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Showing posts with label John the Baptist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John the Baptist. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Feast of Saint John, the Baptist


A Homily

John came, and john bore witness to the light
John, born in darkness as all of us are
John saw the light, shing in the deep night
Comforted by its warmth, John felt it first
Feeling it while he was still in the womb
Kicking in the waters, as the light dawned

John was not a man prone to vanity
You would not have seen him chasing the wind
Like a servant, John harvested honey  
Faithful to the way, not puffed up with pride
John was a friend and brother to Jesus
The elder cousin of the messiah

Herald and prophet, man of the desert
John turned to us, saying reflect, repent
He came like an angel, with a pure heart
A divine messenger, pointing the way
The way is not in stillness or silence
The way is a path of service and love

He took on the burden and paid the price
John showed us how to stand against power
He came into the world ahead of Christ        
Drawing breath while he listened in the womb
The breath he drew was ruha, the spirit
Holy Sophia filled John with wisdom
.
John lived and breathed, washed in the divine flame
Dipping his cup in the fountain of life
Walking with him, by whom all things were made
John’s path was the way of humility
Obedient, unphased by paradox
Born first, and the first to be sacrificed

He lived by the Jordan, serving the light
Not perplexed, or tempted to turn away  
He saw in his cousin the end of night
He made a place for him in the desert
He prepared the way as God’s own herald
Ministering to the sick and grieving
           
Jesus and John. the Son and the herald
Working together in the name of God
Baptizing all into the way of peace
Bathing their flock in the way, in the light
Keeping to their mission even to death
John showed us the way, turn and be blessed!


From the Gospel According to Mark – 2018.06.22



Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Homily – Luke 1:57-66, 88 ©


The Gospel According to Luke – 2018.06.24


Narrative and Myth

The Gospel for today is quaint.

It demonstrates that the leaders of the early church, writing about a hundred years or so after the death of Jesus, and thirty years or so after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, that they felt a pressing need to enrich the story of their origins.

They invented myths, drafting a narrative that wove the disparate strands of their tradition in to a unity. They wanted to co-opt the strength of John’s community, to pull as many people as they could from John’s tradition, into their own, and to strip those who would not join them of any authority.

The story itself, is a pure fabrication. It can only be understood in terms of the metaphor it presents.

John and Jesus are presented as cousins, and the story depicts their entire family as beloved by God, protected by the hand of God, who works miracles in their lives.

There is variation in the metaphor depending on who is writing and when, but the basic disjunction shows John as prophet, and Jesus as High Priest, and King.

John is the goat and Jesus is the lamb.

John preaches in the wilderness, he is a man of the wild, like Ishmael, and Essau, and Jesus is presented as Abraham, or Moses; father, Lawgiver, or like David, the King.

The lesson from the gospel reading for today it that all narrative is fluid, and stories can be rewritten, all of our stories are, because we never tell them exactly as they happened. 

Take nothing at face value, and question everything.


'His Name is John'

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Homily – Matthew 21:28 - 32 ©

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.10.01


A Word for the New Church

There is a piece of pure politics at work here in the gospel.

The writers of Matthew’s gospel are making a direct appeal to the remnants of John’s followers.

This is a recurring theme in Matthew, who would have us believe that John, and Jesus were cousins.

The writers of Matthew are doing everything they can to bring John’s followers into the way, the new church, both by convincing them that Jesus was the heir to John’s ministry, and by convincing the new church to accept the outcasts, to bring them in and not treat them as outsiders.

The words in the Gospel appear to be directed to the chief priests and elders, of the temple, and the synagogue, but at the time Matthew’s gospel is being written they temple had been destroyed and the Jews had been scattered.

In reality these words are being addressed to the leaders of the new church, telling them to make room for the outsider, for the tax collector and the prostitute, and the Children of Israel who were fleeing Judea, looking for safety and comfort in a new home


John and Jesus

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’



26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Homily – The Gospel of Matthew 4:12 - 17 ©



The Gospel of the Day – 2017.01.22


After John’s Arrest

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’


The Beginning of Christian Ministry

Be wary of the Scriptures, when the authors try attempt to fit their narrative of the life of Jesus into a picture that makes it look as if he is fulfilling a prediction made by a prophet from the past.

This is always a falsehood.

Even if a prediction was made, and even if Jesus did the thing that was predicted, it is a false narrative to suggest that Jesus’ actions were in fulfillment of prophecy.

Prophets only speak of the future for two reasons; to engender hope, and to warn of danger.

The words of a prophet are always addressed to the people in their own time, in their own place. Prophecy is never meant to guide the lives of future generations, except in the cases when the prophet is addressing an issue of universal truth, such as the nature of justice, which is itself unchanging.

The Gospel writers were propagandists. They fabricated many of the details of Jesus’ life. They fabricated those details to suit their narrative about who Jesus was, why he was necessary, and what his life and death meant for the early church.

In this narrative the Gospel writers place Jesus directly in the tradition of John the Baptist, with the words “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

This is a continuation of that narrative, meant to harness the energy of John’s movement, after his arrest and murder.


3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Homily – The Gospel of John 1:29 - 34 ©


The Gospel of the Day – 2017.01.15


Jesus Baptized

Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’


Propaganda

The Gospel of John was written more than one hundred and twenty years after the death of Jesus. None of its authors knew Jesus, or John, and not any of them knew anyone who knew them.

Like all of the other Gospels, John was not written by a single person. It was written by a community of people, and more than any of the other Gospels, it was written as propaganda. It was written with the intention of arguing for that community’s beliefs about who Jesus was, what the weaning of his life was, and what his death meant to the believers, to the world and to the entire creation.

By the time Johannine Gospel is written, the early church no longer has any concern about ameliorating John the Baptist’s followers. The ethnic Jews in John’s community had either become Christians, or they were considered by the community to be enemies of the Church.

John’s Gospel is overwhelming concerned with depicting Jesus as the cosmic savior. Jesus is the Word of God, who takes away the sins of the World. Jesus is God.

When John the Baptist encounters Jesus, he provides witness for this. The Baptist does not Baptize Jesus, as in the other Gospels. He himself is at the work of baptizing. When he sees Jesus approach, he announces to his followers that Jesus has come, a man greater than himself, one who existed before him (even though he was born in time after him), one on whom the Spirit of God rests, one who will complete the baptism of every believer, because he will baptize the Holy Spirit, and not mere water.

This was the crowning achievement of the early Christian propaganda. Through this vehicle they transformed the man, Joshua son of Joseph, into the being through whom the entire universe come into existence.

And this is fine, but it must be understood for what it is, as the expressions of faith, and hope, not the recitation of history and fact.

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time