If you believe the earlier gospels, Jesus’ ministry lasted three years. (The late, largely ahistorical Gospel of John says only one year.) I am sure his disciples began to wonder just what had really been accomplished in that time; for despite numerous sermons, healings, and exorcisms, the movement remained quite small. What it did seem to have done was to alienate religious authorities and anger the rulers of the age. But now, enroute Jerusalem and destiny, the executive committee — Peter, James, and John — are called up a mountain by Jesus for a retreat, [Mt.17: 1-9] It was time to recharge before moving onRead More →

Last week the Matthaean Jesus assured his fellow-Jews that God’s Covenant with the Drafted People is eternal and immutable. Today [Mt. 5: 21-37] he talks about how those in his movement are to apply the Law, and his project is to torque up the Torah in order to move it from observation of the letter of the law (which allowed the religious professionals of the time to find and exploit loopholes) to observation of the spirit of the law, wherein Divine intention can be fulfilled. He does it with a “You’ve heard that…but I say…” format. For an example, the proscription on murder is revisedRead More →

Sunday’s gospel pericope [Mt.5: 13-20] tells us about the agenda of the community writing in the name of Saint Matthew, as revealed in the portrayal of Jesus, First, you will have notice that Jesus tells his followers that the Jewish Law is eternal and goes on to warn that anyone who counsels others to disregard even a single commandment will be “least in the kingdom of heaven.” This is an obvious assault on the law-free version of Christianity authored by Saint Paul, for Matthew’s Jewish Christian community clearly holds that one must be an observant Jew first, then a Christian. Their viewpoint eventually became peripheralRead More →

If you have ever seen the beginning of a Sesame Street episode, you will soon understand when I say this sermon is brought to you by the letter M. Our Saint today is Manche Masemola who was born in Marishane, a remote village in South Africa. Being a female, and in a non-Christian culture, she was not sent to school, nor taken to church. In fact, Christians were viewed with deep suspicion. In 1919, Father Augustine Moeka, an Anglican Monk, came and established a Mission in Marishane. Manche and her sister happened to encounter Moeka preaching. Her sister was not interested or perhaps chary ofRead More →

Today is a double feast, both the Presentation of Jesus and the Purification of Mary. Luke, the first gentile gospel writer, is keen on continuity between covenants. Let’s see what is going on. In cases of childbirth, only the woman was required to submit to a rite of purification (Luke’s “their purification” reflects his typical confusion about Jewish traditions.) This ceremony continued in the Church until revision in 1979 when it became a public “Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child.” In Judaism, the obsevant were expected to tithe ten-percent of everything they received and to donate to the Temple the “firstfuit” ofRead More →