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Homily for the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany (Year C) – The child is grown

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

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Good morning bus riders!


We have reached the midway point of the time between the Epiphany and the beginning of Lent, so there are still plenty of sweets that can be freely eaten.


Speaking of sweets, I hope everyone received the email with the link to the lectionary page and totally devoured the four readings assigned for today’s lessons.


These tasty morsels all come together like a gingerbread man, with icing around the edges, gumdrops for eyes and sprinkles as his clothing. Who can say any of that should be picked off and discarded?


Nobody! It is yummy to the tummy all as it is, all together.


That is similar to how all of the readings each week play a purposeful role together, as separate ingredients combining to make one complete plate of spiritual food; so, it is a shame for any priest to ever serve up plain old Gospel [the sacrificial meat], without adding mention of the Old Testament, Psalm, or Epistle readings [all the trimmings].


So, with that baking and cooking advice for the presentation of spiritual food, let’s begin the lessons!


Today the theme can be found speaking of childhood.


Jeremiah’s reading is about him crying out to Yahweh that he was “just a boy.” We read how Yahweh told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”


In the selection of David’s verses in Psalm 71, that is conversely repeated in verse six, where David told Yahweh, “I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother's womb you have been my strength.”


In Paul’s letter to the true Christians of Corinth, he told them, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.”


Then, in the Gospel reading from Luke, the Nazarenes asked, “Is not this Joseph's son?”


All of that is linking focus that is placed on the youth of childhood. Still, the point of this focus is a little harder to see, as the silver thread that ties all these readings together today is rebirth. The focus is on the changes that are natural in life.


The reading from Jeremiah comes from chapter one, where Jeremiah is introduced as a prophet. Stated in verse four is, “The word of Yahweh came to me”.


The translation that says “the Lord” is an anti-Semitic way of not saying “Yahweh.”


Raise your hand if the word of Yahweh has ever come to you.


<Look for lowered faces and no hands raised.>


To begin this reading like this makes it seem like everybody has the word of Yahweh come to them. It seems like we should all instantly read those words and think, “Oh yeah! I love when that happens!”


The first verse of Psalm 71 has us read David singing, “In you, Yahweh, have I taken refuge; let me never be ashamed.” I changed “O Lord” to the word written, which is the name of a most specific “Yahweh.”


Raise your hand if you have ever “taken refuge in Yahweh” and can give us all coordinates to where we can find that “refuge,” using the GPS on our smart phones.


<Look for the same lowered faces and no raised hands.>


What we miss in those benign translations is both Jeremiah and David saying, “When I was born anew I heard the voice of God” and “When I was born anew Yahweh became my refuge.”


In order to begin childhood, one must be born; but for as much as our physical births were most memorial events for our parents, I have no recall of my having been born. I’m sure everyone here is just like me, in that regard.


When I was in college, studying Psychology, I had a professor in his final year of teaching, before retirement. He had been around forever and was easily in his seventies, being forced out the door.


He told us at the beginning of a course on personality theories, “You have a book you bought. All the exams will come from that book. I will not lecture on that book.” [Sound like any priests you know?]


Instead, he read poetry he had written to his grandchildren, so they would have some legacy to read, which would make their grandfather be remembered by them.


Believe me when I say, “You do not want to listen to an old man recite his own poetry for an hour.” His was not a voice I longed to hear.


When he was not reading his poetry, he assigned us to write about our first memories. One assignment was to describe the first home-house we remembered as a child. Another was to record our thoughts on the first time we experienced snow.


He did not collect those papers and they were not graded … like listening to him recite poetry was not rewarded … but he said the theory was that one’s personality can be corelated to how one’s memories about early childhood affected us individually.


When Jeremiah wrote his first chapter, he was doing so from memory of his early childhood, when his brain was just beginning to develop into his adult personality.


When we read of Jeremiah remembering how Yahweh told him, “I appointed you a prophet to the nations,” the translation that says “nations” is poorly chosen. It can say that, but there are no “nations” with ears that can hear the words of a prophet. The same word makes more sense when translated as “peoples.” Peoples have ears that can hear prophets.


By paying attention to Jeremiah first saying, “and came the voice of Yahweh to me,” where that is not something that happens to everyone, to then hear that voice say, “I appointed you a prophet to the peoples,” that says Jeremiah grew up real quick.


The child that hears the voice of Yahweh stops being a child. Thus, Yahweh told Jeremiah, “Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you”.


Now, I will now direct you to my website, where I wrote about how wrong that translation is, in order to get to the whole truth that Jeremiah wrote. I will only say now that Jeremiah was not expressing any fear to Yahweh. In reality, Jeremiah remembered Yahweh saying Jeremiah should have no such fears, because Yahweh was within a child. Yahweh would guide everything in Jeremiah’s life to come.


This needs to be seen as an Epiphany in Jeremiah’s life, when he transformed from ordinary child to being a prophet of Yahweh. His remembrance in his first chapter says, “My childhood ended when I was reborn Spiritually. I will never forget that memory. It set the tone of my later life.”


Now, in David’s psalm, it is important to recall the story of David, the shepherd boy who was the youngest son of Jesse. He was chosen by Samuel, who heard the voice of Yahweh tell him, “That’s the one!”


After Samuel poured oil from a horn over David’s head, ceremoniously anointing him [a lower cased “way·yim·šaḥ,” from “mashach”], then Yahweh poured out His Spirit upon David, which lasted “from that day forward.” That amounts to an upper-case “Anointment,” coming from Yahweh, which means David was a “Messiah” [or a “Christ” in Greek].


Thus, to read David sing, “I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother's womb you have been my strength,” this is not David singing about remembering his physical birth, when he sprang from the loins of his mother.


This has to be seen in the same light of Jeremiah having been “reborn” when he heard the voice of Yahweh tell him, “You are now my prophet.” David was likewise transformed when the Spirit of Yahweh poured out upon his soul, meaning he grew up real fast around the age of eight or nine.


Because David was “sustained by Yahweh ever since that birth,” this means “my mother’s womb” is speaking of David’s soul. David’s soul became the fertile ‘ground’ that gave birth to the soul of Jesus within his soul. While David did not call Jesus by name, it was that divine presence that became David’s “[inner] strength.”


This then leads back to David’s first verse, when he sang of taking refuge in Yahweh. There, the reality of what David wrote says, “In Yahweh is my faith.” That meant David totally submitted his soul-body unto Yahweh; so, David would not know sin – no shame would come to him.


When verse two is shown to sing, “In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me,” there is no way anyone can be “righteous” without being led by Yahweh – divine union, where two are made one. Then “delivery” or “redemption” can only come from total submission to Yahweh – wife-soul to Husband-Spirit. To sing “incline your ear to me” means David too heard the voice of Yahweh, just like Jeremiah. Finally, to be “saved” by “Yahweh” is a statement about the presence of Jesus – the name that means “Yahweh Saves.”


When David added, “my confidence since I was young,” this was him singing about his having become a Yahweh elohim when just a child; but the “confidence” was not David’s, in the same way that Jeremiah had no “confidence” when “just a boy.” That says “confidence” is a statement of having been reborn, from a natural state where fears abound, to a state of calm and peace.


By seeing that both Jeremiah and David were Anointed by Yahweh’s Spirit, in a greatly transformative way, where each had his soul married to Yahweh and each had become the womb of Yahweh’s Son reborn, this has to be how one looks at Paul.


When Yahweh told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you,” this has to be seen now as more than Yahweh talking about the physical body of Jeremiah. It speaks of his soul.


Yahweh knew the soul of the body that would be named Jeremiah, well before that soul was placed into that body by the breath of Yahweh.


This can now be seen as an arranged marriage, where Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah saying, “I made arrangements to marry your soul beforehand.”


Now, arranged marriages are commonplace in other parts of the world. Some arranged marriages last forever … until death do two part … but the key to that longevity is true love.

This is what Paul’s focus is placed upon, as Paul is shown to have written the word “love” nine times in the thirteen verses we read today.


Raise your hand if you read these thirteen verses and know what “love” means.


<Look for quizzical faces and hesitation to volunteering a definition.>


In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest said, “I’m not a smart man … but I know what love is.”


He said that to the very flawed female character, named Jenny, who was asked by Forrest, “Why don’t you love me Jenny?”


The point made is “love” is not defined the same by everyone. Forrest knew what love is; but Jenny held a different definition in her mind.


For as much as I have heard Christian leaders flapping their lips, saying, “Jesus loved sinners, so he would love these sinners we demand you embrace. Otherwise, you have no love in your hearts like Jesus had.”


None of those leaders of lost sheep today have a clue what Paul wrote in this thirteenth chapter of his letter to the Corinthians.


Paul said there are two kinds of love. The first is that which is physical – emotionally connected to the five senses of the human body – but the second kind of love is spiritual – in no way associated to the physical body.


All human beings know physical love. It is inescapable [ordinarily, psychos excluded]. Only rarely do human beings know spiritual love.


Thus, Paul said doing everything that leaders of Christian religions do – speaking of Scripture; pointing to the prophecy of Scripture; telling that Scripture is mysteries, beyond comprehension; pretending to have knowledge of Scripture; saying faith is like climbing a mountain; demanding proof of a commitment to God as being one’s charitable contributions; and, promising eternal salvation by living up to the opinions of religious leaders – well … not so fast.


Without spiritual love, then all that is a waste of time and effort … as far as soul judgment is concerned.


Relate Paul’s words that say “without love I am nothing; and, without love I gain nothing” to the youths that were Jeremiah and David. How much educational experience do you think they had when Yahweh spoke to them and poured His Spirit out upon them?


They had very little, at such young ages. However, like the fictional Forrest Gump, they knew spiritual love through divine marriage of their souls to Yahweh.


Raise your hand if your soul is married to Yahweh and you can demonstrate your knowledge of spiritual love by performing a small miracle before everyone here.


<Look for aghast faces and no hands raised.>


Paul was a soul married to Yahweh. Paul was a soul that had the soul of Jesus resurrected within his soul. Paul was like Jeremiah, who stood back and let Yahweh do the talking, with Jesus dictating the words written in the letters Paul wrote.


In Acts, we read of Paul performing miracles. Seeing minor demons cast out is always fun to watch.


Likewise, all the true Christians in Corinth were like Paul; and, they knew what he was saying about two kinds of love. We read from First Corinthians today because Jesus is speaking to us through Paul. We are the ones who need to get this message.


Now the proof of Paul writing about two kinds of love is one of those things that is not so clearly visible through the translations of Greek to English. In these thirteen verses, Paul is shown to have written “if” five times. The use of "if" [and one is capitalized, as a "Big If"] sets forth a conditional situation, where a choice must be made.


In reality here, Paul wrote five uses of “ean,” which means “if,” but then he also wrote three uses of “eite,” which means “if both.” The change from "if" to "if both" says the condition is still in effect; but the "if both" proceeds as "if" one indeed made a choice positively.


Unfortunately, the “if both” is erased by the translation we read.


Instead, we are shown: “Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.”


The reality of this verse eight says, “This love never fails ; if both now prophesies , they will be rendered naught ; if both languages , they will be ceased ; if both knowledge it will be abolished.”


That was Paul explaining (as Jesus speaking to us) that spiritual love never ends. All the pretenses held by the leaders of churches calling themselves “Christian” will be nothing as they seemed. If only led by normal physical love – driven by changing emotions – then they will always remain a single soul in human flesh; but adding the spiritual love that overrides that up and down, blown by the winds of change of human love, then one knows Scripture as the truth of Yahweh, from a soul being joined in marriage to Him [the bond of spiritual love].


The meaning of “if both” says we are all born as human beings with emotions that include many different definitions for “love.” Because we are told, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), “love” is not always the wonderful thing we think it is. Some "love" is bad.


In John’s twenty-first chapter, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter answered, “You know I love you.”


In that exchange, there are stated two Greek words that can simply translate in English as “love.” Those stated are “phileó” and “agapaó.” The word “phileó” needs to be seen as physical “love,” whereas “agapaó” needs to be seen as spiritual “love.”


In the translation that has Paul writing, “For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end,” not knowing there are two kinds of “love” keeps us from understanding what Paul was saying.


His use of “partial” as only knowing “philos” “love,” is the "if" not fulfilled. However, Paul's use of “complete” means the addition of “agápē” “love” has come, so the condition of "if both" has been met.


What is most difficult to see is where Paul wrote of “it will be abolished,” which he wrote twice. This is speaking of the death of the old, so the new can be a rebirth.


As such, Jeremiah began to hear the voice of Yahweh when he was given the “unconditional love” of the Father. David, likewise, knew spiritual “love” when his soul took “refuge in Yahweh.” The child of both ceased to be, when they both were reborn as prophets of Yahweh, married by spiritual love to Him.


Paul then explained the same thing happened to him, even though he was a mature adult. That change took place when his most religious experience forever changed him.


Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” This says "childish ways" are those that only know human forms of love.


That says the natural changes that take place in normal human life – birth, growth, maturity – becomes like the shedding of that which no longer serves one. To be born means the death of state of being that was a fetus. To become pubescent means the death of all innocence that existed when one was prepubescent.


As far as a soul becoming the mother with a womb, a soul that only knows physical love is like a virgin that has only known physical emotions. When a virgin becomes impregnated, there can be no return to being a virgin. Therefore, a soul that has never married Yahweh is a virgin that has never given birth to the spiritual love that is Jesus resurrected within that soul.


That is the "if" and the "if both."


That becomes metaphor for everyone leading religious organizations – and Saul was certainly one who fully supported the childish minds of the Sanhedrin – as they are only partial in their “love” of Yahweh. To listen to Christian priests and pastors speak today, one would think Yahweh died, so Jesus could take over the reins.


The aspect of Paul looking in the mirror says there are two projections of Paul, when the condition of "both" has been met. One is his soul, which is filled with all the natural emotions that include a multifaceted concept of “love;” and, the other is the addition of the soul of Jesus, who brings the completion of spiritual “love,” which is eternal and everlasting.


That which is “dimly” seen reflected is the old Saul, with the reborn Paul just as ambiguously an enigma, no longer doing anything of self-importance in the tabernacle that his flesh has become, where Jesus is enthroned as High Priest. All concept of "I' has been turned over to Yahweh and Jesus.


A full grasp of this lesson is necessary to then view the lesson of Luke that is read today.


Now, we read the first half of this event last Sunday, where Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah, then sat down. All eyes were on him, as the Jews of Nazareth were expecting Jesus to teach about what he had just read. Last Sunday and today we read that Jesus told them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


Ending there last Sunday meant we could reflect on how verses fourteen and fifteen could be seen as the amazing power Jesus had surrounding him, so all he had to do was show up and seekers were filled with the Spirit that surrounded him. As the Good Shepherd, the 'voice' recognized by his sheep was the touch of Jesus' soul that emanated from him.


That is why such a good “report” about Jesus spread around Galilee; so, the Jews in Nazareth extended him an invitation to speak in their synagogue on a Sabbath.


Today we read beyond the cutoff point and see how the lesson now says, “no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown.” For as amazing as Jesus’ presence was, to hear Jesus say, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” … that led the Nazarenes to want to throw Jesus off a cliff that was nearby.


Reading the depth of these verses this past week made it clear to me that all Jesus had to do was come into one’s presence and his charisma would take over. Once his presence was near, then one felt the Spirit of Yahweh enter one’s soul. It was a natural ability given to him by Yahweh [thus the Greek word "charisma" means "favor, gift"].


The truth of verse twenty-two says, “[Most importantly - "Kai"] all were bearing witness to himself,” which means “himself” needs to be read as their souls felt the soul of Jesus in them.

Then, verse twenty-two continues by saying, “[importantly - "kai"] they were marveling on the basis of these words of this gift of grace those projected.”


That says Jesus read with great authority.


Now, in my history of listening to readers parade up to a podium in a church and do great disservices to the written Word, when I read verse twenty-two my memories mean I can see Jesus reading Isaiah as if he were Isaiah, fully filled with the spirit of prophecy.


When one realizes that the spirit of prophecy that filled Isaiah was Jesus – the soul of Yahweh’s divine elohim merged within Isaiah’s soul – just as were Jeremiah, David, Paul and the true Christians of Corinth – it felt to the Jews of Nazareth like Isaiah had walked through their door and stood before them reading his own work aloud.


What more could Jesus add to a reading like that?


<Look for astonished faces.>


When Jesus said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” that was the truth. However, the truth forced the Jews of Nazareth to become the "partial lovers” of Yahweh they had always been, with none of them having the “complete love” of divine marriage between their souls and Yahweh’s Spirit. None of then knew Jesus as the Son their souls had become the womb for. None of them had personally 'mothered' Jesus to life.


Instead, they questioned, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”


In Matthew and Mark, they don’t name Joseph. They just call Jesus the son of the carpenter. They then name Mary as the mother of Jesus AND then name his four lesser step-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.


In the words of Paul’s letter, the Jews of Nazareth possessed no ability to understand the mysteries of prophecy, no knowledge that ignited true faith, and none really ever expected some Messiah to show up in Nazareth. That mountain was so high no one ever expected it to be climbed. They had no patience whatsoever, no kindness to speak of; and, they envied that some local boy had the audacity to say he was the fulfillment of Scripture!


There was nothing but natural-born, ordinary emotions that filled them with rage; and, they mistook those feelings, much like Saul would find reason for persecuting Christians, as an expression of their “love” of God. That was not spiritual love filling them with rage.


What needs to be realized from this reading is this: the Jews of Nazareth are EXACTLY THE SAME AS modern Christians, in every building called a temple or church today, because nobody really expects Jesus ever to come back, just like the Jews never expected Elijah to return, prior to a Messiah.


Even though the Jews leave a door open during the Passover Seder, just in case Elijah comes back and is hungry for unleavened bread and bitter herbs, that seeming to be faith is just routine ritual. If someone came through the door and sat down at the table, saying, "I'm Elijah," he would soon be arrested as a trespasser. So much for any "love" of Yahweh.


This past week it dawned on me that Jesus walking the earth could have placed the Spirit of Yahweh and the touch of his soul in everyone he met. Still, only those who sought Yahweh in marriage could ever become Jesus reborn; and, had Jesus lived to be as old as Adam [930 years], guess what?


Jesus would have left the world a thousand years ago; and, everyone whose soul he touched would be long dead also. We would still be in a world of hurt; but then there would be no hope for the future.


It dawned on me that the world is the only place where the wicked can exist. Yahweh sent His Son so he would be rejected by the world and the world would kill him. Through physical death, the soul of Jesus would be released. That release would be planned, so that soul could then fill countless souls who seek Yahweh.


The uniqueness of the boy Jeremiah and the boy David, receiving the Spirit of Yahweh in divine marriage, says children that have never grown into adults, knowing carnal “love,” are the souls more willing to “know what love is.” Those like Saul have to be blinded to the physical “love” they cherish so much, causing their souls to reach rock bottom; so, they can then begin to truly seek Yahweh’s help, knowing the guilt of a condemned soul.


The sad thing is what Jesus told the Jews in Nazareth.


The Israelites of the Northern Kingdom had the greatest prophet their land had ever known. All the Jews of Jesus’ time had come to revere Elijah in hindsight. While Elijah walked the face of the earth, he too was rejected by his own people. The only miracles Elijah did, during a great famine and when leprosy ran amok, was he kept the grain from running out of one widow woman’s jar, who lived near a blast furnace close to a fishing town in Lebanon. Only the Syrian Naaman was cured of leprosy [without Elijah ever meeting him personally].


That rejection would be found by Jesus, although he did greater things than Elijah. That rejection would be found by Jeremiah as well, as much as he tried to tell them the message of Yahweh: "You're going the wrong way!" That same rejection would be found by Paul and all the Apostles reborn as Jesus.


Rejection is what human beings do; those who think they are smart people, who think they know who Jesus would love, if he were back again, already, they reject being Jesus reborn.


Jesus returned on Pentecost Sunday, the day after he Ascended; and his soul has been resurrected in countless Apostles and Saints ever since; but that conditional belief is easily rejected.


The moral of this story is found in the last verse, which says, “But [Jesus] passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”


“Passed through their midst” says the Jews of Nazareth had empty souls. All they knew was the love of hate and the sport of persecution, in the name of God.


That fits what Jesus told his disciples, when he sent them out in their intern ministries. He said, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”


Dust is metaphor for a body without a soul, as all corpses always return to the dust from which they came.


I see the bus is rounding the corner and will be here shortly. So, I will end here. Please take what I have said to heart; and, do your own work to see for yourselves what the truth is.


I look forward to seeing you all next Sunday. Until then do take care of your souls.


Amen

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