Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pay Attention

Saturday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time 

Many nations will bind themselves to the LORD on that day.  They will be my people and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.  Zechariah 2:15

“Pay attention to what I am telling you.  The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”  But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.  Luke 9:44-45

Jesus, help me to help rebuilding Your Church and Your World one person at a time.  Hide not your meaning from me.  Amen.

For the city to be rebuilt, means only one thing:  It has to be destroyed first.  This is not a new prophesy.  It is rooted throughout the Hebrew Bible.  

However, when Jesus spoke, the disciples did not know how to translate the scriptures they knew so well from the literal to the figurative.  The prophets from Isaiah forward all talked about the destruction of the temple. 
However, the prophets also taught in human terms of the Messiah coming – another message reaffirmed in today’s reading from the Hebrew Bible.  “I am coming to dwell among you.”   

But the Jewish people thought in human terms.  They were preparing for a King, not the son of a carpenter and peasant girl.  They were expecting vindication and revenge at the hands of a mighty warrior – a warrior who would give them military and political victory, not spiritual victory.  

Now, they have just figured out who this itinerant preacher is – the Messiah dwelling among them!  As soon as they gain this pearl of wisdom, Jesus starts talking about his death.  No wonder the meaning was hidden from them. 

Pope Francis is forcing us as Catholics and others of faith or not to confront the role that religion and spirituality have in our lives.  Some people might not like what this reveals.  Perhaps the meaning is hidden from them.

Just days after his ground-breaking interview with the Jesuit magazine America, the world remains abuzz over its implications.  The popular media are pulling out what they think are ground-breaking terms.  New balance.  House of Cards.   
However, is Francis taking a different direction or just returning the Church to the direction set out by Jesus – the original troublemaker?
Words that jump off the page/screen to me are words like “struggle.”  And “discernment.”  And the image of the Church being the people, not the hierarchy. 

However, just days after this interview hit the newsstands and conscience of the world, another event took place.  Providence College in Rhode Island cancelled a lecture about same-sex marriage. 

Does that sound like people are trying to strike a new balance or just revert to the old, authoritarian ways?  Jesus never cared about being seen with the sinners, or the tax collectors.  Yet some of the leaders of our Church still seem set keeping everything sterile.  did not "endorse" sin when he set down with Matthew.  He endorsed change.  How can we effect any change of heart or mind if we shy away from sitting down and talking with those who disagree with the Church.  

Maybe that's why one of my favorite characters in the Good News is Nicodemus.  Even though Nicodemus went under the cover of darkness to learn from Jesus, he had the encounter nonetheless -- an encounter which led him to try to open the eyes of the Pharisees.  An encounter which also led him to the foot of the cross when the other disciples were in hiding.  

Would the elders of Providence College cancelled that encounter, too?  I doubt Pope Francis would. 

As people start letting the epiphany of Peter sink into our consciousness and the words of the former Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio take root, it also will take time for reform to take place.  Until then, the meanings remain hidden. 

So now is a perfect time for us to consider not the ways of others but the ways of ourselves.  How can we be the Church we want to see in others?  How can we join ourselves to the LORD, to become his servants? 

For to be rebuilt, not only requires the destruction of the temple.  But then, we must work, brick-by-brick, stone-by-stone, person-by-person.   Starting with you.

As in Revelation, we may never see the temple.  Because if we are the Church, we have no need for the literal building.  “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.  The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.”  Revelation 21:22-23

The other striking image of that America interview with Pope Francis is how he reflected on a painting of the call of Matthew that hangs in the Church of St. Louis of France.  Pope Francis says he went there to contemplate the painting of ‘The Calling of St. Matthew,’ by Caravaggio.

“That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.” Here the pope becomes determined, as if he had finally found the image he was looking for: “It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff.” Then the pope whispers in Latin: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”

What is the hidden meaning of that finger when it points to us?  Pay attention to what it is telling us.  Pay attention to what Jesus is telling us. 

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