Think Different

The Readings for the 3rd Sunday, Tempus per Annum (A2)

Paenitentiam agite; appropinquavit enim regnum caelorum.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.


Repent, says Jesus. Jerome’s Latin renders this poenitentiam agite which means “do penance” but it may be a typo of sorts as “paenitentiam” – with the “o” changed to an “a” – means “repent”. This last is what’s in the Nova Vulgata used in more recent liturgical texts. Jerome may have had an axe to grind, however. The Douay text has Jesus saying “Do penance for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” That seems oddly wrong. The Greek is μετανοέω metanoeó. Repent! When we hear this word we think of people in sackcloth and ashes. Sometimes we may think of people weeping in the streets. Yet, as I have pointed out many times before the Greek word does not imply any of these things. It means to “think beyond” or to “think different”. Strong’s dictionary says that meta means “changed after being with” and that noeo means “think”, so regardless of “beyond” or “different” it means our thinking is changed. Our thinking now takes on a new pattern after being with… Jesus.

Repent means to let our thinking be changed.

Once, when discussing a new relationship with a group a friend of mine was asked what she loved about her new beau. “I like the way he makes me feel,” she said. The oldest of us in the group laughed. He said, “That’s not love, that’s a peculiar species of narcissism.” It seems that romance always is this peculiar species of narcissism. We have to learn to have our thinking changed in order to experience love. Then suddenly we discovered that love is about sacrifice and about suffering. These are not two things we imagine in our relationships, but we think our relationships are about self-comfort rather than self-sacrifice. We think our relationships are about narcissism rather than about love.

At the Walk For Life in San Francisco on Saturday my friend Kathy spoke movingly of her oldest son. He was conceived in rape. She gave him up for adoption in an open adoption. He is a vibrant part of their family even though he was raised in another part of the country. As she spoke about the sexual assault that brought this new life into her life and about the choices she made to keep the baby, I begin to realize that motherhood means something completely different to Kathy then it had ever meant to me. Brotherhood is not the choice to raise kids it’s the choice to say my kids are more important than I am. Motherhood is not the willingness to give up one’s freedom for children. Motherhood is the reality of giving up everything for one’s children. I began to see why some people might be threatened by this, might want to run away. This was not the first time I had heard Kathy’s story but it was the first time I began to understand it. And it was then but I began to understand her son’s own story of self-sacrifice and success. We learn so much from our parents. When parents think outside of our culture’s boxes their kids do as well.

In how many places of our lives do we think wrongly, need to think differently? What if work is not about making money to pay the bills, but about a struggle to work out our salvation? What if, in fact, all of our lives are about this same struggle?

Jesus says to some fishermen, “Come after me and I will make you Fishers of Men.” If Jesus were with us now would he say to someone fixing a drainpipe, “Come after me and I will make you a plumber of men’s souls.” Does he say to the doctor, “Come after me and I will make you a healer of men’s hearts.” Does grace build on nature, changing what we are into what God needs us to be? When we experience pain, when life gives us something that we didn’t want, when we lose how does God turn this into an act of our salvation? This happens when we begin to think with different minds about our lives. The Daily Grind becomes the daily life lived for God. The same things are experienced but to different ends. Marriage becomes about sacrifice. Sex becomes about self gift. Love becomes about death. Death becomes life.

Does God change our minds, or does he simply open the door and show us that another way of thinking is possible? I think this last is true. God cannot change our minds as that would be contrary to human freedom. God can show us a better way whenever and – with infinite patience and love – wait for us to go into it.

Repent! Think with a new mind. God has always been drawing closer, but now we can see it. When the light dawns on Zebulon and Naphtali it is not a new thing that is happening oh, it is only that we can see it clearly for the first time.

The Benedict Option

If I Werrr King of the Forrrrressssht


The Readings for Saturday, 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (B2):

    Et ait illis : Quid timidi estis? necdum habetis fidem? 
    And he said to them: Why are you fearful? have you not faith yet?

    July 4th, 1981,  I was sitting behind the elementary school with my friends Faith, Marc, Denis, Jody… we were all there to watch the annual fireworks display. These were shot off from behind an oak tree that grew at the back of the playground by the village sheriff.  We could see him now, moving in the twilight, setting up the tubes and things. As he shot off each one, Faith would lead us in a sound, “OOOOOOOO” or “AHHHHHH”, etc. We were annoying folks around us, but it was fun, sitting on the blanket, sipping out of little Budweiser nips, and not yet being of age.

    About 10 minutes into the program, a rocket went up (Faith had us ready to cry, “Ohhhhhhh”). But then, after about 20 feet it gave up and the rocket came down. We watched it bounce. 

    But then… it exploded! (The Sheriff had the sense to run, duck and cover). And there was an amazing amount of chaos: because the exploding rocket caught all the other fireworks and lit them all! There were rockets going everywhere. An entire 40 mins of remaining program including the grand finale went off in about 5 minutes. It was intense. It was astonishing. It has ruined me for fireworks because I tell this story every year and no fireworks display can ever match it.

    The mob of people were running into the forest, off to the farm field next door, or out towards the parking lot. 

    Faith sat motionless and so, so did all of us. And we saw the intense beauty and humor of it all.  And we drank our beers as people screamed.

    Then we applauded.

    Faith said to my Mom later, “I figured if one of those rockets was meant for me, running into the woods wouldn’t have helped, so I sat there.”

    So, Jesus: say the Apostles. You see here, we’re about to be killed! Why are we afraid? You were asleep and we were just three splashes short of a full bucket here, and going under fast. Why are we afraid? Right. How can you sleep? You have to admit the Apostles would have had any reason at all to yell back something like this. The English makes it sound that way, anyway: almost as if Jesus stood up and said, “What, this? You call this a storm? That’s not a storm…”

    That’s not a knife…

    But Jesus asks a rather more interesting question in the Greek (and in Latin): Why are you timid? Do you not yet have faith? The Latin timidi is a perfect rendition of the Greek δειλός deilos. Both of those would be a perfect name for the Lion in the Wizard of Oz (δειλό λιοντάρι). And we know from that story that the lion is lacking Courage… which means heart.  (Middle English [denoting the heart, as the seat of feelings]: from Old French corage, from Latin cor ‘heart.’). The Greek, deilos means the same thing only worse:

    1169 deilós (an adjective derived from deidō, “fear-driven”) – properly, dreadful, describing a person who loses their “moral gumption (fortitude)” that is needed to follow the Lord.
    1169 /deilós (“fearful of losses”) refers to an excessive fear (dread) of “losing,” causing someone to be fainthearted (cowardly) – hence, to fall short in following Christ as Lord.
    [1169 /deilós is always used negatively in the NT and stands in contrast to the positive fear which can be expressed by 5401 /phóbos (“fear,” see Phil 2:12).]

    Lacking moral gumption. OK. And fearful of losses and because of that fear falling short… a level of fear that causes you to back down in the service of Jesus.

    Once, meditating on the roots of anger, I found fear. Not Phobos, but Deilos. And I’ve been praying for Cojones de Latón ever since. The curious thing is that one doesn’t need to be scared of anything. I can get up and move 3,000 miles tomorrow: find a new job, make new friends, make a real go of it. I’ve done that so many times that I could write a how-to manual called “How to Quit, Move 3,000 Miles and Start Over Anytime You Want.” I’ve walked on outdoor ledges 3″ wide 6 floors above Manhattan, I’ve walked in parts of several cities in which I’m supposed to be terrified. But I’m not.

    But I am more worried about offending the persons who control my lease or my paycheck than I am about offending Jesus. And that shows up in a false bravado, a weak-willed acquiescence, a persecution complex, and a simmering stew of emotions that run the gamut from “why can’t I get anything done?” to “one day I may find a new job”.

    Jesus posits a curious solution to this timidity: Necdum habetis fidem? Have ye not yet faith?  Faith is the answer. Faith in what, though? What is this faith of which you speak? Faith is different from assurance or confidence. 

    I have confidence in meeeeeee

    Faith is trust. Faith is trust in God. Jesus can sleep through a storm (or an Earthquake), or walk through an Angry Mob (or a trial), because he knows his heavenly Father has got it all under control. Yes, he had some doubts and fears in Gethsemane, and he asked for help… but he never gave in to them. 

    Trust. The Greek word rendered “Faith” here is πίστις pistis and it’s not the blindness of belief. Rather it’s the assurance of knowing. In Greek one has pistis in a contract.  One has πίστις in a marriage. The Latin prayer called the Act of Faith begins, Domine Deus, firma fide credo et confiteor… “Lord God, with a firm faith I believe an I confess… The Greek version of the Nicene Creed begins “Pisteuo” or “I trust…”

    When Jesus says, Why are you timid? Why do you not yet have faith?” He’s asking, flat out, Which part of God’s Got This are you missing?

    If one of those rockets had my name on it, running into the forest wouldn’t help.
    (I make no apologies because her name really is Faith)

    I wonder, though what makes us think anything else in this world works differently? If God’s got this… then whatever is happening is what’s best for me: for my salvation, for my journey home. What I need to do is find the best dance for now. What is not acceptable is to run away, to hide, to chicken out, or to back down.

    I’m currently reading a Biography of St Catherine of Siena. Of all the amazing things she did, the thing that surprises me most is not that she rebuked the Pope for being in Avignon, but why she did so: he was there because Rome had riots and wars and it was scary. She knew though, that the Bishop of Rome belonged with his people. The popes were scared and running: and that’s no way for a Christian to make decisions, certainly not a Christian leader, and especially the Vicar of Christ.

    So what about my fear problem? Or, what about our fear problem? We don’t get to go hide in the hills just because there’s war, or rumors of wars, or laws we don’t like. The late Francis, Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, once said 

    I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. 

    We’re not there yet, but the prophecies of section 17 in Humanae Vitae are coming true. And we may not have long to wait.  Come what may, though: The Lion of Judah ain’t no Dandy Lion to go hide in a cave until the terror is over. Christians don’t get to run away when things get tough. They stay put, they raise their kids in the faith, they serve the Gospel, they proclaim the truth, and they get killed.

    That’s the will of God and so they go rejoicing, forgiving their oppressors, blessing those that curse them, and praying for those that kill them. The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church.

    Cardinal George’s quote ends rather more hopeful than it beganHis successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.

    That’s faith. God’s got this.

    Glory to God for all things.

    Saul. Saul…


    The Readings for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul
    Thursday, 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

    Ego sum Jesus, quem tu persequeris : durum est tibi contra stimulum calcitrare.
    I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.  

    Kicking against the goad is such an image, isn’t it? Driving your car the wrong way over one of those pointy sharp tire traps that keep you going in the in ramp and out the out ramp. Like that but for horses. 

    You have to admit that personal evangelism from Jesus is a big thing. What would you do if Jesus were to appear before you in a blinding light with any proof you want that it was, in fact, Jesus? What would you do? 

    What sort of questions would rush through your mind? 
    How could you know it was actually him? Folks way better at holiness than I have been tricked by demons claiming to be Jesus. Folks way smarter than I are tricked all the time. (By their fruits, etc)
    In the Orthodox Church if an icon starts to weep or gush myrrh, or blood or something, the first thing that happens is an exorcism is performed.
    If the Orthodox Church can’t tell at first blush about even the holiest of things (Icons), how would you know?
    And so, how did Saul know?

    How do you reach the decision to reach out to Truth himself, standing before you?
    In a few years, Saul (now Paul), would go from “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples” to dying for them.

    In changed someplace between Jesus’ word, goad, and Paul’s word, Lord

    Astonished? Yes, I would be too at the words coming out of my own mouth.

    We know all the stories that come after that. But how that split second changed the world! How that moment between goad and Lord made all the difference.

    Saul, does it hurt when you do that?
    Yes, Lord.
    Then don’t do that.

    Yes, Lord.

    But, how would you know? I mean how would you really know?

    What has worked for me is hearing the Voice through the voice of others who, likewise, heard it through the voices of others. The entirety of the gospel works that way: Luke says he researched everything, interviewing eyewitnesses etc, before he wrote it down.  But the words are not powerful: it is the telling of the words. In the hearing of the stories of others who, too, have come from this Savior speaking the words of Grace.

    Whose life will you touch when you leave the presence of the Lord and share it with others? When you speak, who will be transformed? Where will your light shine?                                   

    I have a cunning plan…


    The Readings for Memorial of St Francis de Sales, BCD
    Wednesday, 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (B2): 

    Et fidelis erit domus tua, et regnum tuum usque in aeternum ante faciem tuam, et thronus tuus erit firmus jugiter.
    And thy house shall be faithful, and thy kingdom for ever before thy face, and thy throne shall be firm for ever. 

    I’m certain that, if God had wanted to become Man, he could have just done it.  That is the whole point of God, is it not? Rather better than Nike, just thinking it is to have it have been done already.  Just… oops already done. What we know of God in the Old Testament, though, after that Great Poem of Creation, the Hexaemeron, is that God prefers to work in relationship: walking in the Evening with Adam, lamenting the death of Abel, reaching out to Noë and his Kin; Abraham and his family, Lot and his, the sons of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and all their generations. Moses and Aaron, and all the 12 Tribes of Israel, all coming together out of Egypt. 

    This God doesn’t just do things for people or to people: he does things through and with them. This Great God of ours is in love with us.

    So it is right and just that, to start the movement towards the final act, he begins by promising David an eternal throne. From that promise, we are set careening at a positively Orthodox speed down the Road to the Final Apocalypse when that Davidic throne will hold the Lamb that was Slain from before the Foundations of the World and every tribe, every nation, every knee will bend and every tongue in heaven and on earth and in hell will proclaim, to the Glory of God the Father that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

    God, had he wanted to become Man, could have, you know, just done itBut that would be magical at best and meaningless, more than likely. God needed to work with us and in us and through us. God needed a family history. God had work to do: to arrange everything so that when the Incarnation Happened, everything would be in order.

    1 Particular Man
    1 Particular family.
    1 Particular clan.
    1 Particular ancestry.
    1 Particular set of roots (Bet-Lechem. House of Bread, get it?)

    Marriages to arrange, and adulturies to account for, and tribes to be lost and empires to rise and Alexander had to find India to open the way there and Augustus, for one Brief Shining Moment, and then cue star, cue shepherds, cue terror, cue state sponsored torture, cue… you.

    When I think of all the things that lined up to make you or me possible – and that’s without any divine signals, signage, or stars. I just got born in the city that Margaret Mitchell wrote about about 100 years later… and I’m not yet sure of the stories around my birth. But I think they may be true. What about yours? At least as easy? 

    God had to literally (pun intended) write history to make this one happen. When the people of Israel whinged for a King… because the Judges were generally not a good choice… that was all part of a Cunning Plan. It stretches back at least to Abraham, but it was first mentioned in the Garden of Eden. 

    To get to this one Particular Man.

    And now you… this one Particular Man… and you. How are you here reading these words? What do you need yet to do to get in on this cosmic dance?

    This whole thing’s a setup, see? A setup of a scandal of particularity of cosmic and universal proportions. And it involves you. The sooner you see that the better things will get. Let go.  Come along for the ride.

    The water is fine.


    Similam Frixam Oleo!


    The Readings for Tuesday, 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (B2): 

    Ecce mater mea et fratres mei.
    Behold my mother and my brethren. 

    My Freshman year in College, I won a preaching award with this Gospel. In fact, it was an annual award, open to all students. I was the first freshman to win it. Behold the oddities of Protestant preaching: when a preacher makes a good delivery, and can back up his preaching with decently researched Bible quotes, it is his interpretation that matters. Even though everyone on the committee disagreed with me, I still won. In giving me the $250, the college chaplain acknowledged that he disagreed with me, but that I had given a well-written, passionate, and well-delivered sermon.

    I was so wrong in my sermon. 34 years later I think with horror of my poking at the non-sacramental evangelicals who filled the halls of The King’s College. But a well-written, passionate, and well-delivered sermon is all anyone really wants on a Sunday afternoon in that world: and maybe some good music. If we all go home and talk about the sermon – even how much we disagreed with the content – but can come up with our own well-written, passionate, and well-delivered sermon for later, maybe one of us will get to be a guest preacher one day.

    Still, I was horribly wrong in my sermon. It started out well: in this Gospel Jesus seems to dis his own family of birth in favor of a family of choice. I went horribly wrong after that, but in the opening line of the sermon I was right:

    St Bede says, Being asked therefore by a message to go out, He declines, not as though He refused the dutiful service of His mother, but to shew that He owes more to His Father’s mysteries than to His mother’s feelings. Nor does He rudely despise His brothers, but, preferring His spiritual work to fleshly relationship, He teaches us that religion is the bond of the heart rather than that of the body. Wherefore it goes on, “And looking round about on them which sat about Him, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren.” And St John Chrysostom adds, By this, the Lord shews that we should honour those who are relations by faith rather than those who are relations by blood. A man indeed is made the mother of Jesus by preaching Him; for He, as it were, brings forth the Lord, when he pours Him into the heart of his hearers. (Both of these are cited by St Thomas Aquinas in his Catena Aurea.)

    This is our family: we are initiated into this family by having one great King and High Priest who is our Father in the Faith,  Jesu, Pater Futuri Saeculi, Jesus Father of the Future World, as the Litany of the Holy Name puts it, and Pater Pauperum, Father of the Poor, for we are the poor in spirit, and poor in the eyes of the world for our seemingly stupidity of Faith. We are grafted in to the family of God prefigured by King David, who, bringing the Ark of God to rest in Jerusalem, feasted all of Israel as one would feast one’s own family.  

    Benedixit populo in nomine Domini exercituum. Et partitus est universae multitudini Israel tam viro quam mulieri singulis collyridam panis unam, et assaturam bubulae carnis unam, et similam frixam oleo : et abiit omnis populus, unusquisque in domum suam.

    He blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. And he distributed to all the multitude of Israel both men and women, to every one, a cake of bread, and a piece of roasted beef, and fine flour fried with oil: and all the people departed every one to his house. 

    (Regardless of what the NABRE says, similam frixam oleo does not mean raisin cakes but fried in oil… David was giving out… well, the Hebrew is חַלָּה, challah: bread used for the sacrifices. The Greek says, “Cake Bread”. The Latin however, says “flour fried in oil” which an only mean pancakes and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

    Why is the King blessing folks? Because David is a Priest-King, the father of his people, treating all of his nation as his family, as his children. This is why, in older style, a King is called “Sire”. Not because it’s a pompous pronunciation of “sir” but because he is the Father of his People. David is the Anointed Messiah, the prefigurement of the Christ. 

    Jesus is our Sire, in the spiritual sense, in the only sense that really matters, uniting all peoples into one. The entire church is a family, into which we must draw all people for outside the Church there is not our family, at least yet.

    Today I am mindful Family of St Dominic into which I find myself grafted: the living Dominican Tradition present in my parish, the Dominican Friars that run it, the Dominican sisters that teach there, the Dominican cloistered nuns that serve as spiritual advisors, the Dominican Tertiaries which I am petitioning to join, the Dominican priestly fraternity that I cannot escape even when I go to another parish for Mass, together with all the Dominicans I’m coming to know online and off… this is a huge family, and a blessed one. These are my family in a real and present way. I daily find myself uplifted by their prayers and by the prayers of so many Dominican saints and blesseds! 

    This clan though, growing through time and space, is only one branch of the vine of Christ: through centuries  and all the globe, in heaven, purgatory and on the earth. The one great family of man united in Christ, the God-man, and through him united to the Holy Trinity in one great fellowship of love.

    These are my mothers, brothers, and fathers.

    The verse .3

    A Solution to a Shutdown


    The Readings for Monday, 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (B2): 

    Venerunt quoque et seniores Israël ad regem in Hebron, et percussit cum eis rex David fœdus in Hebron coram Domino: unxeruntque David in regem super Israël.
    The ancients also of Israel came to the king of Hebron, and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed David to be king over Israel.

    The BBC’s Monarchy is absolutely one of my favourite documentary series. (It’s tied for first, really, with The Power of Nightmares. While it documents the history of the Celtic, then Saxon, Norman, and English powers that have held the Matter of Britain under their royal sway, the series also discusses the attitudes and cultures that gave rise to what we now know as a “constitutional Monarchy”. The British Monarch is rather more than a Figurehead, but rather less than Imperial; certainly not a fairytale figure, but also not just a non-elected president, or a Dictator for Life. I think the host of the series (Dr David Starkey) also makes a wonderful if, (only) perhaps unintentional point: that this marriage of Crown and Control, of People and Prince is, perhaps the best governmental option we have.

    Our first reading today give us a glimpse of a constitutional monarchy set up in early Zion. The Elders of Israel had had enough of Saul and so, not wanting another excitement, they came to David in Hebron and made a covenant with him, a “B’reet” in the Torah or “Bris” in more colloquial usage, which is also the same word used for the Covenant of Circumcision. That will give you an idea of how important this was. The Elders of Israel, before the Lord, made a compact with David like unto the very Covenant between God and Israel. That’s how important the Davidic Kingship is – and so, by extension, the Messianic Kingdom.

    After the covenant… but wait. Not yet. 

    This is a constitutional Monarchy. That’s the point that is important: it’s a deal of free will, entered into by choice on the part of all parties. It has obligations and rules important to both sides to follow, a contract that says “I will do this and I can be your king. You will do this and you will be my people.” Should either side break the covenant, it’s a personal affront to the other side, not just a “regime change” but more like a divorce. It’s the ending of a relationship. 

    After the covenant is made the Elders of Israel again anoint David. I say again, because Samuel anointed him back in I Samuel 16. So something new is happening now. Saul was not anointed twice. The elders of Israel did not have a say in his selection. Here, something new is happening. Before they asked for a “king like other nations have” and they got the Royal Schmuck. Now, though, something new, a king that is “after God’s own heart” and the forefather of Jesus… something new that will take nearly 30 generations to mature, something new in relations between the People and the Ruler – who is only a stand-in for God.

    The Davidic Crown is a prototype for the best of government throughout history. Not the mass hysteria we call “democracy” but rather covenants, between adults in community, to rule and be ruled, to govern and be governed, in the sight of God. Even God’s kingdom comes with choice attached, the Freedom to be in it, or not, the uncoerced decision to enter into the covenant or not.

    This is why John Adams said our constitution would not work for an irreligious people, and why Alexis de Tocqueville recognized that religion in America was like a bit and bridle on the otherwise ungovernable horses of human passion and mob rule. The American system’s genius was a constitutional monarchy in a very real sense: the governed and the governors all bowed to the monarchy of the Constitutional document. That is no longer where we are. Neither religion nor respect for the Constitution holds us in check as a people. We are all rather short sighted and nothing allows us the patience of 30 generations to work something out.

    Jesus says, “Si regnum in se dividatur, non potest regnum illud stare. Et si domus super semetipsam dispertiatur, non potest domus illa stare. If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” That’s where we are living right now. Neither president nor people imagine themselves in league. Even those who think the President is somehow for them find themselves divided, rather than united by that support. Anywhere there is division, it is not God’s spirit at work, but rather the real presence of the evil one.

    So we are limited in our actions’ power by our divisions and our divisions only worsen as we wait inactive. That this reading comes up as America’s Gov’t is in Shutdown mode is purely coincidental. But were there someone in power over the President and Congress, she might dissolve the gov’t and say “try again…” 

    We have fallen into the world described by The Power of Nightmares. We no longer are guided by our best dreams and visions, but rather by our fears. And the one who can project the biggest fears onto the most folks rules. Augustine realized that we have a whole other obligation: building up the place where we are and yet not being attached to it. To work to heal and yet also, to let it pass as having another homeland.

    So then, what? As Christians who must refuse to be governed by fear (for perfect love casts out all fear) what is to be our watchword today? 

    Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
    Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
    Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
    And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

    Crown Him the virgin’s Son, the God incarnate born,
    Whose arm those crimson trophies won which now His brow adorn;
    Fruit of the mystic rose, as of that rose the stem;
    The root whence mercy ever flows, the Babe of Bethlehem.

    Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
    And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
    Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
    And takes and bears them for His own, that all in Him may rest.

    Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
    And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
    His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
    Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

    Crown Him the Lord of peace, whose power a scepter sways
    From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
    His reign shall know no end, and round His piercèd feet
    Fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.

    Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
    Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
    No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
    But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.

    Crown Him the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in worlds above,
    Crown Him the King to Whom is given the wondrous name of Love.
    Crown Him with many crowns, as thrones before Him fall;
    Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns, for He is King of all.

    Crown Him the Lord of lords, who over all doth reign,
    Who once on earth, the incarnate Word, for ransomed sinners slain,
    Now lives in realms of light, where saints with angels sing
    Their songs before Him day and night, their God, Redeemer, King.

    Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
    Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
    All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;

    Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.

    Words: Verses 1, 4, 5, 6 & 9: Mat­thew Bridg­es, The Pass­ion of Je­sus, 1852; verses 2 & 3: Godfrey Thring, Hymns and Sac­red Lyr­ics, 1874.

    We have a king to follow even if this world is falling apart. We have good to build up, and bad to let pass away. We have, to use yesterday’s readings, all the world to use but not according to its use. We cannot be partisan, for no party is wholly with us, but we can be biased in favor our our king, and aware of how each action moves us either closer to him or further away. We can make all steps for the former and avoid the latter at all cost. Following the Truth, himself, will make us very disloyal in the secular eyes that watch us, and dangerously subversive to both right and left, liberal and conservative, “red” and “blue”. 

    But he will make us free. 

    The Tao of Paul


    The Readings for 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B2): 

    Præterit enim figura hujus mundi.
    The fashion of this world passeth away.

    You wanna know, right? Cuz it’s been 2,000 years. When is this all going to end. Which part of this is passing away? Jesus said, “Quoniam impletum est tempus, et appropinquavit regnum Dei: pœnitemini, et credite Evangelio.” The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand. What is accomplished? Apart from the names of the idols invoked, what has changed at all between Caligula Caesar and Donald Trump? 

    As St Paul says elsewhere, “we wrestle not with flesh and blood”. Nothing has changed in 2000 years because we are still sinners living here. So then what has changed, what has ended?

    The clue comes in the odd list of things to do (or not do) that St Paul gives us. And it ends with that final note on using the world.

    I use a website called Kata Biblon, which means “according to the book”, not in fundamentalist sort of way though. Kata is the way the Gospels are described: Kata Loykan, According to Luke, etc. Kata Biblion, we tell this story “by the book”. Are we playing this game Kata Hoyle? Will this meeting be Kata Robert’s Rules? So I was interested to see that we are to use (chromenoi in Greek) the world but not katachrōmenoi according to use. What a wonderful word play the Apostle has here! Use the world not according to its use! I am reminded of Lao Tzu’s counsel that we do-not-doing or act-non-action, Wei Wu Wei. 

    It is possible to read “let those with wives live as though they had none” as some sort of sex-hating near-gnosticness. But that’s a heresy, so it’s not what is there. 

    What is here is Paul calling to the readers’ mind all the ways the world looks at stuff like wives, rejoicing, weeping, owning things,  etc… and says “do it but don’t do this like the world does it. Don’t use the world the way the world does. For the ways of the world are passing away.”

    The Christian faith makes a very bold claim: that God became man. Which is to say, as I have elsewhere written, see that terrible two toddler over there, running around, squatting, and taking a dump on the ground as his parents watch in bemused embarrassment? That is God. And God passed though this world not lightly, not unbruised, but, in fact, killed by it. And Rose from the Dead. God hacked the code. God got behind the user interface and changed the entire purpose of the operating system from the code up.

    Now, we don’t die.

    For your faithful people, Lord, life is not ended, only changed.

    The way of this world is passing away because now pain is salvation happening. Joy is salvation happening. Suffering is salvation happening. We weep not because the world hurts us, but for our sins. We rejoice but for our life in the Kingdom which is now. Here. We should not use our wives in the way of the world – as property, as Roman entitlements, or today as pornstars and sex objects – but as coheirs in Christ and as the  person to whom we sacrifice our very selves as a mark of our faith. Our jobs become mission, our hospitality is evangelism, our walk down the street a prayer broadening Jesus’ action: incorporating all of the world into the Kingdom. We should not use anyone or anything (even our cellphones) in the way of the world. The things of this world whilst sad, should no longer make us weep or rejoice. We’re not subject to the world any longer.

    God has come in and, while the map is the same, the goal has moved. Jesus says, come, I will make you fishers of men. Same skills, same job, different outcome.

    The whole world is now changed by faith in like manner. We are in it, but not of it. Use not according to use.