November 4, 2017

Charles Borromeo

November 4, 2017:  St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop

  • 'Phone' tie bar:  God's 'call' is irrevocable (1st reading)
  • 'Classroom' tie:  Blessed those you teach, Lord (psalm)
  • 'Heart' pin:  Judgment shall be with justice, and the upright of heart shall follow it. (psalm)
  • 'Silverware' tie bar:  Jesus dined at a Pharisee's house... (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  ...and they were observing him carefully (gospel)
  • 'Prize' pin:  Jesus to guests choosing places of honor:  "Don't recline in the place of honor" (gospel)
  • White shirt:  St. Charles Borromeo memorial


For the gospel

For Psalm 94
From the Vatican

In the spirit of today's 1st reading, recall "The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" on Christian-Jewish dialogue (continued from yesterday)

"God's gifts and call are irrevocable":  A reflection on theological questions pertaining to Catholic-Jewish relations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate #4 (NA4)

Special status of Jewish-Catholic dialogue:  Christianity's Jewish roots determine our relationship.  The Church has continuity with Israel.  The Jews are our “elder brothers,” our “fathers in faith.”  Jesus was a Jew, shaped by Judaism; so were his first disciples.  Jesus proclaimed the coming of God's Kingdom.  Judaism had many ideas about how the kingdom would be realized, but Jesus’ message was in accord with some Jewish thinking of the day.  You need the context of Jewish tradition to understand Jesus’ teaching.  Many Jews considered Jesus the promised Messiah, but his coming provoked a drama we still feel the consequences of.  Human, a Jew, descendant of Abraham, son of David, shaped by the tradition of Israel, prophets' heir, Jesus stands in continuity with his people and history.  But in the light of Christian faith, he is God and transcends time and earthly reality.  We confess his divinity.  In this sense he is perceived to be in discontinuity with history, but he fulfills and transcends the hope of Israel.  The fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity is in how we regard Jesus.  Jews see Jesus as a Jewish teacher called to preach God's Kingdom of God, but they don't see that the Kingdom came in him.  The conflict between Jesus and the Jewish authorities was about his claim to divine authority.  Jesus remains for Jews the ‘stumbling block,’ the neuralgic point in our dialogue.  Jesus’ Jewish origins make it essential that Christians come to terms with Judaism.

Jewish-Christian dialogue is termed ‘interreligious’ but isn't really between intrinsically separate religions.  Judaism nurtured both Jews and Christians.  We have the same 'mother' and are like siblings who have developed differently.  Israel's Scriptures are integral to both Judaism and Christianity; we both understand them as God's word, revelation, and salvation history.  The first Christians were Jews; they gathered in the Synagogue, observed the dietary laws, the Sabbath, and were circumcised, while confessing Jesus as Messiah.  With Paul the ‘Jewish Jesus movement’ transcended its Jewish origins, and gradually it was seen that non-Jews didn't have to become Jews to confess Christ.  The one Church of Christ had "Jewish Christians" and "Gentile Christians."  The separation of Church from the Synagogue may not have been complete till the 3rd or 4th century, so many Jewish Christians didn't see a contradiction between Jewish tradition and confessing Jesus as the Christ.  Once Gentile Christians were the majority, and Jewish polemics about Jesus became sharper, separation developed.  The 'siblings' grew apart and became hostile to each another.  Christians regarded Jews as damned and blind, unable to recognize Jesus as Messiah and Savior;  Jews saw Christians as heretics who no longer followed God's path.  They became increasingly alienated, even involved in conflict and accusing each other of abandoning God's path.

Many Church Fathers held supersessionism:  that God's promises no longer apply to Israel because it had not recognized Jesus as Messiah, but only to the Church of Christ
.  We became involved in a theological antagonism until Vatican II; with NA4 we professed our Jewish roots within a new theological framework.  While affirming salvation through (explicit or implicit) faith in Christ, we don't question God's love for Israel.  The tension between us has been transformed into dialogue.  There have been attempts to identify supersessionism in Hebrews, but that letter is actually directed to Jewish Christians who had become uncertain, not to Jews, to strengthen their faith and encourage perseverance, by pointing to Christ as the ultimate high priest, mediator of the new covenant.  This context is necessary to understand its contrast between the first covenant and a second better better and new covenant.  The first is defined as outdated, in decline, and doomed; the second, everlasting.  To establish this contrast, Hebrews refers to the promise of a new covenant in Jeremiah.  This demonstrates Hebrews doesn't disprove Old Covenant promises but considers them valid.  The references were to assure Christians of their salvation.  At issue is not the contrast of the Covenants or between the church and Judaism but between Christ's eternal priesthood and transitory earthly priesthood.  The issue is a Christological interpretation of the New Covenant.  So NA4 referred to Paul's reflections instead of Hebrews.  Our relationship with Judaism can be seen catalyst for our relationship with other religions, but it has a different character.  We don't see Judaism as another religion but the foundation of our faith, though Jesus is our key to interpreting the Old Testament.  Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith.  But dialogue with Judaism occupies a unique position for us:  Christianity is connected at the root with Judaism as with no other religion.  So though we may call Jewish-Christian dialogue 'interreligious,' it's more 'intra-religious,' 'intra-familial':  “Judaism isn't ‘extrinsic’ to us but in a way ‘intrinsic.’  We have a relationship with Judaism we don't have with any other religion.  You're our beloved brothers and, in a way, our elder brothers (Pope St. John Paul II).

Revelation in history as God's Word in Judaism and Christianity:  God presents his plan of salvation in the Old Testament.  It's expressed in the call to Abraham  To reveal himself and speak to us, redeem us from sin and gather us together as one people, God began by choosing and setting apart the Israelites, revealing himself to them through his prophets as the one, true, living, redeeming God.  Only after God's first great intervention, the liberation from slavery and the establishment of the covenant at Sinai did the tribes truly become a nation conscious of being God's people, bearers of his message, and witnesses of his favor.  To teach them how to live, God gave them the law.

Like today's Church, Israel bears the treasure of its election in fragile vessels.  Israel's relationship with God is a story of faithfulness and unfaithfulness.  To save them despite their weakness, God manifested mercy and gifts and stayed faithful to his promises.  At every stage, God set apart a ‘small number,’ a ‘remnant,’ a handful of faithful who ‘have not bowed to Baal,’ to realize his saving plan.  Through the chosen people all humanity is gathered and led to God.  The Church is "God's new people" (NA4), but the Israelites remain chosen.  The Church was prepared throughout the history of the Israelites and the Old Covenant; she represents the fulfillment of God's promises to Israel, but that doesn't mean Israel is no longer God's people.  “Though the Church is God's new people, God didn't reject or curse the Jews” (NA4).

God revealed himself in his Word, so people may understand and respond to it and be in right relationship with him.  For Jews the Word can be learned through the Torah and traditions based on it.  Whoever observes the Torah has fullness of life and has a share in communion with God.  “Christian confessions find unity in Christ; Judaism, in the Torah.  Christians believe Christ is God's Word made flesh; for Jews the God's Word is above all in Torah.  Both traditions are founded in God, who reveals himself through his Word.  In seeking a right attitude towards God, Christians turn to Christ and Jews to Torah.  Judaism and Christianity are two ways God’s people can make the Hebrew Scriptures their own; the Hebrew Scriptures are open to both ways.  A response to God’s word in line with either tradition can open up access to God.  Scripture testifies to God's will for universal salvation.  Christians proclaim Christ’s saving work is universal.  God’s word is one reality that takes form in each historical context.  Christians affirm Christ is God's living Torah.  Torah and Christ are God's Word, his revelation for us as testimony of love.  Christians hold Christ's preexistence as Word and Son is fundamental, and rabbinical tradition holds that Torah and Messiah's name existed before creation.  Jews understand that God interprets Torah in the Eschaton, while Christians understand everything is recapitulated in Christ in the end.  Matthew presents Christ as the ‘new Moses,’ the authoritative interpreter of the Torah.  Rabbinical literature identifies the Torah with Moses.  Christ as ‘new Moses’ can be connected with Torah.  Torah and Christ are the locus of God's presence in the world as experienced in the respective communities.  Hebrew dabar means both word and event, so one may conclude the Torah may be open for the Christ event. (continued Monday)

  • Rom 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29  Has God rejected his people?  No!  Through their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles.  A hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the Gentiles come in; thus all Israel will be saved.  God's gifts and call are irrevocable.
  • Ps 94:12-13a, 14-15, 17-18  "The Lord will not abandon his people."  Blessed those you teach by your law, Lord.  The Lord won't cast off his peoplejudgment shall be with justice, and the upright shall follow it.  Lord, your mercy sustains me.
  • Lk 14:1, 7-11  Jesus, dining at a Pharisee's house, noticing how guests were choosing places of honor:  “Don't recline in the place of honor; the host might ask you to yield your spot to a more distinguished guest, and you'd be embarrassed.  No; take the lowest place, so the host will say, "Friend, move up higher."  Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
    The Lowest Places at the Feast/ Bube
  • Creighton:  Mealtime has always been a symbol of unity.  Sharing a meal symbolizes nourishment, community, love, caring, family, celebration, comfort, and support.  At a meal we can smooth over troubles, or meet for the first time.  Mealtime provides context for Jesus' parable and highlights its importance.  And Jesus emphasizes humility.  Through humility honor is awarded, not self-proclaimed; power and prestige are abandoned; the focus becomes humility's power.  I can take the lesser seat at table because Jesus loves me no matter what.  And I can extend that love to others.  If I take the seat of humility and watch and listen, I can share my love, experience relationships that will teach me to extend my love further.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Double agents":  God uses even his enemies to further his plan; consider the Joseph story.  God even uses our direct opposition.  Jewish leaders were "opposing the Spirit" by condemning and stoning Stephen, but God used the tragedy to spread his word.  Many 1st-century Jews didn't accept Jesus as Messiah. It seemed Jesus' ministry failed. But their unbelief caused Paul to turn to the Gentiles, who responded with praise.  Trust in the Father's love and power. Don't let circumstances perturb you.
  • Passionist:  The virtue of humility invites us to be aware of our giftedness and limitations.  'Humility' is derived from 'humus' (earth), created matter that sustains life.  The humble know and accept their God-given gifts and their human limitations.  Grateful acknowledgement of our giftedness helps us celebrate the saints, the giftedness of our life and country we acknowledge on Thanksgiving, and the gift of the Person of Jesus we celebrate at Christmas.  Jesus challenges us to be people of grateful prayer and respectful service.  As we dine, share in the Eucharist, and otherwise celebrate, may we humbly witness and celebrate God’s Life and Love present in us and our world.
    St. Charles gives Communion
    to the infected/ Da Varallo
  •  "Humble yourself":  Self-promotion is often achieved at others' expense.  Jesus' parable reinforces Proverbs.  True humility isn't low self-esteem (which focuses attention on ourselves); it's truth in self-understanding and action, seeing ourselves as God does.  Humility frees us to be ourselves and avoid despair and pride, unswayed by fame, reputation, success, or failure.  Humility enables us to view ourselves correctly; it leads to self-knowledge, honesty, strength, and dedication to something greater than ourselves. Humility frees us to love and serve others for their sake, as Jesus did.
St. Charles Borromeo
Special greetings to and prayers for the community at
St. Charles Borromeo parish and school!

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