drifting towards the third Sunday

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I misplaced something, a few notes that I had written. I didn’t really misplace them, I lost them by overwriting them. It’s a problem of the digital age.

In that little note I was comparing Jesus’s asking that a boat be made ready for him to His forming of the Church. Mk 3:7-12 I looked back to Moses in a basket among the reeds and declared that basket was a boat. I mentioned Noah and his ark, again a boat. Both I said were for protection and that commonly is what scriptural boats are for. With Jesus I pondered His boat was for protection from the varied crowd and their opinions. He did not want the crowd, the world to suffocate him or to drown him out. A boat not so much for His protection but to guard His Word. The boat became an ark, as the Ark of the Covenant and then the tent, and then temple to synagogue to Church. Jesus knew the need for that boat. It gives the Word of the LORD safe passage.

A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.

What that writing was overwritten with was a small note on the picking of the Apostles. Mk 3:13-19 Briefly that passage acknowledged the need for an apostolic leadership, while also acknowledging all are called to priesthood. It rambled on the ordained and the lay-priest. Both have their role in Christ’s Church. The emphasis was on Christ’s initiation of a priesthood early in His ministry. While all apostles are disciples, not all disciples are Apostles. Now drift towards today.

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach

In today’s reading Mt 4:12-17 Jesus again is calling Apostles but there are a few details added. To start the passage begins with the arrest of John the Baptist. John had preached that he must decrease and Jesus increase. John’s ministry ends with his beheading. It ends. Jesus now begins. The second part is that Jesus goes to Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. He doesn’t head south to Jerusalem, he goes north. He does not go to the center of Judaism, he goes to the fringe where it mixes with the Gentiles. There he declares the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. In that passage is mention of a great light in the darkness, the light which is Jesus the Christ. With that introduction Jesus chooses his Apostles.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled

From these readings, there are a few things that can be extracted or interpolated. First the boat and the Church, Jesus had always traveled among a group. He often traveled with them by boat, and a boat scripturaly is a Church. Is it difficult to see Jesus amongst His Church from the beginning of His Ministry? Is it difficult to see Jesus among His Church at the Nativity? Is Jesus ever separated from His Church? I think not.

John the Baptist was a voice in the wilderness, a solitary voice. Jesus is always amongst the flock, his Church. Jesus from the beginning sees the need for a priesthood and begins His ministry with choosing those leaders. His Church is not formed after His ministry, it is put in place from the start. There is something else that can be gleaned from John the Baptist. John’s death dies not come from the Jewish faithful. It comes from a corrupt Herod. His death does not come from the saints of the covenant, it comes from the sinners that surround and intermingle with them. Jesus, from the beginning, does not go to the heart of Judea but goes to the fringe where the conflict lies. His ministry begins in the lands of the gentiles where life for God’s chosen people is most challenged. From the beginning Jesus reaches out to the sinner. These are the people so many had tried to avoid. Jesus brings the light to the darkness in a very deliberate way. No wonder it is referred to as Church militant.

In going to those fringes he reaches to the abandoned, the socially isolated, the prisoners, the sick both spiritually and bodily. He, through His Church, travels to the schools and the prisons and the hospital and the shelter and soup kitchen and the street corner reaching out to all that wander in darkness. Oddly, that did not grow out of His ministry but was part of its very beginning. From the beginning he argued in the synagogue and in the courts just as Christians do today. Jesus in His ministry does not stay among the polite but deliberately ventures  where many would not. That was the design of the Church from the beginning, bringing His light to all. That includes those that wander through the darkest places. That is the tradition of the Church..

Third Sunday of Ordinary time

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Oh, I don’t know how much there is to add to this Sundays entry since I have written nearly everyday this week. Todays readings focus on Jesus calling his Apostles to become fishermen of men and declaring the Kingdom of God to be at hand. To start with that Kingdom of God, I think one has to look at what Jesus had just departed from. What he departed from after his confrontations was clearly not the Kingdom of God. What I should point out is that though his conversations with those Pharisees was confrontational, they were likely the most civil of conversations He had. The Romans were occupiers of the land and lorded over them, King Herod was paranoid regarding anyone ascending to the throne of David. The Pharisees at least carried on a discussion.In looking at the Kingdom of God, one can start at looking at what the Kingdom of God is not. It is not any of those Kingdoms where man has declared himself God, it is not where man has declared himself King. The Kingdom of God is Gods creation obedient to their God. It is the Kingdom where God is King and man a servant obedient to Gods laws. The Kingdom of God is at hand. When thinking of this Kingdom , one might be wise to think justice and wisdom over politics and leaders.

For the Apostles mission of becoming fishers of men, one can take a look at the first reading which is from the book of  the prophet Jonah. That book is likely the most comedic of any of the books in the bible. It tells the story of Jonah, an arrogant and disobedient servant of God. He is given the assignment of warning the Ninevites to repent for their sins or face the wrath of God. Being the enemies of Jonah and the Israelites, Jonah does not wish to deliver this message. He rebels against God so much that while travelling on a boat a storm at sea frightens his shipmates to the point that they throw the arrogant Jonah overboard. What is a fisher of men? Someone that fishes the likes of Jonah from the seas of sin and disobedience and arrogance and ignorance and anything else that goes against God. In contrast to the way Jonah behaved when being called by God, Jesus disciples are obedient. Their mission as Apostles is to learn and carry the message of Jesus to the world.

What now is the difference between those first century apostles, and a twenty first century apostle? In that first century they had the Christ of the Nativity, and the Christ of the Passion. We have the Christ of the Ascension. Our mission also calls to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. It also calls to make Christ visible to the world, and making Christ visible is the best way to bring lost souls to the Lord. It means not simply preaching Christianity, but truly living it and setting ourselves apart from the world as disciples of Christ. That is not simply doing all that is permitted in society, but doing what Christ has demanded we do. It is lighting a path to that Kingdom he preached by both word and action so that others might follow.It is keeping ones eyes on the prize that is the Kingdom of God. Being a twenty first century apostle requires being Christ like in our actions. We still live n the Kingdom of man, but have our sights on Gods Kingdom. We still have the disobedient Jonah’s in this world, but we also have Christ’s message to fish them out of the sea. We have all it takes to be those fishers of men, Apostles of Christ.

Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

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Jesus told his disciples a parable.
“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees.
When their buds burst open,
you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near;
in the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that the Kingdom of God is near.

 

John’s book of Revelation has some of the most dramatic imagery in the bible, it is a film makers dream. It is, I think, perhaps the best written imagery that is on par with the fantasy film genre. Its message, though not fantasy, is encoded against a fantastical backdrop to make it difficult for the outsider to understand. Those outsiders were the persecutors of the early Church John was writing to. Its subject though is also enigmatic to many readers. It deals with the end of days, the end of time. To the early audience it also described the end of their persecution and their salvation. It is dramatic fantastical writing about a very important subject, the way it is written it seems to be a once in a lifetime event. Jesus parable describes the coming of the Kingdom of God as the blossoming of a tree, a springtime event and an ordinary event people experience many times in their lifetime. What a contrast to Johns Revelation! To think of that a little though, isn’t that Kingdom so often within our reach, and are there not many “ends of time” in our lifetimes? Many times that “end of time”, is the starting of a new chapter in life, or reaching a final decision on an important event that will likely never be overturned. Each of those seasonal events of a lifetime have the opportunity to bear fruit, if only people stop to recognize them. The problem then I that if one peers at the Kingdom of God as an afterlife event, they might miss the events of a lifetime that serve as entry points towards that same Kingdom. Jesus did destroy that barrier between life and death, between heaven and earth. When he taught the Kingdom of God is at hand, it indeed is as close as a blossoming tree. If one only is attentive to the signs of its presence, it too can blossom before our eyes.

Wednesday, 33 week ot

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While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
“A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’

This parable of the talents as told by Luke is similar to that of Mathews; with the talents being replaced by coins, the servants being told to trade them. The focus of the parable though shifts simply because the introduction gives Jesus reason for telling the parable. It is because his followers had thought they might gain immediate entry into that Kingdom of God. The parable then demonstrates that those who wish to enter will really have to work for entry into that kingdom, though they have the resources to enter that kingdom. Another interesting part is that those servants acknowledge that they do not like their king. It is the first two that are obedient, even if it goes against their grain and the third is defiant. Like in Mathew’s gospel the first two gain reward while the third again is reprimanded. Odd how obedience and loyalty are mandatory, they don’t get to vote for a new king. That is a tough lesson for a democratic society where everything is up to a vote, it’s a humbling experience to bow down against ones instincts. Tough lessons indeed.

Today again for the 40-day challenge, though I think I might keep this separate and simply provide a link to an earlier post:
http://www.northernhermit.blogspot.com/2014/01/blog-post.html#links

It simply provides a reminder that breads have their season. For the beers though I offer a caution. Many of the beers that are sold during the “holiday season “are Doppelbocks that can have as many as 600 calories per glass. Many of them are from an older time when fasting was taken quite seriously, and they served as the only form of a monks nourishment for the 40 days. If one wishes to drink, perhaps it might be wise to take part in those “liquid breads” while engaging in their seasonal fast.

http://preachersinstitute.com/2014-30-40-days-of-blogging/
5-Bread,Beer