St. Johnstide

Sharing with you the reading for St. Johnstide and a Homily from the Christian Community

July 3, 2011  — 2nd St. Johnstide

Luke 3: 7-18

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You are sons of the serpent yet! Who led you to believe that you can avoid the decline of the old ways of the soul? Produce true fruits in keeping with a change of heart and mind. And do not begin excusing yourselves by saying, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you that God can raise up sons for Abraham out of these stones. The ax is already poised at the root of the trees, so every tree that does not produce good fruit is felled and thrown into the fire.”

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

“Do not collect any more than you are authorized to do,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Do not intimidate and do not accuse people falsely-be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ, the Messiah.

John answered them all, “I wash you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will wash you with the breath of the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, while he burns up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

And with many and various exhortations John preached the good news to the people.


2nd St. Johnstide

July 6, 2008

Luke 3: 7-18

There are certain parts of the soul that we share with the animal kingdom: the need for food, for reproduction, the need to exert power and defend our territory. If these animal parts of the soul rule us, they can become insatiable beasts who overtake our lives and enslave the self. Our truly human task is to tame the beasts; not to kill to them, but to become master over them.

John the Baptist encourages us to put ourselves through a change of heart and mind, that is, to work at recalibrating the balance between the head, the lower nature and the heart.

The mind, the rational, clever intellect, is gifted in supporting our own interests. But it can become a servant of the beasts, a ravenous taker and collector, even a destroyer.

The heart’s great joy is in giving. The heart enjoys pouring itself out. In extremes, it can foolishly empty the giver.

In this reading, John suggests establishing a balance between giving and taking, between heart and head. He suggests that we set limits to our taking and collecting. Let the one who has more than they really need give to those who have none. The soldiers and the tax-collectors, who in those days were not regulated, were enjoined to take no more than was in truth their due.

To set self-limits in food and clothing, and in the exercise of power, is to begin to tame the wild beasts of the soul’s desire. Increasing the capacity for self-control strengthens the sovereignty of the self over the greedy beasts of our lower nature. Paradoxically, it is this sovereignty of the self that strengthens the capacity to give of ourselves. For without self-possession, there can be no true giving, no balance between self and others, between head and heart. Without self-possession there can be no brotherhood or equality. For it is the sovereign, enlightened self which wisely chooses when to give and when to take.

This balanced, sovereign self can then come to recognize that other, greater Self, the I AM, He who was and is and is coming. He it is who, in the words of St. Francis, is

…Our true and living Master.

Love and lover manifest.

Wisdom and the wise.

The humble and the patient,

Beauty beckoning. Gentle shelter.

The peace and joy and hope of all.

Just and moderate, you are our

treasure, all sufficient. Protector

and the shield of our souls.[1]

[1] St. Francis of Assisi, ( 1182 – 1226), “The Reach to Speak His Name.” in Love’s Immensity, Scott Cairns, p. 81.

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