Crossfunction: 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Behold your mother

John 19:25-27 (RSV)

"So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag'dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."
John 19:25-27 (RSV)

Mary, our mother through Jesus our brother, pray for us! Pray that Jesus will help us love Him more perfectly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Heart on the Cross!

September 14, 2009: The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

"...who, though [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Philippians 2:4-11 (RSV)

Jesus had a right to demand obedience, worship, love. But when He condescended to become human, vulnerable to "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", He chose to accept these arrows, to be humbled, to renounce His rights, to suffer whatever outrage might be permitted by the hand of His heavenly Father.

It was through His Holy Cross that He was humbled, and through the Cross that we are exalted. But only through the Cross.

At times the Cross appears without our looking for it: it is Christ who is seeking us out. And if by chance, before this unexpected Cross which, perhaps, is therefore more difficult to understand, your heart were to show repugnance... don't give it consolations. And, filled with a noble compassion, when it asks for them, say to it slowly, as one speaking in confidence: 'Heart: heart on the Cross! Heart on the Cross! '
The Way of the Cross, St. Josemaría Escrivá

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A democratic Church?

"But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican."
Matthew 18:15-17 Douay-Rheims Bible
"If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, is between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector."
Matthew 18:15-17 New Jerusalem Bible

I wonder why the translators of the New Jerusalem Bible decided to render the Greek word "ekklesia" (church, assembly) as "community"? Such a decision seems designed to avoid the implication that some types of dispute might be mediated or resolved by leaders of the Church. "Community" in this translation would seem to suggest a more democratic method of resolving a dispute: perhaps everyone goes down to the meetin' hall and votes on it.

...except the Bible presents an image of the Church that doesn't match this democratic model. Important questions and disputes were not decided by opinion polls of people "in the pews", but by the authority of the apostles.

The Church is a community, yes, but a community with an apostolic foundation and hierarchical structure, as Scripture plainly shows. It's not merely a group of people sharing a common faith, but rather a Body.

A body is composed of parts, but it's more than just a lifeless pile of disconnected body parts: a horrifying image. A living body's members are arranged in a harmonious structure, each member having its function and place, each vitally important, each serving the others, and through them the whole.

Similarly, the Church of the New Testament is not just a collection of believers. It's a body of members united to Christ, its cornerstone and supernatural Head, and with the apostles and their legitimate successors as the foundation upon which it stands. Apostolic authority is indispensable to the Church's ability to preserve and interpret the Gospel message, and for the Church to be able to apply that message to the situations that it encounters every day.

This is why the Catholic Church continues to have a pope, bishops, priests, and deacons, and carefully preserves and transmits apostolic authority through the imposition of hands. Jesus gave His Church such a structure, and nothing in His teachings indicates He ever wished that structure to change.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bearing a grudge?

"Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." -Leviticus 19:18 KJV

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why should I confess my sins to a priest?

Answer coming soon!

Well, if someone asks me for an answer, I'll try to provide one soon.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Saved by another's faith?

3:1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
3:2 "Arise, go to Nin'eveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you."
3:3 So Jonah arose and went to Nin'eveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nin'eveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth.
3:4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he cried, "Yet forty days, and Nin'eveh shall be overthrown!"
3:5 And the people of Nin'eveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
3:6 Then tidings reached the king of Nin'eveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
3:7 And he made proclamation and published through Nin'eveh, "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, or drink water,
3:8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them cry mightily to God; yea, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands.
3:9 Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?"
3:10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.
-Jonah 3:1-10 RSV

"...from the greatest of them to the least of them...(v. 5)"

Even the infants believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on the sackcloth? The passage states the entire city, without exception, believed and repented. If children too young to understand what was happening were included in this -and they were- then this means that they were not excluded from the benefits of their families' faith and repentance. They were saved from destruction because of their parents' acts of faith. Later, as they would grow up, God would require them to exercise faith of their own.

Much as in Baptism.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Fruitful work

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
-Isaiah 55:10-11 RSV

God's Word accomplishes what it was sent for, but God shows how much He counts on our cooperation. His Word provides for "the sower" and "the eater", but can not help him who refuses to do what God desires. Thus unwilling to sow or eat can not obtain seed or nourishment.

God provides the means for us to accept salvation and live the new life He offers us. But this new life requires us to cooperate with Him. God generously and patiently offers all we need to live this life successfully, but He can't live it for us. For our own good He counts on us to make good use of His gifts.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Living the "obedience of faith"

"1 Let us fear therefore lest the promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should be thought to be wanting.
2 For unto us also it hath been declared, in like manner as unto them. But the word of hearing did not profit them, not being mixed with faith of those things they heard.
3 For we, who have believed, shall enter into rest; as he said: As I have sworn in my wrath; If they shall enter into my rest; and this indeed when the works from the foundation of the world were finished.
4 For in a certain place he spoke of the seventh day thus: And God rested the seventh day from all his works.
5 And in this place again: If they shall enter into my rest.
6 Seeing then it remaineth that some are to enter into it, and they, to whom it was first preached, did not enter because of unbelief:
7 Again he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time, as it is above said: To day if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, he would never have afterwards spoken of another day.
9 There remaineth therefore a day of rest for the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God did from his.
11 Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest; lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief."
-Hebrews 4:1-11 RSV

The author of Hebrews says that the Israelites did not reach the "place of rest" because they failed to have faith in the divine message delivered through God's messengers. He stresses that God's work was not lacking, that it was completed and therefore God rested on the seventh day. Likewise, we are cautioned to do everything necessary to be obedient to all that the gift of faith demands. Else we may find that we, like the Israelites who wandered the desert of disobedience, may disqualify ourselves from the promised land.

God's work of redemption is complete. But receiving this gift and remaining heir to its promise until the inheritance is at hand requires more than an initial and verbal "Yes". Faith is a gift that demands that we put into practice whatever God asks of us. That we believe with our minds and hearts, and put that belief into concrete practice with our will and body: that when we fail this, we repent and begin again and again, and persevere in this divine sonship until the end.

It is only this path that assures us of entering into the land that God has prepared for those who love Him.