Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Stables" by Peter Mayer


John Dominic Crossan – The Birth of Jesus- The First Christmas, Meaning for Today

 Basing their interpretations on the two nativity narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, separate narratives with different purposes, Borg and Crossan focus on the inner truth rather than the historical facts that have great meaning for today.

I just finished reading The First Christmas by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan.  I highly recommend this book as an inspirational and scholarly reflection on the meaning of the birth of Jesus for today:
"Jesus, according to both Matthew and Luke, is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. He decisively reveals and incarnates the presence of God as disclosed in the Law and the Prophets- the promise and hope for a very different world from the world of Pharaoh and Caesar, the world of domination and empire."

 This book offers new insights, makes the connections with the ancient sacred stories in the Old Testament that affirm the meaning of Jesus' birth for the early Christian community and for the 21st century. It is an interesting and readable book that both inspires and challenges us today. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, https://arcwp.org

Monday, December 17, 2018

Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP Interviewed on Roman Catholic Women Priests' Movement on Radio Station for Program "Common Threads" , Two Segments


"The Birth of the Messiah" John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D. , Association for the Rights of Catholics

The Christmas trees are lit. We are now rushing into the season, celebrating in theory at least, Jesus' birth.
A friend asked how we know when and where Jesus was born. My short answer: we have biblical suppositions and creative theologies, but there is much we really don't know..... We do know what is important: that Jesus was born, what he said, what he did, and what happened to him. We believe. Jesus, "the anointed one," Christ, the Messiah, is our Way, the Truth, and Life. When and where he was born are secondary matters.
Another friend suggested that we really need to "Put Christ back into Christmas." I understand the concern but feel more strongly that we need to put Christ back into the lives of those "Christians," who deny and reject him in their words and actions. First, let's put Christ back into Christianity. Then we can move on to Christmas.
As we begin Advent 2018, I do have some thoughts about interpreting the birth of Jesus. First, however, some background information:
Jesus of Nazareth was born more or less around the year AD 1. The Anno Domini (The year of the Lord) dating system was invented in the year AD 525 by Dionysius Exiguus, a medieval monk who wanted a calendar system that was not based on the reigns of anti-Christian Roman emperors. By around the year AD 800 the new calendar was a fact of life across Western Europe. Dionysius picked the date for the start of his AD calendar system using his own theory and calculations about when he thought Jesus was born.
There is a trend today to move to BCE/CE. The years are the same as AD/BC: BCE understood to mean "Before the Common Era" and CE to mean "Common Era."
We really do not know the month when Jesus was born. The first recorded date of Jesus' birth being celebrated on December 25th was in AD 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December, the old Roman festival day celebrating the birth of "the unconquered sun." Jesus, of course, was understood as the Light of the World. When Christianity became the new imperial religion, the old "pagan" Roman festivals were replaced with Christian ones.
The Gospels offer very little information about the birth of Jesus the Messiah. Although we refer to the "Infancy Narratives" in Matthew and Luke, they do not actually give us information about Jesus' infancy and childhood. Rather, they answer the theological question, "Who is Jesus of Nazareth?"
Moving into December 2018, I suggest that we re-read the actual infancy texts: Matthew 1 & 2 and Luke 2.
Some observations as we begin:
(1) The Scriptures are more concerned about theology - belief - than strict historic detail. There is some real and some imagined history in the Scriptures, but that is secondary to theology.
(2) The language in all of Sacred Scripture has to be understood in the original socio-cultural understandings of the people at the time when the biblical narratives were being composed and written. As the biblical scholar, John Dominic Crossman, stresses: "My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally."
(3) As the first century Christians reflected on the meaning of Jesus they also re-read and re-interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures: seeing signs of Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures that they had never seen before. They understood Jesus, for example, as the NEW Moses.
Matthew and Luke:
The Infancy Narrative in Matthew was written around AD 85 for Jewish converts to Christianity. Matthew constructs his genealogy to link Jesus with Abraham. For Matthew, Jesus as the New Moses and he uses creative historical imagery. Note the striking parallels between Jesus' birth and Moses' birth - the slaughtering of innocents, and the flight to Egypt.
The Infancy Narrative in Luke was written around between AD 85 and 90 possibly as late as 95. It was written for highly educated Gentile converts to Christianity. In Luke, Jesus is the high point of humanity and the light to enlighten the Gentiles. Luke creates a genealogy (chapter 3) that links Jesus with Adam. For Luke, Jesus is the man for all peoples, with special compassion for women, the poor, and social outcasts.
Closely examined, the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke offer differing pieces of information:
(1) Luke mentions the census of Quirinius which requires Joseph to go to Bethlehem.
(2) Matthew, however, gives no details of how Joseph and Mary came to be in Bethlehem.
(3) In Luke, shepherds guided by an angel find Jesus in the manger.
(4) In Matthew, wise men from the East, guided by a star, come not to Bethlehem but to Jerusalem to worship the Infant.
(5) In Matthew Joseph flees with his wife and child to Egypt where they live until Herod's death. Later they return to Nazareth not to Bethlehem.
(6) Luke, on the other hand, does not mention the descent into Egypt. Instead, he describes how the Infant is brought to Jerusalem for the ritual of the first-born.
(7) AND there are some historical problems if one sees Matthew and Luke as strict history: Herod died in 4 BC. The census of Quirinius was in AD 6.
By the way, there is no mention of three kings in either infancy narrative. ONLY Matthew mentions "some wise men."
We will continue our Infancy Narrative reflections next week....Read the biblical texts and jot down your own observations...


John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D. (ARCC Vice President and Treasurer)  is a historical theologian - Catholic University of Leuven and University of Ghent
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Advent 3 - Presiders: Kim Panaro, ARCWP and Terry Kersch

Kim Panaro, ARCWP, and Terry Kersch led the Upper Room's third week of Advent liturgy with the theme of Joy. In our Christian story/parable tradition we are constantly invited to live a life filled with joy. Yet as adults we know that the deep joy of our faith is rooted in an experience of the Holy One within the context of complex lives full of both joys and sorrows.
Terri's homily starter is below the readings. Kim and Terri asked the community to contemplate the readings and consider the following questions: What do you hear?, What will you do?, What will it cost you?

Opening Meditation: Mary Did you Know Sung by Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Joan Horgan.
Peace Prayer: Loving Kindness by Karen Drucker
First Reading:

In loving kindness, God has raised up witnesses in our midst. God is calling each of us to a more radical discipleship-one which will not be understood by the powerful of our day. We must be wise as serpents in naming and denouncing the evil which pervades our world. We must be filled with compassion with those for whom suffering from lack of basic necessities has become a way of life. We must be moved to action which will clearly identify us with the poor. Above all, let us not be filled with fear. Let us be filled with courage and hope, for “in the tender compassion of our God, the dawn shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

These are the inspired words of Sr. Melinda Roper and the community affirms them by saying: Amen.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119 Nan Merrill

L- O, how I love your friendship! I walk with You wherever I go. Your Love is the life-giving force of Creation, imbue us with your living rays of peace and joy.

R- For, as we surrender ourselves to Your living Presence, we will be filled with the radiance of Love. As we open our hearts to the spiritual Life, we will be filled with wisdom and freedom ready to serve.

L- O, how glorious are the ways of the Spirit! How wondrous are your Works! The path of love is sure, unhurried and filled with mystery.

R- How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your Mind I receive understanding; I no longer take pleasure in my former ways.

L- Yes, your Truth is a lamp to my feet and Light to my path. You give me strength as I descend into the inner sanctum, to uncover the hidden blessings, to seek the treasures of the Spirit.

R- When I am filled with fear, I meditate upon your LIght. I yearn to have every doubt and fear quelled and transformed; O Heart of all hearts, bless me with your healing Light, that I may be loving presence.

L- Though the ignorant lay snares for me, let me not stray from You. Your Word is my heritage forever; Yes, it is the joy of my heart. I shall open my heart’s ear to converse with you forever, to the end.

All- When I meditate upon your Light, My heart opens with compassion for all life.
Painting of Mary by Fr. Bruno Segatta  - A gift from Fr. Bruno to the Upper Room
Gospel Reading: 

When the people asked him, “What should we do?”John replied, “Let the one with two coats share with the one who has none. Let those who have food do the same.”

Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to John, “Teacher, what are we to do?”

John answered then, “Exact nothing over and above your fixed amount.”

Soldiers likewise asked, “What about us?” John told them, “ Don’t bully anyone. Don’t accuse anyone falsely. Be content withy your pay.”

The people were full of anticipation, wondering in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all by saying. “I am baptizing you in water, but someone is coming who is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not fit to untie! This One will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. A winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear the threshing floor and gather the wheat into the granary, but the chaff will be burnt in unquenchable fire” Using exhortations like this, John proclaimed the Good News to the people.

These are the inspired words from the gospel of Luke and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent Homily Starter – Terri Kersch

As I prayed about this weekend… I have been thought filled about Joy…Not the giddy, frivolous cheeriness often attributed to this season…but the deep inner warmth exhibited by courage and willingness to grow in God’s love.  Our theme evolved as Advent Joy – living fully within the no longer and not yet
In the previous weeks we have heard about the seed planted in dark soil.  I believe we all have space (s) in our hearts where darkness resides.  But faith leads us to believe this darkness - a place perhaps deepened by anxiety, loss, pain, abandonment or simply shaky faith is creative darkness.  A place where God already is…but needs to be (re)discovered…
I am sure that Mary, a very pregnant teenager did NOT know what was in store for her in life… yet somehow she was able to summon the courage to CHOOSE to believe.  Not only to believe, but she was willing to put her belief into action sitting with a pregnancy and a long and probably bumpy journey on a donkey not to mention the anxiety she experienced through her son’s brief life!  She is a model of radical discipleship Sr. Roper speaks of.
I am compelled to ask myself if I have Mary’s courage, to look deeply into my own creative darkness.  Do I have the courage and hope that  Sr. Melinda Roper speaks of…the willingness to choose to sit with what lies in darkness and not be filled with fear?  Can I actively appreciate with joy that time of waiting so that I can fully embrace the surprise that brings new sight.
And then, Luke challenges me further. Looking deeply within is not good enough. He tells me, with love and compassion I must show concern for others, and live with honesty and integrity…

Our music and readings bring me to two humongous questions:
Do I have the courage to acknowledge the God within me and
Am I willing to open my hands and heart to share that blessing with others…as Luke teaches…through love and compassion…with honesty and integrity
I believe an answer yes to these questions is the prescription for true joy…the God within us and in our midst. We become a blessing to each…both giving and receiving.  When we choose to absorb all that is no longer and richly and fully meet what is not yet…I believe we become Joy.

Communion Song: I Am For You by Rory Cooney 


Closing Song: O Holy Darkness, Loving Womb by Jann Aldredge-Clanton https://youtu.be/HTdZyBcg9iw