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.

Jesus.

I don’t care about your no.