Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Parables book now on Amazon!

Reading the Parables of Jesus inside a Jeepney

Thank you very much for all your generous support. In its first week the book was #1 in Hot New Releases in New Testament Criticism and #11 in the 100 Bestselling Books in New Testament Criticism.

After 30 days the book was #2 in Hot New Releases in New Testament Criticism. And #5 in Hot New Releases in Jesus, Gospels, and Acts.

Friday, February 23, 2018

If Jesus Showed Up Today

If Jesus showed up today, he will not look anything like the Jesus many of us preach, teach, and sing about.
If Jesus showed up today, he will probably be murdered by people in power within a year, even less.
If Jesus showed up today, churches and institutions that bear his name will have no place for him.
If Jesus showed up today and challenged us to sell everything we have and give the proceeds to the poor, most of us will think he's mad.
If Jesus showed up today and called us to leave everything behind and follow him, we will not.

The truth is Jesus does show up every day and we, those who who are so proud to call ourselves Christian, refuse to recognize him.

Among the otherized and the odorized. Among the displaced and dispossessed. Among the poorest of the poor. Among people living with HIV and AIDS. Among the LGBT. Among those whose only hope is God.

Jesus shows up. Every day.

Friday, February 09, 2018

METAMORPHOSIS

We love to call this Sunday’s story as the Transfiguration.  It is better called the Metamorphosis.

Moses, Elijah, and Jesus all experience mountain-top encounters with God. All three went through very trying and challenging times in their lives and their encounter with God enabled them to complete the tasks that God has called them to do. The three went up caterpillars, they came down butterflies.

Metamorphosis.

But not everyone who encounters God come back as butterflies. Like Peter. In the mountain Peter experienced something so special, so unique that we expected him to come out as a butterfly. He does not. He opposes Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem. He eventually denies Jesus.

Everyone who encounters God in God’s mountain needs to come down. When Moses came down he led in the birthing of a people whose love for Yahweh was expressed in love for neighbor, especially the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the strangers. When Elijah came down he continued the struggle against Israel’s oppressive kings and began a prophetic tradition that ended with John the Baptizer. When Jesus came down he followed the path that led to Jerusalem, to the cross, and, eventually, to the empty tomb!

Moses is alive. Elijah is alive. At the end of Mark, the young man who proclaims the resurrection tells the women to tell the disciples (the Ten) and Peter to meet Jesus in Galilee. Jesus is Risen! For everyone who offers one’s life for others, God will raise ten. For every ten, God will raise one hundred. For every one hundred…

To believe in the resurrection is to believe in metamorphosis; in God’s power to transform caterpillars into butterflies. Yes, even Peter.

To believe in the resurrection is to believe that goodness will always triumph over evil; that hope is stronger than despair; that faith conquers fear; that love is always greater than indifference; and that life will always, always, conquer death. 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Jesus and Coming Out

Coming out is an important theme in the Gospel of Mark. If Immanuel can serve as book ends for Matthew (since this is the promise both in chapter 1 and chapter 28), coming out frames Mark (in chapter 1 and 16).

The women at the end of Mark expected Jesus to be inside a box, a tomb, but he was not. He came out. Jesus is never, ever, where we want him to be.

In our lectionary reading, the disciples and Simon Peter expected Jesus to be inside a box, Peter's house in Capernaum. But Jesus was not. He came out. Jesus is never, ever, where we want him to be.

He always goes back to Galilee where we don't want him to be. Among the poor, among sinners, among outcasts and lepers and the demon-possessed. And he is there. Right now.

Waiting for us.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jesus has AIDS


If I said Jesus has cancer. Or diabetes. Or asthma. No one will give a fuss. I have, in the past, argued that Jesus might have been gay, a woman, a Palestinian, and an African.

But most of us have problems when we hear that Jesus has AIDS.
Because we have been socialized to identify AIDS with promiscuity, with illicit drug use, with divine punishment, with sin. And the Jesus many of us worship cannot be promiscuous, will not touch or even be in the same room with weed, and, of course, is a perpetual virgin, and sinless.

What is the international symbol for HIV AIDS prevention? When you turn the red symbol on its side, what does the symbol represent?

My dear friends, the world has AIDS. Close to 40 million of our sisters and brothers are living with HIV. About 1% of all our sisters and brothers, aged 15 to 49, are living with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 35 million of our sisters and brothers have died. One million last year.

"For God so loved the world with AIDS that God sent God's son..."
Do we have problems with that interpretation? Or we only think that the world that God loves in our favorite Bible verse is that part without AIDS?

And what did God's Son say, the One God sent to a world with AIDS?

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.
I have AIDS and you, like the priest and the Levite, do not stop to help me and pass on the other side of the road.
I have AIDS and you abandon me to die, on the street, alone, full of sores, like Lazarus.

Jesus has AIDS.
He is the two-year old orphan whose parents died from the disease. He is the young prostituted woman victimized by human trafficking. He is in San Lazaro, in RITM, at the Lung Center waiting for a blood transfusion.

Jesus is a person living with HIV and AIDS and he is one of us.
And he is here with us right now.

Amen.