Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tobit. and my dream of being a bishop?

Part of what is making it all but impossible for me to post more is that I'm working like a little beaver on a Bible Study for my college students on the Old Testament book of Tobit. Now, if you are Protestant or Jewish, you may not know there is a book of Tobit. And that wouldn't be surprising since Tobit is one of those contested books that Jews decided not to include it when they had their canonization process sometime around the removal from Jerusalem and the Bar Kochba revolt. Protestants threw it out during the reformation period. It's a weird book in so many ways but fascinating nonetheless. It takes a good deal of explanation, however, about the role of angels, why birds can give you cataracts, and why marriage should be kept "in the family".

But, for some reason, I had a dream that Archbishop Hanus, my archbishop, came and ordained me a bishop. In the dream, my dad and I were the only ones at the ceremony so I had to tell my mom. I first had to find the rope that bishops wear that priest's don't wear (it's attached to a cross but the rope was the only thing I cared about) in order to show my mom that I had become a bishop. Of course, the ironic thing is that I'M THE LAST PERSON THE CHURCH WOULD EVER WANT TO ORDAIN A BISHOP. Okay, maybe not the last person. There are others that would probably be worse than I am but I'm definitely not in the top ten. And I don't think I've EVER, EVER wanted to be one. Talk about a lightening rod figure! But, I was having a lot of fun in this dream being one.

I suppose I should be thankful that it was a dream because it easily could have been a nightmare.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A bad homily

The problem with being a priest is that, sometimes, I realize in the middle of the first reading the direction the homily should have gone. Then I try to think if I could put it together during the Responsorial psalm and second reading and put the finishing touches on it during the reading of the gospel. But, on my way over to the gospel, I abandon the plan because I fear that I can't get it done and, by the end of mass, I've forgotten the direction I was going to go. Frustrating!

I used a homily this weekend that I used, substantively, three years ago. It wasn't great then and it still wasn't great. Thankfully, I remember the direction that I thought of in the middle of the first reading . It actually had to do with the second reading that said...

Brothers and sisters:
You have not approached that which could be touched
and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness
and storm and a trumpet blast
and a voice speaking words such that those who heard
begged that no message be further addressed to them.
No, you have approached Mount Zion
and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

I would have talked about the beautiful imagery of this passage and the sacramentality as well. By the word "sacramentality", I mean that it goes from the intangible/conceptual in the first part to the tangible/sacramental in the second. The countless angels in festal gathering, the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven represents the church, the people that are the body of Christ. Jesus, a real human being mediates God and is God. He mediates the ineffeible and the imperfect, the human and the divine. And the way Christ mediates is through his sacrificial fratracide, his murder by the hands of his own brothers and sisters. His blood isn't just a mediator in concept only but, as we hear in the gospel, comes to us in a real life banquet, to a people that cannot possible repay Christ for the sacrifice he has made for us.
We eat his body and drink his blood in the Eucharist.

It reminds me of how privileged I am to be part of a church that hasn't retreated to the conceptual but maintains the supper of Christ's body and blood.