God is as much present in them as God is present in you, and where God is present God is present fully.

God did not rescue the Israelites from Egypt. They rescued themselves, and they committed horrible atrocities and considerable crimes along the way. I am not talking about the promises they broke to God, God knew that they would. They murdered and plundered, killed and robbed, put dozens of tribes to the sword along the way.

God forgave them, and loved them anyway.

God did not send the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Ptolemy’s, or the Romans, to punish them.

God did not destroy the temples.

Each of those conquering Empire’s did what they did for their reasons in their own time, just as the armies of Joshua son of Nun did in his.

The only lesson we are to draw from it is this, God will not protect you, or show you favor in this world. We are all subject to the vicissitudes of change and the random nature of change.

It is up to us, God’s children, to love, show mercy, mete justice, and care for those downtrodden. We are called it.

Service is the seal of our baptism, we are called to it. It was the call to service that Jesus heard when he accepted his death on the cross, his life was sealed there too.

Note well:

Saint Paul the Apostle made a tragic error in his early formulation of the purpose of Jesus’ ministry and the reason for his death.

When Jesus said, “God wanted no sacrifice, takes no pleasure in holocausts, or sacrifices for sin, he meant it.

Jesus did not mean to suggest that his own death was the sacrifice God wanted, the purpose of Jesus’ ministry was not that his death become an oblation to God or a holocaust rising to the heavens.

He was murdered plain and simple, it was a political assassination.

Know this:

Jesus stood in the tradition of the prophets against the cult of animal sacrifice, because he knew that the cult of sacrifice was a corrupt practice, one that burdened the poor, bankrupting them to fatten the wealthy.

That is why he turned the tables of the money changers over in his tirade at the temple.

That is why the priests plotted his murder and conspired with the Romans to achieve it.

God, the creator of the universe, God takes no pleasure in blood sacrifices and burnt offerings. They are a contrivance, witchcraft, ineffectual and meaningless. 

The only sacrifice God desires, is the sacrifice of service, offered in love, engendering hope.

Your loving service to your neighbor, is the offering God wants from you, service which furthers the ends of peace, fosters trust, seeks justice, and teaches a love for the law of God that was written in your heart.

Pay attention:

The writers of Mark’s gospel begin their narrative when Jesus was a man, an adult at the beginning of his public ministry.

The early Christians wanted more, and so the authors of Luke went back in time and narrated a fable about his conception and birth. In this fable, or myth (whatever you think it should be called) they attempted to tie up various loose ends in the stories that were being told about Jesus.
They wanted to unite different factions of the Christian movement in that was already falling apart just a half-century after his death. This particular narrative from today’s reading, was meant to appeal to the followers of John the Baptist.

It brought forth the notion that Jesus and John were actually cousins, and that even though John was older, he was a follower of Jesus from the time he was in the womb.

Just as John’s mother was subordinate to Mary.

It is a story, a fable, a myth; the whole thing is a fiction.

It is an unfortunate fiction, because a great deal of theology and doctrine has been hung from these exercises in make-believe, and such fictions were in themselves naked political calculations meant to manipulate the burgeoning movement.

The succeeding Gospels each in their turn reached back further in time. The writers of Matthew inserted a confusing genealogy; tracing Jesus’ heritage back to Adam, through David on his father’s side, and yet, at the same time, the Church insists that we believe Joseph was not his biological father.

The writers of John begin their narrative with the beginning of time itself, and the creation of the universe.

It is sad to note, that over the centuries, what people believed about these fables, ended up being the cause of extreme, bitter and deadly partisan conflict among Christians, setting  aside the actual teaching of Jesus; to love your enemies, and pray to for those who persecute you.

Remember this when you pray; remember the errors of the church, the fictions of Luke, the mistakes of Paul, the carelessness of the psalmist, and remember the hope of Micah, that the proper expectation of the faithful is for the reign of peace.

First Reading - Micah 5:1-4 ©

He Will Stand and Feed His Flock with the Power of the Lord

The Lord says this:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel; his origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old.

The Lord is therefore going to abandon them till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth.

Then the remnant of his brothers will come back to the sons of Israel.

He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord, with the majesty of the name of his God.

They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land.

He himself will be peace.


Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 79(80):2-3,15-16,18-19 ©

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
  shine forth from your cherubim throne.
O Lord, rouse up your might,
  O Lord, come to our help.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
  look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
  the vine your right hand has planted.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
  the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again;
  give us life that we may call upon your name.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.


Second Reading - Hebrews 10:5-10 ©

God, Here I Am! I Am Coming to Obey Your Will

This is what Christ said, on coming into the world:

You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me.
You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin; then I said, just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book, ‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.’

Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.


Gospel Acclamation - Lk1:38

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the handmaid of the Lord:
let what you have said be done to me.

Alleluia!


Gospel - Luke 1:39-45 ©

Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’


The Fourth Sunday of Advent