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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Christmas message

Those writing the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were
gathering and writing in the build up to the destruction of Jerusalem
with its Temple and leadership and in the aftermath of its
destruction. The Evangelists were constrained to interpret this
along with the controversies and historical events that had been
occurring since the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

1 - There were tensions and writings in the early
church regarding whether Jesus was God or merely a man or both God and
Man. Nowhere in the Gospels does it seem to me to be more clear that
Jesus is truly both God and a man than it is in the Infancy
narratives. In fact, there is so little about Jesus' infancy that we
are forced to realize that other more salient points are being made
that were considered much more important. John's Gospel goes even
further and begins by establishing the preexistence Jesus in eternity
as the Word of God. What were the evangelists needing to clarify.

2 - The Jewish Sanhedrin had considered itself in
charge and in control of Jewish life and worship throughout the whole
world. Now there was no temple or central locus of control for the
Jewish people. The temple and its leadership were gone and they never
have returned to this day. Jewish people, including Jewish Christians
Jews had to flee from Roman persecution – "…into the hills, deserts
and mountains" as the Gospels say. It was at this time the Jewish
leaders and Jewish people completely rejected the follows of Jesus to
be a part of the Jewish faith. They were excommunicated and
considered heretics. It was another point of no return. Christians
were on their own to discover who they really were.

3 - Moreover, the rigid followers of James the
brother of Jesus in Jerusalem also could no longer assume that they
had the responsibility of controlling the Christian faith from a
central location as the true deal and insist upon their
interpretation of what the mind of Jesus was. James and his followers
assumed the Jewish prophets would be correct when the nations would go
into spiritual Jerusalem (and for some geographical Jerusalem) from
all over the world to find the Messiah. Matthew and Luke now made it
clear that the apostles and their successors were bringing Christ out
to every part of the world. Thus the meaning of the Magi.

4 – The Romans initiated a persecution of Christians
and considered them heretics as well. Matthew and Luke proceeded to
point out that Jesus was a part of another Kingdom. The people of God
in Christ's kingdom desired the peace and love of Jesus over any
political realm. Even some of the followers of Jesus like Judas
Iscariot and those walking away from Christ after the loaves and
fishes, wanted a different Messiah than the one they got. Christians
could live in peace within any political system as long as their
principal allegiance was to the Way of life of Jesus Christ.
Christians called themselves the Way.

5 - It was obvious that both the Jews, the Romans,
some Christians and other national religions expected a different
Messiah than the one they got. Matthew and Luke wanted to make sure
that we do not make the same mistake and expect the church to be some
other than what Christ wanted it to be. They also did not want us to
wait for another Messiah or parish like waiting for Santa Claus. The
Kingdom of God was wherever we would choose to create it. It was
already here.

It was becoming increasing obvious the more the
population converted to Christianity that the church grew from the
hearts and lives of the poor. Thus the importance of the shepherds in
the Infancy narratives. The full spender and light of the Gospel were
seen in the liberation of the oppressed and the establishment of
peace, justice, love of neighbor, care for the sick. forgiveness and
empowerment of the marginalized as we learned from Father Redman
Sunday.

Every parish must live in some manner within the cave,
the manager and the straw. Those wanting a more comfortable church
just to worship God, receive communion and be left at home in peace
are looking for a different Messiah and parish than the one we got.
Those wanting something or someone else in terms of church leaders
ought to need the word of Jesus to Judas. "Whatever you must do, do
quickly, Leave and go elsewhere." Our parish has always had
ministries to those in need. Each of us can participate in these
efforts however we manage or choose to do so. But to eliminate them
from our lives would be expecting a different Jesus, parish and the
priests you have.

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