Anam Cara

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Having an Epiphany

“Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him” ~ Gospel Tradition According to Saint Matthew (2.2) NRSV.

Then a voice said from heaven, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased” ~Gospel Tradition According to Saint Matthew (3.17) NRSV.

A YouTube VIDEO PRESENTATION:


Two verses. Two ways of looking at things. Two stories of Christ at different ages, but both signaling THE BEGINNING of some stage of his life on Earth. The first starts his life; the second initiates his ministry.  The first is how the West sees Epiphany. The second comes from the Eastern tradition of Epiphany. In both instances, there is an experience, which is life changing and transforming. From here on out, nothing will be the same. A new cycle, a new life has begun. For us, both point to the new creation, which is within us.

The Western side does have a baptism scene associated with Epiphany. Usually, this is called “Baptism of the Lord Sunday,” which is the Sunday following Epiphany. Many times, Epiphany observance is not on January 6, the day following the twelfth day of Christmas, which officially ends the Christmas Season; but celebrated on the Sunday closest to that day. This year that Sunday was a couple of days ago.  Therefore, in that reckoning, we look to the Magi (the infancy) in the past and baptism (the ministry) in the future. That would make this whole week like looking into the life of Christ as he was growing up in Galilee. Sort of “Coming of Age,” if you will.

Meanwhile, on the Eastern side of the world, they are baptizing. Even in the traditional spot on the Jordan River where Christ, our King, was by Saint John the Baptist. Today. Freezing cold! Today.

I wonder if this is where our “cold swim” actually comes from. Within the video presentation above you can see a video clip from Bulgaria back three years ago. 

Originally, there was a question over when Christmas was. December 25th was the Western date and January 6 was the Eastern date. Apparently, the Greeks and the Romans used a different method in trying to figure the Feast Day of the Annunciation (the conception of Christ in the Virgin womb—that is 25th of March).  Congratulations. The Western side won over, so the Christmas celebration is in December everywhere around the world. We call the twelve days in between those two dates “Christmastide.” The twelve days of Christmas.

There is also a third tradition to Epiphany. The changing of water into wine at the Marriage Feast in Cana. According to the Gospel Tradition of Saint John, this was the first of seven signs marking the Divinity of Christ.  A wedding. How appropriate! A wedding is the defining moment when two lives come together to form a union, and a third “life” begins. There is you, there is me. Together then, there is us.  A complete organism, all of our own. Ever wonder how the Church is many and yet one, all at the same time?

Then again, that is what it means by “having an epiphany,” is it not? To have a profound understanding or a deep knowledge of something… To see something for the very first time… Do you see something new today? What do you see when you look at the big picture?

I am Amhas Jack+ in Fayetteville, AR—wishing you and all your loved ones a glorious new beginning and a beautiful journey ahead! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

On the Eighth Day Of Christmas


THE FILM PRESENTATION ON YOUTUBE:





Giovanni Bellini, c. 1459, "Presentation at the Temple" Venice, Italy
“After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

Gospel Tradition According to St. Luke (2.21) NRSV

Ceud Mile Fàilte!

In today’s Gospel Reading, which happens to be Luke 2.16-21, the shepherds come to see the new baby king. It starts with Mary who places her child in a manger. Why a manger?  A manger was a feeding trough for the beasts of burden.

Immediately we are reminded of one of Christianity’s holy sacraments, that of the Eucharist. Eucharist comes from the Greek meaning, “thanksgiving.” Our Thanksgiving holiday is a feast, is it not? The sustenance for life is food. Someone had to give his or her life so that we may live. We are thankful for the gift. We are also grateful for all we have. We live in hope to living on through the next cycle, the next year, so we can celebrate the mystery of what it is we call life once again. Thus, we honor those who gave all they are.

When we celebrate Eucharist every Sunday, we honor the life given so that we may “live and move and have our being.” This time, in cycles. Life is circular. It goes on repeated cycles. Each new circuit brings a new day, new promise, new hope and new encounters. Despite the “newness” of each turn, everything ultimately remains the same, because these patterns are recognizable in form. Every new week, we eat the bread (flesh) and drink the wine (blood) of the One who sacrificed Himself so we can live. We do so in thanksgiving, and live the rest of the week accordingly. That is how we honor Him.

Speaking of new encounters, the shepherds had their new encounter with the Holy Family. Likewise, the Holy Family had a new encounter of the shepherds. Encounters are a reciprocal act. One sees and experiences an-other (another). That other also experiences you. An exchange made from one to the other. The shepherds tell their story of yet another encounter with heaven, through the angels. They leave in great joy, because they know that what the angels told them was spot on. Mother Mary, we see, is pondering these words. Treasuring them. She is completely devoted to what they reported. Just as we would expect a matriarch to be.

Interestingly, angel also comes from the Greek. It means “messenger.” This is a root word for another that we use in English, which is “evangel.” The “ev-” comes from a Greek prefix meaning “good.” Sometimes, the “ev-” is “eu-” which is how we get another word, like “euphoria.” “Evangel,” then, is “good message.” It is equivalent to our “Gospel.” This is why we sometimes refer to the Gospel writer as the “Evangelical.” With this in mind, we can see how each one of us could be an “angel” or, better yet, an “evangel” at any given point in time, provided we are spreading good cheer.

Now, before we return to the concept of cycles, it is important to realize the number eight. This number is one plus seven, or right after seven. Seven reminds us of a week. A week has seven days. The eighth day would be a week and a day, or a week from today. From this, we can see that a new cycle is beginning. Eight brings on the concept of a new cycle. Even so, today just happens to be a very important day as far as new cycles go. Today is “New Year’s Day.” We celebrate a new cycle, but a big one! This is not just a new day, a new week or a new month. This is a brand new year! HAPPY NEW YEAR! However, the Christmas story does not end here, any more than it did a week ago. Today is a week from Christmas Day, the Eighth Day of Christmas!

Torah, which is the instructions given by God to Moses to the Children of Israel, commands circumcision on the eighth day of the baby boy’s life (Leviticus 12.3). This is a big event! All the locals gather to celebrate the birth—a week later—welcoming the newcomer into the community. This tradition got started by the patriarch Abraham (Genesis 17.12). Today, Christians do this not by circumcision, but through baptism. Our baptism is our “circumcision of the heart.” It is a way that our community can see the newborn, accept him or her in to the community, and promise to protect, teach and care for the child to the best they can. Since there is no difference between Jew or Greek, male or female and freeman or slave; we baptize everyone, not just the males. All are welcomed to the table of the Lord!

Today is the Day that our Lord gets his new name. The name of Jesus. Yeshua in Aramaic. It means "Yah Saves!" It is the very idea that salvation belongs to God alone. Yeshua was a common name throughout the Aramaic speaking world during the time of Christ, but it is significant that the Angel who saw Mary previously said his name should be this particular name. A name above all names. 

Though the New Revised Standard Version and many other English translations circumcision of Christ came “after” the eight days were over, the Church celebrates this day, the eighth day, to coincide with the Torah and to match up with the “eighth” day of a new cycle. Chances are, the Holy Family waited until the Sabbath after the eighth day of the Child’s life to have that happen for the sake of convenience (John 7.23). This may be why the Church decides to baptize on or around the “eighth day.” Everybody is there regularly at that time.

The eight also signifies the “Eighth Day” that concluded “Sukkot,” the Feast of Booths or, Tabernacles, the last holiday of the religious year of Judaism.  That day also pointed to the Eighth Day, the Resurrection of the Lord. New day, new week, new month, New Year then new life, the new creation. All of this alluded to and condensed in six verses!

taken from judithloganart.com
The popular Christmas song called "The Twelve Days of Christmas" says about this day:
On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eight Maids a Milking

For more about the Twelve Days of Christmas, click on the link. 
See you on Epiphany (on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015)!

This is Amhas Jack Douglas+ in Fayetteville, AR wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year!

Beannachd Dia dhuit! 
May the Blessings of God be with you! 


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Our Penal System Is Insane!

Cèad mìle fàilte romhat! A Hundred Thousand Welcomes to You!

Is there something wrong with our penal system? How can we improve upon it? What is a cool idea that would transform this problem and better society as a whole?

To answer the first question, the answer is YES! The United States is number one in incarceration rates and number one in returnees. In short, our system has failed.

What is the DEFINITION OF INSANITY:

Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Like our penal system. Over half the people who leave the system reenter within 5 years of getting out. The US leads the world in incarceration rates. Our solution to this problem is employing the same old policies. "More bars, more guards." It is time to face the music. Our system is broken. We need to do something, because the violent offenders are staying in less and less and reentering more and more. 

Retrieved from reddit.com on Dec 2, 2014
Instead of thinking in terms of retribution, why don't we think of ways to rehabilitation?  Stopping the bad behavior once and for all? Truth is, criminals leave the system much harder than they ever were before going in there. Most enter due to drug offences, mainly THC, but they come out angrier, colder and more broken than ever before. Kind of defeats the purpose, turning people into dangerous ones. No, no, no, no. We need to get a handle on this. We need to get better, not worse!

Retrieved from statesman.com on Dec 2, 2014
Retribution, doesn't that mean that we give them more punishment? Yes. Therefore the slave labor of a quarter every hour needs to stop and besides, with underpaid "employees" the local economy can't compete real well with real jobs if a prison is in town, underselling everyone at the table. Also, let's give these people more TV time, because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that 23 out of 24 hours of lock-down isn't good for one's psychiatric health. We are letting these people out and expecting them to behave themselves? Are you kidding me???

Retrieved from idebate.com on Dec 2, 2014
Rehabilitation, doesn't that mean that we educate these people? Ahhh. That! Exactly that! Does that mean we give them therapy so they would know how to deal with stress better? Again, that! Exactly that! I foresee problems already.

It is apparent that something is really wrong about this idea, because, as some people would complain:
BUT, THESE PEOPLE BROKE THE RULES --- ARE WE GOING TO LET THEM GET ALL THIS FREE STUFF THAT HONEST HARDWORKING FOLKS CAN'T EVEN BEGIN TO AFFORD ON THEIR OWN??? 

Retrieved from virus.stanford.edu on Dec 2, 2014
The poster is regarding the "Spanish Flu" of 1918
It first appears that we are rewarding bad behavior. This is only because bad behavior means free healthcare and education whereas good behavior means everything is costly. There is a solution, however.

Norway is doing it, and it works! Germany is doing it and it is working! This is how we solve this problem. Universal Healthcare AND Universal Education for EVERYONE! We need this stuff anyway, even if we are not considering the Penal problem. If we want to live in safer neighborhoods and a productive society, wouldn't we want to ensure that everyone was healthy? If education is an investment in our future, why make people go into a serious amount of debt to try and better the nation and our world? 

If this system is in place, then whatever prisoners get for free, they would get for free anyway whether they are in the system or not. What is more, they can continue on their goals of becoming productive citizens while they make the transition, furthering their success in assimilation. How is that for not feeling so embarrassed about being number one in something we wish we were not?

When student loans accumulate to nearly $100,000 in debt
for newly graduated students, then something has to give.
Is it radical? YES! It means major change and plenty of it! To that, there can be no denial. Even so, it does work and therefore it is worth it! Don't let anyone who stand to lose a lot of profit from this turnabout ever be convincing that true rehabilitation won't work. Just remind them that their profiteering is killing our country and the globe!

What is more? If we are truly a "Christian Nation," like a lot say, then shouldn't we have policies that reflect mercy, grace, compassion and forgiveness? Would not love be the number one principle, along with liberty and justice, to guide us on our way?

Blessings to you and your loved ones.

Amhas Jackie Douglas+
Fayetteville, AR

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Live Fearlessly!

This post is a part of a post published last Monday, "The Little Apocalypse." It also continues a post from Wednesday, "The Parable of the Talents."

Cèad mìle fàilte romhat. A hundred thousand welcomes to you!

One of the greatest things we can learn from “The Parable of the Talents” is to LIVE FEARLESSLY. Fear causes others to control us, even if that was not the intention of another. We do not think and behave like children of God. We instead allow our fears to dictate how we feel along with what we do and say. It even affects the way we think.

When we live in fear, we will not do things that we normally do. Instead, we go out of our comfort zone to avoid any type of confrontation. This hurts us in more ways than one would think. It causes us to think less of ourselves. We lose confidence. We think that we are not strong enough. Soon, that attitude develops into feelings of worthlessness and shame. Instead of improving on what we are given, we are helpless to the circumstances around us.  This takes on a crippling effect and before long, there will be no way we can free ourselves without getting into an uphill battle in which victory would be slow in coming.

The lazy servant did not invest the money given him. He did not even think to put the talent in a bank to let it draw interest. He kept the focus on the consequences of what could happen if one little part of that talent was lost. Unlike the others, he could not see beyond the fear. He did what any other person with his condition would normally do. He buries his talent under the sands of the desert and hope to God that the problem just goes away. Out of sight, out of mind. Right?

Regardless if we read the Matthew version or the Luke account, it comes out the same. The others have at least doubled the investment. No evidence of fear crippling any of them. They became industrious and as a result, the master sang praises to them. He was proud of them. Those people can become just like him. They can learn. They can expand. There is hope for people like that. They took on the qualities they saw in their master and made it their own.  Herein lies the rub.

Christ lived fearlessly, as he followed the Father. He sees what the Father is doing and does likewise. Not even the pangs of death could deter him from being who he always had been. Now, if we had that kind of resolve, how different would our lives be? We would truly become the masters of our own destiny. How is anyone going to force us to think anything that we would not consider under any other condition, much less say or do? They could suggest all they want. If we do consider, it would be under our terms, because we ourselves have decided to think about it.

When we take on our lives with such mastery, how are we different from the Master himself?

If this or other articles have helped you in anyway, then allow me to make some suggestions. There is a video presentation of this blog. It is called, "The Parable of the Talents." This is an episode of "Anam Cara: Reflections of a Soul Friend" on YouTube. Subscribe to the channel to receive notifications on upcoming episodes. Also, subscribe to this blog here via email to ensure you don't miss out on any new articles coming out.

Until next time, May God and his Mary be with you and your loved ones today, tomorrow; each and every day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Parable of the Ten Talents

This week's Gospel lesson is from St.Matthew 25.14-30. This link will take you to the Bible Gateway site, which I have bookmarked for the Contemporary English Version (CEV) for easier reading. This website also has other versions available. If one is looking for accuracy, I personally recommend the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), which will be here.

This post is also a part of "The Little Apocalypse," posted last Monday.

We read of a master that had to go to another country. What for, we are not told. He does selects three managers out of his slave pool to take care of his estate while he is gone. He gives according to what he figures is the ability and capacity of each. To one, he gives five talents. He gives two to another and one to the third one. The master's absence was long time coming, but when he does show back up, he is pleased with the work of the first two "promoted" managers. They doubled what they had.

The third servant did not do as well. He broke even. The reason: The servant was terrified of losing what the master entrusted to him that he buried the money under the sand. That servant did NOTHING! NADA! ZIP! The master of the house was not happy about that! He ordered that talent stripped and gave it to the first servant who has eleven talents now. The third slave was called worthless and "thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain." When people around the master heard this, they were dumbfounded. The master then said, "Those who have something will be given more. But everything will be taken away from those who don't have anything."

Notice, the master may not portray the Messiah at all, but someone else. If the master was Yeshua (aka Jesus), why would one person get five talents and another only one? Since when was the Messiah a respecter of persons? 

Also something to pay attention to is the idea that the same person who had five talents is the same one who gained five more (or six, if we count the one taken from the last). The same servant who received just a couple was also the same who doubled it and it is the exact same slave that kept that one, not investing in it at all. Even though we see that the master delayed his return, the time wasn't long enough to where one had to be replace due to either retirement or death. Why I bring this point up is because apparently, this parable is evidence of Preterism (see this blog). 

How does this compare to the parallel in the Gospel of Luke? We see similarities that allow us understand that this is the same story, yet it is a retelling of it because it is not the exact same.

For example, we read that some people in general wish to replace the “king” when the master leaves the country. In fact, the reason why the master leaves is to receive some royal title. This is not found in Matthew. In addition, there are 10 pounds, only one to each of the ten servants. However, we see that though everyone gets an equal amount, one multiplies by ten and another multiplies by five. The returning king is pleased with this. 

Then there is that one who neither added nor subtracted, but instead buries the "pound" not "talent" out of fear. That one gets the pound taken away from him and given to the one that has ten. He is called lazy and worthless. When he is stripped of that pound, the other people around are surprised. The king says, "Those who have something will be given more. But everything will be taken away from those who don't have anything." Just like in Matthew. 

Another difference is that Luke has Jesus tell this story right before Palm Sunday, whereas Matthew has Jesus tell the story after the triumphant entry on the donkey. Because of this, in Matthew, this story is in the “Little Apocalypse” portion, but is not included in that portion with Luke. In addition, the king had those people in the community arrested and ordered, "kill them as I watch." All for their petition to remove the master from ruling over them.

Because of these similarities and differences, many scholars wonder if this is the same or a different event. When I see this story told by two different people, it is no surprise that there would be differences. Given the geography, politics and culture of that time, this surely is to be expected.

If we agree that the two stories are actually the same one told differently; then Luke can shed light to the problems we find in Matthew, and vice versa. Let us also remember that these accounts were written a few decades (at the earliest) after the life of the Messiah and that their Gospels actually come from an already existing oral tradition. Matthew was written in one geographic area, Luke in another. Stories in an oral tradition have a tendency to morph and change over time. Somethings get left out, perhaps unintentionally and other elements get emphasized, all depending on the circumstances of that community where the tradition currently resides. With these things in mind, let us also remember that these stories were based upon events that was perceived by the original story tellers. 

At this point, it would be helpful to have a little working knowledge of first century Judea/Galilee, when these parables were being written down. Josephus was a Jewish historian living at that turbulent time. He wrote books regarding the conflicts that was raging in Palestine. He tells us in "The War of the Jews (Book 2, Chapter 14)" that during the mid to late sixties, Gessius Florus was the Roman procurator of Judea who looted the temple, taking many valuables and money. He justified his action by claiming that Nero, the Roman emperor, had been shortchanged by the Temple and demanded his share immediately. The Judeans mocked him. They passed the basket around, taking collections, implying that the procurator was so poor he needed charity. Several others resorted to violence, however. Guerrilla fighters, called Zealots, took to the streets and started a campaign of looting themselves.

A delegation from Jerusalem petitioned Cestius Gallius, the Roman procurator of Syria, to have Florus removed from his post. This attempt was unsuccessful. Many Jews and even Roman citizens in Jerusalem were arrest and crucified through Florus's retaliation. This resulted in riots that got the attention of Rome. General Vespasian and his son Titus led the Roman militia to quell the rebellion. When they were almost finished, Nero died and a civil war broke out. Vespasian went to Rome, fighting for the right to rule. He was victorious in this endeavor and immediately dispatched his son Titus to finish the job in Judea.  

It is in both versions of the parable that the master was ruthless, harsh, taking money that he did not earn and reaping what he did not sow. The third slave was terrified of his master if he were to suffer loss of any kind. That is why the third slave in both accounts did nothing. The "lazy" servant got his master’s wrath anyway. He did not act, did not participate, in his master’s business.

In this light, it does seem plausible that Luke’s master was Procurator Florus, or even General Vespasian. One has to wonder, could be that the Gospel of Luke is describing events taking place in the second half of the first century by cloaking his message in the disguise of the first half? If this is the case, then the writer of the Gospel of Matthew may also be describing the same events, especially since both wrote roughly at that time frame.


When we realize that these Gospel accounts may explain the circumstances were in a veiled fashion, how does that affect the message we get today?  Is there any relevance to us in the twenty-first century, or does it not at all apply?

Subscribe to the Anam Cara: Reflections YouTube channel here

Comments, suggestions or concerns....

Monday, November 17, 2014

Question Regarding Justice and Mercy of God in Regards to Homosexuality

Cèad mìle fàilte romhat! A hundred thousand welcomes to you!
There is a blog that has a letter written by "Angela." She is struggling with a teenage daughter who is attracted to other females. How can she reconcile the love she has for her daughter and yet, at the same time, know that G_d does not approve of these types of relationships? Angela loves her daughter dearly. She ponders over how the Messiah could reject such a sweet, kindhearted person? If anyone wants to read that letter, the blog, "How to Respond When Your Child Says They're Gay" is found by clicking the link. 
I can understand the struggle that Angela is going through. I know someone who is going through the same struggle that Angela and her husband is going through. How does one choose between Christ and their own child?
Just to give an example of what I am talking about, suppose my child robbed a bank and killed a guard in the process. Clearly, what my child did was wrong. Does this mean that I cannot speak on my child's behalf? Perhaps, he was desperate. He wouldn't normally steal anything, much less kill anyone. As a kid, he wouldn't hurt a fly. Then one day, he got sick. Medical doctors gave him pain medication that eventually became an addiction. When the doctors stopped the prescriptions, the child did what he could to manage the his pain.
Yes! Robbing a bank is bad! Killing someone is even worse! One can always return the money (with interest), but if someone dies, you cannot replace a life.
Do I, as a parent, have any right to speak for my child? If so, would a judge consider these circumstances when figuring a sentence that shows justice for everyone? I know the family members of the guard will feel differently and that is understandable. When faced with a choice between that guard and my son, well, honestly, I'm relieved that my son still lives, but I also grieve for the other family.
Now, let us suppose that this judge is G_d and instead of theft and murder, we are talking about homosexuality. Would G_d, being fair that we all know He is, realize that justice without mercy would be the same punishment for everybody across the board? If so, then no one is saved, for we are all sinners.
G_d has in times past shown mercy to those who I feel didn't deserve it, like that thief on the cross. A lifetime of stealing and causing mayhem, yet one statement guaranteed his entrance into Paradise. Therefore, G_d is also merciful along with being just. If G_d shows mercy towards thieves and murderers, would He not also show mercy for gay men and lesbians? Being all knowing and all wise, I can trust in the fact that G_d really knows what is going on inside a person's heart; because life is rarely black and white. There is always the other side to the story.
Then, there is a question regarding homosexual relationships and sin. Despite the many texts used in Scripture to show that homosexuality is a sin, it does remain unclear if some of these texts may be speaking about promiscuity and/or sexual exploitation. In other words, a lifetime commitment of love and intimacy between two adult persons not related to each other might not be a sin at all. The Reformed Celtic Church has an article that explains this in further detail. The article is called, "The Reformed Celtic Church Statement and Policy on Homosexuality and Same-Gender Marriage." 

Of course, one suspects that if mercy comes with justice, then one could come to the conclusion that all will be saved. There is an actual concept in historical Christianity that is commonly called "Universal Salvation." There is an article that explains the history of Universalism in Christianity. Again, just click the link. 

The Messiah was quoting Hosea 6.6 here.
When it comes down to it, the letter kills, but spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3.6)


Thanks for listening. May the peace of our Messiah and Mary be with you and your loved ones.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Little Apocalypse

Apocalypse comes from a Greek word that means "uncovering," or a "revelation." In fact, the New Testament canon has as it's last book, "The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ," which is better known as "Revelation." That whole book is filled with visions that St. John of Patmos (traditionally, the "Beloved Disciple" of the Gospel of St. John) had while under incarceration.

The four horses of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6.1-8). Note the order of Messianic figures, wars, famine and death/natural disasters; then compare them to the beginning of the "Little Apocalypse" (Matthew 24.5ff; Mark 13.6ff and Luke 21.8-11) found below.
Apocalyptic literature is a genre of writings mostly written between 200 BCE to 200 CE. These scriptures are notorious for terrifying images describing conditions of the day, or events that are going to happen, sooner or later. Often times, these images are abstract enough to elicit many different interpretations. It is common to assume that instead of revealing, they remain "hidden," which might have been the intention of the author(s) of these particular works. Those who know the symbols, in other words, people who have been initiated into a mystery, are the ones that can unlock the secrets that lay within.


Many images of the Apocalyptic tradition of Christianity are in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In Matthew, they are found in chapters 24 and 25. In Mark, the chapter is 13. In the Gospel of Luke, it is chapter 21. Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 repeat each other, sometimes verbatim. Since, overall, these places could fill 2 or so chapters and not a book--they are called, "The Little Apocalypse." Matthew 25 has parables that are found no where else, save one, "The Parable of the Talents," found in verses 14-30. That parable is also found in Luke, but in somewhat different telling in an area outside of the Little Apocalypse.

There are basically 4 approaches to interpreting these visions. The first is Preterism. The second is the Historical interpretation. The Future approach is the third one listed. These three have to do different aspects of time. The final one is Philosophical, which is in essence, "timeless."


All of Mark 13 can be found in the other two Gospels. The only one of note is the last few verses which are not found in the Little Apocalypse section of Luke, but is found in chapter 17. Matthew's account is certainly closer to that of Mark, almost word-for-word, except in a few places. Matthew seems to add on to what Mark is saying. This is why Matthew's version of the Apocalypse is longer. Mark is the "Readers Digest" version, only in reverse, because it came first. 

Luke's account has the most differences. Luke has a tendency to place elements outside his section that the others put in their own. Even so, Luke does have something in his chapter 21 that doesn't show up in Matthew's and Mark's account, no matter how similar they do appear to be in title. "Exhortation to Watch" sounds a lot like "Necessity of Watchfulness." These stories are essentially different, however. The "Necessity" as it is presented in both Matthew and Mark, is found elsewhere in Luke (chapter 12), so "Exhortation" is not the same.   


Preterism describes things and events as they are occurring, or at best, a very short term "seeing" into the future, more like forecasting than predicting. Forecasting is different from predicting. Forecasting says the chances are likely to be this way as oppose to that way if current trends continue as they are. Predicting is more fatalistic. It says that things happen because they have to, regardless of the conditions involved. Preterists deny the possibility to "foresee" into the far future. This locks Preterism in the first century of our common era. This approach is popular among Roman Catholics, Episcopalian/Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox and free independent Catholics.

The Historical approach takes the view that one reads history, except looking forward into the future rather than looking back in the past. This allows the Historical school to be relevant for our current day and age as it was for everybody two thousand years ago as well as those who will come after us. Several of the Protestant reformers several centuries ago and a significant amount of mainline churches today take this approach.

The Future interpretation says that most of the prophecies of the Bible cannot be filled until the "end is near." People who take this approach say that the Apocalypse doesn't apply to anybody here today, unless, of course, some of us survive into a period of time commonly known as the "Tribulation," and especially the "Great Tribulation." The Apocalyptic lessons apply to those who live under the reign of a power crazed dictator and a religious leader that dominate the entire globe. Since this has neither happened in the past, nor is concurrent, the Apocalypse doesn't describe what humanity is going through up to this point. As of today, this idea is very popular among conservative evangelicals along with those who endorse any of the "millennial" viewpoints today, whether it be pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib "rapture" of believers.

The only approach that doesn't involve time by itself is the Philosophical approach. Like Preterism, these folks deny the ability to foretell future events. But, we don't have too. What is eternal now was eternal in ages past and will continue to be so in ages ahead. Somethings simply go beyond change. Though it may appear that events and circumstances do morph and evolve as time goes on, things like liberty, justice, peace, joy, love and honesty will always remain defiantly constant. The Philosophical school of thought see these visions and images as a metaphor for spiritual battle that always takes place beyond our normal sight. "Good" will eventually win out because of it's eternal essence.  

Since this week's Lectionary has the Gospel lesson of "The Parable of the Talents" (Matthew 25.14-30), it can be demonstrated that a combination of Philosophical and Preterism is adequate for our purpose of mining for spiritual gems. I'm not saying at this point that the other two are in someway invalid. Discovering the worthiness of all these interpretations will have to wait for another time. All I'm saying is that the first and last are at least valid enough for the insights we seek today.


A YouTube video is being created which will have all these slides and more on there. Also subscribe to the Anam Cara channel to keep up with all the new materials going on there.

UPDATE: The Video Presentation: