Ignatius of Antioch

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Lk 12:13-21 Today I have a different take on the wealthy barn builder. He is the one that has so much success he can no longer store his possessions, so he builds a barn to hold them. He gloats in his success and gets ready for a long and comfortable retirement. It is all about him, but the LORD strikes him down.The LORD reminds him that what is important to man is not important to God.

But to the beginning of the reading, someone asks Jesus to tell another to share their inheritance. The inheritance implies the stuff in the barn, the stuff important to man but not to God. That person wants trinkets shared, they want cash. But that is only one side of the inheritance, the other is cultural and the region was rich in them.

That was the land of a culture that often revolved around a city-god, and city gods were not about sharing. They defended its residents and demanded homage, they built walls and they hoarded much like someone stocking a barn, and those barns were often raided, pillaged, and plundered.

Inheritances were not shared, they were hoarded and raided. Each god its own kingdom, but that was not Christ’s teaching. Christ taught one kingdom under God, and one God. That is a shared humanity that inherits all that the LORD gives, a shared inheritance available to all. It’s where the word catholic comes from, universal.

Today is the memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, student of Apostle John and the third bishop of Antioch appointed by Peter. Ignatius was a victim of Christian persecution, and was led from Antioch to Rome to be martyred in Circus Maximus. Along the route from Antioch to Rome he composed seven letters to be delivered to the early Churches. In those letters he passes down his inheritance, his knowledge of Christ as taught to him by the apostles. His inheritance today is passed down through Apostolic succession. Through Ignatius we inherit much of the Church we know today. Surprisingly he was one of the first to use that word Catholic. A shared inheritance.

Rant of the twenty ninth week of ordinary time

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Things change, sometimes radically. Explosively. Violently and definitively. I did not come to be polite or to be nice, I didn’t come to sedate you. I am here to upset you. The last date before Christos, and the moment after are like an explosion. Things change radically’. There is a cultural shift, and not everyone was ready for it. That emotion is central to Jesus Christs message. Christianity is a revolution of the first century. Gone are the temples of the past, a new kingdom is established. Christ describes his ministry as if a bomb detonated, he describes it with as much violence as His disciples would see on the cross. His Cross. And how would anyone expect anything any different?

“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? Lk 12:49-53

God has entered into creation, God called for a change to man’s ways. Think of that flood, Noah’s flood. Jesus entering is as catastrophic, as visible, and as violent; and all of that is before the Passion of the Lord. It is what He preached, a new order. That is something to be reckoned with, it is why His kinsmen judged Him so harshly. Some were content with the status quo and they enjoyed the way things were. Conflict and disruption. The 1960’s of the first century, I don’t think so; the sixties were not that radical, and they were not on the same scale. So many today look on Christ’s message as peaceful and complacent, and that is so far from the truth.It changed earth to the core, it spun differently and changed its axis. Christ is an eclipse of the universe, He is the birth of a new star; a new galaxy. Sunrise and sunset; alpha and omega, birth and death. How do we view it so calmly, so sedately, as if we matter more than He? That makes no sense. God entered into creation to set us on the right path, and we act as if it is our opinions that count? How absurd are we!

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Mk 10:35-45 “The cup that I drink, you will drink.” What did that cup like, what did the sons of Zebedee see and what do I see? To me the cup is a chalice of gold. It is ornate and venerated. Is that what those disciples saw? What did they see as the kingdom that Jesus preached, and how did they expect to see that kingdom unfold. Sensibilities over the centuries change. I have read of the ancient views of heaven and earth, and their views of God and man. Heaven and earth, separated by a barrier. Distant. Entry into the kingdom? For some, it occurred at a specific time and place. To those few entry was sudden. They followed their Messiah to a location, and the kingdom magically appeared. They were granted salvation, and their enemies were destroyed. Many that followed that type of prophet were slaughtered by the Roman army when their messianic vision did not pan out. Occasionally today we read of cults that expect this type of kingdom to appear. Those cult members typically follow a charismatic leader to their death. They drink a magic potion expecting salvation. Is that what the sons of Zebedee expected? Did they expect to be handed a chalice of gold? They knew Jesus, they knew what he preached, but they could not peek into the future.

That cup, what is it and what does it hold? That cup can start with the cup of the Sabbath, and according to prescription it is filled to a set volume and till it overflows. That acknowledges the abundance of God’s blessings on His people. The cup holds a portion, an allotment, and a substance. That substance, at Sabbath, is joyful. It is a cup of wine. At Christ’s baptism, it is His mission, our salvation. Wine turned to blood, blood turned to wine. Destruction and death to salvation and life, and salvation through death. They were about to enter into Jerusalem, they expected that Chalice of gold. Were they yet prepared on how they were to receive it? They have not yet witnessed the crucifixion, and yet they were quite possibly expecting the Ascension, and their own Assumption into the kingdom. They did not yet understand their portion and their cup. They knew what they wanted, they were unsure of what they had to do.

Christ told them. “The cup I drink you will drink.” They do have a role in Christ’s kingdom, but they do have to share in His portion. They are called to service. The cup is poured out for their salvation, but they also are called to service. They are handed a Chalice, and they are called to drink its portion. Entry into that kingdom will be granted, but it is far from automatic. It requires effort. Salvation, and redemption, confession and conversion.

They had not yet fully experienced what that cup held, they have not yet experienced the cross of Christ and this conversation prepares them for that event. The cross will be revealed as the tree of life.”For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” This is a new testament, and a new covenant. At the Cross their lives will be changed. At first, they wish to deny that Cross, but they will come to understand it and they will come to understand what that cup holds. They will grow from sitting at the right and left of the Messiah, too picking up their crosses and following Him. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to him, “We can.”

I see this scriptural passage in context of the Mass. They have heard the scripture read, and  they have heard the homily. Now they prepare to move from pulpit to altar, from the liturgy of the Word to that of the Eucharist. This walk is their introduction. A Mass unfolds.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 146

Banquet Seating 101

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Lk 14:1, 7-11
“…When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor….”

In Jesus discussion about where to sit at a banquets, or a table for a meal, he is directly challenging Mediterranean culture as this seating order was very formalized. To be placed at the wrong spot could be quite the offense, yet Jesus tells his disciples to ignore the place of honor and go to the lowest positions. He demonstrates in this brief passage first the radical nature of his ministry, and second a bit about how his disciples or Apostles are to rule in his Kingdom.For the nature of his ministry, Jesus levels the playing field by ignoring hierarchy:no longer is the emphasis placed on wealth and rank but rather it is placed on the gathering as a whole where all are equal in the eyes of God.Secondly in the Governance of his Kingdom the rule moves away fro the client -patron style that was so prominent where the patron exercises all authority. The Governance moves towards leaders that are servants of the people for the betterment of all. This certainly would have been a radical thought in the first century. At that time rule was by absolute authority, a time of Kings and Slaves where Kings power was supreme including power over life and death.Imagine how empowered a Slave must have felt dining next to a King.Imagine a Kingdom where the King valued the opinion of its most impovrished citizen, and valued that impovrished citizen.Quite a radical idea indeed!

All Souls

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While All Saints day recognises all those who have attained the beatific vision that is the communion of Saints, All Souls Day is for all the souls that have passed on. It is not just a remembrance of the just the saintly, but a remembrance of those fully human complete with human frailties. In that remembrance it is our prayers that help lift these souls towards heaven. If All Saints Day is for the spiritually elite, All Souls Day is for the rest of us commoners who perhaps fumbled with the best of intentions in a fully human life; it is a celebration of that other 99.5%. Perhaps while the Saints Day encourages us to be in communion with the divine, Souls Day is that reminder that we are not divine, but with the help of our fellow sinners we too can be lifted towards that beatific vision.It is a celebration of humanity, and of good human souls, and all these souls are comprised of.

Collect: Listen kindly to our prayers, O Lord, and, as our faith in your Son, raised from the dead, is deepened, so may our hope of resurrection for your departed servants also find new strength. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.