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Showing posts with label Temple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Temple. Show all posts

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Homily – John 2:13 – 25 ©

The Gospel According to John – 2018.03.04


The gospel of the day moves the reader in different directions.

The writers had a mix of motivations. On the one hand they wanted to express the understanding that the death and resurrection of Jesus was foretold by him, it was known, and it was in keeping with God’s plan.

The Gospel writers mixed in with a commentary on the social corruption of the day, with the intention of distancing Jesus and the disciples, and the burgeoning Christian movement from it. In this regard the Gospel for today is a piece of propaganda.

It is unnecessary for the writers to comment on the Jewish Passover, unless they were writing to people who were not themselves Jewish, they were also desiring to distance Christianity from its Jewish origins.

Let us be clear, Jess was a Jew, and the Passover to him, was simply the Passover.

Be mindful, the commentary on the corruption in the temple is not without merit. There was corruption, there has always been corruption in the priesthood, both before the time of Jesus and after.

The organization of religion is as much a matter of commerce as it is of spirituality, perhaps more. This just criticism must be applied equally to the entire community of believers, in all times, and in all places.

Destroy this sanctuary and in three days I will raise it up

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.

3rd Sunday of Lent

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 21.5 - 19 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.11.13

The Destruction of the Temple Foretold…

When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’

  ‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’

Beware the False Prophet

Jesus did not utter these words. They were penned by the gospel writers, years after the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed, years after the war with Rome that led to its destruction, and years after they were dispelled from Roman occupied Palestine.

Jesus was not a fortuneteller, he did not predict the future. God, the creator of the universe, God has not preordained anything.

Do not be deceived.

These are the best words, the best advice for living in the gospel reading for today. Do not be deceived. Many will come and claim to be Jesus. Every generation has such pretenders.

The gospel writers were pretending to be Jesus when they put words in his mouth that he never spoke. They thought they were doing good. Most of those who pretend to be Jesus think they are doing something good, or at the least they think they are doing something necessary. The gospel writers were no different in this.

The other message is simple. Do not be afraid.

The world will continue to be a violent, and an unsafe place. We live in a hard and dangerous world. Have hope.

If you dedicate your life to challenging those in power, you must expect that they will act against you. If you should find yourself in court simply because you are working on behalf of the poor, and the marginalized. Do not worry about your defense. Your actions will speak for themselves.

Speak truth to power. The rest will sort itself out.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of John 8:1-11 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.03.13 (Sunday)

A Woman Accused

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.

  The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and do not sin any more.’ (NJB)

The Sacrifice of Mercy

The sacrifice of mercy. That is what Jesus offers here. It is the only sacrifice desired by God; God creator of the universe.

There is little else to remark on in this narrative.

Jesus is at the Temple, he is in the place that is the center of cultic ritual for his people. His understanding of their tradition, is challenged by a group of Pharisees, who are his peers, and a group of scribes who are students of the sacred texts.

He is presented with a problem which is on its face a legal matter; how to deal with a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Testimony was not given. A defense was not offered. A group had gathered; intent on killing her, intent on squeezing the breath out of her by placing large stones on her chest. A stoning in the tradition of the Hebrews.

It was the view of the crowd that they had a sacred obligation to fulfill; according to the laws of Moses. The adulteress must be put to death; to satisfy a sacred obligation, a human sacrifice in the temple precinct.

The Pharisees and Scribes wanted to test Jesus, and the crowd who gathered wanted the spectacle of a killing.

Jesus responds by offering the only thing that God desires, the only thing that anyone their had freely to give. He offers her mercy, and through her, the offer is given directly to God.

Do not read the story as if Jesus defeated the crowd. He passed the test, and thwarted the efforts of his opponents to trip him up; yes, that happened.

The crowd; the crowd he brought with him, into that sacred place beloved by God; the place of mercy, and compassion, a place of justice.

Jesus was the first to make the offering and one by one as the crowd dispersed, they left an offering of the same.

5th Sunday of Lent

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Homily - The Gospel of Luke 2:41-52

The Gospel of the Day – 2015.12.27 (Sunday)


Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

  Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

  He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.


Dangerous Myths

This narrative is a myth. It does give us any reliable information about who Jesus was, nor about his relationship with his parents; even though it purports to do so.

This is unfortunate.

It does tell us something about what the author of Luke wanted us to believe about Jesus. That his parents were faithful and observant Jews. They obediently went to Jerusalem for the Passover as required of them by the law. There they were counted and made their offerings to the temple.

The authors of Luke were also trying to tell us that Jesus was wise beyond his years, that he was capable of self-direction, that he had a sense of mission and purpose for his life. The authors of Luke also want us to believe that Jesus understood at this early age, long before his adult ministry began, that he was, in a unique way, a child of God. Finally, Luke wants us to understand that his submission to the authority of his parents was voluntary.

What is unfortunate about this narrative is this; instead of informing us about who Jesus is, it muddies our understanding by mythologizing him, and instead only tells us what the authors of Luke wanted us to believe about him, what their followers hoped was true.

Though the authors of Luke could not foresee this, these writings would come divide the Christian community from itself and precipitate centuries of bloody conflict over the question of Jesus’ divinity, his humanity and so forth.

I contend that the man who was Jesus of Nazareth, Joshua son of Joseph, would have been aghast at those developments. Jesus, the man spent his life and went to his death as a champion of justice, an advocate for mercy, as healer, as an advocate for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the widow and the orphan.

Luke’s narrative is therefore a cautionary tale, reminding us of the necessity to cleave to the truth at all times, to separate our hopes, our desires, and most importantly our fears, from values we wish to convey.  

The First Sunday of Christmas
Feast of the Holy Family