Saturday, July 25, 2015

But Not

We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:8-11

“But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:26-28


RSB Chapter 45: On Those Who Make Mistakes in the Oratory

When anyone has made a mistake while reciting a Psalm, a responsory, an antiphon or a lesson, if he does not humble himself there before all by making a satisfaction, let him undergo a greater punishment because he would not correct by humility what he did wrong through carelessness.


The cultural contradictions of Christianity are front and center in today’s readings and in our daily lives. 

A new survey is out that supposedly shows the “popularity” of Pope Francis is on the decline.  Two months ahead of his first trip to the U.S., Pope Francis' approval rating among Americans has plummeted, driven mostly by a decline among political conservatives and Roman Catholics, according to a new Gallup poll released Wednesday.[i]  When the poll was under way, Francis, the first Latin American pope, was on a homecoming tour through South America that especially unsettled conservatives, reported the Associated Press.

Something tells me that Pope Francis could not care LESS who he “unsettles.”  He is following the sandaled-footsteps of a certain unpopular son of a Jewish carpenter (who won no straw polls among the political or religious establishment of his day).  James’ mother can attest to that. She wants what every mother wants for he son – a position befitting a mother’s exalted image of her son. She wants James and his brother to have a seat of honor.  She is no more likely to win such high honors for her sons than was Mary of Nazareth likely to see her son rule Jerusalem.

People loved Jesus when he said things that they wanted to hear. However, they walked away in the shadows when he said what they did not want to hear.  The rich man. The Pharisees. The scribes. Herod. Not. Not. Not. The same was true of the prophets before and after…all the way up to Pope Francis.  He is popular with the traditional and modern Catholics when he says things with which they agree.  However, unlike politicians who live for the NEXT election, Pope Francis must live for his LAST election.

St. Paul confronted a similar legacy as explained by the notes to the New American Bible.  “He must reconcile the difficulty that his present existence does not appear glorious at all; it is marked instead by suffering and death. He asserts his faith in the presence and ultimate triumph of life, in his own and every Christian existence, despite the experience of death.” For St. Paul, the negative never completely prevails. There is always hope because Christ lives in us and we live in Christ.


We have all seen those Russian nesting dolls…you know, the kind where the smaller doll fits inside the bigger doll and so on…like the ones pictured here. Today’s readings remind me of the holy family with Jesus nesting inside Mary.  Then, when we receive the Eucharist, Jesus nests inside us.  Then, when we receive the Eucharist, we nest inside Jesus so that he still lives in the world.

The hopeful words and spirit of Jesus live on even through the Good News, the epistles of St. Paul, the encyclicals of our Pope or (we hope) through the random blogging of his servants. However, it has to jump off the page, too.

How will Jesus nest in you today so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh?  How will you be a slave to the Word?  How will you help Jesus nest in the world?  How will you nest in Jesus?

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