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Homily for the first Sunday after the Epiphany (Year C) – John the Baptist redux

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

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Good morning bus riders!

I trust everyone received the emails I sent out with the link to the lectionary page for today. I got no “mailer-daemon” returns, so my email list has valid addresses. So, I know everyone is up to date on the four readings set aside for this first Sunday after the Epiphany.

I hope everyone here had a true Epiphany.

The word "epiphany" comes from Greek, which is written in Scripture, meaning “Appearance.” Last Thursday was January sixth, so that was when the reading from Matthew told of the Magi.

Think about the Epiphany as the “Appearance” of some foreign priests, who suddenly arrive to Anoint you as the Christ. In that process, you take on the “Appearance” of the Son of God … ladies and gentlemen alike.

Souls have no gender.

Last Thursday was like the Jewish ceremony known as a bris, which comes eight days after birth and is when a name is officially given to a newborn. That is then like Jacob wrestling with his demon soul and giving birth to the new Jacob; and, the name given to that newborn was Israel.

The thing about names is this: once they appear, they stick. So, once someone is given a divine name, one always retains that name. That is the after the Epiphany theme.

That name change becomes the theme of rebirth; and, that is present in all the readings today. It is there to be seen, if you know what you are looking for.

The aspect of Christmas is everyone is expecting to celebrate Jesus being born a long, long time ago. He is always a little baby in a manger. He is never the grown up minister the majority of the Gospels tell of. He is never the dead Jesus on a cross. At Christmas, Jesus is never the ascended Son of God floating up to heaven.

Raise your hand if on your birthday all your friends gather around you and celebrate your birth with baby pictures of you.

<Look for everyone’s hands by their sides.>

When we are kids, the last thing we want is anyone to see us as being younger than we are. Kids love to say, “and a half,” meaning “I’m older than my age says.” No one wants to be remembered as some squirmy little thing wrapped in a blanket and lost in baby thoughts.

When you think about aging, every birthday is a celebration of “rebirth,” as the new you. The new you keeps getting older, to the point that we don’t want to recognize our latest rebirths … as old people.

The rebirth theme is a constant, after the “Appearance” of rebirth.

We immediately see that in Isaiah’s first verse read today: “he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel”.

That is Yahweh speaking through Isaiah; and, Isaiah let us know the voice of Yahweh was saying that.

Isaiah lived well after Jacob died (in Egypt), so he wasn’t there to witness Jacob’s transformation. Yahweh, however, was there and knew all about it.

Jacob is a name meaning “Supplanter,” which is the way many Americans live their lives every day, of every year. The word means: “someone taking the place of another, as through force, scheming, strategy, or the like.” It is a self-directed existence, whether we play by a set of rules or we make up new rules to suit our schemes.

The name “Israel” means “Who Retains God,” with “God” actually meaning a soul that has married Yahweh, becoming His hand reaching down to the earth. The “el” part of “Israel” is a little-g “god,” which in Hebrew is one of Yahweh’s many “elohim.”

Thus, Yahweh was the giver of a soul – the spirit that Isaac named “Jacob;” and, Yahweh was the giver of a reborn soul – the addition of the Spirit named “Israel.”

The Epiphany is when we all realize we were Jacob; but we all become Israel only when our souls have married Yahweh and then given rebirth to His Son … IN US.

Isaiah then wrote how Yahweh said, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

That is Yahweh saying, “This is forever. Once divinely married, so My Spirit is one with your soul, then I will always be with you. Any fear of losing Me is impossible.”

This is because a soul that was once filthy dirty with every sin imaginable … like a child playing in mud … has been washed clean … forgiven out of mutual love … so all past debts have been erased by Yahweh.

Having one’s debts of sin erased does not come because one looks cute and does a wink at Yahweh. It comes from one being so distraught with the old self that one’s body of flesh has dropped to its knees, begging Yahweh to forgive all those sins that a soul in the flesh just cannot stop doing.

Raise your hand if you ever begged God to help you, even going as far as promising, “If you do this for me, then I will change and do good.”

<Look for guilty faces and slightly raised hands.>

When you have reached rock bottom, then you begin wrestling with your demons. They make a point of letting you know that if you try to do without them, then they will leave you limping through the rest of your life, always carrying the scars of a sinner. Your demons use that ploy to make you realize just how weak your soul is. Your demons do not want to let go of your flesh.

When you promise to do good and mean it [and God knows your hearts], then Yahweh says, “Your name will no longer be [fill in the blank], but Israel, because you have struggled with elohim and with men and have overcome.”

In that, the Genesis text says “elohim,” where “elohim” means little-g “gods,” which can also be demonic spirits that possess human souls. A Spiritual rebirth is when a soul-flesh is married to Yahweh, becoming a “Yahweh elohim,” which is the meaning of “Israel.”

Isaiah wrote that change of name brings redemption. But, that gift of all debt being wiped clean means your soul is now permanently married to Yahweh. You become His, in divine union; so, you owe Him big time. Once married … in Holy Matrimony … your soul takes on His name in marriage.

"Israel" is what “being in the name of God” means.

Being in Yahweh’s name means your soul can never break that bond. You are His forevermore. You are His possession, as where Yahweh lives.

When we read Isaiah’s third verse, we have to realize the truth; that Yahweh said, “For I am Yahweh eloheka, the sacred of Israel, your savior.” In that, the projection of “your” – the meaning of eloheka is as “your gods” – must be understood as a possession. Yahweh owns your souls as His extensions. Likewise, Yahweh sends the savior as His possession to be One with your soul.

It means you are the elohim of Yahweh; and, it means you are saved by being His souls.

Verse three then shows three other capitalized places, none of which means anything to an American pewple. Those translations say “Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba.”

Raise your hand if that means anything to you.

<Look for no hands raised.>

None of those words written by Isaiah were capitalized, because Hebrew has no capital letters. The words written were recognized as words that equated to three places; but each word is the meaning behind the names.

The meanings are “married to tragedy” [Egypt], “appearing as fire” [Ethiopia], and “drunkard” [Seba].

Knowing this, the “ransom” or price paid for “redemption,” by becoming Yahweh’s elohim,” is relative to the tragic marriage having been lived as a soul possessed by demonic spirits. It is relative to seeing one’s promise of death (being mortal) as meaning one’s soul will be thrown into eternal fire, because of sins. It is relative to being drunk on sins, as an addict to the wants of the flesh, incapable of turning away.

It all means salvation comes from the promise made from the depths of despair, when the price your soul pays, to have all past debts erased, is submission of self to Yahweh. A "self" is a "soul."

That happens when one says, “I do,” to the Commandments of Yahweh – the Covenant of divine marriage.

At that point in time, that “appearing as fire” becomes “the Appearance” of Salvation, in the name that means “Yahweh Saves” … Jesus.

When the song of David is sung, the repetition that cannot be missed is “Ascribe to the Lord.” Of course, David wrote “Yahweh,” which is greater in meaning than “the Lord;” so, the repetition that begins this song of praise says, “Ascribe to Yahweh."

The word “ascribe” means “Give.”

The only thing a human can “give to Yahweh” is a soul … oneself. That is the only possession one has that is spiritual. To “give” is then singing, “submit to Yahweh.” That is then singing about the divine union of a soul to Yahweh’s Spirit.

Demonic spirits do not want you to make that commitment. Therefore, it is hard to “give to Yahweh” fully; but total submission is all that counts.

Remember Jesus saying, You cannot serve two masters"?

<Look for nodding heads.>

That means marriage to Yahweh is all or nothing. You fully submit to Yahweh and become His wife; or, you continue to limp along in life, pretending everything is okay … too afraid to cut sin off completely.

Making that decision … to finally say, I do” at the altar of self-sacrifice … brings about “the Epiphany” of change. Just like a virgin bride – like Mary was only sixteen, completely inexperienced – we take on the name of the Husband. We change in name to Israel. We give our souls to Yahweh and He gives us His Spirit as our new name, Israel.

The after the Epiphany experience can then be seen in David singing seven times in Psalm 29, “the voice of Yahweh.”

Yahweh marries souls in human flesh to make them His voice, as His elohim. The voice of God is spiritual; so, to hear that voice, one needs to have Yahweh's Spirit within one's being, just to pick up that divine 'channel.'

"The voice of Yahweh is upon the waters."

The living waters are poured out as His Spirit and His Anointment upon our souls.

"The voice of Yahweh is a powerful voice; the voice of Yahweh is a voice of splendor."

This is not our weak souls speaking, but the Son of Yahweh speaking through us. The soul of Jesus is mightier and pure, more than our souls can ever be alone.

"The voice of Yahweh breaks the cedar trees."

The truth is as invisible as are sound waves, penetrating unseen deep into the physical.

"The voice of Yahweh splits the flames of fire; the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness."

We no longer see the appearance of fire as threatening. Our hearts flutter as the Spirit eliminates all past addictions to sin.

"The voice of Yahweh makes the oak trees writhe."

Even the strongest and tallest bow down before the sound of His voice.

By having received the Word of Yahweh and spoken that Word to the world, we know the truth of David singing, “Yahweh shall give strength to his people; Yahweh shall give his people the blessing of peace.”

We “give to Yahweh.” when we let His voice flow through us. Then we see how Yahweh is giving back to our souls more than we gave to Him.

We become “His people.” We become His elohim.

Now, Isaiah and David have to be seen as individual souls who had divinely married Yahweh, becoming two of His elohim. But, we cannot think that Yahweh is limited to how many souls His Spirit can fill – how many can be Christs or Messiahs – because everyone of them reflect saved souls. All are Spiritually named “Israel.”

In the times of David, his effect on the people who were descended from the twelve sons of Jacob was they lived up to the name Israel. While we do not read of ordinary Israelites doing great feats – like David slaying Goliath – the lack of stories about their failures speaks silently to that effect.

A good leader has a way of meaning good follows that lead.

In the times of Isaiah, where there were multiple prophets all speaking what Yahweh told them to say, they did that while the ordinary people of the two nations – the Northern and Southern Kingdoms – were not living up to the name of “Israel.”

They had bad leaders; so, it was natural that bad people followed their lead.

This is where the Advent of Christianity began with the birth of Jesus; but it was after the Epiphany that many souls became Yahweh elohim. Many people married their souls to Yahweh and then gave rebirth to His Son, Jesus.

At the depths of Jewish despair … having lost their lands to foreign dominators … pleading to God for help changing back, from bad to good … Yahweh sent His Son into new flesh. His Son was the soul of Adam reborn.

That says, to leave bad behind and become good, then your souls must be reborn, just like Yahweh's Son was. The answer to everyone's prayers is to be Yahweh's Son Jesus reborn.

The theme of today is rebirth.

This can be seen in both the Epistle reading and the Gospel reading for today.

Now it is shown coming in masses, more than individuals.

The reading from Acts needs to be recognized for what it is, simply from it coming from Acts.

Readings from the Acts of the Apostles typically are only read during the Easter season, read every Sunday after Easter, until Pentecost Sunday. While that is a clear standard, the first Sunday after the Epiphany is also a time when readings from Acts are mandatory; but only the first Sunday.

The accounts in Acts are those of souls married to Yahweh, reborn as His Son, thereby those who become the voices of Yahweh.

In this reading, we learn there was a need for Peter and John to go from Jerusalem to Samaria, because “Samaria had accepted the word of God.”

This short reading seems rather innocuous, almost as if it shares nothing insightful. This means it is up to us to see what all the brouhaha was going on in Samaria. That means actually reading the first thirteen verses of Acts 8.

Those verses tell us that Philip was “spreading the Gospel” in Samaria. That says Philip was in Samaria letting the voice of Yahweh be heard.

That voice was so strong and so full of splendor that the Samarians wanted to be like Philip; so, Philip took them all down to a creek (I guess) and baptized them with water. This included a magician by the name of Simon.

Okay, the town of Samaria is roughly (as the crow flies) ninety miles north of Jerusalem, near the outskirts of Galilee.

When we read “the apostles in Jerusalem heard that,” it is left to the imagination how they heard that news. It certainly was not by smart phone calls, or even smoke signals.

However, word got to “the apostles,” so we then are told, “they sent Peter and John to them.”

We do not know who “they” are; but the title of this book, according to what the Episcopal Church shows, is simply “Acts.” The “apostles” don’t make the title, because “they” are not the importance. The importance is the “Acts,” where that being capitalized needs to reflect on those "Acts" being administered by Yahweh.

Tell me the names of the actors.

<Make hand gesture to those sitting on the bus stop bench or standing. Then look for stunned faces.>

The names of those doing the Acts are all the same … Israel. The Acts were all done by those souls "in the name of God."

This means the names of “Peter” and “John” need to be read as the meaning behind the names: “Rock” or “Stone” and “Yahweh Is Gracious.” Thus, “they sent to Samaria the “cornerstone” who meant “Yahweh is gracious” to souls. They sent Jesus … who had been reborn in two bodies of flesh.

When we don’t see this as what was intended to be seen, we then read (or hear) these names and start to think, “Gee. Peter and John were special dudes.”

Such thinking means humans stop seeking to be Jesus reborn, because they like the idea that “We’re in good hands with special people leading our lives.”

People love to follow the leader; but the history of Israel the nation of people shows following the leader only works for a while. Then everything goes downhill, fast.

Following the leader … the names of the world … is what opens the soul to demonic possession.

When the next thing we read in this reading from Acts says, “the two went down,” it is easy to think, “went down” means traveled from Jerusalem to Samaria, even though traveling north seems to make more sense as “the two went up.”

In reality, one Greek word is written, which says “having descended;” and, that needs to be seen in spiritual terms, not logistical information.

After having named “Peter and John,” Luke (the writer of Acts) said those were “who having descended , they prayed for those souls so that they might receive the Spirit Holy”. This says the names of Peter and John – both representing self-egos – had been lowered in submission to Yahweh. Both were then equals to all apostles, as all were the same as those led by the soul of Jesus. Thus, as Jesus “they prayed for the souls of the Samaritans.”

It was Jesus’ prayers to Yahweh that made it so “they might receive the Spirit” of divine marriage, thereby being made “Saints.”

Being an apostle means being “Holy” or “Sacred.” That, like being a Christ, can only be given by Yahweh. Of course, being “Holy, Sacred, Sanctified” means submitting your self-ego to Yahweh, so Jesus can be reborn within one’s soul. The marriage to Yahweh makes one be "Anointed" … a "Christ." The birth of Jesus within one's soul – the Christmas event – is the Epiphany of having been made "Holy" … a "Saint."

Now, here is where seeing with physical eyes becomes the trick known by magicians. Keep in mind that this Simon fellow, the one told about before today's reading from Acts, was baptized with water by Philip, having been known for being a magician. He had told the Samaritans he was great and went about using the name “Jesus Christ” in his sleight of hand and tricks of misdirection. His "acts" were all about getting the Samaritans to pay him money to be their friend.

When the “two who had gone down” in self-ego reached Samaria, we read: “Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Spirit Holy.”

The reason Simon was baptized by water by Philip is he saw Philip had an ability to win the hearts of the people with his Gospel. Somehow, Philip spoke words, without doing any tricks Simon could spot, and the people would do anything for him.

Philip was the voice of Yahweh; so, the Samaritans who had followed Simon then followed Philip. That left Simon without followers. So, Simon got in line with the others led to the creek, in order to observe Philip and see what tricks he was using.

When he saw Peter and John arrive and begin touching people AND those people immediately were filled with the Spirit of Yahweh and made Saints – A true Epiphany experience – Simon wanted the two to sell him that trick of physical touch.

That story is not read today; so, read that story when you get home. See Simon in the light of him reflecting on some local priest, pastor, or televangelist, all of whom are selling you tricks, rather than teaching you how to become like Philip, Peter and John. Being the voice of Yahweh does not come by tricks.

In the unseen reality of what is written – which is what Simon could not detect with well-trained eyes that detected tricks – is the Greek text translates literally to say, “at that time they began putting on these hands on the basis of souls”.

When a simple possessive personal pronoun (which could be read as "them") is translated as “themselves,” knowing that "selves” are "souls," then the aspect of “hands” becomes descriptive of those who were “they who began putting on.” That “put on” or “placed upon” is not “hands,” but the “Spirit” that makes one “a Saint.”

Having gone down in self-sacrifice, the apostles had all become the “hands” of Jesus and Yahweh. Because they would have naturally touched the Samaritans (making Simon see that as the trick he would pay money for), they touched simply out of brotherly love. There was no magic touch involved.

Can you see this?

<Look at surprised faces and shaking heads.>

Let me tell you that this past week is the first time I have ever read these verses in this way. It was an Epiphany for me. But, now that I have seen it and see it as truth, the after the Epiphany in my life will always remember this and teach it.

Confirmation of what I saw is then to be seen in the Gospel reading from Luke.

The Luke reading should sound familiar. Just four weeks ago, in the third Sunday of Advent, the Gospel selection then included the first three verses of these five. If you have good memories, you will recall I told you about having read these verses differently then, once more having seen something there for the first time.

I told you that John was not a ‘warm-up entertainer,’ getting Jews excited about Jesus coming after him. I told you the one to come after, who is “mightier than I,” was the soul that had been merged with John’s soul … existing within his soul for quite some time … having lived in the flesh long before. I told you John might well be the returned soul of Elijah (as people rumored), returned to be an example of a sinner-soul that had been eternally saved by Yahweh.

John’s soul was possessed by one “mightier” than his soul, having become one with his soul. He did not know that soul was named “Jesus,” but he told all who he ministered to: “If it happened to me, it can happen to you too.”

I asked you to ponder those words before the bus arrived. Do you remember me saying that?

<Look for nodding heads and raised hands.>

Good! Well, get ready for another first for me this past week.

The same meaning I told you about during Advent still applies to verses fifteen through seventeen, just as I said before. Those of you who read my commentaries on my website will have seen the deeper explanations I posted about that Luke reading. Those posts are still there. I welcome all to read them; and, I recently posted deeply about this reading as well.

The two verses that are new today are twenty-one and twenty-two. Those two verses have a heading applied to them. That title is “The Baptism of Jesus.”

Is everyone familiar with Jesus going to see John and being baptized? Does everyone recall when Jesus and John came up out of the water and God spoke, while a dove descended?

<Look for nodding heads.>

Well, the new Epiphany I had this past week revealed to me that Jesus was not in the water with John, like the pictures depict.

I found that the name Jesus is only written twice in all of Luke’s third chapter. Once comes in verse twenty-three, which begins to state the genealogy of Jesus. In verse twenty-one, his name is written in the Genitive case, which is the possessive that adds “of.” When you read “of Jesus,” that does not say “when Jesus also had been baptized.”

The literal translation of the Greek written says this: “kai of Jesus having been submerged”.

When this is led by Luke writing, “having been baptized these [God’s chosen] people,” the importance that follows is relative to “all those having been baptized” by Yahweh. The next step for them was to have their souls “submerged” with the soul “of Jesus.”

The soul "of Jesus" possessed those being newly born as Jesus - the reason we celebrate that birth at Christmas.

One of the other amazing things I saw was the first word of verse twenty-one is capitalized, which is simply translated in the reading as “when.” The root word means “I come into being, am born, become, come about, happen.” When this word is capitalized it has the divinely elevated meaning that says, “Having been born” or simply “Born.”

Verse twenty-one can be seen as saying: "Born now within this having been baptized altogether these people , kai of Jesus having having been submerged".

For all the Nicodemuses of the world, that capitalized "Born" is a capitalized "Rebirth" … as those souls already born into bodies of flesh were "Born" again, through Spiritual baptism.

That is the theme of today's readings; but that theme is hidden by ignorance that comes in a poor English translation.

Now it is important to realize this verse is only read on this first Sunday after the Epiphany, after Jesus had been “Born" on Christmas and "Anointed" by Yahweh's priests on the Epiphany. In my opinion, verses twenty-one and twenty-two were purposefully selected for reading today because of that one Greek word being capitalized. Verses nineteen and twenty are never read aloud by priests, ever. The elders of the Episcopal lectionary purposefully skipped over those, jumping right to the verse that begins with a capitalized word that says (in the past tense) “Born.”

We are then led by an English translation to see Jesus “praying,” after he was baptized. That was when “the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.”

Think about that for a moment.

<Count to ten slowly.>

We read last Sunday – the option that is always read aloud by a priest on the Epiphany – that Magi knew a most holy child was to be “Born” in the Jerusalem area, leading them to get royal approval and travel months to find Jesus. They were sent by Yahweh, as His priests, to Anoint physically His Son.

Jesus, like John the Baptist, was announced by the angel Gabriel, with an angel of Yahweh telling the parents what each newborn’s name was to be. "John" means "Yahweh Is Gracious," while "Jesus" means "Yahweh Will Save."

Don’t you think Jesus was already “baptized” by Yahweh, his Father? Don’t you think Jesus was “Born” with the soul "of Jesus" built in?

<Look for shocked faces and nodding heads.>

John the Baptist was no different, in the sense that he had a soul that had long been merged with the one “mightier,” which was the soul of salvation [Jesus means “Yahweh Will Save”]. John, the resurrection of Elijah's soul, just did not know Jesus was the resurrection of Adam's soul – the firstborn of Yahweh.

So, John would have been “praying,” as would all the new souls “having been submerged” with the soul “of Jesus.” And … I imagine Jesus was indeed there; so, he too would have been “praying,” with “praying” meaning “giving thanks to God.”

As for the text that says, “And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased,” remember the seven times David wrote in Psalm 29, “The voice of Yahweh”?

That can now be seen as everyone there, who John had transformed into apostles (without anyone knowing that was what they were), they ALL heard the “voice of Yahweh” speaking to each and every one of them,

When Yahweh said “YOU are my Son,” The word "Sy" is capitalized, denoting a divinely elevated "You." That capitalization says each one became Jesus re-Born (capitalized). That rebirth came from the love that makes two marry and make a baby … the Spiritual Son of Yahweh Reborn in human flesh.

Yahweh told all His new Jesuses, “I AM in you” and I AM well pleased.”

Hearing the voice of Yahweh says that. To YOU has the voice of Yahweh spoken. That must be received as a most special after the Epiphany experience. Not only has one been reborn as Jesus and called by Yahweh His Christ, one now gets to call Yahweh "Father," as His Son (males and females alike).

Now, I know the bus is due to arrive any minute. I also know that this is the first time anyone has every told you this. For that reason, I want you all to ‘check my math.’ I want you to see me as Simon the magician and question if I am using smoke and mirrors to get you to believe lies or tricks.

It does me no good whatsoever to have a band of followers who think I am special. My name is nothing of importance. I don’t want anybody here to go tell a friend, “I believe in Bus Stop Bob.”

No one can get your soul to heaven, other than you. The apostles did not do tricks or magic. The truth sets you free to see the truth for yourself (and a self equal a soul).

I want you to be the ones that see the truth with your own eyes, because seeing for yourself leads you to have true faith. Think about what I have said. Know that we are in that space in time where having new Epiphanies that follow after the Epiphany is how the Spirit comes upon your soul and makes your heart flutter like a dove lighting there.

I look forward to seeing you all again next Sunday. Until then, safe travels and look for the email with the lectionary link.


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