Songs of the Heart

There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his brothers and the entire assembly of Israel decreed that every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Kislev, the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with[read more]

Encounter and Aggression

When I was a boy, one of the earliest lessons my mother attempted to teach me was that if you were good to others, they would be good to you. In light of the tension between congeniality and compatibility we have been reflecting on these past days, her formative directive to me was “get along to go along.” As an adult, and especially in my later years, I have come to recognize that my mother had a deep anxiety that somehow I would have difficulty in life “getting along” and being accepted. Now this interpretation may not be true at[read more]

Envy and Scapegoating

In his commentary on the above verse from Luke, Luke Timothy Johnson writes: “In Greek moral philosophy, misos (“hatred”) is often associated with envy, phthonos, and like it tends toward the harming of another.” To hear repeatedly in the gospels of the hatred of many of the religious leaders of Jesus gives rise to the question of “Why?” Conventionally we answer this question by pointing out that Jesus poses a threat to their status as leaders by revealing what is impure and self-serving in their motivation. However, there is perhaps an even more fundamental reason for their hatred of him,[read more]

Maintaining Congeniality

Today we read the story of Eleazar, a ninety year old man who is being forced to deny his God by eating pork, which, of course, is prohibited. In our own age, that Eleazar would give his life rather than defy the demands of the Law of the Covenant can seem extreme. Yet, it is important to understand that obedience to the Law is the bond between God and the people. As called by God as one of God’s people, the choice not to follow the Law is both a betrayal of God and of oneself.[read more]

Repentance and Evangelization

As living and sacred words, the scriptures live anew for us in every given moment and phase of our lives. To read the words from Maccabees this morning is to experience from our own perspective the problem of faithfulness and syncretism. What our immigrant grandparents so valued and longed to enter into, the “melting pot” of American culture, is for us who attempt to hold to a gospel faith an increasing experience of inner and outer conflict. In practice we sacrifice on a daily basis our lives to the cultural values of competition, consumption, and commerce, while relegating our relationship[read more]

Not Returning To What Was Left Behind

So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, a person who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise a person in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of[read more]

The Kingdom of God Is Among Us

In Wisdom is a spirit / intelligent, holy, unique, / Manifold, subtle, agile, / clear, unstained, certain, / Never harmful, loving the good, keen, / unhampered, beneficent, kindly, / Firm, secure, tranquil, / all-powerful, all-seeing, / And pervading all spirits, / though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle. Wisdom 7: 22-3 Asked by the[read more]

Being Unprofitable Servants

So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’ Luke 17:10 There is a strange paradox in the gospel. On the one hand, we hear of how God cares for us as for the birds of[read more]

The Spirit of Wisdom

For wisdom is a kindly spirit, / yet she does not acquit blasphemous lips; Because God is the witness of the inmost self / and the sure observer of the heart / and the listener to the tongue. Wisdom 1:6 He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the[read more]