Aside

Today some friends lower a paralytic through a roof. ho-hum, what to say. Quick to the first reading. The people gripe to Solomon they need a king. The LORD gripes to Solomon, they want someone else to follow except HIM. King, false god. Presidents and politicians. That fakery versus the LORD King of All Creation.

Back to the guy lowered through the roof. Paralyzed, it’s a  social illness. Note ( this is important ) how he was blocked, by the masses. The crowds. Society, the ruling majority. “Keep a cripple a cripple.” They scream, silently. Not so silently, with pitchforks and torches.

But friends, righteously lend a hand. Disregard the kings of populism. They reach the king of all creation. Their friend healed.

Sometimes its important to recognize who the crowds are. The curious? The followers? The rebellion. Not all crowds that gathered around the Christ were in fellowship with Him. Listen to the crowd just before the cross. Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Can anyone hear that same crowd today? And today, who lowers that cripple to be healed?

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 309  1 Sm 8:4-7, 10-22a   Mk 2:1-12

 

 

A Popes request (a couple days after Easter)

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A day or so ago the pontifical tweet was that the faithful should spend the week pondering the resurrection gospels. Today’s readings do just that. In Luke’s account Lk 24:13-35, the disciples are walking along and encounter the risen Christ. The reading emphasizes that “their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.”

The Lord was cautious in how He was revealed go the disciples. It was not by sight. Is there not a bible quote that says blessed are those that do not see and believe? In that walk amongst themselves they are discussing the events of His resurrection, and Jesus asks what they are discussing. Subtly the Lord tells them to proclaim His passion and resurrection.

They do, they tell the story of Holy Week. They tell of the woman’s encounter with angels at the tomb. They tell that angels had announced to the women that Jesus was alive. The pope had asked that we read the gospel accounts of the resurrection. The risen Christ asked that the disciples tell their story. The gospel accounts were an oral tradition long before they were written. Small point but worth mentioning. The other point is that the Lord was not revealed through the eyes. Go the woman it was through angels, and my mind drifts towards the Annunciation at Christmas. It is repeated at the tomb.

The Lord revealed himself to the women through an angel, how did He reveal himself to the men? What does the story say? It says first he walked with them. It says Jesus asked them to give account of what happened. Jesus then challenged them, they had said they did not see the Lord at the tomb. Jesus revealed himself through the scriptures, just as He did prior to Holy Week. How important that they came to a fork in the road, and they ask Jesus to stay with them. It is by choice. Finally those men’s eyes are opened with the breaking of bread. Now they see the Lord with their eyes.

What’s the point? The women trust the Lord through an angel. The men take a different journey, they reach the Lord through scripture and scholarship, and dialogue, testament, and finally in the breaking of bread. They are two separate journeys. I cannot help but notice that the women’s journey follows the Nativity gospel so closely and that the men’s follows the journey of the Mass. The Mass of the Lords Supper.

Finally, to go to the first reading. A crippled beggar asks the disciples for Alms outside the Temple and Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”

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