Posts Tagged ‘Brother Jesus’


It is unique, and something that things I have taught I was reminded of from a post on the Christian Left this morning that my wife shared. We tend to have the patriachal view of the Easter Events…that is the men that hid, not the women that stayed. How true. From the Gospel of John where we paused the Good Friday services reflection of the Stations of the Cross at this moment:

26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27, New International Version).

Many hear these words, and think it is speaking of John, the writer of tradition, who is being spoken too. Yet we took this moment to do a collective reflection with our family, as Raymond Brown, a Catholic Theologian I read back in my seminary days would point out. The Disciple that is loved (or beloved disciple) is a mystery in the writing, for a reason. It is so the hearer/reader can hear/feel/see themselves in the story. Upon the cross, Jesus is asking us to care for his beloved mummy. To care for others in our world, alone, or cast aside but yet truly belong. The point of view in being connection. Living belonging.

Which is one such example as there is two stories at play from Golgotha to the Empty Tomb. The women, his Mum and the women that had supported the ministry, that were empowered, and brought to the full view of community, society and Empire as people. They remained as he breathed his last, as he was lowered into and sealed in the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea (Celtic Lore would share is was this Joseph that would bring boy Jesus in his travels to the British Isles). They remained, they prayed, they prepared, they went, knowing the risk on this morning, as the sun rose.

To find the tomb empty.

To take back the story and the glory.

Those who were seen as nothing, not hated, or forgotten, simply, society did not care about them for they were not people. Yet, in the story of friendship with God, they were as deeply loved as Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, Peter, Paul… Mary and the women at the tomb (Mary & Martha, Mary Magdalene, Salome are some names of the beloved women in the disciples) were just not cared for in society. It was one of the communal sins exposed that lead to Jesus’ death. A world that forgot everyone belongs, everyone is beloved, everyone is equal… a world that forgot how to care for neighbour, and was lost in its own selfishness, greed, and grasping for power. It is still a self-perpetuating communal sin that today, shows victory over is possible, that c-tine has laid bear in our world. Our collective inability to shape our actions for the health of all, and to realize that all life matters (and that all loss of life, is loss and cannot be rationalized out of on the human heart). We are currently the world, illustrated in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine two parter- Past Tense, that is so succinctly summed up by Dr. Julian Bashir:

In Past Tense Part 1 & 2, these were sanctuary camps in the 2020’s (think our own homeless camps)…and forgotten who our neighbour is, and why we have a crisis of homelessness and poverty in our world.

The women stayed shattered the glass ceiling of the oppressor. The women proclaiming “He is risen”, or for Mother Mary, “My son is alive”. Showed that these systems had no power. Nothing could overcome the simple love of life. As we sing Alleluia! and He is Risen, we truly need to understand what that means, for we were opened up to a very intimate relationship with Brother Jesus. He showed what intimacy, and compassion in action look liked. It is one of the great learnings from Diana Butler Bass’ (2021) Freeing Jesus I love, is how she walks through each way you encounter Jesus in a faith journey, yet the full scope of friend being the foundation. How it is not a puff piece, or pablum, but rather something we have lost in life. Biblically friend, is the terms the Hebrew Bible Patriarchs and Moses used in their relationship to God. For Jesus, Abba, the intimacy is even more than Father, but harkens back to Friend. That type of intimacy that is illustrated with the shredding of the veil in the Temple, the barrier separating what is usually termed the sacred and profane, or more palpable Creator and blessed Creation.

How do we truly understand this scope of friendship? Intimate relationships? Healthy relationships? The concept that family, as was shown in Golgotha is not about blood (genetics), but about love. Currently we have a skewed view of friendship, for social media has shifted it to a voyeuristic pursuit, not an active participation in life. But when we take the Holy Risk to make friends, we create true sacred space in our lives for belonging. When we approach those we do not know as possible friends, it becomes harder to forget how to care. It activates our empathy for the other, because we know how we care for those in our circles, and how we would feel if that was those family members.

We become the women that stayed. Watched. Acted. Proclaimed.

The disciple that is loved, and asked to risk taking someone in. The beloved disciples that wept, that prayed, that risked. The loving Mother, sisters, wives that show us what sacred love and holy friendship is. That if we can truly engage with and live into our world will be transformed as the call of Easter on our hearts.

Are we willing to stay?

Are we willing to risk being a friend?

Easter Reflection Sources:

Facebook post from the Christian Left

What We Left Behind: A Look Back at Star Trek Deep Space Nine (streaming on Tubi TV), watch trailer here.

Bow Valley Christian Church Easter Service view here.

Diana Butler Bass (2021) Freeing Jesus


Another year of entering into Easter Weekend at a distance. Many decry and wonder why we cannot gather, yet the sacerament of service, is the answer to the lament, and where Alberta is currently in our pandemic journey as I shared on Facebook yesterday (a unique day with Maundy Thursday & April Fool’s Day sharing space). Yes I apologize for the laise fair share of twoof my Facebook screen shots a day late instead of the normal Maundy Thursday reflection, but as the day closed after 381 days of online existence/teaching, weariness won out, so below were the thoughts that brings us into the reality of the Sacrament of Service:

Can you live out a modern foot washing in this pandemic time this Easter Weekend?

On Good Friday we have shared 11,000 new cases. Yes a third wave is here, and some, like those of Grace Life Church and Fairview Baptist use the conept of take up their cross and that they are “persecuted” under the guise of religious freedom to cause harm to neighbour and the Love Message of Brother Jesus. It was during our online Good Friday service, walking the Stations of the Cross Reflectively that we discussed as a family, what the idea of take up the cross looks like. It is not an image to hide our bias, bigotries, prejudices, hatreds, martyr complexes, or communal sins lived out. Brother Jesus lived out a radical servant messiahship, not a might make right, not Jesus with an assault rifle, rather a humble teacher from working class roots, with a calling to serve, to live out what the Imageo Dei was meant to be. It radically shattered the glass ceilings of the time. Lived out, it shifted dynamics, empowered the voices of the voiceless, showed that all had equality, and worth in the Kingdom (our divisive labels were there to divide and harm, and rather useless). There was a celebration of the once known as untouchable, unwanted or “property” of Empire, on Palm Sunday, that on Maundy Thursday, in John Mark’s folks upper room, Jesus would gather with his friends. Share the Passover Meal.

A meal that called back the rememberance of another time of freedom from Oppression from the story of Exodus. Think of the power of the Oppressed being freed, and another Empire publicly exposed for its weakness, and once the oppressed realized they had worth, it crumbled like a house of cards (thinking of any connections to the current era of Reconciliation and Transformation?). That after dinner, Jesus would go to Gethsemane, to the Garden to pray, and there that he would be betrayed, by one of his close friends, with the kiss of greeting.

From there, the fear of the Oppressor was on full display in the journey to the lynching of Brother Jesus. The lies, the propaganda, the falsities, and the gaming of the system to silence the one that chose to challenge what was wrong with society. What did harm and damage to the Imageo Dei. When we talked with our kids about what take up the cross meant, these are the moments we shared. The times when faith led to true and healthy change in our world, when the thin space between the Holy Mystery and Creation overlapped. Times like the Red River Resistance, Indigenous Rights, end of Apartheid, Truth & Reconciliation, LGBTTQ2+ rights, Feminism, Women’s Rights, social safety nets, disability rights, and, sadly, the list goes on, as the societal sin of Christendom (and insert any idealogy or religion that evil has used to hide behind to divide, to cause harm, to perpetuate genocide no one truly has not been used) but it is in those moments when we know we are standing up for the Kingdom value of the blessedness of the Imageo Dei, justice in love, and all belonging regardless of pushback–that is the true moments of taking up the Cross, and walking the path of Brother Jesus to Golgotha.

How does our communities truly transfigure if Christians truly took up the Cross, like Simon of Cyrene did?

We gather a part for the second year, reminiscient of the early followers of Jesus on that first Easter. Our gathering apart shows our care and love in our Sacrament of Service.

In the name of our loving Creator, whose Image we see in one another, the love of our Brother Jesus’ whose cross we carry to the glory of the Sunrise, and the release of the Loving Passion in our communities transfigured through the Loving & Holy Spirit in us, through us and connecting us.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Some Holy Weekend Resources/Services for your reflection:

Bow Valley Christian Church Good Friday Service.

Culture, Christ and Covid

Stations of the Cosmic Christ

All Saints Lutheran Church Calgary Holy Week Resources, Reflections and Services.


As I am more in the quiet during c-tine, what has always been laid on my heart by the Holy Mystery continues to bubble to the surface even more. Healthy and whole communities that allow for authentic connection and belonging, for no other reason than simply, we are created in the Imageo Dei, and as such have inherent worth and are called to love and be loved. It is a mouth full I know, and definitely bucks the trend of the quick and pithy vision/mission leadership mantras of our time. Truly though if we are called to be in community, called to holy interdependence, then idea of celebrity and cult of leadership need to break down (points from Barringer and Mcknight’s new book, A Church Called Tov (2020)).

When do barriers and labels break down?? When we break bread and share life together.
See the source image

The new book opens up sharing, something I had sadly pointed out to many non-Roman Catholic Churches, during my time in bible college and seminary–that crisis and abuse will exist, so will cover up–for it is about the positions of power that attract the monsters. Many balked, the work walks through what creates toxic cultures using real time examples from Willow Creek, Harvest Bible Chapel, Sovereign Grace Ministries and the Southern Baptist Convention. It works around the fear culture these spaces cultivate, the ones that discourage and disparage the abused. The same tactics of silence and spiritual abuse overlaying the sexual abuse, as witnessed within Roman Catholicism, Jehovah Witness, and other religious movements.

It is laying the ground work, so if one does not understand they can begin to see how the church has strayed. Long time readers are familiar with my own lived stories, and sadly how different theologies have gone after my children and others. It is what happens when the purpose of the gathering shifts from healthy community and family, to the numbers game of tithing, attendance, how many conversions? baptisms? confirmations? All these types of reports in my time as a pastor I did have to file. The next step, is also having the abused needing to face 1 to 1 the abuser by misusing the Christian Testament Matthew 18, which adds more layers to the silence.

Follow that up, with non-disclosure agreements for staff (oh how those have been used to silence the struggling, with a survival pittance to go away) to the rationale in American civil court (with duty to report in Canada, and other judicial changes I do not think they hold the same wallop, sadly though does the average person in the pew know that?).

The membership covenant that literally grooms (yes I am using those words) church members, whether the bullied/abused or the bystander to keep it behind and underneath the thin crucifix line, not to take it to the proper authorities.

The work takes one through a helpful 8 point false narrative that perpetuates suppression: discredit the critics, demonize the critics, spin the story, gaslight the critics, make the perpetrator the victim, silence the truth, suppress the truth, and issue a fake apology. Does it sound like an abusive spouse? Or how about political or religious zealots/extremists or white supremacists? Yup, hate and abuse take the same form when boiled down. Ever experienced any of these things in the workplace? Your place of worship? What have or were the ripple effects in your own life?

Note, it was not your fault. Stand in the truth, and reconcile to move forward in your own life. Get the health supports you need to heal. The book then shifts to the concept of Tov, and this cultivation of a culture of goodness within the church family. Which is nothing new, in fact it has been laid out many places over the last 6,000 years- the Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament …and many that have come since. It is the heart of Jesus life.

It is the cultivation of an interdependent and healthy community. The TOV has points as well. The writers use the concept of church (obviously), but it speaks to community as well in what needs to be nurtured: empathy, grace, people first culture, truth, justice and Christlikeness. For those going–whoa–that is an awfully religious end one to say that all communities should nurture, keep it simple, what did Brother Jesus live and teach? Love, acceptance, connection and belonging.

What ends most of societies ills?

Connection, belonging, acceptance and love.

If you want to explore more around the ideas this book presented read the full book, but I also would suggest exploring others. St. Basil the Great, St. Francis & Clare of Assisi, Dorothy Day & the Catholic Worker’s Movement, Jim Wallis and the Sojourners, Tommy Douglas’ writings, Larry Crabb, William Aberhart’s writings, Pierre Trudeau’s writings, Desmond Tutu, Rowan Williams, Saint John Paul the Great, Tony Campolo & Red Letter Christians, Eugene Peterson, the Emergent Christianity writers, writings on missional living, J.S. Woodsworth, Matthew Fox (and Creation Spirituality), John Shelby Spong, Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Henri Nouwen to name but a few that speak into this idea of community of all.

But don’t just read, and contemplate- that is the starting point.

The next step is what next?

What is one tangible thing you are going to do to build a community of caring and goodness in your community? Your home?


On Day 202 of C-tine we arrive at the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. He was a son of a wealthy man, who attempted to avoid his calling to live the gospel life. He was not against learning and academia as many would paint he and his followers with. Brother Francis wrestled with the gospel teachings, and learning them by rote. He was much more of a discovery learner. The idea of ensuring that one could live each lesson, before moving to the next.

There is also many amazing stories of Francis and his followers. From his understanding that not everyone was called to celibacy, that bambinos were needed for the work to flourish (hence the third order), he believed that women were to be just as active in the gospel life not cloistered away in prayer but living prayer in action (hence the Poor Clares, and Sister Clares’ constant work for having their own rule, see the legend of Hot Crossed buns)…he lived his caretaking for creation as was given to us in Genesis 3.

If you want to discover stories and teachings, I encourage you to explore Murray Bodo’s work, Leonardo Boff, John Michael Talbot and many more. For a family good resource, I encourage you to seek out Robert Kennedy Jr.’s story book (I used it in my time in the Anglican communion for spiritual formation with all ages). For a powerful retelling of his life, I direct you to Kazanzakis’ book on him.

Take time to reflect on this Feast Day of St. Francis, for his life was lived to embrace the open hand, and lift up the least of these. The most powerful stories was his forced redistribution of wealth from the church back to the people. In this day, what is the treasury that Francis would look to for this action? Corporations? Billionaires?

Take time to reflect today, how for years we have been hearing from workers, our elders, that the 24-7-365 technology social media driven society was wearing one out, creating distance and disconnect. Real connection was harder to achieve…and as a algorithmic result…it was becoming easier to see one another not as neighbour, but as other-enemy. 202 days into c-tine, and we are hearing the reality of fatigue, clearly from all areas the need for self-care and mental health care, the importance of authentic connection with one another, and choosing wisely who is in your cohort for your holistic health…belonging matters…is c-tine the Holy Mystery’s real time simulation/reality of a life we have been living that has been destroying us?

And now the Canticle of Creatures Francis is believed to have composed:

Canticle of Creatures

Small yellow Cross

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon
for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

For other reflective prayers: Franciscan Daily Prayers.

Blessing of St. Francis

Small yellow Cross

The Lord bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you and have mercy.
May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace.
The Lord bless you.


Brother Jesus lived out around me,

Brother Jesus live out by me,

Brother Jesus within me.

(After Communion Prayer with the physical making of the cross)

We have been in pandemic mode via physical distancing (some in quarantine depending on symptomology, exposure or high risk of contraction) for four months now in Calgary, AB. It is a time of anxiety, reflection, work, discovering new resiliencies and strengths, needing to humble one self and move into the aid available through professional circles of support.

Though it also raises more questions, what is going to happen? Is the economic re-opening working? Will schools re-open in the Fall? Is it possible? Why does the government so hate educating our children that they keep changing the formula per student to reduce funding? And not being willing to provide extra funding for the measures proposed by AHS? Why would anxiety exist within this time?

It is also a time of spiritual rumination. Is this a time of discovery? As one travels through the Psalms, it becomes apparent that times like these The Holy Mystery uses to aid us in discernment, understanding, and discovery. Yet, for anyone (like our household) who has spent time on the journey of chronic conditions, this is a time when we can look at this type of teaching and go…yeah, but I do wish God would use another method for us to come into the presence.

There is, but as our world shows, this time has ripped off the veil–the band aid— and exposed the societal dualism we have sunk in to. Dualism? The developmental stage according to Erikson we are supposed to have successfully overcome in emergent adulthood, circa 18-22 years of age. And yet, here we are, en masse in this media/social media debacle.

A familiar meme on social media re-purposed to explain dualism

The idea that one side has to be accepted whether it is true or not, is a debating fallacy. As well, the concept that within dualism one side has to be completely evil for our viewpoint/opinion to be completely good and valid. What happens is an inability to critically think, to unpack and discourse. It is a world that’s stage was set at the end of World War II and the emergence of the Cold War, where capitalism or communism had to be completely true in this ideological battle. Note any other emergent ideological battles?

In Canada recently it is the shock and horror that a) we have Nazi monuments and b) that for some reason vandalizing them is a hate crime. Uhm no. Nazi’s were the epitome of the rising fascism, anti-Semitism, before the Second World War, the war should have ended the movement. Sadly, through the continuation of white supremacy and neo-Nazism we have seen it continue, though at times outside of the last four years, being knocked back to the shadows and routed.

What does this monument show us? A dark history that needs to be exorcised. Questions around who approved, where are others in our nation? Yes, Ukraine was taken over by the Nazi’s, some were taken in at gun point and then ideologically converted, others joined gleefully as they saw a divine mission by Hitler’s regime. Either way, the core is still the same, whether you are a Humanist or Christian (or anything in-betwixt)– Nazi’s are bad, and should not be honoured, remembered or celebrated. It is almost like a real time story of the Last Supper, where these communities and monuments are our own Judas Goat, now exposed to the light will we let the darkness continue?

These are the challenges ahead as we move through reconciliation, Black Lives Matter, Universal Basic Income…these are the calls to transfiguration for our society during c-tine. A time to allow the dualistic thinking that has allowed for oppressive-racist-misogynic-dominionism structures to be imposed upon the people, and to reclaim the heart of love, inter-connectedness and hope for our world.

As we move into month five, where are you taking your journey–

Further into the darkness,

Or into the Light of Life?


It was a statement by Jack Knight, Starman (written by James Robinson) in the 90’s that maturity was about beginning to enjoy the Groucho harp solo’s in a Marx Brothers starmanmovie. Perhaps there is something to that. For maturity is about beginning to appreciate the other, the different, or looking into something from a different point of view and growing from it.

Spiritual maturity is something found in the teachings of Brother Jesus (and let’s face it every spiritual teacher/writer in perpetuity). It is about moving from the comfortable and rote, that is from rules based, to intuition based living in the Holy Mystery. That is right.

Jesus taught in parables because of the layers of meanings that could be drawn out of it. Mystic Brother Francis of Assisi taught in wisdom to have internalized a teaching so it was like breathing before moving on. It sounds weird I know, but really it was not about amassing knowledge that mattered, it was about living within Holy Wisdom.

 

Great double talk you say. Okay, so let’s take it to a Trekkie geek level. Think of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a set of parables (not much of a stretch). Then, like most believers we have our favourite parables. Just like in Star Trek. I like the concept of these three, which do you prefer:

  1. Data and Geordi as Sherlock Holmes and Watson battling a Moriarty designed to best Data.
  2. Jean Luc-Picard’s escapades as Dixon Hill, Private Eye.
  3. Worf as Will Scarlett proudly stating “I am not a Merry Man.”

Images, thoughts and lessons can be drawn from each. These jump to your mind whether it is about team work, problem solving, love, family, etc.

Much like the parables challenge us to continue to go deeper. Yet, it is also a challenge for much like the idea of the harp solo as we grow in our understanding of spiritual life lived out a new appreciation and understanding grows. Or as some spiritual writers would state, moving from pablum to meat in the spiritual diet (or for our vegetarian/vegan readers- solid foods).

For those who read my thoughts An Epistle of Straw? this is what I see within understanding the family dynamics of leadership James, son of Mary, brother to Jesus of Nazareth brings out in his words. Striking to the heart of the parables and delivering the hard lessons that some were not willing to move into. Even though the risk could be huge as he was seeking depth of character and caring community, not breadth in numbers. Y’know like some labourer from Galilee had before him.

The question for you in your daily practice, and for me, is are we willing to see the otherside?

Are we willing to be with the harp solo?

Be with Holmes & Watson, Dixon Hill and Worf as he discovers to be a Merry Man?

Will we journey to the heart of the Sacred,

And be better for it?


But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19: 14 New American Standard Bible

My Mum and Nan’s favourite bible stories were the ones where Brother Jesus was with the little children. Where he upbraided his followers for trying to stop the kids from being kids and being with him. These matriarchal Anglican wisdom teachers had their own complexities of life as all humans do, but they understood something about children. Something we can tend to lose as we age, and was the point of the wisdom teaching.  That kids got the point of life– ALL BELONG. I have shared much about the exuberant love for all my son has in his blessed life with his super powers (what others would call disabilities), but there is more to the story. He is the elder brother. The teacher of a younger sister.

She has been blessed to grow up in a world where truly there was no labels, or concepts of can’t or being “normal” in growth and development. Where whoever you are is celebrated as a beautiful wonderful thing. Yes some will say as a sibling of a child with a disability she should be in a support group or counselling for what she has lost, but that is the grieving model. The medical model of focus on “can’t” instead of “DO”. By focusing on do, we celebrate both in their wonder and achievements, personality and interests. It can be tense because one is a scholarly introvert and the other a bombastic knowledge-experience seeking extrovert.

But what is cool is watching how my little princess has grown. By not focusing on “loss”, but living in celebratory love she has friends that cross the cultures, religions, and abilities. The cool thing is she does not see their differences, she sees her “besties”. She experiences life with them. Those that would say a friend is “confined to a wheel chair” or “walker” she sees someone with wheels to race with. Someone classed as non-verbal, she plays games to get their eyes to dance. As friends worry their daughter new to Canada who does not speak English, my daughter sees the language of play with a new friend. She loves art, science, learning about her aboriginal heritage and from the Elders, she has a passion for mythology and magic, story telling and current events. She helps the little kids learn to be kind, and to read. She helps in the library at her school, and when helping out with a group getting resources she takes into account everyone’s ability and interests not just her own.

An old friend each time she talks to me gets the update, she just got a feather for kindness or her year end award for volunteerism and kindness. My friend chuckles, saying that is quite the journey of community building. Did I forget to mention this is a friend I worked with building community for those who needed homes? And yes my kids were there sharing life too.

We spend far too much time being like the disciples in the story of the children no matter the setting-community, schools, church, work, etc… and not enough time just being the kid. The one that just wants to figure out how their “besties” can BELONG.

So yes, I am proud of my kids and the persons they are growing in to. I am proud my daughter is keeping our proud matriarchal wisdom alive.

The question for you today is:

Can you step into the heart of a child and allow all to belong?

Rub a dub dub

thanks for the Grub.

Amen.

-My Daughter quoting

Great Granddad’s Grace

 


Challenging the status quo continues over this long discussion. Tradition presents it as one continuous thread over three chapters in Matthew (or many verses in Luke). Quite possibly, many teaching moments condensed to give a form of living to a new community emerging. Stripping away the traipsing of false religiosity and the seeking of Imperial Power. Shredding the idea of “other” from community, to create a space for the family that is humanity, regardless of label. Knowing that each would bring their gifts, and each would need their own interdependent aids to thrive. Together it would move forward.

1“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

-Matthew 7:1-6 (New King James Version, NKJV).

Judgment. We view it today as being critical. But it was more insidious than that. This teaching was about deflection of one’s own trials by creating a destructive burden upon another. Deflecting harm form self, by setting up a scapegoat (literal practice of the sacrificial system). It is Jesus calling us to be introspective of our own life, to know that when we work into accountability (civil, criminally, communally, personally) it comes from a space of LOVE not fear/hate.

For we are knowing who we are, and standing strong in our own confidence. We are seeing the other person as the holy that resonates. We use justice, not as a system of revenge, but of restoration (sawbonna).

It is truly shattering the idea of fear of other, fear of not being worthy. Knowing we are worthy. Knowing we are in this together. Knowing our actions cause ripple effects that can harm or heal within the moment, and beyond.

7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

-Matthew 7:7-12 (NKJV)

What was the law? A burdensome system? Know and No. It was a system to lay our cause and effect. Brought in during a society’s pre-adolescence phase, now entering older adolescence/young adulthood the literalism moves to being ingrained as an ethical compass. The Prophets were not about the future, but about pointing to ethical quandaries and the choices that were laid forth. From those choices, the effects were then laid out. And the society chose, and lived the effect.

What happens when we look beyond black and white. Live into the grey of a situation. Resonate with where our internal compass guides us (that moment on oneness with the Holy). Fully knowing cause and effect, and claim our course.

“If I were to set the compass of my heart toward a North Star for this life,what would it be?”

-Jack Kornfield

Too often we spend time chasing that which does not matter. Prestige, power, false ego or we live out of hate and fear that we may “loose out”. Yet what is lost, if we do not set the compass of our passion?

You.

Live into the gifts Brother Jesus is illuminating what will come into your life, yes there will be struggles. But what happens when we shatter the labels. When we remove, “other” and replace it with “neighbour”. What happens when we accept checking into gratitude of our journey? The gifts of faith, peace, hope, joy and Love?

13“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

-Matthew 5:13-14 (NKJV)

“Discover your passion,

Find a way to make a living at it.”

-My Dad.

 

We forget the journey of life to our core is a labyrinth. Winding and turning, but one path to the centre. When we go off the path, or let the fog of EGO edge out our true essence, it can appear it is a maze (many false stops and starts), but those are the blocks of our own creation. Keep true to the journey of the labyrinth that brings you back to your passion. It may change as the journey changes you, but growing from your passion will…well as cliched as it is:

15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

-Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

You need the write material to grow the right fruit.

When you live out of your true passion, your narrow path, your fruit will grow and be shared true. Your life will be a beacon of who you truly are.

What does your fruit say about the path you are on?

 21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;  depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

-Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

It is easy to live a false life in the maze. But in the end, are you belonging in community? Or isolated with your EGO toys?

24“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

-Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)

Sit with these four short verses. Read/hear them three times.

  • Reading/hearing One: What emotions rise up for where you are in the journey now? Rest in those emotions. Scribble them out in colours.
  • Reading/hearing Two: Draw the house the emotions lead you too. Which one is it? Is it completely one? Rest within that house, and the creaking.
  • Reading/hearing Three: The hardest moment. What maintains your house where you are? Or begins to shift to the house you want?

Rest in the moment of the art.

Rest in the moment, savour where you have been. Honour the house that has been built. Thank the house you live in.

            What is one simple act of kindness you can do today to move towards the house you want?

 

28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

-Matthew 7:28-29 (NKJV)

 

 

 


Ancient tradition stipulates the Gospel of Matthew was written by the repentant tax collector called by Jesus, who was renamed from Levi to Matthew (Matthew means gift from God). Depending on theology you read for this synoptic gospel, either Matthew or Mark is the earliest. Material lines up with 3 of the Canonical (those Imperialist chose under Constantine to be in the Christian Testament)-Matthew, Mark & Luke. Some suggest another mystery source, Q, which has never been found, or could be snippets from other pseudepigraphal texts.

What happens though is that Matthew is written for a Judaic audience. Though an audience that was in synagogue, and still willing to hear the political statement of change. A change that can be seen in how the text was structured, yet still clinging to historic means that may no longer fit. To mark placement of importance there is a genealogy enclosed. It is a genealogy that includes victims, and voiceless, but traces to the line of David (many messianic complexes of the day would provide proof. The way Jesus did through Bathsheba, #metoo, shows the need for equity, equality and believing the victims) …to Mary of Nazareth, the bride sold by her family to Joseph. It still holds to the outdated archaicness of the patriarchy, in which Joseph was the one the messenger came to. Yet in this, much like the rape of Bathsheba, it was to show how twisted the creation of equality had become. That this man would hold the fate of another in his hands for following her faith. Joseph could cast her out to be stoned to death, or cast outside the gates to be a survival sex worker with child to pass away into nothingness. Joseph, unlike the David story (David killed the offspring, and Bathsheba’s husband) chose to live as family.

It was not shepherds that came in Matthew’s account, but astrologers, other faiths who saw love enter the world and barriers break down. Much like within Solomon’s temple, a peaceful co-existance of the many wells within the birth narrative (again redeeming the story of the temple collapse). To Jesus going to his cousin, one calling out the institutional structures of segregation, an Essenes most likely, one who chose to remove themselves from the corrupt society. It was here Jesus showed more interconnectedness by partaking in their ritual of connectedness and washing away the dirt of Empire existence.

To a battle in the desert. A battle with Satan. Who is this metaphoric angel? (A great example is the show Lucifer, though I do prefer the original comic representation in Sandman and Lucifer). A tempter, tester, and trickster (seeing other resonances of ancient wisdom). Though also metaphoric as the one that gets those seeking justice to sell out for personal glory (resonate with any personalities of today? Wealth and power to give up principles?)… a metaphor for Herodians, and those in the Sanhedrin? For Roman Empire, tax collectors’ (perhaps a private metaphor on the internal battle within the author Matthew? Or the struggle to come later with Judas?).

From this struggle, the first followers come. Those out of the desert, those that saw something different from what was being put forward. Those that saw someone unwilling to be swayed by the powers that corrupt causes every day.

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan

-Gospel of (St.) Matthew 4:23-25 (English Standard Version)

To the healing texts so abused today. Yes there was healing, the first universal public health care around illnesses. Yes there was probably exorcisms and energy healings, we had seen the ground work laid for these.

BUT

For those with disabilities, the only way to understand for the people of the time authentic belonging was to “heal”. So they would become part of the community, truly belong for it began to shatter there understanding of segregation, and causality.

There is a reason why this essentially becomes the prologue to the Christian-Judaic version of the Law—the Sermon on the Mount—for it began to show that those cast aside by society and doomed to death was societies’ wrongs, not the individuals’. It was to show that belonging, began with those pointing the finger of blame saying it was the person’s fault.

But no one was ready in this early movement for what blessing meant. Keep in mind at the time, Blessing (beatitude) was assuming good health, wealth and prosperity due to being a good law follower and believer only in one God.

Brother Jesus’ prologue actions shattered ancient ableism, and the words to follow were ready to start the reflective pondering of societal change…a change that would culminate in a lynching.


There is still one group that folks can dump on, and take out hate on without being called to account each time. I know it may sound shocking, but it is true. How do I know? There has been very few to no apologies for historic atrocities birthed out of religious beliefs that grew into eugenic government policies. Rarely are they mentioned when speaking of the Stalin era and Nazi Holocausts, even though millions were experimented on before the final solution was given to them—backed by both atheists and theists.

History also speaks of forced sterilizations, pushes for aborting (and infanticide). Shame that it is because of sin (personal or family). Abusive institutionalization that if it was war hospitals would have violated the Geneva Convention. Before that, cast outside the city, into the garbage dumps.

Vastly overlooked, very few knew this past week was Accessibility Week, which culminates on Sunday June 3 with Disability Pride.

So misunderstood that the monotheistic faiths spoke of “healing” as a means so they could belong and be welcomed again. Yet, it was Jesus who showed that it was us who had created the false separation:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

-Gospel of John (New International Version) 9:1-7

Many will see this lived teaching of Brother Jesus (amongst his other healing) as a call that there is something deficient within the person, yet that is not what is happening. The people asking the question (as those today) are the blind ones, it was only by the act of removing their neighbours blindness could they see the belonging.

Yet we fixate on the “otherness” and the “not like usness”. We may clean up language, but there is still a world filled with saying you do not belong:

  • R-Word use excuse “yeah but I mean it in the medical way.” FTS—only the most backward practitioner still uses it is a diagnostic with terms such as global delay, developmental delay available. You are the Neanderthal that still assumes other racists-prejudice language is okay and excusable.
  • Environmental push to end the plastic straw and literally attacking the community when they point out the need. You are exclusionary, and laying the plank work for eugenic beliefs of less than to exist—you are the one asking who sinned…
  • The “I am just running in” and taking up the accessible (permit only) parking stall—while ignoring the idling vehicle with the permit…for those who know the show New Girl, this is the type of thing that would get Schmidt to put money in the jar.
  • The School Board Superintendent that states the only reason a parent is stressed over busing is because they chose not to end a pregnancy.
  • The tsking church member at children for making noise, but then excuses the child with Autism (yes treating different is the same thing).
  • Or be the tsking church member stating “they do not belong here.” (or the one in the pulpit kicking them out for making a joyful noise).
  • Or the person that believes they need healing and so will invade personal space without consent to lay hands on for prayer
  • Or refuse to pray when they have an operation, because if they pass it is God’s will.
  • Shaming community/family into always grieving the “should’ve/would’ve/could’ve of a life.
  • Complaining that budgets can’t be made because of “those people with disabilities”
  • Being the City of Calgary and ranking sidewalks, bike paths, public paths, and public cut outs and public transit stops as low priority so mobility device users are left as shut ins during winter.
  • Event planners that have no way for full inclusion.
  • Are the agency that toss a new staff into changing an incontinent client, without taking into account that is a very intimate work and perhaps even if you do not believe the person is cognitively aware, still deserves respect.
  • Argue over what a living wage pension is for someone that cannot work, but finds meaning in volunteering.
  • Strips universal pharma care when they become a senior
  • Share the “short bus” or “window licking” meme jokes on social media and wonder why there is outrage.
  • Speak of vaccines being the cause—when if there is not proper vaccinations lives are at risk.
  • Showing up for support work sick because well, a little cold or flu won’t be harmful to the compromised immune system.
  • Grief and mental health support are not necessary because they don’t understand…
  • Shaming individuals for weakness because of equipment or pharmaceutical needs.

And yes the list can go on for ever… and I am sure many readers can add their own stories. It is when you remain in the unenlightened, not letting the Mystery churn, that these points are where you live. You completely miss what Jesus meant by the glory revealed. That is, that the they could see what was told about the beauty of God in creation:

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind (humanity) in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

-Genesis (NIV) 1:26

The introductory poem to the texts of the Hebrew Bible does not rhyme words as in English. It rhymes ideas, concepts to show the true interconnectedness of the created cosmos. Not to answer the how it happened question, but the WHY? Why did this come together like this? For us to live, and grow and as Day 6 reflects, humanity in all its forms are reflections of the Holy Mystery. We must release the fear/hatred/prejudice that sees difference as less than. Jesus was asked who sinned…No one was his response. The person reflects the beauty of the cosmic spark of life. To truly show that everyone belongs, and that with allowing for authentic belonging, life needs to be done differently. We need to be like the child.

That is open to all as neighbour-friend. No labels. Just knowing what needs to be done to the building, civic design, laws, legislation, policies, governmental money entitlements, universalizing health care and pharmacare. The example laid out in the gospel, that was the 6th day of ancient Hebrew poetry. We are all here for a reason. We take all forms. We are here to support one another, where one has an ability, another has a weakness. We are all different. Really it is the underlying ethos of many belief systems (religious or not) that are put aside. We are neighbours, individuals (and possibly ourselves) who experience life as a person with a disability-differently abled- complex needs- special needs—choose the term the person uses to identify themselves with (as with gender, it is not hard folks).

As the circle is danced wider, we as humans cannot rationalize not having a scapegoat. Sadly, that scapegoat can still be seen as the differently abled (as my son chooses to identify) or myself with a rather unique brain mapping that confounds most outside of my own brain. Yet we can still be looked down upon, still pushed and pointed at.

What is wrong with you?

Is the new sneered question. One asked many times of my son in religious settings. Though he was fully embraced by those I had served who themselves were marginalized, his passion for loving others was encouraged and so was his curiosity.

What is wrong with you? Has the world’s most simple answer:

NOTHING.

If you cannot experience that, then perhaps the question needs to be, what is blocking you from fully being present in community with your neighbour? What is stopping you from being apart, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu phrased it, the rainbow family of God?

We are apart of the beautiful rainbow family that is humanity, with celebrating and living into our diversity we are stronger.