This past Thursday, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation, the scriptural event in which Mary is visited by an Angel and told that she would bear "Emmanuel", God-with-us. It's a curious thing, isn't it, that right in the thick of Lent the Church should call our attention back to how it all began. Yet there is much wisdom in doing so. To recall the Annunciation, especially immediately prior to Holy Week, can serve as a profound interpretive key of what it is that we are preparing to remember and celebrate during Lent, Holy Week, and the Easter Season. The Annunciation reminds us that the Incarnation of God's Son occurred not primarily as a remedy for sin but because, "God so loved the World" (John 3:16). In other words, before we consider the purpose of Jesus' birth, ministry, suffering and death in terms of expiation, or, redemption from sin, we must not forget that God came primarily to "pitch God's tent among us" and share the fullness of himself while also sharing fully in creaturely existence. The Annunciation points to the fact that salvation is not merely a matter of expiation but participation. As one early Church Father so eloquently expressed it, "God became human so that humans could become God."
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Fr. Anthony Criscitelli, T.O.R., pastor of St. Bridget's Church in North Minneapolis, raised an interesting and thought provoking point in his homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent. He noted that a number of scripture scholars have speculated what Jesus may have been scribbling in the sand during his confrontation with the scribes and pharisees over what to do with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Some scripture scholars speculate he was simply scribbling something non-sensical, a "delay" tactic employed to keep his detractors distracted while he thought of a response. Other scholars suggest he was scribbling the names of the lawyers and pharisees who surrounded him and also writing down some of their own transgressions. Fr. Anthony took the novel approach of focusing on the medium upon which Jesus was writing. In other words, if Jesus was writing down the sins of the elders, he was doing so in sand, a medium that can easily be changed with the slightest breeze, brush of the hand, or placement of a foot. Fr. Anthony than pointed out that our own "slate" or "history" of mistakes, sins, faults, and failings are similarly "etched in sand" to God, and that this slate can easily be "wiped clean" by allowing the Spirit to blow in, through, and over our lives, providing the possibility of a fresh start and empowering us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Pat, TOR
Friday, March 19, 2010
The readings for today's Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, give a great deal of insight into the "structure and dynamics" of Judeo-Christian faith and the relationship between faith and justice (Rom 4:22). The second reading from Paul's letter to the Romans talks about how Abraham was promised by God to become the "father of many nations" and even that he would "inherit the world." Abraham, hoping against hope and despite his old age, came to believe in this promise and it was credited to him as "righteousness" or "justice." Similarly, in today's Gospel reading from Matthew, Joseph is instructed in a dream by an angel to "hope against hope" that God's will could be realized through a virginal conception wrought by a mysterious Holy Spirit. Both Abraham and Joseph were asked to "go out on a limb" in believing that God could do something in their lives unprecedented in history and effectively "bring into existence that which does not exist." (Rom 4:17). Because of their willingness to believe in the near "unbelievable" promises of God and their openness to the vision and dream of God for their lives, they both were deemed righteous or just.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
This Sunday Fr. Anthony Criscitelli, T.O.R., Pastor of St. Bridget's Parish in North Minneapolis preached a very inspiring and enlightening homily on the necessity of "re-imagining" God and the concept of penance that Christians place so much emphasis on during this season of Lent. Fr. Anthony pointed out that, like the persons whom Jesus was instructing in today's Gospel, many "prophets of doom" exist in our world who are quick to make facile and grossly distorted connections between recent catastrophes and God's judgement. In the wake of the earthquake in Haiti, a number of very prominent Christian persons made pronouncements about how Haiti was incurring God's wrath as a consequence of "making a deal with the devil." Such a notion flies directly in the face of the conviction that Christians have of God being a "God of life." The God who brings life cannot at the same time be a God who destroys.