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Showing posts with label NT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NT. Show all posts

Sunday, January 31, 2021

A Homily - The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

First Reading – Deuteronomy 18:15-20 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9 ©

Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:16

The Gospel According to Mark 1:21 – 28 ©

 

(NJB)

 

 

The priesthood, any priesthood, perhaps every priesthood that ever was, none of them were ordained by God, but by human beings. Priests and priesthoods, both were ordained to serve the interests of human beings, typically those of the ruling class, most often their own. Even those individuals who are well intentioned serve human motivations, even when they come close to approximating the divine, it is only the pale image of the divine they hold in their hearts that they are attempting and most often failing to approximate.

 

There are no prophets, there is no prophecy, there are only human beings. Human beings have the innate ability to perceive and recognize what is true. But we are all, each of us compromised; every expression of the truth coming from a human being is conditioned by that compromise, and therefore it is necessarily flawed, and yet despite these flaws we sometimes do good work, but because of these flaws all human works are suspect.

 

Listen to the psalmist!

 

It is God who makes us well, who creates in us the possibility of wellbeing. God is our wellbeing, but God is not a king, and there are no other gods.

 

All of creation belongs to God, all that is good and all that frightens us; everything, no matter how distressing or troubling, everything comes from God and will redound to the good.

 

It is good to show our respect for the creator and to sing songs in praise of God, remember! Always remember that God is our loving parent, and has prepared each of us for the divine  blessing.

 

Be mindful!

 

Even the apostle is liable to asserting his personal beliefs and foibles into the rubrics of the Church. Not everything he says should be accepted on its face as wise and good.

 

Paul believed that people should withdraw from public life, stop procreation and wait on God to deliver humanity from the miseries of the world. If he could have, he would have had all of us living chaste and celibate lives behind the walls of the cloister, men living with men and women living with women.

 

The apostle errs, but the church is not obligated to follow him in this error, the more humble thing would be to acknowledge the truth and move on.

 

This is the truth:

 

It is the desire of God, the creator of the universe, it is the desire of God that we follow the way that Jesus taught, to be merciful, love justice and walk humbly all the days of our life, to prosper and multiply.

 

Know this!

 

The teachings of Jesus cannot be treated like a shell game, though they are, and have been since the beginning, as Matthew’s illustrates.

 

The way of Jesus is not a long con, it is not a bait and switch, it is a simple teaching that cannot be controlled or owned by any one group of people.

 

God, the creator of the universe, God has hidden nothing from us. The truth is in the open for anyone to see. The wise and the powerful, the learned and the clever, the weak and the meek, everyone has access to the same truth, to the knowledge of God, of justice, of hope and love.

 

Who are the wise and powerful, who are the learned and the clever, who are the faithful and childlike? In every generation, you will see a new group labeling the elder group as out of touch, blind, privileged, in the dark, corrupt. It is an endless cycle, and the truth remains the same; love justice, be merciful, do good, serve God through the loving service you provide to one another: your family, your friend, your neighbor, the stranger, even your enemy.

 

Just because a person may be wise and powerful, learned and clever, or a child of the Church, does not mean they recognize the truth when they see it, or act upon it when they do.

 

It is not your station in society, it is not how other people regard you, it is not the titles you have earned or the ways that you have been marginalized that give us the tell on how you will fulfill the calling to follow Jesus. What matters is what is in your heart and your willingness to trust in the content of your hope.

 

When you speak from the scriptures be careful.

 

When you observe the authors attempting to fit their narrative of the life of Jesus into a picture that makes it look as if he is fulfilling a prediction about the future, be wary; this is always a falsehood.

 

Even if a prediction had been 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.

 

Know this!

 

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.

 

Consider the Gospel for today, it is packed with nuance.

 

Begin by unpacking:

 

This is the first record of Jesus in his ministry as a public teacher.

 

He is still in Palestine but he has travelled to the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. He is beyond the borders of Judea, half-way between Jerusalem and Damascus.

 

He gives his teaching in a synagogue, indicating his status as a Rabbi. The synagogues belong to the diaspora, Jewish communities outside of the Holy Land. Synagogues are the seat of the Pharisaic sect of Judaism, and Rabbis are teachers in that movement. Pharisees are a distinct group of teachers; they promulgate the law. They are different from the Scribes, and the priests of the temple. All of these distinctions are communicated in the opening paragraph:

 

Jesus the Pharisee, Jesus the Rabbi is teaching with authority, unlike the Scribes in Jerusalem.

 

One man calls him out. Not because he is possessed by demons, but because he afraid of what Jesus’ teaching represents.

 

He asks a good question, “What do you have to do with us?” This indicates that Jesus is an outsider.

 

He asks, “Are you here to destroy us?” This indicates that he perceives Jesus’ teaching to be a threat to the established order, and therefore quite possibly to his entire community.

 

He addresses the claim that Jesus’ followers are promoting, that he is the “Holy One of God.” He asserts this in an unfriendly manner, quite possibly as a charge against Jesus: a charge of hubris at the least, though it is potentially a charge of blasphemy.

 

By raising this charge he intends to undermine Jesus’ authority in the synagogue. Jesus commands the man to silence, and Jesus prevails. This scene is depicted dramatically in the gospel, as if Jesus were commanding an unclean spirit to come out of the man, a spirit of disobedience and falsehood. It is presented as Jesus casting out a demon or demons, and healing a man who was possessed. Though it should be presented as Jesus commanding his authority to convert a dissident into a believer.

 

The narrative does not depict a supernatural challenge to Jesus’ authority, but an ordinary challenge from a member of the community. It was not easy for Jesus to convince the man, it was a convulsive struggle, but Jesus prevailed; he prevailed because the community had been ready to receive Jesus’ teaching at the outset, and his victory in the disputation with the man who argued with him, how he managed the situation as a healer bolstered his authority all the more.

 

Be like Jesus in your ministry, be a healer; it is the best way to serve the interests of the divine.

 

 

First Reading – Deuteronomy 18:15-20 ©

 

I Will Raise Up a Prophet and Put My Words into His Mouth

 

Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen. This is what you yourselves asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the Assembly. “Do not let me hear again” you said “the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die”; and the Lord said to me, “All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him. The man who does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name, shall be held answerable to me for it. But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”’

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9 ©

 

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

 

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;

  hail the rock who saves us.

Let us come before him, giving thanks,

  with songs let us hail the Lord.

 

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

 

Come in; let us bow and bend low;

  let us kneel before the God who made us:

for he is our God and we

  the people who belong to his pasture,

  the flock that is led by his hand.

 

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

 

O that today you would listen to his voice!

  ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

  as on that day at Massah in the desert

when your fathers put me to the test;

  when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

 

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

 

 

Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ©

 

Give Your Undivided Attention to the Lord

 

I would like to see you free from all worry. An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband. I say this only to help you, not to put a halter round your necks, but simply to make sure that everything is as it should be, and that you give your undivided attention to the Lord.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to mere children.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:16

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Mark 1:21 – 28 ©

 

Unlike the Scribes, He Taught Them with Authority

 

Jesus and his disciples went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

 

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

 

 

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)




Sunday, December 20, 2020

A Homily - The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):2-5, 27, 29 ©

Second Reading – Romans 16:25-27 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:38

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26 – 38 ©


(NJB)



The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)



All people of good faith should be mindful of this:


God, the creator of the universe; God does not appoint kings.


God dwells in all places at all times, and there is no place where God is not. There is no heart that God does not speak to, no people that God does not love.


God was never confined to a tent, nor ever to a temple. God does not favor kings or their sons. God is not a royalist.


God does not speak to God’s servants in words, like the words that I write here.


Strike these ideas and the myths that perpetuate them from the sacred text, they represent the vanity of human beings and nothing more.


The sacred texts are not a good place for nationalism and jingoism.


We must reject this language wherever we find it!


God, the creator of the universe, God does not favor one person over another, one family, one tribe, one nation.


God is a God of love and mercy, not a God of palace intrigues, not a God of battles.



God, the creator of the universe, God is wise. We are each created in the divine image, and God’s wisdom resides there, like a seed, the whole is in the part. 


Jesus exemplified this. He did not exemplify how faith (which means trust in the divine plan), made him obedient, but how faith (his trust in God) freed him to do what he knew in his heart was right.


God does not wish us to be servants and slaves, but partners in in the a ministry of justice and mercy.


Consider the Gospel reading for today.


Whatever the truth is regarding the birth of Jesus, known by his family Joshua son of Joseph, we may say this the way, which he preached is not served by false narratives.


The stories of Jesus’ birth, the annunciation as we have it presented here, these are myths. If we read them literally we are perpetuating propaganda and lies.


God is truth, and the way of God is not served by such prevarications.



First Reading – 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 ©


Your House and Your Sovereignty will Always Stand Secure Before Me


Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’


But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:


‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’

 


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):2-5, 27, 29 ©


I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.


I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord;

  through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth.

Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever,

  that your truth is firmly established as the heavens.


I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.


‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one;

  I have sworn to David my servant:

I will establish your dynasty for ever

  and set up your throne through all ages.


I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.


‘He will say to me: “You are my father,

  my God, the rock who saves me.”

I will keep my love for him always;

  with him my covenant shall last.’


I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.



Second Reading – Romans 16:25-27 ©


The Mystery is Revealed that was Kept Secret for Endless Ages


Glory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News I preach, and in which I proclaim Jesus Christ, the revelation of a mystery kept secret for endless ages, but now so clear that it must be broadcast to pagans everywhere to bring them to the obedience of faith. This is only what scripture has predicted, and it is all part of the way the eternal God wants things to be. He alone is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.



Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:38


Alleluia, alleluia!


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


Alleluia!



The Gospel According to Luke 1:26 – 38 ©


'I Am the Handmaid of the Lord'


The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.



The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)




Sunday, December 13, 2020

A Homily - The Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ©

Gospel Acclamation  Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

The Gospel According to Mark 1:6 – 8, 19 - 28 ©

 

(NJB)

 

 

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

 

 

Consider the teaching of the prophet!

 

Praise God and praise God’s servant when the will of God is done, praise God when the divine way is taught with clarity and purpose.

 

Know this, God is the author of our well-being, if we are able to lead lives of integrity it is God, the creator of the universe who has shown us the way, guiding us and drawing us the divine.

 

This is God’s constant desire and it is right to praise God for the good things we experience and the good things we are able to do in this world insofar as all good things emanate from divine.

 

Be mindful, while it is true that God is the eternal source of all goodness, God waits on us and the choices we make for good ness and integrity to manifest themselves in our lives.

 

Rejoice in the divine, rejoice that we who are infinitely less than the infinite have been graced by the blessing of God.

Rejoice in God’s mercy and do not fear; rejoice.

Consider the teaching of the apostle and know that these words are meant for everyone, for all of God’s children whether they have entered the church or not.

 

It is God’s desire that we be happy and give thanks for all that we receive, for this is the way that Jesus taught us to live by.

 

Look for the spirit of God in all whom you meet, because God is with them as God is with you.

 

It is right and good to pray for perfection, but do not expect to find it in this world, its promise will find you in the next.

 

Listen!

 

The reading for today is a revisionist narrative. It does not represent the teaching of Jesus.

 

It is false and propagandistic, demonstrating the worst tendencies of the early church to stifle dissent among its members and sweep its competitors away, to sweep them out over the fast-hold of the threshing room, the followers of John among them.

 

Be mindful!

 

Jesus was not God, Joseph and Mary’s son is not the creator of the universe, and John was not sent by God to bear witness to anything; this is true even though John bore witness to much.

 

John and Jesus, like all prophets, bore witness to injustice and spoke against it where they saw it.

 

They were killed for it, put to death by the prevailing powers of their day.

 

In their heart, they heard the voice of God, they listened to that voice in the same place where God dwells and speaks to each of us, through that aspect of ourselves that God created in God’s own image, the imago dei.

 

Know this!

 

All of us bear a seed of God’s Word within us, the divine logos is present to us, and where God is present, God is present fully.

 

God was present in Isaiah, in John, in Mary, in Jesus, in Paul, as God is present in you and me and everyone.

 

The light that John bore witness to, is a light that dwells within us all.

 

Christians are called to follow the way of Jesus, as Jesus followed in the way of John; the way is a path of service and sacrifice, anoint yourself with these and you will be a light to others.

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11 ©

 

He has Sent Me to Proclaim a Year of Favour from the Lord

 

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me.

 

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.

 

‘I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity, like a bridegroom wearing his wreath, like a bride adorned in her jewels.

 

‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow, as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord make both integrity and praise spring up in the sight of the nations.’

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 ©

 

My soul rejoices in my God.

 

My soul glorifies the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.

He looks on his servant in her nothingness;

henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

 

My soul rejoices in my God.

 

The Almighty works marvels for me.

Holy his name!

His mercy is from age to age,

on those who fear him.

 

My soul rejoices in my God.

 

He fills the starving with good things,

sends the rich away empty.

He protects Israel, his servant,

remembering his mercy.

 

My soul rejoices in my God.

 

 

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ©

 

May You All be Kept Safe for the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

 

Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything – hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.

 

May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation  Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.

He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Mark 1:6 – 8, 19 - 28 ©

 

'There Stands Among You the One Coming After Me'

 

A man came, sent by God.

His name was John.

He came as a witness,

as a witness to speak for the light,

so that everyone might believe through him.

He was not the light,

only a witness to speak for the light.

 

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

 

a voice that cries in the wilderness:

 

Make a straight way for the Lord.’

 

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

 

 

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)