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Showing posts with label Providence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Providence. Show all posts

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Homily - The Gospel of Luke 3: 10 - 18

The Gospel of the Day – 2015.12.13 (Sunday)

The Wisdom of John

When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’

 A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.


The Annointed

The authors of Luke, want to tell us about something about Jesus, through a narrative about Saint John the Baptist.

Let us take a moment and reflect on the wisdom of John given to us here.

The spirit of truth was in him, as it is in all of us. The people then, God’s children, were as we are today; created in the divine image.

We are all formed in the image of God; with innate capacities for reason, wisdom, and love. It is these qualities that we are referring to when we say that we are made in the image of God; creator of the entire universe.

Everyone, and everything in the universe, every moment of time flows from, and is sustained by the providence of God.

We did not then (in the time of John), and we do not now need to wait for an anointed one, for a Christ to preach to us and tell us the truth. The truth is spoken all around us, in ordinary moments, in normal conversation, the truth is speaking to you in your own heart, at the core of your being, from that seed of God’s Word that is germinating within you; just as it was spoken by John to those that followed him.

“What must we do?” The people asked.

Act mercifully.
Be kind.
Act justly.
Be well.
Act lovingly.
Do no harm.

Execute your offices, and fulfill the trust that has been placed in you faithfully; without corruption.
There is nothing extraordinary in these precepts. This is the ordinary way of life that we are called to.

And yet it was stunning for the people to hear the truth spoken so simply; with such conviction, so alarming that those who listened to it thought John might a divine being.

Why is this our response to the truth when we hear it?

It is precisely because the solution to the world’s sickness (sin and the love of evil) is so simple, that when we try to imagine these solutions coming to fruition in our own lives, we get lost in the overwhelming reality of what is. As if we were trying to hold back an ocean of greed, hate, and fear with a wall made of paper, as thin as a wish.

In the here and now we all know what the solution is, and yet we have no faith in one another that each of us will do our part, and worse yet; many have no desire to do their part at all. The realities of sin and evil are so vast that when we try to imagine resolving them with the only solutions that are available (love and mercy), the scope of the problems takes on a cosmic significance.

Remember this, no matter how great the reality of sin and evil are; they are rooted in time and space, they are finite, and as such they are infinitely less than the infinite love of God.

John was wise when he set aside a claim to divinity; the expectation that he was himself an anointed being come to solve the world’s problems. He knew that they would not be solved in his lifetime, not in the final sense, because it is part of the human condition. He also knew that another would come to pick up his mantle, and carry on that work, because h truth is spoke in every generation, in every community, in all times. Again John was wise to point his followers to the future, because we are led into the place of justice and mercy only by our desire for it, and by the power of hope, through the expectation of it.

It is not necessary for us to believe as the Gospel writers did, that John was pointing to the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, because, if it had not been Jesus, it would have been someone else, as it will be someone else in our own future. This is because God’s redemptive work never ends.
When we are on God’s threshing floor, we came their as we are, a complete person, we came as the whole stalk of wheat. That is how we encounter God, in our entirety; each of us a whole person. The wheat and the chaff are not separate people, sinners and saints. We are each of us the wheat, and the chaff together.

It is the encounter with the divine that frees us from the qualities that bind us to our own sins. Gods winnowing fan blows against us like the wind, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit blowing over us and flowing into us; freeing us from the fear, and hate, and desire they cause us to lie, cheat, steal, and harm our neighbors, even those we love. The Spirit ruhah carries us to the fire where all of that doubt is burned away, not in a fire of prosecution, judgement and destruction, but in the fires of 
transformation, and purification, and hope.

The Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Homily - The Gospel of John 18: 33 - 37

The Gospel of the Day – 2015.11.22 (Sunday)

Christ the King?

‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Pilate asked. Jesus replied, ‘Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?’ Jesus replied, ‘Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.’ ‘So you are a king then?’ said Pilate. ‘It is you who say it’ answered Jesus. ‘Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.’ (NJB)

The Trouble with Analogies

It is an unfortunate moment in the development of our faith; that the gospel writers felt compelled to use the narrative, of Jesus’ arrest, to give Jesus any claim to kingship at all.

He did not seek kingship, kingdoms are human constructions. It is not a different type of kingdom that Jesus wanted to inaugurate, but a world without kings.

The analogy we ought to look for, in order to understand the Way, has nothing to do with royalty and power, with thrones and dominion, but with life; growing things, caring for things, loving things. The Way of Jesus is like living in a garden.

That language of God as king, has dogged us down through the centuries, and it thwarted the mission of Jesus just as soon as it was first put into use. It gave rise to empires, to principalities, and to the quasi caliphates that even today use the sacred traditions to prop up their greed, their vanity, and their callous disregard for humanity.

All Christians bear some responsibility for this. God, the creator of the universe is not a king, Jesus is not a price. They are gardeners.

The 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The feast of Saint Cecilia, Mother of Music

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Homily, The Gospel of Matthew 5:1-12 ©

Matthew 5:1-12 ©

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
  they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
  they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
  they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
  they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
  they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
  they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’ (NJB)

The Homily

Much has been written about the sermon on the mount. It is hard for me to believe that I would have anything new to add to that discussion, but adding something new is not as important as sharing the story itself, how it shapes my perspective on the Gospel, and to share that perspective; to keep the conversation moving.

In this teaching Jesus shares a way of seeing the world, of living in society, of understanding our relationship to the creator; one that reverses the expectation that were prevalent in his time.

He might have said; the providence of heaven belongs to all people, regardless of who they are or where they came or how far they think they are from the love of the creator, no matter creed they profess, or what traditions bind them, no matter how little they may think about God.

The gentle seek no possessions, they have nothing to guard, are themselves unguarded and free. By freeing themselves from their desires they have gained everything.

Have hope, all sadness and all mourning come to an end.

Strive for what is right and just, for what is universal, for touches all people, give up your concerns for yourself and your tribe. The narrow path leads to misery, as the broad road leads to joy.

Mercy follows upon mercy, as the sun follows the rain.

All people will come to the vision of God; as certain as they will come to know their true selves. The fullness of God is at the center of all people. That connects us; one to the other.

Accept the parentage of the divine. Take up the task God has set before us. Love justice. Be merciful. Make peace.

The providence of heaven belongs to all people, the possession of it only comes in the sharing.

If you are abused and persecuted for the sake of peace and mercy. Have no fear, the powers of sin and evil, and the pain they bring, the reality of sickness and death; they are temporary, and will come to an end.