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Showing posts with label Magic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magic. Show all posts

Sunday, April 28, 2019

A Homily - The Second Sunday of Easter (Year C)

First Reading - Acts 5:12-16 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):2-4,22-27 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 1:9-13,17-19 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 20:29
The Gospel According to John 20:19-31 ©


Never mind the miracles stories that are presented here; they are not to believed. God is not a player, an actor, God does not do tricks or violate the laws of nature.

The narrative presented in the book of act concerns partisanship.

The nation was lost because it fell apart from within. The leaders of Israel disregarded the lives of the common people, and so the people turned to someone new. They followed Jesus, and when he was put to death by the elite, the people gave even more support to his followers.

The movement spread beyond Jerusalem, it spread beyond Judea, it slipped the borders of Palestine.

The Jesus movement, the way, contributed to the final destruction of Israel, its temple, and to the diaspora that followed, which meant centuries, nearly two millennia of suffering for the Jewish people, all because they refused to hear the message of Jesus; to love one another as God has loved them.

Listen to the psalmist!

It is true that the God is kind, loving, and merciful.

It is true that God comes to us, God’s children in a loving way. God always comes with love, even when God is exercising judgment and administering justice.

Remember this,

God has no enemies.

God does not dwell behind the wall of a city.

There are no gates barring access to God.

God is in all places, at all times and in the hearts of all people.

God speaks to everyone from there.

God does not favor one child above another.

God is a bringing of life, not death.

God loves peace, not war.

Do not confuse a victory no matter how great, or small with God’s will.

Do not confuse your suffering or that of any other with God’s will, either.

God does not interfere with these things.

Be mindful of the supernatural when you encounter it in scripture. The meaning is always metaphorical, allegorical, it stands for something else.

Consider the nature of prophecy; in scripture the work of the prophecy is never to predict the future, it is always a commentary on current events, on justice and the nature of the good.

In the reading from the Apocalypse, Saint John of Patmos claims a certain authority, it belongs to him insofar as he speaks the truth, authority does not belong to his errors.

All the saints, including the apostles and the disciples of Jesus, including those who walked with him and were closest to him, all of the erred, there is no denying it, the frequently misunderstood his mission and his teaching. They continued to err long after he died.

The central error of this passage from the Apocalypse is this: John pretends to have been given a revelation of things to come, but the future not written, because God has made us, and the entire creation free.

We are independent beings.

The Gospel reading for today is from the Community of John, this is not the same John who was exiled to the Isles of Patmos and gave us the book of revelations.

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

John’s Gospel was written roughly one hundred-twenty years after Jesus. This reading contains some fascinating glimpses into the life of John’s community.

John’s says that the apostles hid in the upper room for fear of the Jews; indicating the deep division that had already taken place between the nascent church and the Jewish people who founded it.

Jesus and the apostles were Jewish.

Ninety years before John’s gospel was written, St. Paul was active in his ministry to the gentiles, arguing with St. Peter about the notion that gentiles must first become observant Jews before they could join the church.

Prior to Saint Paul the Church was Jewish.

St. Paul won that argument, and the church became opened to the world so much so that ninety years later the Church founded by Jesus, a Jew of Judea, would come to see the Jewish tradition and its people as anathema to itself.

There was great concern in the Church and its authority in the time John’s community was writing this gospel.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is imagined as a priest doing priestly things; commissioning the disciples, instantiating their office, empowering them to hold court, hear grievances, pass judgement on people, to forgive or not forgive their sins as the disciples, and their heirs saw fit.

This flies in the face of the historical Jesus; a man of the people who was in no way a priest, though he was a rabbi, a healer and a prophet.

Jesus forgave sins, and encouraged 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 the prophet proclaims absolution, they are not exercising a special authority, an authority that they uniquely possess, they are proclaiming the will of God, announcing something that has already happened.

This reading encourages people to respond to mystical deeds and magical happenings; ghostly apparitions and visions, as if the claim that these supernatural events took place lent some greater authority to their work.

This is never the case.

As we have already stated, God does not do magic tricks. Many are taken in by this sort of thing, but such stories are always fabrications, if they are not in service to some metaphor, then they are lies.

In the final passage the gospel writer puts forth the notion that the miracles were real, they were performed so that people would believe that Jesus is (in a special way) the son of God, and that through this belief they would come into the church named after him, and thus 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 he is the Son of God, and be rewarded with eternal life.

The scheme of this ideology is Gnostic.

The church rejected it in this scheme in this same era.

We should to.

The meaning of faith is not belief, it is trust; we are not called to believe but to trust in God.

The meaning of faith is not belief, we are not called to believe in a proposition or an article of dogma.

Christian faith is not; believe in Christ so that you can be saved. It is; trust God, you are saved already.

This is the Word of God.

First Reading - Acts 5:12-16 ©

The Numbers of Men and Women Who Came to Believe in the Lord Increased Steadily

The faithful all used to meet by common consent in the Portico of Solomon. No one else ever dared to join them, but the people were loud in their praise and the numbers of men and women who came to believe in the Lord increased steadily. So many signs and wonders were worked among the people at the hands of the apostles that the sick were even taken out into the streets and laid on beds and sleeping-mats in the hope that at least the shadow of Peter might fall across some of them as he went past. People even came crowding in from the towns round about Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):2-4,22-27 ©

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

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.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

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.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

O Lord, grant us salvation;
  O Lord, grant success.
Blessed in the name of the Lord
  is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
  the Lord God is our light.

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Second Reading – Apocalypse 1:9-13,17-19 ©

I was Dead, and Now I am to Live for Ever and Ever

My name is John, and through our union in Jesus I am your brother and share your sufferings, your kingdom, and all you endure. I was on the island of Patmos for having preached God’s word and witnessed for Jesus; it was the Lord’s day and the Spirit possessed me, and I heard a voice behind me, shouting like a trumpet, ‘Write down all that you see in a book.’ I turned round to see who had spoken to me, and when I turned I saw seven golden lamp-stands and, surrounded by them, a figure like a Son of man, dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a golden girdle.

When I saw him, I fell in a dead faint at his feet, but he touched me with his right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid; it is I, the First and the Last; I am the Living One, I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld. Now write down all that you see of present happenings and things that are still to come.’

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.’


The Gospel According to 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.

The Second Sunday of Easter (Year C)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Winter Queen

A clear frozen pool
Reflecting heaven’s bounty
Mirroring the stars

Quiet at twilight
The numbing hand of winter’s
Icey fingers stretch

Capturing with cold
A slowly breaking heart, stops
The pulsing starlight

Blinking in the night
Turbulent waters, now still
The wind blows across

In this plane of glass
The Queen of Winter resides
Magic in the frost

Skin as white as death
Snowy soft, and smooth as silk
Lips bright as rubies

Her dark curls tumbling
Shining in the shadowed night
With forbidden fire

A spark of life, locked
Hidden within her breast, lost
To the trespasser

A lure for the dead
Frozen man at the lake shore
Snow up to his waist

Faded in the drift
Expiring in Winter’s grasp
Taken by Loreli

The Queen ascending
Ice blooms falling with her tears
Crystalline flowers

Graceful Loreli
Immaterial and pure
Elemental witch

She touches him, soft
His silent heart, and breathing still
A final offer

A coin for passage
The ancient nymph accepting
She takes it from him

The gift of heat, life
Guides him to the underworld
The divine moment

Slip below the plane
To pierce the shivering veil
Past the frosted screen

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sweet Jingo

A fire blooming in the heart of a flower
A new god rising in the absence of reason
Myth makers lulling the gullible to sleep
Circling the truth in concentric rings

A fire blooming in the heart of a flower
A new god rising in the absence of reason
Myth makers calling the gullible to arms
Digging trenches in fear, fixed and silent

Blood flowing from the heart of a flower
Morality vacated by icons of violence
The mind of a child succored by war
Yearning, relentless, thirsty for peril

Blood flowing from the heart of a flower
Morality vacated by icons of violence
The mind of a child bonded in magic
Falling in the dark, in the place of lies

Gravity reaching for the pealing petals
Drawing them down to the musty earth
Scattered, crushed under the boot of hate

            The bitter lesson awaits 

Monday, October 31, 2016


I am getting old.
When I was young I imagined that Halloween was for children. It was costumes and candy and imaginary play. Halloween was an escape from reality, or it was a glance into another world.
We use to go block to block in our costumes, we called it Trick or Treating, we carried pillow cases with us, taking candies at nearly every door.
We scoffed at the people who lived in the houses where they handed out little bibles, or toothpaste, or home made goods.
I remember the drill of searching through our candy, looking for suspicious things, open packages. We heard that some people hated children and would slip needles, or razor blades into the candies.
Halloween was not all fun and games, it was not just for children either.
Halloween was a deeper holiday than we thought of as children, it was not just about ghosts and goblins and friendly witches. In the celebration of Halloween there was an ages old conflict, between the Christian Church, and the “Old Time Religion;” the customs of the pagans hiding just beneath the surface.
On the Christian Calendar; Halloween was known as the All Hallows Eve. It was a celebration of the honored dead, of all the saints who had passed before.
For the old pagans; whose traditions walk hand in hand with the church, it was a celebration of the dead. Plain and simple, Halloween was an acknowledgment of all the dead, whose spirits live among us still; good and bad, honored or not, and more often than not it celebrated the dangerous, the macabre, the frightening, and the weird.
I was fourteen the last year I went Trick or Treating, and really; I was only chaperoning my younger brother. I took some candy nevertheless.
In that same year I remember the Pastor at my church lamenting the popularity of the pagan festival. Believing that the Christian feast should be honored instead. There was no fun in that.      
In the that have followed, the number of children who go out in costumes seeking candy has declined by 25%. It is no longer considered safe or wholesome.
At forty-seven I watch my pears obsess over this day still. A few of them earn an income through it, I understand that. Other have children, and for them it is a carrying forward of a tradition. Most look to Halloween or the weekend preceding it, as a cause to be drunken, to crawl through bars in costumes, to cling to their childhood and the freedom of they had as children, which they remember, or imagine.
For me it is just another day, Halloween, I do not believe that the dead walk with us. I have never seen a ghost, or found evidence of magic.

Given 1st - 2016.10.31

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Juke 7:11-17 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.06.05

Miracles and Magic and Raising the Dead

Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.


What is Prophecy?

What is the message that the authors of Luke’s Gospel are giving us; that magic and miracle making, that wonder working and acts of power are equivalent, perhaps greater than works of the prophets of old.

None of the authors of Luke’s Gospel ever met Jesus. At least half a century had passed from the time of Jesus’ death, to the time that Luke’s Gospel was written. By the time this Gospel was written; Palestine (Judea and Samaria) were completely under Roman rule, Jerusalem had been ruined, the temple destroyed, and the population scattered across the Empire in the second great Diaspora.

There were no witnesses to the events Luke describes; the raising of the widow’s son. No one to give the story of the reaction of the crowd. The story itself is a fabrication, it is a myth, it never happened, but it became a part of the tradition and was handed down as evidence that Jesus had both great compassion and great power.

There is little insight to be gained from this reading regarding the teachings of Jesus. Let me suggest this, the raising of the dead man at Nain, was not a physical miracle, it was the assertion of the notion that widow should not be left alone, with no husband, and no son to protect her. The resurrection of the widow’s son is a metaphor not a miracle, it means that in place of the woman’s son, the Church will not step up. The church will pick up the familial obligations for the woman, to protect her and keep her in life.

This is the role of the church, as a guardian of the meek, as a caretaker. This is a miracle, because it is in contradistinction to the common way of life, which would have forced the widow out into the margins of society.

God does not violate the laws of nature; not once, not ever. If we are going to accept this story as a part of the Gospel we must find a way of reading it that rules out the supernatural. Because there is no such thing as magic.

Now listen, this reading does just that. It is not that the widow’s son died, and returned to life. It is that Jesus appointed the church to care for the widow, in place of her dead son; this keeps her in life, and this is what puts Jesus directly in the tradition of the prophets, not the miracle making, the wonder working, the acts of power, and the magic, because these are fantasies. It is his work as an advocate for Justice, for community, and compassion that make him into powerful prophet that he was.

9th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of John 2:1-11 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.01.17 (Sunday)

Miracles as Apologetics

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said; ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him. (NJB)

Jesus, the Second Son

Where is the truth in this myth?

Jesus was not magic.

God is not a miracle worker.

Read literally; this story is a lie. Jesus never turned water into wine. It is likely that the entire event never happened.

There was no wedding at Cana.

Mary did not call on Jesus to work wonders. People did not follow Jesus because they saw him to wonderful tricks.

So what is happening here? It is a narrative regarding the reversal of expectations.

It may be a story about Jesus and John the Baptist. It may be an apology of sorts; a defense of Jesus given to the followers of John.

John came first, but John was the lesser of the two. The people might have expected the best to come first, like the wine at the wedding, but like the stories of the Patriarchs, the second son was favored.

This is the best understanding. The Wedding of Cana is not a miracle story, it is a parable. It intends to convey this simple truth; Jesus does not carry the mantle of John, he carries the promise of the covenant.

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time