twelve

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I am  at a loss here with this Gospel message. “He appoints twelve.” Certainly I understand the Apostles, and the priests that come from them. Is that all though, is it just about those anointed? Yes, yes, yes. I understand their role, and their authority. They are in a sense certified messenger. Scrutinized, educated, and certified. They are professionals. Is that all? Is that all there s to the twelve. My mind drifts towards the dirty dozen, it is a movie abut convicted prisoners who are assigned a noble cause. But is that all. A dozen messengers. What about those tribes of Israel, a dozen. They are the people of the covenant.  In appointing twelve, is that a representative of each tribe. Could it be the tribe itself? A royal priesthood, or a priesthood from the royal then ordained. Who is appointed to preach the gospel, and who is ordained to transmit the message. To transmit is to transcribe and that id official. Saint Francis; preach and if you have to use words. A ramble? For certain. I snicker because I understand the message, for some and for all. Different duties to serve the same purpose, I don’t step on toes.Mk 3:13-19

revisiting old wineskins

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To continue with the wedding of the third Epiphany, Jesus enters into a confrontation with the Pharisees regarding His Apostles and disciples noncompliance with Judaic law. In every marriage, it is not just the couple that enters into a union, it also is the couples “families.” The dialogue that is exchanged is not uncommon between in-laws. The exchange is proof of a wedding taking place, and what would a wedding be without family arguments?

Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.

Mk 2:18-22

The rest of this post was composed from a similar gospel, though from a different evangelist. At the time I hesitated to post this because it played large in the news.

September 4, 2015

Todays readings were all about old versus new; old cloth and new cloth, old and new wine, old and new wineskins, old and new testaments. Jesus declares His preaching’s as new, and not something grafted to, or amended onto older traditions. His is “a new creation.”

In reading these passages there is the message about how Jesus’s message relates to the religion of tradition, in reading these passages today there is some contemplation on the worlds contrasts and conflicts and comparisons. The news has been full of these. One contrast going on has been the enormous migration from the conflicts of the Mideast to the shores of Europe. It is the travel from an old land to new, and from conflict hopefully to peace. The movement from one culture to another. With this old wine poured into new wineskins, or new fabric attached to old; I cant help but wonder what will happen. It is not difficult to see the tension as Europe seeks to confront a crisis heaped upon them.

Lk 5:33-39

The pressures being placed on them are enormous, and heated disagreements on how to handle the crisis are bound to erupt. I hope though that those citizens of Europe remember their Christian heritage, and the good news of healing. I hope they are able to bring healing and comfort to a migrating people torn by war and violence. The contrasts and dissimilarities between East and West are historically legendary, hopefully this time around those differences will be lessened and they will come together in peace. Hopefully the pain and suffering will transform into something good, where old hostilities are be replaced with a new compassion and understanding.

a wedding at canna

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From baptism to a wedding, here is that water again. Interesting thing abut this gospel story is that the story is about a wedding that took place in Canna over two thousand years ago. It is arguably the most famous weddings in recorded history, yet the couple who are entering into this wedding are not mentioned. Neither the bride, the groom are described. What is known is that Jesus turns water into wine at His mothers request, and He does so after He tells His Mother this is not His mission. It is Jesus first miracle, and it is the third Epiphany. Why is this story told?

I would think the first place to start is with water and wine. The water we met at the Baptism of the Lord, and the jugs are mentioned to be used for a ceremonial cleaning; a ritual washing which is a baptism of sorts. It is an ancient Jewish ritual of purification before eating, and I would think that links it with Johns baptism of repentance. If you think back to the Baptism of Jesus, He purified water through His baptism. Water in the bible often is associated with death, from the flood of Noah to the crossing of the Red Sea. IN Christian baptism we die to sin and rise in Christ. That gives a synopsis of water, but now what about the wine?

No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

Wine then is much like wine today. It is celebratory. It is a joyous drink that often represents joyous relationships between God and His people. It is from the fruit of the vine, a bountiful harvest. It is Joy. Often when this story is interpreted, one point made is that when the wedding ran out of wine, it was one that lacked joyful celebration. It turned into drudgery. Some associate that as social commentary on temple leadership of the day. That might be true, but is that the entire meaning of the story? One detail of the story is that when Jesus told the waiters to fill the jugs, they filled them to the brim . When Mary told them to do whatever He tells you, they were obedient. Let’s highlight this statement. Lets emphasize the devotion to Mary. It is important!

They filled them to the brim, they provided an abundance of water. That detail comes to life when the water is turned into wine. Wine overflowing from a container is symbolic of Gods Abundant goodness. At Sabbath the Kiddush cup is filled to the brim, a plate is placed under the cup to catch the overflow. The headwater tastes the wine , as the person leading Shabbat does so too. This wine takes on new meaning, it begins to describe the relationship between the people of the covenant and God. That relationship is often described as a marriage between God and man. Might the reason be that the couple is unnamed because it is the beginning of a marriage between Creator and creation, between God and man? I think of that water in the river Jordan, is that where it began its transformation? That is where they begin the procession. As Jesus tells Mary this is not His hour. There is more to follow and that path is well described in the wedding vows that are so familiar.  Richer, poorer, sickness, health. The reminder is that the journey is a celebration, from its Nativity to the Passion and through its Easter and everything in between.

 

Thursday of the second week in ordinary time

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When the gospel Mk 3:7-12 says that a large number of people followed Jesus as he withdrew to the sea, that is a historical fact. History tells that Jesus did attract a large number of followers, and in that time and place drawing that much attention was dangerous. That danger is the reason why Jesus did not want it known he was “the Son of God.” Also this particular reading comes right after Jesus encounters with the Pharisees on the Sabbath and at the synagogue. The crowds he did not leave behind, he did leave behind much of that Pharisee culture and tradition. Forging a new covenant does require a break from the traditions of the past. Attention also might be directed towards the regions his followers are coming from. Judea is Jewish. Galilee is a mixture of Jew and Hellenic Gentiles,Tyre was never part of Jewish tradition and they had a prosperous couture of their own.His audience extends beyond Jerusalem and the members of the old covenant.This new audience brings both their own illnesses, and I have to think their own virtues. Why is that important? I think the varied cultures and people Jesus speaks too emphasizes that his message is not directed at Jerusalem, but it is directed at mankind. His message is both challenged by all people, and is relevant to all. The first reading  Heb 7:25—8:6 opens with “Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him,since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” It says he offers salvation to those  who approach Him. He does not only save those of a particular denomination, or social status, or those deemed worthy of salvation. Jesus’s message is for all mankind.

There was a man there who had a withered hand.

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Gospel MK 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.

I read this particular passage of the Gospel describing another in a series of Jesus healing’s, I wonder what set this healing apart from the others, what makes it unique? Certainly this is not just about a medical cure.In  the scene described there is a confrontation between Jesus and those Pharisees who have him under  scrutiny. The situation seems to be one of tension, with the Pharisees ready to confront Jesus about another transgression of the law.It is in this tense confrontation that Jesus  grieves at the hardness of their heart and tells his patient to “stretch out you hand.” In reading this, I wonder; could it be that the source of this mans affliction is the circumstances he is surrounded by? Could the withered hand be a result of the anger that surrounds him?Might the withered hand be a fist that is clenched in that anger? In pondering the Pharisees approach to Mosaic law;part was part of their enforcement of law governed by their emotions towards the collapse of their kingdom, was their enforcement of their law and culture a response to their perception of a failed state(an occupied state)? Was the clenched fist symbolic of a loss in faith, or perhaps disobedience? Was it an angry attempt to reinforce a kingdom of man in defiance of the kingdom of God? Might that anger be the hardness of heart that Jesus grieved over? If that is so, might the cure have been a removal of that anger and a relaxing of their fists? The man stretched out his hand and was cured, sadly the Pharisees could not let go of their anger. Their fists were still clenched.