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Euthanasia and Public Funding of Catholic Facilities

Euthanasia and Public Funding of Facilities

For many, many years our care facilities and our schools were supported by the Church and charitable donations. Then, it was deemed by some that the public should be funding these institutions through government monies. This idea was supported by the fact that many people, with or without faith, were using our care facilities and schools. This gradual acceptance of government funding was taking place during a much more benign time in our society – both in faith and morals. Care of the sick and dying was seen generally, as a work of mercy and love – participating in the merciful love of God! To educate the young was seen as a participation in nurturing them in the mind and heart of God, so that they could serve God’s world in all its facets.

Gradually, what was seen as a good idea for meeting all the needs in healthcare, and education, began to become something sinister as the morality of society began to disintegrate. Along with the deterioration of faith, the funding was becoming overwhelmingly public money. Many of us could see the handwriting on the wall. We could take the message of Daniel’s vision of the four beasts (Dn 7), pointing to various generations of social upheaval, and apply it to the compromised and lived faith within society. One of the tenants put forward by people, that cannot be avoided because it is socially true, is this – the one who pays the piper calls the tune! This is true in the education sector and it is true in healthcare!   The government states how its money is to be spent. The government may not be morally right, but they are legally right in the demands they make on funding. We are in a time of reckoning: “Pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s!” (Mk 12:17)

I believe that Christians, and in this case, we who are Catholics, are at a very important juncture in our lived faith. We are meeting a day of reckoning, one that we have been sidestepping.   We have diplomatically negotiated with governments, but we have also compromised with the powers of government, as far as we can – sometimes to our painful detriment, and the watering down of faith. We are now, as Church, with all our warts, and sinful behaviour – especially sexually – being challenged to decide who we are going to follow. Will it be God, or the gods of the world? We can truly hear the statement: “I put before you life and death. Choose life that you may live!” (Deut. 30:19 ) This is not simple at all! The Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with us – to lead us to all truth – but not without persecution. Some of the persecution we have brought on ourselves, because we have chosen the wide road over the narrow road! But the Holy Spirit is more powerful than any human spirit, if we are willing to listen and follow.

Maybe we are going to have to give up our hospitals, palliative care facilities, and nursing homes entirely. We cannot play both ends against the middle, constantly juggling, sidestepping issues, living our faith as thought it were a chess game. “Say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘yes’ and ‘no’ when you mean ‘no’ Anything more that this comes from the evil one!” (Matt. 5:37) We need to come to terms with the fact that freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech are on life support systems in our land! We can try negotiation with the various levels of government. But not negotiations that mean watering down our faith – and settling for momentary stop gaps!
We can begin small again. Start places for the dying – as Mother Teresa did – for people with incurable diseases, for the elderly, street people – treating them with dignity, love and mercy. This means not just declaring that life is sacred from conception to death, but living it. It will not be a money making business! It will be a spiritual endeavour that produces peace and true dignity. This is what our hospitals and schools were when we pioneered healthcare and education! Maybe, as in the past, such actions will inspire support from those who have money to give, and, or become spiritually inspired to give of their expertise.

When a law is evil it does not have to be obeyed! And it cannot be obeyed, if we are to remain intact in our true humanity – not just flesh and blood with a head attached – but flesh and blood, attached to God as co-creators with Him! We have gradually forgotten this, as we became proficient, and worldly successful in our medical and educational endeavours.

We are living in missionary territory both in healthcare and in education. Those of us who are now senior citizens grew up in an education system that was supported by our churches – our parishes and our families. Times were economically very tight. We had to live simply. If we could do it then – we can discover with the Holy Spirit how to do it now – sanctifying all the technology that man has created. Maybe, just maybe, the opportunity is afforded us to live simply the beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount and the Last Judgement in all of their profoundness of teaching – being willing to accept with trust and joy the suffering that enriches the endeavour.

SCOTT

SCOTT

Warm eyes that dance in greeting
Framed in rugged , ruddy face
And anxious smile .

Love me please!
believe me please!
That I may love me –
believe me!

What you see is what I have.
Body devoid of stillness –
a soul of great desire –
unfulfilled!

Be convinced!
This smile –
this cultured voice-
these social manners
honed.
No – not to deceive you
but me –
but me !
In those dark
those frightening recesses
hollowed out over years,
over years –
to hide, to hide
to hide –
no, not from you –
no! No! No!
But the scarecrow in me!
Deep within
it screams with laughter
that must be drowned!

Surely goodness,
remembered mores –
eternal truths,
Will soothe the inner scream,
guide the wavering steps –
bathe with salve
almost felt upon the yearning flesh,
in the communal bath of acceptance,
smiling welcome –
drowning the howling inner scream.
Oh! Yes!
I am normal! One of them all!
Yes!

I belong!
Yes?
Yes-
Oh, Oh – but I must –
mustn’t I!?

I?
Tell me!
Soothe me!
I would know what I cannot
in that inner, restless darkness!
Honed how –
I do not know!
Why?
Honed why?
In suddenness it coils, chokes, cries!
Relieve me!
Calm me – Please!

All will be well!
All will be well?
Lord!
Lord! You –
You love me –
Don’t you?
Don’t you!

Isn’t it –
Isn’t it true!
O tell me!
As I wander in your house.

“You are my child!
“I know you!”
“I love you!”
“So Precious to me!”

Oh! Oh but I am afraid –
afraid of me,
afraid of you,
afraid, afraid of –
afraid of life.
Afraid of what I yearn for!
Afraid! Oh yes –
Afraid of being afraid!

I don’t want you to know.
But! But!
Save me! Please!

On Not Voting With Conscience

In Canada our ruling Liberal Party has told its elected members that they cannot vote by their conscience in the issue of Euthanasia.  They must vote as a group to support the Supreme Courts decision for Euthanasia.  It is impossible to fathom that all of these elected men and women could be so willing to sacrifice there souls for a
position in Parliament. They, of all people, know first hand what it is to exercise their right as citizens to vote – the importance of freedom within democracy.

If one cannot vote by one’s conscience on the two primary issues of life – that is the beginning of life, abortion, and death – then everything in between is up for grabs. The murderer does not have to live by his conscience, nor the rapist, nor the thief, and on throughout the whole of life. Conscience is negated and life is up to the whim of the moment because the only one respected – if that word can even be used – is myself – at this particular moment. When conscience is gone life becomes mayhem. One is free to say that the only thing worth protecting is my status. This is what the so called ‘whip’ voting is – a protections of my status as an elected official! So I am free to take life if I deem that my status, as I perceive it, is being threatened.

We do not live in a communist state yet! No one can force me to vote against my conscience! I do not have to say ‘yes’ to a whip vote knowing that the whip vote is going to declare that the taking of a life is legal. No one can force me to take a person’s life! If I believe that euthanasia is wrong, then when I go against my conscience on a vote of life and death – effectively I am saying ‘yes’ to killing another! This has ramifications for all of life. If the Government of our land can use protection of one’s elected position as a reason to vote for killing, then, why should anyone be barred from using the same argument of self protection for any action!

Eventually, fear has to become the way of life within the land, as no one can be trusted, and law cannot even be enforced – if it even exists. How can law exist in a conscience – less world! Everyone becomes a law unto himself. No one, nothing is sacred. Nothing has meaning – except as I deem it to be so! If the nation’s parliament can behave that way, it becomes the example to be followed by the citizen’s of the land.

And, if our leaders can be so easily ordered to vote as they are told to – what is to become of us as a nation?  It is a total misuse of the term ‘Vote’.  And it is treating people as robots, or useful cogs in a wheel.  Killing at the beginning of life, and at the moment of suffering, become the measure that defines how we view mankind.
Humans become  viewed by their usefulness as cogs in an efficient wheel, workers for the state.

God be merciful to us sinners!

LIVED PRAYER

A question was put to me today. It is a wonderful question for us to ponder. It is a question that challenges us to delve into prayer – “to stretch wide our tent pegs” (Is. 54:2) in regards to facets of prayer and prayer life.
Question:
At our level, aside from prayers, what direct actions should we contribute?
Of course, let’s pray to the Holy Spirit to direct us silent Christians
on how to put a stop to this on going genocide. (in the Middle East)

To answer your question – Lived Prayer

We can keep the Refugee topic on the front burner at all times: when we say grace before and after meals, when we have a glass of water, take a bath or shower, go out to something that is fun and enjoyable, every time we go to Mass, put them – the victims, (and the perpetrators of the violence), on the Paten and in the Chalice, put them in the prayers of the faithful every day.  And then of course lobby our government at every opportunity; lobby our parishes to take refugee families; sign petitions on line; and deliberately talk about the refugees with friends.  They, the refugees, are our family!!!

There is no one who cannot do all of these things.  The horror of the refugees’ lives, and deaths is as horrific as the Crucifixion in its physical reality.  There is not enough teaching done on the reality of living ones’ lives in solidarity with those who are suffering.  This is the most powerful prayer, as it takes committed living, which engages our whole being – enhancing our empathy, lived mercy, and compassion- not only for those living the horrors of torture, but for all who are suffering.

We tend to think that prayer is the multiplication of words, hours spent in church etc.  This is only a portion of prayer – the portion whose purpose is to lead us to lived prayer!  If anyone in our family, or a friend was in a dire state we would be telling people about it.  These people in the Middle East are our brothers and sisters in faith – faith, the first family from which all families spring.  When we live prayer, as described above, the energy, just like wind, travels affecting all that it touches.  The Holy Spirit, described as wind, works miracles.  We cannot all go out to all the world, putting our feet on foreign soil, but we can, everyone of us, live in solidarity with all the world here, and now in our daily lives.  These may not sound like direct actions but they are very direct because we are remembering, (‘remembrance’ means making present here and now in reality), the refugees, – or anyone else for that matter, in our living, breathing lives. We are remembering in all that we do, or don’t do!  We are not impotent!

Everyone of us can be a Good Samaritan to anyone, anywhere in the universe! We are all one in God who made us, and loves us!

When you take a drink of water, picture a refugee in a camp somewhere, put him or her before the Lord begging for water. Maybe you forgo the water as a sacrifice for that person – maybe you drink it in hope for that person. The same goes when taking a shower or bath.

Our parents used to tell us to “remember the starving children in Africa”. We can do the same for the children who are the victims of the genocide in the Middle East, as we say our ‘Grace Before Meals’. And, when you are going out for a fun time, take, in your heart a refugee, in living hope that one day he, or she may have freedom and new life. There is power in such solidarity. The power is the power of the Holy Spirit. The power is the shared life that we all have as creatures of God, who breathed life, His life, into all of us.

Again I say – we are not impotent!

 

The Heavenly Banquet

 

 

The Heavenly Banquet

Light, light

Glowing light, dancing light on tiny wicks!

Peaceful, flowing light.

All encompassing, enfolding, embracing light.

Embracing fat, thin, tall, short, poor, rich –

Light flickering, licking over and around all,

All as one.

All so very, very, very peaceful!

Simple, simple, simple.

Nothing exuberant, flashy, loud.

Ah! Ah! Ah!

An inclusive simplicity –

Enfolding and enfolding and enfolding

Within a silence that reverberates

In awe!

As though all has stood still!

A spoken –

Yet unspoken –

The very atmosphere itself speaking –

Holy! Holy! Holy!

Come into the light

Come into the warmth, the belonging.

Come into oneness!

Oneness in a multitude of oneness

No longer weighted down –

 Blinded by colour,

Gender, position, prestige or penury.

Be still

Be still,

Be still!

Yes, yes

Ah Yes!

As One   – lifted weightless

Into oneness  – no parameters!

Yes!

You and you and you!

Don’t worry about what to wear

How you look or sound.

Come!

Come into the banquet –

Feast, feast, feast on the oneness,

On the peace, the joy, life, love!

You belong!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

You!  You! You!

This is the right place!

This is The Place!

None other than heaven’s gate!

Here the table, throne, temple

The Lord’s own house

Now, now, now!

Here now.

No discord, distinction, domination –

No walls.

We have come to the house of God,

The Gate of heaven –

Where all are anawin

Receivers of mercy, mercy, mercy

Embracing and being embraced!

Yes, Yes, Yes!

This is the Banquet –

The embrace,

The embrace,

The embrace

The depth of unexpected love!

This is the Banquet!

The whole of creation no longer groaning –

No more eager, longing, waiting –

The timeless banquet now, at the table set,

In the eternal embracing Light of Eden!

It is very good indeed!

June 29,2014

Eighth Day Redemption Day Annunciation of the Lord

And on the eight day –Redemption Day!

Creation sang an opera

The poem that God wrote –

Breathed by the Spirit –

An opera like no other!

No arias of requited love,

War, intrigue, guise and disguise –

But heaven and earth are as one

In this universal opera.

The Trinity, in trinity with creation,

The Trinity with Angel, human

And, the Universe as one .

The stage is set.

A proposal, the profoundest

Truest love song of all time,

-intoned by Gabriel, the emissary

“Hail Mary!

‘Don’t be afraid, Mary but Rejoice!”

In breathless anticipation

All creation waits!

Waits to hear the words

The words they know so well –

Never forgotten, engraved in the very being of all that is –

God’s word throbs within the land, the sea, sun and moon

Stars and planets and mankind

“Let it be!”

Day one, day two, day three

Day four, and five,

Then six and seven.

Such  goodness, love, life, oneness !

“Let it be!”

God said – and saw that it was good!

Until man would be God!

A tragedy of tsunamic proportions!

Now the creation chorus waits to hear

One of their own,

a daughter say

The very words of the creator

“Let it be!”

Oh, Mary –

Quickly Mary!

Do not be afraid, Mary!

Creation, in a whispering crescendo,

Supporting Gabriel in his divine task.

Let it be, Mary, they plead

In an almost breathless, operatic chorus.

Oh, Mary,

God would be one with us!

Be one of us!

Such love Mary!

Oh Mary, you are highly favoured!

We, through you are favoured!

We are loved!  In your response we will be freed!

The Tsunami will recede.

“Mary, do not be afraid!

The power of the most High will overshadow you!

You will bear a son

The Son of God!

You will name him, Jesus.”

God will save us, Mary!

The proposal fills the air,

Volleying from planet to planet

Sun and Moon, Stars

The Seas and all that fills them  –

Ready to burst into praise of their God.

Mary, the  favoured servant of God,

In words from a Holy pause

Proclaims the Fiat, the aria of love  –

“Let it be, as you have said!”

Echoing God’s word –

“Let it be!”

God became man!

And dwelt amongst us!

And the operatic chorus sings forever

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

The eight day, the day of Redemption Is ushered in.

“Let it Be!”

FIAT!

 

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – 4th Sunday in Ord. Time Yr. A

Two Turtle Doves or Two Young Pigeons

At the Presentation of a child in the Temple a sacrifice was required of the parents – usually an animal sacrifice – lamb, or goat.  But if the family could not afford such an animal, then they could offer two turtle doves or two young pigeons.  One of the two was killed and the blood sprinkled on the altar and at the foot of the altar of sacrifice, as expiation for sin, and the other bird was burned as a burnt offering when the parents presented their child to the Lord.  If the family was poorer yet, they could offer a tenth of an ephah of wheat flour as an offering for sin committed.  This is very significant, as we shall see.

This feast celebrates the Lord coming into the Temple – the king of Glory has entered his Temple.
The Presentation in the Temple was a celebration of purification for the mother and ceremony of redemption for the child being presented to the Lord at forty days of age.  Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph made an offering of two turtle doves.  We know from the Book of Leviticus, chapter 7, that this was the offering of persons who could not afford an animal of sacrifice. Neither Jesus nor his mother has committed any sin.  Later, at the beginning of his public ministry, we find Jesus again participating in a ceremony of repentance for sin – his baptism.  John tells Jesus that it is not right that he, John should be baptizing Jesus.  Jesus says that John should proceed with the baptism.  John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.  Jesus identifies with us in the totality of our human condition.  He takes our sins upon himself from the moment his life begins.  The spilling of the blood of one dove on, and beneath, the altar of sacrifice was for repentance.  If one was poorer yet, then the offering was wheat flour that the priest would burn on the altar as a sacrifice of sin.  At the end of his life, Jesus who declared himself as having nowhere to lay his head, very poor indeed, took bread – wheat flour – and offered it as his Body.  A day later this body would spill its blood over, and beneath, the altar of sacrifice, the Cross, as an offering for our sins, that he took upon himself.

St. John, in his Prologue tells us that the Light of the World has come into the world that has its being through him, and the world does not recognize him. (Jn 1:9,10) At the Presentation of the Lord, Jesus, the light of the world has come into his Temple.  Two elderly people of faith, Anna and Simeon, recognize and proclaim him, in joyful awareness of the fulfillment of their faith.  In this joy there is a profound juxtaposition that is so often experienced in the journey of faith.  Simeon and Anna are elated. Simeon in his elation is aware of the pain, upheaval and sorrow, that is an integral part of this Light now present in the Temple.  He is aware that good and evil are on a collision path bringing much sorrow to those who love Jesus – beginning with his mother.  “A sword will pierce your own soul too.” The work of the refiners fire, and fuller’s soap has begun. (Mal.3:2) This joy and pain juxtaposed in lived faith is a sharing in the redemptive action of faith.

There is no room for gush and mush in the story of Christmas which comes to a conclusion today at the end of 40 days!  We only have to call to mind the significance of 40.  The Jews were forty years in the desert in a constant struggle between sin and their covenant of love with the Lord.  Jesus spent 40 days in the desert growing in the awareness of his call to take our sins upon himself, redeeming us from our slavery to sin.  Forty comes to symbolize ‘desert’, a place of struggle with sin, a place that is to bring about a ‘metanoia’, a change of heart.  John comes out of the desert proclaiming this.  So we have in this Presentation an encapsulation of the Old Covenant in its lived struggled with sin, reparation, sacrifice for sin, faithfulness and human weakness within this faithfulness, that leads to sin and blindness. Redemption is at hand – raised up in the hands of Simeon.

This feast of the Presentation in the Temple is then, also a foreshadowing of the Easter Triduum, when the sword would pierce the heart of Mary as Simeon foretold at the time of the Presentation.  Jesus from his infancy took our sins upon himself becoming both the priest and the victim.  Already his ultimate mission was being defined.  As the Reading today from Hebrews says, ”He has come to help the children of Abraham” (Heb 2:16), our father in faith.  At Jesus’ death the veil of the Temple was torn in two – the cross has become the altar of sacrifice for sin – and we all consume that sacrifice for sin – not the High Priest whose roll it was to consume the sin offering, but each and every one of us consume the sacrifice for sin!  And, by so doing are made holy, just as it says in Leviticus 6:20, that anyone who touches the meat of sacrifice “will become holy”.  All of this is contained in embryo, so to speak, at the Presentation in the Temple.  This is what Simeon declared when he said, “Now Lord, you may let your servant go in peace, for my eyes have seen the salvation you have prepared in the sight of all peoples! ….” (Lk.2:29-32)

To think that birds that we fly – pigeons or turtle doves  – as a sign of peace could be the link to such everlasting peace!

What a marvel our faith is, from creation to eternity – no part of it stands alone – but all is one in the Lord!

Family First A Reflection Part Two

FAMILY FIRST – A REFLECTION

PART 2

 When he was about his Father’ business,

is when we hear the passage that opened Part 1 of this reflection. (Mt 12: 46-50)

Later on in his ministry we hear an even more radical statement

That involves family!

“Anyone who comes to me without hating (that is being totally detached from)

Father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters

Yes, even his own life too,

cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:25-27)

 And let us not rationalize away this statement of Jesus!

It is repeated three more times in the Gospels! (Lk 18:24-30; Mk 10:28-31; Mt.19:23-30)

‘So Lord, what are you saying about family!’

In all of these passages family is talked of in the context of wealth, possessions.

In the passage just quoted from Luke, Jesus addresses the whole crowd

that is following him.

He goes on to say to them “none of you can be my disciple

Without giving up all that he owns!” (Lk 14: 33)

Even chicks are cajoled, and in the end

pushed out of the nest, their comfort zone,

to continue their nurturing in the daily life.

And they go on to repeat the cycle of life.

Jesus is pushing us! –

and, none too gently into our faith life.

                                                                                                    Family is a wealth!

It is the place for nurturing of mind, body and spirit –

within the family of the Trinity to which all belong.

Family is a wealth in the Lord, for the world.

Its wealth is not found as an enclosed genetic family –

but, is found, as seed that falls to the ground and dies –

thereby, bearing much fruit.

We must die to all we own, and all that owns us,

in order to bear fruit.

While Jesus was on one of his journeys with his apostles

who had left everyone, everything-

They entered a Samarian town.

He tells his disciples to look at the harvest-

that is the town’s people –

They are ready to be harvested –

 They are eager to listen. (Jn 4)

His followers are free to meet the need.

These Samaritans will soon become a part of the family of faith.

Remember that Jesus had just said to his followers that

they must leave all to follow him.

They had left family and wives and business endeavours

to follow him, in a relationship of trust and love!

We tend to say “No way!  Jesus would never ask this!”

He did!

Then we say, in order to defend ourselves –

“Well that is a rarity!”

It must have been meant for just that time and place –

because it makes no sense!

Let us take a look at ourselves!

Is it a rarity in the societal system we endorse?

We are passionate about our sports!

We are passionate about our entertainers –

whether they be musicians on the road,

football players, hockey players, actors.

We admire business tycoons and the like!

We do not question that great parts of their life are away from home!

That is okay – it is part of the job!

That is the price of being famous!

Therefore it is okay!

And our faith is placed in the money earned-

not in the Faith lived!

We are afraid to take the risk of trusting in the Lord!

We are afraid to discover

what he has in mind for those who love him.

We are afraid of what we cannot control.

We are afraid of sacrifice.

Everyone  – everyone, even children

are called to be missionary!

Jesus told the people to let the children come to him.

Look at want the infant Jesus did!

His mission started at his birth!

Look at what Jesus at 12 years of age did!
Children have a missionary role!

We will make sure, do anything to ensure that

children get on the best teams, become whatever they want,

or we want them to be, in the mindset of the world!

Even if –

 success means sending them away from home.

We brag about their success!

Our humanity craves security –

Craves belonging, craves identity

craves power and control.

Our world strives to create itself around these yearnings.

And we as people of faith

are terrified to trust in the security of Christian community!

The Sermon on the Mount

after more than two thousand years is still put in wraps!

The poor of the world are forced to live it!

And, by our way of life we are happy to keep it that way!

The family of faith is our permanent family –

Our eternal family.

This is the family for which Jesus prayed

At the last Supper-

Praying that we would “be one”,

with Him and his Father,

in the Love of the Trinity.

For all eternity!

This family of faith,

this family of baptism,

is the family that Jesus sent out

to the whole world

telling them to continue to

Baptize

“In the name of the Father,

And of the Son,

And of the Holy Spirit
Knowing
– that is trusting in love –

“That I am with you always!”(Mt 28:19,20)

What a different world this would be

if all families

within the family of faith

were to live in  trust, putting their lives

into the hands of the Abba of all creation.

Trusting, that he will provide for all,
everything
that we need –
in order to respond
to his call
to love one another!

Not all that we crave, or tell ourselves that we need!

We wonder why we have so few priests!

There is nothing to wonder about!

Over many, many years

We have eroded into a secularized faith.

We want eternity,

 but

we want to eat all the cake we can here and now!

Here are some passages to dare to take to heart realizing that the people in these passages are not just a conglomerate of adults.
These are real people with real lives, with real families!

As you pray recall Jesus saying
“Let the little children come to me, it is to such as these that the kingdom belongs.”
He was not speaking touchy, mushy words.  He meant them!

Children are part of the missionaries of the Church.
Remember what happened to John the Baptist in the womb!

 Remember as you contemplate these following passages
that by our Baptism we are baptised as “priest, prophet and king” in the family of God!

How prophetically are we willing to live? Is martyrdom in our vocabulary
– bloody or daily martyrdom?

Are we willing to invest our whole lives in the Word of the Lord!

And in him build his kingdom on earth?

“They remained faithful to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. And everyone was filled with awe; the apostles worked many signs and miracles

 All who believed were together and had all things in common;  they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

It is important to note that the ‘holding of possessions in common’, referred to in the preceding and following excerpt is a response to the overwhelming love of the Redemption!  It is not a requirement imposed by the Apostles!

“ Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4: 32-37)

 

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Mt. 25:31 – 40)


“And Jesus after washing their feet said to them  ………. I give you a new commandment:  love one another, just as I have loved you.  It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.”  (Jn. 13: 34,35)

And this wonderful passage!  One of my favorites, is  from IS 58:

“Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke?
Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”
If you remove the yoke from among you, the accusing finger, and malicious speech;
If you lavish your food on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted;
Then your light shall rise in the darkness, and your gloom shall become like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always and satisfy your thirst in parched places,
will give strength to your bones and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.
Your people shall rebuild the ancient ruins; the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “Restorer of ruined dwellings.”

Authentic Sabbath Observance That Leads to Blessing
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight, the LORD’s holy day glorious;
If you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs—
Then you shall delight in the LORD ,and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Is 58:6-14)

The following passages are included for reflection because our Catholic faith does not find its bases in Scripture alone, but also in Tradition and Teaching of the Holy Spirit promised to the Church by Jesus. While these cannot disagree with Scripture, they do elucidate the Revelation found in Scripture, providing ongoing teaching for the Church.

“It is well known how strong were the words used by the Fathers of the Church to describe the proper attitude of persons who possess anything, towards persons in need. To quote Saint Ambrose: ‘You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself.’ The world is given to all, and not only to the rich.” ( On the Development of Peoples, #23)

“Share everything with your brother. Do not say, “It is private property.” If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last. “ (The Didache)  WOW!

Christians love one another. They do not overlook the widow, and they save the orphan. The one who has, ministers ungrudgingly to the one who does not have. When they see a stranger, they take him under their own roof and rejoice over him as a true brother, for they do not call themselves brothers according to the flesh but according to the soul.   (Aristides, early 2nd century)   (Do we, really)

How can I make you realize the misery of the poor? How can I make you understand that your wealth comes from their weeping?    (Basil of Caesarea, 330-370 A.D.)

The following is a wonderful way to draw to a close this reflection on the family as a vital part of the family of faith, always open to the Lord’s call to serve.  I think the Lord provided it just for this reflection!

“Pope Francis will bless 174 families belonging to the Neocatechumenal Way, and will leave their lives behind to become missionaries in Asia and Africa.These families will make up 40 new missio ad gentes, small missionary groups that will settle in countries where the Church’s presence is small. They include countries like Mongolia, China and Taiwan.

Each mission will be made up of three families, along with their children, a priest, a seminarian, and two single women. In all, between 30 and 40 people. Pope Francis will also bless an additional 240 families that will take part in ongoing missions.
Overall, the Vatican expects about 10,000 members from the Neocatechumenal Way, including initiators, Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernandez and father Mario Pezzi.

With the latest 40 groups, the number of Neocatechumenate missio ad gentes will rise to 92, spread out across the globe.” (From Rome Report Jan 31, 2014)

So I may live under a certain roof, but that roof is the roof of my “Abba” who is your “Abba” too!  Therefore, joyfully, lovingly, as siblings, one family, we inherit, share and enjoy all that “Abba”, in his love bestows on his family – that is you and me. Jointly, we cherish and care for, all that “Abba” has given to us, for the good of all creation.  This is our ongoing work of love.  It is truly work.

Bless the work of your family Lord!
“Bless the work of our hands, lord!”  (Ps. 90:17)

PS I lived for three years in a Christian community, such as described above, for three years in the poorest part of a parish.  So when I talk of the Family of Faith I mean just that!

How Did Jesus Say Agape?

The following article is a response to a question that a friend asked me.  The question is as follows:

Question

I have been thinking a lot about what language (s) Jesus spoke.  Do you think He spoke more than one language?  Do you believe that He spoke Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin??  Or a combination of those languages?
I have researched on the internet about this but there seems to be many theories.  What is your theory-if you have developed one to date-and what do you base your theory on?
I am very interested in this because I would like to know how Jesus would have said the word Agape.

What Language Did Jesus Speak – How Did Jesus Say Agape

I am glad that you used the word ‘theory’ because no one knows for sure just what language, or languages, that Jesus spoke.  As you say, there are many opinions.  My guess, not exactly an opinion, is that he spoke, for the most part, – that is when with his friends and disciples –  a patois of Aramaic.  By this I mean, that in much the same way as happens in regions of most countries of the world, there are dialects of languages.  Take Canada for example.  English is spoken from coast to coast to coast but we would be hard pressed to understand it as English sometimes!  But, these same people, when put into a situation that demands some polish in speech would be quite able to do so and would rise to the occasion.  But when they are relaxed they would revert back to colloquial language.  Most colloquial language is a compost of the languages of people who have settled in an area over a long period of time, put together with corrupt pronunciation.  These miss pronounced words become accepted words in that locale.  Why do I say all this?  Because humans are humans are humans no matter where or when they lived.  Isolated villages always spawn a dialect, even if only an insignificant one.  Some stick like glue.  So in Canada we have the colourful dialects of the various Maritime Provinces and their various regions.

This was also true of all the isolated towns and villages in Palestine in Jesus’ time.  The corruptions of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, and the blends of them all, made for many patois languages in Palestine.  Of course those educated in any of the languages knew what was correct, and spoke the languages in an educated manner when situations demanded it.  But, education was not widespread and isolation, especially among the poor, was a way of life.  When one puts this together with the fact that the country was occupied by Romans whose main language was Greek at the time of Jesus – Greek words would creep into the vocabulary.  It was a matter of survival and commerce. The peoples of Palestine had a wonderful language stew of many dialects of Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek.  It was important to the Jews to remain as homogenous as possible to preserve their identity, so it would seem that Aramaic in various degrees of correctness and likewise Hebrew were the most used languages of those who had settled there for many generations. They were especially the languages of liturgy. But, it is important to remember that there were many Hellenistic Jews who had taken on the Greek language because of various Diasporas over many years.

Since we know of nothing that Jesus wrote – other than something he drew in the sand when being self righteously questioned by the Pharisees about the woman found in adultery – we do not know what his first language may have been.  Truthfully, we do not really know exactly what Jesus said at any time in his life!  It is necessary to remember that each one of his Apostles and disciples would remember slightly differently from the next. And this hearing and remembering depends on where one is within himself or herself at any particular time. So basically we only know what others were told, by still others, who heard from others, in the lived experience of belief in Jesus – (tradition).  Because what he said was passed on in so many different dialects and languages what becomes lasting is the general consistent message, which under the guidance of the Holy Spirit was committed to the written word (this too being dialectical and mostly written in some form of Greek). We call this written word ‘scripture’, the truth of which is constantly being revealed to us (revelation), through the Holy Spirit promised to his Church, by Jesus. Maybe it is divinely ordained that we do not know exactly what language Jesus spoke, or languages, so that no one can claim him as totally their own.  Again, my guess is that he spoke a number of dialects and probably even knew Greek.  But if I have a theory about what language he spoke it is that we are not meant to know. He is the universal man born in a time and place but belonging to all mankind.

So now to the word ‘agape’ – which is, in fact, Greek in origin – being absorbed into the Hebrew-Aramaic languages and dialects in various corrupt forms of Greek, over time.  It is of interest to note, that it is not in the Gospels, which are a record, in a sense, of “all that Jesus said and did”, as St. Luke puts it, – that this word ‘agape’ is predominant, – but, rather in the Letters of Paul, who never met Jesus in person, and whose main language was Greek.  Both Jesus and Paul were Jews who grew up in a Jewish culture, steeped in Jewish faith and traditions living its daily demands and rituals – all flowing from the Torah, the Law and the Prophets – especially the teachings of Moses. Their understanding of love would be from the perspective of faith and the challenging spirituality proclaimed by the prophets.  This, to my mind, is very important, because the prophets had very much to say about the living out of love –often commenting on the absence of love within the lives of the People of God.  Jesus, in his words and deeds, did the same!  Of course he was considered the Prophet! We learn this in the story of the Man Born Blind (Jn 9), and again when Jesus asks the Apostles what people have to say of him.  The first answer in both cases to the question of Jesus’ identity is that he is a prophet. The Greek culture on the other hand spoke of love from a far more intellectual, philosophical view rather than from a spiritual use of the word.  Because of  their approach to language they were far more exact in the use of words, having many precise words for one concept or emotion.  In this case the word is love.

I believe that there is only one way to answer the question – “How did Jesus say ‘agape’?”  – and that is from a spiritual perspective.  That is, from a perspective nourished by the Scriptures and prayer, which leads to a deep relationship with Jesus.  To know him is to love him, and to love is to love with his love, as he loves and loved. He loved everyone as brother and sister and mother and father and friend. John in his Gospel and in his Letters makes this very clear in what I call a poetic, mystical way.  The other Gospels spell it out in his day to day relationship with each person and group that he meets. One thing we know for sure is that this love was not just so much mush and gush and pap.  But it does ooze with compassion, genuine caring -expressed as righteous anger at times, healings, resurrections, and tears at other times. This love is true mercy, true compassion, that is a caring enough, loving enough the whole person, so that at all times it offers new life.  He taught us that in living out love, we at times need painfully speak the truth for the good of the person or persons to whom we are speaking.

This is a side of love from which we shy away.  In the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56) we have a wonderful description of God’s love expressed about Jesus then ‘invitro’, soon to be seen in the flesh. “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”  And again in Luke (4) Jesus reads from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…” This love of brother and sister was to be proved fearless in front of powers and authorities, whether religious or political – the political often being religious.

His love lead him to use every moment as a teachable moment.  The epitome of this agape teaching, that is other than his death, is found in the Sermon on the Mount,(Mt.5,6,7), and in the Last Judgement discourse found in Matthew Chapter 25.  We know that his love radiated from him, moving people to flock to him.  His love puzzled the most hardened of hearts; caused people to divide into factions, to lash out in anger and indignation, and eventually lead to his death, his ultimate act of love. For me, his life and his teachings say ‘agape’ – his person says ‘agape’.  He is agape!  He identified himself as our brother with a common Father – “Abba” – Daddy.  We need only look at the prayer he taught his disciple to know that this is true.  He did not say “Father, in heaven”, but “Our Father”.  He identifies with us as brothers and sisters with one father.  This is agape.  One cannot help but be moved to tears by this love of a brother for a sister, when he says to Mary Magdalene at the tomb – the one word “Mary!”  And then he goes on to tell her to go “go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 22:17) What a fraternal, inclusive love. This is what ‘agape’ sounds like when issuing from Jesus!

When thinking about this answer to your question I was lead to read an article by Fr. Barnabas Ahern – written many years ago.  It is so good that I have read it at least three times in last few days!  It is called ‘The Charity of Christ’.  I wish I could send it to you but it is in an old book that I have.  I want to give you his closing lines.

“His love for all men is a light which enables us to see each one as a brother.  His love is a power which strengthens us to deal with each as someone who  belongs to the family of God; who therefore has a right to love which is “patient and kind, thinks no evil, bears with all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

The spontaneity, realism and completeness of Christ’s charity in us makes life not only liveable but loveable.  It turns every meeting into a family gathering; it makes every service and every deed of kindness the helping hand of a brother assisting a brother along the way to God. … Those who seek God spread peace and Joy around them, for they know only one rule of life:  “The charity of Christ impels us.”(2Cor 5:14)”

So this is my answer to your query.  I hope it sheds some light on your ponderings.  His very life breathed and breathes ‘agape’ and at the same time impels us to ‘agape’ – brotherly love.

In closing I am going to exercise a certain sense of license using some of John’s words at the Last Supper discourse, taken from chapters 14, 15, 16, 17. By juxtaposing them it will hopefully highlight what this agape is for me.

“Having loved his own who were in the world,

He loved them to the end.”

He said “I call you friend.

Because that is what you are”.

“You call me Teacher and Lord

–          And you are right,

–          For that is what I am.”

If I your teacher and Lord,

Have washed your feet,

You also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

“I give you a new commandment

Love one another

As I have loved you!”

“If you love me,

You will keep my commandments

And I will ask the Father,

And he will give you another Advocate

To be with you forever!”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled!

Do not be afraid!”

“No one has greater love

Than this:

To lay down one’s life for one’s

Friends!”

“You are my friends

I have made known to you

Everything I have heard from My Father!”

“Love one another!”

“Father, I pray for all those who will believe

Because of their words.

As you, Father, are in me

And I am in you,

May they also be one in us.”

“I have made known

Your name to them

So that the love

With which you have loved me

May be in them,

And I in them.”

“I call you friends.”

“Love one another.”

Sept 24th, 2013

A Lamentation

Listen to me, my people

While in anguish I tell of  my love!

Listen to me closely,

To me who made all peoples.

I am the God who made

The Assyrians, the Babylonians,

The God who created the Iraqis and Afghans.

Listen to me who made

The peoples of all the Americas,

The north, the central,

The southern Americans.

I am the God of the Semites,

Arabs and Jews.

I called the gentiles, white and black.

The peoples of India, Asia, Europe and Africa,

They are all,

All of them, my children.

 

Listen to me all you who have ears to hear.

Listen to me all of you,

You have hearts created to forgive.

I have said “Put your swords back into their scabbards”!

I have mended too many ears,

Comforted too many widows and orphans!

I have heard too many children of Rachel screaming in terror!

The cries of those you have made homeless,

Starving, naked and thirsty,

The cries of those you have maimed and tortured

The cries of your brothers and sisters,

Their cries have reached my ears.

 

What have you done?

What have you done, you who are rich?

You who talk from full bellies and comfort?

What have you done

You who crave power in the world?

Search your hearts!

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

My ways are not your ways

As far as your love is from one another

So are my ways from your ways.

 

I do not want “bombs bursting in air”!

My peoples of the world you have hardened your hearts!

You have turned away from your God.

You listen only with your jaded hearts,

With your pride and your stubbornness.

You say “In God we trust”!

“Allah be praised”!

While you plot destruction, ruin,

Murder and deception in your hearts.

                                                I know of what you are made.

I know the hearts of men.

Your lives are a pretense, a shame for caring.

You have grown so far from me

Farther than east is from west

North from south.

You cannot feel my love for you

You of hardened hearts!

 

“As the doe yearns for running streams”

So your hardened hearts yearn for

Ease, comfort,

For all that money can buy.

You have become weak in your lives of immorality,

Lives of sexual pleasure and greed.

You no longer know right from wrong.

Insanity grasps you

killing those unborn, old and sick!

 

You have become Sodom and Gomorrah.

You have built towers of Babel

And how you babble on!

Trusting more in your trinity

Of economic pundits, pollsters and powerful!

They have become your prophets

False prophets of you who rape the earth.

They do not speak my words!

 

I am the Father

I am the Son

I am the Holy Spirit

Listen to this Trinity!

 

I am the Father, creator of all that is.

I am the Son, Jesus who came for the sick and the sinner.

I am the Spirit to be found in the hearts

Of all who love God.

 

I love the sinners, the terrorists

I want to forgive them,

To give them new life, new hearts.

 

I love the sinners, the powerful and greedy

I want to forgive them,

To remove their hearts of stone.

 

I love the sinners, the immoral and perverted

I want to forgive them,

To give them hearts that thirst for my love.

 

I love the downtrodden victims of injustice

All of them,

The poor, the orphan and the widow,

I want to wipe away their tears.

I want to heal the brokenhearted.

Those thrown on the garbage dumps of profiteers.


Oh my people of this broken world

How I long to draw you to my heart,

Cover you as a mother hen her chicks!

 

My dreams for you are vast

Vaster than you can imagine.

Listen to me, my people of the world.

Listen to my prophets who call,

Call you back to my ways.

Come back to me.

You will find all that your hearts desire.

 

I am the Alpha and the Omega.

I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.

I Am, who made you in love!

Choose life that you may live everlasting life.

I have no pleasure in the death of anyone.

Return to me and live!