The Voices in My Head

Today’s Readings:

Vigilate ergo, quia nescitis qua hora Dominus vester venturus sit.
Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Matthew 24:42
I have my phone, essentially, turned off all the time. I have my spam filters on high on my email. I never answer the phone if I don’t know who is calling (caller ID is our friend) and never open emails unless something is supposed to be here, now, about that thing there. 
So why do I accept ideas no matter what they offer?
I know a lot of people (perhaps you do, too) who say they might miss an important email or call. They talk to anyone who rings the phone, they open and click around in every email.
They also get viruses and get hacked a lot.
In NYC, there were these people that would hear their apartment door buzz and just press the “open” button: buzzing in whomever was there. They never worried about this door person robbing them – they were home, big and strong. But, really, the people in danger were the elderly and the alone in the other apartments. Someone would hear a knock on the door and then get beat up. Or someone would turn a dark corner in the stairwell. Boom.
Letting in anything and anyone is a recipe for danger in a lot of cases. In today’s parable, Jesus uses the same word he will, later, use in the Garden. (Matthew 26:40) “Could you not watch with me?” and St Peter will use this word in his Epistle, telling us to “be sober and vigilant.” (1 Peter 5:8) And at the end of time, it is the word used to remind us, “Blessed is he that watcheth”. (Revelation 16:15)
The Greek is γρηγορέω grégoreó. The Latin is Vigilate. Although it means “vigilant” and “Wakeful” and “Watchful”. Just as “falling asleep” means “dying” this also means “Alive.”  I think The NABRE gets the message best with “STAY AWAKE!” Heads up, eyes bright! Keep the homefires burning.
You don’t know when Jesus is coming back, stay on your toes.
That sounds like “Jesus is coming, look busy.” In fact, there’s something else before this – at least in St Peter’s text, it’s “Be sober”.
The Parable of the Wicked Servant who goes out and abuses the others needs to be thought of as something out of Inside Out, or Ratatouille, or the granddaddy of the concept, Herman’s Head. Think, as well, of this verse from the Psalms:
Blessed be he that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. (136:9), the wicked servant is doing the same thing… but he’s doing it to the wrong things.
The Fathers saw that passage from the Psalms as referring to taking wicked thought and dashing them against the Rock of Christ. By staying awake and sober we catch the evil thoughts as they begin and dash them in pieces against Jesus.
The reverse is when we let the wicked servant (our passions) get in there and dash everyone else about and bully them into submission to his lust (or pride, or envy, or greed..) If the wicked servant is running the show, when Jesus shows up, it’s too late. But if we are sober, vigilant, AWAKE, we can catch these things before the get in motion, at all.
Frederica Mathewes-Green once compared evil thoughts to messages tied to rocks thrown through the windows of our mind by the evil ones. The trick is to pick up the rocks and throw them back out without reading the messages: to get the stuff out of your mental house before it infects other things. We each know how quick that can be, I think, although the time will be different depending on the situation, the sin, the setting. The ramp is short and sweet: oh, hey, look at this.. that sounds fun.. omg… too late.
It’s like that for sex and anger for me, anyway.
So, you don’t open and click on all the emails. You don’t answer your phone all the time. Why do you respond to this?
Letting the wicked servant beat up everyone, getting his own way, it a bad place to be in. The servant gets used to running the show. Everyone else gets used to being bullied. In the end, no one get’s what they need or want. Even the bully misses out. (Only Satan gets lucky.) Being watchful, all the time, is how it’s avoided (being sober is the way to be watchful, but that’s another essay.)

Never be Thrown Away

From: Meditations and Devotions By Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

Section 3:2

God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself; but it was His will to create a world for His glory. He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself, but it has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created. We are all created to His glory — we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.

2. God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission — I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his — if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

3. Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me — still He knows what He is about.

Colloquy: O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I — more loving to me than I myself. Deign to fulfil Thy high purposes in me whatever they be — work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see — I ask not to know — I ask simply to be used.

All comes from God

via GIPHYToday’s Readings:

Ita loquimur non quasi hominibus placentes, sed Deo, qui probat corda nostra.
Even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who proveth our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4b

In thinking about this passage in the context of St John’s decollation I was thinking about how many times St John is pictured as yelling (especially in motion pictures). It’s not enough that John say the truth, he has to yell it out. Herod: you’re an adulterer. Herodias, you’re committing incest. That could have been whispered and his head would come off. The weak are ever afraid of the truth. The emperor’s new something or other.

Today’s world is no less volatile, yet we imagine that we are all emperors, each of us with our fragile little egos inflated, waiting to be popped by a neighbor so that we can yell, “Off with their head!” And so how often do we speak as pleasing men (at all). I’m not talking about topics like sex and marriage here. I’m talking about all the ways we cater to those over us, to those whom we don’t care to bother, offend, engage…

Yesterday I was sitting on a bus with a friend. We were discussing food and things when two teenagers sate down across from us. They were unable to cope with our high falutin topic and so began to make fun of us. This bothered me to no end. So I clammed up. My friend continued talking about beers and such, but I was rather monosyllabic until the kids left the bus.

That was my pride coming into play. But that what it is when we speak to please men: it’s always our pride. How is it so? When we are only concerned for our Job, or our care for the family, or not wanting to get into arguments, or what not… how is it prideful to say something that keeps the peace? If the legitimate issue is “To keep the peace” there may be hope here, but most time it’s not to keep the peace so much as to not cause trouble, or, to not get into trouble. Fear is pride in another form. How so: I don’t want to do anything here that I can’t control. Especially if it’s a matter of moral or truthfulness, I should always trust God when I speak up for his side of the equation. But even when it’s not so important, not trusting my personal safety and my life (in all respects) to God seems… prideful.

This is not the same thing as “God will bless me because I’m his child” nor is it the Prosperity Gospel or any other form of it. Rather this is saying God will bring all things to my salvation. It’s ok. I’m in his hands. Even so, we are commanded to speak with prudence, charity, and a care for the weakest brethren.

So, if you’ve reached sme sort of decision, something that needs to be said, or you’re engaged in a good heart to heart with a friend and just can’t bring yourself to say one thing, or you disengage from a conversation because your companion is oblivious to the snarky kids; then you have started to pay attention to men rather than God.

Now, what has any of these things to do with St Paul or with St John’s head?

If you cave on the little things, you will cave on the big ones. If you’ve done no practicing at all on not letting pride and fear run you life when the going is awkward then when the going is rough, you’ll hide in your pride and fear all the more faster.

I was reading Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman yesterday afternoon, his Meditations and Devotions. This prayer speaks to this theme, I believe:

O, my God, I will put myself without reserve into Thy hands. Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement, honour or humiliation, good report or ill report, comfort or discomfort, Thy presence or the hiding of Thy countenance, all is good if it comes from Thee. Thou art wisdom and Thou art love — what can I desire more ? Thou hast led me in Thy counsel, and with glory hast Thou received me. What have I in heaven, and apart from Thee what want I upon earth ? My flesh and my heart faileth : but God is the God of my heart, and my portion for ever.

That line, “Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement, honour or humiliation, good report or ill report, comfort or discomfort, Thy presence or the hiding of Thy countenance, all is good if it comes from Thee.” How unlike us is that line… “It’s all good if it comes from God.”

We do like to think some things come from God. But what about those other things? Clearly that’s Satan.

But no: it’s all coming from God. Certainly God works with our Free Will, but that said, how many times do we run away from something we’re afraid of simply because it’s out of our hands? How many times do we not want something, do we walk away from higher, more difficult, and because I want to indulge my fears or my social hopes; because it’s not in our control?

King, Country, & a la Carte Catholicism

Today’s readings:

I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority.
Isaiah 22:19-21a
I joined the Holy Name Society a couple of weeks ago. Actually, I had quite the week: joining Holy Name, Angelic Warfare, and the Rosary Confraternities. As all three of those societies are under the O.P. it was a Dominican Trifecta! 
The Holy Name Society, though, was a bit of a surprise to me. Here’s a part of the Holy Name Society pledge:

In honor of His Divine Name
I pledge myself against perjury,
Blasphemy, profanity and obscene speech.
I pledge my loyalty
To the flag of my country.
And to the God given principles
Of freedom, justice and happiness.
For which it stands.
I pledge my support
To all lawful authority
Both civil and religious.

Adopted in 1937, we were not really fighting anyone yet, neither communists or fascists. But we (Catholics) were dealing with a lot hate-filled sentiment that imagined we were out to try to get the Pope to rule the nation. We were happy to even promise that was not the case.

Even today, however, the Catechism of the Church teaches, The authority required by the moral order derives from God: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (❡1899) And again, “God’s fourth commandment also enjoins us to honor all who for our good have received authority in society from God.” (2234)

Once upon a time President G. W. Bush claimed God put him in office. This is true. It is equally true of Mr Obama. And Mr Trump. God’s providential mercy has left us here on purpose. We don’t get the leaders we deserve, because God is merciful. We get the leaders we need to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

A lot (a majority?) of us want peace, stability, equality, liberty, and fraternity. God wants us saved.

So we Catholics honor the leaders God gave us.

But what about when they are idiots?

Well, we got, really, only two choices. The commandment is clear: Honor the idiot anyway because God said so.

And there’s the entirety of today’s reading from Romans:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Elsewhere St Paul says, “All things work for our good.” So, mindful he was saying that under Nero the Nutty, I think we’re in good shape to be saying the same thing under Our Orange Mr Bultitude.  We just don’t know how. And we have to admit that we don’t know. We have to trust that, like in Isaiah’s text, God’s totally got this. “I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.” When we pray, we can be heard. Plus we have another leader. If the Church is the Kingdom of God, by which template all earthly kingdoms are judged, then we have a leader above all other leaders, one we should follow no matter what.

But we don’t like to, do we?

On the left are those who reject the Church’s teaching on Sex, on the right those who reject the Church’s teachings on economy. Avarice (greed) is a much a sin as Lust and usury will damn you near as quick as fornication. What are we to do when our political choices are between the forces of Amoral Economic Justice with Lust, or Sexual Purity with Amoral Greed?

We must live our lives secure in our faith: those who pick one side over the other, giving up half the goods offered us by God, have already lost the struggle.

And so we come in the Gospel to our Foundation.

Tu es Petros.
Hier stehe ich.

Scribes AND Pharisees

Today’s readings:

Dicunt enim, et non faciunt
For they preach but they do not practice.
Matthew 23:3b
Oh this is so rich. The Greek word play is between “using words” (logos) and “making” (poetas). They use their words, yeah, but they’re certainly not poets…
As a Catholic (and before, as Eastern Orthodox) a common lament heard all over the place from all sorts of people: to my liberal friends, I am too conservative. To my conservative friends, I’m too liberal. The Church can’t fit into modern cultural categories very easily. This thing of “loving the sinner but hating the sin” leaves us sort of stranded a lot. We have to welcome all comers – especially the outcasts who don’t fit into any of society’s power agenda. But we leave none of them unchanged. When you realize the important struggles are not about power, your heart opens to Love.
I hear the word Pharisee thrown around a lot. No one gets called a “Scribe”. But there are a lot of folks accused of being Pharisee. Yet, in Jesus’s time, those would have been the Good Guys for a lot of the culture. They were the liberals. You could play with the Bible in their tradition. You could make up stuff based on cultural guesses. They were sticklers about the rules they made up, but they were way more liberal about it than the other party, the Sadducees. These were literalists – only what was in the Bible, thank you: none of that finagling around! If the Sadducees were fundies, the Pharisees were more, pardon me, Jesuitical.
In one of my favorite stories from the Talmud, the liberal camp – meaning the camp that says they can debate the meaning of words – wins an argument with God who admits defeat by saying “My children have bested me.”

In one way of looking at things, the division between Jews and Christians is simply this: one group of Rabbis says Jesus is the Messiah. Two other groups of Rabbis (both Conservative Sadducees and liberal Pharisees) say he is not the Messiah. In the end the Pharisees win the debate within Judaism, even recasting the scriptures to fit their modes of debate. The Messianic rabbis drifted off and became the Church.

And so there: they preach and yet they do not practice. Sure, they are using all their words… but they don’t know what those words actually mean.

On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus opens the minds of Luke and Cleopus to his presence in all the scriptures. Jesus wants us to listen to the teachings of Israel. But he wants us to know what those teachings really mean – not the empty words of the Pharisees, or the Scribes, or the Sadducees.  We cannot find our common ground with either the fundamentalist Sadducees of our time who would deny the mysteries of our faith, or with the liberal Pharisees of our time who would deny the doctrines God has revealed. We’re not to fall in the fundamentalist literalism of either the left or of the right. We must hold fast to both words (the logos) and the poetry (poetas) of scripture and tradition, the both/and of Catholicism.  We must follow our vocational call to the poetas, the poetry and dance of the real meanings of the scriptural words.

The poetry of the Logos, the making of all things new, is the rite of the Faith dancing through the world. We spin like dervishes, opening our minds and hearts to the wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit. Bread is made flesh. Wine is made blood. God made man. What is old made new.

God has opened the eyes of the blind. Meanwhile those who claim to see are shown to be liars who walk in darkness.

Populus tuus populus meus

Today’s Readings:

Quocumque enim perrexeris, pergam, et ubi morata fueris, et ego pariter morabor. 
Populus tuus populus meus, et Deus tuus Deus meus.
For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. 
Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Ruth 1:16B
Ruth says this after being married to Naomi’s son for quite a while. Ruth is familiar with Jewish practices, Jewish piety, and Jewish oddness by this point. She is, certainly, “the stranger dwelling among” God’s people. She’s willing to make this step because she knows God’s people will care for her, will support her in her journey, but also because she knows Naomi will need her help, will need her support, will need her (Ruth’s) strength on the rest of the journey. This is a conversion out of love for the Jewish people and for the Jewish faith. This was not a conversion out of fear, or out of obligation. This was not a conversion running away from Moabitish religion, but rather a moving towards family, towards community, even perhaps towards the relative freedom a woman might have in Judaism compared to the more pagan sorts of religion practiced in the area.
Adults who come into the Catholic faith, likewise, may come for many reasons: some good, some bad. But once you’re here, there’s some things you need to be honest about, realistic about, truthful about. When you converted you got this – not “also”, not “as well”, but this is what you converted to.

Community: the Catholic Church is huge. I don’t mean large. I mean huge. There are catholics everywhere and in large numbers. There may not be enough to fill up a pew in your local parish right now… but come Easter, there are a lot of Catholics. There are Catholics at work, you just don’t know it. There are Catholics on your softball league, in your bowling alley, at your bank, in your kids’ scouting groups, on the bus in your commute. In fact, the only group noticeably larger than Catholics in all these areas is going to be people who call themselves “ex catholics”. The Catholic Church is HUGE. Cross yourself at a diner. You may project a bit of self-conscious embarrassment, but the largest feedback you’re going to generate will be, “I’m Catholic. Wait, should I/Why didn’t I/I’m glad I didn’t cross myself like that guy.” When I started to cross myself at work for lunch so many Catholics “came out of the sacristy closet” and started to cross themselves too! In fact, I was Orthodox at the time and doing it backwards.  Nobody cared: they started to do it.
Do it, and see what happens: these people are now your people.
Struggles: my church has been classed as one of the “most beautiful in America”. But the parish I worshipped at in Columbus, GA, was compared (by their now late Bishop) to a Pizza Hut. God’s still there. The Holy Father yesterday said that we should celebrate Vatican II by “overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions and the practices that disfigure it.” I’m down with that, because following the documents of V2, we should all face East, be using chant and not guitars, and taking communion on the tongue not the hand.
But some people think it means exactly the reverse. shrug These people are now your people. No family is 100% harmonious 100% of the time. And this family is huge and you’re going to need to wear a flame-retardant suit sometimes, online and off.

When you’ve journeyed far and yet have come home, you know, somehow, you may have betrayed someone along the way. Somewhere some person or other may feel hurt at your joy. So what can you do? Ruth knew her obligations were not in Moab. She had to wait. Because this God was now her God. Naomi was a Jewish woman, faithful daughter of Israel. Ruth, though, was a Gentile.

That’s your job now – my job – for the Church is Israel and yet we are those Gentiles recently come in. This God is now our God. Whither the Church goes, whither Naomi goes, we go with her. Where she lodges, we lodge. Her people are now our people. Her God is our God.

In love you stand up and profess that what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, this is what you accept, follow, and live. You don’t get to dine a la carte, either. You’re stuck with the whole nine yards. (Else, why are you here?) You can’t say you didn’t know. Ruth may have had pork as a child, but I’m sure she gave it up long before saying, Populus tuus populus meus. You need all of the commandments before the two greatest make sense.

We’ve known for a while that this was right, but now we have to live it. We’ve known that this is God’s house and the Gate of Heaven. Loving God and neighbor means living this way now.

Now we are here. On this road of wandering with Israel, we are now home.

The Bible Fulfilled.

Today’s Readings:

“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

John 1:45b
I wrote the text about the Blessed Virgin earlier this week, using this text as a model; the text, per the NCRegister, of the video I’ve added at the end. There is no book of the Bible that is not about Jesus, not about the Gospel. There may be other stories, sure, but unless you’re reading the only story there is, you’re missing the point.

Jesus Christ is in every book of the Bible.
In Genesis, Jesus is the Seed of the Woman.
In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus, He is the Priest, the Altar, and the Lamb of Sacrifice.
In Numbers, He is a Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by Night.
In Deuteronomy, Jesus is the Prophet, like Moses.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Joshua, Jesus is the Captain of Our Salvation.
In Judges, He is our Judge and Lawgiver.
In Ruth, He is our kinsman Redeemer.
In 1 and 2 Samuel, He is our Trusted Prophet.
In Kings and Chronicles, He is our Reigning King.
In Ezra, He is the rebuilder of the broken down walls of human life.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Nehemiah, Jesus is our Restorer.
In Tobit, He is the Messenger of New Life.
In Judith, He is Weakness Turned into Victory.
In Esther, He is our Advocate.
In 1 and 2 Maccabees, He is the Leader who dies for God’s law.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Job, Jesus is our Everliving Redeemer.
In Psalms, He is our Shepherd.
In Proverbs, He is our Wisdom.
In Ecclesiastes, He is our Hope of Resurrection.
In the Song of Songs, He is our Loving Bridegroom.
In Wisdom, He is the emanation of God’s thought.
In Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Jesus is our security.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Isaiah, Jesus is the Suffering Servant.
In Jeremiah, He is the Righteous Branch.
In Lamentations, He is our Weeping Prophet.
In Baruch, He is the Mercy from the Eternal One.
In Ezekiel, He is the One with the Right to Rule.
In Daniel, Jesus is the Fourth Man in the fiery furnace.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Hosea, Jesus is the Faithful Husband forever married to the sinner.
In Joel, He is the One who Baptizes with the Holy Spirit of Fire.
In Amos, He is the Restorer of Justice.
In Obadiah, He is Mighty to Save.
In Jonah, He is our great foreign missionary.
In Micah, He is the feet of one who brings Good News.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Nahum, Jesus is our stronghold in the day of trouble.
In Habakkuk, He is God my Savior.
In Zephaniah, He is the King of Israel.
In Haggai, He is the signet ring.
In Zechariah, He is our Humble King riding on a colt.
In Malachi, Jesus is the Son of Righteousness.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Matthew, Jesus is God with us.
In Mark, He is the Son of God.
In Luke, He is the Son of Mary, feeling what you feel.
In John, He is the Bread of Life.
In Acts, Jesus is the Savior of the World.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Romans, Jesus is the Righteousness of God.
In 1 Corinthians, He is the Resurrection.
In 2 Corinthians, He is the God of all comfort.
In Galatians, He is your liberty. He sets you free.
In Ephesians, Jesus is the Head of the Church.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Philippians, Jesus is your Joy.
In Colossians, He is your Completeness.
In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, He is your Hope.
In 1 Timothy, He is your Faith.
In 2 Timothy, Jesus is your Stability.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Titus, Jesus is Truth.
In Philemon, He is your Benefactor.
In Hebrews, He is your Perfection.
In James, He is the Power behind your Faith.
In 1 Peter, He is your Example.
In 2 Peter, Jesus is your Purity.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In 1 John, Jesus is your Life.
In 2 John, He is your Pattern.
In 3 John, He is your Motivation.
In Jude, He is the Foundation of your Faith.
In Revelation, Jesus is your Coming King.
He is:
The First and the Last.
The Beginning and the End.
He is the Keeper of Creation and the Creator of All.
He is the Architect of the Universe and the Manager of All Time.
He Always Was, He Always Is, and He Always Will Be Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and Never Undone.
He was bruised and brought healing.
He was pierced and eased pain.
He was persecuted and brought freedom.
He was dead and brought life.
He is risen and brings power.
He reigns and brings peace.
The world can’t understand Him.
The armies can’t defeat Him.
Schools can’t explain Him and the leaders can’t ignore Him.
Herod couldn’t kill Him.
The Pharisees couldn’t confuse Him.
The people couldn’t hold him. [This is where the clapping begins]
Nero couldn’t crush Him.
Hitler couldn’t silence Him.
The New Age can’t replace Him.
And Oprah can’t explain Him away.
He is Life, Love, Longevity, and Lord.
He is Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, Mighty, Powerful, and Pure.
His Ways our Right, His Words Eternal, His Rules Unchanging, and His
Mind is on me.
He is My Redeemer, He is My Savior, He is My God, He is My Priest, He is My Joy, He is My Comfort, He is My Lord, and He rules my life.

Takes a cool hand…

Today’s Readings:

An oculus tuus nequam est, quia ego bonus sum?
Is your eye evil, because I am good?
Matthew 20:15b
We live in very interesting times, do we not? I say that in the style of the infamous Chinese curse, of course. When met with the anti Christian actions of the right and the left, what are we to do, as Christians? What should be our goal? Certainly racism is bad and the Catholic and Orthodox bishops of America have condemned it, not just a little, but a lot. Certainly the anti Christian actions of the Left (did you see the Media gushing over the Eugenics in Iceland) have left us with an inability to take refuge on either side of the political spectrum. When we topple statues of Margaret Sanger as quickly as we topple statues of Robert E. Lee, then I shall think we are on the right path.
But there is no logic, nor is there supposed to be: for both sides have denied the Logos, the plan God has woven into all of the universe, which involves no death, nor hate. It does not allow us to treat different races as impure, nor babies as inconveniences. Nor does it allow us to invent lies whole cloth just to say, “God made a new thing.” When your god just walks around confirming your likes and dislikes, maybe you’ve made up your god too.
But none of these people want anything to do with our God, because he wants to do with everyone.
God’ll have none of your bickering, he wants to save the Abortionists and the Racists, God wants to save the divorcees and the same-sex married. God will save both the transgender and the Duck Dynasty. God will have none of those things you call divisions.
God’s gone fishing and he nets all of us.
But if I have to go to a party with them, then I’m not going.
I used to think them was about hating them, or them hating me. I can’t go to church with them because they hate me.
But, one day, praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ, someone jumped up and yelled “and for their conversion”. And I realized that the issue with inviting “them” to Church is “I might have to admit I am wrong.”  Pure human pride. 
Do we have an evil eye because God is good?
Do I imagine you’re not my brother or sister in Christ based on politics or something else? Shouldn’t I invite you to Church then? Do I have to admit my hatred of you? My assurance you’ll embarrass me, you anti-faith leftist? How will I ever explain you to my “really” Christian friends, you racist, neonazi SOBs? 
This is a failure of love. 
What we have here is a failure to communicate the Gospel.
All of the Gospel is “Taste and see…” but that one person you want to change before they get to Church… that’s where your Gospel fails. That one person that must get (even just a little) fixed before we want to feel good around them, that’s where your God can’t go. I have no problem seeing that some must change before (say) absolution can be given, or some must find ways to live together without sex, or to have sex without fear of God’s blessings… but God doesn’t demand them to to that before they set their foot in the door.
How can they convert if they don’t hear the Gospel? They are not going to hear it on the street. If you’re not going out to the antifa and the minutemen to tell them what time Mass is on Sunday… You’re giving God a long row to hoe.
And you’re doing it wrong.

Hail Holy Queen

Today’s readings:

And Gedeon seeing that it was the angel of the Lord, said: Alas, my Lord God: for I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said to him: Peace be with thee: fear not, thou shalt not die. And Gedeon built there an altar to the Lord, and called it the Lord’s peace, until this present day.
Judges 6:22-24

In the Extraordinary Form, today’s feast is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the Ordinary Form it’s the Queenship of Mary. Either way it’s because we have seen the Lord face to face and we shall not die, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Genesis, Mary is the offspring of Eve that shall bruise the serpent’s head. She is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.
In Exodus Mary is the earth on which the Heavenly Manna falls. Mary is Sinai, from which is cut the tablets of the law by God’s own hands.
In Leviticus, Mary is the Tabernacle and the Mercy Seat.
In Numbers, Mary is the New Generation, raised up to replace those who rebelled against God.
In Deuteronomy, Mary is the choice for Life.
In all the Torah, Mary is Faithful Israel, following God’s laws into the promised inheritance, all Generations shall call her blessed.

In Joshua, Mary is Rahab, who saves the faithful.
In Judges, Mary is Deborah, who sings of the victory of Israel and his God over their enemies.
In Ruth, named for Mary’s Ancestress, Mary is the blessing of prosperity on Bethlehem Ephrathah.
In First Samuel, Mary is Hannah, praying for a delivering son.
In Second Samuel, Mary is the House of God which David wanted to build… but God said, not you – but your decendant.
In 1st Kings, Mary is the Temple of Solomon, the wonder of all the world, the glory of God’s worship.
In 2nd Kings, Mary is the Shunammite Woman who was given a son, who lost a son, and had him restored.
In 1 Chronicles, Mary is the Ark of the Lord, whom no man will touch, lost by Israel and restored in glory.
In 2 Chronicles, Mary is the Wisdom for which Solomon prayed.
In Ezra, Mary is the Restored Worship of Israel.
In Nehemiah, Mary is the Restored Law of Israel.
In Tobit, Mary is the restored city of Jerusalem, where “Generation after generation will offer worship in you.”
Mary is Judith, beheading Holfernes, the old serpent.
And Mary is Esther, winning life for her people.
In 1 Maccabees, Mary is the inspiration, courage, and arms to resist idolatry.
In 2 Maccabees, Mary is the Mother of Martyrs who leads the faithful to their crowns.
In all the history of Israel, Mary is the lamp from which the Light will shine forth, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Job Mary is the wisdom of God’s plan from all ages.
In the Psalms, Mary is the Queen standing at God’s right hand.
In Proverbs, Mary is the righteous woman.
In Ecclesiastes, Mary is the Wisdom that illumines the face, that transforms the countenance.
In the Song of Songs, Mary is Dark and Comely.
In Wisdom, Mary is the prosperity of Israel in God’s providence.
In Sirach, Mary is the Godfearing of Little Understanding that is far better than the “smart” who violate God’s law.
In all the books of wisdom and poetry, Mary is the music of the Song of God, the haunting melody of the Logos, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Isaiah, Mary is the Virgin with Child.
In Jeremiah, Mary is the call to Return.
In Lamentations, the grief of Mary is laid bare, but she is also the city abandoned by so many who refuse to honor her.
In Baruch, Mary is Jerusalem, rising up and looking to the East to see her Children.
In Ezekiel, Mary is the Wind of God that brings the resurrection to Israel through the birth of Son.
In Daniel, Mary is the Angel, sent to close the mouths of the temptations that haunt us like lions.
In Hosea, Mary is the Repudiation of faithless Israel in her faithfulness, she walks straight in the paths of the Lord while the sinners stumble in them.
In Joel, Mary is the house of the Lord from which will come a spring that will refresh Israel and all the world.
In Amos, Mary is the Restored house of Israel, rebuilt as in the days of old.
In Obadiah, Mary is the Fire of Jacob consuming Israel’s enemies.
In Jonah, Mary is the prayer of the prophet, giving voice to the whole world, begging for God’s redemption.
In Micah, Mary is the Daughter of Zion crushing the pagans.
In Nahum, Mary is the footsteps on the Mountain birthing the reign of God.
In Habakkuk, Mary is our rejoicing in the Lord, even though all else has failed.
In Zephaniah, Mary is Jerusalem, the refuge of the Strange People.
In Haggai, Mary is the House of the Lord filled with the treasures of all the nations.
In Zechariah, Mary is the Lampstand holding aloft the light of God.
In Malachi, Mary is the Offering of Judah that pleases the Lord.
In all of the Prophets, Mary is the Scroll on which is written God’s word, and all Generations will call her blessed.

Through her we have seen the Face of God birthed into the world.
All generations will call her blessed
We have seen God and yet we shall not die.
All generations will call her blessed
We are her children, made brothers of her Son,
All generations will call her blessed
And we are her servants in Love.

As the Earth offered a cave to be the birthplace of God, we have offered the most pure Virgin to be his mother.
All generations will call her blessed.

Thrown to the Dogs

Today’s Readings:

Non est bonum sumere panem filiorum, et mittere canibus.
It’s not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.
Matthew 15:26b
I think everyone in the world today will be preaching something about what seems to be Jesus’ racism here.
It’s too easy to project our modern political hangups on this text. It’s also heretical.
So stop.
A better question to ask (than to accuse the God-Man of Racism, even pretended racism to make a point) is why did Matthew make her a Canaanite? There are no Canaanites in the New Testament. They are dead and gone by thousands of years.
Why did Matthew take Mark’s story about a Syrophoenician woman and make her a Canaanite?
It’s not racism – remember, there are no Canaanites. I could be making a joke about a Pict right now and no one would care.
Why did Matthew do it?
Cuz it’s funny.
Because in both Greek and Latin, Canaanite is a punch line to the reference about dogs: Canine, get it? Ha ha. This is such brilliant word play that it is inspired. Jesus made a Dad joke.
But we would rather accuse Jesus of racism. We – even the Biblically illiterate among us – would rather here become quite literal and say, look: that’s not God.
God’s got a better imagination and better writers than you.
We learn, I think, more about ourselves from this text than we do about Jesus. I agree with the Church Fathers that Jesus said no so as to make the woman say, in front of the disciples, I don’t care about your no, do it. Using women (and other members of the underclass) to teach the disciples a humiliating lesson was very much in keeping with Jesus’ style then and now.
Matthew’s Jewish listeners would have been slightly scandalized by Jesus talking to a Gentile. But Matthew wanted to make a point here so he didn’t just make her a Gentile, he made her a hated and feared bogey-Gentile from the far distant past: a Super Shikse. Are you afraid of Genghis Khan?

But when we cringe here, we do so because Jesus is hurting our sensibilities the same way he hurt Peter, James, and John’s.  
And we just gotta grow up. (I’m speaking to myself here, mostly, because I am weak.)
For years I heard that I shouldn’t go to Church because of something called homophobia. But my very being cried out to go to Church. When I finally humbled myself and went, what I found was love. For years I was told I was being disrespected so I didn’t go. But when I humbled myself and went, what I found was love.
There are no Canaanites in the New Testament. There are no outcasts in Church. But there are humans in there. God too.
But someone might not like you if you show up. The Apostles standing behind Jesus might say “ew…”
So what? Until I walked in I hated and feared most of the people in there. Right now most people on the outside are filled with bigoted stereotypes of the people inside. So someone inside mightn’t like you? Tough luck for them. I don’t care about your no. Do it.
God is calling you. That voice you hear that says “I should go to Mass. I should go to confession. I should finally go to the Catholic Church. I need to get up earlier on Sundays.” All that is God speaking to you. And you’re going to let some human petty thinking keep you out? I don’t care about your no. Do it.
I don’t care about your modern political hangups. There are a lot of ways to inflict secular punishments on those we hate, on those who violate our social order, on those we deplore. There is only one way to save them. We gotta love everyone. I don’t care about your no. Do it.
There’s only one way out of this mess. And it has nothing to do with judgement, hate, bigotry, or revenge of any sort. Love.

Jesus is that love.


I don’t care about your no.