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July 25 2023 By dvirtue WEEDS AMID THE WHEAT

The last two Gospel lessons read this summer present Matthew's account of Jesus' parables of the sower, the seed, and the weeds (13: 1-43). Luke (8:4-15) and Mark (4:3-8) also have their own accounts, but only Matthew adds the parable of the weeds growing amid the "good seed." The three synoptics tell of the seed strewn on four different surfaces. Jesus uses seed as metaphor for the Word of God and explains how the different surfaces produced different yields.

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June 19 2023 By dvirtue SOLA GRATIA!

The minister pastoring this Lutheran congregation is actually the retired bishop of New York. You will search the street maps of New York in vain for a Lutheran cathedral, which may be just as well since it is one less building to have to put into mothballs waiting for a buyer to convert it into condos or a recreation center or some other use that profanes Christ's sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

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May 29 2023 By dvirtue THE DEBT WE OWE

"Who loved the moneylender more?" Jesus asked Simon, the one who owed 500 denarii, or the one who owed 50 (Luke 7: 40-42). Neither could repay the debt, so at best the question seems academic. At worst, to suggest that a moneylender could be loved given Exodus' strict prohibition against lending to the poor at interest (22:25), the question seems preposterous. Simon's answer is similarly conditional: "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled" (Luke 7:43).

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April 08 2023 By dvirtue PRESERVED TO ETERNAL LIFE

And any intelligent reader would ask why is this? The Gospels and the Epistles contain only one point of tangency. No explication of the parables, no exposition on the Beatitudes, no commentary on the miraculous healings. Only the supper which conveyed in simplest terms the substance of faith--an unleavened carbohydrate and a fermented beverage. What to make of this?

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March 29 2023 By dvirtue THE DIVINE PRIORITY

But how can we love someone we do not know? So, it is an obvious truth that there is a prior condition to loving God--we first must get to know>I> Him.

Jesus told us to seek first God's Kingdom and spiritual things, and then everything else would take care of itself (Matthew 6:20-33). Of course, the best and most obvious way to seek the Kingdom of God and spiritual things is to seek the actual King ... and learn from Him.

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March 06 2023 By dvirtue Ashes to Ashes

Imposition is an odd word for a religious rite. With outstretched palms we receive holy communion. With bowed head we receive the laying on of the hands of forgiveness. With pinched nose or upraised visage we receive our baptism. But ashes are imposed with no action from us; we need not even kneel before the minister with dust-flocked thumb as he traces the sign of the cross on our foreheads.

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December 28 2022 By dvirtue SILENT NIGHT

Nearly 80 years ago, my father was in a Navy hospital recovering from a broken wrist suffered playing service football in a Marines v. Navy game. It spared him from Iwo Jima. A friend's father was at Bastogne in Patton's Third Army trying to save McAuliffe's division in the Battle of the Bulge. I don't know what scars he bore from that experience.

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December 26 2022 By dvirtue THE JOSEPH ENIGMA

Scholars get their academic gowns in a twist over whether Jesus' brothers described in the Gospels were of Mary or Joseph or both or neither. I'm not sure why this matters but it may give them something to argue about instead of trying to spread the good news of salvation. Joseph's status as somebody necessary to the narrative is in some ways reminiscent of the original Joseph: persecuted in a foreign land, but scarcely earth-shattering.

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December 23 2022 By dvirtue Time Split in Two

Time is measured by days, divided into hours, minutes and seconds, compiled into months and years. The ancients had another measurement: taxes. Jesus was born when Caesar Augustus was emperor and Quirinius tetrarch of Syria. Caesar had decreed that the world should be taxed.

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December 08 2022 By dvirtue How long, how long O Catiline...

Advent 2022 presents a trifecta of despair: rampant inflation, political stagnation, world conflagration. How is the Lord using us, if He is using us at all? Are we just flies--lower creatures in some order which we cannot see--to be killed for sport?

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