Pro Patria

JMJ

The Readings for the 29th Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

From whom every family on earth is named.

Ephesians 3:15

THERE IS A WORDPLAY here: the Greek word for Family is the same as the word for Father. Patria. In Latin Patria does double-duty as Father and Country (as in Fatherland) although some countries are “mother” like Russia. Anyway, Lay aside any issues the reader may have with God picking his own pronouns and focus on what Paul is actually saying here. Paul is paralleling the relationships of a person with their natural father, on the one hand, with the relationship of a redeemed person (in Christ) with God the Father.

Through the Spirit (sent by the Father) may the Son dwell in your heart that you may know the fullness of God within you.

It’s one of my favorite Bible passages, with Paul waxing poetic (and mystical) about “the breadth and length and height and depth” with nary an object in sight. Some translations stick in the love of Christ here, so that we can know that love, but that’s not the point. We’re not comprehending the love of Christ at all. “The breadth and length and height and depth” refer to the fullness of God.

Christ’s love is there… to give us the strength… to bear up with our high calling as Sons of God on earth. That’s not a metaphor: you have an earthly father, and now you have a Heavenly One as well. St Francis and a few others would say instead.

We are called to live, on earth, participating in the fullness of the Trinitarian Fellowship. Members of the Body of Christ (again, not a metaphor, but a spiritual reality) offering continually the Son’s worship of the Father, as Sons in the Son, and the love between us is the Holy Spirit.

This is the Fire that Jesus sets on the earth, mentioned in the Gospel. And this fire does divide us from those around us: if it’s not doing so, something is horribly wrong.

Thing is: we are to invite others into the fire with us.

Dryness in Prayer

Do I WHAT?

JMJ

The Readings for the 22nd Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.

Luke 5:4

SO ONCE AGAIN, the CFRs are on point, talking about Dryness in Prayer in their latest Podcast. The full episode is embedded below, but listening, I was struck suddenly with the image of “arranged marriage”. It comes up again in the Gospel today.

Modern relationships are about romance and “love”. This is a very recent invention: 12 Century, at best, and French (naturally). Prior to that the notion that “I feel this, ergo…” was not part of the cultural conversation. Since it’s French we should say, the idea was that “I feel this therefore I should surrender to it”. Of course the French were not the first to teach us to surrender to our passions: Satan’s been doing that for a while, but at least in the area of marriage, the French ruined it. Prior to that time (and in much of the world, still) romance has nothing to do with it.

Thus, in our French-ruined world, we’re inclined to ask “Do I still love him/her?” and if the answer is no, then we leave the relationship.

Yes, we’re all called into the relationship with God on a personal and intimate level, most of us are started out, at least, by default, with our parents’ (and/or our culture’s) ideas about and awareness of God. At a certain point we have to own the responsibility for our side of the relationship but there’s a way in which we had no choice. And, trust me on this, even looking for other deities is a failure: if you’re born into a Jewish or Christian culture, you have no choice at all except to try to relate to God the way Jews and Christians related to the All-Holy Creator of the Universe, Blessed Be He. That idea and relationship is so all-pervasive that we either end up pretending that the deity we’re courting IS the Holy One, or else we change – entirely – our way of relating to deity. There is no way to relate to any other deity in the same way as YHVH. Nor can you relate to YHVH in any other way. And to say this in a different way, YHVH – the ground of all being – is so solid, so real, so heavy as to draw all reality to himself: any real relationship and real love tends towards God. Any non-relationship or non-love tends away.

Is the issue the French Disease? Do we have dryness in prayer because we think it should be about how we feel? Do we feel that the Religious Relationship should be like the Romantic one?

The scriptures – as considered by Jews and also by Christians – repeatedly use the image of marriage to express the relationship of God to People and to the individual person. The relationship is, exactly, person-to-person, but since there is no one person alone, it’s God-to-People as well. We are born into this covenant (as Jews) or baptized into it (as Christians) and, for most of it, no choice at all was involved. Choice only comes later – “do I decide to own this?”

Even in the world of arranged marriages it’s possible to wake up in the middle of the night and ask yourself – or your spouse – do you love me?

God is our arranged marriage. Yet he courts us. We know that Jesus says, “you did not choose me, I chose you.” But he woos, he seduces. He asks, do you love me? In times of dryness you ask, too, and it’s fair for you to do so – as it is fair for him to ask you. We know there are times when it feels like God is not there. We know there are times when it feels like we needn’t bother any more.

And when that happens, what should we do?

Jesus says, row out into the deep water and cast your nets.The blessing of obedience: to do what Jesus says even though you know it won’t work – Lord we’ve been fishing all night, but you told us to so we will again. Fish.

And then suddenly the dryness goes away – not because we feel better, but because we obeyed anyway. To act in accord with your faith even when you feel otherwise is not hypocrisy, but rather integrity.

Keep Watch

JMJ

The Readings for the 21st Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of Saint Louis, King of France

Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.

Matthew 24:42 (AV)

RUNNING HISTORY through filters of modern politics always leads us into trouble, but today’s Saint, King Louis IX of France, has been on my mind since the 12th when Salmon Rushdie was stabbed at the Chautauqua Institute last week. I have to admit I’m of mixed emotions: I’m opposed to violence at all. Yet I think the anger may be justified. So I’m not sure how I feel. Our Lord’s command to keep watch or “stay awake” as the NABRE has it (poorly) rendered must include all things that are legitimately in one’s sphere: I must watch myself, a parent must not watch only their self, but also their children and their children’s educators. To what extent should a Catholic in a position of civil power “keep watch”?

Blasphemy is a hard thing in a “modern” society. Hate speech against someone’s deity or prophet is not something we conceive of. Think of the number of pieces of “art” or “cinema” that have been actual blasphemy against Jesus. So, like I said, I’m opposed to violence and opposed to the “fatwah” against the person of Salmon Rushdie, but I totally understand the anger caused by the book. And I think about King St Louis. (I’ve been thinking about him for over a year, actually.)

One perception common among Christians today is that we need only explain to a random Jewish person the way to read the Bible rightly and they will totally understand why they should “accept Jesus”. In certain Evangelical circles this is often focused on the Prophets or even, specifically, the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah. If only someone understood how to read that properly then they would understand Jesus. Of course this tactic denies that there is an authentically Jewish way to read the scriptures. It also denies that today is 2,000 years after the fact. It’s this second point that seems important to me just now: a Jewish person today is not reading the Bible the same way Jews did in the time of Jesus. It’s impossible for them (or us) to do so without training and even unlearning. There are 2,000 years of conversation intervening. Jewish and Christian conversations diverged between 30 AD and 135 AD. And then those conversations have progressed (most often without any positive connection with each other) since.

I like to think of the Jewish and Christian conversations as two rabbinical councils. This is very simplified! I just want to paint a picture. In 50 AD, there was one sort of conversation going on – there were many differing sects within Judaism. Of these, the followers of the Jesus guy were one. We hear of others (but not all) in the Gospels: Sadducees, Pharisees, Priests, Samaritans, Zealots, Herodians. From extra-biblical sources we know of others as well, like the Hasids, ‎the Hasmoneans, and the Essenes‎. Each Jewish sect had adherents and there were also people who leaned one way or the other. These may overlap more or less. (Some folks think the Essenes may have included John the Baptist and/or Jesus, for example.) By the time we get to 135 or so, though, there’s really only a few of those sects left and by 200 there’s really only two: what we think of as “Christian” and what we think of as “Jewish”. That said, it probably takes another 200 years or so to iron things out. But there are two “groups of rabbis” then. One are the fathers of the Church Councils and one are the fathers of what we call Rabbinic Judaism. They are not talking officially, although as late as St John Chrysostom (late 4th Century) it’s clear that the laity are doing more than just talking: St John’s sermons telling Christians not to do Jewish things would be unneeded if they were not doing them.

St Louis pops into this story in 1200. 800 years earlier than now, but still 1000 years after the bifurcation between the Jewish and Christian conversations. His experience is 1000 years removed from St Paul preaching in synagogues around the Roman Empire. Oddly though, St Louis seems to think a lot like our modern Christian brain: he thinks we need only explain the “right way” to read the scriptures and any Jew would convert. Louis was, therefore, shocked to learn that Jews have their own on-going unfolding of tradition. There were 1000 years of conversation not only “minding their own business” but rejecting Jesus. And, surprisingly to Louis (and the other folks in France), that conversation carries the weight of scripture – just like Christian tradition does for us. The authority of our faith is not “in the book” but in the conversation. For Jews the unfolding of revelation is part of the conversation within the Rabbinic Councils and within the on-going prophetic understanding of the text. Christians believe the Holy Spirit is guiding our conversation – that God is engaged in the unfolding of his own meaning within the Church.

Unsurprisingly, these two different conversations arrive (continually) at different conclusions. It’s not just Jesus: it’s the meaning of the entire text, the whole kit and kaboodle now. What does the Fall of Adam or Original Sin mean to a Jew? What is Shekhinah, Merkabah, or Kabbalah to a Christian?

Moderns don’t like burning books. But, that said, we don’t actually believe in the free marketplace of ideas: some ideas are considered – even now – to be dangerous. We were officially burning books in the USA as recently as 1956. We’re not above silencing folks even now – cancelling social mediae, etc. St Louis enters this story at a point where the official Rabbinic rejection of Jesus had been pretty much codified. The King opens Jewish texts (in Translation) and sees – essentially – blasphemy. How should he react? Mindful that he is a King and that some part (if not the larger part) of his Job is to protect Christians and Christianity in his realm. How should he treat dangerous ideas?

Can we (who would report someone’s Twitter account for just about anything) feel good about “how far we’ve come” since St Louis? Who is more right? I do not legitimately know. Should anyone be allowed to say anything they want about anyone they want (including God)? What is the function of a secular state when accusations of blasphemy arise? Again, I do not legitimately know.

I do not adventure an answer to the questions raised at the top of the post. We must deliver up each man and woman to their inner court of conscience. I will say we should yield likewise for St Louis. He is a man who acted – as a King – as his conscience guided him. By way of confession, my own internal answers kept me out of my mother’s chosen career paths for me: military, law, and politics. In my youth, I was afraid I would not be strong enough to hold to the faith in the face of pressure. Now I think I would have been cancelled long ago. Thus, I will only close where I began.

Our Lord’s command to keep watch must include all things that are legitimately in one’s sphere. To what extent should a Catholic in a position of civil power “keep watch”?

Come as you are. But…

Cast Out.

JMJ

The Readings for the 20th Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of Bl. Mannes, brother of St Dominic

My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?

Matthew 22:12 (AV)

ONE CAN READ the King’s Question as rather snobbish: this is a wedding. Why are you not dressed right? It can be imagined to be clear why this man isn’t dressed right. The servants were told, “Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.” It makes sense that some would not be ready, right? No, actually. It doesn’t. There are two possible ways to read this man’s presence at the feast.

Given that everyone else went home and changed clothes, this man came running to grab food and paid no attention to social traditions. That, in and of itself, is a bad show. The King recognized someone who just taking for granted his largesse instead of coming to celebrate the wedding (which is what this is about – the wedding). The second reading, the Fathers all agree, is that a “garment” is a symbol for virtues. Coming to the banquet is not enough, it has to have an effect on us.

There is a great hew and cry among the liberati that “Jesus eats with sinners”. This is true. But the reason he does so is to change them into saints.

None of us can come to the banquet and stay in our normal clothes.

The Eucharist is the meal that consumes us, that changes us. It has been compared to the way metal heats up in a fire: although the metal (our soul/life) never burns the fire “catches” inside and the metal glows red hot with the heat. The fire is there in another form, doing something to the metal that the metal cannot do on its own, nor can anything else except fire do it. The Eucharist sets us aflame, if we but let it, and we are changed.

The Gospel is open to all, but it will leave none of us alone.

We can fight it off, mind you. We can demand our rights. We can insist on doing things. our own way. We can fail in obedience to the Church, the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit. Then we will be cast, “into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

Come as you are, but be ready and willing to change on all points. It will do us no good simply to ignore Jesus on this point: Many are invited, but few are chosen.

Pray to be chosen.

Please Stand By

JMJ

The Readings for the Memorial of St Clare, Virgin
19th Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

Cover your face so you cannot see the land, for I am making you a sign for the house of Israel!

Ezekiel 12:6

SAINT CLARE WAS granted a vision of Mass on Christmas Eve so that she could participate without being present. The Mass was projected on the wall of her cell by the Holy Spirit, allowing her to see and hear the beauty of the Mass as it happened. For this reason, she was named the patroness of Television and, later, of computer screens. There is also a patron of the Internet: St Isidore of Sevile. Some also think that, should he be made a saint, Bl. Carlo Acutis may share this patronage. St John Paul picked St Isidore because of his connection to education. There was a time when we kept thinking the internet was going to be good and educational.

Those were simpler times.

I’ve been slowly disconnecting from the internet, at least as far as social media. Twitter is gone. Instagram is gone. FB will go soon enough. I mean, the Blog is still here – been going since 1998 or so. But what else do I need?

Bishop Barron and others are really urging us to engage on the internet, to engage and “evangelize the culture”. Clare and Francis, along with Benedict would say otherwise. I wonder what St Dominic would say. Certainly, he called his friars to be connected in a way – that was the whole reason his friars went to University. But in those days even universities were an arm of the Church. Did Dominic want his friars to go live in Albigensian towns, learn their code words, blend in and hope for the best? Or was Dominic’s strategy more like the yelly-screamy people on the internet today, always trying to win an argument? I think all of these questions are answered with a strong no.

I’ve known a lot of choir directors (pretty much every last one since High School) that can’t handle silence. Every element of the liturgy must be covered with noise – singing or playing. Any movement of the clergy must be “played over” like some 1930s melodrama or soap opera. When the musicians can’t handle silence, the people never learn silence.

When there is no silence, there is no prayer. That’s the clue I want to share: so much of our life is filled with noise and what we need is silence. St Clare used her “television” one night out of her entire life of prayer to help her in prayer. We find it hard to go 2 mins in silence. But without silence, there is no prayer at all. How can we use for evangelism something that literally prevents the one thing needed for evangelism? We can’t: it’s impossible to use noise to evangelize. All we end up making is more noise.

How can we be a sign for the people if we look just like them, do nothing different, show no other part of the world? Should we not, instead, look like exiles from the culture around us, dig a hole in the wall, show the folks around us there is a way out?

St Dominic is said to have always spoken either to God or else about God. This is good advice for his children as well.

Just as an act of Examination, what is the percentage of your words online and off that could be said to be about God or to God?

Do you need more silence before you speak again?

Is this on the final?

JMJ

The Readings for the 18th Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of St John Vianney

I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts;

Jeremiah 31:33

DR FRANK PETERS (nee SJ) was one of my religion professors at NYU. He taught one of two required courses for religion majors (such as I was at the time). One course was called Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, taught by Dr Jim Carse. Dr. Peters taught Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He also wrote the textbook. (We didn’t have the book: we were his beta program.) One day in class we discussed the development of doctrine in Judaism through Rabbinic Debate. A student mentioned offhandedly on the way out of class that this process of development is how we get from “don’t boil a calf in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19) to having different dishes for meat and dairy. The next class was an hour lecture on that exact evolution, prompted by the student’s comment. We traced how a very explicit command to not cook a very specific dish became an entire culture, along with the no-pork rule. Jesus could not have had a bacon cheeseburger, but a cheeseburger would have been fine at that time. It was an hour of Rabbinic jurisprudence placing “fences around the Torah” (chumrah) as the saying goes, then fences around the fences, and then fences around the fences around the fences, ad infinitem, until meat and dairy needed two dishes and, in some very wealthy homes, two kitchens (four, if you had different kitchens for Passover as well).

At the end of the hour of really enjoyable nerdery (at least for the student who asked the question) Dr Peters was asked directly, “Will this be on the final?” The answer was a guarded no (it was not on the final) but the method of research – and the method of chumrah – were both important to know.

It highlights, though, a Jewish way of reading the law. Let’s dig in.

The assumption in Rabbinic Judaism, at least since the time of the Exile, has been to avoid breaking the precepts of the law by adding defensive laws around the law. Thus, lest we accidentally cook a calf in its own mother’s milk, we shall outlaw cheeseburgers as well. If it is a sin to work on the Sabbath, let’s define exactly what is work and what is not work, and say that we must stop doing these things ten minutes before Sabbath begins and that we cannot do them at all until at least ten minutes after Sabbath ends. It’s important to note that, over time, violating even these fences around the Torah came to be seen as equal in magnitude to violating the Torah itself.

And, to be honest, many Christians read the law the same way. My current stress point is how many men wear baseball caps in Church. I don’t really care about women and head-coverings, but I was raised to take off my hat or cap when I pray, when in church, when the sacrament (or an icon) passes in an outdoor procession, when the flag passes in a parade, or when a political leader passes: the mayor, the president, etc. This is simple respect. Yet I know there are some cultures where the reverse is true: to present oneself without one’s head covered would be to claim authority. The US is not such a place. And I stress myself out wanting to run over with a ruler and swat them. Is the law not only to be obeyed but also to be protected by my actions? Should I work to pass civil laws to protect the Law of God from being violated?

This way of reading law, however, does not sound like what God promised Jeremiah. “I will put my law within them, and write it on their hearts.”

The question to ask is whether or not the “law in our hearts” is a duplication of the 613 laws of the Torah. Should I not be thankful that someone is in Church at all and not worry about their clothing?

That leads us to wonder, more directly, what the purpose of the Torah was. Is Torah a law code or something else? The word, “Torah”, means instruction. Is it there to teach us certain legal things or is there something else going on?

I have not worked all this out yet (the Church is still doing so, actually). So we need to open end this meditation off this springboard: IF the instruction was to draw everyone towards God in the death of Messiah, it’s not really a question of bacon cheeseburgers.

Apostolic Office

JMJ

The Readings for the Feast of St James the Apostle
(17th Monday, Tempus per Annum, C2)

“Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”

Matthew 20:27

THE OFFICE OF READINGS for today’s feast has a wonderful passage from St John Chrysostom, commenting on today’s Gospel. Jesus is asked to let James and John sit on his right hand and left. Jesus says, “Can you drink the same chalice as me?” The two brothers say they can. And Jesus replies, “You will do so! But…” I’ve heard a lot of preachers take that as a “gotcha” moment. “Yes, ok, fine, you can drink this chalice but I can’t let you sit there.” Chrysostom says, instead, that Jesus “is really prophesying a great blessing for them, since he is telling them: ‘You will be found worthy of martyrdom; you will suffer what I suffer and end your life with a violent death, thus sharing all with me.'” Jesus is recognizing – even honoring – their zeal and the fullness of their faith as it was at this moment. He is telling them it will grow so much that they will die for him.

Then he corrects their wrong assumptions: for this means they will become slaves in their kingship, just as he, too, has become a slave in his Godhead.

Christ came to serve, not to be served. He calls the Apostles to this service. So, some part of the Apostolic office is, exactly service: to the poor, to the weak, the ill, and the lost. To express this in other words, some part of the Apostle’s ministry is to those who need the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. One might say the entire mission of the Apostles is exactly the Works of Mercy.

Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Church has spread the Apostolic Office through the entire body of Christ. When Paul enumerates the charisms given to the Church he says that they are all given for the whole Church: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The entire Church together does this work and each office or charism is part of that work, intended for the whole. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13) So, all of the ministries are for all of the Church.

When the Church is gathered at the Altar, especially in the presence of the Bishop, we experience the entire body of Christ in Symbol: the people and their Bishop, the presbyters and the deacons, together with the unseen Choirs of Saints also gathered, are configured fully to be Christ present and active in the world, worshipping the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Each member of the Body of Christ performs their ministry, their work in the world, only in this context.

Christ says to James and John that they will drink his chalice. But, see: you don’t quite understand yet what this means. Chill out, Thunder Bros. To drink of the Son’s Chalice is to become part of this glorious “fullness of Christ” in the world: we have work to do and we are sent to do it. But it is not our work we do. We don’t “have jobs” as such, only the work of Jesus continues.

And he came to serve, not to be served and to give his life.

Making Shallow Wells

JMJ

The Readings for the 16th Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.

Matthew 13:11

EVERY SUMMER my brother, sister, and myself would spend time with my Grandparents at their home in Panama City Beach, Fla. It wasn’t condo-filled resort community it is now: rather it was a large, sandy trailer park with ramshackle one- and two-story “motor courts” and tourist traps. The latter consisted of various miniature golfing establishments, a wild west show, and the Miracle Strip Amusement Park. Like many such communities, much of the tourist trade was destroyed by the amount of economic support thrown to the Disney company both by gov’t and by tourists. People vote with their feet. (For more on this line of thought, you might like Dixie before Disney.) What drew people to this place though was the white sand beaches of the northern Gulf of Mexico: pure, dazzling white in the Florida sun from the verge covered in Sea Oats, then out under the water for a very long while. You could see the white sand under the warm waves. It was the white sand that earned the area the title, “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.” WMBB is still the ABC affiliate there. Swimming was nice and all, but it was playing in the sand that kept us going back to the beach.

You could dig for hours! Pile sand up! There were crabs and bivalves, slimy jellies and so very many sand dollars. Occasionally you’d find a Crucifix Fish!

You could dig “wells” really deep. There would be a little water in the bottom as you reached sea level. And then this odd thing would happen: the water would do its thing in the sand. The walls of the well would collapse and the hole would close up as you watched. Eventually, there would be nothing left but a little depression where you had been playing. Mind you, as we were playing on the beach, the entire Gulf of Mexico was a few feet away. This is the image that comes to my mind reading Jeremiah. “My people have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

I think of this when I think of my wanderings outside of the faith. And I think of it whenever I hear of Catholics who find their own faith meaningless but go running after newagey things like “Native American Prayers”, astrology, tarot, and reiki. Yes, I’ve met Catholics into all of these things. And the “Native American Prayer” was offered in our RCIA class. A friend recently shared with me the full text of two articles by Fr Gilbert Márkus, OP, called Celtic Shmeltic. (Referenced in footnote 5 of Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian reflection on the “New Age” from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.) The whole newage world is filled with shallow wells don’t hold water.

We go looking for deep mysteries. But God has already given them to us.

Chesterton’s famous quote about Christianity goes well here, but not in the way he intended: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” He was speaking of morals, but it applies to all of Jesus’ teaching. We want to simplify it. We want Jesus’ teaching to be an easy melody, a short chorus, and maybe a guitar. Instead, his words blast us in a 40-part motet with full orchestral accompaniment played in a contrapuntal syncopation that would make John Coltrane’s head spin.

And we need to sit there and let it wash over us, reshaping us, changing our ideas of what music is – of what it was intended to be.

This is why the Apostles are like “What are you doing, Jesus?” And Jesus is all, “Trust me, I got you. But my words are NOT very easy to understand.”

But we want them to be.

The problem is we’re fallen. We want deep mysteries that confirm us in our sins, make us feel good about our choices, and – generally – don’t require too much of our lives. We love to be told everything means a lot more than we let on. “This is not sinning, it’s actually an advanced metaphor for salvation…” whispers the snake to us as we take the fruit.

We fall into a shallow well of our own digging and the walls close in on us and we die.

Like Jimmy Carter said…

JMJ

The Readings for the 15th Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of St Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

Your name and your title are the desire of our souls.

Isaiah 26:8

NOT REALLY SURE What the lectionary crafters are doing here. The translation “your name and your title” is an odd turn of phrase. It’s not even in the actual NABRE where Isaiah 26:8 is rendered as “name and memory”. It’s not in the Hebrew or the Greek or the Latin. Most English translations seem to follow suit.

You’d think that the translation choice is the interesting part, right? But no: not really at all.

“Desire of our souls” is, to me, the best part. The word rendered as “desire” can, in Hebrew, also indicate lust. Certainly no moral judgement, but that’s how strong “desire” is here. That is the desire that Isaiah speaks of. “We’re enacting your laws, God. Keeping sabbath, feeding the poor, etc. But we lust after your name and your presence, your memory and your honor. No really. We’re serious.”

As you do the work of God in your life, can you say your heart lusts after God’s glory? If not why not? What do you lust after more than God’s glory?

Just going to leave that there.

Worse than 1867

JMJ

The Readings for the 14th Thursday, Tempus per Annum

Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

Matthew 10:15

1867 OF THE CATECHISM is one of those hard ones. It lists the “‘sins that cry to heaven‘: the blood of Abel139, the sin of the Sodomites140, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt141, the cry of the foreigner142, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner143.” And whilst it is heavily footnoted, there are no other explanations offered than these Bible verses:

  • 139 Cf. Gen 4:10. And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
  • 140 Cf. Gen 18:20; And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
    Gen. 19:13. For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.
  • 141 Cf. Ex 3:7-10. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; (etc)
  • 142 Cf. Ex 20:20-22. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. etc
  • 143 Cf. Deut 24:14-15; Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.
    Jas 5:4. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the teachings on the Church on these matters. I’m not here to debate the gravity of them: some – along with me – agree with the Church on these things. Some disagree – citing misunderstandings, heretical teachings, or even Satanic distortions – to approve unjust wages, oppressing strangers, and sexual sins. Some approve one while rejecting others. It’s important to see that the Catechism lists them all together as the most grievous sins.

And Jesus says hindering the Gospel of the Kingdom is worse.

Jesus is clear about what this proclamation looks like: “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8) We don’t do much of that, tbh, anymore. (The CFRs did a podcast about this recently.) But, apart from what some confuse with “Charismatic stuff”, backing away from or hindering the Gospel can come in many forms from flat out refusing to say Jesus’ name to just letting others (coworkers, for ex) abuse it without correction; from open support for cultural lies to making RCIA easier or “inclusive” because of an attachment to “the numbers”. We walk a fine line always. An unwillingness to “lean in” on the full Truth of the proclamation of the kingdom means people are not always coming into the same place: if we don’t proclaim the Gospel, people cant accept the Gospel. Full stop. We also thereby provide an inoculation against the real thing.

This is worthy of Jesus’ condemnation.

Again, after yesterday’s post about Hosea (where I filled in the missing verses) the same is true today: if, instead of 11:1-4, 8E-9, if you read 11:1-11 you’ll see a very disturbing image: God’s love shows up as wrath.

They shall follow the LORD, who roars like a lion; When he roars, his children shall come frightened from the west, Out of Egypt they shall come trembling, like birds, like doves, from the land of Assyria; And I will resettle them in their homes, oracle of the LORD.

Hosea 11:10-11

God hates the distance Israel puts between the people and God. God hates the distance we put between ourselves and him. He lets us suffer the distance we put there. We will come trembling. But we will come.

God wants us to be with him. But running away isn’t really the best option.

Letting others stay away – because we’re uncomfortable – is selfish and worse than Sodom.