The word Tao indicates the moral, ethical, and spritual “path” or “way” of Eastern philosophy. Can you follow the “way”? You’ll ultimately be safe if you do (perhaps it’s not an accident that the first word to describe the Christian faith was odos, the Way...).
You will get to read this the weekend after I have my knee replacement—needless to say, I would not be very equipped to write a serious essay while on pain meds! This time, I want to offer you a “Top Ten” list of favorite Scripture passages that both challenge and console. They are in no particular order. And: this list is certainly not “exhaustive”—I have other passages that I lean on and love!
What can we reasonably give to be self-sacrificing for the Body of Christ even as Christ was for us? Can we do a little more? And how might we give of ourselves beyond a financial donation? This sense of generosity is truly “catholic charity.” We hear the passages all the time, but I will repeat a few of the key phrases: “What you did for the least of these...” “Which of these proved to be neighbor to the man...?” “The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.” And finally, the words we all long to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
We have moved from purple to white/gold and now to green in the last several weeks. Why do we do this? We have done (and not done) special music—is there a reason? Surely there is, and that’s what I want to share with you this time.
Once again we have a special “confluence” of liturgical celebrations, with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (aka, New Year’s Day) followed immediately by Epiphany (aka, Three Kings Day). There is some additional association with them in my mind, beyond their location in the calendar this year.
Why did they gather? Why do we gather? If it’s only for “entertainment” of any form, Sunday football is a better option. But if we come to serve and honor our Lord and not be served (the typical term for this is “being fed”), we’re missing the point. The word “liturgy,” after all (from the original Greek) means service. It’s our service of worship and praise to God in Jesus Christ, and our enablement to serve the Lord in our brothers and sisters. Let’s keep things in perspective, please. Let’s re-examine our quality of commitment to the Gospel and Jesus Christ.
Here, then, is the bottom line: we are called to be community in the Spirit for the sake of evangelization, of testifying to the truth of the Gospel; to be active members of the Body of Christ; to be people of the Beatitudes, living witnesses to the reality of the Kingdom. We cannot do this alone! This is where any “me and Jesus” theology fails. We must come together in solidarity in order to be credible. This is why we cannot be satisfied with live-streamed Eucharist and on-line tithing; physical presence is critical because we need to be reminded that we are not alone. Together, we can accomplish things for the Kingdom that we cannot accomplish by ourselves.
And that brings us back to the key word in the older translation of this prayer: “joyful.” We can’t imagine it, but we are confident in its reality. Our Advent preparation for the remembrance of His coming once in Bethlehem is rooted in our expectation (blessed hope, joyful hope) of that day when our Lord will call to us, in the greatest love we can never imagine. “Come ye, blessed of my Father; inherit the Kingdom…”
It’s the First Sunday of Advent—a new liturgical year for the Church. How does our liturgical year work? The first place to consider is our Lectionary—the source of all Scripture readings for Mass and the Sacraments. Here I’m concerned only with the Mass.
Jesus Christ is our King: not a president or a prime minister or a governor—He is of royal lineage from eternity, and He is also our High Priest and ultimate Prophet, speaking God’s Word to us since He IS the Eternal Word. Christ Jesus, Victor! Christ Jesus, Ruler! Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer! AMEN!
The lesson for us is not about what we’re willing to give; it’s about what we’re not willing to give. Go back again to the rich (young) man on the one hand, and blind Bartimaeus on the other. Which one would we rather want to be? Which one are we more likely to be? Fantasy time: wouldn’t it be great if the poor widow and Bartimaeus met and got married??
When Hamlet waited to see if his father’s ghost would appear to him, Horatio mocked the idea that the guards had actually encountered the murdered king. But Hamlet’s (and Shakespeare’s) reply is meaningful here: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (I, v). Some of those “things” might well be beings of both heaven and earth, after all. If we believe in the Resurrection, if we believe in Christ raised up in glory, if we believe that there are saints and angels, then why might they not want to consort (anonymously, invisibly) with us? Who would you want to see at your death-bed, to guide you and welcome you to heaven?
The Holy Father truly wants a listening Church—one that listens to the whole Church. He is willing to face the risks, given the benefits of becoming a Church fully alive in communion, in mission, and in participation. What might the Church look like if this vision were to become a reality? The Church is called to be far more than prelates and Vatican officials; we (yes, we!) are called to be Church.
I’ll offer more of Pope Francis’ insights and desires down the line. Just know (which you do, if you heard my “Office Chat” either from Constant Contact or Our Savior’s Facebook page) that we will be taking participation seriously at Our Savior. For the entire “People of God” to be heard, the entire “People of God” need to speak.
What’s the answer to divorce? Hint: it’s not stronger pre-marriage preparation on the part of priests. It’s a more solid engagement (pun intended) of the couple before marriage—learning who each other is, and not just in (not even primarily) bed. Get to know each other spiritually, intellectually, emotionally—then figure out if marriage is right/reasonable for you both. Then you won’t have to worry about divorce—at least, not so much.