Pentecost.

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Locked in an upper room. Winds howling, angry mobs clamoring below. Fearful agony, and that room becomes a tomb. The winds shift and then enters a Holy Spirit, the Spirit of promise. Their fear is set on fire and turns to passion. They burst forth from that room to preach to the ends of the earth. The image of that room as a tomb cannot escape me, and neither can the thought of the disciples leaving that room. Crossing the threshold from death to life. A Church is born. The tomb of Christ, the orthodox priest exits with candles ablaze. Christ, the light of the world. That same image is of the disciples leaving the upper room. Tongues of Fire, Christ enters their souls and they become beacons. The Nativity, they are born a Church. The Crucifixion, the angry mobs and they defeat death. They defeat it through the Holy Spirit, a baptism of sorts, and water is often a sign of that Spirit. Remember the baptism of our LORD? The water, and the dove that emerged from the heavens. There is that bird Noah sent out too. The wind, the water, the bird and the fire. The Holy Spirit. The breath of life. The priest breaths across the baptismal waters. The Almighty breathes into a lump of clay. The priest speaks into a chalice. The breath of the Lord enters the disciples. Life.

The fear in the upper room, can anyone hear their pleading? Oh God save us! They called out in anguish, and He listened. Their call was answered, just as the LORD promised. But they needed to ask, to be receptive. They needed that passion so that out of fear could emerge love. The love of God. He time, fifty days, a time of devotion and reflection. A seed planted and that seed must die if it is to bear any fruit. The ground is broken, and a bud emerges. The Church. It grows and the birds nest in its branches, the faith the size of a mustard seed. A tree watered by the stream grows mighty indeed. The Holy Spirit.

The tree that emerges, the one that breaks through the ground. The seed that died. What is the purpose of that tree? It is to bear fruit, and if it does not it is fed to the fire. The disciples mission as they cross the threshold of the upper room? It is to bear fruit, to preach the good news and to deliver a bountiful harvest to the LORD. It is about the mission they were given, and they are guided by that spirit of Christ. They will be known as Christians. At first they spoke many languages, a confusion and lost, but now united by one spirit. United, universalis, Catholic. Neither Jew nor gentile, Roman or Greek, or Syrian; but Christian, Catholic united under one God. One God in three persons. The Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Pentecost.

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.

down from heaven

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Whenever I read the account of those men lowering the paralytic through the roof, I think of the great device of the ancient Greek plays. I think of that crane that would lower god through the roof and onto the stage. There god was, dangling from a rope! The paralytic friends certainly showed creativity in seeking help for their friend and their persistence should not be missed. Neither should the comedy. The paralytic could not help himself,although he was wise in choosing his friends. Those friends, and their friend in a stretcher, had much to confront as they made it towards that house. Obstacles, people shouting and blocking their way. Amongst themselves surly they argued, and the frightening fear of a stampede for one unable to walk. Panicked frantic, stumbling circus clowns. Such creativity in forging a path to their destination. Such determination.

The short story also emphasis that their salvation was not far away. The world, through Christ, was turned upside down. God no longer distant resided next to us. The story also tells why God, in the second person of the Trinity, came down from a lofty perch in heaven, to visit us in earth. The reason was, and is, to heal us. It is to grant us forgiveness of sins, it is so that we might get up and  walk . It is so that we might follow him. The story also hints of obstacles that might get in ones way. The obstacles that block, and the friends that hoist us around them.Those friends though did not use their intellect and resources purely for their own gain, their mission was to give aid to another. The gospel speaks as much of a friends mission, as an invalids cure. With a little thought, and a little imagination, I see the apostles crossing a stormy sea in a boat. One shouldn’t forget how they were saved.

Mk 2:1-12

Wheat and Weeds, 16 Sunday OT

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Jesus spent a lot of time with farmers! Today He tells the parable of the farmer who plants good seed while his enemy sabotages his efforts with weeds. The story goes that the wheat and the weeds should grow together and then be separated at harvest. The point is that both good and evil do coexist in this world, but will eventually be separated. To anybody that has ever seen a wheat field infested with weeds, it is easy to understand the difficulty of trying to de-weed a field. The grain farmer also is aware that the part of the wheat that is retained during the harvest is the seed grains. In ancient times trying to gather grain from a weed infested field might actually be a reasonable occurrence. The point being that Jesus parable is closely related to actual scenario’s His audience might have dealt with. As a side note could I draw attention to the gospel passage where Jesus is reprimanded for gleaning some wheat from a field in the Sabbath? It would not have mattered to him if that particular field was overgrown with weeds, in gleaning that grain he did indeed separate the wheat from the weed. As Jesus gleaned that wheat, he also gleaned his followers from a symbolically weed infested area. I mention these points only because Jesus did indeed separate wheat from weed, he separated good from evil. His gospel, good news, draws a fruitful harvest.

His parable draws attention to that very fact that good and evil are allowed to exist together according to Gods plan. We are given that choice through free will. The parable is also a reminder that evils fate does have its consequences. Though that parable describes evils destruction at the harvest, it might be wise to note that we do not know when that harvest will be. Is it wise or useful to think of the harvest only at the end of our lifetime or some time in an infinitely distant future? Personally I don’t think so! I would rather like to think of that field harvested perpetually throughout the season. Though good and evil do coexist free will does allow us to strive for good. We too can glean even a few wheat grains from a field of weeds. Interpreting this parable it also helps to think like Jesus audience, especially those farmers within that audience. Those farmers did know that while much of the weeds invasion was beyond their control, they could at least predict to a small extent if a field would be overgrown with weeds. Much of the success depended on the amount of rainfall. Too much in one direction produced weeds and in the other wheat. It required diligence. In a spiritual life that diligence is prayer. It is the Son of Mans Angels that destroy the weeds at the harvest, what better way is there to attract an Angel other than prayer? While weeds exist in that field, one cannot lose sight that the Wheat also exists, though evil exists in this world one cannot overlook the good. If weeds can overtake a wheat field, can’t wheat also transform a field of weeds? All that it takes is effort and prayer to reap a successful harvest.

instruction for discipleship

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MT 16:24-28
When Jesus gives his instruction for discipleship, I often try not to read it with the knowledge of 21-century Christianity but as one of those first century disciples standing with Jesus. His talk then of denial and picking up a cross can then be taken in light both of the moment, and with the experience of the passion. First it seems as if a battle cry, and then wisdom. At the beginning of that journey, those disciples had their expectations of a Christ and then had those expectations crushed. It was at the moment that they let go of what they expected, that those expectations could be exceeded. It tells of the difficulty of letting go of oneself and ones aspirations, or ideals, and leaving oneself open to salvation.


 Denying oneself and picking up ones cross is baptism in Christ, and confession in Christ.