Feast of Saint Hubert


hubertus
Patron of Hunters & Dogs
October 26, 2014

Hubert (657 – 727 AD)  was the self-absorbed heir of the Duchy of Aquitaine in the 600’s. He was obsessed with hunting and went every day. Hubert could not restrain himself even in Lent continuing the chase during the forty days of self-denial. He crossed the line when he when he chased an enormous stag on Good Friday. With his dogs in full cry he pursued the deer – only to have the animal stop and turn. In the stags antlers was a crucifix – and the animal spoke said essentially, “Hubert if you don’t get your act together you are going to Hell!”

This young man got more than he expected on that Good Friday hunt. He became a priest and then a bishop and followed Jesus as a hunter of Men.

Jame Tissot  "And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright." (Genesis 25:30-31)

James Tissot
“And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.” (Genesis 25:30-31)

In the OT reading, Isaac and Rebecca had twin sons, Esau and Jacob:
Esau was a hairy man’s man – a mighty hunter – a Bubba – with gun-racks (or in this case bow-racks) on his chariot.

Jacob was a momma’s boy – staying at home reading cook books, while there is nothing wrong with cooking and many of the great chefs are male, the little brother has not yet begun to move from the nurture of childhood into the journey toward man-hood.

Esau and Jacob are the twin issues of men not leaving home and not growing up AND leaving home but not growing up either.

Esau comes home down and very hungry from a hunt having bagged nothing. Jacob has cooked up a pot of red lentils which must have smelled better than I imagine, so he says he’s dying can he have some of the, literally, red-red stuff. Jacob says sure big brother, it’s yours if you will give me the birth-right making me the eldest of the two of us and the heir. So Bubba did it despising his birth-right.

Esau could read the signs in the field but he could not discern the signs in his own life, does not connect to the deepest issues of his heart. In this we, especially men, are the sons of Esau who sell our treasure without considering its value.

The twin’s grand-father, Abraham, was a great hunter. Although there is no mention of his hunting game – he stalked a greater prize – a country promised by God and left everything behind to go and hunt the place that God promised. By faith he left home not knowing where he was going – and he went

Faith is the evidence of things not seen – Abraham is the type of this for believers ever since – today the religions count him as their spiritual ancestor. Abraham is the grand-father of hunters and from him the lore and the art of spiritual hunting is our legacy and our inheritance.

emblemWhat are we hunting when we go hunting and who is hunting us when we go hunting? Hunting is a metaphor for growing up and going on adventure – the goal being maturity and wholeness.

Jesus is God’s best and most complete attempt to come and hunt so that we and all who have ever lived and ever will live may be saved. After all, he said he came to seek and to save that which was lost. He of course tended to bring them back alive as he told the fishermen by the lake, “come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men;” of course he could just as easily told a party of hunters to follow him and he would make them hunters of men.

This hunting metaphor becomes the metaphor of evangelism. While hunting and feeding on the animal becomes the language of sacrament, “behold the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” AND Jesus’ admonition, “eat my body and drink my blood” has been practiced by Christians ever since. In matters of faith as in nutrition you are what you eat.

Zacchaeus

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is passing through Jericho, the oldest continuous human settlement on the planet. Here the trade routes from Africa, Asia and Europe intersect. And wherever the trade goes the tax-collector follows.

Rome said, “Come and follow me and I will make your taxers of men.” Tax-collecting was a franchise with a stated amount required by the state, whatever else the tax-man could squeeze out of the traffic was his to keep; and trust me they could squeeze quite a lot – Zacchaeus was the head-taxer and therefore filthy rich.

He goes out to see Jesus and he is a little man so the crowd no doubt made sure he couldn’t see (the sort of petty revenge taken by the weak on the powerful). But Zac didn’t get where he was because of his dignity or passivity so he shinnied up a sycamore tree. As Jesus came along he looked up and realized that he has treed something or this case someone.

Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come on down, I’m inviting myself and a bunch of my closest friends to lunch.” The text doesn’t record the reaction of Mrs. Zacchaeus when her husband showed up with all those strangers.

After lunch, Zacchaeus – I will give half of all I have to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone [of course he had], I will pay them four times as much. You see that when you are hunted and treed by Jesus things change, they change for the better and they they change in a hurry.

In 1492 Columbus set sail to the west to find the orient only to run into the Americas, and in that case for the explorer, as the tax-collector in Jericho, what he found turned out to be better than what he was looking for.

The Vision of Saint Hubert - Jan Brueghel - after Rubens

The Vision of Saint Hubert – Jan Brueghel – after Rubens

Saint Hubert heard the call of God and laid down his bow and took the hunt for souls, even as Jesus called the disciples. Let us seek God knowing that we find be found by Him and know that he sent his Son so that we might be…

…brought back alive – in fact more alive than we have ever been before – to have life and that life abundantly; may that be the ultimate concern of all hunting. In the name of God… Amen

What I have learned so far…

Virtues - Louis Comfort Tiffany

Virtues – Louis Comfort Tiffany

At sixty-two years of age, I know now that all Christians are more alike than they are different.  The things in which we differ are few but strongly held AND by focusing on them appear to radically different from those over there who (as they differed from us) must therefore be wrong.  There is a safety (even smugness) in such certitude.

Love is Faith PersonifiedOne of the problems with such is that it promotes the opposite of the thing desired or at least claimed. Certainty is not faith!  In truth certainty is the very opposite of faith.  The Epistle to the Hebrews puts it like this, [11:1] Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. As a priest, how many times have I have listened to the quasi-confession of some believer who tells me their doubts and struggles in following Jesus ending with a line like, “So John, I just can’t live the Christian life!”  I say, “No, what you see as unfaith is ACTUALLY the life of faith.  The doubt you have is an essential part of the economy of salvation.

Because it doesn’t feel certain they feel they don’t have faith.  In truth they appear to me to have faith in contrast to those more certain. So long as we live in pure contradiction by definition someone must right and wrong.  That is not to say that there is neither right nor wrong.  It is necessary to choose.  What is unnecessary is to make a point of view into an ideology!

Beloved, Let us make faith our constant companion and she will joined by her closest confidants, hope and joy. Against such company there can be no condemnation.

JWS

Scripture Speaks to Scripture

Saint Maximus of Turin

One of the fun parts of research is that you happen upon really good stuff.  I am digging through the Church Fathers (at least in English) looking in particular at how they handled Scripture and the whole economy of following Jesus. Today I came across this passage from a sermon by Maximus of Turin on the Marriage Feast at Cana story recorded in John 2:1-11.

“Addressing the expectant servants, he said, “Fill the jars with water.” The servants promptly obeyed, and suddenly in a marvelous way the water began to acquire potency, take on color, emit fragrance and gain flavor – all at once it changed its nature completely! Now this transformation of the water from its own substance into another testified to the powerful presence of the Creator.

Icon of the Marriage Feast at Cana – John 2:1-3

Only he who had made it out of nothing could change water into something whose use was quite different. Dearly beloved, have no doubt that he who changed water into wine is the same as he was from the beginning has thickened it into snow and hardened it into ice. It is he who changed it into blood for the Egyptians and bade it flow from the dry rock for the thirsty Hebrews – the rock that, newly transformed into a spring was like a mother’s breast refreshing with its gentle flow a countless multitude of people.”

Sermon 23 Maximus of Turin