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Homily for the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – Giving birth to Jesus

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

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Good morning bus riders!


I hope everyone had a wonderful week past and is all set for a new week ahead!


I sent out the email with the link to the lectionary page; so, I hope everyone has read all the readings for today. There is an extra one this week. Remember, here I talk about them all, not just a couple or only part of one.


So, with that said, let’s get started. The bus waits for no man!


The first reading is a rather long song that begins with the line, “A capable wife who can find?”


In the twenty-two verses read, there are twenty times “she” is written, with twenty-seven other words formed in the feminine possessive, where “her” is part of the translation into English.


This is after the first verse presents the Hebrew word “ishshah” and translates that as “wife,” which is the feminine form of “ish,” meaning “man.”


What’s interesting in the translation as “wife” is Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 uses the same word, identifying who was made from Adam’s rib. It was “ishshah” who the serpent influenced to eat the forbidden fruit.


In Genesis 4, this is where the translation says “Adam” – a word meaning “man” – “knew chavvah ishshah.” That word “chaavah” is where the name “Eve” comes about. The Hebrew word “chaavah” actually means “life.”


This means the word “ishshah” actually means “woman” or “female,” but when a “man” lays with a “woman” for the purpose of making “life,” the word “ishshah” means “wife.”


The Hebrew written by Solomon in verse ten can actually be translated into English to say, “a valuable woman.” It can also mean "a strong woman," or "an efficient female."


The use as "wife" becomes valuable when a "man's" bloodline is to be kept "alive," which comes through male heirs. Thus, all the traits listed by Solomon are not focused on the value of a woman as arm candy or a trophy.


In verse eleven, where the translation says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her,” where “husband” becomes a compliment of “wife,” rather than write "ish" as the male counterpart to a “woman” or “female,” the word written by Solomon is “be-lah,” which is a form of “baal,” meaning, “lord, owner.”


The first nine verses of Proverbs 31, which are not read, are given the “title” that says, “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him.” That means these twenty-two characteristics of “a valuable woman” came from a mother, told to her son.


Solomon heard those character traits and his great intellect saw that oracle as worth ‘re-posting’ or sharing as a “pithy saying.”


In verse three, King Lemuel’s mom warned, “Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.”


Keep in mind how Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.


He must have struggled mightily looking for the one woman of value that had all the traits listed.


This is when one needs to remember that the “woman” that made Solomon’s life so great was his love of the goddess Wisdom. He prayed for the knowledge of good and evil and was promised the biggest brain the world would ever know. He wrote a love poem about wisdom being his bride.


Nobody knows exactly who King Lemuel is, but the Hebrew word "lem-o-ale'" means "(belonging) to God" - focus on "el." Some think that was a 'code name' for Solomon himself, which means his mother Bathsheba told him this. I am leaning towards the king being the demonic spirit that gave his little daughter wisdom to Solomon. That means "of God" could mean an "elohim" created by Yahweh, then cast into the earth after refusing to serve mankind as directed. But, who can say?


Still, in Solomon’s mind, he was the Master and Wisdom was his “valuable woman,” worth more than jewels.


Now, Solomon was a king; and, kings need queens. The value of a wife is then having male heirs. In Solomon’s mind, his being married to Wisdom brought him all the things he lusted for. Israel the nation of people became as shining star in civilization. Solomon was wealthy beyond the wildest dreams.


But …


Wisdom brought Solomon nothing but daughters, as everything in the material realm is feminine essence.


You would think, with a thousand wives and concubines under his wing, ole Solomon had to have sired at least a few hundred male babies. The question is then, "Who was the one that came from "a capable wife?"


The male heir a real female gave Solomon, Rehoboam, had a rise to the throne of Israel that was rejected. His choice dissolved that nation. The nation split in two, with Jeroboam becoming the King of the Northern Kingdom, known as Israel. Rehoboam became the King of Judah.


That is a statement that wisdom is like currency, in terms that mean you can’t take it with you when you die. Wisdom is less valuable than currency, because it is not connected to genetics and cannot be passed on as an inheritance.


Psalm 1 then becomes a counterbalance to all the praise that seems to be Solomon giving sage advice about what to look for in a wife, because Solomon was not doing that. Solomon was influencing all who read his prose and poetry … just like the serpent influenced Eve … to sell their souls for ideas: philosophies, sciences, and the arts.


Ideas are the whispers coming from an outside world. So, rather than stay within one's soul and converse with Yahweh, one wants to know, "What's on the other side of that Mountain, or river, or desert?" The people who were the children of Yahweh had been taken away from external influences, so they could talk with their God regularly.


Wanting to be like other nations meant experiencing how other nations lived. Doing that means not focusing on how Yahweh wants one to live ... in His name.


David sang in verse one of Psalm 1, “Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked.”


As the first Psalm of David, one can imagine he was just a boy plucking on his harp when he wrote this.


The titles given to this song by translation websites indicate it sings of “Two Ways” or “Two Paths.” One is that of the “wicked,” a word translated four times in six verses. The other is that of the “Blessed” or “Happy,” who find “their delight in the law of Yahweh.”


To find “delight in the law,” means to be like Solomon said – be “a capable wife.” However, rather than being a slave to a human “lord,” David was a “wife of Yahweh.”


I imagine that when David wrote this song he was still not the king he would become. Saul was that king. Saul was the one who led people in Israel to “walk in the counsel of the wicked.”


Saul’s wickedness would split Israel, such that Judah would ask David to be their king. David’s walking with righteousness, as the “capable wife” of Yahweh, reunited the people as one nation. David's Israel rejected external influences.


After David sinned late in life and sired a love child in Solomon, Solomon would return the nation to those ways they had followed under Saul. The children residing in the Promised Land then listened to the ideas of Solomon, who “walked in the counsel” of the goddess of wisdom. The goddess of wisdom is not Yahweh.


Thus, when David wrote a song about “Two Paths,” where one is righteous and the other is sinful, it says one either walks one way or the other. The "Two Paths" are clearly separate.


As to the path of righteousness, David compared that to being “like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.”


In terms of being “a capable wife of Yahweh,” David sang of one’s roots being put down near the source of living waters, which bears good fruit and produces true words of divine wisdom that never lose value. The scrolls of Moses and the songs of David became the leaves on the tree of life on earth. This becomes a real legacy that can be passed on through many generations.


Solomon’s praise of “a capable wife,” when thought to be the wisdom of women being owned and judged by their obedience to their ‘owner husbands,’ kind of lost it glow when the times changed and women stopped wanting to be defined in that way.


Solomon might have been rejected from the beginning, had he written in the preamble of verse one: "A song of Solomon’s love of goddess wisdom." Back in the days when David had left behind many Israelites who were still devoted to Yahweh – the One God of Israel – such a header would have caused Solomon's writings to be burned, had he stated the truth of his wisdom.


This is where the extra reading for today comes in. Rather than counter Solomon’s views of women as being a path of wickedness, there is an optional “First Lesson” that can replace David’s words with more of Solomon’s words. We can let Solomon be the counterbalance to Solomon.


Rather than Solomon writing about marrying a wife that leads one to a path of sin, let's see how Solomon would judge what a valuable woman would be, from something else he wrote.


In the reading selection from the Wisdom of Solomon, it combines a verse from the end of his first chapter, with the first verse of chapter two, followed by eleven verses the lead towards then end of chapter two.


In verse sixteen, Solomon refers to the “wicked,” which can also translate as “ungodly.” That was one of the two paths David sang about. Therefore, Solomon also had an idea about how to determine who walked that path in life.


Solomon sang that the “wicked” “summon death,” “consider [death] a friend,” so that leads to “a covenant with him,” because being “wicked” makes the wicked “fit to be in [death's] company.”


That needs to be read as Solomon’s self-assessment. By singing of a marriage [a “covenant” means the vows of commitment] that welcomes “death,” that is the result of marrying a goddess named “wisdom” and calling “her a valuable woman” or “a capable wife.”


The aspect of "death" is the opposite of eternal life. So, marrying "death" means not marrying one's soul to Yahweh and being His capable wife, earning life beyond "death."


Rather than lean on David to say Solomon was on a path of wickedness, let Solomon say it. Solomon was the one who "summoned death," "considered death a friend," married death's daughter in "a covenant with death," and was then "fit to be in death's company."


In Solomon’s first verse of chapter two, the focus changes. In this, he sets up the theme of the second chapter, which is “For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, “Short and sorrowful is our life.”


Because Solomon worships wisdom as his owned slave, his assessment of those who “reasoned unsoundly” are those who would challenge Solomon’s wisdom. To say “Life is short,” must be seen as a comparison between seventy years as a soul inhabiting flesh and a soul freed from the flesh for an eternity.


To say “sorrowful is our life,” that is to regret all the sins human beings inevitably get hung up in, needing to repent, because “life is short.”


Knowing that Solomon called out himself for walking a path of wickedness, we need to now see chapter two as being focused on those who would challenge his thinking; and, those would be the ones “Blessed,” whose “delight is the ways of the law of Yahweh.”


This says the bulk of Solomon’s second chapter of “Wisdom” is focused on the priests and prophets of Israel, who knew the Law and counseled Solomon that his ways were evil.


Kings don’t tend to like such advisors.


In verse sixteen Solomon said about such who would challenge him, “We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father.”


Without going deeply in what can be taken from this, it needs to be seen that Solomon was belittling priestly beliefs in self-sacrifice to Yahweh, such that a priest or prophet [such as Nathan] could hear the voice of Yahweh and be led by His commands.


Here, it is important to remember how Jesus told his disciples to call Yahweh their Father; and, Solomon was scoffing at that concept.


When Solomon then wrote, “if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries,” remember how someone shouted out at Golgotha as Jesus hung dying, “If he is the Messiah, then let God come save him.”


Solomon then went on to write, “Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”


That became the standard ‘test’ of anyone saying he or she could speak with Yahweh: Kill them.


This “First Lesson,” as the companion ‘reader’ to Proverbs 31, says Solomon established the mindset that said, “My way or the highway,” with his way of intellect being what David [and Solomon himself] called the ways of the “ungodly.”


This then leads to the Track 2 Old Testament reading from Jeremiah 11.


Jeremiah was one of those prophets of Yahweh who claimed to be “God’s child.” Because Solomon had established the guideline that said all kings of Israel needed to worship knowledge over Yahweh, Jeremiah was one who should have been tested by torture and insult.


The reason Jeremiah was sent by Yahweh to Josiah, the King of Judah, was all the kings after Solomon had been walking the path of wickedness. That path was leading them [Israel and Judah] to ruin.


This song of Jeremiah tells of his divinely knowing there was a plot to kill the messenger. He sang out, “Yahweh showed me their evil deeds.” The leaders of Judah were walking the path of evil.


So, Jeremiah sang, “I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter,” adding “they devised schemes, saying, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit.”


In that, the “tree” would be that deemed to be the Promised Land – Israel and Judah. The “fruit” are the true priests of Yahweh … like Jeremiah, like David was, like Elijah, and like Jesus and his Apostles would be.


Jeremiah then sang, “Yahweh of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind.” This says Yahweh is the Father of many, all of whom allow Yahweh to judge righteously through them, so their hearts and minds are tested for true devotion to the One God.


The first most important Law, according to Jesus, is to love Yahweh with all your heart, all you mind, and with all your soul. That means true love that results in a divine marriage and the fruit that comes forth: one who walks a path of righteousness.


The companion Psalm to that Old Testament reading is Psalm 54. Today is the only day in the three-year lectionary cycle that Psalm 54 can be sung aloud in Episcopal churches. That, of course, is if the church is on the Track 2 path. That means these words might only be heard only once every six years!


As a counterbalance to the self-destruction Judah was bringing upon itself, from devising schemes and plots to kill the messengers of Yahweh [per Solomon's sage suggestion], David had the forethought to sing, “the arrogant have risen up against me, and the ruthless have sought my life, those who have no regard for elohim.”


Now, in the introduction to verse one, which is never read, David announced this song was written as a remembrance to when Saul was hunting him and had an army trying to kill David. Those were the “arrogant who had taken a stance against David,” as the “ruthless” commanded by the king who walked the path of the wicked.


The use of “elohim,” which does not say “God,” means those like David, who had married their souls to Yahweh, becoming His “capable wives” in the flesh.” David sang that neither Saul nor his army had any “regard for elohim.”


That has to be seen as a match for the lack of respect Solomon had, when he proposed torturing such devoted to death.


David sang out, “it is Yahweh who sustains my life,” which means the soul of David was forever promised Salvation. Still, Yahweh was not going to let the likes of Saul destroy David’s flesh.


In the story that accompanies this song, from 1 Samuel 26, that story tells of Saul being asleep, while camped in his hunt for David. David and an aide knew where that camp was, and snuck into Saul's place of sleep and had the opportunity to kill Saul. Instead, Yahweh told David not to kill the anointed king; so, David took Saul’s spear and his jar of water and left. That was a message to Saul that said, “Your enemy has spared your life.”


Thus, in the song David wrote about that event, such that when he said, “those who have no regard for elohim,” the truth says, “not they have determined they have elohim before them.” Because Saul and his soldiers did not know Yahweh, they had never come to face those who were Yahweh in the flesh, as His elohim.


That says the wicked choose to kill the innocent lambs of life, while the righteous let Yahweh lead them to be examples of His compassion for His wives, letting the wicked kill their own souls through self-neglect.


David wrote the word “elohim” four times in seven verses, along with one use of “adonay,” which is another way of saying the “lords” of Yahweh. It is a word stating divine possession, in whom Yahweh is the lord of that flesh. Abimelech, the priest of Nob, was one of those who followed David, who along with 86 other priests there who served Yahweh as His wives. This story insinuates the Judeans of Ziph were those like David, who helped him in the game of hide and seek played with Saul.


The word “elohim” has been taken out of the vocabulary of Christians, as few are told they can be the wives of Yahweh, divinely possessed. It is easier to see Solomon married to wisdom, which made him be an "elohim" of the other kind - demonically possessed. The "Two Paths" are reflecting upon the "elohim" of the world, who then influence their followers - one way or the other.


James, the Apostle (who was the brother of Jesus, as both shared the same mother), was one in the long line of “elohim” that have married Yahweh. There have been more wives made capable by Yahweh than human wives and concubines in Solomon’s ‘harem.’


James asked a question in this reading today, which can be seen like the question posed by Solomon in Proverbs 31:10. James asked, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”


I imagine Solomon would have raised his hand, had anyone asked that question around him.


Unfortunately, James said wisdom is born of gentle works, not plots to insult and torture all who profess to be “servant elohim.” [His words, as "child" can equally translate as "servant."]


James pointed out, “If you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts” then “Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.”


Keep in mind that Solomon was long gone when James wrote his letter; but Solomon set the framework for all who would subsequently think wisdom like Solomon’s was akin to godliness. Instead, his wife wisdom was "earthly, unspiritual, devilish."


James wrote, “Where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.”


Jeremiah knew that too.


James went on to say, “You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts.”


They do that because people keep telling them, “You’re going the wrong way.” People do not like to be told they are wrong.


David said there are “Two Paths,” so when James said, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures,” he was suggesting that maybe it is time to go in the opposite direction. Maybe having everything you want is not the objective of life on earth?


The Big Brain direction does not bring satisfaction. It only brings disputes and arguments.


That brings us to the Gospel reading today, from Mark. Jesus and his followers were on the way back to Capernaum, where Jesus lived, having left the area of Caesarea Philippi. On the way, after they reached the area of Galilee, where the ruling elite of Jerusalem had a firm reach, Jesus told his disciples to maintain a low profile. Jesus said that because he knew there was a plot to kill him.


Here, we need to see the Temple leaders are bigger believers in the teachings of Solomon, than believers of David and the prophets. Solomon established the heuristic that says, “If he says he is able to speak to Yahweh, then insult and torture him to death. If he is telling the truth, then God will save him from a death sentence.”


So, we read Mark writing, “[Jesus] was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”’


Mark then added, “[The disciples] did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.”


This is understandable, after Peter had rebuked Jesus for saying that the last time, leading Jesus to call Peter possessed by Satan.


Mark then wrote, “They came to Capernaum; and when [Jesus] was in [his] house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.”


Here, it is important to recall James asking the questions, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” and “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?”


Here, it is important to place yourself among the disciples. As Christians, you are equal followers of Jesus. You see yourselves as those who want to serve Jesus; but you have inner questions, some doubts and concerns. You are afraid to say anything to him, because you feel inadequate.


In the chronology of Mark's Gospel, the followers of Jesus camped outside Caesarea Philippi, while Jesus, Peter, James and John [of Zebedee] took rope, tents and gear and went on a hike up the high, snow capped Mount Hermon. Imagine you were there with them and you witnessed the strangeness that is now called “the Transfiguration.”


You do not know what to think. You saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus … knowing it was them before cell phones with cameras were invented … and then you heard the voice of Yahweh boom down an order: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”


Then … <poof> … it was like nothing had happened. On the hike down the mountain, Jesus gives you an order: “Tell no one about what you have seen, until after the Son of man has risen from the dead.”


“Risen from the dead! What does that mean?” you would ask yourself, right?


<Look for nodding heads.>


Then, when you reach ‘base camp,’ there are some disgruntled locals arguing with the disciples and the followers left behind. This is because a man brought his son who had a demon spirit in him, which kept him from speaking, causing him to have convulsions. The disciples … who had been given the soul-spirit of Jesus, so they were intern ministers … could not heal the boy. The locals were angered because of that.


Jesus arrived and then healed the boy. In the healing, the boy died, causing the demonic possessing spirit to leave a dead body of flesh. When everyone feared the boy was dead, Jesus took the boy by the hand and “awakened him.” The boy’s soul returned to his body, but in a divinely elevated state of being.


The boy secretly became an "elohim," because he had died and resurrected as a wife of Yahweh. I imagine Jesus also let his soul-spirit remain with him ever after.


Now, we do not read about that today, but the disciples asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we do that?” Jesus told them, in essence, “You do not have the power to raise the dead. To do that you have to be fully married to Yahweh.”


In other words, the disciples still were not yet full-fledged "elohim."


So, with this recent background known, it became only natural that the disciples would argue about recent events, which were Jesus talking about his coming death and their inability to cast out a demon spirit that refused to leave a host body of flesh, having totally possessed that soul. They were trying to figure out two paths to take.


First, since they obviously were not prepared to replace Jesus at that time, they argued who would be Jesus’ bodyguards and lay down their lives protecting Jesus from harm.


If they died, then Jesus could raise them.


Second, if plan A failed, then they argued about who was most ready to take Jesus’ place.


Rather than open their mouths and tell Jesus what they were thinking, they were going to take some responsibility upon themselves … just in case.


This is where you have to see the disciples like a group of overgrown children … like a church youth group … who can never really keep a secret, simply because their secrets can so easily be overheard. Jesus knew what they were arguing about; but when they would not fess up to their private conversations, he told them he knew.


Jesus said he knew by telling them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”


I won’t ask if any of you understands what that means, because this past week (for the first time) it came to me what this means. Before, I thought I knew, but (like the disciples) I wouldn't firmly say anything. I knew I might be wrong.


The confusing thing before (in my mind) was the “servant of all” part. I can feel the closeness of this teaching in Jesus washing the feet of the disciples at the Seder meal. However, when I think I get the message, then Jesus brings in “a little child and put it among them,” as an example of this lesson.


When Jesus then told them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me,” that made me go, "Huh?"


“Okay,” I’ve thought before, “I get this too. It means we each need to become Jesus reborn; and, by being Jesus reborn we become part of the Holy Family, so Yahweh becomes our Father.”


But … how does that seamlessly relate to “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all”?


Then, this past week it struck me.


Raise your hand if you have a close relationship with your mother.


<Look for raised hands and smiling faces.>


In these modern times, our mothers have changed somewhat from the way mothers were throughout antiquity; but, the key to connecting “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” and “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me” is motherhood.


I remember watching a PBS documentary about people in the late twentieth century volunteering to see is they could survive a winter on the northwestern plains of America, living totally by the limits of technology in the 1880s. Five or six families were selected to be given land to homestead and prepare as farms, which would force them to grow food for themselves and their livestock, build houses and barns – everything – and be tested on whether or not that could store enough food to survive a harsh winter.


None of the families were allowed to make it past fall. They all would have died, along with their animals, because they could not do all the work involved to survive. Life back then was so much harder than it is today in America.


The thing I remember from that show was how that lifestyle separated the men and boys from the women and girls. In the interviews they had with the women, they were unanimous in saying the work was unequal for them. The women got up in the morning working and went to bed each night working to prepare for another day to come, with more of the same expected. It was more than they could bear.


That makes a woman be the answer to the question, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all?”


That makes a mother be the answer to the scenario that says, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”


Keep in mind that Jesus was telling this to his all-male disciples. I also firmly believe that “the child set in their midst” was John the Beloved. The child to be welcomed was then to be a male; in the same way that Jesus welcomed his son into his life.


Still, to be reborn as Jesus, one must first become a wife to Yahweh and then become the mother of Jesus.


This becomes the truth of why this particular Gospel reading is set to be read along with Proverbs 31, which asks, “Who can find a capable wife?”


The answer to David’s song of who is “Blessed” and “Happy” because they “delight in the ways of Yahweh” is a spiritual mother - any soul whose flesh who has given birth to an “elohim” of Yahweh.


The mothers of a resurrected Jesus are those who make the truth of Solomon’s words shine, when he said, “they did not know the secret purposes of elohim, nor hoped for the wages of holiness, nor discerned the prize for blameless souls.” [Wisdom 2:22]


Mothers are how one sings like Jeremiah, “I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter,” willingly accepting the sacrifice of the past, in order to realize the future.


Mothers are the ways of David singing, “I will offer you a free-will sacrifice and praise your Name, Yahweh, for it is good.”


Motherhood brings about the state of being that James wrote of: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.”


It is one who sacrifices self, in order to be a servant of all that is family to Yahweh.


Keep that in mind this next week. It does not matter what gender your body of flesh is. This motherhood comes from one’s soul. Whatever flesh you possess must spiritually be reborn as the Son of man.


I imagine girls fear pregnancy for the first time, just like Christians fear total sacrifice of self to God. But, it is why were are born into this world. It is our purpose in mortal life.


We are given life with the purpose of being a capable wife to Yahweh and becoming the mother of His Son.


I see the bus is pulling in now, so I’ll end here. I hope everyone has a great week ahead.


Until next Sunday, take care.


Amen

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