Updated: Jan 30
In astronomy, there is a star cluster known as the Pleiades. According to Wikipedia: “The name of the Pleiades comes from Ancient Greek. It probably derives from “plein” (‘to sail’) because of the cluster’s importance in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea: ‘the season of navigation began with their helical rising’.”
The captain of sea-going vessels would set their rudders based on this constellation.
It is the nearest star cluster and the one most visible to the naked eye, usually seen in the fall and winter night skies. Here is how it is seen normally, in the constellation of Taurus, close to the constellation Orion; and the second image shows it magnified by a telescope.
I am reminded of this star cluster because of an old movie I once saw. One of the characters in the movie was pointing out the Pleiades to another character and explaining how looking directly at that group of seven stars (called “the Seven Sisters” in Greek mythology) makes them appear like a fuzzy spot in the night sky. However, by turning one’s head so you could see them with peripheral vision (from the corner of one’s eye), you can catch a glimpse of individual stars in that blurriness.
Of course, with a pair of binoculars or a telescope, each of the stars becomes crystal clear. Still, next time you are outside at night and see Orion’s belt, look a little above and to the right for the Pleiades. See if you can make the blur become individual stars, when seen out of the corner of your eye.
The comparison I make to the readings today is this “fuzzy spot” effect is how Holy Scripture is seen at first. We get flashes of insight that allow us to see one or two of the hidden meanings, but it is difficult sometimes to maintain that clear focus, once we re-read the verses that the insight came from. Sometimes, looking directly at the words has a brain-numbing effect, with no clarity described other than what is readily visible … a blur.
The flashes of insight that come when our eyes veer away are due to the whispers of God. We have to learn to listen to that inner voice.
The more we follow-up on the insights, and connect the dots – kinda like realizing how the Pleaides make up the shoulder of the Bull that is the constellation of Taurus – the more God sees our devotion and the more God reveals to us what true seekers need to have dawn upon them. Actively taking those steps on our own is what aids our learning process, more than simply remembering what someone told us to believe.
Such acts are like those told to us by James, when he said “faith … without works, is death.” As Christians, we should try to make contact with God, by showing God we want to understand. We must act to show God that we want to DO more.
When we prove that desire is when God places binoculars and telescopes into our minds, so we can see most clearly the meaning of God’s intent. Those who possess such ability are Apostles, disciples who have been filled with the Holy Spirit.
The problem is the lack of people who are truly filled with the Holy Spirit … on a permanent basis. Of this lack, I am not pointing a finger at the sheep in the pews (although they do mostly lack this Spirit), but at those who TEACH the meaning of Scripture. Therefore, I mean the professors of seminaries, the graduated priests of congregations, and those promoted through acts of favoritism of one kind or another – raised to the levels of bishops and popes of institutions.
The attitude these TEACHERS have (as what I have seen demonstrated) is that the “uneducated” people are too stupid or too lazy to be TAUGHT the deep meaning found in Scripture. Therefore, they THINK it is best to dumb down sermons. Instead of saying anything shocking or “boat rocking,” they paint pretty pictures of love and bliss … that is, when they do not turn the pulpit into a political soapbox.
How many times have you heard a priest, preacher, pastor, minister or rabbi point at YOU and ask, “How long, O simple ones, will you be simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?”
Everyone here should desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit and stop acting too simple to understand all that stuff, saying under your breath, “I’ll leave the details up to the TEACHER”?
Do YOU realize YOU should demand more and that God and Christ EXPECT YOU to act on your own? Do not try to demand more from someone else – someone who thinks you are too simple to learn. Demand more of yourself!
Now, James wrote, “Not many of you should become teachers … for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
The one who will judge the TEACHERS of Christianity is Christ. So, when James continued to say, “All of us make many mistakes,” he was referring to those who were not filled with the Holy Spirit, so that only the truth could ever be taught … week in and week out … by Apostles of Christ.
This means that when James then said, “Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle,” that “bridle” he spoke of is the Holy Spirit. So, the “perfect” speaker is Christ within one’s mind.
There is no school that TEACHES how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. You do not choose which seminary to attend to become a saint. God does the choosing. Christ is the only TEACHER.
Imagine Jesus behind a lectern inside your head, teaching only you.
While there are ideas as to what Jesus intended Christians to be taught, ideas that many agree with (after centuries of debates and meditations), we find that much of the foundation stones of Christianity have been laid securely. However, much of what the various denominations of Christianity believe, which separates each from the others, creates a cloud of uncertainty around that which no one disagrees exists. All agree Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, as well as a prophet on the order of Elijah and a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
But, Christianity, like Judaism, has lots of questions surrounding those basic building blocks. The creation of sects and denominations is due to disagreements about this and that, with many answers guessed at, with some laws added that have questionable validities.
Thus, this nebulosity surrounding such a solid fact as Jesus is like explaining how the Pleaides are a fuzzy ball of light in the night sky. Are the teachers properly telling us what is there by using holy binoculars and telescopes?
While there is truth, the incompleteness is a lack of truth. It is an imperfect way of TEACHING the true meaning of being Christian.
In the words of James, who likened the failures of perfect teaching to being like the wildness and uncertainty of an unbridled tongue, where an untamed tongue becomes a “restless evil, full of deadly poison,” James asked, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?”
The answer, of course, is “No!” One is not speaking the truth at all times, when one is still not filled with the Holy Spirit, bringing God into one’s heart and Christ into one’s mind.
Last week we talked about needing to be engaged to Jesus, followed by each of us then being married to him, with God officiating that blessed union. We become one with Christ, so each of us can become the rebirth of Jesus.
Only when that happens can an individual have a constant flow of fresh, holy water teach us, so we can forever after speak in the tongues of Christ.
The spring at Lourdes.
Still, prior to reaching that state of purity and perfection, there are spurts of freshness, followed by spurts of brackishness.
This is part of the learning experience. It is one’s internship to Apostleship. It is the testing grounds of wisdom.
We who are on the path to being true Christians will always sputter in this way at first, with each episode of truth spurting proving to us the inner glory of the Lord.
We have an example of this in today’s Gospel reading. The example is Peter.
When Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do the people say that I am,” they gave a variety of answers. The people had the “fuzzy spot” view of Jesus.
Still, when Jesus then asked his disciples, “But who do you say I am,” they were mute. They were just like “the people,” as far as how well their brains could figure out who Jesus was. Even Peter did not know, because he had never before told the other disciples, “Jesus is the Messiah.”
However, on this occasion, when Peter opened his mouth and answered Jesus by saying, “You are the Messiah,” Peter was moved to sputter the truth. A spring of fresh, holy water flowed forth from his mouth.
Then, just as one might begin to feel that Peter was special, Peter then tried to rebuke Jesus for him saying he “must undergo great suffering,” including death. When Jesus then “took Peter aside and said, “Get behind me, Satan!” we can see how Peter was then sputtering brackish water from that same mouth that sputtered the truth moments before.
Peter was not yet special … but he, like all the disciples who stayed with Jesus, was on the right path.
The crowd of people who tagged along behind Jesus was then called to attention, along with the disciples closest to him. Jesus announced, loudly, how seven points would be required to be contemplated, “If any want to become my followers.”
Take up their cross and follow me.
Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
What will it profit you to gain the whole world and forfeit you lives?
What can you give in return for your life?
Are you ashamed of Jesus and his words in this adulterous and sinful generation?
How can you justify Jesus not being ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels?
Jesus was giving an assignment for all his students to do, as homework. Jesus was TEACHING.
But, for a TEACHER today to read those words of Jesus and then tell others that Jesus meant:
Being a Christian means you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins; and failure to believe that will cause your soul to roast in hell, when Jesus returns to take all the faithful to heaven.
Such sputtered words are like explaining the Pleaides are a fuzzy spot in space. The only truth in such a statement comes from understanding an inability to see clearly the depth of each star, such that the whole appears fuzzy. Likewise, such a “simple” explanation of what Jesus instructed means one has set one’s “mind on human things.”
What Jesus announced is as clear as are the seven individual stars in the Pleaides, when one is looking at a picture taken from the space telescope. Jesus stated what must take place if you are to be a constant spring of truth, as one filled with the Holy Spirit. You must open your eyes and understand what acts have to be taken, in order to follow Jesus … AS A REBORN JESUS:
1. You have to stop being YOU and deny yourself.
2. You have to raise your standard, as had Jesus, becoming a raised trellis upon which the true vine can be strung, keeping it from the ground and evil impurities.
3. You have to stop fearing mortal death and begin fearing the loss of God and heaven’s reward, such that saving your soul is understood to mean letting your ego die, to be replaced by the mind of Christ. Otherwise, trying to save a mortal life, by refusing to do the acts attracting the Holy Spirit, means a death without the eternal reward of heaven.
4. You must realize how all of the troubles mortals face are physical burdens upon the body, which are lessened by Christ, while in the physical realm. So, desiring to remain on the physical plane, seeing all the sins of the world as valuable, will cause you to forfeit eternal Spiritual grace.
5. You cannot get something for nothing, such that faith without works is death, just as works of faith is life.
6. By not believing when Jesus repeatedly said to follow in his ways, you are ashamed to be seen as subservient to God, fearing the loss of an opportunity to please one’s self through adulterous sins.
7. Being ashamed of Jesus means Jesus will not promote your salvation, such that God will not take up residence in your heart, nor will He marry you with Christ. Your rejection will keep you from becoming a holy Saint, who will live forever in Heaven after time in this realm is complete.
Congratulations! You have been reborn!
This that I have stated is only the surface features of each star of instruction. There is much more depth to explore in each point of light. It is important to realize that when Jesus said, “Comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels,” this is not directly prophesying the end of the world and the return of Christ.
Thus, there is no reason to TEACH this lesson in the “fire and brimstone” “End Times” mode. While Jesus will return at the end of all life on earth, he “comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” every time one of his Apostles reaches a point of mortal death.
Still, more important to realize is how Jesus returns to bodily form in every Apostle who desires the “glory of the Father,” from a heart-centered love. Thus, anyone who is ashamed of Jesus will never be filled with the Holy Spirit, becoming a reborn Jesus.
What one should realize from this instruction from Jesus to contemplate is how any embarrassment one might feel from BEING CHRISTIAN and acting exactly as did Jesus, keeps one from submitting completely to God. To come so close, yet then shy away, is then how the Proverb of Solomon brings out some truly prophetic points:
“I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.”
You will also sputter the truth, as did Peter, while still just a disciple … just a plebe. You will know what the truth means. But, if you sputter the Holy Spirit and decide it is easier to play “simple” … then remember how God has said:
“I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you.”
“Then [you] will call upon me, but I will not answer.”
It is hard to find TEACHERS who will proclaim this lesson. This lesson does not sound beautiful or give a message that everyone will be forgiven for their sins … always … regardless of how sinful their lifestyle has become. This message – from the wisdom of Solomon’s Proverbs – promotes fear.
Fearing God is a bitter pill to swallow. Such lessons, which are found throughout Scripture and not just seen for the first time this week, are difficult to teach. That makes it harder for a religious school, Protestant congregation, or Christian institution to keep tithing patrons in the pews, when they “rock the boat.”
Still, Solomon prophesied:
“Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD,”
“they shall eat the fruit of their way
And be sated with their own devices.”
“waywardness kills the simple,
… the complacency of fools destroys them.”
In our present times, when everyone here (probably) has a “smart phone,” it is this technology that has taken a stranglehold on our faith. Priests will commonly use a smart phone like a teleprompter, to read a prepared sermon as if coming from their hearts … off the cuff. Bishops now take “selfies” with a congregation, as if God needs proof of one’s presence in a church building.
We have become “sated with our own devices.”
And, as Jesus said, we can see how little things have changed since those days when a holy temple could not hide the fact that human beings will always live in “an adulterous and sinful generation” … when not TAUGHT by God.
We need to be TAUGHT to hear what Jesus and Solomon were saying … because they were talking with bridled tongues, to us.
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