Search This Blog

Showing posts with label Moses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Moses. Show all posts

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter - A Holiday Reflection



When I was a child Easter always came in conjunction with a week off from school; Spring Break we called it, and we still do.

Spring Break always came with Eastertide, but in the public schools we were not allowed to call it Easter Break, on account on account of the separation between church and state, a separation that we are wise to maintain.

I am not sure when it happened, but at some point those conventions began to change, school boards stopped planning the spring break to coincide with the Christian holiday.

Maybe this was due to a sensitivity that had begun to develop in the broader culture, or a desire to cohere more closely to such constitutionally required demarcations, or maybe it was just because the Easter festivities follow an erratic cycle, because it does not follow the solar calendar.

Easter, like Passover, follows Selene, the wandering Titaness, the silvery-moon.

Sometimes Easter comes as late as my birthday, April 22nd, Earth Day, other times it is as early as my sister Raney’s birthday, March 28th.

In the years when Easter fell on our birthday we were able to experience the sense of being overlooked that other kids feel whose birthdays fall on holidays like Christmas or New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July or Halloween.

In one sense Easter is all-about the palette of pastels, donning spring garments, hats and dresses for the ladies, pressed suits for the boys, it is about greening lawns and budding trees, and it is about hard-boiled eggs died with bright colors and then hidden around the house. It is about jelly beans and chocolates and other candies.

There is an Easter feast, ham being the most common thing we put on the table in America.

For many people Easter has little to do with the commemoration of the risen Christ, which is at the root of the holiday. Jesus, the new lawgiver leading the people to a new promised land in a new Passove, leading the poor and downtrodden to a world beyond the veil of time and space, one that is free of pain and anguish.

When we were young my brothers and sisters and I would always watch the Cecil B. De Mill epic, The Ten Commandments, featuring Charlton Heston as Moses, and we watched him transform from prince to exile as he discovered his identity and lead his people away from a life of bondage.

It was a tradition that more clearly connected the Christian holiday to its Jewish roots than any sermon I ever heard in church.

My family rarely went to church on Easter, we hardly ever went to church at all.

For many folks, Easter marks the equinox, a celebration of the change in the arc of the sun, the angle of light, the change from the dark days of winter, to the bright days of spring.

The Christian tradition is a celebration of the risen Christ, it is a celebration of the power of life over death, and the expectation of summer, the season of planting and of hope for the future.

This Easter came at the median, falling just about in the middle of its shifting arc.

This Easter is different from any other Easter that has come before as the whole world experience a devastating pandemic, and we are all shuttered in our homes.

In America twenty-thousand people have died from it in a matter of weeks.

Church bells are ringing above empty halls. Families dine with one another by teleconference.

This Easter, as with every Easter since the murder of Jesus, there is good reason to mourn the terrible state of humanity, and some reason to hope for its betterment.

It is a day that we can ask ourselves how best we can return to life?

How can we be restored in ourselves, in our families, in our communities, and how we can share that hope with the world.

Blessings, and peace be upon you…may the force be with you, always!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

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


First Reading – Exodus 17:8-13 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 120(121) ©
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18
Alternative Acclamation – Hebrews 4:12
The Gospel According to Luke 18:1 - 8 ©


Listen, and be mindful, all you people of the way.

God, the creator of the universe, God is not a miracle worker. God does not intervene in human events. God did not speak to Moses (Moses did not even exist), God did not cause water to flow from a rock in Horeb. God did not lead the people in the desert. God is not a warrior, God does not grant victory in battle. God does not favor one nation over another, or one tribe or one man. There is no such thing as magic. Moses had no special powers, there were no powers imbued in the object he called the staff of the Lord. God did not give Joshua the victory over Amalek.

Listen!

God had nothing to do with any of these events. None of these events even happened.

This myth does a disservice to the teaching of Jesus; Jesus of Nazareth who taught us to pray for those who persecute you, to love you enemy, and to care for the stranger.

Pay close attention to what is written in the sacred text. It is instructive even in its errors.

The Psalmist here is wrong.

God will not intervene in this world, either to help you or to hurt you. God has made us free; our life in this world is free from God’s coercion.

God will not guard you while you live this life.

God will not help you or hinder you in any way.

God has made us all subject to chance, of random events and the intentions of people who or may not wish us well; who may or may not wish us harm, who may or may not know us at all or ever considered us in the choices they made.

Follow the will of God, the voice of God that speaking in your heart. Be at peace, known that our story here on earth is no the end of our story. There is refuge waiting beyond this world.

There is a final refuge in God, a place where ww will see God face to face and where God will take direct action in our healing.

Consider the world of the epistle.

The basic premise of this teaching may be true:

That the person who is dedicated to God is fully equipped and ready for any good work.

Of course it begs the question; what God? Who’s God are you dedicated to?

We are all sinners, we all live in error, even those closest to Jesus failed to understand his mission, sold him to the Roman’s rejected him and denied him.

It would be unwise for us to suppose that we can do better.

Dedication is not enough, your fervent love for God, for the Church, for the sacred text is not enough; it is can never be enough if your understanding of those things, and if your understanding of God is in error.

All of us live in error.

Be mindful of the things you say and do in the name of God. Serve the spirit of truth with the spirit of love, be humble and merciful in the name of justice.

This is the way Jesus taught us.

Remember his life of Jesus and what he taught us of God; whom he called Abba.

Is God glorious?

God is the creator of the universe, and the creator perceives the most exalted state as being in relationship to us; of caring for us as a parent would..

God desires that all of us come to this knowledge and live in its light.

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and remember:  the hopes you have for yourself and those you love are meant to be extended to everyone; even those you do not love, for that is the way.

If you think that God has promised riches and glories as a reward for the saints; remember that the first will be last and the last will be first, and that riches are not counted in gold and silver and precious things.

The divine riches are counted as love and friendship and the opportunity for service.

Be mindful!

The real presence of God is with you. God knows you, even as you know yourself.

You dwell with the God, and God dwells with you, there is no distance between us.

Endeavor to persevere.

Do not lose heart, or hope; trust in the goodness of your actions, even if they do not bear fruit; what is good is never wasted.

Justice may come from people who have no interest in it. Nevertheless, a just result is a just result.

Do not wait for justice but strive for it. Persistence is its own reward.

Do not wait for God to deliver you from your troubles here on earth; be patient, in keeping with the way of Jesus, seek justice through mercy, through love and kindness.

This may not change your circumstances, but it will change you. You will find salvation therein.


First Reading – Exodus 17:8-13 ©

As Long as Moses Kept His Arm Raised, Israel had the Advantage

The Amalekites came and attacked Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick out men for yourself, and tomorrow morning march out to engage Amalek. I, meanwhile, will stand on the hilltop, the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him and marched out to engage Amalek, while Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek. But Moses’ arms grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him and on this he sat, Aaron and Hur supporting his arms, one on one side, one on the other; and his arms remained firm till sunset. With the edge of the sword Joshua cut down Amalek and his people.


Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 120(121) ©

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains;
  from where shall come my help?
My help shall come from the Lord
  who made heaven and earth.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

May he never allow you to stumble!
  Let him sleep not, your guard.
No, he sleeps not nor slumbers,
  Israel’s guard.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The Lord is your guard and your shade;
  at your right side he stands.
By day the sun shall not smite you
  nor the moon in the night.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The Lord will guard you from evil,
  he will guard your soul.
The Lord will guard your going and coming
  both now and for ever.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.


Second Reading – 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2 ©

The Man who is Dedicated to God Becomes Fully Equipped and Ready for Any Good Work

You must keep to what you have been taught and know to be true; remember who your teachers were, and how, ever since you were a child, you have known the holy scriptures – from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy. This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.

Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching.


Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18

Alleluia, alleluia!

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our mind,
so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – Hebrews 4:12

Alleluia, alleluia!

The word of God is something alive and active:
it can judge secret emotions and thoughts.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Luke 18:1 - 8 ©

The Parable of the Unjust Judge

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’


29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

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


First Reading – Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-4, 12-13, 17, 19 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Colossians 5:19
The Gospel According to Luke 15:1 - 32 ©


(NJB)


Be mindful!

Always remember that God, the creator of the universe does not intervene in human events. God never has, and God never will.

All of creation is free from divine coercion.

God loves all of God’s children, God loves us equally, and does not favor one person above another, one family, one tribe or one nation.

God does not reach into our world to punish us, neither does God reach into our world to reward us.

Moses did not speak to god, if such a person as Moses ever even existed, God speaks only in the hidden chamber of heart. God speaks to everyone there.

Remember this.

The destiny God has planned for us, God laid out at the beginning of time. We all share in the same destiny and God will deliver all of us to it that is the promise and it is a destiny that is not of this world.

Listen:

With God there is never justice without mercy. When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that already found us.

When we possess knowledge of our wrongdoing and are contrite, that contrition is like the shower that washes us clean, but God had forgiven us before we ever sinned or came to know the meaning of it.

We are all sinners, we are all animals, no different than the wolf or the lion, but God speaks to us from our innermost being, God is present at our core; in this way God gives us the power, and the grace to overcome our animal nature and live a holy life; God calls us to a life of conscience.

Follow the example of Jesus.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven, just as Jesus said when he was dying on the cross, forgive them, they know not what they do.

Listen!

Do not look for God’s hand in the tribulations we suffer here, or the rewards we enjoy on earth, they are like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral and bound to end.

Do not think of rewards and punishments, follow Jesus instead.

Jesus was a healer.

He made the entire purpose of his life the proclamation that we are saved, which means to be made well.

Jesus was a healer.

Salvation was his message, and a constant prayer on his lips.

Be well, that was his command. Love one another, and know that you are saved already. You are saved; not because of anything that you have done to deserve it, not because Jesus made it so, but because God loves you, God knew you from the beginning of time, and God made a way for you to find the blessing that has been prepared for you.

Jesus was a healer, his life’s mission was to heal, and to teach us to love.

Remember the life of Jesus, and God; whom he called Father

Ask yourself this:

Is God glorious?

What is it to be glorious in the sight of the divine?

God is the creator of the universe. God’s greatest place is in relationship to us; in relation to God’s children as a loving parent.

When we come to the full knowledge of God that is what we will understand, that God prays for us, hopes for us, loves us and even trusts us, just as God has called us to in return.

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and peace.

Remember, that the hopes you have for yourself and for those you love are meant to be extended to everyone; even to those you do not love, for that is the way God leads us.

If you think the glory of God is the promise of riches and status and the elevation of station, if you think that is the inheritance of the saints; I ask you to remember that the first will be last and the last will be first, and that riches are not counted in gold and silver and precious things.

Be mindful of what the apostle says.

The apostle tells us in the simplest of terms that the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation of all people in God.

Everyone is reconciled in God’s loving embrace, by God who created the universe.

The members of the church are meant to be ambassadors of this good news.

The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, with the purpose of signing up members, for whom the reward is reconciliation.

Know this:

The reconciliation has already occurred, it occurred in Christ at the beginning of time, in the act of creation, through whom the whole of it came into being, and without whom not one thing would exist.

The mission of the church is to proclaim it.

Consider all of the readings for today, they are as they often are, about stewardship, about service, mission and belonging.

There are not two kingdoms. There is only what belongs to God; God who created the universe, in whom all things exist, and by whom we all live and breathe.

There are not two kingdoms, as there are not two sheep-folds and there is only one shepherd. Even the sinner, depicted here in today’s Gospel as the lost sheep, even that sinner belongs to God and not some other nameless non-existent being.

No matter where you are, no matter who you are, you are God’s beloved.

You are more precious to God than a sum of great wealth. If you have lost your way God will find you, listen for the voice of the divine, you can hear it in your own breathing, be mindful, and sensitive to tugging at your heart, that is the hand of God pulling you toward the divine.

Every sinner is welcome, no matter what state you are in. Your return is an occasion of joy.

God is like the farmer, and the householder, whose son returns after squandering his inheritance.
Most of us (in one way or another) are like the prodigal child; eager, self-centered, ungrateful, and pushy.

We demand things that we have not earned and squander what does not belong to us. We lead shameful lives, either in public or in private. We are small minded and petty. We get into trouble and look back to those who have always been there for us. We look to those who love us; knowing that we can count on their love again.

In today’s reading God is the loving parent, and we are each of us the sinful child. Some of us have the character of the spendthrift son who squandered everything and found himself, destitute, a stranger in a faraway place. Others of us are like the stalwart child who stayed by their parent’s side doing everything that was asked; from a sense of duty and not from love.

Some of us learn from our mistakes, and come to know the meaning of love, turn around and come home.

Others of us are so hardened by pride that we cannot forgive those who do not lead lives as exemplary as we perceive our own to be.

God is patient, and waits for them both.

We are all called to humility.


First Reading – Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14 ©

The Lord Relented and did not Bring on His People the Disaster He Had Threatened

The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’

But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: “I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.”’

So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-4, 12-13, 17, 19 ©

I will leave this place and go to my father.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
  In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
  and cleanse me from my sin.

I will leave this place and go to my father.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
  put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
  nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

I will leave this place and go to my father.

O Lord, open my lips
  and my mouth shall declare your praise.
My sacrifice is a contrite spirit.
  A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

I will leave this place and go to my father.


Second Reading – 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ©

Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith. Mercy, however, was shown me, because until I became a believer I had been acting in ignorance; and the grace of our Lord filled me with faith and with the love that is in Christ Jesus. Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown to me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life. To the eternal King, the undying, invisible and only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18

Alleluia, alleluia!

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our mind,
so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19


Alleluia, alleluia!

God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself,
and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Luke 15:1 - 32 ©

There will be Rejoicing in Heaven Over One Repentant Sinner

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

  ‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.

  ‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’

  He also said, ‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

  ‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

  ‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

  ‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

  ‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’


24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)