The Seed is Sown

The Seed is Sown

(Matthew 9:32-38)

2016 Translation

 

            Jesus went out to conduct an assessment of the state of religion in his domain.  He went to all the churches, knocked on their doors, the Jewish Synagogues, the Baptist ones, the Catholic ones, the non-denominational ones, and the Islamic Mosques too.  He went to all of them in every town he could and met great big crowds of people who were looking for someone to lead them and to be President, but they were uncomfortable with all the choices available.  Jesus talked to them about an entirely different type of governmental system, one where there is no support for military systems, all the swords have been put up excepting some relics in museums, and the money that used to be spent on war is used to take care of sick people, to heal them, and to feed the hungry, build up hospitals and day care centers.  In this Kingdom, they use bricks and stones from walls torn down that used to separate people one from another.  Another great thing about this new political system that Jesus taught about, which he called “The Kingdom of God,” is that money was spent caring for the refugees of the old types of governmental systems who had no home or food because their jobs in the country where they lived and worked in factories making weapons of war and destruction had been done demolished.

Jesus really cared about these crowds and the refugees that were going to church in the churches he visited.  Jesus’ idea was that these people had been troubled and abandoned by the entire religious systems where they went to church every Saturday.  Jesus taught they needed to be harvested, along with those who do not go to church, like one harvests wheat.  Jesus prayed that more Mexicans would come and help in the harvest.  The Mexicans could see with Hispanic eyes which are very good and picking out grain from the field and separating the wheat from the chaff.  Jesus liked the Mexicans and anyone else who wanted to be a part of his harvest.  Jesus often thought about his illegal alien cousin, Ruth, the Moabitist, who was very good help in the harvest too.  This was way back before Jesus was born, but he heard all about it from his family history which his mother, Mary told him.

I think part of what Jesus is telling us here is that these religious systems of all kinds, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and others, are not all that bad.  After all, Jesus is telling us to go to the “harvest” for the Kingdom, not to plant the seed.  The seed has already been planted in these churches, It just needs to grow and be fed, and then be harvested.  He asks us to do the harvesting, not the calling, not the sowing.

Because of this great need for the harvest, Jesus brought workers for the Kingdom from Africa too, because people in Africa do not have so many TVs and have time to study the Sacred Scriptures.  In some countries people watch more TV than they do praying for the harvest and praying for peace, as Jesus asked.  One has a tendency to pray more when it is a life and death situation.  So, Jesus brought in a bunch of black Catholic priests from Africa to help with the harvest, and He even sent them across the sea into the united States.  They are good Priests, and they did not mind going to little towns either.  I saw one in Greenville, IL this past weekend.  I also saw one in a big city, Birmingham, AL, not too long ago.  I think these black priests must be everywhere.  Also those Mexican workers are everywhere.  They are the nearly the only ones who want to work in the harvest.  The Amish want to work too and are very good people, believing in Jesus and all of that.  The Amish love peace and the Kingdom of God too and hate warfare and killing.  But Amish cannot do much in the world because they go about in horses and buggies and like keeping things simple.  But, isn’t that what Jesus is asking us to do?  To just keep it simple, that is, to love one another, and to get out into the fields and bring in the harvest?  After all, He has already sown the seed, his very image, in every man and woman, and he is the one who makes this seed grow, not us.

 

Let’s just do it.. It is just that simple…

 

Grace & Peace,

 

John Cooper

 

 

 

Yes, I am a Catholic!

Yes, I am a Catholic!

 

I had intended to do some other things today, these thoughts have come upon me…..

 

Per my regular routine, I rose early, today just after 5 AM, to enter into my morning meditations.  I have been using the Catholic Liturgical Calendar as a basis for my morning meditations.  There is an App for that, there are Apps for nearly everything.  The one I use is on my tablet and phone, but here is a link to another: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022116.cfm, except this one is computer based.  You can look up the name, CatholicApp.org on your tablet, I believe.

 

Today’s Liturgy and my meditations were about God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants, and also about our imitation of Christ, in so many words, when the heritage of those who have imitated him before us is passed down to us, until the end of time.  Moses and Elijah, even appeared to the Apostles, and God advised them that Jesus is God’s Son, listen to him.  The Apostle Paul wanted his followers to imitate him as he, Paul, followed and imitated Jesus.  In view of my morning meditations, and my admiration of Pope Francis’ comments about Mr. Trump, if he believed in building walls to keep the immigrants out of the United States, not being a Christian, (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/world/americas/pope-francis-donald-trump-christian.html?_r=0) I decided to go to the local Catholic Church.  I happen to be out of town, in Wetumpka, AL and the local Pastor, Fr. Albert Kelly, does not know me.

 

It was a wonderful worship time, and the music was wonderful.  They have a praise and worship band signing the traditional Catholic hymns with a live choir too!  The Homily was great too, and very meaningful, an exposition on the Liturgy for the day, which I just mentioned having meditated and prayed with this morning.  The Homily was about how parents pass on their genes and teaching to their children, just as Abraham’s heritage and genes have been passed down according to God’s promise for generation after generation, until the end of time.  Also mentioned was even if one does not have children, how one’s character and belief is passed down to others who are affected by it.  During the mass, I regularly thought of how I grew up Catholic, and I am in many ways still Catholic, due to my upbringing.  I regularly attended the Catholic Church, receiving all the rites of passage, until I was 18 and began attending another church because of my beliefs at that time in observing the Sabbath on the 7th Day of the week and my beliefs in peace and non-violence, which I did not know were accepted at that time in the late 1960’s to my knowledge. (There were some beliefs in non-violence in Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker Movement, and Thomas Merton was a kindred Spirit to me, but I did not know of these things until much later.)

Being there today, at this mass, even though I do not regularly attend the Catholic Church, I went right up to receive communion.  I was in a little state of contemplation, and apparently I was not holding my hands just quite right, although I know how to, when one receives communion.  Fr. Albert Kelly asked me, “Are you Catholic?”  I realized I was not doing it quite right, too late though, and I said “Yes, I am a Catholic.”  So, he gave me the host, and I drank the wine.  You may say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” but I say, in the context of the situation, and the liturgy of the day, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.”  It is in the genes.  It is in the heritage of my soul and being.  In many ways, although I also believe in and have a heritage in other sides of the Christian family too, Yes, I am a Catholic.  This happens to be the week I already wrote about our common heritage as human beings created in the image of God, an article, “Cooper White – Cooper Black” which some loved, and some did not appreciate so much…..  https://jcooperforpeace.org/.  I don’t mind a bit if my physical makeup is a little mixed, or my religious heritage somewhat mixed, or if some of my family members were crazy, just like me…  I am who I am!

 

So, after mass, in place of eating doughnuts and coffee, as I have done before when I have been to this church, I spoke to a few people, and left to go about what I had planned to do, which was not to write this article, but I ran directly into Fr. Kelly, having changed his cloths and coming back into the Sanctuary.  I shook his hand and told him I wanted to explain something to him I did not have time to in the communion line.  I told him I grew up Catholic, and this year, for the first time in 49 years, I was observing Lent and that I sometimes do attend a Catholic Church. (This year for Lent I am giving up one drink per day, limiting my lunches to about $5, giving up meat, except for fish on Fridays, and sending the savings to help the refugees, which is the important thing to me, what I can give, not give up.  Also, I am trying to give up more of my conceit and vanity and pride, and other sins…, although I did not tell him all of that.)  He was very kind.  He asked who the priest was in my town when I told him I was not from Wetumpka.  I told him it was Father Deasy, whom he knew and had gone to school with, along with Fr. Deasy’s brother.

 

Anyway, it is good to be a part of one big worldwide family, the human race, or still have in my being the heritage of the Catholic Church, or the Worldwide Church of God, or Grace Church, where I now mostly attend.  It is good to be an American, to be a Christian, but it is not so good, in my view, to build up our walls and exclude the needy from fellowship with us, just because they are different.  Yes, I know the Vatican has a wall around it, but I don’t think Pope Francis built it, it has been there many years before.  Maybe we can tear it down, if it matters so much, which it doesn’t.  Yes, I am Catholic.  It came to me today, just how Catholic I still am..

 

Peace,

 

John Cooper

 

 

 

My Sin

My Sin

Before I get going on my reflections for this morning, day 166 of my St. Ignatius exercises, let me tell you about what happened to me last night when I woke up one time. I realized I had sinned. Let me tell you about it and confess it…..

 
It was on Monday, after I had gone to my Chiropractor, Dr. David Hitt, on a special visit because my back had been killing me and I had numbness in my right leg, and still do for that matter. I went into the post office to get my mail and on the way back to my truck noticed an older looking slightly blue, faded out car. I walked by it and suddenly the door popped open and a woman, perhaps a widow, or at least she had no husband with her, popped her head out in the cold air. I think I noticed a little child in a car seat in the back. Oh no, I immediately thought, I am about to be scammed, as she smiled a toothy smile that indicated she could use some dental work.

 
“Could I get a jump?” she asked with eyes looking up pleadingly. In my haste, thinking I was to be taking it easy according to my Chiropractor, I felt a sense of relief that it was not money she was asking for, but out of my mouth came the words, “I can’t do that”, as I continued to walk on. “Oh well, thanks anyway”, she politely said. I felt a little bad about it, hoping someone else would help her but I did not. I lied. I could have and probably would have if she had perhaps not surprised me, or had been a little more presentable, or perhaps had a lower cut in her dress or some other way. I sinned and will have more to say about it later.

 
Today in my Ignatian reflections I chose to meditate on Luke 21 verses 1 through 4, the text you will recognize about Jesus watching the poor widow give two copper coins into the Temple Treasury. That was all she had, Jesus said, and that had given more than all those rich folks who gave out of their plentitude.

 
Well, I got to thinking I had done something similar a couple of times in the past, but not really, because it was not really everything I had, but it was a sacrifice to me. Then “DING”, I realized the connection between my waking in the middle of the night in guilt, worried about my sin against the poor person in the car who only wanted a jump, not everything I had. Had she asked me for money too, as I suspected she would, I should have given her some. This woman was the Temple. Jesus was living in her and Jesus was watching me.

 
I was given a gift of repentance this morning as I confessed my sin and I confess it to you. Let me quote below:

 
“If you’re going to care about the fall of the sparrow, you can’t pick and choose who’s going to be the sparrow. It’s everybody.”

Madeleine L’Engle

 
Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. Also, I will be watching for this same person again. Maybe I can apologize, and listen to her story… Let me, let her, tell me, her story…

 
Epilogue:
Most of my writings on this blog site are promoting Peace and Nonviolence. Actually, this one does too. Confession and self-purification is a principle of Peace with ourselves and others, of not doing violence to ourselves and others in that we should confess our sins to one another. We should do it as Nations, as people groups, religious systems, and as individuals to set ourselves free of the interior black holes in our lives that close in on themselves if we do not.

 

Grace & Peace,

 

John Cooper

Look Up

I have been in operation on one of my  St. Ignatian pledges for the day for a couple of days, basically the same one, which is this:

Seek, Identify, and feel God’s presence in myself and in others, and share it….

This is a step in self-trancendence, as I see it…

I came upon this link today:  http://go.sojo.net/site/R?i=kGXv9bb2-_pkyJzTcM6w_w

Just to think… Whatever tragedies hit our lives, just to pick up our eyes to look into the eyes of another beautiful human being created in God’s Image, is one step to Eternity.. It is a step outside of ourselves, into the I Am of another..

Love & Peace,

John Cooper

Brother’s Blood

Brother’s Blood

In this terrible world of the past month and a half, let us not let Evil creep up on us and invite us to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…

Accepting what is evilly inspired…

Let us hear the cry of our brother’s blood rising up from the earth,

Let us be aware that a major culprit of the violence and killing of the past few weeks is religion…

Let us walk in the Garden with God, as did Adam, and Eve, before religion…

Let us believe in God, as did Abraham, before religion…

Religion is a temporary phenomenon in this world’s history…

Religion is created by man in his own image as a bridge to reach the One God whose Kingdom already lives in us, and we in Him…

Relationships with God, and each other, and the supernatural ability to hear our brother’s blood cry from the ground are primal gifts we should strive to possess….

Not to strive against each other,

I think we are our brother’s keeper, all of our brothers…

Listen to your brother’s blood, and the survivors of our brothers’ blood who have bled under the altar of Evil, and have gone before us…..

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

Kingdom Come

KINGDOM COME

In the process of forming my thoughts, in mid-July, 2014, regarding the Gaza – Israel conflict, I believe we should be concerned, very concerned, about the state of ethics in today’s world. Is it possible for mankind to look beyond its own little kingdoms to a greater kingdom than one that serves our own particular selfish ambitious and conceitful needs as individuals, as families, as tribes, and nations?

Some believe the mantra for peace in the world is to overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. The much more predominate view has historically been to overcome evil with force, or more evil, not with good. This view is known in some circles as the “Myth of Redemptive violence”. It is known by thinking people as a “myth” because it has never worked and has never been proven in thousands of years.

Likewise, the myth of the “Just War” theory, developed over thousands of years of Roman Catholic thinking processes has never been proved, has never worked, and even more amazingly, even though proclaimed and sacrificed for, and died for, has never been followed. Just one of the tenants of the “Just War” theory is the ethic of proportionality, meaning if your enemy pulls out your fingernail on one thumb for instance, you do not have a right to cut off your enemies’ hand. Another tenant of the “Just War” theory is that non-combatant civilians are to be protected and not attacked and killed for militaristic purposes.

As we think back through history, including and especially including the history of the Americas, and Medieval Christianity, including the carpet bombing of Europe, and the vaporization of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the decimation of the American Indians, etc. We can readily see that proportionality and protection of non-combatants do not apply at all to so called “Christian” militiamen who may subscribe to the “just war” theory. I do not subscribe to this theory at all, nor did the early martyrs of the real Christian Church.

There are other rules mankind has adopted of a similar nature s in the “Rules of War”. The “Rules of War” are also not followed. I do not subscribe to the “Rules of War” either. But both the “Just War” theory and the “Rules of War” theories offer some less than totally barbaric principles that are better than having no principles at all. However, these principles are not followed either. Israel is definitely not following them in the current crisis and should be Internationally sanctioned, in my view for the disproportional, unjust devastation of innocent lives of men, women, and children.

Concerning the Gaza-Israel conflict today, is it okay for Israel to bomb civilian targets if they give prior warning for Palestinians to leave? Where are the Palestinians going to go, anyway, since they are fenced in? Is it okay for Hamas to launch rockets into Israel not knowing where they will land and who they will kill? Hamas is guilty too, and so is the United States for supplying Israel with weapons of mass destruction, and so is Iran for supplying Hamas with lesser weapons of mass destruction. It is also unconscionable for Israel to possess nuclear weapons, as well as the United States, Russia, and all others who possess them.

I am thinking of all these kingdoms and how all these kingdoms fight and war against one another, all of them whose citizens consist of precious human flesh and blood, including the precious flesh and blood of the Americans, British, German, Russian, Japanese, etc. Flesh and blood beautiful people have died with their women and children. Likewise, American Indians, Black slaves, Chinese, Syrians, Iraqis, and Somali’s, Sudanese, Nigerians, Colombians, etc. have died, due to brutal and inhumane force.

Kingdoms of the world fight against each other, which is just the way it is, the way it has always been. However, is that the way it will always be? I can think of one human being, at least one, who said NO! That is not the way it will always be. There is a Kingdom to come that will not be like the other kingdoms. This Kingdom was mentioned in Hebrew scripture (and rejected by Jews). This Kingdom was mentioned in Christian scripture (and rejected by Christians). This Kingdom was mentioned in Islamic scriptures (and rejected by Muslims).

It is a Kingdom NOT of this world. It is a Kingdom that comes after the laws and the prophets, including what some view as the final prophet. Yet, it is a Kingdom here now, which we can join. It is a Kingdom of God, which we, all human beings, need to become citizens of, a Kingdom of grace and peace. A Kingdom of religion without compulsion, without forcing laws because we willingly love and care for one another, and care for our beautiful earth. Anybody can join this Kingdom now, from any religion, or final religion. It is a Kingdom to be ruled by self- governance, which is ruling over ourselves internally, firstly. and loving others externally, including our enemies.

Here is a link of the Christian Theologian, N.T. Wright being interviewed by Gary Deddo, an official of Grace Communion International, the old Worldwide Church of God, which I was a member of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MblLTC75KOc. I believe this video will give all of us a broader perspective of the Kingdom of God. In the interview, please notice how references to nonviolence are spoken of as being signatory of the Kingdom of God. I hope you will watch and listen…..

The Christian Church, Militant and Triumphant, the Jewish religion, Militant and Triumphant, and Islamic religion, Militant and Triumphant, are not exemplary of the Kingdom of God as God, NOT of this world, God intends his Kingdom to be. To me, the Kingdom of God consists of

One Human Family

One God

One Kingdom

We are members of each, all of us, and all of us members of each other, brothers and sisters, in One human family, created by One God, and members of One Kingdom of God. To be in submission to this threefold principle of being one with each other, one with God, and each, regardless of our religion at this time, participants in one Divine Kingdom, to me, is a key of Peace.

Our enemy is our neighbor. Believe it – love him. This is the Kingdom in you and in Him, and in me.

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

Fool For Christ

Fools For Christ

 

I have not always made the wised decisions in life, obviously, or maybe I would not be continually getting myself in the precarious situations in which I often find myself…

I admit, if my concerns were only about wealth, I have been so gullible to believe in and trust the inherit goodness I believe lives in every human being created in the Image of God.  I am just a fool, according to some.  I hope it is not all my fault, concerning my business problems, that is, although I believe much of it is obviously my fault, but I believe the economic conditions of our United States economy decimated by our warlike inclinations affirmed by the President Bush administration, and confirmed by the current King of Drones, President Obama, causing a collapse in our economy, which, just today, has been pronounced as “healed,” according to the jobs report that indicates we have recovered every job we lost…. (what about the millions who have entered the job market since 2007?)

“Oh, here we go again!”  According to some I know and love, it is just John the radical preaching and ranting again…  Really?

Am I just a fool?

I would rather be a fool, if I am to be one, for Christ!

Take a look at this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foolishness_for_Christ

A lot of people have been fools for Christ, Western, and Eastern, and even some in the Sufi sect of Islam, (which I would like to be in, if I were Muslim) have been just “crazy” for God.  Pope Francis has chosen his name from St. Francis of Assisi, whose followers gave up their possession and preached Jesus in the streets.  Just Fools, in their day….

 

Reminds me of the lady I and others call “Preacher Lady” here in Tuscaloosa…. I have written about her before….   I just spoke to her again this past week.  She was standing in the middle of the street beside our business property, open Bible in hand, preaching away.  I went over and talked to her again for quite a while.  I asked her if she was a Prophetess, and offered her a glass of water.  We spoke of the Bible.  Apparently she feels called to preach to the City of Tuscaloosa…  Reminds me of Peace Pilgrim, who walked thousands and thousands of miles in the 1950s, 1960s, and up into the 1970s preaching about Peace….  Reminds me of the Prophet Jonah, whom Ben Talmadge is preaching about this month, who knew in advance he would be a Fool for Christ because of the message he was to preach to Nineveh.  Jonah knew God was Gracious and Merciful and would change his mind, and Jonah did not want to look like a fool… Reminds me of the Jewish Fool for God, Isaiah who walked around naked for a while…

 

Reminds me of the Apostle Paul, giving up his “religious”  position, to be quoted:

“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.” (KJV).

And also:

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:19)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

 

Reminds me a little of myself too, with my concerns for the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of Peace, which few seem to deem important in our United States warrior society…  Give us a gun, not give us peace….

Oh Well….

Just one more reminder, and I will shut up my foolish mouth….  I am reminded of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and a fellow Pacifist and  “Fool for Christ.”  Below is a link to a one woman play about Dorothy Day, entitled “Fool for Christ:”

 

http://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/fool-christ-dorothy-day-story

 

It is a long play, so I will shut up and give you time to watch it. I would advise you to watch and consider our belief systems…

But, I am just a fool…

While you are watching, I will put on my dunce cap, and go sit in the corner on a stool…

Let me know what you think!

 

Fool for Christ,

 

John Cooper