Friday, July 21, 2017

In the first reading today we see the institution of a ritual so important that God told the nation of Israel to set it as the head of their calendar. The most important date of the year, the beginning of time itself, was held on the same day as the Passover sacrifice.

July 21, 2017

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 393

EX 11:10—12:14

PS 116:12-13, 15 AND 16BC, 17-18

MT 12:1-8


In the first reading today we see the institution of a ritual so important that God told the nation of Israel to set it as the head of their calendar.   The most important date of the year, the beginning of time itself, was held on the same day as the Passover sacrifice.   The Jewish people did not just believe they were partaking of a new Passover each time, but that in some way they were transported outside of time back to the original Passover.   It wasn’t another Passover, not a new event, but the one and same event being made present to them in the ritual.  That’s quite a bit different than the theology that some have where it is just a ‘symbolic ritual.’   Where as some would say that it represents the original Passover, most would rather it be said that it “makes present” the Passover.

The New Testament authors, including St. Paul, were quick to say that Jesus was indeed our Passover.   It is in Christ that we find the true liberation from sin, the true freedom from the Egypt of this world.  We find it so hard though to not only trust that promise but even more so to live it out in our daily lives.   As children of God, we have been given the freedom to reject sin and to make choices that are not guided by our lower, base instincts.   We aren’t irrational animals at the mercy of our chemical reactions no matter how much some scientists would have you believe.   Our minds are greatly complex and above all the animal kingdom, as far as we know, we are the few that possess the ability to reason out our response and overrule our instinctual desires.  

There are two erroneous ways that people then look at the ‘rules’ of the Church.   Either they view them as a trap and constricting, something that takes away their freedom, or they tend to view them as something that must be followed at all costs, regardless of the result.  Christ reminds us in the Gospel today that these rules are what bring us freedom.  They aren’t there to make life miserable or to cause people to starve.   The Sabbath was created for man, to give man rest.   The rules aren’t there for the Sabbath as it has no need of them, it’s just a day.   They are there to give freedom and rest from the toils of the world.   To relax in the arms of our loving savior.  All of these rules, regulations, even canon law, are there to provide us a means of freeing ourselves.   To help us make correct decisions because our future doesn’t depend just on the moment and what feels right, but on where we will spend eternity.  Hell is real.   It’s not just something old people told kids to scare them decades ago.

With that in mind, that’s why we are so serious as Catholics about the Eucharist.  Many say we should just open the table to anyone who wants to come, any age, race or creed.  St. Paul had a different statement about the Eucharist, he said that anyone who receives it unworthily is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:27).   He also reaffirmed time and again that the bread and wine we receive are not just bread and wine, but truly the body and blood of Christ.  When one steps forward in a Catholic Church to receive Christ in the Eucharist, that Amen they say?   That is a statement that means “This is true.  I believe.”   What is true?  All of it.  Everything the Church teaches and everything it believes, I also believe.   That’s a big statement and an even bigger responsibility.  If it were just bread and wine, or even crackers and grape juice… that Amen doesn’t mean much.   But if it’s truly what we believe… Christ himself… body, soul, divinity….. Do we approach it as such?  How important is it in our lives?   If Christ is our passover, is He the first thing in our calendar? Or just something we add in when we find time? If like the Jewish Passover, the Eucharist transports you back in time making present the Cross at Calvary, how reverent and cautious should we be kneeling at the foot of The Cross?