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I'm a born and raised practicing Catholic in a family of Irish-American Catholic Democrats. For me and my family, the Catholic Church isn't just a religion it's our culture: it's how we were raised, educated, interacted with friends, interacted with extended family, and how we will die.

Now I'll be the first to admit that the church has been a really pain in the ass over the last two decades with all the scandals and political games but I still practiced with the faith that the church of my childhood would return. I was raised under Vatican II and I was taught that this Jesus guy was a real decent guy. So decent that we would really have to work hard to be like him - I call him Hard Jesus because he challenges us. But my issue with the church over the past two decades was that the leaders in my church worshiped the Easy Jesus, the one guy who reinforced their inner bigotries and their love of lots of stuff. So how does a church who worships Easy Jesus change to the worship of Hard Jesus?

More below the cloud.

After high school it seemed a right choice to go to a fine Catholic college and I chose a prominent Jesuit university. What I found great about the school was that it was a Liberal Arts school in the traditional sense but there were also these cool guys called SJs (Society of Jesus) who asked the students to question everything - even our understanding of the church. I studied World Religions taught by a Buddist professor, graduate level Christian Social Theory by an Episcopalian woman priest and learned enough to realize that we are all in this together. It was a great experience and I recommend it if you are considering an education.

So you can see why I was so excited by a Jesuit Pope. We had a few scare mongers at this site who had us worried about the new guy but I knew that a Jesuit could be trusted. Any Pope that gives away the security of the Pope-mobile has an understanding and faith in his own mortality. There is an honesty in this that is rare. Most people lie to themselves about their mortality and if they will lie to themselves, what keeps them from lying to you?

In a few diaries of Pope Frances, it had been asked why he isn't doing anything yet. Well I think things have started to change and I'll explain how and why below. So, about my title... I was sitting in my church Sunday and the liturgy floored me:

Reading 1, Amos 8:4-7
4 Listen to this, you who crush the needy and reduce the oppressed to nothing,

5 you who say, 'When will New Moon be over so that we can sell our corn, and Sabbath, so that we can market our wheat? Then, we can make the bushel-measure smaller and the shekel-weight bigger, by fraudulently tampering with the scales.

6 We can buy up the weak for silver and the poor for a pair of sandals, and even get a price for the sweepings of the wheat.'

7 Yahweh has sworn by the pride of Jacob, 'Never will I forget anything they have done.'

In my entire life I had never heard this spoken in church before. Read it a few times and think about it. The reading of Amos really tied in well with the Gospel of Luke below and I'm pretty sure it was by design.
Gospel, Luke 16:1-13
1 He also said to his disciples, 'There was a rich man and he had a steward who was denounced to him for being wasteful with his property.

2 He called for the man and said, "What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer."

3 Then the steward said to himself, "Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed.

4 Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes."

5 'Then he called his master's debtors one by one. To the first he said, "How much do you owe my master?"

6 "One hundred measures of oil," he said. The steward said, "Here, take your bond; sit down and quickly write fifty."

7 To another he said, "And you, sir, how much do you owe?" "One hundred measures of wheat," he said. The steward said, "Here, take your bond and write eighty."

8 'The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.'

9 'And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into eternal dwellings.

10 Anyone who is trustworthy in little things is trustworthy in great; anyone who is dishonest in little things is dishonest in great.

11 If then you are not trustworthy with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches?

12 And if you are not trustworthy with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

13 'No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.'

Last week we discussed Pope Frances' homily for this week's reading  Pope Frances: Money is the Root of All Evil but make sure you also read the bold lines above. This reading calls for the redistribution from the land owner who tips the scales to the land users by the steward, the man who worked for the land owner. In this gospel, Jesus didn't condemn the steward for "cheating" the landowner, in fact it seems he wants us to be like the steward. The priest in my church then did his homily on a Robin Hood like anecdote and finished with a quote from his Brazilian friend Fr Helder Camara "When I give food to the poor they call me a saint, when I ask why they are poor they call me a Communist."

Now you have to be asking "what the Hell just happened?" I mentioned how this was going to happen in the diary  Pope Frances: Money is the Root of All Evil  

In the diary I noted that Pope Benedict in June of 2012 appointed Archbishop Muller to the the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Benedict then resigned 8 months later. Muller was a pupil and friend of Fr Gustavo Gutierrez, the father of Latin American Liberation Theology and Pope Frances just had closed door meetings with Muller and Gutierrez. In that diary I asked, "what did they discuss?"

What is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? It is the body that determines the liturgy that every Roman Catholic church worships on a given Sunday.

Thank you for your time.

Update: It appears that this is a trend and we'll see more of a populist message in the weekly Liturgy. This coming week's liturgy will go back to readings of Amos and Luke and both have populist messages. We start with Amos 6:1a,4-7

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
    and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
you notable men of the foremost nation,
    to whom the people of Israel come!
You lie on beds adorned with ivory
    and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs
    and fattened calves.
5 You strum away on your harps like David
    and improvise on musical instruments.
6 You drink wine by the bowlful
    and use the finest lotions,
    but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
    your feasting and lounging will end.

and Luke 16:19-31
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

I like this. A lot.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, I'm delighted to see the parable of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    unjust steward highlighted, but the interpretation is wrong. The interpreters do not understand that Jesus was being ironic. And Pope Francis, in identifying money as the root of evil, is mistaking the tool for the act. It's sort of like blaming guns for murders. It's not exactly the same because the gun, after all, is a tool that's designed for murder, while money is designed to serve as an aide memoire and a medium of exchange and a record of obligations -- i.e. a certified IOU.
    Yes, the Catholic Church is an organization that thrives by identifying sinful behavior, casting blame and then absolving individuals of their supposed guilt. The Catholic Church has been turned into a vehicle for some humans to rule their own kind in the name of a deity.

    The same pattern can be discerned in the rule of the secular nation:
    "In the name of the nation and of the dollar and the rule of law shall you and your off-spring be sacrificed."

  •  The Previous Sunday's Reading Was Good Too... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Yoshimi

    The scripture readings for the previous Sunday paired Jesus's parable of the Good Shepherd from Luke with a parallel passage from Ezekiel I was less familiar with:  

    As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD:  Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goeats.  Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?  And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

    Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them:  Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.  Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be prey.  (Ezekiel 34:18-22 English Standard Version)

    And all the fat rams bleat "But that's Cla-a-a-a-ass Warfare!!!"

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

    by quarkstomper on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 05:42:07 AM PDT

  •  One of the great things about Iowa is I can preach (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about manure and people nod their heads in agreement. I opened on Sunday with the image of two farmers: one spread the manure around on the fields, and the other piled the manure up high as close to the house as he could. The contrast in outcomes had people smiling. The punchline at the end was that money is like muck - it does no good unles it is spread around.

    Several folks have confused this gospel passage (you can't serve two masters) with the one that the love of money is the root of evil. Related thoughts but with slightly different focuses.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 06:55:23 AM PDT

  •  Yeah, the RCC has only been a pain in the ass for (0+ / 0-)

    for the last two decades. Try to tell THAT to the Cathars in France who still commemorate what the RCC did to them. Or ask the native americans what happened to their hands and arms when they refused to help build RCC churches.

    As long as this institution runs a mafia like vatican bank and sits on the vast wealth of art, artifacts and manuscripts, mostly obtained by underhanded means and outright theft (read what happened to family wealth when the church decided all priests and bishops could no longer be married), it has no moral authority whatsoever to lecture the world on the "evils" of money or materialism. I don't care what kind of "live simply" PR stunts the pope pulls.

    You knew a Jesuit could be trusted? Have you ever bothered to look up the history of the Jesuits?

    Here's a place to start...

    And before you start thinking that my comments entail an exercise in "religious bigotry" against you, please note that I said nothing about your personal beliefs.

  •  We, too, were struck by last Sunday's readings (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was wondering how the priest would tie it all together, and he was masterful in laying it on the 1% taking it from the rest of us, and of his hope that Pope Francis will lead the church back to its core mission of taking care of the poor, the oppressed, and those marginalized by the wealthier society.

    Habit of eating have been found increased in people, they just need a sitting place where they can finish their hunger. -- spammer pauldavis 8/21/13

    by Senor Unoball on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 08:38:46 AM PDT

    •  You could hear a pin drop when our priest (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Senor Unoball

      finished with "call me a communist." I looked around and many jaws were in the dropped position. A fellow parishoner who I know to be a Republican was visibly upset by the homily and walked out of mass without talking to anyone that day.

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