Aside

As Moses confronts the Pharaoh:

Please notice one thing about Moses. When GOD asks him to do something, Moses often replies I can’t do that I am not good at that. Moses then listens and eventually does what he is asked to do. What Moses is good at is listening, and he is obedient. Lent is about doing things. Listening for GODS word, and being obedient to His commands are two good to do during lent. Listen.

Flood waters.

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Yes, I have discussed the papyrus basket Moses was placed in or his survival. Yes, I likened that paper basket to an ark. Yes, I compared it to the ark of Noah.  Yes, I described some of the arks of Christianity. They are arks of the covenant. Arks that bear that sacred relationship between God and man. God did make a covenant with Noah, God made one with Moses. The arks were a means to salvation, the water a purification. Let’s dwell on that water. Let’s contemplate its relationship to the arks. Notice the complexity of the Ark of Noah that kept its inhabitants sheltered from the ravages of that storm. Dwell on the violence of that storm. Pay attention to the few that were saved. With Noah there is a complexity, boat building is no easy task. The boat had to be big enough to house those to be saved. Safety was in the boat, those excluded perished. Such an effort to save so few. Elaborate, yet inefficient. Such hierarchy! Such a struggle to get into that boat!

Turn now to Moses, his ark was simple. It was a paper basket small enough to contain him. Once saved, Moses saved many. Moses gathered the people into that covenant so that they might be saved. With only a staff and signs from the LORD; Moses guided the people through the sea. Once they crossed that sea, they journeyed to the Promised Land. The one in the ark of paper was an intermediate between God and man.

Now turn to Christ. The ark that carried him, Mary. His relationship with the water of the covenant? He entered it the same way we do, bathed in it and sanctified it so that many would be saved. In Christ the water of destruction turns into water of salvation. The water entered so that one might die to sin and rise in Christ. Through the action of one, all whom follow might be saved. Simplicity. Efficiency. Amazing how many barriers were eliminated. Gone are the elaborate building, gone is the barrier of an ark that contained a select few. Salvation is as personal as diving into a pool. Gone the elaborate construction, gone the mediators. A God that was once mysteriously distant enters our lives. A salvation obscure comes into focus. God and man come together. Simple..

I could have talked about Jonah in the Whale too

A message from Jonah

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An interesting point about Jonah’s preaching to Nineveh Jon 3:1-10 is that they listened to him. Jonah was not a polished speaker, and he was not enthusiastic. He did not want to deliver the message, and he had nothings but contempt for the people who were to receive it. They were his enemy. Jonah was belligerent, cantankerous, and carried a grudge. He was uncooperative and did not want to be there. In spite of that he delivered the Lords message anyway. Why did those people listen to Jonah? They did not. They did not listen to the messenger, but heard that message and knew exactly who it was from. They recognized Gods voice in a grumpy belligerent man. Jonah was not the one they listened to. When Jesus preached Lk 11:29-32 who did people hear?

(I can add a bit here. Jesus disciples heard first a prophet, and then the messiah, and finally the Son of God. To simplify things, they heard the word of God. The people of Nineveh recognized the same word when Jonah said repent, even though they did not sing any praise to Jonah. The LORD does work in mysterious ways. Think of where Moses heard the voice of God. It was a burning bush. Think of Elijah at the cave feeling the LORDS presence in a passing breeze. Did those people see God in Jonah? No. Did they recognize Gods message through Jonah? They did heed the Word and repent.)

 

 

Lord teach us to pray

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The one single most identifiable Catholic prayer is the Rosary. I would state that it is the most  recited prayer of the Church. The rosary, glorious, sorrowful, joyous and illuminating. The prayer is as meditative as it is instructional. It is Sunday school on a string. The mysteries and their decades are easily committed to memory. The beads also are easy to carry. Its cyclical nature mirrors the cycles of life. They also feature prominently in the Churches own liturgical cycle. Christmas, Lent, Easter are all represented on those beads. Rosaries contain the essential elements of the stained glass windows. Stained glass windows were crafted to educate. Rosaries supplement the Breviaries carried about for liturgical prayer. Often they replace them. The beads are easily recited throughout the day. Recited while sitting or on a walk, both quietly and aloud. Prayed with beads or fingers or pebbles or chalk marks on paper or wall.  I wonder, how may POW’s survived through this simple prayer? How many prisoners survived their ordeal through the intercession of Mary. From fumbling or reciting those beads.
When the disciples asked the LORD how to pray, Jesus gave them (Mt 6:7-15) the “Our Father.” That prayer is also compact any remembered. It was so different from the babbling speeches delivered by the others of the time. Their prayers were lengthy grandiose statements. Those ornamented prayers are to impress the ears in the audience, but not the soul nor heaven. The simple prayer of Jesus reached both regardless if recited in sound or in silence. Jesus’s prayer formed the original rosary, called the pater noster. One prayer said over and over. One of the pillars of Lent is prayer. Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be!

Almsgiving and prayer

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Well, if yesterday’s reading from the Book of Genesis reminded us of our quest for knowledge of good and evil, todays readings remind us that learning the difference between the two has a bit of a learning curve. Moses Lv 19:1-2, 11-18 in his address to the children of Israel tells them what they should do to be holy in the eyes of God. Jesus in his address Mt 25:31-46  does much of the same as He reminds the disciples that they will be separated like goats versus sheep. He explains to His flock what they must do to remain in His fold. Making decisions has its consequences, one must learn the difference between good and evil. Errors, often made, are a fact of life. There are of course different ways of discovering the difference between good and evil, there are different techniques of making sound moral choices. Moses and Jesus do have their own approaches. For Moses law becomes a tool of choice. For Jesus it is prayer and spirit. Jesus does pray a lot, He often distances himself from the crowd to pray. Jesus also gives instruction, he teaches that we must treat others as God treats us. Today’s discourse is all about charity, it is about feeding the hungry and giving drink to those who thirst. It is about clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, and welcoming the stranger. Jesus preaches good behavior.

Two of Lent’s themes are emphasized in today’s gospel. The obvious one is Charity, and often in today’s culture that is interpreted as almsgiving. Give food to the hungry, and clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless are all forms of almsgiving. They are all forms of giving out of Christian love. Charity is love.

For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’

The other Lenten theme is prayer, though that is not as noticeable as Charity. In deciding between good and evil takes discernment and it takes guidance. Moses offered guidance through the law. Jesus offered the same trough teachings, parables, sermons, miracles, and prayer. The last, prayer, takes many forms one of which is reading scripture. Mass is a form of prayer too. Both Moses and Jesus are offering a sermon to the people; that is a common feature of liturgy. Prayer takes many forms.

To go back to charity, often charitable acts are reduced to “giving to the poor” and the poor are frequently reduced to those who are economically in distress. To be hungry certainly can be those who are deprived of food, it also includes those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Often those with the least in economic terms offer the most to others in spiritual terms. That is a subtle reminder that a charitable act should not depreciate or underestimate the value of the receiver. Often the charitable donation should be seen as a payment made for a service rendered. Giving to the homeless serves as a stark reminder of the value and dignity of every life. Those facing hardship often pay a hefty price teaching the wealthy that simple lesson. Prayer and almsgiving should not be separated, one enhances the other.