I believe that the story commonly called the “Flight into Egypt’” is, like the story of the Magi preceding it in Matthew, pure allegory. I support that contention by the fact that no such event is recorded or alluded to anywhere in the civil record. It is difficult to imagine that Herod, who was very protective of his throne, could have committed such a massive atrocity without political suicide; the Romans would have supplanted him. Moreover, never was such an incident reported by an of the several Jewish commentators of the time. Here is what I think is going on and it all hinges onRead More →

Seeking Alpha is an excellent resource for making wise investments in the Stock Market. This internet resource provides a wealth of diverse, free information to all sorts of different investors, from young neophytes to seasoned retirees. One of the more interesting bits of wisdom is a large red-and-green gauge they call the Fear and Greed index. At one pole is absolute fear as a motivator; at the opposite extreme is absolute greed. Market sentiment as a position between the two emotions is periodically reported by means of this clever device, which most recently registered very high on the “fear” side. What strikes me as aRead More →

Luke’s Gospel is all about reversals, about envisioning a topsy-turvy world, where God’s preference for the least and last is realized against all human expectations. There is no greater example of that than Our Lady’s awesome hymn we call the Magnificat, found in verses 46-56 of the very first chapter. Our Lucan reading tonight [2: 1-20] is full of reversals. How would the World write this story? First of all, we would expect the One Awaited to appear in places of power and privilege — Palace or Temple. Instead, we find him in a cattle feeding-trough in a cave. We would also expect him toRead More →

Today’s gospel pericope [Mt. 1: 18-25] is immediately preceded by a genealogy which purports to show Jesus’ forebears from Abraham to Joseph in 42 generations. It is quite an ambitious project, showing these antecedents as a microcosm of humanity: saints and sinners; the good, the bad, and the ugly. They are mostly obscure, sinful, marginal people. The list would seem to foretell Jesus’ own ministry to the obscure, marginal, sinful folk like revenue agents, prostitutes, and ritually-impure outcasts. Jesus’ life message was that God loves everyone, every one of his children. and that the walls put up by religious professionals to judge, condemn and excludeRead More →

John the Baptiser is in prison at Macherus in a deep, depressing place eight kilometres east of the Dead Sea. Jesus has been baptising. That’s John’s shtick! John is naturally concerned and his disciples are probably anxious. So John sends out disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you ‘The One to Come?’” That coded expression means ‘Messiah,’ the awaited king. At least awaited by some. A significant minority of Jews do not believe in a Messiah, but a majority do, although they do not begin to agree on just what that means. Jesus replies to the enquiry from John in an interesting way. Rabbis are wontRead More →

You’ve got to love John Baptiser: tell-it-like-it-is preacher, revolutionary, prophet. One who lives in the desert, eats bugs, and wear animal skins. Not exactly someone to bring home to meet the family, or to invite to the next Chamber banquet. But he was very important in the context of his time. First, we may say that he was a newsman, for he delivered the message that God was tired of human nonsense, and God’s Kingdom (or Empire) was at hand, ready to break into human history. He was also an advance man, in the sense that his death triggered Jesus to pick up the gauntletRead More →

We just sang Lo, He Comes, written by Charles Wesley and annotated by Augustine Arne. I love the music of that eighteenth-century hymn, and regret only its ahistorical, anti-Semitic reference. Especially I am keen regarding the imagery of the clouds. What do you picture: big fluffy clouds parting to a sunny date, a Kingdom vision? Or dark skies of judgement, even doom? I prefer the first, a positive vision of God’s dream for us. Today, Isaiah give us another lesson on the nature of God’s Kingdom, telling us that swords will be beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks, as war becomes a thing ofRead More →