Friday, December 28, 2012


Marriage and Celibacy according to Jesus:

4 He answered, 'Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female

5 and that he said: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh?  [Quote from Genesis, chapter 2, verse 24]
6 They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide."

10 The disciples said to him, 'If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry."
11 But he replied, 'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted.
12 There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." (The Gospel of Matthew)

There are two mysteries wrapped up in this passage of Matthew.  Each one of them refers to the same thought that is expressed by God the Creator in Genesis.  Each one of them is as ancient as human beings.  Humans have always found a way to relate to God in order to be complete in their being.  /For the most part humans follow the path that was outlined by God, they leave everything behind in order to devote themselves to an exclusive communitarian relationship between man and woman.  This is a basic human calling that God set forth for the greater good of his earthly creatures.  It is His plan that the male should not be afraid to collaborate with God Himself to make the world a better place.  It is His plan that the woman should stay by the man's side as a loving partner for the sake of the betterment of the world as well.  The role of the man was considered to be important for the health and protection of the woman.
In the early going, one man was often responsible for more than one woman.   As time went on, however, the relationship between humans and God became more defined and the cleaving of man to woman and vice versa became more exclusive.  There is a good example of the difficulties that polygamy presented to God fearing, righteous people in the very first chapter of the first book of Samuel.  Alkanah, the man, had more than one wife.  He had one whom he liked more then the other.  The difficulty was that the one whom he really loved was barren.  Her name was Hannah.  The lesser loved of the two, who disliked Hannah, was Penninah.  As far as love stories go, this one is quite touching.  Hannah turns out to be the mother of Samuel the great Patriarch who himself never married, but gave himself completely to God, right from the moment of his birth, through the vow of his mother.  It is therefore quite clear that when Jesus talks about those who are eunuchs by their own doing, do it for the Kingdom of Heaven, he had some examples to fall back on.
It is therefore important to our religious and spiritual life that we have people who are able to live the advice and the pronouncements of God and His Son Jesus for the sake of the Kingdom.
I dare say that Jesus came to us to clarify a lot of things that needed clarifying from the Old Testament.  One of them, of course has to do with the way humans live and how they relate to one another and to God Himself.  For the many, it is through the grace of Matrimony.  For "Those who can" it is through a complete dedication of self to the Kingdom.
It is clear in the Scripture that in both cases, "man" leaves his father and mother" to cleave to another person. In the case of Matrimony, he and his spouse cleave to one another.  In the case of the dedicated eunuch, man and woman, father and mother are left behind for the total dedication of self to the Kingdom.  In both cases, Jesus doesn't negotiate anything away.  He says simply, "'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted. ... Let anyone accept this who can."
This is why it is clearly defined by the Catholic church that these two states of life are perpetual.  They cannot be negotiated away and substituted for by an alternative status.  Jesus says it clearly, that he/she who is divorced and who goes and lies with another commits adultery.  The same goes for the dedicated celibate.  We have the story of Samson that shows us the consequences of violating the vowed dedication that was made to God and forsaken in sin.  Closer to Jesus, we have the story of David, the great sinner as well as the great saint.
In the Gospels we have the great example of both kinds of dedication.  We have the stories of righteous married people and the example of John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Jesus Himself who never married.
I am writing this because I get into many conversations about priestly celibacy.  Most of them carry the question:  "When will the Roman Catholic Church allowed married priests to minister openly as a matter of course rather than by exception?"  My answer is always the same, "Never."  It is not that there is anything immoral about a married man accepting Holy Orders.  It is the fact that the call to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic church carries with it the non-negotiable requirement of perpetual celibacy.  This is the sign on earth that there is a great reward that is worth living for in an extraordinary life style in a disciple's relationship with God.  The solid, non-negotiable call to a stable marriage and the living out of the grace of God to keep it that way is also a sign that there is a great reward awaiting those who do not seek to negotiate their way out of it.
There is also a great reward for those who, having tried and failed, remain focused on God in their new state.  They too are examples that the Kingdom of Heaven is worth dying for, even if the dying starts early and takes a while  to carry us to our eternal reward.
Then, finally, there are those who will dare to ask, "And, what about you?"
My answer is simple.  David had his sin. Peter had his sin.  They died dedicating their lives to God.
All I am doing is dying slowly, doing what I can to keep my focus on God.
So, after my slow martyrdom  I don't want anybody to feel bad at my funeral.  Keep your hankies dry.  Know that I died happy, even it is was on Mount Nebo rather than Jerusalem.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I want to focus on the four friends of this man.  Well, wait a minute, maybe they weren't friends but were well meaning "neighbors." The fact is that without them, the paralytic would not have been cured.  The lesson here is an important one for us.  I am not the first one to mention this publicly.  In fact, let me share a similar thought with you from a blogger somewhere else in the ethersphere.

 "In the midst of the crowd was a small group: a handful of men with a paralyzed friend.  These un-named companions, decided to bring their buddy (also un-named) to see Christ, hoping for a miracle.  Four of them were holding the paralyzed man on a stretcher, but could not break through the multitudes to get close to Jesus. So, these really nice friends climbed to the roof — with their  paralyzed buddy (outside stairways were common then).  The group made a hole in the roof (which was probably constructed out of wooden beams, thatching and mud) and carefully let their friend down into the house on his stretcher.  Jesus was astonished at this enormous display of faith, and so, with tender affection, told them that their sins were forgiven (which really annoyed some scribes and Pharisees who were present).  Jesus amazed the people even more by commanding the paralyzed man to rise and walk.  Instantly, the man who had to be carried by his friends stood up and began to walk with his feet while glorifying God with his lips!  These trusting men knew.  They knew that Jesus was blessed and caring. And, they knew that it was worth going to great lengths to be near Him."  [ by THERESA DOYLE-NELSON on JULY 29, 2010 on her blog]

In my mind, it is not the fact that the four men are unnamed but that they actually did something to help the man. They had faith.  Their faith included the faith of the man, and the paralytic man participated in the faith of the four men.  Just as Jesus participated in the healing power of the creator, the paralytic was one with his supporters.
This is a lesson about the collaborative mission of God Himself.  Think of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the Prophets and Jesus Himself.  Yaweh does not operate in an isolated vacuum.  Jesus does not stand alone.  Our God is a collaborating, communitarian, productive mutual love God.  Our faith is a communitarian faith, not an absolute personal one. We have the obligation to support one another in Faith, Hope and Charity.  
This obligation does not just begin with Jesus.  It begins with the very early directives of Yaweh Himself.  Listen to these words:
9 "When you reap the harvest of your land, you will not reap to the very edges of the field, nor will you gather the gleanings of the harvest;
10 nor will you strip your vineyard bare, nor pick up the fallen grapes. You will leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am Yahweh your God.
11 "You will not steal, nor deal deceitfully or fraudulently with your fellow-citizen.
12 You will not swear by my name with intent to deceive and thus profane the name of your God. I am Yahweh.
13 You will not exploit or rob your fellow. You will not keep back the labourer's wage until next morning.
14 You will not curse the dumb or put an obstacle in the way of the blind, but will fear your God. I am Yahweh.
15 "You will not be unjust in administering justice. You will neither be partial to the poor nor overawed by the great, but will administer justice to your fellow-citizen justly.
16 You will not go about slandering your own family, nor will you put your neighbour's life in jeopardy. I am Yahweh.
17 You will not harbour hatred for your brother. You will reprove your fellow-countryman firmly and thus avoid burdening yourself with a sin.
18 You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudge against, the members of your race, but will love your neighbour as yourself. I am Yahweh.
Does this sound familiar?  We all remember the times when Jesus reached out to strangers and even told parables about how strangers were valuable to Him as well as the Chosen People.  Remember when the emissaries of John the Baptist asked Him if He was the One for whom they were waiting?  His answer was, "Go tell John that the lame walk, the blind see..."  The story of the supportive community of the paralytic mentioned in the story told above is really a very up-to-the-minute, detailed example of the meaning of the Magi and further on down the books of the New Testament, the gathering of the people to hear the sermon delivered by Peter on the morning following the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts, chapter 2)  God is the creator of us all, the Savior of us all and the Sanctifier of us all.

Brothers and sisters, this is our call.  This is what it means to be a disciple of the Servant King.  This is what I believe and this is what I strive to live.  I won't be 100% successful, but hey, do not let that be a reason for you to cry at my funeral.  Remember that Christ came to free us from death, and therefore from having to cry at funerals ... especially, mine!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Are you trying to say that waiting is not a waste of time?  Yes.  Watch.

1. "Time answers questions and removes uncertainty."
2. "Our willingness to wait reveals the level of value that we place on  
    what it is for which we wait."
3. "Good things come to those who wait."
The best thing that happens to those who wait is God Himself, per Isaiah: (64;4)

For since the beginning of the world
People have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,

Who acts for the one who waits for Him.

We are in the time of Advent.  Advent is a short form of the future participle of the Latin word meaning "to arrive."  The interesting thing about this word is that when we use it in its full-blown form, we don't have the same negative feeling about it as we experience when we consider it in its shortened form.  Yet, the meaning is the same and the final results for us are generally positive in either case.  Since "Advent" is a religious term more than a secular one, let's start there.

Advent puts our North American patience [or lack thereof ] to the test.  We dislike waiting.  Waiting for us is a negative.  It is a waste of time.  We dislike it so strongly that we even spend big money buying and using devices that make us forget that we are waiting.  We are so averse to waiting that we even use our I-phones and other electronic devices while waiting at the restaurant table for the order to come.  We do this in front of our companions, even if they do not have an I-phone.  Rather than to enrich ourselves with the thoughts and opinions of our friends and relatives, we have recourse to texting or gaming or managing our contacts list, or...
Of course, we do the same thing during Advent.  Rather than to spend a moment enriching ourselves with the spiritual treasures that the season holds, we hide behind our impatience and our impulsive nature in an effort to forget the pain of waiting for the 25th of December to come and go. 
It is difficult to imagine that a culture so intent upon productive action can be so absorbed in non-productive, mindless escapism as we are.  We have forgotten the fundamental truth that there is more value in people watching than there is in composing a series of "Whassup, Dude" texts while waiting for the bus to arrive or for another friend to come out from the doctor's office. 
It is nearly impossible to rise above this morass of mindless activity in the search for internal fulfillment of some kind.  It is quasi impossible to reach out to an invisible but loving God in order to feel His loving warmth in our lives.  Even Advent doesn't make it happen because it gets pre-empted by Wal-Mart, et al.  It gets pre-empted because it is a "wait" not a search.  We know that Christ is coming, and that is fine, but it's the wait that is killing us.

May I therefore suggest that we turn to the long form of the word to see if there is some help to be found there.  We are looking for spiritual fulfillment and the appreciation of God's never ending flow of grace into our lives.  What we might as well do therefore, is to embark on a spiritual "ADVENTURE."  The meaning is related to "Advent."  It means that things are going to happen.  In most conversations it means that "I am going to go out and make something happen."  I will make reality come to me and I will make reality know that I too am on the way. Remember, I said that this is a future participle.  (You grammar nerds know that we don't have that verb form in the English language.)  
What  am proposing therefore is that we submerse ourselves not in "Advent" but in "Adventure."  We know that God is reaching out to us, so why not answer His reach by "adventuring" back towards Him?  If we do that we will find ourselves on Christmas Eve so fast we will wonder where the time went.  Dare I venture to say that we might even save a dollar or two in the process?  
There are some interesting ways to activate our minds and souls around the waiting period.  There is always the possibility that we decide to have a family Bible Prayer every day, at a convenient time, from now until the end of Christmastide.  There is the building of an Advent wreath with the four candles to decorate the Bible Prayer space.  If you Catholics aren't too familiar with the Bible, use the Bible Readings that are used in church on Sunday.  Go to a solid, trustworthy website like or or
It is also fun, believe it, to reach out and help someone who needs it.  Not necessarily a room in your house, for instance, but something simple like driving an old person to the doctor, watering the neighbor's plants while she is out of town, helping a family to clean the house or the yard, or...?  Here's one, volunteer for the food bank nearest you.  At this time of the year, they need all the help that they can get.  When you're at the supermarket and you bump into the person with the manager's name tag, ask if the company has a policy of donating goods to church food banks.  The manager won't give the donation directly to you, but take the information and send the leader of the food bank to see the store manager in a day or two and it shall be done.  Where I go to church there is a warm blanket drive every December aimed at making Winter time a little easier on the homeless.  

The point is, the spiritual life in the company of Jesus is Adventure.  It is His coming to us and our going to him.  This December moment is a time of High Adventure.  Get used to it now, and let it grow on you so that your whole life will take place side by side with Our God and the Angels and Saints who surround Him, and us.

If I die after you've made this spiritual effort, you will be required to refrain from crying at my funeral.

God bless you all with peace and joy.