READING CHAIR – Gospel Comm: “One Who Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted”

22ND SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME

Luke 14:1, 7-14

“The One who humbles himself will be exalted!”

Humility seems to be the key word from today’s readings, beginning with the Book of Sirach, “Conduct your affairs with humility!”  Or, “The greater you are, humble yourself the more, and you will find favor with God.”  In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus speaks of humbling oneself in several places, and that person will be exalted.

What exactly does humbling mean?  Some believe it means pointing out our weaknesses or bad points.  The word comes from the French, humus, or earth, to be like the earth, or to remember our roots; “From dust you came, to dust you shall return!”

Remembering that we shall all return to dust in the end, is very humbling, and it does help keep our focus on the next life.

There are three persons that I usually associate with humbleness.  The first is Jesus, and the best example is from the passage from the second chapter of Philippians, verses 6-11.  Paul writes, “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus…” (that is, humility) and then he quotes from a popular hymn in his time, probably only written a few years or more after Jesus’ resurrection.  “…Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross…”  And the hymn continues with God exalting Jesus’ name above every name.  The hymn is known as the Kenosis Hymn, Greek for ‘emptying’; the Emptying Hymn.

God emptied himself of his divinity so that He could become human and experience for himself what that was like.

Jesus didn’t stop there.  He could have, and it would have been enough.  But the hymn says that Jesus was obedient unto death, death on a cross.

So when Jesus talks about humility, he should know what that is like.

The other person I always associate with humility is Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I think she gets a bum rap among non-Catholics.  This humble woman never exalted herself.  The Church exalted her over time, realizing the important role she played in our salvation history.  In the end, God chose her to carry out our salvation through his son, Jesus.  Once Jesus begins his ministry, we never hear from her again, except to see her standing at the foot of the cross, silent.  I don’t want to say much about Mary since we can’t really do her justice without taking a whole course in Mariology.

The last person that I associate with humility is Joseph, the father of Jesus.  There is very little written about him, and what little there is can only be found in Luke’s Gospel at the very beginning.  But I believe that Jesus’ whole attitude towards his heavenly Father was learned through his foster father, Joseph, even humility.  In the time of Jesus, a carpenter was really a handyman, a jack of all trades, someone who would do anything, even help build-up a stone fence that may have fallen.  He wasn’t necessarily a carpenter that we think of today, someone who makes fine furniture, but a repair man.  That is how the Hebrew word is translated, handyman.  Jesus had very humble beginnings indeed.

I think Jesus would feel very comfortable around the day laborers of our time.  Fortunately he would also feel comfortable around anyone.  Today’s gospel is simply telling us the same thing; learn to be comfortable around anyone you meet, to the point that you see them as your Friend, or Brother in Christ and invite them around the table of life!

 

READING CHAIR – Gospel Comm: “Lord, Will Only A Few People Be Saved?”

21st Sunday Ordinary Time

Luke 12:22-30

Lord, Will Only A Few People Be Saved?

“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

“Lord, what are my chances?”

“Lord, am I one of the few?”

I am sure we all ask that question at one time or another…usually at the end of our lives.

Jesus’ answer isn’t really an answer, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate!”

Will there be a few at the banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven?  This is another way of stating the question.  We do know in another gospel reading that the banquet hall was not filled and the king sent his servants out into the highways and byways to fill the hall with all sorts of rift-raft.  So maybe we have a chance.

So we could ask, “Lord, does that mean anyone can be saved…any rift-raft?”

After all heaven is a pretty big place.  I hear they have infinite seating capacity.  The question is..will anyone show up?

The reason I ask that question, is that some people think of heaven as an exclusive club.  But heaven is inclusive!  Anyone can come.

Maybe we should ask ourselves, “Is heaven a reward or way of being, existing?”

If heaven is a reward, then only a few people may be saved.  If heaven is a way of being or existing, living our lives as Jesus modeled for us, then anyone can be saved.  Living that way of life will prepare us for the heavenly banquet to come.

Then Baptism makes sense, because we are baptized into a new way of life, a new way of living, putting of the Old Man and putting on the New.

If heaven is a reward, then Baptism doesn’t make sense.

The Jews at the time of Jesus, and even some people now, believe that the rich and healthy are a reward for living the good life, while those who are poor and unhealthy are sinners and are being punished.

Baptism wouldn’t make sense for a Jew, since only the Hebrew race could be Jews, not Gentiles!  There are the Righteous Ones or the Proselytes, who try to life as a Jew and even worship with them, but John’s Baptism was a baptism of Repentance.

When someone asks you, “Have you been saved?”  Just answer, “We all have been saved through Jesus’ death on the Cross, once and for all, brother.”

Our baptism puts us on the Heavenly Banquet Reservation List.

Now, once we are signed up, there are rules of engagement; the deeper the relationship, the more expectations.

Heaven is a way of existing.  AS Jesus told us, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” and with baptism, we are already living in the kingdom; we are already existing within the Kingdom of Heaven.

That is why we celebrate the Eucharist, to remind us of the Kingdom within, our Star-gate to Heaven.

READING CHAIR – Gospel Commentary: “Where Your Treasure Is”

19th Sunday Ordinary Time

Luke 12:32-48

“Where Your Treasure Is…”

One time I asked my students to imagine that their house had caught on fire.  They had only minutes to run back in the house to rescue one thing, one item…something, anything.  What would that item be if they could retrieve it from their burning house?

They took a few minutes to think about the question, and especially about the item that they could run back into the house to rescue, and write it down.  Most said they would rescue family pictures, since they couldn’t be replaced.  A few mentioned money, and fewer mentioned items that could really be replaced.

I think the family pictures were the favorite item in the long run.

Today’s gospel tells us, “For where your treasure is there also will your heart be.”  Sometimes, it takes a disaster to realize what we treasure most, and usually it is family, since that is what the pictures represent.  Where our treasure is there also will our hearts be.  And if our family is our treasure then nothing will come between us and them.  We will also find that we put all out time or a good portion of our time in our families.

Jesus reminds us that is how we should be with our heavenly treasure.  We should also be prepared to meet the Lord at any time, “…for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  And this is how we prepare for the Lord, by celebrating the Eucharist.  I can’t think of anything better to prepare ourselves for meeting the Lord. It is like calibrating our spiritual GPS.  Getting through the rest of the week is the difficult part.

One way is to get into the habit of repeating the Lord’s name throughout the day, reminding ourselves of his presence in our lives no matter where we are.  But for some they may find this difficult, others may find this embarrassing, and some may develop a form of amnesia where they just forget all the time.  Now when I say repeating the Lord’s name, I mean in a good way, of course.  We all have that aunt or uncle who has the bad habit of repeating the Lord’s name in vane.  When I was a kid, I had thought my own aunt was quite the religious person and close to Jesus, until my mother explained the difference to me after we left her home.

The last part of the gospel has always frightened me, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

I wasn’t concerned with the much or the more part, but with the entrusted part.  It is at baptism that the entrusted part begins, because we become Ambassadors of Christ, as St. Paul writes.  We represent Christ to others, because we have been entrusted with Christ.  He is our treasure, and he is where our hearts should be.  Others will be looking to see what we do with this treasure.

As Ambassadors of Christ, we get renewed for the week through the Eucharist.  We are reminded of our heavenly treasure.  And if we desire to know the Lord better or get closer to the Lord, then we are on the right track, because our hearts are informing us of the treasure we have within.

 

MUSIC ROOM – August 2016

!WELCOME!

If you are new to my Music Room, featured here are my latest compositions from the time period mentioned above in the title to the last post.  Even though I write for other instruments, I also enjoy writing my own lyrics, which can then be set to a melody of my own! Unfortunately, I am still looking for a good singer for my lyrics, until then you can still enjoy the “Doo-Doo Lady” substitute!

piano(Remember, these songs are copyrighted (c) Michael F. Nartker, SM 2016.)

My first selection is called “Pondering“.  This is an instrumental piece that includes Flute, Oboe, Tuba and Piano.  I find myself more and more drawn to writing instrumental pieces, hopefully working to a full orchestra.  The interchange between the instruments is fascinating, even though it takes a lot of concentration.  My usual way of developing the piece is to produce the melody line with the solo instrument in mind, then add the other instruments that I feel would support the melody line.  In the case of this particular piece, the Oboe starts out with the solo line with the other instruments supporting, until the flutes take over with just the piano accompanying repeating the melody until the piece ends with the Oboe playing its last part of the melody as the Coda.

 

The second selection is called “Taking It Easy“, also written for Piano, Flute, and Double Bass.  As the name implies, the melody lazily takes you to the end with the flutes.  The first section begins with just one flute, but at the middle section two flutes dance with the melody accompanied by the piano.  The Coda is a recapitulation of the last part of the melody line from the first section.

 

The third choice is an orchestration of the piano piece written earlier in the year called “Meandering“.  The brass section begins with the melody and then the violins take over and repeat.  The brass comes back in for a smaller section and the the strings take over and ends with a little longer section.  I think this song lends itself well to the brass section since the strings seemed less interesting.

 

The last selection is called “Keep In Step“.  I am sure you will not help but want to get in step with this lively piece.  I have added percussion to this composition, which is a first for me.  It really cried out for timpani, but I think I will wait for the next piece…maybe.  Notice the brass play a major role in the melody line with piano and other instruments supporting.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this selection and look forward for my next compositions.  I have been a little busy this summer, but I have continued to compose!  I am in the process of photocopying my sheet music for electronic archives and accessibility for a certain party.  This blog site has posted most of my compositions.

I post my recent compositions can also be found on SoundCloud under the name: Michael F. Nartker, SM.  Please visit my site.

Thanks You!

 

 

ART GALLERY – August 2016

!Welcome to my Art Gallery!

Here you will find a sample of my latest paintings, some of which are entered in 2016 showing at the Mount St. John’s Art Gallery in Dayton, Ohio, on Patterson Road.   My paintings are in oil, acrylic and watercolor.  The topics vary, but mostly I love to paint and draw flowers, buildings old and new, and outdoors scenes.

In this selection, I have drawn from my Ink collection to show a development of style over the couple of years.  Hope you will enjoy them.

The paintings were photographed with a digital SONY Cyber-Shot DSC-W800.   I am quite pleased with the results of this camera, since digital photos are much closer to the original drawing.  Feel free to write your comments, since I will be interested in knowing what is you favorite.

The first selection is called “Mackinac Island” located on the island above the bridge connecting lower PI to the upper PI Michigan.  This particular drawing taken from my sketchbook.  I enjoy drawing houses like this one with plenty of variation to all sides and even the roof.

beever island house
Mackinac Island

 

The second selection is called “River-Walk” and is located in San Antonio, Texas.  I sketched this scene while I was on Sabbatical, along with other points of interest.  The difference in this sketch is that I have decided to color in the umbrellas.  It is interesting that this picture and a smaller version of it both sold at my show!

sa riverwalk
River-Walk, San Antonio, Texas

 

The third selection is called “Bickham Bridge” and is located in the vicinity of Indian Lake, Ohio.  I biked there from our place on Indian Lake and took a picture, which I sketched later.  I drew another version of the bridge, which I colored in and framed.

covered bridge
Bickham Bridge

 

The fourth selection is called “Old House with Red Door”.  This pictur was drawn from a plicture.  I love old houses which have character, and many interesting things to draw and bring out.  I purposely colored in the front door, which was in the original.

Building with Red Door
Building with Red Door

I hope you enjoyed my selections.  I have presented these drawings to encourage you to draw also.  Drawing is a right brain activity, the part of the brain where meditation and creativity dominates.  I can be very theraputic!

A reminder that my Art Show called: “A Little Bit Of Everything” will open on 7th September, Wednesday and run to closing day on 9th October, Sunday.  Please come and see my drawings at Mount St. John Gallery in Dayton, Ohio.

READING CHAIR – Gospel Comm: “Where Your Treasure Is”

19th Sunday Ordinary Time

Luke 12:32-48

“Where Your Treasure Is…”

One time I asked my students to imagine that their house had caught on fire.  They had only minutes to run back in the house to rescue one thing, one item…something, anything.  What would that item be if they could retrieve it from their burning house?

They took a few minutes to think about the question, and especially about the item that they could run back into the house to rescue, and write it down.  Most said they would rescue family pictures, since they couldn’t be replaced.  A few mentioned money, and fewer mentioned items that could really be replaced.

I think the family pictures were the favorite item in the long run.

Today’s gospel tells us, “For where your treasure is there also will your heart be.”  Sometimes, it takes a disaster to realize what we treasure most, and usually it is family, since that is what the pictures represent.  Where our treasure is there also will our hearts be.  And if our family is our treasure then nothing will come between us and them.  We will also find that we put all out time or a good portion of our time in our families.

Jesus reminds us that is how we should be with our heavenly treasure.  We should also be prepared to meet the Lord at any time, “…for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  And this is how we prepare for the Lord, by celebrating the Eucharist.  I can’t think of anything better to prepare ourselves.  It is getting through the rest of the week that is the difficult part.

One way is to get into the habit of repeating the Lord’s name throughout the day, reminding ourselves of his presence in our lives no matter where we are.  But some may find this difficult, others may find this embarrassing, and some may develop a form of amnesia where they just forget all the time.  Now when I say repeating the Lord’s name, I mean in a good way, of course.  We all have that aunt or uncle who has the bad habit of repeating the Lord’s name.  When I was a kid, I had thought my own aunt was quite the religious person, until my mother explained the difference to me after we left her home.

The last part of the gospel has always frightened me, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

I wasn’t concerned with the much or the more part, but with the entrusted part.  It is at baptism that the entrusted part begins, because we become Ambassadors of Christ, as St. Paul writes.  We represent Christ to others, because we have been entrusted with Christ.  He is our treasure, and he is where our hearts should be.  Others will be looking to see what we do with this treasure.

READING CHAIR – Gospel Comm: “Mary and Martha”

16TH Sunday Ordinary Time

Luke 10:38-42

“Martha and Mary”

Today’s Gospel is a familiar story of the famous family that Jesus often liked to visit and spend time with.  I can see him just kicking up his feet and relaxing with Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus.

In Luke’s version, Jesus and his disciples stop in to visit the family on their journey to Jerusalem, this narrative follows right after the story of the Good Samaritan.  We could call them the Family of Hospitality.  The story of Abraham and Sarah and their famous hospitality to the three angels, as the first reading today, sort of stresses the point.

But the story, as Luke is prone to do, takes a different turn on hospitality, when Martha comes out of the kitchen and asks for help from her sister, who is comfortably sitting at Jesus’ feet. But he reminds Martha, that Mary has chosen the better part.

Those listening to the story in Jesus’ time might have been surprised, since hospitality would have been at the top of the commandments for a nomadic tribe, as the descendants of Abraham were, and this commandment would have been understood and followed to the letter before even Moses gave the children of Israel the Ten Commandments, the other commandments.

Some scripture scholars like to liken Mary to the Active spiritual life and Mary to the Contemplative spiritual life.  However, the Lord is not calling us to be Martha or Mary, but Martha and Mary, Active and Contemplative!

We should imitate Abraham, Sarah and Martha by making great sacrifices in offering hospitality.  Prior to our high-tech times, a family began preparing a meal by picking out a steer and working with flour.  No freezer, microwaves or packaged foods!  To offer hospitality was a monumental, sacrificial task.  We can understand why Martha complained about being left alone to do such daunting household tasks.

We need also to imitate Mary by sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to His words.  This too is a formidable task.  Listening to someone, especially to God, is often more challenging than the hardest work.

Still, why would Jesus point out that Mary has chosen the better part?  The better part of what?  Hospitality?  Being hospitable, especially with the Lord, was more than feeding him, as Martha was preparing to do.  Being hospitable to guests also entailed sitting with them and sharing the news, listening to them and sharing in each others’ blessings and challenges.

The better part for Jesus was Mary listening to his words, the Words of Eternal Life.  It meant to be fed by Jesus with his words, words to live by, and not just Martha’s food.  That is what we have come here today to do, to sit at Jesus feet and listen to his Words of Eternal Life.

When you read John’s Gospel, we meet Martha and Mary several times, but several years later, where Jesus is challenging Martha to believe in him, the Resurrection and Life, and that he will raise her brother from the dead.  This is her response, “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”  Who said she was not listening to Jesus’ words from the kitchen, as she was preparing a meal for him?  “The Messiah, the Son of God,” sounds like the words that Peter uttered to Jesus so long ago.

And we can’t leave out Mary.  How did she fare after these years?  Her sister Martha was preparing a thanksgiving meal for Jesus for raising their brother Lazarus from the dead, and Mary enters into the room while Jesus and Lazarus are together, probably conversing.  Mary then proceeds to pour the expensive oil over Jesus feet and then wipe them with her hair.  Surely an extravagant way to show hospitality to guests, but by now this family is special to Jesus, and they are not ignorant of the present danger Jesus is in, being only a few miles from Jerusalem.  This time Mary plays the servant and washes the guests feet with her expensive oil, truly a powerful act of love on her part.

To this day I wonder if Jesus got this idea to use this loving act of serving when he washes the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper?

Action, Contemplation…seems like two sides of the same coin.

As we celebrate this Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper, hopefully we will be open to serving the Lord is whatever way he may call us, after contemplating his love for us in this wonderful meal he has served up for us.