March 10, 2017

March 10

March 10, 2017:  Friday, 1st week, Lent



  • 'Clock' tie bar: My soul waits for the Lord (psalm)
  • 'Wood block' tie pin:  whoever calls his brother raqa (see below) will be held accountable (gospel)
  • 'Scales' pin:  Settle on the way to court, or you'll be handed over to the judge... (gospel)
  • 'John's Jokers' tie, 'fire' pin:  Whoever says, "You fool" will be liable to fiery Gehenna (gospel)
  • 'Penny' tie bar:  If  you don't reconcile, you won't get out till you pay the last penny (gospel)
  • Purple tie:  Lenten season

Listen

For Psalm 130
The Holy Spirit leads us into the mystery of the Lordship of Christ:

Series theme:  “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit, who introduces us to the fullness of truth about Jesus and his Paschal mystery.”

“He will bear witness to me”:  We don’t pray that God give us the strength to fast, pray, or do charity but rather to “grow in the knowledge of the mystery of Christ.”  I plan to address the creed's 2nd article, following up on my Advent reflections on its 3rd article.  How does the Spirit lead us into truth about Christ and his paschal mystery, the Savior’s being and work?  We'll try to delve into the Spirit's role in Christ's, and our, death and resurrection.

The creed's 2nd article is "I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.  God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made."  This reflects two stages of faith.  “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ” reflects the earliest faith of the Church after Easter and is the focus of today's sermon; “born of the Father before all ages...” reflects a more evolved stage, after the Arian controversy and the Council of Nicea.


Jesus Christ was manifested as “Son of God in power according to the [work of the] Spirit....”  Paul declares “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Spirit”; he attributes to the Spirit the “insight into the mystery of Christ” given to him and “apostles and prophets.”  “Strengthened... through his Spirit,” believers will be able to “to comprehend... the breadth, length, height, and depth, and know Christ's love....”  Jesus proclaims this work of the Paraclete.  The Spirit will take what's his and declare it to the disciples, remind them of what Jesus said, lead them into truth about Jesus’ relationship with Father, and bear witness to him.  The criterion for recognizing whether something is from God's Spirit or another spirit will be if one acknowledges Jesus come in the flesh.


Some believe the current emphasis on the Spirit could overshadow Christ's work as if it were incomplete, but the Spirit always points to Christ; he never speaks in the first person or establishes a work of his own.  Christ is the Way, Truth and Life; the Spirit helps us understand that!  The Spirit's coming at Pentecost resulted in an illumination of Christ's work and person.  Peter declared, “Let Israel know that God has made [Jesus] both Lord and Christ.  From then on, the early community began to look at Jesus' life, death, and  resurrection differently, as if a veil had been lifted; without the Spirit, they couldn't penetrate the mystery.  Today we Latin Catholics are urged to a deeper understanding of the Spirit's role in the Church, and Orthodox are urged a deeper understanding of Christ's role....

Objective and subjective knowledge of Christ:  In the New Testament, two kinds of knowledge of Christ are outlined, two areas where the Spirit is at work:  objective knowledge of Christ—of his being, mystery, and person—and subjective, practical, and interior knowledge that aims to know what Jesus “does for me” rather than what he “is in himself.”  In Paul, interest in what Christ has done for us, particularly his paschal mystery, predominates; in John, interest in who Christ is predominates:  eternal Logos who was with God and came in the flesh, one with the Father.  But these complementary tendencies only emerge from later developments.

In the patristic age, the Spirit appears as the guarantor of the apostolic tradition concerning Jesus to doctrines introduced by Gnostics.  Irenaeus affirms the Spirit is the gift God entrusted to the Church; those who separate themselves from truth via false doctrine don't partake of him.  Tertullian says the Spirit is the Steward of God, and the Father asked him, and Christ sent him, to teach truth.


During the time of the dogmatic controversies, the Spirit is seen as the custodian of Christological orthodoxy.  The Church had certainty of the Spirit's inspiration in formulating truth about Christ's two natures, the unity of his person, and his complete humanity.  This tendency remains dominant until the Reformation.  The dogmas when formulated were vital, resulting from lively participation by the Church, but once handed down they lost their incisiveness and become formal.  There were wonderful experiences of intimate, personal knowledge of and devotion to Christ like that of Bernard and Francis, but they didn't influence theology much.

The Protestant reformers, reversing the situation, said, “To know Christ is to know his benefits, not to reflect on his natures and the modes of his Incarnation.”  Christ “for me” becomes first place.  Subjective knowledge is contrasted with objective knowledge; “inner witness” from the Spirit about Jesus in the believer's heart is contrasted with the Church's external testimony about Jesus.  When this innovation became transformed later to “dead orthodoxy,” movements like Pietism and Methodism sprang up to revive it.  Believers knew Christ when they, moved by the Spirit, became aware Jesus died “for them,” for each in particular, and they recognize him as their personal Savior.


The Enlightenment brought a 3rd stage of conceiving the relationship between the Spirit and knowledge of Christ:  objective knowledge not ontological but historical; the interest is not in knowing who Jesus is in himself but who he was in history.  The Spirit's “inner witness” became identified instead with reason and the human spirit.  “External testimony” became central, but not the Church's testimony but only history's.  The presupposition was that to find Jesus, you had to look outside the Church.  The "search for the historical Jesus" failed, though it did have positive fruits.  Jesus Christ—and those after him—didn't just live in history but created history and now live in the history they created. Rationalistic historians tried to separate Christ from the history he created, as if you could better perceive a sound by separating it from the wave carrying it.  The history Jesus initiated is the Church's Spirit-animated faith, and we can know its source only through that faith.  Historical research on Christ is still legitimate, but it has its limits; a historian's most honest act is recognizing there's something that can't be reached by history alone.  (continued tomorrow)

Papal retreat
God not only speaks through Jesus but also through Peter, who recognizes Christ as Messiah by revelation.  Do I have the humility to listen to Peter, to listen to each other, attentive to my prejudices but nevertheless attentive to what God wants to say?  Do I listen to others, or just myself?  We need humility to recognize God's voice in others, especially those perceived as weak or subject to prejudice.  How do I discern?  Do I place myself and my personal benefit before God's kingdom?   To listen to and act on God’s will, we must have courage to follow Christ, knowing that it means carrying the cross.  Jesus not only proclaimed resurrection joy but also trial.
Christ’s Passion reveals two types of logic:  Jesus, an observant Jewish layman preparing to celebrate Passover, and the high priests concerned with the feast's outward appearance while preparing to murder an innocent man.  Am I a sacred professional resorting to compromise to save the facade, the institution at the expense of individual rights?  —Fr. Giulio Michelini
Read
  • Ez 18:21-28  If the wicked man turns away from sin and does what's right, he'll live because of the virtue he's practiced; I rejoice when he turns from evil and lives.  But if the virtuous man turns from virtue and does evil, he'll die.  You say, “Not fair!” but it's your ways that are unfair.
  • Ps 130:1-8  "If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?"  Out of the depths I cry to you; hear me!  I trust and wait for you.  God is kind and forgiving and will redeem Israel. 
  • Mt 5:20-26  Your righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees.  It was said, Don't kill, but say, Don't be angry.  Be reconciled with your brother.  Settle with your opponent or you'll be imprisoned.
Reflect

  • Word of the day:  Raqa (rēqā’ or rēqâ, Aramaic, from gospel):  probably 'blockhead' or 'imbecile,' a term of abuse.
    • Creighton:  To be reconciled with others, may we confront our anger, reach out to those who have hurt us or whom we've hurt, and forget old hurts and slights.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "A world of angry men and women":  The anger most people have isn't righteous.  We must repent of it; we can't proceed with worship before we do.  In anger, we stop communicating with God, our faith and love erode, and our spiritual "vitals" decline.  "The sun must not go down on your wrath."  "Don't sadden the Spirit:  get rid of bitterness, passion, anger, harsh words, slander, and malice.  Be kind, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, as God has forgiven you."  "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger..."
    • Passionist:  People used to believe God operated quid pro quo:  if you obeyed the rules, you'd be happy, wealthy, and wise, with a good family and a long life; whatever bad that happened was God’s punishment for your sins.  We now know God doesn't work like that.  The rain falls and the sun shines on the just and the unjust.  Bad things can happen to good people, and vice versa.  But people still ask, “Why did God do this to me?  I don’t deserve it!”  Instead of asking why, I pray, then ask “What now?”....
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Be reconciled, not angry":  The first to hate was Cain, whom God warned.  Sin starts as a seed, grows, and can choke us.  The scribes and Pharisees equated righteousness with keeping the Law's demands, but Jesus points to the heart.  Unless evil desires are uprooted, the heart will be poisoned and the body enslaved.  Murder starts in the heart as the seed of anger that grows into words and actions against another.  Selfish anger broods, nurses grudges, and refuses to die.  If by grace we take away the anger in the heart, there will be no murder.  God who's forgiven us calls us to show mercy and forgiveness to those who harm us.  On the cross Jesus gave us the supreme example of love and overcoming evil.  Only God's love can set us free from pride and revenge.  Lord, set us free and fill us with your love and truth.
    "May I be no one's enemy, and may I be the friend of what's eternal.  May I never quarrel with those nearest me, and if I do, may I be reconciled quickly.  May I love, seek, and attain only what's good.  May I wish for the happiness of all and envy none.  May I never rejoice in the ill fortune of one who's wronged me.  When I've have done or said something wrong, may I never wait for others' rebuke but rebuke myself till I make amends.  May I win no victory that harms me or my opponent.  May I reconcile friends who are angry with one another.  May I never fail a friend in danger.  When visiting those in grief, may I soften their pain with gentle and healing words.  May I respect myself.  May I keep tame what rages within me.  May I be gentle, never angry with people because of circumstances.  May I never discuss who's wicked and what they've done but know and follow good people" (Eusebius)