This coming Sunday – the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time – uses Matthew 11:25-30 which includes 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Because our parish is having a six-week course in church history, focusing of the Reformations, someone asked me today how this gospel speaks to predestination. It is not an easy question to address as it touches on one’s understanding of predestination, justification, sanctification, grace, free will, and more.
As it happens, the Church History “course” is coming up to the section on the Swiss Reformers wherein the topic “predestination” is raised by John Calvin and later reformers. I had prepared a primer – and I do mean a primer – on predestination as being discussed in the 16th century: Predestination, Election, Grace and Free Will. Here is the link in case it is of interest to you.
“…you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” Let’s be honest, at first glance, Peter seems a bit shaky to be the one to lead Christ’s Church. Peter stumbled, fell, and he denied – and for good measure, denied a few more times. Peter did not always “get it;” he struggled to understand. And even when he did understand, there was often a slight hesitation— unsure what to do, some fear that he would get it wrong. A lot like you and me. “…you are John or Jane, Jack or Jill, and upon you I will build my family, my company, my hopes and dreams, ”
And then people made demands upon us and tasked us spiritually, emotionally, physically. Peter was someone who knew fatigue, knew failure, and reached that place where just like us he thought to himself: “give me a break; just give me an hour to myself…..” In those moments we do not feel like anyone’s “rock.” Continue reading
Most of the apostles and lots of saints have their own feast day, but how about the two most famous saints of the early church? There is February 22nd in which the Church celebrates the “Chair of Peter” the sign that Peter was the first among the apostles and the one designated to lead the early Church after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension. But there is no “Feast of St. Peter.”
St. Paul, although not one of the Twelve, was an Apostle commissioned by Jesus. There is the January 25th celebration of “The Conversion of St. Paul” which commemorates the Damascus Road episode described in Acts of the Apostles: 9:1-31, 22:1-22, and 26:9-24. It is the scene made famous by the “Conversion on the Way to Damascus” painting by Caravaggio. But there is no “Feast of St. Paul.” Continue reading
There is a fine line between differences and divisions. Think about our own families – the kids are different, unique and that what makes them remarkable and fascinating. In my family growing up, the middle child Patricia, very different from her older sister Kathy, and her favorite brother – that would be me – and the fact that I was the only brother is but a secondary detail. Patricia was always aware of the differences and, on occasion, would proclaim, “I am adopted.” On occasion we would agree, although she was a dead ringer for Grandma Kate at the same age. Those differences were part of what made us unique and what made us family. They never became divisions. Continue reading
This weekend the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, a feast perhaps better known by the Latin Corpus Christi. At its core, the solemnity is a celebration of the Tradition and belief in the Eucharist as the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Many folks wonder why this celebration is not part of Holy Thursday, and it was, mixed in with other themes, e.g., institution of the priesthood. And, all this occurs in the shadow of Good Friday. The placement of the celebration is not one that necessarily lends itself to a joyful celebration.
Saint Juliana of Liège, O.Praem, was the one who became the spark leading to a joyous celebration of Corpus Christi. For her devotion, life, and efforts, she is known as the “Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament.” Liège was already a center for devotion to the Eucharist, so from her early youth, Juliana had great veneration for the Eucharist and longed for a special feast day in its honor. In 1208 at age 16, she began having visions of the moon in its full splendor, crossed diametrically by a dark stripe. In time, she came to understand that the moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth, the opaque line, on the other hand, represented the absence of a liturgical feast in honor of Christ’s Body and Blood. Not having any way to bring about such a feast, she kept her thoughts to herself, except for sharing them with Blessed Eve of Liège, who lived in a cell adjacent to the Basilica of St. Martin, and a few other trusted sisters in her monastery. The vision was repeated for the next 20 years, but she maintained it as a secret. When she eventually relayed it to her confessor, he relayed it to the Bishop of Liège, Robert de Thorete. Eventually, the celebration of Corpus Christi became part of the annual celebrations in the diocese.
The archdeacon of the diocese, Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes was also won over to the cause of the Feast of Corpus Christi during his time in the Diocese of Liège. He eventually became Pope Urban IV in 1264. He instituted the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Pentecost as a feast for the entire Latin Rite, by the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo.
Where the principal focus of the previous section is the bread of life as the divine revelation given to men by and in Jesus, John 6:51 adds a clearly Eucharistic theme – ‘I am the living bread come down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’ While some argue the words are metaphor, the Jews clearly understand. Jesus is referring to eating of his flesh. He recounts this action verb several other times between vv. 51-58, while adding the drinking of his blood to the command. This is no metaphor for accepting his revelation, already adequately expressed. Continue reading
The Eucharist. This section is written at two levels. At one level it is an on-going commentary on the verb “to eat” (cf. v. 31) summoning up a rich tradition of Eucharistic language: “bread,” “food,” “flesh,” “blood,” “to eat,” “to drink,” “will give,” “for your sakes.” The discourse, from v. 25 down to v. 59, presents Jesus as the true bread from heaven, replacing the former bread from heaven, the manna of the Law. The believer must accept the revelation of God that will take place in broken flesh and spilled blood (vv. 53-54), a never-failing nourishment (v. 35) that the Son of Man will give (v. 27). Continue reading
His Life for the Life of the World. Jesus now associates the separation of flesh and blood in a violent death as the moment of total giving of himself. Jesus, the Son of Man, will give of his whole self for the life of the world (6:51c) by means of a violent encounter between himself and his enemies (1:5, 11; 2:18-20; 3:14; 5:16-18) in which his body will be broken and his blood will be poured out (6:53-54). This is the ongoing presence of Jesus in the gathered klasmata (vv. 12-13), the enduring gift that the Son of Man will give, the food that will not perish (v. 27) but will forever satisfy all hunger and thirst (v. 35). Continue reading
Commentary. The verses from Scripture, in the previous post, also show vv.41-50 as part of the context – simply to remind the reader that Jesus’ discourse is controversial and has raised grumblings among the people. Continue reading
On this coming Sunday, the Church will celebrate Corpus Christi. At its core the solemnity is a celebration of the Tradition and belief in the Eucharist as the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In the early church there was no perceived need for a unique celebration. Celebration of the Tradition and belief was part of the Holy Thursday liturgy. But that all changed in the 12th century. You can read more about how the feast came to have its feast day here. Continue reading