Archive for the ‘Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries’ Tag
Ghosts writers – crime writing. As a detective, you had a past burden to be on the lookout – night and day – as the son of a famed detective, with all the personal threats afterward. For the substitute — stepping in where your predecessors left off — it is not as much a question of identity to the investigator, but proving “it.” As the editor saw it, the writer’s main characters — those with human power — just missed it. Almost all of them.
To run and write down, after you have come out of the shower – maybe like having been baptized in the Jordan, which looked in Minnesota like the St. Croix as the border of Wisconsin, just too big for one religion – these Abrahamic religions – for one leader to handle. What is yours forever … so another system substitution.
With a worry about the old Cain and Abel story later. To hold something precious … rather than release.
Jacob. First born sons. Birth rights. The guides. The tour guide and the confessional, with Wisconsin over there. Barbarism which separated one side from another – like the River Jordan? And so place in the sibling group concerning what you were born into …. the followers of Jesus, responding to not a perceived hostility but a witnessed hostility. The enforcement of not love but law. True law, with the borders … of good and of evil. As you begin to doubt the enforcers of the law.
Leaving. The main theme of Passover, in the beginning of, is leaving. So this story of The Passion was another Passover story with the same theme of leaving before anyone considered what would come next – like had come next for Moses and Joshua. After a brief period for grieving, what was to come …. just before the Roman destruction of the Temple … and the followers, leaving. And the unstated but the so apparent theme was the desire to leave the cruelty of the world? So get ready. Prepare. Rid your homes of leaven. Deflate your egos, as the firstborn son of Mary is struck down, do you feel the sacrifice of God in Passover? Why the leaving except because of evil? It is because of the separation, concerning all the separations in the Creation story? And here was a forgiveness over an indifference if not apathy about the separations?
The colt. The distance…. in the story. The Presence of the colt as the future? The movement, with the colt, to get somewhere, in the scene. The arrival. The escape … the separation, through death.
Roots. The opening of The Round House. “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation.” Roots. Looking down on others or looking up at the cruelty of the world, sacrificing the “Closest Relationship.” A new book by Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs is about the socially constructed concept of race and racial identity. What about the socially constructed idea concerning religion, to move the world forward? Freely chosen roots, by Whom? Passing to freedom, so alone? Or like slugger Ted Williams, with the mystery of his own roots.
Note the exile because of racial ambiguity, about a time and a place in the land. There had been the importance of borders in the story in a racist society, between North and South. What about the religious ambiguity about a real time and a real place in the land? And this tethered colt, as the get-away vehicle, for those who “pass?” In disguise, like to escape discrimination in the United States? Note the episode at the fire, with a comment about Peter’s accent, in The Passion Story. Would Peter live through the night? (Men “passing” as women, like in the character in The Good Lord Bird. ) As the community of Jews – which Jesus, Mary and Joseph all belonged – sacrificed, in the story of The Passion – as Abraham tried to – a son.
Whether race, color, creed, find the invisible social act in The Passion: “Passing as white” is a social act. Those who collaborated – those left behind, no longer embedded in racial identity – no longer belonging and sharing memories of a past. Locate Jewish men, passing in the story – that the New Testament calls Apostles. Speak not a word to the white child as black mother, so the world never finds out that she is black. The comparison: Insiders to outsiders, slaves to masters.
Concerning the super power of invisibility, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs writes about the loss to those who “passed” by walking away. A larger phenomena of “passing” in history is the totality of migration to a New World. The Noveau Riche, where they do not belong…..bringing the Asian and European if not African concepts of “class” to the New World. Note the name changes, while “Passing” as white. What is the cost of “gain” other than greater capitalistic opportunity? The sea is parted, to egalitarian elites. Note the never-ending acting by real people in this hidden practice of exile, in choosing to leave what you were born into. Looking for ghosts of the unconventional, did you know that slugger Ted Williams was a Mexican-American? There is a darkness of loss, living in solitude — giving in to the cruelty of the world? Ted never outright told you that he was Mexican-American.
The chapter. A long-unsolved crime. Cold Cases. Invisible and visible. Judas was nothing but a spy. Didn’t he feel, like Peter, the fear that all the Apostles would be tortured by the “powers that be?” And he had the age-old gift from Abraham to Isaac which came on Mount Moriah which was the gift of great restlessness. . . . . to change the world. Many think that Judas had hoped the Messiah would get involved in the political struggle that the Jews had under Roman domination. (So many modern-day Italians who admire the Romans never see that part of the story?) In a scene where so many have but one perspective of ‘MY brand,’ about ‘MY GOD,’ was it a wonder that popes in days gone by separated the domiciles of Jews, in the ghetto? So in what I think are the words of Larry Gillick, “All human beings desire safety and security in order to KNOW what to expect — how things are supposed to work, what people are like. With a knowledge to maintain a level of order in our lives. Sometimes, I can become so set in my ways that I develop what Ignatius (the founder of the Jesuits) would call disordered attachments to what otherwise would be good and holy things. As I become so attached to a structure, holding onto it for dear life, no longer free to allow God’s grace to enter into my life.”
And so the Passion. With the tethered colt, either stolen or ‘borrowed’ by the two Apostles but to be brought back to the rightful owner. . . later, it is assumed. And compare the age of Isaac and the age of Jesus in the stories of Abrahamic sacrifice, with the need to leave because of the cruelty of the world … and their “admission policies.” To warn the future, in sacrifice, by the father of faith – like my friend Tim, advising his son Tom not to become a lawyer, just as Tim was? To warn, in the perspective of Abraham about the world he had traveled, after his very first sacrifice of a homeland! How to warn the living, with outward signs? Through, with, in …. Sacrifice. With bonds to belong. This change is, by the end of the story, Jesus of Nazareth is the hero for surviving for the future. . . just like Isaac, Sarah’s first born son, had. In the denounement: ‘we’ somehow survived …this operation. And the invisible theme throughout the mystery is about the Love of God. To come to know, over time, the main character through the Victim in the story (which mostly is a love story).
The cold cases. Not too far from the border with Canada – where borders always protect one side from what appears to be the unmanageable other; this, it is said, is where you are able to hear at the start of a pigeon race, the sound of time flying. The aim set forth at the Dormady Academy of Private Detection, known by its neighbors as an old pigeon farm in northern Minnesota, is to find the Victim in each story. In the beginning of, a Victim always had to let someone else describe you. Like in any theology class, it is said that those descriptions are only as good as someone had come to know You. Whether letting someone else describe You, or describing Yourself to the missing, through a carrier pigeon. In a world where so many are not seeing the beauty in the Mystery, in relationship with/to others, and so many people detest pigeons.
The cold cases. Finite thinking. When everyone at Mass already knows the outcome. But before the statues get uncovered, before the Sunday morning Gospel, not too far from the border with the Red Sea, there was the difficulty for the first to arrive. As a result, too many forget the human part of the story, as there can be so little emotion reading history. Why can’t a narrative tell of all the emotions living through the times? This could only be a great story if you felt the emotions in the suspense, as the writer’s tingling can become more the editor’s numbness. Note the difficulty for the first to arrive, like in the blindness for Cain and Abel and the struggle over seemingly being finite. Whoever knew that we were all finite, in the beginning? After all of the separations, and the conflict over who among the characters was there first, separating the unmanageable goodness from invisible evil. The theme based upon something stolen. Like birth right ….. or a tethered colt. Over who among the characters was there first, there is all the difficulty for the first to arrive, asking…. “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
Passing is not …. never has been … a solitary act. The difficulty for the first to arrive. Did you perceive the darkness at the time of day? The dispute over who was here first, long before electricity was invented. As if goodness is described by TIME ….. or by just one PLACE? When a greater ease came to those who arrive later. Over innocence … IF they conformed to the image prevalent in a community. This identity. . . based upon innocence, lost. The theme based upon something stolen at the command of Jesus. With the PROMISE to bring it back later to the rightful owner. So how does the original ending of Mark’s Gospel tie into the Book of Genesis? Over all the splitting and separation, when the mostly male spiritual leaders thought they knew – in a community. The original ending – in the first Gospel ever written, by Mark – involves only the female characters present at the Crucifixion. The original ending with these invisible women involves a silence and what is presumed to be fear. . . of the Lord? And the tie-in to the Passover Feast, with always the gift of great restlessness to change the world? For the finite in the story, “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight.”
Barbarism which separated one side from another, if you were willing to sacrifice your son, but without ever informing his mother? So with the theme of a purity sacrificed and a purity shared in relationship, there was the forgiveness needed for Abraham, by Sarah. What happens to the original separation theme in Genesis, yet while forced to choose to keep growing … in the beginning of? Do you feel the sacrifice, or only the emotions connected to the sacrifice? Did you ever feel the Agony – the emotions – in the Garden? Were God’s emotions like Jacob’s as he got ready to flee, after he had stolen the birth right?
So had Jesus stolen the birth right, like Jacob? With the help of his mother, by way of the great coverup of a virgin birth at the time. . . from all those who, in public service, were in the business of’ ‘saving?’ Or not? These people of Church/ Temple and State all in the business of ‘saving’, either as Roman soldiers or the chief priest? So who to save? When there were how many left to bury in Egypt at the time of the original Passover?
The original ending of the original Gospel of Mark involves only the invisible female characters who might have already come to know that you had to sacrifice your purity if your bloodlines would not become extinct. Behold these women in the story! Behold the great coverup by way of celebration of the Passover feast of The Akedah in the sacrifice!
Like Rachel as Sarah, Jesus was a man who was expected to somehow, in his very own way, to carry the Living God of Israel further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where he was born. As growth was so much the measure of success, even when you were forced out, like in the Tree of Knowledge story, like the native-born in the story — like the North American Indians so comparable to Eve and Adam.
And so the unimaginable, the inconceivable, the unthinkable story of creation and The Passion ever since when, in the words of Picasso, every act of creation involves a form of destruction. So in the ax-to-the-frozen -sea ending, did you ever feel the displacement in the story of Jesus, with the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize the Post Traumatic Stress disordering sustained by his mother after your own kinsmen tried to kill you? As the Messiah was seemingly forced out, note the movement in the story of belonging which came out of a displacement in the story of Jesus. Like the women of Jerusalem in the story of The Passion, in passing on your culture with passion, I think about my grandfather’s mother who died in trying to increase the numbers, not far removed from the Great Famine, in her attempt – like either Rachel or any great prophet, for the delivery of God to the next generation – to replicate God’s greatness. And there was this affect on memory where you had witnessed the torture to the Messiah.
Deliverance. And so that colt tethered “on which no one has ever sat,” waiting. Waiting for the change coming. To settle down? With a control over, the concern about… power of mostly those who you know, or those who know, something to various degrees…… or thought that they did – that what is yours forever ..never becomes precious. Men not seeing that this was a love story. So rather than try to describe infinity, use a love story to have the invisible become visible … because of allowing someone else to describe You? With real living people. But as in trying to too quickly read a profile, online … missing the infinity in the stories.
The strangeness of it all, after the Great Flood — A SACRIFICE! What a bizarre idea, to sacrifice the future, through a son of Abraham! Sacrifice. Imagine the reaction of the outsider, upon hearing the story. . . of sacrifice. Imagine the reaction of an insider. Hearing each other’s concern about the private lives of his sons, as if it was anyone else’s concern — as if it was anyone else’s concern in the private relationships of these men — about the depth of their relationships. Or whether his sons, his descendants, his followers would adhere to the religious laws. . . and remain Kosher, based upon sacrifice. Identity politics, directed at sacrifice. The strangeness . . . saving something, with these identity labels, as the separation in brands. The body. The bond. The sacrifice, for others. The tree-like Cross. The forever reason – sacrificed – not killed – for others. Saving others. People did not want them to save? And there was never a mention whether that parked tethered colt — clarified to be an ass, just like in the story of that trip to Bethlehem — had ever been returned.
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Yūsuf ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm
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Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
“Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation.” Like in the Tree of Knowledge story, note the forced out native-born in the story, like the North American Indians, comparable to Eve and Adam.
System substitutions again, by Abraham. Note the circumcision, only after he went and fathered a child through his wife’s handmaid. So in the science of consequences, his first born son was a slave. If you did Algebra I.
In an apparition, there was suddenly the unexpected banishment, like an accidental death? And these stories just seemed to be repeating themselves. With the hovering ghosts of ingratitude toward Hagar, Sarah at least banished her handmaid and her son. The thing that got between two women might have had something to do with the methods of shared prayer if not shared belief.
Narrative tension is primarily about withholding information. In a story when both Abram and Sarai had the same father but different mothers, what has become of the command given to Adam to cleave? “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Though Abram had left home in his calling, here he was still cleaving to his half-sister perhaps out of the prejudice that he had about the outside world.
In any relationship, there is the issue of undivided support.
In an act that failed to distinguish, Abraham had fathered a child. And in the science of consequences, there is another separations and a split. In a perspective which challenged, to provide a fierce undivided support for a split child – did Ishmael belong to Abraham or to the mother? And so in the relationship, based upon cleaving, there is still the issue of support. So what is this perspective about a handmaid leaving the father of her son? If Ishmael belonged to Hagar, what of his relationship with Abraham, his master?
In a story when neither Adam nor Eve had a father or a mother, what is this new perspective for Ishmael about leaving a father? And I am drawn to the opening line in the National Book Award winner, The Round House: “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation.”
So another author captures the story of beginning – in the conflict of the Native-born with the outside, with only the one post-Apple- Age-command given to Adam, about cleaving.
With the fear in the story, doubt was always the center of either mystery or faith which moved THESE STORIES beyond the power of imagination. If you get the small details wrong, with all the fear in the story about land and women and suffering, you will get the big picture wrong – affecting if not your money, if not your land, then at least your kids. And in growing up, based upon my parochial education, let me say that the Christian world in the Americas never gave a second thought about Ishmael until sometime after September in the first year of the New Millennium.
Spirit. It is the size and shape of ghosts which get through things. Feel the Post Traumatic Stress when a father sets a captive free. It seems fair to say that the lesson of the Emancipation Proclamation is that a society ignores the formation process of Creation by solely setting a captive free. So note another separation like between Abram and Lot, only this time between Abraham and the mother of his first born son. And were you sensitive enough to a chronology over a lifetime to realize there was a significant period of time when Abraham never knew for sure – with his human doubts – whether he would have any other son? Abraham who had negotiated with his God over saving 100 people in Sodom, in contrast to his ancestor Noah who failed to negotiate with God when he knew what was coming…. the father of faith, told what was coming. Before the discovery that God might be negotiated with. Note the conflict over power in the story, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, the very same human condition, whether as the last person on earth — or the first — and feeling so all alone? Living with exception to these kinsmen, with Sarah and all the strangeness of Sarah through the things not physically shared – the torture of her barren-ness for the inability to carry the God of Abraham to the next generation through a child. Locate the personal boundaries in the story, with violations of individual if not communal boundaries in the story of Hagar.
The all-knowing story-teller, working for The Academy of Private Detection, before answering the question whether the G*d of Abraham would live through and/or beyond Ishmael, had some exploring to do of the people without power in this chapter of the story? Chosen, like in a mate, if the G*d of Abraham would survive for his son, with the involvement of political and Spiritual powers? Through story, image is defined by others, especially in the way of Ishmael’s handmaid-mother. What is apparent to me in my religious tradition somehow acquired through Abraham is that every tradition of the Abrahamaic religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – has a need for both a story and a real living human body in order to pass on the method of prayer.
From age to age, from east to west, WHERE you come to feel a Living G*d, it is story that shapes the way you think, as you come to know in the ritual of seasons, with at least this quasi-religious timetable, where to find a Living G*d. So in these stories locate the system substitutions again and again by Abraham, which over and over is repeated in the system substitution of his sons and grandsons. You learn these days in Algebra I about system substitution …and there is a theology of failure. Note the actions of substitution after Abraham realized his mistake.
The chronology in the life of Abraham started with the Call. The place in the story was always important – like the PLACE of origin – though Abraham acquired his wisdom over time because he just kept moving. So would Ishmael? There is something missing in the life of Ishmael. It is the hole that often can represent Spirituality. Note the reluctance of the narrator if not the Author of Life to state the self-evident about the inequality which threatened stability, based upon the PLACE and TIME that you were born into, with the displaced ghosts. In the beginning, like just another speck of dust – you. And when your father banished your mother over the conflict over the unconditional. And your father was gone from your everyday life. But in the case of Ishmael, not until he reached an early teen-age year.
Note the unconditional in this story, for those willing to keep moving, to start over – and the chronology which led to the idea of “unconditional love.” What transpired just before this banishment was the circumcision, after Abraham had gone and fathered a child through his wife’s handmaid. So in the science of consequences, his first born son, in the eyes of the world if not in the eyes of Abraham, was a slave.
In the ghosts of the religions of Abraham, stories do affect the way you pray … thoughtfully. In Ghost stories, this hole left in this birth of Ishmael is comparable to a hole left after a death. Remember, that thou art dust, visible and invisible. Long after you forget, one winter morn the quiet spirits of your ancestors show up again on your windshield after the morning frost melts ….and you notice that dust and it meaning, years later. When there is something in the hole that is now missing. As inequality threatens stability, in the construct of ghosts , there is the hole. And the construct of each and every ghost is still dust, from the dust of PLACE and TIME. Discussing the placement of Spirit in the hole – in the silence of Creation – the seen and the unseen construct of ghosts is still dust. Forever buried dust?
Did you grasp the resentment in the story? Why did Sarah even have a handmaid? Why did a childless woman need a handmaid? Was Abraham bringing back the spoils of war, as a sign of her worth … to prove her True worth …. like a Valentine from long ago? What had come between Sarah and the ideals of her handmaid over who she was: over identity and belonging, and over who this G*d of Abraham and of Sarah was? In having to still prove your worth at this age was there the lack of respect from outsiders to both Abraham and Sarah, without children? Did Hagar know the same feeling, as a handmaid? Was the wife of Abraham hostile that Abraham had taken in an arranged relationship – only a temporary one – a handmaid, against the mores of the people he had grown up with? Did Abraham and Sarai think that they could contend with a son born into slavery? When did the insight into the uncaring nature of others — a missing hospitality — begin that grew out of concepts of pride?
Order, before there was any law … in the beginning. Chosen first, but elite? Was the first born son better than the others? In the serial stories there are the personal and/or nostalgic associations. Not for the light-hearted, the debate is over goodness in what, for so many, were just kid stories … over whose sacrifice was best, in the debate over how to worship God which began as Abel, “for his part, brought the fatty portion of the FIRSTLING of his flock.” In the theme of “firstborn” and of chosen, with inheritance, as you assembled the children to hear the stories … about the the beginning of.
Did you ever follow the chronology which led to the idea of “unconditional love,” in the placement of the story of Sodom and purity — about intimacy — just after Ishmael had been born to Hagar? There is always the conflict over belonging to the G*d of Abraham, because Abraham himself was so divided in his love (over issues of purity), perhaps over to whom his new son belonged? Did you note the constant strife between the herdsmen — the stories over and over about shepherds — and now between Sarah and Hagar, which always exists in relationships? In the silent themes of PLACE, bloodlines, and the fertility which determine power and freedom, at this point in the Book of Genesis, Ishmael was the bastard son of Abraham, after Hagar had sacrificed her purity to her masters. When you were living as a conquered people and a conquered nation – with all the silent invisible hostility – Hagar had conceded forever not only her status but that of her son? But with the far off hope that something would one day change?
To connect the dots about Hagar, about intimacy, about unconditional love, Abraham has sacrificed his purity in the same way Adam had, to appease Eve. As your life becomes a formula, with personalities, plot structures, and noble character within, in order to develop comfort, with consistent shapes, often reaching consensus over right and wrong if not goodness over evil, there was this this hole left from this birth of Ishmael? When there did not yet exist a rule of law. And so the innocence of Abraham sacrificed, in order that Sarah might have a son.
“The story begins with Creation which, as we have seen, is the story of the acts of distinguishing one thing from another. It ends by alluding to the most crucial distinction of all …” wrote Daniel Mendelsohn in THE LOST.
And so the story of Abraham. An apparition is mostly an opening of light, if you did your Algebra I. And if it is Thursday, I am working on Algebra I and system substitution, but finding Abraham in the stories about sacrifice and human bodies, and their connection to unconditional love. How to communicate deep feeling of flesh and blood nomads in search of something, while unknowingly dealing with a tragic hero — in the story of the Father of Faith, concerning his God and the relationships of Abraham, moving slowly toward the proper way of worship … through stories about sacrifice and human bodies? “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. When we endow our lives with stories. Mostly the same stories, generation after generation. When your relationships at their foundation were so alive, but with a great restlessness. When you prayers were so alive….and you wanted others to then have the same experience. Even if sometimes you had to hood-wink a son.
Locate the VICTIMs by the end of the Book of Genesis. As Ishmael goes missing. And in a role passed to Isaac – who had to appreciate his own father’s pain about a missing son – and then in the story of Joseph, it is Jacob, who is the ultimate VICTIM of hood-winking in response to “Where is the Lamb” question. In these stories of the missing. Like Israel, surrounded by people who he could never really trust, even his eldest son of Leah. And did you witness in the stories of Jacob & Sons, all of the Violence over trying to be One? Again. And so the invisible God of Jacob, so distinct from the God of Abraham. If you ever spent the time to try and see. And did you notice a greater suffering as the living VICTIM went missing, for over twenty years, in a witness of the unseen? With so much emotional attachment … to first Jacob, and then his son, Joseph? And the long-forgotten first born son, Ishmael?
And so this birth right, connected to the invisible if not to the missing. Yes, locate the importance of the binding in the hole left in the relationships, in stories about unconditional love … with God’s intervention in the holes.
COPYRIGHT PHOTO of a Moreton Bay Fig Tree COURTESY OF, belonging to, HO TONY of New Zealand. Touch to enlarge the photo, to locate the Spirit in the tree. Is Abraham near the root?
2015 POST SCRIPT:
Speaking of “system substitution,” the trial of Jason Rezaian, the reporter working for the Washington Post in Iran was not much different than the news stories from 2011 involving Dorothy Parvaz or even the arrest of Shane Bauer. Yes, when we endow our lives with stories. Through stories about sacrifice involving human bodies? “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the current editor of The New Yorker, a one-time reporter for the Washington Post. Mostly these are the same stories, generation after generation. When your relationships at their foundation were so alive and you wanted others to then have the same experience. Because of a great restlessness you were born with, that seemed to move the next generation.
Larry Gillick, livelydust.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition the first part of the Great commandment was about knowing God.
Knowing God. It was April. When the clash of systems was all around. Of winter with spring. Of death with life.
The restlessness theme. About trying to do something. Like a baby trying to communicate something. Or like King Lear. At the end of life. Somehow restless to communicate something to my God. The restlessness was not about a low battery. I was not tired. Sleep issues could be a factor in underlying health issues, which might involve the human soul.
Restless discomfort. In restless April.
I once was seated on an airplane bound for someplace in the Dakotas, next to a man who claimed to have been reborn. I had a feeling of restlessness, listening to him try to explain his own internal weather pattern. I was fortunate enough to have been born into a tradition which I had always accepted as my own. But if somehow you were Rip Van Winkle and had slept through the past twenty years, you might have missed some of the pain of the institutions carrying God. If you were of the Irish Catholic tradition, that beast of burden, carrying God. With all the clash.
I am trying to enjoy my worship in English in the present, of this special liturgical year. For the last time, as I witnessed a certain death of the words of Vatican II, at the hands of the man in charge of the Congregation of Divine Worship. Though mostly I am in awe of the selections chosen week in and week out, the combination of the Old Testament reading with the Gospel, chosen by someone in the Congregation of Divine Worship. I was struck however by the translations provided in the reading this week, which to my ear sounded as a wrong note. Maybe because of my own growing distrust of the man in charge of the Congregation of Divine Worship who will be changing the way my own congregation prays come December. In the English translations. So maybe that was what caused my ear to question the translation. For example: “And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied: “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
There was the repetitive theme, as mentioned in the Gospel of Mark: “Then Jesus said to them: ‘”All of you will have your faith shaken…”
The pain. Generation after generation, viewing your own family deal with their relationships. With the screaming fear. Over me. A father, viewing your own progeny deal with relationships, like the one I once had. In Asia. At the time with the 1.5 billion people of Asia, where one billion lived in poverty. That April in the Philippines. It took me a few years to discover the unstated distrust of me. When a westerner stayed in western hotels. When a young Asian women tried to explain her distrust of people who lived lavish lives. When so many people were suffering. And because of this, she had wanted no part of me. When so many other deceitful relationships abound in a nation torn apart by all the pain. Of poverty. When illness of one was a financial setback for everyone. In a world without a safety net, of life insurance, of health insurance. And then I recently saw a rebroadcast of an old interview with Amy Chua on C-span. She was born in the Philippines but of Chinese lineage, in a family for that part of the world quite well-off. In the book she was promoting, she told the story of how the Filipino driver of her aunt opened fire, killing her aunt. The Filipino maids in the house knew of his intent but never stopped him. It was the divide in this culture of the native born poor, with the ethnic Chinese of some wealth. It was the same April clash.
After an afternoon an evening of great restlessness, as I searched yesterday online for the right tires to purchase as I planned to remove my snow tires this week, I went to bed last night . I happen to start a new day with thought about this restlessness. A restlessness, not unilike a baby’s, but in no way connected to issues of sleep. Or even about tires. With so much uncertainty about the world. An inner restlessness like that found between the lines of Shakespeare’s King Lear. At life’s end. Like I had witnessed in the April of my grandfather’s eighty-eighth year. When a child or an old man was still trying to communicate something. Trying to get traction. Maybe about a spiritual direction.
I have this friend in the pest control business who likes to call me in the first hour when I get up, on his way to work. During what happens to be a sacred part of my day. Morning after morning, of late, I get up on fire, ready to write. With passion. And calls about the world and its problems extinguish my own inner fires.
On Palm Sunday, there is pain and discomfort in most of the readings. With the key roles played by a servant of the high priest who gets his ear cut off — with mention in ordinary time of the three times the voice of God was heard instructing the people to “Hear him,” when it came to Jesus. Before the blessing of the palms, the Gospel is read at the start of Mass, with a description of a beast of burden, carrying God, much like a religion has provided the transport in my own life. Mostly there is the discomfort in the reading from Isaiah: “The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary, a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning, he opens my ear that I may hear.”
All the pain in the readings, about Passover. The readings on Palm Sunday, Psalm 22, a psalm of David. The reading of Isaiah, about a land with so many other forgotten prophets – the one before the translation of the Passion in the Gospel of Matthew which seemed to me to miss the traditional words. That beast of burden, carrying God. The reading focused on, with recognition of, the beast of burden — and only that beast of burden, carrying God.
In Judaism, the first commandment was simply, “I am the Lord, your God.”
With all the ensuing prophets who suffer for what they know. David asking his question, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
In a world with the always present innate Fear of the Lord, the pain and suffering which went with being God. The pain of being Father. The pain and suffering of being the Messiah. And the pain of being chosen. In a relationship.
Like in springtime. When the clash of systems was all around. Of winter with spring. An acceptance of pain, with a few days left of consideration of some self-inflicted pain in genuine alms-giving. When the conflict in the story was over the perception of a Messiah by the religious leaders at the time. The clash of power, of the human with the divine. And my own growing distrust of the man in charge of the Congregation of Divine Worship, and about his boss.
Generation after generation, the pain, the loneliness in being God. All the Jewish participants in the story of my own tradition….Peter, James, John, Judas. Every single one of them , with their differing points of view in the story, concerning the proper way to respond. To such speed of the unraveling. The painful witness which all began “riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
When Judaism had been what had always been the transport of the one-true God, with some human expectation of a messiah.
Words. Fellowship. Relationship. Dealing with words. In leaving a homeland.
Fellowship. Relationship. Words. Dealing with waste. Wasted words. Wasted money. In a homeland. Away from a homeland. Without a common currency. Or without a common recognized one God.
One. The unity of fellowship. The image of union, with unity. Sharing. A homeland. In relationship.
The slowly developing themes. Trying to capture the feeling. To stay. To go. In search of a homeland. To defend a homeland.
Giving everything away. The produce from homeland. The slowly developing themes over time. With the image of union, deciding. To go. To stay.
Trying to capture the feeling. About the fellowship which came out of the search. With God. With each other. Trying to convey what happened, to the next generation. About the past. About fertility. In fellowship. In relationship.
Word choice. The reaching out in fellowship to those who have nothing. Hoping to resolve the hunger of a shared humanity. Praying others will help those who hunger.
The blessings. The sharing. Of money and fellowship. In thanksgiving. In a world losing the currency to transact fellowship. When you lost your currency or homeland, or everything.
Loss. Dealing with loss. Imposed self-exile. Or in diaspora. When you were scattered. As tightknit families become unbound, there was a stated general unease. When children never came to know their past well enough to miss it. When you were scattered and the common currency was rejected. The one which had provided unity.
The feelings starting all over again. Of love and fear and anger. The true every day fear while living in exile. The fear when dealing with loss in exile. The fear when scattered. About loss of currency value and fellowship. Living in an unrecognized world. The loss of trust without a common currency, without a common recognized one God. And the resulting unrecognized image of myself.
Thanksgiving. Forgiveness. Thinking somehow forgiveness was lost. In a diaspora, in exile. When there was so little you could do after you said, “I’m sorry.”
Dealing with words. Wasted words. The aimlessness living scattered in exile. The outside fear about losing everything. And the fear within. In dealing with loss, thinking somehow forgiveness was also lost. In exile. Amidst the anguish of loss and horrors of history; of birthrights and inheritance. And wanting to be reconciled, after the forgiveness. Learning of the ongoing process of reconciliation. The movement in the story of Exodus, with the slowly developing themes of love, of forgiveness, and of an ongoing reconciliation.
It was this generational thing……on Easter. The unstated things. In the story. An earthquake? An eclipse? Recording it all. Passover.
Now what? After Passover was over. After the ritual, after the commemoration of the meaning of Passover. In the Seder dinner of the day. Along with instruction how to eat the lamb; in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The command to “eat like those who are in flight.”
Passover that was all about identity, of a Chosen People. A Chosen People, who had left an identity of slavery behind and survived. With a new identity. In a confused world.
Peter. This fisherman. Who had until this point never had left his identity behind, but after 3 years of following, now what? With a wife, however they had survived so far. Now what, after that crucifixion that had ended the week? The fears of the times, never well conveyed by those history teachers. What was it like to face the end? Of someone you had staked your whole existence on? When everything seemed lost. When your own identity was challenged.
The Gospel of John, which was not written by the John the Apostle, but this John the beloved, another fisherman …now what for him? After they all had assembled for the commemoration of the meaning of Passover…now what, after that crucifixion?
In a confused world. All of these humans trying to make sense of it all, in a confused world. In a confused world, trying to grieve. Together, at the time of commemoration of the meaning of Passover. Living and eating “like those who are in flight.”
“You are one of them!” All of the participants, with their identity crisis — a crisis that never would end. These theological Jews, in search of an understanding, all eleven of them married. When you lost everything, suddenly. It was so much like Kristallnacht, for Peter. It was like the sudden Great Crash that led to the Great Depression.
In search of an understanding. All of the Passover stories over the past 3 years. All of the time Jesus had been challenging the identity of the people. Individually. Communally. If you had ever assembled the stories of what had happened on the three final Passovers in the life of Jesus. One year in the temple, overturning tables.
In search of an understanding. Over all that had been witnessed in 3 years. Maybe about some kind of plan to begin again. Now what, Peter? After Passover, which was the paramount generational thing. Passover was not just a family thing. It was THE family thing. Generation after generation.
Passover. The unstated thing of Passover. And moving the rock. Generational things……on Easter. Not so much unlike Passover, this brunch today. That Seder. With a few generational thing……on Easter. This Easter, my brother-in-law prepared a Easter brunch on the day. With others. It had become in his adult life ritual. What was missing this year was an Easter bread from his mother. It was noticeably absent as she had suffered health challenges over the last 12 months. Post breakfast, I had spent about 30 minutes reviewing a new book, recently published, that my brother-in-law had given to my sister. The book had made mention of my father’s role in the history of an organization that helped to give an identity, to this region. I am not so sure that the main author had an understanding to be writing the book. And I was now at the point in life where my father’s health changed, which can have a major effect, a sudden effect, on a point of view of things.
Now what, Peter? In a confused world, the sudden effect. Looking for meaning in it all. A lot like on the original Passover. With all of the dead. All of the first born. And then this issue of inheritance. The unstated thing of Passover. The generational things……on Easter. Would these 11 people come back? Any of the disciples? What difference does a teacher make? Or a rabbi? Or a journalist for that matter? What difference did a blog writer make? What difference did knowing the truth mean? In my life? What meaning was there to this life, if the Truth was never known? So what? It was the same question that a rabbi or a priest asked each weekend; or a parent. Would these people, the young, your loved ones, come back? To what always had looked to be the Truth.
So there was Peter. And his friends. “Next year in Jerusalem.” Left wondering this morning. About their God. About their own Jewish traditions, of burial, of belief. About what looked to be the Truth. And now Mary Magdalene, with her story. Whether Jesus would come back again, after Mary reported seeing him. It was a much better story, with a lot more suspense than the people in church yesterday ever appreciated. The fear freezing into something visible, like the chilling process of water into ice cubes. Peter forced to begin his thinking and writing. With the others. After three years of public ministry, what difference had the Messiah made in personal identity. Or in the context of these chilling times.
The confusion of so many people, over personal identity. In the context of these times, to have your own identity marked in some way. If you believed in the Son of God. The challenge of Easter was always about identity. And that challenge included the doubt. A lot like Peter’s on the original Easter Sunday, during the seven days of Passover. The challenge in passing on a way of life, when you had lost everything. Or when you seemed to have suddenly lost everything. Passover as the ultimate profession of love, not so much as protection from the plagues, but about the solemnity of worship.
What difference had the Messiah made in personal identity? After the ritual, after Mass? In the context of these times. What was the communal identity of a Christian, in 2010? After 40 days of Lent? After Easter Mass?
Now what? In the context of these times, after the ritual…..after Mass? With what appears these days, if I might say, to be a very confused pope and his college of cardinals. The 400 or so who thought their troubles triumphed the story of Easter, this year. Or Peter’s troubles. And in the shame that he woke up with on Easter morn.
Passover. Easter. To move populations. This generational thing. The next generation. The Easter bread. These meals which were a quiet kind of love story. God who in a sense had destroyed Himself, in a world with so much self-destruction. And then this time through the Messiah, God reveals what this identity of the Messiah meant, could mean, in the real world. Really again overturning tables. It was all about identity. And the “now what” question. For the next generation.
Individually. Communally. Now what? That generational thing called identity. That point of view of where I fit in, in this confused world. In a world that challenged a communal identity of a Christian, not so unlike Peter and the other followers had been challenged over their own identity as Jews. What was the meaning in why Moses and his followers had been redeemed? What was the meaning in this generational thing called identity. As a Catholic generation today as well as the 42,999 other branches of Christianity tried to come to grips, like Peter, about what of this identity to leave behind.
Copyright © 2010.
Listen to the words of intimacy.
I am sorry. I am heartly sorry. For having offended you. I detest everything I did. Most of all, for having offended you. You who are all good. You who are deserving of all my love. With the help of your grace and presence. I firmly resolve. To change. To share myself better. To communicate. To amend my life. To be more intimate. To merge my identity into yours. To do good. To offend you no more. And to seek to avoid the nearer occasion of things that made me selfish in the first place. I am sorry. I am heartly sorry.