January 20, 2016
As Catholics, we have been given access to the richest heritage in history.
Though it can often be easy to take for granted the wealth of knowledge of the early church fathers, the beautiful discipline of monastic life, or even the wisdom in the unwavering structure of the Church's Mass, we all have those moments where we find a new prayer, a new book, etc. and think, "This is brilliant!" ...only to find that it has been a part of Catholicism for centuries. I'm not sure I'm doing the concept justice, but I hope you know what I mean.
I remember pretty vividly one of my "I <3 the Church" moments: While attending a talk from a fellow campus minister in Miami, he spoke of the thought and planning that went into arranging the readings for Mass over the course of the liturgical year. The isolated readings have their value, of course, but they often come to convey an even deeper meaning when juxtaposed with the other daily readings.
My undergrad film studies vocab kicked in, and I realized this missionary was telling us that the daily readings are a sort of montage (but not necessarily the Rocky kind); deeper meaning can be found in a medium when you compare it to the material that comes before or after.
(For you film buffs, this article explains, albeit in a sort of indelicate way, what I'm trying to say.)
Today's readings certainly give us a wide range of subject matter:
- David's brutal defeat of Goliath
- It's probably not exactly the version you remember as a kid, what with the taunting and decapitation
- The Responsorial Psalm talks about fingers and hands being trained for war
- And Jesus, in His wisdom and infinite mercy, healing a man's withered hand
How much more is Jesus' love and kindness emphasized when you hear of it after the first two readings? How much more refreshing and hopeful? (One might even go so far as to say that he is redeeming the hand that was withered by infirmity or, maybe, battle? Who knows? Scripture is infinitely deep.)
This isn't to say that the battle-related language from the first readings is ungodly (c'mon, it's still Scripture, people), but Jesus' love has conquered the accusations, the taunts, the violence of the evil one. These still exist, and we must resist them, but today, the focus lands squarely on the mercy, healing, and power of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
In the next week, more than the adversity or hatred we may encounter, focus on the mercy and healing that comes from God.
Praised be Jesus Christ.