Being one of the good guys

From this morning’s gospel: “Jesus enjoined them, ‘Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’” (Mark 8:15).  Poor Pharisees; they really get a bad name and reputation. If you asked them, they would describe themselves as one of the good guys. They were born out of a movement of desire among the non-priestly class and the experience of the Babylonian Exile and centuries of foreign rule: “How did this happen to us?” It was a movement that understood the path to holiness as a people, as a nation, was through the individual living holiness in every aspect of their lives. To be fair, St. Francis of Assisi was part of a larger lay-led spirituality movement of the 12th century that emerged in many countries across western Europe as the western world emerged from the dark age. There are many modern biblical scholars that would see many similarities with Jesus and the Pharisaic movement. Continue reading

Temperature, change and grace

I have two words for you this morning: “thermometer” and “thermostat.” Regular, routine, and household words we rarely give a second thought to: “thermometer” and “thermostat.”

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Those are Jesus’ words from the gospel. They well could have been the prophet Jeremiah’s from the first reading. Jeremiah began his public ministry in the streets of Jerusalem when the good King Josiah was instituting religious reforms to bring the tribes of Judah and Israel back into covenant with God. It was the best of times. The people were being taught the Word of God and right worship – and Jeremiah was on the vanguard of the reforms. And so, it was for about 10 years. King Josiah died in battle and everything changed. Continue reading