Religion & Politics Must Mix

A friend asked me why, as a priest, I continue to comment on politics.  Here’s why: 

My politics aren’t limited to any one realm but they are informed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was very critical of all peoples in power and in institutions that run without mercy just as God is mercy. Jesus would condemn terrorists, communists and greedy capitalists equally as each in their own way (terrorists most explicitly) contribute to the suffering, and yes, death of many peoples far beyond “self-defense.” It’s a social sin that governments build up armaments at the expense of fare trade food, health and education for their people. I certainly think Kim of North Korea is filled with evil and so is his nuclear tests, and he should be handled with harsh criticism and sanctions, but hasn’t our country set the example of “might makes right” long ago? Not that we shouldn’t be able to defend ourselves and innocent people–and, yes, hindsight regarding our pacifism to Hitler early on was a terrible mistake, but, all the same, if we spent an equal amount on diplomacy and support of our poorest citizens, and assist, when we can, other countries to do the same, there would be far less to criticize.  Peoples who have basic needs met are far less likely to revolt, turn to violent revolutions, racisms and the like. In the 1986 the United States Bishops Conference issued a researched paper calling for Justice in the Economy (See Below) Wall Street and Conservative Catholic Economists crucified the contents saying that religious leaders need to keep out of non-spiritual matters. However, Jesus received the same hostility when he began his public ministry (See Luke’s Gospel Chapter 4) and his criticism of established norms of state and church put him on the Cross. (He called Herod “a fox.” And “render to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God’s “is not about separation of Church and State but pointing out the limits of the state because, for believers, all belongs to God. All prominent Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox scholars have affirmed this for almost a century, but people still hold on to old world views and old ways of interpreting the scriptures. The point of the Cross was to put a mirror onto society and its violent, selfish aspects to forgive and transform them. Not simply forgive and let business continue as usual. Nothing should stay the way it is because it worked in the past. People forget the Bible is as much future-oriented as it informs us of the past. At any rate, that is just some of the basis for my informed, prayerful sense that religion and politics must be kept in dialogue and that religion considering Jesus is asked to take a critical stance and look at the consequences for as many people as possible, not just a few, in reviewing current trends and legislations. 

Meanwhile chick this out http://www.usccb.org/upload/economic_justice_for_all.pdf 

God bless!

Advertisements

Celebrate Saint Luke the Evangelist Today!

Catholic and Orthodox Christianity celebrate Saint Luke, the Evangelist today, October 18.  He is the author of Luke’s Gospel and Acts of the Apostles in what I like to call “the Second Testament” (because the Hebrew Scriptures are certainly “the First Testament.”) If you would like to hear selections from my Luke Live! ministry, go to:

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/revjamesmdiluziocsp

Advent Homily – the Christian New Year Begins Today

Image

ADVENT HOMILY, November 29, 2015 as inaugurate a mission/ retreat at Saint Paschal Baylon Parish, Cleveland, OH
Gospel of Luke 21: 25-28;34-36
Read all of today’s Scriptures at http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112915.cfm

 

You remember Chicken Little? An acorn falls on the poor chick’s head. He’s so hurt, he can only relate to how he feels:. Pain and fear. Without investigating further, without take a step back for a broader look, he feels as if the sky is falling. That becomes his message. A goose, a duck and some turkey or other, hear the words, react in fear and form a parade announcing catastrophe. At last a Fox appears, takes an objective stance, sees the bigger picture and takes the initiative to gobble them all up. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Today’s Gospel may also fill us with fear but we must step back and move beyond scary language and see the bigger picture. If we come to Church regularly or engage in any serious bible study we know that Jesus is using a form of speech and imagery popular in his time: Apocalyptic Discourse. Apocalyptic images go beyond time and place with a message for the end of time which, ironically, pertains to the past as well as the future and remarkably to the present in which it is presented. Regarding the past, Jesus refers to persecution of his own people, the Jewish people, and other peoples in his past—All have suffered! And, in regard to his own life, he acknowledges the violence building against him will lead him to his Cross. Furthermore, he senses that this violence will give way to the persecution of the early Church. All of this feels like the end of the world. But for all this, Jesus trusts in God’s promise to literally send Christ back to us to address the world’s chaos at the end of time building on the Jewish belief that in the end, God will make all things right.

 

So you see, Jesus’ message encompasses all times and places. And so we may apply it to OUR times, to the tragedies present in today’s news: terrorists killing their fellow Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parisians and others; Americans shooting Americans in Chicago, Denver, Colorado Springs and Saint Louis And add to that the threats global warming, divisive politics and economic theories. In short, there’s Fear and trepidation in every Age.

 

So what’s the now and forever message for us today? It’s this: Amidst the ever-present battle of good against evil, Jesus comes Down to Earth to be with Us. As he arrived in a manger, he will come down to earth again at the end of all things. Meanwhile he comes to us everyday with this message: Do not Be Afraid I Am With You; Stand erect – Your Redemption is at Hand! This is a Gospel that inspires courage! Jesus wants us to be a hearty people. First, we must acknowledge that if we are to truly receive Jesus, we must follow his pattern, his sense of direction. We have to come down to earth, too. Amidst conflicts in news, even at work, at home: we must acknowledge our complete dependence on God for the air we breathe and the water we drink.

 

To keep a “down to earth” mindset, we must throw out all judgments, discard our aesthetics–what we like and dislike, who we like and dislike. We must acknowledge our common humanity. Only then can we abandon our fears and participate in God’s will. For in and through our COMMON HUMANITY ( for common humanity is what Jesus took upon himself) will we accept the truth that battle between good and evil exists in all of us. All of us. Indeed, Jesus comes down to earth for ALL. He shows no partiality. He POURS OUT his spirit to be part of the world’s solutions instead of adding to the chaos and insanity. With Christ’s help we can be ALERT for the signs of good in whoever and wherever we see it in the clouds, on the earth, in a human face. Because in God’s eyes, no one is better than anyone, no one lesser. God cares NOT for our achievements or our failures, God simply cares; God wills the good IN ALL, FOR ALL. Better keep humble, stay down to earth or we’ll miss the grace offered through that tremendous truth.

 

Remember Christ comes to us all the time, wherever we are, in whatever frame of mind-whatever we’re thinking or feeling today, he arrives in this WORD, in all the Sacraments AND ONE ANOTHER. Never forget the last part of this trinity! We are all in this together!

 

This Advent we must prepare for Christ at Christmas mindful of Christ today, tomorrow and the next day. Christmas may be an extravagant celebration but at it’s heart it is about nothing more than humility: God comes down to earth as vulnerable infant in stable poverty to remind us of our vulnerability, our need for God and what we have in common with every person on the face of the earth: life itself. Thus through Christmas, every human life is affirmed. You know this, I know this, yet the extravagance of holidays and holiday preparations can wreak havoc in our souls and create an almost apocalyptic battle within us. Advent invites to a broader outlook, a down to earth peace if we let it in.

 

Throw out all your expectations of what Christmas should be, could be. Get real, get down to earth. Recognize the battle of good and evil is in us and everyone. Apply Jesus’ Gospel technique of humility through active listening and caring: not judgement but understanding, not retribution but mercy—mercy with accountability but always with mercy; not condemnation but a willingness to work through the internal struggles in all of us. As the Body of Christ, we shall, we can, we must work on this reality together. For more than any holiday party or Christmas present, isn’t it better that people feel accepted and cared for? Of course it is. And you know and I know Christmas is about God’s care for us.
So this week, in this time, I invite you to our Advent Mission. Take a step back and enjoy a wider look at the Advent/ Christmas stories of Luke and Matthew. Attend to the feelings they evoke within you and others! We all know there is a deeper meaning beneath the wreaths and mistletoe-toe and our mission will give you the opportunity to savor what we believe. Plus, on the third day, at the third session, I’ll offer you concrete tools to help you make your holidays holy by helping everyone at your table to feel accepted, loved and cared for. Isn’t that what everybody wants?
I hope you’ll join me. If you were with me last Spring, you know what my ministries can offer. If not, give me a try now. As a Paulist priest, storyteller and actor, I’ll share my talents to help you attend to yours! A few hours investment of your time this week can make a difference for an entire season and beyond. It’s a gift you can give yourself that will be a gift to others, I promise you that. Mission Times and details are in the bulletin.
But whether you can attend or not, we are here together now, let’s keep ourselves in this present moment, for that is what we have. Allow your thought and feelings regarding what you’ve heard to seek Christ’s arrival in today’s Eucharist. Through it, may you experience God’s Care for you and those around you. For indeed, there is something falling from the sky this Advent. It’s GRACE.

Saint Luke, the Evangelist Celebrated Today, October 18

Today Christians celebrate Luke, the Evangelist, author of a Gospel and Acts of the Apostles.  As you know, I adopted Saint Luke as yet another one of my many patron saints (I need a lot of inspiration!) because I proclaim and discuss Luke’s Gospel as my primary ministry.  I love Luke’s Gospel in the way it affirms God’s Spirit at work within everyone, celebrating the Divine Spark of the Soul.  Furthermore, this same Spirit is accessible to all who seek the good, the true and the beautiful for it not only hovers above all creation but is equally within our midst. Luke’s Gospel highlights God’s mercy embodied in Jesus who invites all people to trust in our common humanity.  That is how we will experience God most fully because we are created as interdependent beings, continually dependent on forgiveness from God and one another.  Luke is patron to doctors and nurses, artists and butchers!  This may seem a strange combination of professional people for Luke to represent before God.  Thankfully, Church History offers an explanation.

With Luke identified in the Bible as “beloved physician”–(as cited by the author of the New Testament Letter to the Colossians 4; 14) his patronage of Christians in the medical profession was readily understood. As for “Artists,” Church tradition held that Luke painted some of the original icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary having met her in Ephesus when he accompanied Saint Paul on his second and third missionary journeys.  This concept reinforced by the fact that Luke’s Gospel offers the most details about Mary and her role as Christ’s mother and as his foremost disciple.    As for butchers (my grandfather, Mauro DiLuzio was a butcher), it seems these men came to ask for Luke’s prayers as early as the second century when Luke and his Gospel became associated with the symbol of an ox. By this time Christians had interpreted the Prophet Ezekiel’s vision, (Ezekiel 1: 4-11) as a precursor to the four evangelists (Gospel authors) whose writings became the Church’s authoritative foundation for the life of Jesus. Ezekiel’s envisioned four angelic / human figures, each with heads in “Cinerama,” i.e., with the forward face of a man, the face of a lion to the right, face of an ox to the left, the face of an eagle at the back. These same faces appear individually on four distinct creatures described by the disciple John in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4:6-7). Revelation thus reinforced early Christian practice of attributing each of these symbols to one of the four Gospel writers:  Matthew (man/angel), Mark (Lion), Luke (Ox) and John (Eagle).  The ox was attributed to Luke because he alone cites the birth of Jesus in a manger (feeding trough for domesticated animals).  Jewish tradition understood Ezekiel’s vision as representative of all Created beings–human, wild animals, domesticated animals and birds. Fittingly, Luke’s Gospel emphasizes inter-connected nature of all creation and its dependence on God (Luke 12: 22-34) as he highlights the ways the realities of our environments and life situations impact our relationship with God and one another (Luke 6:20-26).

Scholars tell us Luke was a Syrian Gentile collecting the stories about Jesus from the early Christian community in Syrian Antioch around 85 A.D.  The community there comprised both Jewish and Gentile believers. Interestingly, Luke’s two-part work (the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles) is the only segment of the Bible written by a Gentile. His Gospel, however, reveals his tremendous respect for the Jewish people and his recognition of Judaism as the foundation upon which Christianity can into being.

BartolomeEstebanMurilloAdorationShepherds