Proper II, Monday, Year II

  • Proverbs 3.11-20; Matthew 11.1-6; Acts 3.18-4.6;


Proper Time
Proper Time began the Monday after Pentecost Sunday. It’s also known as Ordinary Time, or weeks after Pentecost, though sometimes it’s also measured by the following Sunday when someone says ‘weeks after Trinity [Sunday].’ “Proper Time” will do as this season’s name. It is the era after the coming of The Spirit in which The Church begins to convert, do missions, build churches, make disciples across the land. It is a season of work, ministerial and agricultural — in that the Church Calendar baptizes the agricultural calendar. This year we begin in Proper II. The calendar moves a bit, you can use pages 158 & 884-885 if you want to see charts to figure out, or you can get a church calendar that will have the week on by talking to your local parish priest.

Book of Proverbs
We also began reading through The Book of Proverbs. My own speculation is that Solomon wrote the proverbs (The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel) after dwelling upon his father David’s writings, i.e. The Book of Psalms. I care not whether this is historically true, only that the Canonical Order of books in The Scriptures puts Proverbs immediately following the Psalms.

Book of Proverbs 3.11-20

(11-12)
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

The Therapeutic Culture since Freud, Jung, Schliermacher, the 1990-2010’s decade long drung fads with accompanying pills to manage angst or anxiety have conflated all discipline with abuse, such that the metaphor of a father disciplining his son is not all must dead and rejected as abusive. As Philip Rieff might say, no discipline, no disciples. The Lord disciplines us as one who is training a child for maturity. It is only the sheer hedonistic principle: that all pain is bad, that would deny this. But so too training to play violin, working out, running, and study all have mental and/or physical pain involved, yet all are required for that perpetually excellent state of life Man calls “Happiness.”

(13) Happy is the man who finds wisdom,

Wisdom is one of the four cardinal virtues being that disposition which is ready to guide one to the particular thing needed in any given situation to fulfill the general demand’s of a good life. One cannot plan for all contingencies, but one if they become wise can act in accordance with the best or most complete action available in a situation if they are wise. This disposition is man’s nature reaching it’s apex or fulfillment, which we call “happiness,” thus the Proverb.

(14) She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Wisdom is identified as above comparison and thus categorically outside all creation. It would by necessity then be God unless there is simply artistic flourish at play here.

(19-20) The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
    by understanding he established the heavens;
 by his knowledge the deeps broke forth,
    and the clouds drop down the dew.

The artistic flourish option seems out since Wisdom is present to The Lord before Creation, since all causes are prior to their effects. Anything seemingly prior to Creation must be The Divinity, thus it is we say Wisdom is one Person of The Trinity, sometimes identified with Christ, other times with The Holy Spirit. So too sometimes it simply references “Sophia” (Greek for Wisdom) depicted as a woman (“she”) which shows the muse-like genius of God’s own Creation.

The Gospel according to St. Matthew 11.1-6

(2-6) Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him“Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.

Every being is known by its effects, for out of a nature does activity proceed: a dog does doggish activities like sniffing and hunting and marking territory, and so too Christ directs John’s question back to John’s own perceptions and intellectual judgments. No direct answer is to come but The Gospel is always veiled, for even The Divinity itself was veiled in human flesh, The God-Man, Jesus the Christ of Nazareth. We veil when we wish to show someone our inner most being, but know an all out exposure would scare, shock, or anger the one trying to be reached. So it is that Jesus continues his speech with the following:

(6) “And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”

For the one who comes to grasp what lies behind the veil might be apt to take offense. Such is the case of figures like Nietzsche or the modern university ‘scholar,’ who with seeming call for candor out of honor and request for dialogue out of seeking truth, actually wish to expose all Man in order to destroy, ridicule, or reveal their nakedness. Such is the project of post-modernism, but never to unveil or mask out of logical argumentation like St. Paul calls for, but rather out of the Genetic Fallacy is doing long diatribes on the history of words and customs as if showing how Calculus came to be somehow deconstructs the truth of calculus. Such is the idiocy of such projects and what’s more not building or honoring their father that came before them, they seek only to unveil their father’s nakedness, to lay waste to the foundations, as did Ham to his father Moses. Blessed is the one who hears Christ’s words, sees his dead, and realizes though masks are used to hide power, veils are used to seduce one to Beauty. The mask is abusive and thus offensive, the veil is an act of love and eros.

St. John’s 1st Epistle 3.18-4.6

(18) Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.

John does not mean deed can be separated from word or speech but that love also requires truth. For instance if I were a coach and I said let us not run with shoes or legs but in courage and fleetness. Deeds consist of thoughts and speech, for every action begins with planning what it is to do, whether aware of this or not. For before I turn the light switch on, I plan to myself I shall turn on the light switch, and this plan consists of thought and word, but it is completed in deed. Love then requires a kind of activity, or deed or work.

(20) By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us

By this St. John assumes a well trained heart.

(21) Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

A well trained heart was stated above because if we consider a murderer who is impenitent we might say their heart does not condemn them, do we then say the person has confidence before God? While they might say they have no sense of guilt this is clearly what is not meant by the passage. For if judgment is only a kind of whether or not you feel confident or not then vice and virtue would only be a matter of self-deception and not actually being transformed into the likeness of Christ to have all the virtues. This would result in contradictions, and thus is not a charitable read of the text.

(23) that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

Some are under the most vain spell that to ‘love’ is to allow one to follow falsehood, or to believe whatever one wishes even if false, or in cultural relativism because they hold any individual critique to be evil and any cultural critique to be evil. On these two grounds no one could critique a rapist and no one could critique a culture of cannibals. If this is love then Christ’s “tolerance” is simply “indifference” and God the Father not only allows but approves of many intolerable evils for the sake of this so-called “love.” On the contra Jesus commanded us not only to love one another unqualified, but made two qualified statements: (1) as yourself (2) as Jesus has loved you. This means both must be considered. Consider if you loved your neighbor as yourself but were a sadomasochist, then you might run about flogging your neighbour to ‘love him as you love yourself.’ Thus our own self-love is critiqued by (2), the way Christ loved us, for often times we don’t even know how to love ourselves. Jesus loved us by dying for us, rising, ascending, giving us The Spirit, that we might go where he has gone and be united to The Trinity which is The Good Itself. And he wills all might be saved this way. Thus we say “Love is willing The Good of another.” And to this definition of love, to this image of love, relativism and indifference must be deemed unloving if not antithetical to Love outright.

(24) All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.

The abiding metaphor is key to Christ, especially with his “I am the vine, you are the branches.” Christ is the head of The Church, the very font, source of life, from which the waters flow to all the branches. Christ is the essence of The Church, that which defines it as the kind-of-thing-it-is. Only The Church can say this thus The Church is not one more community among many, in fact the church can only be said to be a community by analogy, but strictly speaking it is a sui generis, or “one of a kind.” And those who abide in him do so because they are baptized and thus received The Holy Spirit. But some are prone to think that because Baptism is an indissoluble bond that it is so everlastingly. So too Holy Matrimony is indissoluble yet we say “till death do you part,” for it is Death that puts asunder the body and soul. And it is only to Christ, he who is victorious over death that it is eternally indissoluable. Thus to say “all are saved” because Baptism is indissoluable forget St. Paul’s words that there is only one Baptism, that is Christ’s Baptism, and we are baptized into that one. So whereas there will be salvation for all in Christ, our individual baptisms are not a “once saved always saved” claim, for we will be judged in accordance with our deeds, and all those who do not bear deeds worthy of fruit shall have themselves pruned off the bush like the gardener does to branches sucking up water and doing nothing with it.

(4.2) By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God

By “spirit” hear we mean the nature of a particular word or expression. Hear St. John warns us against any word whether implicitly or explicitly that would deny Christ came in the flesh. Such is the modern grammar of self-identification which maintains the Cartesian mind-body by saying all reality is what I say it is, and my body: whether genetics, biology, anthropology, sociology, or ecology are irrelevant to my reality. These implicitly define Man as a “mind” alone, which means if Christ became “Man” by the Virgin Mary, then Christ did not come in the flesh. Thus his crucifixion is not salvific, we are not saved, the Liturgy does nothing, The Church is a sham, and reality is all one big self-defined LSD trip where I’m in control of reality via my wild imagination. Enter The Matrix where we are Architect.

(4.3) This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.

We hear often of “The Antichrist” as a single character but here John tells us there is already a kind of personality resonant with this character, anything that denies Jesus in the flesh. This means the modern grammar as mentioned above is Anti-Christian, or a spirit of Antichrist, because it is against Christ’s plan and salvation.

(4.4-6) Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Here “greater” is not defined in terms of material or wordly success but by virtue, for even the suffering servant is greater than all others in the world by participating in The Divine. So it is that St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr and one of the first Seven Deacons was greater and more powerful than Herod or Pharoah or Caesar, or any other we can think of, for all their power to kill, they had no power over him to make him think otherwise than that Christ was God. By such actions did the martyrs prove that such wordly power is no power at all. So much for feminist and liberation theology narratives that rest on wordly definitions of power, for their ultimate end would be to take Jesus off the cross and to systematically force Herod to a right end, though no change to his inner disposition, and thus no salvation for anyone, but a world that was seemingly running well and good, like a machine.

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