Our fleshpots are the pleasures we have left behind.

A month and a half after the Israelites had broken away from Egypt, they been complaining, saying they had been better off as slaves, grabbing their meals from the caldrons of food their Egyptian master has given them for grabbing hands full  of food.

As seminarians were forced to study endlessly, not allowed to chat or to watch tele vision. In recalling the free ways we left behind, we used to joke abut missing the fleshpots of Egypt.

Even today dwellers in the Sinai desert gather what the call manna. It is a white substance from tamarask plants. And those people pick up the quail that are exhausted from flying across the Mediterranean.

Today we honor St. James who Herod put to death in 44 A.D.

Tuesday, 7/25/17

There were two of the Apostles named James. One of them, whom we honor today, was, perhaps because he was the taller of the two, was known as James the Greater. At first his reputation as being the more favored of the two, might have been expressed in Jesus bringing Peter, John, and this James to witness his Transfiguration.  

After the other Apostles left, James the Lesser was to become leader of the Church in Jerusalem.

Their hot temper brought today’s James the Greater, along with his brother John, to be known as were known as “The Sons of Thunder.” That impulsiveness might have led to his being the first Apostle put to death. That was in 44 A.D. when Herod Agrippa, anxious for the political support of the Jewish community, seized hold of James, putting him to death with the sword.    

3There is a tradition that has James preaching the Gospel in northern Spain. To that tradition was added a belief that the body of James, after his death, was miraculously transported to his shrine at Compestela in northwestern Spain. Arriving at the feast of James has been a favorite goal for pilrims making the long trek there.

In the story of Jonah God gave us a fictitious yarn to laugh at.

Monday, 7/24/17

Jesus quoted Jonah as having been, “In the belly of the whale for three days and three nights.”

Do we need to believe that Jonah spent three days in the belly of a whale? I don’t think so. The story of Jonah was written around the year 400. We can tell that from its use of words that were current then. (When a movie pops up on television we can see that it dates from the nineteen thirties or fifties or from two thousand and ten. So, from the distinctive wording of the Book of Jonah, we can see that it was written around the year 400.)

In 450 B.C. Jerusalem was visited by two prominent Jews whose family had stayed behind in Persia at the end of the seventies years of the Babylonian captivity. Those two had been sent to a Jerusalem whose morals had become so lax that the city was falling apart. To straighten the city, they imposed some strict rules, including ones about avoiding contact with non Jews.

The reform worked so well that the people of Jerusalem had come to altogether hating and avoiding foreigners. At that time God inspired a humorous writer to write this story about a man who hated the people of Nineveh so much that he would do anything rather than go there to save those people. The part about three days and nights in the whale was part of getting people to laugh at a man who would go to no ends to avoid helping the hated inhabitants of Nineveh.  

Jesus taught only in parables.

Sunday, 7/23/17

The Gospel told us that Jesus taught in parables, and only in parables; and that might have you asking why he had to use that round-about method, rather than his just coming out and saying what needed said.

One:  through today’s first parable he explained why it is that sinful and immoral people seem to be just as prosperous as people who keep all the rules.

Second: he assured us that even a very little act of kindness might so deeply impress a sinful person that it will thoroughly change him for the better.

Third, he was saying that we should not just stick to our holy ways while isolating ourselves from those who could lead us astray.

Now, those three lessons will go in one ear and out the other, but that field with the weeds growing up with the wheat, that flourishing  mustard seed, and that yeast lifting up all the dough around us – they will stay with us, causing us to lead better lives.