Greetings friends on this eve of the Full Paschal Moon on our journey thru Holy Week 2023 –
On the morning of Holy Tuesday Christ Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem with His disciples once more. The waves of applause & joyful enthusiasm have long since died away. Jesus is immersed in the tension of the impending completion of his ultimate mission, but He is still observant of the Jewish Law fulfilling the sacred customs for the preparation of Passover. A hoovering mood predicts that He is the sacrifice to be offered. From day to day the powerful sense of His spiritual presence in the city has increased. The people’s confused antipathy is already surging up to Him as flames that will consume the sacrifice. Now the day of Mars has come & the conflict flares up in earnest.
The crowd is mute; but their leaders full of anxiety speak volumes; their fears produce the hatred that fuels their attack, which they have been stoking for some time. Every hostile group in the powerful elite sends out assailants. One after the other they accost Him with their questions meant to trap & condemn him. What would otherwise be a blow in the face or a dragger-thrust takes the guise of scornful questioning.
First of all the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin approach – the High Priests, Scribes & Elders; asking Jesus what authority He has for His actions. They push Him to legalize Himself with the letter of the law, not understanding the spirit behind it all.
Then come the Pharisees who put the insidious question: “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar?” Others try to pin Him down by asking His opinion concerning the resurrection of the dead. Finally, a single question, intending to expose Him before all the people, asks which commandment He considers the most important of all.
These attacks, marking the outbreak of hostilities, are the proof of how strongly the Being of Christ was making Himself felt – Stirring to the surface the darkness with His light. Just as dogs bark & bite only when they are afraid, so these alleged questions, which are arrows of hate, are the outcome of fear.
Jesus answers each of the four questions. (Interesting to see the parallel to the 4 questions asked at the Seder table today) But Christ Jesus doesn’t want to just dodge the blows aimed at Him; He accepts battle & fights back with weapons of the spirit.
During the three previous years He has spoken to the people in poetic parables, & to the disciples in pictures of deep mystery. To His opponents He now speaks moral tales of conflict. He tells the Parable of the growers of the vineyard entrusted to them by the landowner; & how they refuse to surrender the harvest, instead they slay the owner’s messengers, & even his son. The elite opponents realize that they themselves are being called out. In fact, Jesus is spelling it all out that His enemies will indeed slay Him. His parable is a last endeavor to reach the souls of His enemies, to awaken them from their unconscious fear which causes them to have such hatred for what they do not know. A hope that they could be shocked into self-knowledge.
The pictures of the Tuesday of Holy Week, are relevant to every battle of light verses darkness.
Goethe’s statement that world history is nothing but a continuous fight of fear against hope, touches the truth of this day.
All opposition to the true Being of Christ, which is a hostility to the Spirit, has its root in deeply hidden weakness & fear.
The battle is not only fought in the outer world. It must be met within ourselves. In each human soul, fear & courage, are mingled. To approach the mystery of Love takes courage & strength.
~hag, from Luke 21: 5-38 & indications from Emil Bock
4 April 2023 – “Speaking with the Stars”: At this time of year, the two Dog Stars stand vertically aligned around the end of twilight. Look southwest. Brilliant Sirius in Canis Major is below, and Procyon in Canis Minor is high above.
“The historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence.” ~T.S. Eliot, “Tradition & the Individual Talent” (1919)
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
397 – Deathday of Aurelius Ambrosius, There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence & honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees & beehives often appear in the saint’s symbology.
St. Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, & Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary. Ambrose displayed a kind of liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, & ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place. His advice to Augustine of Hippo on this point was to follow local liturgical custom. “When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are.” Thus Ambrose refused to be drawn into a false conflict over which particular local church had the “right” liturgical form where there was no substantial problem. His advice has remained in the English language as the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
One interpretation of Ambrose’s writings is that he was a Christian universalist. It has been noted that Ambrose’s theology was significantly influenced by that of Origen & Didymus the Blind.
Ambrose considered the poor not a distinct group of outsiders, but a part of the united, solidary people. Giving to the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the fringes of society but as a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally & that the rich had usurped
560 – Death day of Zosimas of Palestine, reputed to have lived to be almost one hundred years of age is best known for his encounter with St. Mary of Egypt. It was the custom of that monastery for all of the brethren to go out into the desert for the 40 days of Great Lent, spending the time in fasting & prayer. While wandering in the desert he met Saint Mary, who told him her life story & asked him to meet her the next year on Holy Thursday on the banks of the Jordan, in order to bring her Holy Communion. He did so, & the third year came to her again in the desert, but he found that she had died & he buried her.
636 – Deathday of Saint Isidore of Seville, was one of the last of the ancient Christian philosophers; he was the last of the great Latin Church Fathers & was contemporary with Maximus the Confessor. Some consider him to be the most learned man of his age, & he exercised a far-reaching & immeasurable influence on the educational life of the Middle Ages. His contemporary & friend, Braulio of Zaragoza, regarded him as a man raised up by God to save the Iberian peoples from the tidal wave of barbarism that threatened to inundate the ancient civilization of Hispania
1967 – Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech in New York City’s Riverside Church
1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated by at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee