Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A LOUISVILLE LANDING


THE GREEN, GREEN (BLUE) GRASS  OF  HOME



Southern Indiana, at the Ohio River's edge, as the plane approaches Louisville. 

     

Seeing downtown Louisville, and its bridges, on the way home is always a great sight! 



Louisville at night as seen from southern Indiana.





Looking upriver toward downtown Louisville from the McAlpine Dam and Locks. That's I-64 on the right. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

COMING UP THIS FALL - THE DIOCESE OF BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS


ANNUAL PRIEST CONVOCATION 
September 9 - 11, 2019 



Diocese of Belleville, Illinois

Bishop Edward Braxton

I get to drive to this one! It's this side of Saint Louis! 
I have been there before. I did a one-day session with pastors a few years back! 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

PALM SUNDAY






When the great crowd that had come to the feast heard
that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches
and went out to meet him, throwing their coats on the road.’


I am convinced that most people do not understand what Palm Sunday is about and I am not absolutely confident that I can explain it as well as it needs to be explained. I'll try anyway!

To understand it, I think we need to go all the way back to the beginning. Remember, Herod was so paranoid about the baby Jesus being a “newborn king” that he had all the young boys in Bethlehem slaughtered – just in case. Jesus, Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt for a few years. 

Even when Jesus came out of obscurity to begin his ministry, we read at the beginning of Lent about Jesus being tempted by the devil in the desert as he discerned what direction his ministry should take – what God’s plan was for him.

One of the temptations Jesus was offered by the devil was to take the political power road – to become a king. We know that, even though Jesus concluded that this was not God’s path for him, people were always trying to make him a king. Even some of his apostles thought that that option was always on the table. Remember the story where James and John tried an end run around the other twelve by asking for the two best jobs in this new kingdom they thought he was going to set up in the near future.

We will read tonight that Judas was so disappointed with Jesus over this very issue that he tried to force Jesus hand to “get on with it,” only to see it backfire. When it didn’t work, he ends up committing suicide.

All this “king talk” among the people, all the dreams about power inside his inner circle and a rising tide of paranoia among the Roman occupiers was about to explode when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

When Jesus and his band arrived in Jerusalem, the streets were clogged with religious pilgrims from everywhere. The air was full of tension. Jesus’ own popularity had reached a fever pitch, the religious leaders’ jealousy had reached the boiling point and the government’s worry had become paranoid.  Everybody in authority, as well as Jesus, seemed to know that this trip smacked of a show down.  Jerusalem was indeed tense when Jesus arrived for the Passover - something big was about to happen. 

It was in this tense situation that Jesus came riding into the city, not quietly, but with total fanfare. Everybody noticed. This triumphant entry into Jerusalem was not some harmless little passion play. It was a deliberate move with dark possibilities.  Everybody knew that the very presence of Jesus in Jerusalem at Passover could set off a riot.

When the great crowd that had come to the feast heard
that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches
and went out to meet him, throwing their coats
on the road.’

Palm waving and the throwing of coats on the road were not just a nice gesture of welcome, spontaneously invented for this particular occasion. These gestures had major political overtones. In the past, when kings arrived to ascend their thrones, people threw coats on the road. Palm waving was a symbol of Jewish nationalism, synonymous with waving a rebel flag. Many in the crowds wanted a Jewish Messiah-King who would overthrow the hated Roman occupation and they thought Jesus could fit the bill. Even though Jesus had fought off several efforts of this kind, the crowds knew what kind of Messiah they wanted. They wanted a powerful revolutionary.

In response to the people’s misguided reception of him as a political, David-like, Messiah, Jesus deliberately came into the city on the back of a jackass, a pack animal.  It was a powerful counter statement that simply went over the heads of the crowds. While they waved palms and chanted nationalistic slogans, by this action Jesus said, “No! I’m not the kind of king you imagine! My power is a spiritual power, not a political power!”

This “temptation,” the temptation to become a powerful political leader, had been proposed by Satan at the beginning of his ministry.  The gospel tells us that Satan left him to wait for another occasion. It had been proposed to him, on various occasions, throughout his teaching days. Here it was again!   Satan, in various guises, never gave up, even at the end. Jesus, consistent in his refusal, remained faithful to his call as a humble, peaceful, spiritual messiah to the end.

Throughout history, the church has sadly from time to time given into the temptation to choose political power as a means to its goals, always with disastrous results. Again, in our own time, not convinced of the real effectiveness of spiritual power, some Christian communities have fallen for the temptation to take the short cut to achieve its mission by courting political power.  What is their rational? It seems that they believe that if people won’t choose to be good, they need to be made to be good! Palm Sunday has a lot to teach the church, even today!  My friends, our power is not a political power. It’s even more powerful than political power. It’s a spiritual power! Pope John Paul II had no armies, but he helped bring down communism just by his preaching and presence. That’s spiritual power!  Pope Francis has no real political power, except in a one-square mile of ground inside the walls of the Vatican, but he has tremendous spiritual power. That is the real source of our power as well – the power that comes from authentic Christian living.