4th of July  

Posted by siouxbhoney

I'll be traveling for the holiday weekend, so I won't be posting again until Tuesday the 8th. Until then, you can get the readings here:





Here's a news story for good measure: Fr. Damien, parents of St. Therese advance toward sainthood, Vatican announces

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle  

Posted by siouxbhoney

It looks like today is the Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle. Which I'm very excited about, because I don't have to come up with a title for the blog today.

Our first reading is Ephesians 2:19-22

Today's reading is kind of gentle and soothing. Not the kind of thing that I expect to get from Paul. I imagine him always worked up about something or another. I like the imagery of the Church as the Household of God. He somehow manages to work together the congregation into being a part of the family and household of God, and also being a part of the foundation and building that houses God. But Paul's reading also should infuse us with a sense of responsibility. If we are a family and a household and a dwelling place, then we should be more aware of our actions and words, and how they affect people around us. Could ugly words between two people who disagree cause cracks in a wall? Maybe. Could it cause a bad history between family members? Absolutely.

Off the soap box and on to the next reading: John 20:24-29

Since it is the feast of Saint Thomas, we have the "doubting Thomas" story today. We have all heard this one since childhood, it has been the standard you-gotta-have-faith story, and it is always presented to us in a "Isn't Thomas so silly?" kind of way. But frankly, Thomas must have thought that his friends had lost either their ever-loving minds, become drunks, or had decided to become liars. Which ever one that he went with, he just shut down completely, because really, just talking about Jesus too loud in mixed company could get you arrested. In the least. When Jesus showed up and asked Thomas to touch all of his wounds, (and, I imagine, with a touch of sarcasm in his voice), it must have been like scales falling from his eyes. He must have understood everything about Jesus all at once. Unfortunate that he had to be used as the example of tested faith for the next few thousand years, but we should thank him for going through all of that so that we don't have to.

Today's news story isn't really news, it is an article I found while googling Thomas, and I really like it: Doubting Doubting Thomas

Also, Deacon Bill was kind enough to answer some of my questions from yesterday. He asked me to be sure to "qualify them as reflections." I think that they are great, and feel like my questions are answered. Here they are:

1) Why did the demons want to go into the pigs ---- evil is a desire to control (only God controls, and even God normally chooses not to) -- so if the demons will not be allowed to control humans, they will want to control something, so they settle for the pigs, the closest thing handy

2) Why did Jesus do what they asked --- God loves all of creation, and in not choosing to control too much, God allows the demons to make their own decision about their next step in their lives, just as God allows us to make our own choices. Jesus did not do what they asked, he allowed them to do as they wished - in my reading he said "Go then"

3) Why did the demons kill the pigs --- they didn't, the pigs were trying to rid themselves of this evil, as they (the pigs) were not evil, in fact, they can only be pigs, just as God made them -- which is what we are to do - be as God made us (not in control, not evil, just being, living the moment, seeking the God within, not the evil)

4) why did the townspeople ask Jesus to leave ---- they didn't want to lose anymore pigs :-) ----- they wanted to control, he who showed his power and who they feared, as he spoke to demons and was not afraid ----we too are called to not be afraid, we are called to have faith and hope and trust --- so that we might love all of creation, so that we might not control, so that we would ask God to rid us of evil, so that we might be Love

First Reading: Amos 5:14-15, 21-24

God asks us to seek good and not evil. This seems like a really basic thing that he shouldn't even have to ask, so no wonder that the tone of this reading suggests that he's a little annoyed. He goes on to break it down in one of the more basic set of instructions for pleasing him that I've seen, outside of the ten commandments. Then it gets confusing. He tells his people that almost everything that they do to worship him will not be welcome. No feasts, solemnities, cereal offerings, stall-fed peace offerings, and no music. But he will take burnt offerings. Why? Well, this is what the footnotes from the NAB say: "The Lord condemns, not ritual worship in itself, but the cult whose exterior rites and solemnity have no relation to interior morality and justice. The Israelites falsely worshipped him as neighboring nations adored Baal or Chamos, deities which were thought to protect their respective people against their enemies in return for ritual observances, without any relation to right conduct." Okay, so God wants us to act right, pursue justice, maintain an inner morality, and really mean it when we go to worship services. I think that may be a fair assessment of that reading.

On to the next!

Second Reading: Matthew 8:28-34

So Jesus was traveling with his guys, and two demoniacs come out to meet him. Apparently, they were such a common nuisance that nobody traveled that road anymore. They immediately recognize Jesus for who he is, and accuse him of trying to drive them out "before their time". My handy dandy footnotes tell me "that the notion that evil spirits were allowed by God to afflict human beings until the time of the final judgment is found in Enoch 16:1 and Jubilees 10:7-10." But then the demons ask to be put into swine instead of just expelled, and it seems like Jesus takes pity on them. He drives the spirits into the swine, they drive the swine off of a cliff, and the swineherds run to town and tell everybody what happened. (My guess is that they went straight to the bar.) Then everybody from the town comes out to meet Jesus and to ask him to go away. You think they'd be happy to get rid of those two crazy guys that were terrorizing people off of the road. These are my questions:

  • Why did the demons want to go into the pigs?
  • Why did Jesus do what they asked?
  • Why did the demons kill the pigs?
  • Why did the townspeople ask Jesus to leave after that?

News Story of the Day: Laws for pope visit rankle critics in Australia

Good Morning. It's early. Today's first reading is Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12

The wrath of God continues in today's reading. Thing is, it's kind of understandable. I know, I know, it's not popular to sympathize with the Angry-God stuff. We are supposed to act like that behavior is either not there in the old testament or that it doesn't mean anything, but come on! It's all over the place! The way I see it, God kinda has his feelings hurt that the people that he has chosen to reveal himself to are, well, human. Maybe I'm projecting, because God probably doesn't really have the kind of emotions that we do, but I see him really fostering, indulging, and loving this whole tribe, in a very parent-favorite son kind of way. But it seems to him that every time he turns his back for a second, they are sniffing around foreign temples and worshipping those other gods. Not even those other Gods, but poles of wood and altars of stone. They are wasting all of their adoration on objects. Even though it's easy to see this in a jealously context, God is mad because his people are doing stupid things that are only harming themselves. Kind of like when you get mad at your new puppy for eating rocks. You don't want him to keep hurting himself.

The gospel for today is Matthew 8:23-27

This reading is a nice, soothing balm after the Amos passage. Jesus is on a boat with his disciples, crossing the Sea of Galilee I guess, and a "violent storm" breaks out. I've been on a boat in a violent storm, and it can be terrifying and nauseating, and make you feel completely helpless. To make matters worse, the footnotes say that the word actually translates to earthquake. Really? Earthquake in a boat? Doesn't that cause tidal waves and stuff?

Anyway, the disciples are freaking out, and wake Jesus, begging him to save them. I imagine the scene a little like this: Jesus slowly wakes up, rubs his eyes, and says "What's wrong with you? Can't I go to sleep for a minute without you jerks thinking you're gonna die? Do I have to do everything around here?" He gets up, calmly prays and does some storm-directing with his hands, and the weather clears instantly. He goes back to his original spot, lays down, and goes right back to sleep, completely unconcerned.

This is seriously one of my favorite gospel stories because it kind of cracks me up every time that I read it.

The news story of the day is old, but it was a slow news day this morning: Don’t abandon drug addicts, says president of Chilean Bishops’ Conference

Good Morning. I slept in a little, so this is running late.

Today we start off with Amos 2:6-10, 13-16

I scanned around Amos a little, because I've never read it before. It spent all of Chapter one outlining other crimes against other tribes or nations. It looks like they were all pretty bad, (murder, treason, slavery), but God was the most angry at Israel because they disregarded his laws, took advantage of the weak and poor, sold their own people into slavery, heedlessly worshipped other idols, and something weird about father and son visiting the same prostitute. There are probably multiple laws broken on that prostitute thing. My study bible says that the crimes are "infidelity and idolatry". And we thought we lived in a corrupt society today.

At the end of verse six, where God, through Amos, says "I will not revoke my word," I thought that meant that God was going to stand by Israel, but apparently not. According to everything that came up with when I googled it, it means that he "will not withdraw his threat of punishment." Ouch. He goes on to tell Israel the great things that he's done for them, with the destruction of the Amorites, the being led out of slavery, and giving them the promised land. And then, tells them that they are really in for it because they have ticked him off. "Really in for it" doesn't exactly cover it, right? He's about to crush them. It is basically a very scary "I brought you into this world, I can take you out" kind of dad-speech. I don't know any more to say. Let's see what the next reading is:

Matthew 8:18-22

I don't understand how these tie together at all. I also think that Jesus is really tired in this passage, and maybe a little cranky. First of all, he sees that he's drawing a crowd, and he just wants to get in a boat and go across the lake, away from them. When a scribe tells him that he wants to follow him anywhere and everywhere, Jesus just basically tells him that he's got nowhere to go, and nowhere to rest. Then, when one of his disciples asks permission to go and bury his father, Jesus denies him in what even today sounds shocking and uncaring. “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” Maybe the tie in for these two passages is that God gets real ornery sometimes. The New American Bible says this: "Let the dead bury their dead: the demand of Jesus overrides what both the Jewish and the Hellenistic world regarded as a filial obligation of the highest importance. See the note on Luke 9:60." Still very harsh.

So I googled around again, and I found this article: Holy Spirit Interactive: Fr. Francis Jamieson: The Hard Sayings of Jesus: Let the Dead Bury the Dead. This article basically says that Jesus is trying to demonstrate that following him and seeking the kingdom of God overcomes every earthy obligation, no matter how pious or important.

Now for the news of the day, in case you were interested in what the pope said about the new Pauline year: Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul links missionary and unitive dimensions