Saturday, May 27, 2017

7th Sunday of Easter

Slovenia celebrates the Feast of the Ascension on Thursday.  Different readings for those dioceses that celebrate Ascension on Sunday.  In the U.S. much of the Northeast Coast (Boston, Philadelphia, and Hartford plus some others) continue to celebrate the feast on Thursday rather than moving it to Sunday. . . a move I've never understood.  

Ps 27:1,4, 7-8
Jn 17:1-11

Thursday was the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, a feast that marks forty days from Jesus’ resurrection.  One week from today we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.  With that feast the Easter Season will be over. 

The day after Pentecost the Church will resume ordinary time visibly symbolized by the priest's green vestments rather than white.  Ordinary time will continue through the summer and autumn until the new liturgical year begins on December 3, the first Sunday of Advent.  During the fifty days after Easter many of the readings come from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John. 

Acts was written by Luke the Evangelist, the same Luke as wrote the Gospel.  Acts gives us a window into the early life of the Church.  We see the interpersonal and social dynamics that brought together--and sometimes split apart--a community that recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Promised One, the Christ. 

The formation and growth of the early Church wasn’t always smooth. Sinful human nature raised its head more than once in those early years.  It continues to do so at times today. But despite the challenges the community grew rapidly as it spread the Gospel throughout the universe.  Something unique was identified in this group.  Something that had never been seen before.  As a result we heard in the reading from Acts two weeks ago  “It was at Antioch that they were first called Christians.” The giving of that name was crucial.

Once a group has a name it can begin to assume an identity.  Once an individual has a name, he can establish a way of being and a way of proceeding. Once we as a group or as individuals have a name we become rooted in history.  The name Christian took root and has continued for two millennia despite attempts to erase it.  It will continue for another two millennia despite attempts to erase it unless Christians themselves cooperate with efforts to bury the name by coming to understand themselves as just another religion among all others.

Acts gives us history in the broadest sense of the term.  John's Gospel gives us Christology, an understanding of Jesus. That Christology is different from what we find in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  It is as important.  The Gospel just proclaimed was verses 1 to 11 of the 17th chapter of the John's Gospel.   Chapter seventeen of John is unique. It has no parables, stories, or discourse.  There is no instruction or dialogue with the apostles.  The entire chapter is one long prayer from Jesus to the Father. It is worth reading slowly at home. 

"Now this is eternal life,
that they should know you, the only true God,
and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ."

"Now this is eternal life . . . "

Eternal life is not some distant far-away place.  Eternal life has nothing to do with Dante's Divine Comedy, a work that can be described as exquisite poetry but terrible theology.  When Jesus described eternal life in this prayer that he made shorty before entering into His passion, he repeated  what he had said earlier in the Gospel.

"Who believes in the Son has eternal life." (3:36)
"Who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me
has eternal life." (5:24)

The late Jesuit Father Stanley Marrow wrote in his commentary on the Gospel of John as follows:  "To believe in and to know the one whom God has sent does not lead to or result in eternal life. It is eternal life."

That is a powerful statement. To believe in the one whom the Father sent . . . is eternal life. It suggests that as we come to believe in Christ, the one sent by the Father, we know eternal life, not as a promised reward after death, but as the life we live here and now. Thus, death is not the beginning of eternal life.  Death continues the eternal life that began when we came to believe in and to know the one sent by God, Jesus, Son of the Father, Son of Mary, Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Redeemer.

The psalmist shows he understood this when he wrote:

"One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord
 and contemplate his temple."

"To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life"

Not after my life has ended but all the days of my life as it is in this moment and in every moment more that I live; a dwelling that will continue after my death.

Fr. Jože frequently picks up a few blooms for the dinner table.  This was his most recent effort.  

The Central Market in LJ, a short walk from the house, has many flower sellers.  Those who sell flowers for planting are clustered in one area.  The sellers of fresh cut flowers are alongside the cathedral where there is little sun. 

The market sells a lot of produce as well.  

Just on the other side of the market is "Odprta Kuhna" (Open Kitchen) which consists of about 30 or so stalls that sell all kinds of food, Slovenian as well as other ethnicities.  I couldn't help thinking of the poor woman in Portland, OR (a city with more crazies per square mile than any other) who was forced to close her burrito stand because of "Cultural Appropriation," whatever the hell that means except someone is looking for something to whine about.  Maybe she should move here.  Couldn't get a good photo of the woman making tortillas and things because tourists kept walking in front of the camera.  The potatoes looked great.  Next to them was an entire pig that was roasting.  Tried to get a photo when the grill master took off the lid to turn it.  A blue-haired tourist lady got in my way.  "Father, do not throw an old woman to the ground."  

Potica (po TEETS uh).  A Slovenian defining food.  It is good.  Actually it is superb. 

I call this Roses and Lemonade.  Many attempts to get a shot without a tourist walking through it.  

A recently vacated table.  For some reason used tables are a source of fascination. 

One of my favorite streets when walking home from the train at night.  A little funkier than along the river.  

Keep those veterans who died in the service of the U.S. and those who served and returned home in your prayers this weekend. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

1 comment:

  1. Dear Catholic Crusader,

    Five hundred years ago in 1517, Martin Luther made public his 95 complaints against the Roman Catholic church (hereafter, RCC). Today, we shall do likewise, with another 95 reasons. However, in this critique, we will exclusively fixate on the nucleus of all Catholic doctrine called, Transubstantiation. This teaching is built on the premise that when the priest utters “This is my body” over bread and wine that the “combustible” syllables of these four words ignite with such power and energy that, unbeknownst to our cognizant senses, the substance of bread and wine miraculously change (“by the force of the words” says the Council of Trent; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1375). They are then abruptly replaced with something else entirely; namely, the very body, blood, soul and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ in some mysterious form which leaves only the outward appearance of bread and wine (i.e., the color, shape, size, taste, weight and texture -- or "accidental" properties, remain unchanged in objective reality). It is claimed that the supernatural power that creates this miracle on a daily basis, 24 hours a day in Masses worldwide, “is the same power of Almighty God that created the whole universe out of nothing at the beginning of time” (Mysterium Fidei, 47). The question is: does the sacred rhetoric of Jesus lead us to conclude He intended it be recited like a magician recites his incantations? (Reason 6, 74). That at the recitation of these four words, the world is obligated to be transfixed on Transubstantiation???

    We should think that a rollercoaster of 95 reasons against this doctrine should at least pique your curiosity, let alone make you wonder if, like the calmness of a ferris wheel, you can so calmly refute them. The issue is far from inconsequential, since it’s claimed our very eternal destinies are at stake. So while sensitive to the fact that many are captivated by this doctrine, we are persuaded that the theological framework of the Bible conveys a persistent and vigorous opposition to this theory. God's word tells us to, "study to show yourself approved" (2 Tim 2:15) and we have indeed done just that.

    The almost “romantic fidelity” to Transubstantiation springs forth from the opinion that consuming the “organic and substantial” body of Christ in the Eucharist is necessary for salvation (CCC 1129 & 1355; Trent, "Concerning Communion", ch. 1 and “Concerning Communion Under Both Kinds”, ch. 3; Canon 1; Mysterium Fidei, intro). Our burden here is to safeguard the gospel (Jude 1:3). If a religious system professing to be Christian is going to demand that something be done as a prerequisite for eternal life, it is vital to scrutinize this claim under the searchlight of Scripture and with “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Proverbs 25:2 says, "the honor of a king is to search out a matter". We shall do likewise.

    Determined to test all things by Holy Writ (1 Thess 5:21; Acts 17:11, 2 Cor 10:5), the following 95 reasons have been compiled to an extravagant length to provoke you to consider the cognitive complexities of this doctrine which we conclude are biblically unbearable. We are so convinced the Bible builds a concrete case against this superstition, that we will not allow the things we have in common to suppress the more urgent need to confront the differences that divide us, such as Transubstantiation. We are told this issue directly impacts our eternal destiny, so it must not be ignored. The Lord Jesus came to divide and conquer by the truth of His word. He said, "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division" (Luke 12:51-53).

    For the full essay of 95 reasons, kindly e-mail me at