Whose Church Is It Anyway?

Understanding the origins of the various concepts and titles for the community of disciples.

In the Catholic tradition, the followers of Jesus are referred to as The Body of Christ, The People of God, The Faithful, The Flock, and the Church(ecclesia). These nomenclatures have been around for almost as long as the nomenclatures, The Way, and Christian. 

As used by Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, The Body of Christ refers to all individuals who “heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”  “are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” are “joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love”.

And in his first letter to the Corinthians he writes rather extensively about  the unity and diversity in the Body:

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?  Now eagerly desire the greater gifts”

It wasn’t until much later that the Roman Catholic theologians use the term “Mystical Body of Christ” to stress the powerful manifestation of the divine authority of certain parts of the Body of Christ first made popular from Pius XII’s letter: Mystici Corporis Christi, in 1943. “The encyclical builds on a theological development in the 1920s and 1930s in Italy, France, Germany and England, which all re-discovered the Pauline concept of the Mystical Body of Christ. In 1936, Emile Mersch had warned of some false mysticism’s being advanced with regard to the mystical body, and his history of this topic was seen as influencing the encyclical On 18 January 1943, five months before the promulgation of Mystici corporis, Archbishop Conrad Gröber of Fribourg promulgated a letter in which he addressed the docetic tendencies of some mystical body theology (to separate the spiritual and the material elements in man). Timothy Gabrielli saw Pius’ emphasis on the church as a perfect society on earth as an attempt to save the mystical body theology, with its many theological, pastoral, and spiritual benefits, from the danger of docetism, broadly taken as the belief that Jesus only seemed to be human, and that his human form was an illusion.”

(So, a simple analogy used by Paul to express the unity of all who follow Jesus and how each is important becomes a theological Church doctrine that gives more power to the clergy and especially the Pope.)

“Yet the encyclical teaches that both laypeople and the leadership have a role to play in the Church. “Lay people are at the forefront of the Church, and have to be aware of ‘being the Church’, not just ‘belonging to the Church’.” (In other words, the laity are the workers and bear the burden of “being the Light to the World while at the same time, the Pope and bishops are responsible for providing leadership for all the faithful but don’t always practice what they preach since they lived an opulent life style for most of the Catholic Church’s history even up to the present. Pope Francis has tried to set an example of downsizing residences and other accouterments that reflect opulence and entitlement. Together, the letter states, “they are the Church and work for the good of the Church.”

In 1947, Pius XII later (threw a bone to the laity” issued the Apostolic Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia, which allowed lay people to form their own secular communities, and establish them within a newly established Canon Law framework which incorporated the following as well.

NOW we get to the designation of Power: the Apostles and bishops

“The encyclical states that Christ, while still on earth, instructed by precept, counsel and warnings “in words that shall never pass away, and will be spirit and life” to all men of all times. He conferred a triple power on His Apostles and their successors, to teach, to govern, to lead men to holiness, making this power, defined by special ordinances, rights, and obligations, the fundamental law of the whole Church. God governs directly and guides personally the Church which He founded.” ( Really? As far as I can surmise, apostles [from apostolos ‘messenger’, from apostellein ‘send forth’] were those SENT to evangelize. They were NOT ordained by Jesus!)

Pius XII tried to justify his statement or proclamation by “quoting Proverbs 21:1 noting that God reigns within the minds and hearts of men, and bends and subjects their wills to His good pleasure, even when rebellious”. (What happened to Free Will and conscience?)

“Mystici corporis requests the faithful to love their Church and to always see Christ in her, especially in the old and sick members. They must accustom themselves to see Christ Himself in the Church. For it is Christ who lives in His Church, and through her, teaches, governs, and sanctifies; it is Christ also who manifests Himself differently in different members of His society.” (Finally a reference to Pauls, analogy!) It goes on:

He is carried across Vatican Square on the Sedia gestatoria, a portable throne carried by twelve footmen.

“If the faithful strive to live in a spirit of lively faith, they will not only pay due honor and reverence “to the more exalted members” (thus the justification of the use of such titles as “Monsignor”; “Excellency”, “Eminence” and “Holiness” when addressing the various ranks of hierarchy.) of this Mystical Body, especially those who according to Christ’s mandate will have to render an account of our souls, (Thus justifying the power of censure, ex-communication, and determining who is worthy of receiving the “Sacred Species” or “Holy Communion”, and in my opinion, misnamed as the “Eucharist”, a term that means “thanksgiving”. used as a tile for celebrating the Word of God in the Liturgy or work of the People of God.) but they will take to their hearts those members who are the object of our Savior’s special love: the weak, the wounded, and the sick who are in need of material or spiritual assistance; children whose innocence is so easily exposed to danger in these days; and finally the poor, of whom is recognized as the very person of Jesus Himself as a perfect model of love for the Church” 

(Two extremes are highlighted yet Pius ignores Jesus teaching: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Mt 23:12 It’s ironic that this line introduces Jesus’ condemnation of the haughty leaders of Judaism, the Pharisees, and Sadducees as hypocrites.)

“Finally, the encyclical is principally remembered for its statement that the Mystical Body is identical with the Roman Catholic Church, repeated by Pius XII in Humani Generis (1950) in response to dissension. According to Mystici Corporis, to be truly a member of the Mystical Body one must be a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Other Christians who erred in good faith could be unsuspectingly united to the Mystical Body by an unconscious desire and longing (inscio quodam desiderio ac voto). In 1947, Pius XII wrote the encyclical Mediator Dei which acknowledged that baptized Christians were members of the Mystical Body and participated in Christ’s priestly office.” 

“During the Second Vatican Council, Yves Congar argued that the term ecclesia (‘church’) concerned the people “called forth”, the People of God, those over whom God reigns. “Body of Christ” then would emphasize the special union with the risen Christ that came with the new covenant. Congar was later denounced by the Holy Office for describing the Church as essentially a community in the Spirit, a gathering of the faithful and NOT the holy Roman Catholic Church.”

“The Second Vatican Council would later define in Lumen Gentium that the Church subsists in the Catholic Church. Avery Dulles argues this to be “an expression deliberately chosen to allow for the ecclesial reality of other Christian communities”, implying that non-Catholic Christians are members of the Body of Christ, and thus of the Church.”

While the Holy Office or the Vatican wanted to hold onto its power, fame, and fortune, for me the guidance and discernment lie within my CONSCIENCE  informed by the Word of God or Sacred Scriptures. And while the Holy Office interprets “the Body of Christ” as a two-part entity with the head being more important than the rest of the body parts, I prefer to maintain Paul’s analogy of equal parts and Jesus’ exhortation that “the exalted shall be humbled”!


Portions in quotes are adapted from the Text which is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License;

To be continued

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Divine Intervention or Collaboration?

“We can’t do it without God, and God won’t do it without us.” John Dominic Crossan

Divine Intervention According to Humans 

 In her book, A Case for God, Karen Armstrong claims that “The desire to cultivate a sense of the transcendent may be the defining human characteristic.” Humans quickly discovered that they were not able to control the world around them. Thunder, lightning, gusts of wind, torrential rain, floods, disease and much more seemed like some power was in control and was angry  for something that humans, did or didn’t do.

From ancient Israel:When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Ex 20:18-19

From ancient Greece:The Erysichthon myth was known for the disrespect for the gods, as it was mentioned by Callimachus in one of his hymns that was later published by Ovidius. It is said that one day Erysichthon and some of his slaves went to a grove dedicated to the goddess Demeter to cut down all trees for the construction of a palace. Despite the persuasion of the goddess herself, the mortal did not agree and caused her wrath. His punishment was unbearable hunger, which was only satisfied when he devoured his own body.

Ever since anthropologists and historians began uncovering human activity, culture, and societies, they discovered that humans believed in a world controlled by a greater power. Each culture, society, or empire worshiped numerous gods who, while performing similar functions, were given different names. List of Gods and Goddesses From Antiquity

Some time after 12th century BCE, the Israelites and their culture branched out of the Canaanite peoples and their cultures through the development of a distinct monolatristic (many gods with one deity above all)—and later monotheistic—religion centered on the national god Yahweh.  By the 6th century BC, the five books of the Pentateuch, the first five books of what we call the bible, were written with  the first book being Genesis in which  they coveted a belief  that their god, Yahweh,  was above all other gods because Yahweh created the world.

      “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number;” fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Gen 1:27-28

Divine and Human  Freedom and Responsibility 

Since humans believed that they were created in the image and likeness of the Creator, it only stood to reason that God had  human-like qualities but resided somewhere beyond this world.

Since they understood  that they also had responsibilities and the freedom to make choices, which no other creature had, they believed that God also had a responsibility to protect and take care of them. 

Psalm 47 proclaims that  “He (God) subdued nations under us and brought people under our feet.” 

Psalm 37, “The Lord looks after the lives of the upright, and their heritage will last forever.

They  also blamed God for their troubles: 

Psalm 74 “Why, O God have you cast us off forever? Why does your anger blaze forth against the sheep of your pasture? 

Psalm 106”Then The anger of the Lord flared up against his people… their enemies oppressed them.”

Nonetheless, humans were responsible for their own behavior. Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.”  St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 4, 3: PG 7/1, 983.

Humans were free to do as they wished but so was God.“When, in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished.You have a choice between life and death; you will get whichever you choose.” SIr 15:14

Free-will gave humans an advantage over the other creatures of the earth, but it came with a liability: That liability was and still is how to determine what is good and what is not good. That requires  “knowledge” that only the gods or Yahweh could  disclose to them. The other creatures came with “instinct” which freed them from the responsibility of making choices. 

Given our history as humans on this planet, we could say that it wasn’t a good idea to give humans the freedom of choice. Hence the need for an intervention, like handing Moses the ten commandments. “Moses summoned all Israel and said:Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I  declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.”  Deuteronomy 5:1-2

Yet, we might ask, are we really free to choose? Aren’t we driven to procreate, isn’t that an “instinct”.  What about the attraction to one sex or another?  What about the impulse to acquire power, fame, and fortune? 

We could say that we’re like a Dr.Jeckel and Mr. Hyde.

Most medical and biological scientists claim that  hormones, which are regulatory substances produced in an organism, are transported in tissue fluids such as blood, stimulate specific cells or tissues into action without our knowledge or choice.

Scientists report that brain chemicals  “called neurotransmitters and hormones help your brain understand, evaluate and communicate what you’re experiencing. These various neurotransmitters and hormones have specific jobs — each being activated in a certain way, signaling certain emotions and stimulating certain areas of your brain that control our actions like ”fight or flight.” For more detailed information go to: Brain Chemistry & Your Mood: 4 Hormones That Promote Happiness | Houston Methodist On Health and  Dopamine vs. serotonin: Similarities, differences, and relationship

The strange bedfellows of freedom, (free will) and instinct (hormones and chemicals) are often the subject of many a conversation.

For instance, John Milton, the devil in the movie, The Devil’s Advocate, says, “Well, I tell ya, let me give you a little inside information about God. God likes to watch. He’s a prankster. Think about it. He gives man instincts. He gives you this extraordinary gift, “free will” and then what does He do? I swear, for His own amusement, His own private cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It’s the goof of all time. Look, but don’t touch. Touch, but don’t taste. Taste, don’t swallow. Aha ha ha. And while you’re jumpin’ from one foot to the next, what is He doin’? He’s laughin’ His sick, f*ckin’ *ss off. He’s a tight-*ss. He’s a sadist. He’s an absentee landlord.”

Human and Divine Choices

The Catholic Church, like many other Christian denominations, is very proficient at telling us, on God’s behalf, which choices are good and which are not! On top of that they put the fear of God in us (Satan and Hell) which leads many offenders to experience fear, guilt, shame, and the need to beg for mercy. 

Worshiping Catholics cry out “Lord have mercy” three times before forgiveness is assured by the priest.

I have always wondered why God would “choose” to create a creature with “free will”, knowing (God is Omniscient) that the creature would possibly be subject to certain strong temptations to do what is “wrong”. God, knowing that, still gave humans a huge responsibility!  “Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  An intervention like this can be rather risky!

Did God ever think that we would wreak havoc upon this once pristine planet and fill it with concrete buildings and asphalt roads and spew gasoline, oil, and coal fumes all over the planet, pollute the oceans and destroy the natural habitats of so many species of birds, animals, and fish. What parent would allow their children to ruin their home???

We can also ask:

Why did the Creator construct a universe or a planet where asteroids, comets, earthquakes, volcanos, and tornados would destroy hundreds if not millions of people? Many people still believe these are punishment for individual and collective behavior.

Why does this providential God intervene in some human affairs,and not in others. Some  prayerful petitions are rewarded while others are not.

Why does this creator God expect to be praised and worshiped  yet allows those who praise and worship to become victims of crime, war and other atrocities? Interventions seem to be very precarious at times.

Why does a benevolent, providential, Creator indicate that certain people are a “chosen people” yet allows those people to be held captive by several different empires as punishment for not honoring the divine commands. Why didn’t such an auspicious  God not intervene to protect the 6 million “chosen people” from extermination by a “Christian/Catholic nation’s leaders?

(These are a few of the several unanswered questions that lead numerous people to doubt the existence of such a providential God.)

Not long after the world was created, did God intervene again.

“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Gen 6: 6-8

Here’s a another scenario in 1 Sam 15:1-35  that captures a more profound example of God’s intervention which must be carried out exactly as commanded.

Samuel, a prophet, and one of the “sons of God”, also favored, said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. God “favors” Saul and wants him to punish the Amalekites for what they did to the Israelites. “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy  all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

Saul’s army didn’t do all that God wanted him to do. They did kill the men, women and children but for some reason they wanted to save the King of the Amalekites  and even spare the “good”  lot of the animals which were to be killed. They brought the king and the animals home with him.  “Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel:  “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.”

Then Samuel went to Saul and told him how disappointed God was that he, Saul, did not do exactly what God desired.  Saul said to Samuel, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”  Samuel cried out, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”. 

And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Did God want to test Saul to see if he would obey this intervention in the affairs of the “chosen people”?  After All they were created with “free will” which meant that they were free to make a choice to obey or not. They were free to decide that maybe God was being a bit too harsh. (They decided what was good and what wasn’t).

Nevertheless, this benevolent Creator has “found favor” (been gracious toward) certain humans.

Jeremiah was told: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 1:5

Isaiah says: “Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you people from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” 49:1

Paul displays a bit of theological  wisdom when he concludes that his special relationship with God is conveyed by what he calls grace:”But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.” (charis= graciousness)  Gal 1:15

Divine Collaboration with Humans

The Biblical meaning of Grace.

“The word “grace” in biblical parlance can, like forgiveness, repentance, regeneration, and salvation, mean something as broad as describing the whole of God’s activity toward man or as narrow as describing one segment of that activity. An accurate, common definition describes grace as the unmerited favor of God toward man. In the Old Testament, the term that most often is translated “grace, ” is hen which can mean “favor” or “acceptance”; in the New Testament, it is charis which means good will, loving-kindness, or  favor.” Andrew H. Trotter, Jr

“The term “hen” occurs most often and assumes the notion of God as a watchful master or king, who finds favor with a servant, or perhaps a soldier.The concept first occurs in Genesis 6:8. when Noah finds “favor in the eyes of the Lord.”  Among the Old Testament passages on the unmerited favor of God is the conversation between Moses and God recorded in Exodus 33.”  Andrew H. Trotter, Jr

“Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’  If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex 30: 12-14

Is this how God collaborates (from Latin collaboratio, from collaborare ‘work together)  with humans?

Grace in the New Testament is largely encompassed by the use of the word charis. Jesus is never quoted as using the word charis , but his teaching is full of the unmerited favor or graciousness of God. (Collaboration?)

 Perhaps the parable of the prodigal son is the most obvious example. In that parable graciousness  is extended to one who has no basis upon which to be shown such “favor” or “grace”, other than the fact that he has asked in humility and repentance to be shown it.” Andrew H. Trotter, Jr

“The concept of grace is most prominently found in the New Testament in the epistles of Paul. The standard greeting in the Greek ancient world generally involved the verb charein. Paul’s greeting, however, was unique, combining the Hebrew greeting, shalom (eirene in Greek) with the word charis]. This in itself is enough to note that Paul is thinking and not simply reacting as he writes his greeting. “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.” 1 Cor 16:23    Andrew H. Trotter, Jr  

For a more thorough explanation go to: What is Grace? Bible Meaning and Definition

“In “Nature and Grace,” Karl Rahner, argues that “uncreated grace” is “the very essence of grace.” Rahner reaches this conclusion through the following inference: If  grace and glory are two stages of the one process of divinization, and . . in glory God communicates himself to the supernaturally elevated created spirit in a communication which is not the efficient causal creation of a creaturely quality or entity distinct from God, but the quasi-formal causal communication of God himself, then this can also be applied to grace much more explicitly than it commonly has been in theology up till now” Elliot Polsky Thomas Aquinas on Grace as a Mysterious Kind of Creature

What that says, to me, is that there is some kind of Divine communication (grace) which actually becomes manifest in the human as an actual presence (glory) not some kind of entity or spiritual quality. (Grace isn’t like fairy dust that’s sprinkled upon a person and influences their behavior.)

 Could it be that Jesus- a human person- becomes conscious of the fact that his freely chosen, loving behavior, which is manifest in compassion, mercy, forgiveness and inclusion, is really an expression of the presence of the Divinity (favor,grace) in his life. 

Jesus does say,  “The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me”, “I and the Father are one” and that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.: Jn 10:21,  29, 30 

Thomas Aquinas puts it another way. Rather than a “presence” Aquinas claims that grace is an entity, something in the soul, which is God’s love effecting new goodness in the soul of the creature. Grace can mean three things, anyone’s love (e.g. the “good graces” of someone), any gift freely bestowed (i.e. given gratis) (e.g. someone’s “act of grace”), a grateful recompense of a gift given gratis (someone’s gratitude)

“God’s common love causes the good of any creature’s existence and “natural being,” but God’s special love “draws the rational creature above the condition of its nature to a participation (a collaboration) of the Divine good” and “it is by this love that God simply wishes the eternal good, which is Himself, for the creature” This sounds like collaboration, which requires a conscious recognition of the presence of Divinity, to which one should respond.

(I-II.110.1 Summa Theologica: “Of the Grace of God As Regards Its Essence.”)

In other words, could it be that humans have become more consciously aware of God’s presence in their life. Amrstrong concludes that “revelation was not an event that had happened once in the distant past but was an ongoing, creative process that required human ingenuity.”  The Case for God, p.324

Humans  gradually develop an understanding that God no longer intervenes in their affairs but God collaborates with humans. Human consciousness develops from a simple to a more complex form of understanding of how divine power is more than merely intervening but rather cooperating with a human’s free will to make decisions. In other words,  human consciousness evolves from a simple awareness of intervention to a  more intense and deeper understanding of collaborating with divinity.

“One of several fruitful scientific approaches to understanding consciousness is to study its evolutionary origins. Once we shed all magical thinking about the nature of consciousness and try to understand it as a biological phenomenon, it immediately becomes apparent that like all other biological phenomena and like life itself, it must have evolved in gradations.” For more go to: What Actually Is Consciousness, and How Did It Evolve? | Psychology Today

If “God created mankind in his own image”, then is it possible that human consciousness finds its beginning in the divine consciousness?

Can we also conclude that human consciousness will eventually unite with divine consciousness? Is this what occurred in the life of Jesus? “I and the Father are one” becomes the ultimate awareness of the human goal in life: to become, like Jesus, united with the Divine Creator.

Therefore we can  conclude  that grace or “favor” is the collaboration of God and humans, the former communicating via a spiritual presence ( traditionally called the Holy Spirit)  which is freely offered and the latter becoming conscious of that presence. It is then that we can echo the same words as Jesus did, “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.” John 12:44

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” 1 John 5:1

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18

As his disciples, we not only follow Him but we “become him” You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

“We can’t do it without God, and God won’t do it without us.” 

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Lent: A Time to Fast and Feast

“John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. Mt 9:14-15

Because Jesus is in their midst eating and healing, Jesus’ disciples do not fast. Later, when Jesus dies, his disciples will mourn and have no desire to eat. What a change, though, when he is resurrected! Then they will have no further cause for mournful fasting.

Easter is the yearly celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. However, we must remind ourselves that he is risen and that, as Church, we are the Body of Christ present in the world and that we celebrate that presence in the Eucharist, as we break bread in his name.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, which is the church. I became its servant by the commission God gave me to fully proclaim to you the word of God, the mystery that was hidden for ages and generations but is now revealed to His saints.…To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.…” Colossians 1: 24-27

Paul reminds us: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor 12:27

Fasting and Feasting during Lent

Jesus is risen and present in our midst which means that we should be feasting on the fruits of the Spirit which are the result of what the Spirit has already been planting in our open minds and hearts. “If you love me, keep my commands and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth… But the Advocate, the- Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Jn 14: 15-17; 26

Therefore, we must feast on what the Spirit gives us:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. 

Likewise, we must feast on the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

We must take time to Fast from our daily routines and Feast on the significance and meaning, for us, of the following three events that occurred before the resurrection.

Temptation of Jesus in the desert.

Matthew 4:1-11

Mark 1:12-13

Luke 4:1-13

The usual temptations that we may consider during the season of Lent might be associated with sex, drugs, alcohol, food, and the social temptations to steal, lie, gossip, and deceive.

But the really dangerous temptations are desiring FORTUNE (the ability to turn anything into money [‘bread’]), FAME  (everyone looks up to me), and POWER (controlling and manipulating people for what I desire) 

Like Jesus, we must take time and consider what we value and what is important to us as his disciples.

Jesus Entering Jerusalem- Passion or Palm Sunday

Jesus enters riding on a colt or donkey instead of a horse, a sign of a royal messiah or king.

Mk 11:1-10.

Lk 19:28-40 

Matthew 21:1-11 

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday is about one’s integrity and character no matter what the price or reaction by others.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jn 8:31-32

The people thought of Jesus as the “messiah”, the anointed of God, the savior of the Jews, who would lead them to overthrow their captors, the Romans. But Jesus saw himself as the Son of God, one who would do God’s Will on earth by demonstrating that the Kingdom of God was not like the kingdoms of the world.

Am I able to profess the values of God’s Kingdom by the way I live my life? Am I true to myself as a child of God and a disciple of Jesus?  Are the things of this world more important than my spiritual life? 

The Crucifixion

Mark 15 (Verses 15-47) Matthew 27 (Verses 26-66)

Luke 23 (Verses 24-56)    John 19 (Verses 16-42)

What is your cross? What are you willing to die for? Do you speak up to protect someone or some value like justice, truth, and peace?

Here’s some food for thought.

“Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Mt 16: 24-26

The man with a cross no longer controls his destiny; he lost control when he picked up his cross. That cross immediately became to him an all-absorbing interest, an overwhelming interference. No matter what he may desire to do, there is but one thing he can do; that is, move on toward the place of crucifixion. Aiden Wilson Tozer

Lord, help us to see in your crucifixion and resurrection an example of how to endure and seemingly to die in the agony and conflict of daily life, so that we may live more fully and creatively. You accepted patiently and humbly the rebuffs of human life, as well as the torture of the cross. Help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunity to grow as people and become more like you-make us realize that it is only by frequent deaths of ourselves, and our self-centered desires that we can come to live more fully, only by dying with you that we can rise with you. Saint Teresa of Calcutta

And to the man who wanted to inherit eternal life, “Jesus, looked at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10: 21-22

The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst. Lk 17;20-21

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in  its branches.” Mt 13:31-32

Values of the Kingdom

The Kingdom of God, that Jesus came to help build, has a different set of values than the world in which we live. It is those values that should be the focus for us this Lent. Such values include compassion, justice, forgiveness, mercy, love, honesty, humility, peace, and inclusion.

This is a time of reflection and a time to re-evaluate the values by which we live.

We must change our ways and values if we are to begin a new life- a life in the resurrected Christ. We can’t expect to live that new life in Christ while holding onto our old way of life. Take one step at a time. A journey of a thousand steps begins with the first step.

Suggestions for your Lenten journey.

Read the daily readings provided by the Catholic Church at: Daily Bible Readings, Audio and Video Every Morning | USCCB

Practice “Lectio Divina” Contemplative Prayer: The Five Steps of Lectio Divina each day.

Encouragement for the journey.

“He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. Although we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!… 2 cor 5: 16-:17

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work”  2 Cor 9:8

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.“ At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us! “But he replied,  ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Mt 25:1-13

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Saving the Planet: Praying Won’t Do It

“Humans are expected to respect the environment;they are not to kill for food but are to treat all life with respect.” Plants will suffice for food for humans and animals; there will be no bloodshed.” NJBC

The planet won’t be saved by a creator God but by the creator God’s collaboration with humans. The creator God has already given the directives according to the 4 billion believers of the Abrahamic religions who believe in the Sacred writings of their religion. This Sacred collaboration happens through human consciousness which leads to an awareness of the creator God’s presence by continually experiencing the Spirit as God breathing upon the human soul. This is explained later in this post.

Let’s review God’s directives to humanity.

Keep in mind that the scriptures we call the Bible, like any sacred writings, are the fruit of the author’s awareness of the Divine revelation, positive or negative, which inspired that person to write down its content in the format of a story, metaphor, allegory, or semi-historical record. There is a definite message woven within each of the narratives mentioned above. The following is a segment of the narrative about the creation of world found in the book of Genesis.

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….. And God saw that it was good. Then God, formed a person from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being.” Gen 2:7

“The divine intent expressed by“let us”, is an echo of the language of the divine assembly. In ancient Near Eastern literature, the gods decided the fate of humankind…but Yahweh (God) alone makes the decision…the human is a statue of the deity not a static being but by action who will rule. In the ancient Near East, the king was often called the image of the deity and was vested with God’s authority.” 1.

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

“The nuance of the verb “subdue the earth” is to master, “to bring forcefully under control”. Force is necessary at the beginning to make the untamed land serve the humans.” 2

“Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” Gen 1 :26-31

“Humans are expected to respect the environment;they are not to kill for food but are to treat all life with respect.” Plants will suffice for food for humans and animals; there will be no bloodshed.” 3

  • Footnotes: NJBC, 1,2,3 New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Brown, Fitzmyer, Murphy
  • For more information about the authors of Genesis: go to: Texts of Genesis: J, E, and P

There are over 2.2 billion Christian believers, 15 million Jews, 1.9 billion adherents of Islam. So 4 billion of the estimated 8 billion world population are believers of the creator God of Abraham. This means that half of the world population believes in a creator God who demands that they respect the earth and its inhabitants. How much evidence is there of any effort to stop the harm being done to the planet by the many forms of pollution, destruction of natural forests, use of fossil fuels?

The biggest deterrent to action is the fact that humans, who believe in a theistic God, expect that God to intervene in human affairs for their safety and well-being and that of the world’s inhabitants. Prayers are offered to have God influence humans to act. It hasn’t and will not work! Two thousand years of history shows that humans, rarely if ever, are moved by the “grace” of God.

Most people “pray” that God will do this or do that. “May God bless you!” “Let’s pray that our team wins!” “Pray for the victims of the earthquake”.

Humans expect God to be like earthly rulers who protect their subjects and answer their petitions for help.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful, or cynical. I just keep asking myself why God seems to answer the prayers of some and not the prayers of others! Why does God stand by while there are so many natural disasters, wars, disease, etc.? We humans expect God to intervene and protect us. Yet such events happen much to our dismay or disbelief.

The Israelites believed that they were God’s chosen people and that God would protect them if they obeyed the commands given to them by their God.

An example of God’s protection is found in the book of Joshua: “The Lord said to Joshua: With my help, you and your army will defeat the king of Jericho and his army, and you will capture the town. Here is how to do it:” eventually “The walls of Jericho fell flat. Then the soldiers rushed up the hill, went straight into the town, and captured it. They killed everyone, men and women, young and old, everyone…..even every cow, sheep, and donkey.” Joshua 6

Did the author, Joshua, believe that Yahweh ordered him to execute those directives? If the Israelites believed that they were God’s chosen people then all other people were the enemies of God!

Let’s review the following for more context.

Since the beginning humans have created gods or a god who was a ruler of their world on land, sea, and in the sky. They prayed to a god, and believed that such god was watching them and that god would protect or even punish them with acts of nature, sickness and even death. For more about this you should read Karen Armstrong’s book: A History of God https://www.amazon.com/History-God-000-Year-Judaism-Christianity-ebook/dp/B005DB6LSG

Today, when we pray for the victims of crime, disease, tragedies and the like, we hope for some sort of response from God that will provide a remedy, comfort, a cure, victory, and even a win for the home team. Perhaps it’s a form of expressing hope to avoid defeat, loss, death. or the doom and sorrow that follow. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with wishing or hoping for a good outcome but is that the business of God? Whose side is God on, anyway?

We’ve all heard the saying,”God helps those who help themselves“which emphasizes the importance of self-initiative. The expression is known around the world and is used to inspire people for self-help. The phrase originated in ancient Greece as “the gods help those who help themselves” and may originally have been proverbial, although it has been commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin was a deist. Deism is essentially the view that God exists, but that God is not directly involved in the world. Deism pictures God as the great “clockmaker” who created the clock, wound it up, and let it go. Therefore there is an implicit need for us to help ourselves.

On the contrary, the religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity have always held that God is providential and intervenes on our behalf. This is known as theism and is similar to the polytheism of the pagans. The major difference is that Judaism, Islam, and Christianity hold that there is but one God. This is known as monotheism. Sometimes, while the pagans believed that there were many gods (polytheism) they also came to believe that one may have been more powerful and had control over the others (polytheism).

In Greek mythology the chief Greek deity, Zeus, was considered the ruler, protector, and father of all gods and humans. He regulated the celestial phenomena and defined the laws that govern people. He held the lightning bolt with one hand and the scepter with the other, which had an eagle at the top. He was known as the ‘Lord of Justice’.

Demeter was the Greek goddess of agriculture and protected the trees, plants and grains. Poseidon was the brother of Zeus. He was allotted the kingdom of the sea but he was also considered the god of horses and earthquakes. This is why he was called “the earth-shaker”. 

Then there was Thanatos, the god or personified spirit (daimon) of non-violent death and his counterpart in Roman mythology is Mors. Thanatos was the brother of Hypnos (Sleep) who was the god or personified spirit (daimon) of sleep. He dwelt in Erebos, the land of eternal darkness beyond the gates of the rising sun, and rose into the sky each night in the train of his mother Nyx (Night).

In case you think that only the pagans believed in polytheism, or many gods, many of the pagans, who eventually converted to Christianity, had some influence on the the Roman Catholic Church which then copied a similar legion of “gods” whom they call “saints”. You may say that’s ridiculous because they were humans who were designated as saints because of their self immolation or some miraculous intervention. Yet any Catholic will tell you that many saints are patrons of some action or profession and that they pray to that saint to “intercede” on behalf of the petitioner and request a favor from the Almighty for them or someone else. (Sounds a bit like Greek polytheism to me.)

According to one Catholic nun who taught me,”every saint is in heaven, very near to God, and every saint can bring your prayers and petitions to him! They are not picky about who asks for their prayer or for what cause. Thankfully, most believe that there is no competition whatsoever among them as to who is the greatest, or who gets most prayer requests! So, if you do not know which saint to pray to, you just pray to one of your favorites. They are all in heaven with God, who listens to their prayer.”

Traditionally people call on patron saints for specific causes.

For example,there’s St. Anthony of Padua who is venerated all over the world as the Patron Saint for lost articles, and is credited with many miracles involving lost people, lost things and supposedly responds to this jingle-like prayer: “Anthony, Anthony come around, something is lost and cannot be found!”

More pagan like are the images and artifacts like statues, relics, medals, and scapulars that are supposed to have “sacred power” or influence which is connected to the Almighty. This is not the actual teaching of the Catholic Church but many Catholics believe this and wouldn’t do without them.

Actually, Kateri, the Mohawk form of Catherine, was named in honor of St. Catherine of Siena. Kateri is the first Native American to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church and is the patron of the environment and ecology.

Here’s a long list of such saints: https://www.onlinewithsaints.com/

All of this borders on superstition yet many still rely on such artifacts or prayers as protection, petition, or intervention on behalf of God or at least as an indication that they respect the power or holiness that comes as a result of using them.

A New Theology is Necessary


Creation: God’s Spirit Breathing on the Human Soul

God’s collaboration with humans can be interpreted as the human soul being infused with the Spirit or breath of God In the Tanakh, the word ruach generally means wind, breath, mind, spirit. In a living creature it means breath. In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:10 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4

In mankind, ruach further denotes the principles of life that possesses reason, will, and conscience. Ruach imparts the divine image to man and constitutes the animating dynamic that results in man’s nephesh. The Hebrew word nephesh or nefesh (נפש, pronounced “neh-fesh”) in the Hebrew Bible generally translates to “soul”

It is also translated into English as: living being, life, creature, mind, desires, heart, appetite, persons. 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (nephesh) and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5,

Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.” (Matthew 23:27, and in Psalm 19, David wrote: “How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory… no speech or words are used, no sound is heard; Yet their message goes out to all the world and is heard to the ends of the earth”. 

With all this in mind, we can assume that in the Judo-Christian heritage, it was believed that humans would develop a new theology or understanding of God as the result of the evolution of their consciousness.

This reinforces the theory that human consciousness is constantly evolving which is supported by the fact that there is now a collective awareness by humans that the care of the the planet is of primary importance.

Actually, we can assume that the evolution of human consciousness had started when the universe and all that is in it was created. This, some modern theologians refer to as the Alpha or starting point of creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1: 1-5

According to Karen Armstrong, in her work, A History of God, “Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Cardin saw the whole evolutionary struggle as a divine force which propelled the universe from matter to spirit, to personality, and finally beyond personality to God. God was immanent and incarnate in the world, which had become the sacrament (sign) of his presence…. Christians should cultivate the cosmic portrait of Christ in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians and Ephesians: Christ, in this view, was the omega point of the universe, the climax of the evolutionary process when God becomes all in all.”

“Scripture tells us that God is love, and science shows that the natural world progresses towards ever-greater complexity and to greater unity in this variety.This unity-in-differentiation was another way of regarding that love that animates the whole of creation.”

Our responsibility to nature is to manage and take care of it. As we read in Genesis 1″We are, in fact, the masters, like it or not.” This quote from Thomas Lewis in his article The Natural Man, is very accurate; “we are the masters of the earth”. We manage the earth with everything that happens. We work with everything, with the natural disasters that happen, we manage those and work to rebuild the damage that they cause. Whatever happens on the earth we manage it or ignore it. Humans are responsible to take care of the earth.

Prayer is not the answer. We are aware of the creator’s presence in all of creation which includes us. We worship God by caring for creation, for the creatures as well as the environment.

Listen to and reflect on these biblical authors’ interpretation of God’s revelation about creation.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind. — Job 12:7-10 (ESV)

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. — Romans 1:20 (NLT)

However, BEWARE!! The prophet discerns, through inspiration, that human consciousness evolves and humans must awaken to the knowledge (science) that modern climate change is a precursor to devastation.

The earth dries up and withers,
    the world languishes and withers;
    the heavens languish together with the earth.
The earth lies polluted
    under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed laws,
    violated the statutes,
    broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours the earth,
    and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled,
    and few people are left. —Isaiah 24:4-6 (NRSV)

Do Not Be Anxious

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” 

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you’ (In God’s kingdom, all exists according to the Will of God-the Divine Plan. Caring for the planet is the Will of God and so for all to be well- we MUST care for all creation,)

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Mt 6:25-34

Finally, a few concluding thoughts are offered.

The creation of the world is not only a process which moves from God to humanity. God demands newness from humanity; God awaits the works of human freedom.” Nikolai Berdyaev

Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Saving the planet requires action. Not Prayer.

The Role of Individuals in Protecting the Environment – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com

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Christianity without Christ

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” G.K. Chesterton

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Mt 7:21-23

How do we come to know the Will of God? Many would say by reading the Word of God or the Bible. Carrying that further than just reading, some would encourage those who desire to be Christ-like should practice Lectio Divina which is Sacred Reading of the Word of God.

Lectio Divina is a traditional monastic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s word.

Lectio Divina has four separate steps: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. This is something that Jesus would most likely do. “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days. Lk 4:1-2 “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness (desert) for prayer. Lk 5:16

Like many of his Biblical ancestors, Jesus would have spent time trying to do the Will of God. He would have been interested in the work and words of John the Baptist, a man that was attracting a huge following since he spoke of the Messiah, the one who would bring God’s salvation to Israel and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

SO Jesus came to John and was baptized and then something happened that would change his life forever.

After he was baptized a voice came from heaven (God),“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Lk 3:22

N.B Although Jesus is called the “Son of God” we also find this term applied to other humans and angels. Indeed, from a study of Scripture we find that the term “son of God” is applied to the angels,[Job 2:1] Israel, [Hosea 11:1] to David, [2 Sam 7:13-16], Solomon [1 Chronicles 28:6] and to those who make peace, and Christians. [Mt 5:9]

SO, Jesus must have been surprised and maybe even confused. “Why me? What am I to do? Is this the Will of God?”

(Remember, Jesus was a human)
“He emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself…” Philippians 2:5–8

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. Lk 4:1-2

Let’s reflect on Luke’s description of the Temptation of Jesus.

The Temptation of Jesus

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” (POWER)

And Jesus answered him,

 “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 

And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.  If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  (FORTUNE)

And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (FAME)

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 

 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

SO really, Jesus was tempted to accept POWER, FAME and FORTUNE and use them to do the will of God since he was designated as a “Son of God“, someone who was designated to act as God’s representative and spokesperson in this world.

Let’s speculate.

Most scripture scholars and many theologians claim that”Satan” or the”devil” was a personification of evil. We could say that today, given what we theorize about the human psyche, the human ego might be tempted to consider itself greater than it is.

If Jesus was “human”, then as such, he had an ego-a sense of self, or a sense of self-esteem or self-importance which could mean that Jesus was tempted to become somewhat egotistical,which is a characteristic of those having an inflated idea of their own importance. Could this have happened to David and Solomon as well?

Obviously, all this is not adhering to the “Christian” or Catholic interpretation of these events but we can speculate can’t we. After all, Jesus never referred to himself as God. Son of God was a term applied to certain humans and angels as I mentioned above.

More speculation.

Did Jesus intend to start another religion? If he did, what would it look like? Since he rejected Power, Fame, and Fortune at the Great Temptation, the “new” religion would have been simple, humble and more like a servant then like a king.

When sent his disciples to do the work of the Will of God “he told them: “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.” Lk 9:3-4

It certainly wouldn’t be a religion of Power, Fame, and Fortune! But thanks to Constantine (313 AD) and the other Catholic emperors of Europe, the “Good News” became creeds, councils, persecutions and even crusades against infidels and more. The simplicity of “the Way”, as Christianity was first called, became housed in the great cathedrals, castles, and monasteries, and eventually spread through preaching that was interpreted by mostly men who never knew Jesus personally, and are now referred to as “Fathers” of the Church. When you research their writings you will discover little about Jesus’s teachings and more about who he was as a person of the Trinity.

Was “The Way” of Jesus replaced for the security of the Roman Empire? The Power, Fame, and Fortune that Jesus rebuked, replaced the persecutions and witness of the early followers of Jesus. Read Acts 2 to grasp the life and beliefs of the early Church.

The structure of the Roman Catholic Church was modeled after that of the Roman Empire which was “baptized” by the elders ((πρεσβυτέρους- presbyters) and overseers(ἐπισκόπους- bishops) of the early communities (gatherings- Ekklisía or Churches.

The Roman senators were replaced by the hierarchy of bishops and cardinals now known as the Curia which comprises the administrative institutions of the Roman Catholic Church.

The head priest of the Roman state religion was the Pontifex Maximus, or the greatest of the college of pontifices. While an obviously important and prominent position within the ranks of the Roman system, the Pontifex Maximus was not considered a magistrate comparable to a Consul, Praetor, etc.

A distinctly religious office under the early Roman Republic, it gradually became politicized until, beginning with Augustus, it was subsumed into the position of emperor in the Roman imperial period. Subsequent emperors were styled pontifex maximus 

The word pontifex and its derivative “pontiff” became terms used for Christian bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, and the title of pontifex maximus was applied to the Roman Catholic Church for the pope as its chief bishop and appears on buildings, monuments and coins of popes of Renaissance and modern times. 

SO, once the Roman Catholic Church became a powerful entity, Kings and Queens of the various Catholic countries were appointed and/or approved by the Pope or Pontiff, who as God’s authority, anointed those rulers which made them God’s rulers on earth.

A far cry from the simplicity of Jesus’ expectations of and instructions to his disciples. To further support this conclusion, we must refer to the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 and the warning against hypocrisy in Matthew 23.

One must also refer to other denominations of Christianity, some of which, also appear to ignore the teachings and instructions of Jesus.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is another denomination of Christianity which seems to ignore the lifestyle and instruction of Jesus.

Many evangelical Churches in America are an antithesis to Jesus’ “Way”.

The prosperity gospel is an umbrella term for a group of ideas — popular among charismatic preachers in the evangelical tradition — that equate Christian faith with material, and particularly financial, success. It has a long history in American culture, with figures like Osteen and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, glamorous, flashily-dressed televangelists whose Disneyland-meets-Bethlehem Christian theme park, Heritage USA, was once the third-most-visited site in America.”

 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Tm 6:10

“The origins of the American prosperity gospel to the tradition of New Thought, a nineteenth-century spiritual movement popular with decidedly unorthodox thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James. Practitioners of New Thought, not all of whom identified as Christian, generally held the divinity of the individual human being and the priority of mind over matter. In other words, if you could correctly channel your mental energy, you could harness its material results. New Thought, also known as the “mind cure,” took many forms: from interest in the occult to splinter-Christian denominations like Christian Science to the development of the “talking cure” at the root of psychotherapy.” For more go to: The prosperity gospel, explained: Why Joel Osteen believes that prayer can make you rich – Vox

Finally, we could ask, “which denomination would meet Jesus’ expectations?” Actually, none would since Jesus was Jewish,and was a “son of the Law, “bar mitzvah”, as every Jew is traditionally. Jesus never intended to start another religion. He never ordained disciples or the apostles. Rather he commissioned or “sent” them.

There are many ministries or functions referred to in the New Testament. Paul mentions them in the first letter to the Corinthians, and in the letters to the Romans, the Ephesians, and the Galatians.

One of the best summaries of what Jesus did intend is found in the book by Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant. What Jesus Meant: Wills, Garry: 9780143038801: Amazon.com: Books

As Wills points out in his book, “None knew better what Jesus meant than St. Paul when he wrote”:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13:1-13

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Strange Bedfellows: Spirituality and Science

The thoughts of some scientists and theologians

Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.” Albert Einstein

“The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.” Carl Sagan

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.” Carl Sagan

“The universe is a single atom: the convergence of science and spirituality.” Dalai Lama

“Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world… Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Vatican Council II said we have to read the signs of the times.  Today’s physicists have given us a new sign that is as shocking as Galileo’s claim that the earth revolves around the sun.  This breakthrough will have a major influence on our theology and especially on our everyday spirituality. 

“[T]he principles of thermodynamics have been in existence since the creation of the universe” (Cengel and Boles, 2002, p. 2, emp. added). 

“When understood properly, the Laws of Thermodynamics apply directly to the creation/evolution controversy in precisely the same way they apply in the above examples to the work of engineers. In fact, these foundational truths utilized daily by the engineering world, have eternally significant, spiritual implications in that they prove that God exists. How so?”

“If there is no God, the existence of the Universe must be explained without Him. The Big Bang theory claims that all matter in the Universe initially was condensed in a sphere the size of a period at the end of this sentence (see Thompson, et al., 2003, 23[5]:32-34,36-47). However, this theory offers no explanation for the origin of that sphere. The only logical possibilities for its existence are that it popped into existence out of nothing (spontaneous generation), it always existed, or it was created.”

“Evolutionists claim that science and the idea of God are irreconcilable. “Only one of them can be the truth,” they say, “and you cannot prove there is a God.” However, the Laws of Thermodynamics, which science itself recognizes in its explanations of the phenomena in the Universe, were designed by the Chief Engineer.”

The author of the four quotes above is Jeff Miller, Ph.D. You can read his entire article at https://apologeticspress.org/god-and-the-laws-of-thermodynamics-a-mechanical-engineers-perspective-2106/

Lord Kelvin, the man often called the Father of Thermodynamics because of his articulation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in 1849, said:

I cannot admit that, with regard to the origin of life, science neither affirms nor denies Creative Power. Science positively affirms Creative Power. It is not in dead matter that we live and move and have our being [Acts 17:28—JM], but in the creating and directing Power which science compels us to accept as an article of belief…. There is nothing between absolute scientific belief in a Creative Power, and the acceptance of the theory of a fortuitous concourse of atoms…. Forty years ago I asked Liebig, walking somewhere in the country if he believed that the grass and flowers that we saw around us grew by mere chemical forces. He answered, “No, no more than I could believe that a book of botany describing them could grow by mere chemical forces”…. Do not be afraid of being free thinkers! If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God, which is the foundation of all religion. You will find science not antagonistic but helpful to religion (as quoted in Smith, 1981, pp. 307-308, emp. added).

 Until now, physicists understood the universe, including earth and ourselves, to be made up of physical, material beings.  In their terms, everything and everyone is made of atoms.  And atoms are made up of little balls called sub-atomic particles.

Today’s physicists have discovered that atoms are not material!  They are not made of material particles.  They are made of energy.  “Atoms make up everything we’re familiar with in our world: electrons bound to atomic nuclei. The ways atoms bind together and electrons move to various energy levels absorb and release energy, accounting for most of the transitions we see. But there are other forms of energy in there, too, and if we can safely harness them, it will change everything. ” Ethan Siegel For more go to: https://bigthink.com/starts-with-a-bang/3-types-energy-atom/

Energy is usually described as the ability to do work, or to be something. Energy is potential, or possibility.  Energy  is not yet something material.  Energy moves in waves.  So energy is immaterial waves of possibility, i.e., of possible material things and people.

The entire universe and everything and everyone in it is made of energy.  Since energy is not material, everything is immaterial.  Immaterial energy moves in immaterial “energy waves.”  The universe is a made of up an infinite number of waves of possibility.

The universe expresses itself in the form of immaterial, living, conscious beings, e.g., immaterial insects, animals, ourselves.  Therefore, the universe itself must be living and conscious.  In fact, the universe is  living  consciousness!   

The universe is living awareness, universal being awake! We live in a universe that we are aware of, and that is aware of us!  

This new consciousness gives us a new way to try to understand who God is.  But first we must understand that God is Absolute Mystery.  Mystery in this context is not ignorance, as in a Detective Novel in which we slowly find out who the murderer was.  Mystery, as it applies to God, is Reality that is so great that it is inexhaustible.  This means that the more we understand about God, the more there will be to understand, without end.

So our understanding of who God is is and always will be a human construct, limited by our human nature.  That said, we can now say that since we are space/time, living, conscious images and likenesses of God, we can say that God is Eternal-Infinite Living Consciousness or Awareness.  More fully, we can say that:

     God is Eternal-Infinite, Living, Creative, Saving and World-Sanctifying and Evolving, Loving Consciousness/Awareness.
It will greatly help us in understanding who God is if we put aside our images of God as Someone, e.g., an old man with a white beard,  “up there” or “out there.”  It gets worse when we try to imagine God as up there and everywhere down here at the same time. 

     With this new understanding, we can image God as filling the universe and earth with Living, Creative, Saving and World-Sanctifying and Evolving Love-Consciousness.  This may take some time but it will be well-worth the effort, for the sake of our ongoing spiritual maturity and our Christ-like efforts in and for today’s society.  

God’s Eternal-Infinite Love-Consciousness is what Jesus took to himself at the instant of his conception in Mary’s womb.  If we want to “see” the divine Love-Consciousness, we can look at Jesus.  
      (Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  John 14:9)

 How do we get from being immaterial waves of possibility, to being three dimensional, solid figures living in a three dimensional, solid world?
Here’s what the physicists tell us:  Using its infinite possibilities, the living-conscious universe creates individual, immaterial possibilities, e.g., immaterial galaxies with their immaterial stars and planets, our immaterial moon and earth with its immaterial soil, water, air, fish, animals, and immaterial selves.  All are immaterial possibilities.

We ourselves are a spirit, i.e., an immaterial soul with an immaterial brain and immaterial body with immaterial senses.  The universe puts the possible idea of a material earth and our material selves into our mind.  Our immaterial mind shows these possibilities to our immaterial brain.  Our immaterial brain excites our immaterial senses to sense these immaterial possibilities as if they are three dimensional, material objects in a three dimensional world and universe.  

     We are living, conscious, free, active participants in the conscious universe.  We use our consciousness to create the three dimensional world and universe we live in!  (For the scientifically minded, we create a hologram.)

     As images and likenesses of God, we are called and empowered to act like God and care for the world that we create by bringing it the peace, justice and love of Christ.  We are here to help “Thy Kingdom Come…on Earth.”

by Anthony Massimini, Ph.D with Ernie Sherretta, D.Min.

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The Spiritual Disciplines

We can all see God in exceptional things, but it requires the culture of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail. Oswald Chambers

A man who would interpret the scriptures must have the spiritual discipline. – Mahatma Gandhi

It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God. – Henri Nouwen

St. Paul compared spiritual development to a race toward a goal (Phi 3:14).  Runner must train to develop and strengthen their energy for a successful run.  The spiritual disciplines (also called dynamics) are the various ways we develop the energy that God gives us to reach our goal of spiritual maturity.

   Here is a list of disciplines for us to meditate on and apply to our daily lives in Christ.

1.  Love, Compassion, Charity and Mercy

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6

God is love and so love is the heart and soul of all the spiritual disciplines and of our entire life.  Our Christ-ed life on earth is our ever evolving journey toward wholeness-in-love, toward ourselves, others, nature, the whole world and universe.  
    Love embraces our total self; it includes our thoughts, our emotions and our deep, active, willing commitment to help others in every possible way, for their own sake.  Love moves us to work for the highest good and happiness of others.

       Compassion moves us to love so that we feel strongly the needs and pain of others and help them in their needs and pain.

       Charity moves us to love even at a cost to ourselves
       Here we can include Mercy, which is our imitation of God’s loving benevolence, forgiveness and compassion.  Spiritual works of mercy include aiding our neighbor in spiritual and bodily necessities, instructing, consoling, comforting, forgiving, and bearing wrongs patiently. 

        Corporal works of mercy include feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.

2.  Order:  Like creation itself, our movement toward wholeness-in-love engages us in an ever-evolving, age-appropriate movement from chaos to cosmos, from disorder to order.  (Order for a 2 year old is not the same as order for an adult.)
      We nourish and elevate ourselves and our society and culture when we accept our spiritual responsibility to organize and harmonize ourselves, our families and communities, our education, our work, politics, economics, science, art, etc., so that we and our society function efficiently and effectively, avoiding wasteful disorder on one hand, and obsessive strictness on the other hand.

3.  Justice: “To each his/her own.”  We all have a God-given right to life, freedom, food, shelter, safety, education, employment, health care–in general, the pursuit of happiness. If the Kingdom of God has started here and God is the King- then His rule on earth would mean that all is distributed equally. That’s far from what we have now!! “When asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

Here we also include the Beatitude by which we hunger and thirst for righteousness (Mt. 5:6), namely, living in conformity with God’s will.  Also, setting the standard high and living up to it.

Order includes Social Justice, working for the common good, with a preferential option for the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast.  Anger is a normal, healthy emotion in the face of injustice (CCC 2302-2). Jesus told us not to be angry (Mt. 21-2) because in his culture, anger carried with it the intention to murder the person you were angry at.  Justified anger must always be used to correct and heal injustice, never to destroy.  St. Thomas Aquinas said that we should always keep humility one step out in front of our anger.

4.  Respect:  Closely related to Justice, it means, “taking a second look, (Latin: re: again, specto: look)  Our first look at someone can mean, “What’s in this for me?”  Our second look can then mean, “What can I do for the other?”  

    Fear of the Lord is related to respect.  It can mean a childish relationship with God with fear of offending a parent for fear of punishment.  This then matures into a respect for God, so that we would not even think of offending God.
    A spirituality that emphasizes sin, repentance and hell, to the near exclusion of the Easter and Pentecost blessings of renewed life and spiritual progress, joy and hope, tends to keep people God-fearing and spiritually immature.  Spiritual development moves us from asking, “It is a sin to do this?” and saying, “See how we fall short,” to asking, “How can we best love God in doing this?” and “Here’s how to apply our faith in this matter or situation.”  In this way, we go from making decisions between good and evil to making decisions between good and better.   

5.  Peace:  Peace follows upon order, justice and respect.  It is not merely the absence of conflict but the positive reaching out to help one another become who we truly are, who God intends us to be and become (CCC 2304)

    Blessed are the peace-makers, i.e., the reconcilers of disputes between individuals, groups, e.g, the right and the poor, religions, political views, ethnic groups, nations, etc. We must work to overcome all threats to peace, e.g., injustice, economic or social inequalities, etc., (CCC 2317)

6. Thoughtful Silence and Solitude:  God speaks in a whisper (cf. 1 Kings 19:9-13).  In today’s noisy culture it is difficult to “hear” God.  In the mid-20th century, the ex-Catholic, agnostic philosopher, Martin Heidegger said that is God exists, he is known today by his absence.  How true is that in today’s culture?  
   We spend blessed, quite moments with God, e.g., in church, watching a sunset, on retreat, gazing at a sleeping child, etc.  

7.  Mourning:  The Beatitude (Mt. 5:4) teaches us to mourn for injustice–personal, in society, in our culture, in our church.  

When we act prophetically to elevate our humanity and where necessary to correct and heal injustice in the love and grace of Christ, we can expect to suffer some pain.  We are blessed when we suffer for the sake of righteousness (Mt. 5:10-12).

8.  Humility:  This all-embracing discipline and spiritual dynamic arises from our deep sense of who we are, namely created and graced children of God, who owe everything to God, without whom we would not even exist. (CCC 2559). Our Self-esteem and pride in our own accomplishments are valid only within the discipline of humility.  For example, “I accomplished this or that by my own, free effort and abilities, but only because God created me and gave me the talents and abilities to do this; and Jesus died for me and gave me the grace to live in him.”  In humility, we empty ourselves of all false pride.   

9.  Obedience:  The freedom to obey God and the truth in all things, to accept reality as it truly is.  The freedom not to always have to be, “Number One!”  It is related to respect, which we give first to God/truth/reality and then to the dignity and rights of others.  It is the will to obey all just laws, leaders and superiors, as long as we are convinced that they are expressing truth and reality, and therefore, the will of God.  Therefore, it is also our will to oppose all unjust laws, leaders and superiors when they are not expressing God/realty/truth.  Obedience opens us to be poor in spirit (Mt. 5:3) in the positive sense of this spiritual discipline.  In the negative sense, the poor of Jesus’ time were so oppressed by the rich that they were depressed and dispirited, i.e., poor in spirit.  Jesus felt compassion for them and blessed them in a special way.  

    In the positive sense, poverty of spirit means emptying ourselves of selfishness and greed so that we can see God and others in reality and truth, and thus obey, i.e., do what is necessary to help others become who God wants them to become, e.g., have a deep and active compassion for the financially poor.  It means taking up our cross and following Jesus in all things. (Mk. 8:34)

10.  Trust:  The sense of feeling safe in our interactions with God,others, family, community, school, work, and in all our society and culture.

11.  Faith:  (CCC 153-184)  Faith may be described as our loving, trusting, deep persuasion that God exists and that God is All Loving.  It is our “belongingness” with God.  Faith includes our reception of the truth that God has revealed to us.  The certitude of faith comes directly from God. (CCC 156-7).  

   Faith and reason do not conflict.  Faith is reasonable.  However, while we can logically reason to the existence of God, reason alone cannot give us unshakable persuasion and certitude that God exists.  People can also logically reason to atheism.  But atheism cannot prove that God does not exist.  As stated above, the certitude of faith comes from God.  (We can reasonable and logically explain our faith to an atheist, and we can help dispose an atheist to receive the faith by our explanations and the example of our lives, but the faith itself and its certitude can come to the atheist only from God. So we should never argue with an atheist.  Atheists are atheists because they don’t have what we have, namely, faith.)

   Science operates in a different context from faith.  Science is our best understanding of how the universe works.  It’s certitude rests upon observation and conclusions, and it can and does change, e.g., scientists once thought that the earth was at the center of the universe, that the atom was solid, etc.  Faith gives us the gift of appreciating the deepest and truest meaning of the universe.  There is no conflict between faith and science.

   Science is not set up either to prove that God exists or that God does not exist.  Scientists who say they are atheists because of their science are making an unscientific, illogical, unreasonable and meaningless statement. 

   For example, some scientists, e.g., Richard Dawkins, often unknowingly use the philosophy of materialism or positivism as a structure for their science.  In short, these philosophies says that if something (or Someone) cannot be sensed, weighed or measured, it, He/She does not exist.  They only accept material evidence.  (Some of these scientists will say, “Well, without material evidence,I won’t say it doesn’t exist, but that it just is not important.”) Thus they “conclude” that God does not exist because they started with the premise that God, who is not material, and who cannot be sensed, weighed or measured, does not exist.  They simply “prove” what they already believe.

12.  Study:  The more knowledge and understanding we have–scientifically, poetically, politically, economically, etc., the more clearly, maturely and fully we can respond to God and the more successfully we can live.  Our faith also grows.  While it remains essentially the same, we are learning more and more about God and our relationship with God every day.

13:  Wisdom:  Our knowledge and understanding are perfected by wisdom, which is the everyday, practical, common-sense way of living.  Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

14.  Simplicity:  “Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no.”  (Mt. 5:37).  Simplicity moves us to live in open, joyful, and direct truthfulness and honesty.  Duplicity leads us to “spin” our political and economic views, to exploit the poor for our own good, and to be hypocrites. Simplicity moves us to be clean of heart (Mt. 5:8).  It fosters “spiritual poverty” by which we “travel light” through life, not accumulating unnecessary goods, prejudices, etc. Simplicity is related to healthy spontaneity, openness of spirit, kindness, goodness, modesty, mildness, purity and chastity. To be simple does not mean to be naive.

15.  Meekness: (Mt. 5:5)  Meekness does not mean letting people run all over us.  It means facing life and adversity with a calm sense of Godliness and self-respect.  St. Thomas Aquinas said that meekness is our reasonable use of anger.  Meekness moves us to maintain our dignity as persons and to require others to respect our dignity. Jesus gives us three non-violent examples of maintaining our dignity through meekness. (Mt. 5:39-42).
   a.  Turn the other cheek.  If someone strikes you on your right cheek, they will strike you with the back of their hand, i.e., in a way that insults and degrades you.  By turning the other cheek, you say in effect, “Don’t insult and degrade me, respect my dignity.”
  b.  Offer your cloak.  The Jews had a law that a creditor could take all of a debtor’s belongings except his cloak, which the debtor would need in the evening to keep warm.  If the debtor offered his cloak, the creditor would have to refuse to take it, thereby placing the debtor at an advantage and permitting him to maintain his dignity.
  c.  Going the extra mile.  A Roman soldier could force a Jew to carry his armor for one mile, and one mile only.  If the soldier forced the Jew to carry his armor for a greater distance, he would be punished.  By offering to carry the soldier’s armor for more than a mile, the Jew placed the soldier at a disadvantage and thereby maintained his own dignity.

16.  Creativity:  Creativity is our ability to discern new insights and images out of the galaxies of graced possibilities that live within us, the world and the universe, and to express those possibilities in ways that give us new and joyful appreciation of what it means to be human.

17.  Hope:  Hope is not wishingfor good things, but confidence that we can achieve goals and move toward our fulfillment, based on real accomplishments and successes that we have already attained, and on real possibilities.  Hope is our graced confidence in God’s love, support, encouragement, and his will to save us, based on his revelation and on Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and his sending us his Spirit at Pentecost. (CCC 1817-18)

18.  Joy of Life:  Joy of life is the celebration of just being alive, of being a child of God, loved and sustained by God (CCC 301).  Joy includes the religious emotions of awe and wonder.  Joy differs from happiness, when happiness means the satisfaction of getting the things we want, e.g., the American pursuit of happiness.  Our true happiness is in God. (CCC 1723).

19.  Perseverance:  Arising from hope, it is our ability to face our challenges and press forward with courage in times and situations of adversity.  It goes with the disciplines of Patience, Fortitude and Temperance.

20.  Prudence:  Prudence enables us to avoid rashness and do the right thing at the right time. It is the first of the Cardinal Virtues, which include Justice, Fortitude and Patience

21.  Service to Others:  We all share the same humanity and all have the same human needs.  Christ died for everyone.  Service is of the essence of the Christian life.

22.  Respect for Labor:  Even though we “get bread to eat from the sweat of our face,” (Gen. 3:19)  our spirituality considers work to be our cooperation in the ongoing, evolving creation and salvation of the world in the grace of Christ.  By our personal work we contribute to the realization in history of the divine plan. (Vat. II, Church in the Modern World. 34ff)

23.  Fasting and Abstinence:  Used properly, this discipline helps us concentrate more clearly on God and pray more effectively. (CCC 1434, 38)

24.  Confession and Forgiveness:  It is natural to want to tell others our needs and even our shortcomings and faults in order to receive counsel and forgiveness.  We confess our sins to God who graciously forgives us and sets us on our way again renewed and re-energized. (CCC 1422-70)

25.  Guidance and Counsel:  We provide guidance and counsel in many ways, e.g., by listening, by being a good parent, teacher or friend.  We provide spiritual guidance to one another by walking together on our spiritual journey.  Qualified spiritual counselors provide professional spiritual counseling and guidance.
   Spiritual guidance and counsel is not the same as psychotherapy.  Psychotherapy “unties knots” in people’s psyches and fosters a healthy psychological life.  Spiritual  guidance and counsel helps people live life in abundance, in relationship with God, and in relationship with others and nature, within their relationship with God.

26.  Gratitude:  The spiritually mature are quick to express thanks to all those who help them, to God for giving them their life and gifts, and to Christ for saving us.  Gratitude leads to worship.

27.  Worship:  All the disciplines lead us ultimately to worship God.  Worship is our fullest, most joyful, awe and wonder-filled, and most thankful and loving response to God’s creative, healing and world-transforming love for us, with which God creates, loves and saves us.  It is our full and supreme response and return of ourselves, others and the whole world to God.

    We worship God by living our faith! God doesn’t need or want our prayers. “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6

In ancient Greece, Liturgy (Letourgia) was a public office(position) or duty performed voluntarily by a rich Athenian.

The term “Eucharist” originates from the Greek word eucharistia, meaning thanksgiving. As a Church- People of God- we give thanks and praise usually in a church.

The Greek word translated “Church” in the New Testament is ekklesia. A literal translation of ekklesia would be “a called-out assembly.”

The building we call a “church” is Old English cir(i)cecyr(i)ce, related to Dutch kerk and German Kirche, based on medieval Greek kurikon, from Greek kuriakon (dōma) ‘Lord’s (house)’, from kurios ‘master or lord’.hurch

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, man cannot live without a spiritual life.” – Buddha.

by Anthony Massimini, Ph.D. with Ernie Sherretta, D. Min.

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Human Consciousness: Beyond Religion and Materialism to Divine Consciousness!

“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“We are on the planet to… wrap our consciousness around the divine treasure within us.” ~ Michael Beckwith

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.” ~ Aldous Huxley

“When your inner mantra becomes ‘How may I serve?’ rather than ‘What am I going to get?’ and ‘Who do I need to defeat?,’ you start to see the unfolding of God in everything and everyone around you and you shift into higher consciousness.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“The awakening of consciousness is the next evolutionary step for mankind.” ~ Eckhart Tolle


Until the early 20th century, almost all scientists saw the universe as a giant machine, evolving mindlessly through history.  They saw themselves (and all others) as standing outside the machine observing its movements and laws.  Galaxies, planets, mountains, plants, animals, and people operated according to laws that could be understood and expressed in terms of mathematics.

   Today, we see that their consciousness was shallow.  While their discoveries provided all kinds of technological wonders to the world, their shallow consciousness also helped turn the world’s view away from what is not material, i.e., spiritual.  In Europe and North America, science began to openly replace religion in our ongoing search for who we are and what we mean.

   Thankfully, today’s scientists are discovering not just the universe itself but the conscious, thinking people who are observing the universe and living in it.  This is leading them to study the spiritual dimension of the universe, in terms of consciousness.  And they are going deep:  they are paying attention not only to the consciousness of animals and humans but to the consciousness of the universe itself.   

   In the last century, Einstein said there is a super-human intelligence that is directing the universe and its evolution–a universal, cosmic intelligence, or conscious “mind” that is beyond all material consideration.  All good scientists, he said, should be moved to awe and wonder at contemplating this intelligent consciousness.  This is not God, he pointed out.  It is the intelligent consciousness of the universe itself.  The universe itself is conscious and intelligent!

   The great scientist opened the most promising way to the reconciliation of science and faith since the two had separated in the late 1600’s, with the Enlightenment and the birth of modern science.  At the time, science went its own way, and religion went its own way.  Today, universal consciousness forms a link between religion, most especially Spirituality, and science, that is pregnant with galaxies of possibilities for the evolution of humanity.  It is a vital way toward developing a 21st century spirituality that is not “religious.”

In his book, Spiritual Science, Steve Taylor offers a new vision of the world that is compatible with both modern science and ancient spiritual teachings. It provides a more accurate and holistic account of reality than conventional science or religion, integrating a wide range of phenomena that are excluded from both. After showing how the materialist worldview demeans the world and human life, Spiritual Science offers a brighter alternative – a vision of the world as sacred and interconnected, and of human life as meaningful and purposeful.

Consciousness is a sign of life.  By its very nature, it is living consciousness.  There can be no such thing as dead consciousness.  Living consciousness, therefore, helps us understand where life came from.  Like consciousness itself, life was there at the very beginning of the universe, preparing to express itself. 

Living consciousness is the basic energy of the universe.  It has guided evolution, calling it forward, from the very beginning of the universe.  So it seems reasonable to say that it had to be present even before evolution started.  It was present in the energy “dot” that first appeared 13.8 billion years ago.  Being immaterial, the “dot” had no space/time dimensions itself but expanded in a “Big Bang” into the form of space and time.

   Every galaxy, every star and planet, every mountain, ocean, plant, flower and human person and community, is a space/time expression of not-space/time, living conscious energy.  This is the awe and wonder of the deep consciousness that today’s science is presenting to us, and that spiritual theologians are greeting with great joy and anticipation. Science and faith can now be reconciled at the point of deep, living consciousness.

   In the early 20th century, many scientists proudly proclaimed that there soon would be nothing new to learn about the universe.  Today’s scientists humbly say that a full scientific understanding of the universe and of universal life and consciousness is out of their reach.  As one scientist said, “If you think you understand quantum physics, you don’t understand it.”  And now they are contemplating the possibility of an infinite number of universes!  The universe is truly ultimately beyond all human understanding. 

   Theologians say that the universe is Mystery, (capital “M”).  Mystery is not ignorance, such as in a murder mystery.  It is reality that is so great that the more we understand of it, the more there will always be to understand, forever.  Both science and faith work with their own expression of Mystery/mystery.  What scientists say about the never ending understanding of the universe, theologians alpha and omegasay about our never ending understanding of God.  What science sees as the energy that makes up and powers the universe, faith sees as Living Grace, the impact of God’s presence in the universe, which makes the universe the living, Christ Reality. 

   Today’s all important reconciliation of faith and science requires a 21st century understanding of God.  God is no longer the fearful Old Testament judge who sends floods to punish us because of our sins.  Nor is God a deranged Father who sends his Son to be murdered.  Nor the medieval old man with the beard flying through the sky.  Nor the father who comes home from work and fixes things that the children broke.  Or should fix things but doesn’t fix them.  “How can an almighty God permit war?  How can a loving God permit children to suffer?”  Questions like this show a spiritually immature understanding of God that a 21st Century Christian can no longer believe in.  Today’s Jewish Biblical scholars will agree. 

   A 21st century understanding of God, taken from science, sees God in terms of living consciousness.  Spiritually, this same understanding came from an insight that is 3000 years old, when Moses learned the fantastic Truth given to him at the burning bush.  (Exod. 3:14).  “I am not some person who lives up in heaven.  I am all present.  I don’t just exist; I am EXISTENCE ITSELF, REALITY ITSELF.  I am not just alive, I am LIFE ITSELF.  I am not just conscious, I am CONSCIOUSNESS ITSELF.  I don’t just love, I am LOVE ITSELF.” 

   “You exist because I am EXISTENCE. You are real because I am REALITY.  You are alive because I am LIFE.  You are conscious because I am CONSCIOUSNESS.  You love because I am LOVE.  When you search into yourself, into science, the arts, politics, business, education, health care, etc., etc., you are searching ultimately for Me.  I am there, waiting for you and helping you find yourself, and Me in yourself.”

   This is the deep consciousness of our faith today, which science has helped us to reach.  Actually, science alone cannot account for the Mystery of existence and love in the universe.  The arts come closer.  Love comes even closer.  “The heart has reason that reason cannot know.”  Blaise Pascal

    In today’s angry, even hateful, polarized, shallow and noisy culture, deep consciousness is being sought for by an increasing number of people, especially the young.  But it can seem impossible to attain.  Today’s science, politics, business, education and religion can be impediments to our search.  We must understand that deep consciousness is already present within us.  It must be attained because it holds the answers to the injustices and suffering we are inflicting upon ourselves.  We can attain it, for example, by taking some time daily to think about it and meditate on it.  And we can attain it by acting here and now, in our own way, to help bring justice, peace and love, especially to the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast, as Jesus did on a daily basis.

   As we achieve deep consciousness we find the “still point of the turning world,” T. S. Eliot i.e., the center of the world and ourselves, where God touches us silently and deeply.  From here we move outward in love with every greater love, truth and simplicity.  We love without conditions or ambiguity.  A dear friend of mine has a bumper sticker on his car that says, “Live simply so that others may simply live.”  Simplicity is clear, clean truth and love.  It is a wonderful fruit of deep consciousness.   

Anthony Massimini, Ph.D with Ernie Sherretta, D.Min.  

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A New Age, A New World, a New God??

“In the case of a world which is by nature evolutive. . .God is not conceivable (either structurally or dynamically) except in so far as he coincides with (as a sort of “formal” cause) but without being lost in, the center of convergence of cosmogenesis. . . .Ever since Aristotle there have been almost continual attempts to construct models of God on the lines of an outside Prime Mover, acting a retro.  Since the emergence in our consciousness of the ‘sense of evolution’ it has become physically impossible for us to conceive or worship anything but an organic Prime-Mover God, ab ante.  Only a God who is functionally and totally ‘Omega’ can satisfy us.  Who will at last give evolution its own God?” Teilhard De Chardin in Christianity and Evolution

   In the last century, philosopher Martin Heidegger is reported to have said that if God exists, he is known by his absence.  At the same time here in America, the “God is Dead” notion was very popular, especially among young people.

    Today, however, it seems that rather than being absent or dead, God is woefully misunderstood and mocked.  For example, literal Fundamentalists believe that God created the universe in six day; God told Abraham to kill his son, Isaac, God told Noah to build an ark, etc.  Some Christians see God as a strict and fearful judge.  Some see God as a heavily politicized figure (who is on their side).  And some see God as a Happy Someone who wants us to be rich and comfortable, or as a Fearful Someone who is about to end the world in fire and brimstone–on a date the continually miss.  Admittedly, there is much to mock in these distortions of who God is.  (In fact, part of the “God is Dead” notion was an outcry that the word, “God” had become so distorted that is had been rendered meaningless in everyday society.)

Also, many envision God as Someone Up There or Out There whom they expect to “come down” and fix our problems.  (We Americans claim to be one nation under God.)  This God is like a daddy who is absent most of the day but then comes home from work and fixes the problems the family faced while he was away.  Such people lament, “If God is all powerful, why doesn’t he prevent sickness and wars?”  “Why does he let children suffer?”  This distortion of who God is sadly leads to much pain among many people.

   Distortions like these arise from  a poor understanding of the true God of faith as presented by our religions and denominations.  Faith is different from religion.  Catholic faith may be described as the loving acceptance of God and God’s teachings, particularly as presented to us in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.  Religion, then, is our faith as it is organized and presented to the world.  Religions can and sometimes do distort the understanding of the true God.  

   Who is the true God?  Since, in today’s culture we prefer to understand through personal experience, a description of the true God can depend on our experience God. 

We experience the true God as the presence of Eternal, Infinite, Overflowing Love is in the universe and the world:  in ourselves and in all people and things.  Without this experience of God, we have only an abstract theological notion of God or a Catechism description of God, neither of which would have much effect on our lives.

   More fully, the true God is Living, Conscious, Eternal, Infinite Overflowing Love.  “Living Love” can be a substitute for the word, “God,” because the distortion of the name has become an obstacle to our experience of the true God.   

Love is the most powerful and still most unknown energy in the world.Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

   Living Love is the Creative process of the universe and of the world and us in and through the universe’s evolution, which Living Love set in motion and watches lovingly as a parent, from within the evolving world.  Our own experience of our creativity is an image of Living Love’s creativity and presence within us.  

   Living Love is Healing and Spiritual Well-Being.  In and through Jesus Christ, the world is rescued from sin.  Living Love, alive within us and all the societies of the world, gives us the graced discernment, responsibility, creative ingenuity, and power to work to heal others’ physical, mental and spiritual anxieties and illnesses.  Our experience of wanting to reach out and help others and bring justice and peace to others and the world is our experience of Living Love within us and the world.

   Living Love is World Transforming and Evolving.  Living Love within us and the world is calling us from the future.  From within us, our families and nations, corporations, governments, schools and universities, science and technology labs, professional offices, our trades and service industries, etc., Living Love is attracting and “pulling” us into the future, to build an ever new world of luminously humanizing justice, peace and progress, as we move the world’s inter-connected and inter-related evolution forward toward it’s one blessed goal of Wholeness in love/Love.  Our inner sense of attraction and call into our future growth and fulfillment is our experience of the presence of Living Love within us and the world.

  Living Love is also alive within criminals, war makers and terrorists, calling and empowering them to come out of their darkness into the light of a true, loving, luminously human life.  Their response to the call to peace, humanity and compassion is the sign of the truth of their God. 

   Rather than “coming down” to fix our problems, (intervention) Living Love is showing us great respect, giving us the discernment, energy, talents, freedom and responsibility to build our lives, society and world in ever growing peace and justice. (collaboration)

It is up to us, Living Love’s graced and empowered image and likeness.  As spiritual adults, would we really want to be spoon fed like helpless children?  It is in recognizing our call, opportunities, talents and responsibilities toward ourselves, others and the world, and in carrying out our call in strength, justice, humility, peace and love, that we experience Living Love within ourselves and today’s world–and tomorrow’s.                      

   The extent to which we distort and/or reject our experience of Living Love’s call and empowerment to live lives of life-giving, energizing, healing, peaceful and just, world-transforming  love, that we distort who Living Love is, and then possibly even blame Living Love or deny Living Love’s very existence.  In the process, we dehumanize ourselves.  (Our religions and denominations should take note not to distort our true faith and dehumanize us in any way.)

  We must heed the words of Paul to the Colossians: “The Son (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  Colossians 1:15-18

All of creation is evolving toward fulfillment in Christ the Alpha and the Omega- our beginning and our end.  I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8

“Everything in the universe ultimately proceeds towards Christ-Omega; since the whole of cosmogenesis is ultimately through geogenesis, biogenesis, noogenesis to Christogenesis.” Teilhard De Chardin The Phenomenon of Man

by Anthony Massimini and Ernie Sherretta

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Christmas Musings

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jn 1:1-5

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” Jn 1:9-10

Christmas, celebrates the birth of Jesus, the TRUE LIGHT that gives light to everyone.  More particularly, Christmas celebrates the coming of  that which is the Sacred Good, the Infinitely Divine to earth in the form of a human, a Hebrew baby who was named Yeshua ben Yosef, known to most Christians as Jesus Christ.

Most people believe that Jesus was born on December 25 and that the Christmas story is a factual account of that event. Actually, scripture scholars have concluded that the gospel writers or authors knew nothing about Jesus’ birth other than the obvious fact that his parents were Joseph and Mary and that he lived in Nazareth and was most likely a carpenter. Jesus is identified as “the carpenter’s son” (Matt. 13:55) and “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3).  In these references to Jesus as a carpenter or the son of one, the Greek word used both times is more correctly translated as “craftsman” or “artisan.” In those days and in that culture, sons usually became an apprentice to their fathers.

So, why December 25th for the date of Jesus’ birth? It is a conjecture based on the assumption that the church in Rome began formally celebrating Christmas on December 25 in 336, during the reign of the emperor Constantine. As Constantine had made Christianity the effective religion of the empire, some have speculated that choosing this date had the political motive of weakening the established pagan celebrations. The date, December 25 is further explained below.

The English word “Christmas” is a shortened form of “Christ’s Mass”. The word is recorded as Crīstesmæsse in 1038 and Cristes-messe in 1131. (Martindale, Cyril Charles (1908). “Christmas”. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

“The form Christenmas was also used during some periods, but is now considered archaic and dialectal.The term derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, meaning “Christian mass”Xmas is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός) (“Christ”), although some style guides discourage its use. This abbreviation has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where “Χρ̄” is an abbreviation for Χριστός) ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#Etymology

Back to the stories of Jesus’ birth. I say stories because the traditional account that we usually hear or read is actually a combination of two stories: Matthew 1.18–2.23 and Luke 1.26–2.52,  The other two canonical gospels, Mark and John, add some information about Jesus’ home life, but nothing about his birth. Here’s how the gospel stories compare.

Reign of Herod or Archelaus: Angel visits Mary (the Annunciation). 1.26–38
Mary visits Elizabeth; birth of John the Baptist. 1.39–80
Reign of Herod: Engagement of Joseph and Mary; Joseph plans to end engagement because of pregnancy.1.18–19 
Angel visits Joseph in dream, tells him to go ahead with marriage.1.20–25 
(Fulfilment of prophecy: Isaiah 7.14.)1.22–23 
Governorship of Quirinius: Quirinius conducts a census. 2.1–2
Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem. 2.3–5
Birth of Jesus; no room at the inn. 2.6–7
The shepherds hear the news and visit family in Bethlehem. 2.8–20
Circumcision of Jesus. 2.21
Family stops off in Jerusalem to present Jesus at temple; episode of Simeon and Anna. 2.22–38
Reign of Herod: Magi visit Herod in Jerusalem.2.1–7 
(Fulfilment of prophecy: LXX Micah 5.1, LXX II Kings 5.2.)2.5–6 
Magoi go to Bethlehem, offer gifts, then return home without visiting Herod.2.8–12 
Angel visits Joseph in dream to warn him of Herod’s rage; family flees to Egypt.2.13–15 
(Fulfilment of prophecy: Hosea 11.1.)2.15 
Herod’s rage: massacre of the innocents.2.16–18 
(Fulfilment of prophecy: LXX Jeremiah 38.15.)2.17–18 
Reign of Archelaus: family returns from Egypt after Herod’s death.2.19–21 
Family doesn’t return home to Judaea, for fear of Archelaus, but instead goes to Nazareth in Galilee (since Galilee was no longer under Jerusalem’s control).2.22–23 
Governorship of Quirinius: Family carries on home to Nazareth. 2.39–40

Both gospels give patrilineal genealogies that make Joseph a descendant of king David (Matthew 1.1–17Luke 3.23–38). But the genealogies are totally different. If they’re both true, then Joseph had two fathers. More information and interpretations of the inclusions of the “three Wise Men”, shepherds, Herod and the census and “killing of newborns” can be found in many scholarly works such as the following:

  • Brown, R. E. 1993 [1977]. The birth of the Messiah. A commentary on the infancy narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, updated edition. Doubleday.
  • Elliott, J. K. 1993. The apocryphal New Testament. A collection of apocryphal Christian literature in an English translation. Clarendon Press. (Protevangelium of James at 46–67)

Rather than comment about the significance and meaning of the gospel stories, I present the following thoughts offered by several different people.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!
― Henry van Dyke

Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.
― G.K. Chesterton

Christ always seeks the straw of the most desolate cribs to make his Bethlehem.
― Thomas Merton

Christmas is God lighting a candle; and you don’t light a candle in a room that’s already full of sunlight. You light a candle in a room that’s so murky that the candle, when lit, reveals just how bad things really are.
― N.T. Wright

Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out.
― Max Lucado

As I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.
― Philip Yancey

God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. ~Bonhoeffer”] At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.
― Mother Teresa

Any one thinking of the Holy Child as born in December would mean by it exactly what we mean by it; that Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate.
― G.K. Chesterton

But when finally the scrolls of history are complete, down to the last word of time, the saddest line of all will be: “There was no room in the inn.”…The inn was the gathering place of public opinion, the focal point of the world’s moods, the rendezvous of the worldly, the rallying place of the popular and the successful. But there’s no room in the place where the world gathers. The stable is a place for outcasts, the ignored and the forgotten. The world might have expected the Son of God to be born in an inn; a stable would certainly be the last place in the world where one would look for him. The lesson is: divinity is always where you least expect to find it. So the Son of God made man is invited to enter into his own world through a back door. 

—-Archbishop Fulton Sheen

 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

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