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Showing posts with label Obligation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Obligation. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A Homily - Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)


First Reading – Isaiah 62:11-12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1, 6, 11-12 ©
Second Reading – Titus 3:4-7 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:14
The Gospel According to Luke 2:15-20 ©

(NJB)

Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)


Listen and be joyful!

What Isaiah says concerning Zion is intended for all the children of God, this means everyone.

The savior does not come as a conqueror, but as a healer, the victory is not over hostile forces, but over death and the trophy is life.

We are the sought after. Wherever we are, in whatever city we dwell, there in that place you will not be forsaken.

The creator comes with blessing for all.

Listen!

It is human beings who are obsessed with questions of kingship, set aside such fetishes.

God is Abba, father; Jesus is brother, teacher and friend.

God is the keeper of a garden, not a palace.

Let Earth rejoice and all people in it. Let us understand that God is a mystery. Let us know that all people are God’s children, and that God has no enemies.

God is the creator of all things, and all things obey the will God, what is in God’s will is justice, and mercy and love.

In the presence of God there will be no dismay. God will wipe away the tears from everyone’s face, all will be invited to the table. The feast will not commence until all of the invited have arrived.

If you have never worshipped a carved image, do not think you are superior to any who have, because idolatry can be found in more than the worship of objects, it is most insidious in the form of ideas and beliefs, doctrines and dogmas and decretals.

Be mindful.

God, the creator of the universe; God loves us.

God offers salvation to all people, and provides for it. Salvation is wellbeing, both in this world and the next. Salvation does not require rituals or rites, nor the magical of mechanism of justification. The salvation God has promised does not happen here in this world, though we can create a facsimile of it if we try happens, salvation takes place in the next world because God wills it. Our salvation does not depend on us at all.

But we are saved in this world simply by trusting in the word of God, by believing in what we hope for, goodness and justice and love.

Do not boast.

Be mindful of how the praise of God can lead a person astray.

God is not in the highest heaven, God is everywhere and in the hearts of all people.

All of God’s children are beloved by God.

God finds favor in all.

Do not let your faith circumscribe God’s love.

Consider the gospel reading for the day:

There is a lot packed into this short passage. Before we begin to explicate its meaning we must understand that Luke the Apostle, he never met Jesus. Luke was not one of the disciples, rather, he was a protégé of Paul, and Paul never met Jesus either.

Luke and Paul travelled broadly and met many of those that followed Jesus during his life. They met with James, who was Jesus’ brother, and Peter, and others, but they never met Jesus, everything they knew about Jesus was hearsay.

It important to note that while the Gospel of Luke bears Luke’s name, it was not written by Luke. None of the Gospels were written by individuals, each of them were exercises in collective development, and the writing of them took place over generations, as the communities who authored them did their best to narrate their understanding of the life and mission of Jesus in terms their audience would understand.

The Gospel of Luke says that Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus were visited by three shepherds. This is presented in distinction to Matthew’s Gospel which says that they holy family was visited by three Magi, who were “wise men” and Kings.

The magi were priests in the tradition of Persian Zoroastrianism.

The Gospel of John, which was the last to be written, and that of Mark, which was the earliest, those Gospels do not treat the subject at all.

The communities of Matthew and Luke were writing to very different audiences. As such, they tailored the narrative of the birth of Jesus in very different ways. Each in their own way created a fiction that was pleasing to the people to whom they were preaching.

This is the essence of propaganda.

Be mindful!

In order to understand the Gospels, this must be understood first of all: the Gospels contain some legitimate historical data but the facts are difficult to sift through. They are the product of artifice, they are fictions, at best they are allegories, analogies and metaphors dressed in myth.

The Gospels speak to some truths that are universal and relate some true events, but they cannot be relied on as a true account of anything.

This is not to say that they are bad, it is to say that they must be seen for what they are.

Because the Gospels are propaganda, they are less reliable as a tool to teach us about Jesus and more appropriately used to teach us about the diverse Near Eastern and Mediterranean communities that formed the early church.

Remember this at Christmas, the saturnalia, and the birth of Mithra.


First Reading – Isaiah 62:11-12 ©

Look, Your Saviour Comes.

This the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your saviour comes, the prize of his victory with him, his trophies before him.’

They shall be called ‘The Holy People’, ‘The Lord’s Redeemed.’

And you shall be called ‘The-sought-after’, ‘City-not-forsaken.’


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1, 6, 11-12 ©

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.

The Lord is king, let earth rejoice,
  let all the coastlands be glad.
The skies proclaim his justice;
  all peoples see his glory.

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.

Light shines forth for the just
  and joy for the upright of heart.
Rejoice, you just, in the Lord;
  give glory to his holy name.

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.


Second Reading – Titus 3:4-7 ©

It Was No Reason Except His Own Compassion that He Saved Us

When the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.


Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to men who enjoy his favour.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Luke 2:15-20 ©

The Shepherds Hurried to Bethlehem and Found the Baby Lying in the Manger

Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.


Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Homily - The Second Sunday of Advent, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)


A Homily

2019.12.08


First Reading – Isaiah 11:1-10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 71(72):1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 ©
Second Reading – Romans 15:4-9 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 3:4, 6
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:1 - 12 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Advent, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception
A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)


Listen!

Let your heart be filled with hope, let it overflow.

Consider the words of the prophet, his encouragement to the people; he speaks with one eye on the past and one eye toward the future, Isaiah dwells in the midst of crises and promises the people a return to the way of justice, of peace for the people, of an end to the violence and conflicts that had come to be an ordinary feature of life..

Hope is eternal, and though God, the creator of the universe, though God does not interfere in our lives or with the order of creation, nevertheless the divine purposed is draw all things and all people to God’s own self, through the eternal mystery of God’s own being. If not in this world then in the next.

God’s promise is real and true, but God will not come to our rescue in this world.

God has made you and me, God had made us, and the world absolutely free, God will not intervene in our choices or spare us from their consequences.

Remember this, God is not a king.

Listen to the apostle; the teaching of the prophets, of all our sages and seers, consider the lives of the patriarchs as they are recorded in the sacred texts, they have one purpose, to furnish hope in the hearts of the people.

Our path is lit by the lamp of hope, so that in its light we may abandon fear and find ourselves free to love one another as Jesus taught us.

Our faith is belief in the things we hope for; a world governed in justice and mercy, a world at peace. 

Be mindful!

The understanding of history is a great tool. The Christian tradition has always attempted to root itself in historical realities, though with greater and lesser degrees of success.

The study of our tradition gave birth to modern historical criticism; without which, as a culture, we would have no understanding of the uses and limitations of history whatsoever, and that took eighteen hundred years to develop.

Our stories, our narrative about the life and mission, the arrest and killing of Jesus are a part of the testimony of our faith. It helps us to locate in time the singular moment when our cultural commitment to the teachings of Jesus took place.

We remember the rule of Tiberius, heir to Augustus, and the reign of Herod, and governance of Pontius Pilate.

We recall the role that Pilate played in the killing of Jesus, we shout it out at every hour of every day in all parts of the world; that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried. This story is told unceasingly and without end.

It is long since time that we, as heirs to the ministry and teaching of Jesus, forgive Pilate for the role he played in that political murder.

John the Baptist taught us to repent, and be forgiven, but Jesus taught us to simply forgive, and thereby to accept the forgiveness that has already been issued.

Jesus forgave those who killed him he asked God to forgive them when he was up on the cross.

It is time we do the same.

The promise of Isaiah, which John echoed in the wilderness, this promise cannot be realized until we take up our part in it.

God is the author of our salvation, but we are the agents. It is incumbent on us to proceed with the healing, if the human race is to be healed.

Remember!

John the Baptist was a social critic, and that is the role of the prophet, he stood within the tradition and criticized its institutions.

John the Baptist was not alone in this, he dwelt on the margins of society along with those who saw and experienced the same troubles as he did. They were on the margins both figuratively, and literally, they represented a new movement and preached a new path for the people. They were so controversial that they had to do their preaching away from the towns and cities. That is what they did, the preached in the wilderness and the people came out to see them.

Isaiah did not foretell the coming of John the Baptist. In fact, Isaiah was not a real historical figure, but the school of Isaiah, those who wrote in his name, they offered their criticism of their tradition, and assured people that when they were gone others would come.

They foresaw that.

John did the same thing. He knew his days were numbered, and he knew another would come after him. He might even have known that Jesus of Nazareth would pick up his work, but that fact is unimportant, because he knew that if not Jesus, then another would follow; sooner or later another would follow.

That is still true today.

The prophets are among us, they are preaching and teaching and pointing out the way. The prophets are present in every generation. The voice of the prophet is present in the heart of every human being; waiting, nascent, patient, desiring to be voiced and heard.

Do not believe that being baptized and being a Christian makes you special. Being a member of one of the tribes of Israel did not make the Sadducees or the Pharisees special.

Being a Christian does not impart a special gift to anyone, only a special responsibility, a sacred burden to speak with the voice of a prophet, to demand that the unjust be just, to kindle hope in the hopeless, and to be merciful toward the outcast.

This is the way: serving the good, loving justice and being merciful to all of those within your power, or whom you have the power to help.

Do not be distressed or afraid of the harsh language in the gospel. Do not be afraid of the fire, because in scripture, fire is a symbol of our encounter with God. The fire that never ends, the eternal fire burns in the heart of God. We know this because God, and God alone is the arbiter of the eternal, and there is no other eternal being who is not God.

Listen!

Our encounter with God is a moment of transformation, of transfiguration, it comes to every person, and depending on who you are or how ready you are to experience it, the encounter might be painful, but it is not destructive.

The fire of God refines, just as the power of love, and justice, and mercy do.

Be like John. Preach the faith, love what is good, walk humbly in justice and mercy.

Spread the good news; God loves you.


First Reading – Isaiah 11:1-10 ©

A Shoot Springs From the Stock of Jesse

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots: on him the spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)

He does not judge by appearances, he gives no verdict on hearsay, but judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.

His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless, his sentences bring death to the wicked.
Integrity is the loincloth round his waist, faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid, calf and lion feed together, with a little boy to lead them.

The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together.

The lion eats straw like the ox.

The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand.

They do no hurt, no harm, on all my holy mountain, for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters swell the sea.

That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples.

It will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 71(72):1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 ©

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

O God, give your judgement to the king,
  to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
  and your poor in right judgement.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

In his days justice shall flourish
  and peace till the moon fails.
He shall rule from sea to sea,
  from the Great River to earth’s bounds.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

For he shall save the poor when they cry
  and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
  and save the lives of the poor.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

May his name be blessed for ever
  and endure like the sun.
Every tribe shall be blessed in him,
  all nations bless his name.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.


Second Reading – Romans 15:4-9 ©

Christ is the Saviour of All Men

Everything that was written long ago in the scriptures was meant to teach us something about hope from the examples scripture gives of how people who did not give up were helped by God. And may he who helps us when we refuse to give up, help you all to be tolerant with each other, following the example of Christ Jesus, so that united in mind and voice you may give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It can only be to God’s glory, then, for you to treat each other in the same friendly way as Christ treated you. The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing to your name.


Gospel Acclamation – Luke 3:4, 6

Alleluia, alleluia!

Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight,
and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Matthew 3:1 - 12 ©

The One Who Follows Me Will Baptize You With the Holy Spirit and Fire

In due course John the Baptist appeared; he preached in the wilderness of Judaea and this was his message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ This was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.

This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers, who warned you to fly from the retribution that is coming? But if you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit, and do not presume to tell yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones. Even now the axe is laid to the roots of the trees, so that any tree which fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire. I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’



The Second Sunday of Advent, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception
A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

A Homliy - The First Sunday of Advent, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)


First Reading – Isaiah 2:1-5 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 121(122):1-2, 4-5, 6-9 ©
Second Reading – Romans 13:11-14 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Palms 84:8
The Gospel According to Matthew 24:37 - 44 ©

(NJB)


Listen to the prophet

The Law of God is one law for all people. The purpose of the law is to lead the people to peace.

This is the law:

Love God with all your strength and all your heart and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Remember this: Zion is a metaphor, it stands for the center of our being, Zion represents our heart, each of us individually and the whole of us collectively.

Zion is the heart of hearts, and in the deepest chamber of our heart is the holy of holies, the place where God; the creator of the universe has written the immutable law.

It is there in the heart of hearts where God has inscribed the indelible commandment; that we love one another as God loves us, and that we return God’s love through the service we give to our neighbors, our friends and family, and the stranger in our midst.

It is in the other that God is present to us.

When the law is fulfilled in us our salvation is complete and the savior’s work is done, death will have been defeated, pain and suffering will have departed from the world.

When the law has been fulfilled we will have no need for anyone to come with power and authority to adjudicate between us. When the law has been fulfilled the world will be at peace, the people of God, all people in all places at all times, God’s children will be as one.

Consider the wisdom of the psalmist: you were conceived in the womb of salvation

Open your eyes, you do not have to seek that which has already found you.

Consider again the words of the psalmist and forget all the talk of secure cities, and ramparts, and thrones. God has nothing to do with them.

God, the creator of the universe, the living God is not a tribal deity.

God, the creator of the universe, the eternal God does not belong to one people, one nation, one world or one galaxy.

God is infinite and eternal and beyond our comprehension, and God yet with us and within us; God is the being through whom and in whom we have our existence.

Stay awake!

Listen to the apostle; it is always dark somewhere in the world, and somewhere in the world it is always light. It is easy to hide in plain sight. It is hard to work for the good and keep it private. Whether in private or in public, live up to the expectations you have set for yourself in your relationship with the divine.

Know that God loves you; Act as if everything you do will be known by all, because it will in the end when God is all in all.

Forget all about dressing God in glory, God is not a nationalist, and promoting that image of God is to promote a god of fear, a false image.

Promote the God of love, a God beyond all tribalism, all national borders and boundaries.

Reject the image of God as king, dread lord, and tyrant.

Promote a God of humility, as Jesus was humble and taught us to be; live decently and free from addiction.

God is the creator of the entire universe, all lands belong to God; all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; along with everything and everyone in them.

God did not end the captivity of Jacob, they Israelites did.
Be mindful, this is not hubris; it is the truth.

It is a greater hubris to think that God loves a special people, a single tribe above all others than to think that the Israelites escaped bondage under their own power.

Know this!

God is never angry or indignant with the people, God will not rescue us from the plight and misery of this world; that is for us to do for ourselves, but more importantly it is for us to do for each other.

Consider the Gospel for today, and know that the future history of the world has not been written.

Any suppositions about our future on Earth is merely guesswork. Some guesses are more informed than others, we can speak in terms of possibility and probability, but we cannot know anything about the days and nights to come.

Nothing is fixed, change is the only constant and everything is uncertain.

There are thousands of ways in which the plans we have laid, or the hopes that we cherish can come undone; lightening will strike, a tornado will blow, a meteor will fall, a volcano explode. A person in the fullness of their life may trip and fall, hit their head and die, leaving everything behind them without, it can happen without warning.

The promises we have received from God are not for this world.

God has promised to bring an end to suffering, injustice, hunger, illness. We can believe in this promise, but those promises are not of this world. These promises concern the world to come, a world in which human beings are not subject to the vicissitudes of the material condition, or the hungers of the flesh.

I cannot speak of that world, I will not pretend to because I have never seen it.

No one living has.

Our belief in a loving God, our hope in the words of the prophets, our trust in the Gospel, these allow us to believe that this world is real, but anyone who pretends to know for certain is over stating their case, or simply lying.

This is what we have been taught, and we should stick to it: we can live out our present lives as if the actuality of those promises were real.

That is the secret of the Christian way.

If we are just and loving, if we care for one another, then we do not have to wait for the end of time, or the world to come. We can experience something of the promise in the here and now.

In those moments, God is with us. God is always with us, but in those moments when we are working with God to bring about that better world, then God is with us in a special way, in a sacramental union.

If we trust in the reality of the things we hope for, we make it easy to live our lives as if it were true, and thereby manifest it for ourselves.

To the extent that fulfill the promise in our own lives, the presence of God is engendered among us. It is like inviting Jesus to have a seat at the table, he will have come. That will not the end of things, but the beginning.


First Reading – Isaiah 2:1-5 ©

The Lord Gathers All Nations Together Into the Eternal Peace of God's Kingdom

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days to come the mountain of the Temple of the Lord shall tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills.

All the nations will stream to it, peoples without number will come to it; and they will say:
 
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths; since the Law will go out from Zion, and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

He will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles.

Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war.

O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 121(122):1-2, 4-5, 6-9 ©

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

I rejoiced when I heard them say:
  ‘Let us go to God’s house.’
And now our feet are standing
  within your gates, O Jerusalem.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

It is there that the tribes go up,
  the tribes of the Lord.
For Israel’s law it is,
  there to praise the Lord’s name.
There were set the thrones of judgement
  of the house of David.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
  ‘Peace be to your homes!
May peace reign in your walls,
  in your palaces, peace!’

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

For love of my brethren and friends
  I say: ‘Peace upon you!’
For love of the house of the Lord
  I will ask for your good.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’


Second Reading – Romans 13:11-14 ©

Our Salvation is Near

You know ‘the time’ has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon – let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light. Let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.


Gospel Acclamation – Palms 84:8

Alleluia, alleluia!

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy
and give us your saving help.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Matthew 24:37 - 44 ©

The Son of Man is Coming at an Hour You Do Not Expect

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.

‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’


The First Sunday of Advent, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)