Archive for the ‘Saints of the Bible’ Category

Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany (March 8-April 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain

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A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies, not a calendar of observances with any force or a popular following.  It does, however, constitute a forum to which to propose proper additions to church calendars.

Much of the Western Church observes January 18 as the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle, the rock upon which Christ built the Church.  (Just think, O reader; I used to be a Protestant boy!  My Catholic tendencies must be inherent.)  The celebration of that feast is appropriate.  The Church does not neglect St. Martha of Bethany, either.  In The Episcopal Church, for example, she shares a feast with her sister (St. Mary) and her brother (St. Lazarus) on July 29.

There is no Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany, corresponding to the Petrine feast, however.  That constitutes an omission.  I correct that omission somewhat here at my Ecumenical Calendar as of today.  I hereby define the Sunday immediately prior to Palm/Passion Sunday as the Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany.  The reason for the temporal definition is the chronology inside the Gospel of John.

This post rests primarily on John 11:20-27, St. Martha’s confession of faith in her friend, Jesus, as

the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.

The combination of grief, confidence, and faith is striking.  It is one with which many people identify.  It is one that has become increasingly relevant in my life during the last few months, as I have dealt with two deaths.

Faith frequently shines brightly in the spiritual darkness and exists alongside grief.  Faith enables people to cope with their grief and helps them to see the path through the darkness.  We need to grieve, but we also need to move forward.  We will not move forward alone, for God is with us.  If we are fortunate, so are other people, as well as at least one pet.

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Loving God, who became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth

and enjoyed the friendship of Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

We thank you for the faith of St. Martha, who understood that

you were the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was coming into the world.

May we confess with our lips and our lives our faith in you,

the Incarnate, crucified, and resurrected Son of God, and draw others to you;

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Jeremiah 8:18-23

Psalm 142

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

John 11:1-44

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE

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Devotion for the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6)   3 comments

Above:  Icon of the Transfiguration

Image in the Public Domain

The Light of Christ

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Appearances can deceive.  That statement is true in many contexts.  Consider the historical figure we call Jesus (or Jeshua or Joshua) of Nazareth, O reader.  I am Christologically orthodox, so I affirm the Incarnation, but I also make a distinction between the Second Person of the Trinity prior to the Incarnation and the person we call Jesus.  The distinction I make is a purely historical one; I refer to Jesus as the incarnated Second Person.  Perhaps I am splitting a hair.  If so, so be it.

As I was writing, appearances can deceive.  We do not know what Jesus looked like, but we can be certain that he did not look like a northern European.  Reconstructions I have seen plausibly depict Jesus as someone with dark skin, short hair, and brown eyes.  One may realistically state that his appearance most days was dramatically different from that on the day of the Transfiguration.  One may also ask how the Apostles knew the other two figures were Moses and Elijah, who were not wearing name tags.

The Gospels are more works of theology than history, as I, trained in historical methodology, practice my craft.  One should never underestimate the four canonical Gospels as works of finely-honed theology, complete with literary structure.  I know this, so I choose not to let the absence of name tags bother me.   I accept the theological point that Jesus was and remains consistent with the Law and the Prophets.  I also accept the theological point that the Transfiguration revealed the divine glory present in Jesus, en route to die in Jerusalem.  The prose poetry, with echoes of Moses encountering God on a mountain, accomplishes its purpose.

What are we supposed to do with this story of Jesus?  2 Peter 1:19 points to the answer:

…the message of the prophets] will go on shining like a lamp in a murky place, until day breaks and the morning star rises to illumine your minds.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

May the light of Christ illumine our minds and shape our lives.  (As we think, we are.)  May that light direct our private and public morality, so that we (both individually and collectively) will not betray Jesus in either our deeds or our words.  May we take that light with us as we travel with Jesus, and not attempt to box it up, even out of reverence.   May the light of Christ shine in us, both individually and collectively, as we, in the words of Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church,

love like Jesus.

We know how Jesus loved, do we not?  We know that he loved unconditionally and all the way to the cross.  The call of Christian discipleship is the summons to follow Jesus, wherever he leads.  Details vary according to where, when, and who one is, but the call,

follow me,

is constant.  So is the command to transfigure societies, for the glory of God and for the common good, with the Golden Rule as the gold standard of private and public morals, ethics, and policies.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF COLBERT S. CARTWRIGHT, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF GUGLIELMO MASSAIA, ITALIAN CARDINAL, MISSIONARY, AND CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SCRIMGER, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, ECUMENIST, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTRICIUS OF ROUEN, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God, who on your holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son,

wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening:

Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world,

may by faith behold the King in his beauty;

who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit,

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Exodus 34:29-35

Psalm 99 or 99:5-9

2 Peter 1:13-21

Luke 9:28-36

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 509

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https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/devotion-for-the-feast-of-the-transfiguration-august-6/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/the-light-of-christ-part-vi/

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Feast of St. Nicodemus (August 31)   2 comments

Above:  Nicodemus Coming to Christ, by Henry Ossawa Turner

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT NICODEMUS

Disciple of Jesus

Alternative feast day = August 3

One can read of St. Nicodemus in John 3, 7, and 19.

His arc began in John 3:1-21, in which he, a member of the Sanhedrin, met with Jesus privately at night.  Given the philosophical nature of the Johannine Gospel, night was not just literal, but also metaphorical, indicative of separation from God–as in the light shining in the darkness, and the darkness not comprehending/overcoming it.  In that encounter St. Nicodemus committed the error many people have continued to commit–to interpret the term (in Greek, for both “again” and “from above”) simplistically and superficially–as in “born again.”

[Aside:  In Evangelical circles “born again” has become a major point, for it appeals to the understanding of salvation as an event.  There are many Christians (I am one of them.) who cannot claim honestly that they gave their lives to Christ at a particular moment–such as 2:53 p.m. on a particular day.  God, according to my memory, has always been present in my life.  Besides, in the age of the Church, salvation is a process mediated by sacraments.  (How Catholic of me!)  When one focuses on “born from above,” one ponders the source of salvation, not the timing of it.  But, if anyone is looking for dates, whatever they are worth, I have, from 2008, declared my faith publicly via one baptism (in 1979), one confirmation (in 1991), and two reaffirmations (in 2003 and 2008)–each of the last three in the presence of a bishop in Apostolic Succession.]

St. Nicodemus, having heard Jesus out, utilized the due process argument in Christ’s defense in John 7:50-51.  Other members of the Sanhedrin south to have Jesus arrested without a hearing.  St. Nicodemus, consistent with Torah (Exodus 23:1 and Deuteronomy 1:16, actually) and Rabbi Eleazar ben Redath’s midrash of Exodus 21:3 (“Unless a mortal hears the pleas that a man can put forward, he is not able to give judgment.”) stated that the council should give Christ a hearing first.  This was a politically unpopular argument.

The arc of St. Nicodemus concluded in John 19:38-42.  He and St. Joseph of Arimathea, no longer hiding their faith, wrapped the corpse of Jesus with linen, mixed with 100 Roman pounds (about 75 English pounds) of myrrh and aloes.  The custom was Jewish, by the book.  The amount of myrrh and aloes was extravagant–ridiculous and over-the-top, even.  This was, according to most interpretations, a sign of extravagant faith, dedication, and love.

Luke Timothy Johnson, however, has suggested an alternative motivation:  “Stay dead.  Stay really dead.”

I prefer the conventional interpretation in this matter.

Arthur John Gossip, writing in Volume VIII (1952) of The Interpreter’s Bible, was eloquent regarding St. Nicodemus:

As I see him, Nicodemus was a great soul, possessed of enviable qualities, and bursting through difficulties to which most of us would have tamely surrendered.  Bred in the schools, in a stuffy atmosphere in which very largely the conventional was regarded as the God-given, and where anything new had to fight its way to acceptance through instinctive, watchful, unfair suspicion, he had somehow managed to preserve an open-mindedness that flung its windows wide to God’s sunshine and free air.  So that while his colleagues were already muttering their irritated resentment at this impudent intruder into their province, at this ignorant upstart from the north, with his strange ways and very questionable teaching and ugly disregard for authority, Nicodemus for his part felt that there was something here that could not be dismissed as lightly and as easily as they were doing–something in this new teaching august and true, and that might well be God’s own voice.  This thing must be humbly considered.

And there was nothing but gallantry in the loyalty of that last scene.  Peter had denied his Lord in shameful panic; the rest had scattered or crouched more or less in hiding:  for the crucifixion was a frightful death, and Calvary quite frightfully near; all seemed lost; the cause was out.  But Nicodemus openly stood as Christ’s friend still; and dared fearsome possibilities, only too likely to grow facts, in order to pay the last loving rites to the body of an executed man which was regarded as a sheer pollution.  He had admired and reverenced Christ.  Let the world think what it might, he admired and reverenced him still (19:39).  Truly a great man.

–Page 504

With the burial scene in John 19 the Biblical narrative of St. Nicodemus ends.  I wonder what the rest of his life–especially the next few days–held.  I suppose I know what I really need to know:  At the end, amid great peril and fear, St. Nicodemus was open and extravagant in his faith.

Arthur John Gossip was correct; St. Nicodemus was a great man.

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Loving God, who identified with us and became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth,

we thank you for your servant Saint Nicodemus,

who progressed from openness to the possibility of the truth of your message in Christ

and became a courageous disciple of him.

May we, inspired by the example of St. Nicodemus,

grow in our Christian faith and give ourselves wholly to you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 19:38-42

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 7, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH CONDER, ENGLISH JOURNALIST AND CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER; AND HIS SON, EUSTACE CONDER, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS FLORENTINE HAGEN, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HEDDA OF WESSEX, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINTS RALPH MILNER, ROGER DICKINSON, AND LAWRENCE HUMPHREY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1591

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Feast of St. Zacchaeus (August 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Zacchaeus in the Tree, by William Hole

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZACCHAEUS

Penitent Tax Collector and Roman Collaborator

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Height was not his only shortcoming.

–J. Neil Alexander, Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, on Zacchaeus, at Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, a Few Years Ago

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The Gospel of Luke, half of Luke-Acts, is a well-organized theological work.  One theme in it is the reversal fortune, as in the Beatitudes and Woes (6:20-26), as well as other passages.  Given the structure of the text, the story of Jesus and St. Zacchaeus (19:1-10) stands in continuity with previous passages, including 18:9-27.  I encourage you, O reader, to reread these passages carefully before reading what I have written in the following paragraphs, for I cannot tell the story better than Luke 19:1-10 does.

The narrative from Luke 19 is quite interesting.  It is an account of a literal tax thief–a man who had purchased the contract to collect taxes from his fellow Jews to finance the Roman occupation, as well as his lavish lifestyle.  Luke 19:1-10 is the story of a man who, having exploited his neighbors, had become prosperous, but recognized his spiritual emptiness and sought a way out of that life.  This is an account of Jesus, who wanted to help him escape to a life that did not entail exploiting people.  This is the story of a man who volunteered to give half his wealth to help the poor (contrast this with the man in Luke 18:18-23) and to pay a restitution rate of 400% when the Biblically mandated rate for restitution for fraud was 120% (Leviticus 6:5).  (400% was the rate of restitution for sheep or a sheep.)

Some dubious traditions regarding St. Zacchaeus exist.  According to one, he became the Bishop of Caesarea.  On the really sketchy end of the spectrum is the story that he married St. Veronica, traveled to Gaul, and became a hermit also known as St. Amator/Amadour, buried at Rocamadour.

I, as a student of the Bible, sometimes wonder what happened next after reading a story.  The narrative continues by following a different character or set of characters, and never again mentions the character or characters really interesting to me.  St. Zacchaeus is one of these characters.  The narrative in Luke moves along into the pivotal events of Holy Week.  I still wonder about the subsequent life of St. Zacchaeus, though.  It suffices that St. Zacchaeus and his community were never the same after that crucial day.  It is enough that shalom came to town.

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Loving God, who rejoices when sinners repent,

we thank you for the good example of your servant Saint Zacchaeus,

who, in turning his back to his sins, found peace with you, his neighbors, and himself.

May we, by grace, erect no barriers between ourselves and you,

erect none between others and you,

and rejoice when you establish shalom.

May we, by grace, be agents of shalom.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Leviticus 6:1-7 (Protestant versification)/5:20-26 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versification)

Psalm 15

Philippians 2:1-11

Luke 19:1-10

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

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Feast of Sts. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany (July 29)   6 comments

Above:  The Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY

Friends of Jesus

In 2018, July 29 is nearly universally the feast of these three saints, siblings, as well as friends of Jesus.  There are some other feast days associated with them, though.  In the Roman Catholic Church December 17 is an alternative feast day for St. Lazarus.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church June 4 is the Feast of Sts. Mary and Martha while October 17 is the Feast of St. Lazarus.  The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia reserves July 29 for Sts. Mary and Martha, as The Episcopal Church did prior to 2010.  This is not a comprehensive list, so one might identify more exceptions.

The germane chapters of the Bible are Luke 10, John 11, and John 12.

In Luke 10:38-42 we meet Sts. Mary and Martha, who already knew Jesus well.  In this famous story St. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, as a male disciple would, listening to him as St. Martha, tending to the duties of hospitality, takes offense that she must attend to all those tasks alone.  We should be kind in our evaluations of St. Martha, for somebody had to do the housework.  A now-deceased rector of my parish, I have heard, commented that Jesus should have helped Martha in the kitchen.

We meet St. Lazarus in John 11.  We meet him after his decease.  The faith of St. Martha in Jesus is evident in her conversation with him (verses 20-27).  In the Johannine chronology, the raising of Lazarus led directly to the crucifixion of Jesus (see John 12).

We read of one of the four accounts of the anointing of Jesus in John 12:1-11.  One can read the other stories in Luke 7:36-50, Mark 14:3-9, and Matthew 26:6-13.  In John 12 we read of St. Mary of Bethany anointing the feet of Jesus in her home.  Details vary from account to account, due to multiple anointings, among other reasons.  The traditional misidentification of St. Mary of Magdala with the unnamed, sinful woman who anointed Jesus in Luke 7:36-50 led to the conflation of St. Mary of Bethany and St. Mary of Magdala.  Therefore the subsequent legends of St. Mary of Magdala have become legends of St. Mary of Bethany.

One might wonder how many visits to that home in Bethany Gospel writers did not record.  The answer is certainly “many.”  One should also rejoice that Jesus had good friends he could visit and around whom he could relax.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARNABAS THE APOSTLE, COWORKER OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Generous God, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship

and hospitality of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

Open our hearts to love you,

our ears to hear you,

and our hands to welcome and serve you in others,

through Jesus Christ our risen Lord; who with you and the

Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ruth 2:5-12

Psalm 36:5-10

Romans 12:9-13

John 11:1-7, 17-44

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 493

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Feast of Sts. Jason of Tarsus and Sosipater of Iconium (July 12)   1 comment

Above:  Corfu, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951), 67, by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT JASON OF TARSUS

Bishop of Tarsus

Also known as St. Jason of Thessalonica

Alternative feast days = January 4 and April 28

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SAINT SOSIPATER OF ICONIUM

Bishop of Iconium

His feast transferred from April 28, April 29, and November 10

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EVANGELISTS OF CORFU

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Sometimes much information regarding the lives of certain saints proves to be useless to me, due to its legendary and over-the-top nature.  This is the case with aspects of accounts of Sts. Jason of Tarsus and Sosipater of Iconium.  Another problem is that elements of various stories are mutually contradictory.  One can be reasonably certain of some details, however.

Sts. Jason and Sosipater were associates of St. Paul the Apostle named in the New Testament.  In Acts 17 St. Jason, a resident of Thessalonica, hosted St. Paul and St. Silas, who were in trouble with hostile Jews.  (Sts. Paul, Silas, and Jason were also Jewish.  Such stories have long been fodder for anti-Semites, unfortunately.)  Sts. Paul and Silas were, according to their accusers,

turning the world upside down.

–Verse 6, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Since the crowd could not apprehend Sts. Paul and Silas, smuggled to safety, St. Jason and other Christians went to jail instead, until St. Jason bailed them out.  The offense of these Christians was allegedly violating Roman law by calling Jesus King, as opposed to the Roman Emperor.

If one accepts that St. Sosipater was Sopater (Acts 20:4), one affirms that St. Sosipater was the son of Pyrrhus from Berea, as well as a traveling companion of St. Paul the Apostle for a portion of a missionary journey.  Tradition tells us that St. Sosipater became the Bishop of Iconium (now in Turkey), just as St. Jason became the Bishop of Tarsus (also in modern Turkey).

In Romans 16:21 St. Paul identified St. Jason and Sosipater as relatives, that is, fellow Jews.

Sts. Jason and Sosipater brought the Gospel of Jesus to the island of Corfu, also known as Kerkyra, in the Ionian Sea, off the coast of Greece, across from Italy.  On Corfu, they founded at least one church, named for St. Stephen, and converted many people.

I do not trust the accounts after this point in the narrative.  I note, for example, that the name of the virgin daughter (canonized, by the way) of the hostile, murderous governor of Corfu was Kerkyra, another name for the island.  Also, the details of various martyrdoms, St. Kerkyra‘s initial survival of her father’s murderous rage, et cetera, strike me as being over-the-top, as does much of legendary hagiography.  Furthermore, different accounts disagree about how long Sts. Jason and Sosipater spent on Corfu and where they died.  Also, according to some stories, St. Jason died as a martyr.  Other accounts contradict that claim, however.  Such disagreements are par for the course in ancient hagiography much of the time, unfortunately.

That Sts. Jason and Sosipater brought the Gospel of Jesus to the people of Corfu suffices.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ENRICO RUBUSCHINI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND SERVANT OF THE SICK; AND HIS MENTOR, SAINT LUIGI GUANELLA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF SAINT MARY OF PROVIDENCE, THE SERVANTS OF CHARITY, AND THE CONFRATERNITY OF SAINT JOSEPH

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVAN MERZ, CROATIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL

THE FEAST OF JOHN GOSS, ANGLICAN CHURCH COMPOSER AND ORGANIST; AND WILLIAM MERCER, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servants

St. Jason of Tarsus and St. Sosipater of Iconium,

who made the good news known on Corfu.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28)   3 comments

Above:  Massacre of the Innocents, by Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

The Unfortunate Cheapness of Human Life

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Christmas is supposed to be a happy season, right?  Yet darkness exists within it.  Consider, O reader, the sequence of three great feasts:  St. Stephen (December 26)St. John the Evangelist (December 27), and the Holy Innocents (December 28).

The kingdom of the Earth has yet to become the Kingdom of God in its fullness.  Thus we read of exiles in Jeremiah 31.  Then we read the plausible story of the Holy Innocents in Matthew 2.  Herod the Great, we know from both Biblical and extra-Biblical sources, was a disturbed and violent man who had members of his family killed.  One need not stretch credibility to imagine him ordering the murder of strangers, even young children.  Reading the story from Matthew 2 then turning to Psalm 124 creates a sense of jarring irony; one is correct to wonder why God did not spare the Holy Innocents also.

On another note, the account of the Holy Innocents provides evidence for the Magi arriving when Jesus was about two years old.  According to the Western calendar, as it has come down to us, Herod the Great died in 4 B.C.E., placing the birth of Jesus circa 6 B.C.E.  I prefer to use the term “Before the Common Era” for the simple reason that speaking and writing of the birth of Jesus as having occurred “Before Christ”–six years, perhaps–strikes me as being ridiculous.

Back to our main point, while admitting the existence of morally ambiguous and difficult scenarios with only bad choices, and in which doing our best cannot help but lead to unfortunate results….

Human life is frequently cheap.  From abortions to wars, from gangland violence to accidental shootings and crimes of passion, from genocidal governments to merely misguided policies, human life is frequently cheap.  The innocent and the vulnerable suffer.  People who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time suffer.  May God have mercy on us all, for each of us is partially responsible, for merely being part of the social, economic, and political systems that facilitate such suffering.

The kingdom of the Earth has yet to become the Kingdom of God in its fullness.  Only God can make that happen.  We mere mortals can and must, however, leave the world better than we found it.  We can and must do this, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod.

Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims;

and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and

establish your rule of justice, love, and peace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 31:15-17

Psalm 124

Revelation 21:1-7

Matthew 2:13-18

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 143

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/fourth-day-of-christmas-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-december-28/

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Posted March 17, 2018 by neatnik2009 in December 28, Saints of the Bible

Tagged with

Feast of St. John the Evangelist, Apostle (December 27)   4 comments

Above:  Saint John the Evangelist in Meditation, by Simone Cantarini

Image in the Public Domain

The Beloved Apostle

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The assigned readings, taken together, speak of the fidelity of God and the imperative of human fidelity to God, whose face Moses did not get to see.  Yet this deity is the same one who became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth (however those Trinitarian dynamics actually worked; I have learned to avoid trying to explain the Holy Trinity, for attempting to make sense of the Trinity leads to a host of heresies.)

St. John was a brother of St. James (one of the two St. Jameses among the Apostles) and a first cousin of Jesus; Zebedee was the father of Sts. James and John, as well as an uncle (by marriage) of Jesus.  Our Lord and Savior called his first cousins Boanerges, usually translated

sons of thunder.

A now-deceased seminary professor I heard speak decades ago said, however, that the word actually meant

hell raisers.

Jesus and St. John were apparently emotionally close, not that St. John always understood his cousin.  After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus St. John helped to spread the nascent Gospel, a mission that filled the rest of his long life, which ended in exile.  Of the twelve Apostles Jesus called, St. John was, excluding Judas Iscariot, the only one not to die as a martyr.

According to tradition St. John wrote the Gospel of John, the three letters of John, and Revelation, a book with no “s” at the end of its title.  Certainly he did not write all of the above, although how much he wrote has long been a matter of scholarly debate.

Nevertheless, the life of St. John the Evangelist is a good one to consider.  If an overly ambitious hell raiser can learn the value of serving God endure suffering for the sake of righteousness, and survive opportunities for martyrdom only to die in exile, each of us can, by grace, take up his or her cross and follow Jesus, wherever he leads.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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Shed upon your Church, O Lord, the brightness of your light, that we,

being illumined by the teaching of your apostle and evangelist John,

may so walk in the light of your truth, that at length we may attain to the fullness of eternal life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Exodus 33:18-23

Psalm 92 or 92:1-4, 11-14

1 John 1:1-9

John 21:19b-24

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 141

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/third-day-of-christmas-feast-of-st-john-the-evangelist-apostle-december-27/

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Posted March 17, 2018 by neatnik2009 in December 27, Saints of the Bible

Tagged with ,

Feast of St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr (December 26)   3 comments

Above:  St. Stephen, by Luis de Morales

Image in the Public Domain

The First Christian Martyr

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The readings for the Feast of St. Stephen remind us of the grim reality that suffering for the sake of righteousness is frequently a risk.  We read of one of the many difficulties of the faithful prophet Jeremiah, a man who spoke truth to power when that power was dependent upon hostile foreigners.  The historical record tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt chose both the King of Judah and his regnal name, Jehoiakim.  Matthew 23, set in the Passion Narrative, reminds us of some of the prophets and teachers, whom God had sent and authorities at Jerusalem had martyred.  Contrary to the wishes of the author of Psalm 31, God does not always deliver the faithful from enemy hands.

St. Stephen, one of the original seven deacons, was probably a Hellenized Jew.  As a deacon, his job in the Church was, in the words of Acts 6:2,

to wait on tables.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The deacons were to provide social services while the Apostles preached and taught.  St. Stephen also debated and preached, however.  His speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:1-53) led to his execution (without a trial) by stoning.  St. Stephen, like Jesus before him, prayed for God to forgive his executioners (Acts 7:60), who, in their minds, were correct to execute him for blasphemy, a capital offense in the Law of Moses.  Saul of Tarsus, the future St. Paul the Apostle, was prominent in the killing of St. Stephen.  The Apostle recalled the death of St. Stephen and his role in it in Acts 22:20.

Religion, by itself, is generally morally neutral; one can be a moral atheist just as easily as one can be a moral or immoral adherent.  Good religion and bad religion certainly exist.  The test, in moral terms, yet not theological ones, is what kind of adherents they create and nurture.  Regardless of the name of a religion or the content of its tenets, does the reality of living it make one a loving, merciful human being or a judgmental person who might be quick to execute dissenters or consent to that?  This question is always a relevant one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen,

who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ,

who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15

Psalm 31 or 31:1-15

Acts 6:8-7:2a; 51c-60

Matthew 23:34-39

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 139

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/second-day-of-christmas-feast-of-st-stephen-deacon-and-martyr-december-26/

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Feast of Sts. Junia and Andronicus (May 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sts. Junia and Andronicus with St. Athanasius of Christianoupolis

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINTS JUNIA AND ANDRONICUS (FIRST CENTURY C.E.)

Missionaries and Martyrs

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Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

–Romans 16:7, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Chrysostom, preaching on this passage, saw no difficulty in a woman-apostle; nor need we.

–C. H. Dodd, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1932; paperback, 1959), page 241

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Romans 16:7 is the only Biblical reference to these saints.

“Junia” is a female Latin name present in more than 250 inscriptions found in Rome.  Some ancient manuscripts give the name as “Julia” instead.  The main alternative to “Junia,” however, is “Junias,” which is masculine.

I consulted my library of Biblical translations.  The following versions had “Junias”:

  1. American Standard Version,
  2. An American Translation,
  3. Confraternity Version,
  4. Douay-Rheims Version,
  5. The Jerusalem Bible,
  6. The Living Bible,
  7. The New American Bible (1970),
  8. New American Standard Bible,
  9. New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition,
  10. The New English Bible,
  11. The New Jerusalem Bible,
  12. The New Testament in Modern English (J. B. Phillips),
  13. The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition (J. B. Phillips),
  14. Nouvelle Version Segond Révisée,
  15. Revised Standard Version,
  16. Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition,
  17. Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition, and
  18. Revised Standard Version–Second Edition.

The following translations had “Junia”:

  1. Authorised Version/King James Version,
  2. The New American Bible (1986),
  3. The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011),
  4. New King James Version,
  5. The New Revised Standard Version,
  6. The New Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition, and
  7. The Revised English Bible.

Recognition of St. Junia as female has been part of Christian tradition for a long time.  Origen, St. Jerome, and St. John Chrysostom described the apostle (traveling evangelist) as female.  Since the 600s the Orthodox Church has recognized Sts. Junia and Andronicus (likely married) as missionaries and martyrs who traveled widely.  Some sources have speculated that the two might have been siblings, not spouses.  Nevertheless, St. Paul the Apostle worked with the married couple Sts. Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 28:18, 26 and Romans 16:3).

The probability that Sts. Junia and Andronicus were a married couple is high.  One might conclude that the origin of “Junias” is sexism to a degree that even certain patriarchal ecclesiastical institutions do not stoop.

As of A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) this feast is new to The Episcopal Church.  The feast is a fine addition to the official calendar and to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Tony Hendra, in Father Joe:  The Man Who Saved My Soul (2004), wrote that Father Joe said that Holy Mother Church had not canonized enough married couples.  That was a valid criticism.

May we then agree with St. Joseph the Hymnographer (d. 886), who wrote in praise of Sts. Junia and Andronicus:

With piety we will honor the Bright stars and holy

Apostles Junia and the God-inspired Andronicus.

The Blessed Paul proclaims you both as truly distinguished

Among the Apostles, and blessed in the Church.

–Quoted in A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 19:  THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF HENRY LASCALLES JENNER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND

THE FEAST OF HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM DALRYMPLE MACLAGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, whose Son, the risen Christ, sent forth your apostles

Andronicus and Junia to proclaim the gospel and extend your reign:

send us forth in your Holy Spirit, that women and men may

minister as one faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

in perfect unity, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

1 Samuel 3:1-10

Psalm 63:1-8

Ephesians 4:11-16

Matthew 9:35-38

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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