Jesus was a Jew.
His Jewishness was integral to his entire being,
first followers had no problem with it.
Starting with Constantine,
Christians began to hide that fact.
The change begins to show up
as Jesus' family get blond hair and blue eyes.
images begin to show Jesus
wearing a loincloth to hide the uncomfortable
that he had been circumcised,
as all Jewish boys were—and still
are—on the eighth day.
The apostles morph into handsome western
except for Judas who takes on caricatured Jewish features
the yellow clothes that Jews were made to
The current issue of
describes the discovery of an ancient synagogue in
the fishing village that was probably
the home of Mary of
The many discoveries brought to light
by the excavation of this
synagogue and the surrounding area,
“solidified the portrait of Jesus
Jew preaching to other Jews.”
Excavations in the nearby villages of Nazareth
along with the history of the area,
give us new insights
about the times Jesus lived in
and the cultures that surrounded
Who was this person, this Jesus
He was, first of all, a faithful Jew.
He was a Jew living
in the midst of turmoil and oppression.
He grew in wisdom, age, and
to be a good man,
a prayerful mystic who took God seriously.
following the teachings of his Jewish faith,
he grew to have the courage to
say out loud
what was obvious to the ordinary people in the countryside: God
not like the Roman emperor,
who declares himself a god over us.
is not like the Temple officials,
who set down burdensome rules for
God is love.
celebrate Jesus' baptism,
and we find that it's an epiphany story—
example of the manifestation of God among us—
and it reveals a truth about
all of us,
the truth that spirituality has to be lived to make it
Jesus didn't suddenly become a different person
on the day he was
He answered the call that had been growing in him.
to living his life in keeping with what Judaism
he saw himself as made in the image and likeness of God,
a son of God, beloved by God and called to live in
Jesus was compelled by his
experience of oneness with God
to speak the truth he had come to
The people who heard him were inspired
by his teaching that
everyone, here and now, is beloved;
each of us is a child of God.
us is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Each of us is commissioned to show
in our selves and our
When Jesus committed himself
to serve God above all else,
it was not a commitment to suffer and
It was a commitment
to follow God's command to love
and that meant doing justice.
threatened people with power and authority
in both the religion and the
The choice to live in
love and do justice
continues to threaten people who hold power and
Pope Francis' push for the care of creation is opposed
who have misused their power and authority
to use people and abuse the
This week President Obama's executive orders
reducing gun deaths
brought vicious statements
from the National Rifle
who profit from guns
and from members of
who depend on NRA contributions for their political
There's a very long list of people
who gave their lives trying
to do justice,
some of them well-known like Oscar Romero, Maura
Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan,
others known only to
who grieve their “disappearance.”
Still, the way of Jesus
of Nazareth prevails.
It lives on in every whistleblower
who puts the
common good before personal gain.
It lives on in every person, Christian or
who does justice in the world.
As Luke writes in today's passage from
the Acts of the Apostles,
“any person of any nationality
who fears God and
does what is right
is acceptable to God.”
Sikhs and Buddhists and Baha’i,
agnostics and atheists.
Here we are at the beginning of
the new year,
and our path is clear.
Isaiah gives us the outline
what Jesus understood and acted on.
Endowed with the Spirit,
like him we
are called to bring justice to the nations,
to serve the cause of
to open the eyes of the blind;
to free captives from prison;
bring light to the world.
Some of you will fill it by tending to the sick and the
Some will plant trees.
Or tend children and grandchildren,
own or your neighbors
or those of people you have never met.
Or give to
soup kitchens and food pantries
and efforts to settle Syrian refugees
get trafficked women and children off the streets
and into a safe
Some of you will donate blood, or tutor, or register
Whatever piece of justice each of you decides to do this year
bring opposition from those who profit by oppression.
But, thanks be to you
and to God, you'll do it anyway.
Holy Spirit Catholic
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West
Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH