The Forgotten Gospels

Because Lent is still so far away, and is usually much sooner during the year, we’re hearing the Readings for the 7th and 8th Weeks in Ordinary Time. That’s something we usually don’t do, because usually it’s already Lent by now.

But as we all know, Easter Sunday is the First Sunday after the First Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. And since all of that is coming to pass a bit later this year, here we are with readings we rarely hear before Lent.
Personally I’m thrilled, because my birthday falls the week before Lent starts this year. I’ll take it.

The whole schema we encounter today speaks so clearly to our hearts about the seductive and voluptuous allure of revenge. And how we’re supposed to avoid it like the plague.

We all know this.

But at times we just want revenge so bad its like… what do you mean turn the other cheek? What?! NO!!!!! We want to revel in it with bloodthirst and wonton abandon.

But then we do turn the other cheek; and others often don’t think we’re turning the other cheek. And things get dramatic.

At some point one realizes that we just have to tend to our own flower beds, so to speak, if we wish to live a good life and experience the joys that come from having character forged in adherence to Christ.

Once last year, I was helping at the installation Mass of new Pastor in a Parish I was helping out in. The Dean was present to administer the proper oaths, etc., and we were all preparing to process in. As administrator at the time, I had made all the arrangements, and suffered through some over which I ended up having no control. But to my mind, everything was well placed and going well.

The music started, the hymns were being sung, and altar servers stepped forward in unison. All of a sudden I heard the Dean behind me “Oh great, I have to process in behind this.” He was so disgusted.

He was referring to me of course.

I didn’t give the matter a lot of thought at the time, but I stepped back next to him and leaned down a bit (he’s very short and I tower over him,) and said, ‘What?!” As if that wasn’t bad enough, I went on to say, and this was all very casual as far as I was concerned, as I might speak to my family or friends who were giving me a hard time, “You sound like our former Archbishop.”

And here, I mean no offense to our former Archbishop, who is also very short. But I immediately realized I was wrong, because our former Archbishop has never in his life mentioned issues of height to me. It was his predecessor.

So, I added in, “No, I take that back, it was actually his predecessor (whom I love,) who had such issues with his height.”

And then I stepped back in line and processed up.

When I reached the Sanctuary, I waited for the Dean and the new Pastor before genuflecting, but they had waited until I was all the way up before even starting. They wanted distance.

And they have it.
Tipped Scales
Rejection in life, for whatever reasons, is very natural in society. And we will always be running up against persons of small minds, small wills, against the closed enclaves of power, against popular opinion, against so many things that we think are the enemy.

But they are not the enemy. The enemy is prowling around like a lion, waiting to devour those who stumble.

Let no one deceive himself.
If any one among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:
God catches the wise in their own ruses,
and again:
The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are vain.

We can only grow as a Christian when we allow all of the crud which people throw at us to roll off our backs. And then get up and keep living life well, as a follower of Jesus Christ.

But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.



I just used this picture the other day...

And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.

I love this example of Peter’s humility and his disastrous sense of how to act in public. It’s so human. I mean, haven’t we all said the wrong thing at the wrong time? Or, in the face of some type of greatness haven’t we all put our foot in our mouths?

You just know that this ranks right up there in the all time list of things someone can’t believe they said. And to make matters worse, it’s recorded in Sacred Scripture! Poor guy.
St. Peter

Things certainly changed after the Resurrection though, and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Peter was a new man! Went right out and converted three thousand people, knew all the right things to say.

Lord Jesus, when I’m behaving like an idiot, or when I’m really at a loss for words and don’t know what to do, please send your Holy Spirit upon me to lift me up like Peter. And I understand my prayer is not exactly theologically correct for various reasons, but you know what I mean. That, and I really do apologize for my disastrous attempts at a penitential Friday yesterday. There was nothing penitential about it, and I had a lovely day — but I know we’re called to higher standards in the spiritual life, and I know penitential days are usually even lovelier. I’ll try harder. Amen.

Well, Mardi Gras is finally starting around these parts. Whoo-ee, let’s get this show on the road and get on with things.

Friday, Week 6

Babel, Babel, Babble babble babble…. I’ve always wondered why, after the Lord gives the mandate to go forth and subdue the earth, He immediately gets upset when the people decide to build the Tower of Babel. Perhaps it’s because they wanted to build a tower ‘to the sky’, where they would then be more like God… a contravening of the covenant, and an upswelling of pride the likes of which probably had not been seen since the catastrophic fall of Adam and Eve.
Babel, Babel, Babel
Restoration calls us to repentance, very much in line with the pre-lapsarian view of creation: we’re called to subdue the earth and be victorious over it, and yet all the while we have an intimate covenantal relationship with our creator.

Perfect thoughts for a Penitential Friday.

I loved this reading from the Office this morning, via St. Augustine: “God means to fill each of you with what is good; so cast out what is bad! If he wishes to fill you with honey and you are full of sour wine, where is the honey to go? The vessel must be emptied of its contents and then be cleansed. Yes, it must be cleansed even if you have to work hard and scour it.
David repents over the Bathseba thing.
The Gospel echoes this theme of repentance, renewal, penance:

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?”

Penance. It’s a good thing.

Clear out our hearts and our minds, seek to renew our relationship with Jesus Christ in simple ways, and pray for the grace of true repentance.

I love Fridays.

Spring Training: Flowers, Pollen and the Denial of Asthma

Spring is my favorite time of year, and my worst time of year. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
blooms on scannerSo in the realm of Mind Body Spirit, some links…

Allergies, Asthma…

While I’ve always suffered with allergies and everything that goes with that, it wasn’t until a few months after Katrina I realized I had asthma. I had been feeling horrible, was handling my allergies pretty well, given the leftover dust from reconstruction and receded flood mud, mold, etc. So one afternoon I gently excused myself from work saying I had to run by my doctor’s for an appointment, and drove over to the emergency room. (I tend to be understated.)

They took symptoms, did some x-rays, then looked perplexed and said ‘Well, you’re fine aside from the asthma.” I looked at him quizzically. “What asthma?!” He explained. And I, figuring that was it like a cold I went my way, with some new medicines. It didn’t go away on its own, I’m sad to say.

However! With the help of an excellent physician I’m still learning about it. And, one of the things I’ve come to realize is the importance of exercise. He had told me one day that if I don’t get regular aerobic exercise in the form of swimming or cycling, then I would be on oxygen by the time I’m 70. And since I’ve been having a light exercise schedule (actually, it’s been in the non-existant phase, since I am often ‘all or nothing’ …)

fitness Attempts

I geared up and headed out on my bike this morning. Ten miles, not much, but a good simple start. A year and a half ago I was walking all over creation, then swimming. Prior to that tons of cycling.

Which always leads to the subject of Pollen. I love spring, but the clouds of pollen usually do get to me in one way or another, leaving me with my head in the clouds. The pollen cast over at is a wonderful tool for allergic sufferers, and for their friends who don’t believe allergies exist.

Pollen and Blooms

But spring always speaks to flowers starting to bloom again. Or here in the south, to continued blooms

Garden Bloggers Bloom of the Month, sponsored by May Dreams Gardens, which links to some great blooms sites.

One of them has wonderful pictures of blooms taken with a flatbed scanner, the technique can be found here.

Some Louisiana sites: January Blooms and Zydeco Irises.

It’s important to take time out to smell the flowers. And, if we’re allergic to them it’s even more important to stay on top of our health. God’s work requires fortitude in mind, body and soul.

The Rev. Kenneth Allen