Today in America it is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day of service but to many it’s just a federal holiday. Sure we all know the I Have a Dream speech, but there are several other sermons and speeches that should be remembered as well. In one of his earliest recorded sermons was one from 28 February 1954 at the Second Baptist Church in Detroit is entitled “Rediscovering Lost Values.” It seems like it could have been written recently especially with “There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong. I don’t think we have to look too far to see that. I’m sure that most of you would agree with me in making that assertion. And when we stop to analyze the cause of our world’s ills, many things come to mind.” He says that the problems lie in the hearts and souls of Men (and women). “We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. ” In this sermon MLK points out that to go forward sometimes we need to do backward to do so, using the story of the finding in the temple as Mary and Joseph went back for Jesus in Jerusalem instead of continuing home. So perhaps our current state is the only way for us to move forward as a nation.
Sure this points toward the general idea that we need God, with so many irreligious in the younger generations (Gen X, Y and Z) this continues to be a struggle we face today as well. We all need to return to some religion or some other moral guidelines to show us how to behave and how to interact with others. If you’ve got some spare time today perhaps read through this sermon or some of the others.
I really liked the novel by Shūsaku Endō so when I was reading I look and saw that Martin Scorsese had wanted to make this movie since the 90s. Scorsese was inspired by the book wanted to make a movie based on it. The book is one of the best things that I’ve read in the past couple of years. Here is the first trailer.
Across the interwebs we have a bunch of reactions of this trailer and the funniest part is how many people are just watching it since it’s the next Scorsese film and have no clue as to what the film is about let alone have heard of the book. I will be going to see this when it comes out.
This week the readings come from the prophet Amos 6:1,4-7; Psalm 146; Paul’s first letter to Timothy 6:11-16; and Luke’s Gospel 16:19-31.
We begin with a strange passage where Amos says that the Lord berates Zion for its complacency. This message could be the exact same today as most people only care about themselves and how they can make things best for them we still are lacking this compassion thing and it is an important thing to have. Paul reminds us that we should be living a virtuous life. In the Gospel we have another parable the Rich man and Lazarus. Now, this isn’t the same Lazarus with Mary and Martha as sisters but a beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus sat covered with sores outside the gate of the rich man’s house, the rich man ate to his heart content and wore the best purple money could buy while Lazarus sat outside hoping for table scraps from the rich man while dogs licked his sores. They both died Lazarus was taken to the bosom of Abraham while the rich man went to the netherworld. The rich man pleads to Father Abraham for help but since the rich man gave no help to Lazarus in life, the same would be done for him. The man then asks if someone could go and tell his brothers about this. Abraham say “They have Moses and the Prophets. Let them listen to them.”
This is important we have the Bible the Books of Moses and the Prophets along with a bunch of stuff written by saints from all ages to guide our way through life. This relates back to the first reading we need to care about more then just ourselves but for the whole human family. I mean just look at the state of things currently we have people complaining about immigrants and refugees as well as the general inequality between people of color and white people along with men and women. We need to all work together to make things better and it shouldn’t take someone to rise from the dead to tell us this. This is the focus of the Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, this is still going on right now. Let us all try and act with compassion and justice to everyone that we meet in our lives over the rest of this Jubilee Year.
This week the readings come from Genesis 18:20-32, Psalm 138,Paul’s letter to the Colossians 2:12-14, and Luke’s Gospel 11:1-13.
We hear several times in these reading about being persistent. In Genesis we hear of Abraham who pleads with the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there are but fifty innocent people in the city and works his way down to ten. The Lord then says if he can find ten innocent people he will spare the cities. Haggling with the Lord to save the lives of many, this is something lost in the prayers of many of us as we tend to see it as a one way conversation. This idea continues in the Gospel where the friend goes asking for bread at midnight and if the one in bed doesn’t get up at first it is only due to the persistence of the friend knocking on the door. So to is it with the Lord all we have to do is knock and it will be open, ask and we shall receive, seek and we will find. We need to be persistent in our prayers, as we hear Paul tell us we need to pray without ceasing. Sort of like the Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox Church where it’s a simple mantra “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” and the mantra becomes a part of your life. Prayer needs to become a part of our lives more than the hour on Sunday at Mass.
This week the readings begin in that mysterious book of Wisdom. It’s that book that’s found in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles. The speaker (King Solomon) prays and pleads for wisdom and when it comes Wisdom is the most precious and valuable thing in the world. It is greater than riches, gold is like sand while silver is like a mire and more important than health or beauty. The message we hear this week is one to take to heart. We need to care more for Wisdom than for material things here on earth. This message continues in the Gospel. As we make our way to the epistle we hear another short reading from Hebrews it is a couple of chapters from last week. The key point to get from this reading is that the Word of the Lord is a living thing and the Lord sees all that we do for we are but naked like Adam and Eve in his sight.
Turning to the Gospel we pick up right where we left off last week in Mark. As Jesus was about to leave some random guy shows up and ask “ Good teacher, What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asks him why he called Jesus good as no one it good except for the Father and tells his to follow the commandments. The man replies that he has done this since his youth and Jesus tells him that he is missing only one thing “Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, then you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.” This was not the response that he was excepting and the man left sad. Jesus then turns to the apostles and disciple and says that “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven.” The apostles were confused how is that possible and Jesus says by man it is impossible but nothing is impossible for the Lord. Then Jesus continues saying that whoever gives up everything to follow will be rewarded a hundred-fold. This is a difficult thing to comprehend in the world that we live in as many of us always want the newest and latest thing, just look at when the next generation of iPhones come out and people are flocking to replace the item that still works fine but it’s not the best thing available. We need to be happy with what we have and be willing to give it up for the sake of the Gospel. Let us pray like Solomon does in the first reading that we all can have wisdom in our lives since it is the most precious thing in the world.
My Dinner with Andre is an interesting little independent film, since it’s two people having a conversation at dinner together and that is it. There isn’t a huge conflict it’s two people sharing ideas at a meal together. The film stars Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory and the story is sort of kind of based on their lives but not really. My first encounter with My Dinner with Andre was with the show Community (2×19) “Critical Film Studies”, which was an homage to My Dinner with Andre.
This is a lovingly realized idea and as an added bonus it hits one of the major theme of the movie the fakeness of real life.
So in the film Wallace ‘Wally’ Shawn (playwright, actor) has been invited out to dinner with Andre Gregory (director, actor) Andre and Wally are good friends. The first half of the film is Andre talking about what he has been doing since stepping away from directing in 1975. It is a wide variety of things working with Polish actors in a forest with Jerzy Grotowski, going to Findhorn in Scotland, a trip to the Sahara to inspire a play version of St. Exupéry’s The Little Prince, and a performance art group on Long Island where he was buried alive on Halloween. Andre has embraces the spiritual aspects of life. The other half of the film is Wally arguing that what Andre did over the past five year really isn’t living compared to what most people think living is, however Andre counters that what accounts for real life with all the pleasures of life is more like a dream. Then the film is over with Wally and Andre going home.
One of the cool things I learned by watching the film is that it was film in Virginia, it wasn’t until later when I checked Wikipedia that I learn that it was filmed in the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, and I’ve been there. I felt at times the film felt a little bit like A Guide to the Perplexed, with it diving into philosophy, I think that the next time I watch it I’ll have a different opinion of the film. This McSweeney’s piece about an audience participation type viewing ala Rocky Horror is a riot. Perhaps I should watch it like this once.
Over the past couple of week I was talking about other forms of the Rosary notably the Brigittine and Carmelite Rosary which have six mysteries for each decade, and the Franciscan Crown which has seven decades. During the next couple of weeks I’ll be reflecting on these extra mysteries.
We start with the Joyful Mysteries the Brigittines and Carmelites add a mystery for the Immaculate Conception. This is the beginning of the Life of Mary so it is a fitting start for a Rosary. At the Immaculate Conception, Mary is conceived without sin in Anne. This is a big deal as no one had been born without sin since the Garden of Eden, but even before her birth Mary had a divine purpose, and the Lord it seemed knew that Mary was going to respond with a Yes. For the Lord is above time and sees all. Mary was born without sin and there was a place for Jesus to be eventually born without sin as well.
This mystery is followed by the regular ones, Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation and Finding. By adding this extra mystery is does ground the rosary with Mary as so many of the mysteries later on Mary isn’t a figure in them like the whole of the sorrowful mysteries only to reappear in the end of the Glorious mysteries. The other added mysteries do the same by adding Mary to the various mysteries.
In case you need a refresher the is Pope John Paul II’s encyclical about Mary, the past two weeks we’ve had an overview of the Encyclical and the introduction.
John Paul II begins looking at Mary in the Mystery of Christ. We begin in Paul’s letters with the universal plan of God, salvation in Christ. In fact the Father chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. This divine plan comes to action through Mary as Vatican II states “she is already prophetically foreshadowed in that promise made to our first parents after their fall into sin” this and what Isaiah’s “a Virgin will bear a son and name him Emmanuel” are the Old Testament sign posts to Mary. Mary enters into the story of Salvation History in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels with the Annunciation. At the Annunciation an Angel of the Lord appeared to Mary.
At this point we begin an analysis of the Hail Mary, taking the parts from scripture and looking at them more closely. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28) John Paul makes a great point here saying that Mary isn’t even named but the angel uses full of grace to address her. Mary isn’t the rebellious or bitter or strong water which her name means in Hebrew, but full of grace is more than the indication that Mary is with child (Jesus) it seems to indicate that Mary was chosen before the creation of the world to be the mother of God. Meditating on being full of grace leads us to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians which opened the section (1: 3-7).
“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Lk, 1:42) This comes from the Visitation Elizabeth greets Mary with this when enter Elizabeth’s house. John Paul indicates that this is more than a simple blessing for Mary but it is a blessing for all of us. He continues saying that the most important part is what Elizabeth says next “Why is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?… blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:44-45) This John Paul points out links back to “full of grace” saying that both the Annunciation and the Visitation reveal an essential Mariological content, Mary becomes present in the mystery of Christ because she believed what the angel said. That’s all the Hail Mary which comes from the Bible.
In the third section of part 1 we look at the role Mary played as a mother in the life of Christ. She is the woman who bore and fed Jesus as a child he sucked her breast. Although not much of the early life of Jesus as a boy growing up is recorded in canonical gospels except for the Finding in the Temple, we should consider that Jesus would be like most children and love their mothers growing up. By the time for the wedding at Cana, where Jesus tells Mary “the hour has not yet come” yet Mary tells the servants to do what he tells you to do. She knows that Jesus is meant for great things and is there to support Jesus at the beginning as his ministry grows Mary stays in Nazareth until the Passion. The Wedding feast shows us why we pray to Mary, at the feast they went to Mary saying that there was no wine and she brings the message to Jesus Mary acts as a mediator. This is how our prayers work as well we pray to Mary so Jesus will listen to our prayers, she is the Mediatrix. This continues to the Passion where Jesus gives his mother to the beloved disciple “Women behold your son…behold your Mother” and Mary is once again present at Pentecost waiting with the disciples for the Holy Spirit to come. Jesus gave him mother to all of us at his crucifixion and we were given to his mother as well.
Next week we will be looking at Part 2= The Mother of God at the Center of the Pilgrim Church.
This May I will be looking at Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Redemptoris Mater “Mother of the Redeemer” On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the pilgrim Church. It has three section along with an introduction and conclusion so over the next couple of weeks I will be highlighting them for you all. This was John Paul’s only encyclical about Mary and focuses on the special place Mary holds in the plan of salvation and in the life of the Church here on earth. John Paul II noted that the seed of this encyclical was when he was in seminary after reading and re-reading Louis de Montfort’s Marian teachings a quote stuck with Karol “Then I understood that I could not exclude the Lord’s Mother from my life without neglecting the will of God-Trinity. ” If you’ve prayed a rosary anytime since the early 18th century you have encountered Louis de Montfort, and he has had a strong influence on the Pope on Marian matters. notably John Paul II.
Mary plays an important role in all of our lives since she is our mother and we need to visit with her from time to time. The Rosary is a prime way to visit her. May is the month where some nations celebrate mothers so we include our Heavenly Mother along side our real ones.
This week we begin our readings with a look into the book of Deuteronomy, or “second law”. The book itself is like a summation of the previous four books and most scholars believe it written after the Babylonian exile as a how are we supposed to live our faith in a post exile world. Today we hear from the writer that Moses said that the Lord said to him that “I, the Lord, would raise up a prophet like you, Moses and will they will be my mouthpiece to the people.” Many have thought that this is about how the Lord will send some prophet at the end times, Early Christians and Jesus thought this was about Jesus. However, I see this as a statement that the Lord will bring forth prophets for us throughout time to act as his mouthpiece on earth and it is a reminder for all of us that we are called to be a prophet to the nations. We are all like Moses he didn’t even want to be a leader and continually made excuses but when the time came he stepped up and took the lead.
As we turn to the second reading we pick up where we left off last week in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Last week Paul was saying that the Kingdom of God is coming soon and we should be ready. So this week we hear about how marriage make men and women anxious at pleasing the other where as those that are unmarried only are anxious about pleasing the Lord. I am not sure where Paul got this reasoning but it feels a bit off in the world today. I understand to fully understand what Paul mean you’ve got to read the entire chapter as he wrote earlier about married individuals and the concerns that the people in Corinth were having, so Paul isn’t trashing to idea of marriage but caution the unmarried or something.
Finally we make it to Mark’s Gospel and we continue from last week as well. Andrew, Simon, James, John and Jesus made their way to Capernaum and on the Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue and taught. Mark notes that the people were amazed by his teaching as Jesus taught with authority. Jesus teaching is accompanied with a possession and exorcism as well, a man in the synagogue had an unclean spirit and Jesus commands it to leave, again the people were amazed and the story of the exorcism and his preaching spread throughout the land. We can only imagine what it was like to hear Jesus preach and then exorcise a demon; we are left with priests who try to inspire us with a homily which most of the time aren’t memorable. We are reminded this week to keep our ears open for prophets and those preaching with authority