Dear Friend of Redemptorist Communications
Welcome to the November Ezine from Redemptorist Communications
GOD’S WORD THIS MONTH
NOVEMBER 04: 31st SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem is over and in today’s Gospel he finds himself in a debate with a scribe. Previous controversies between Jesus and the Jewish scribes proved to be bitter experiences. But this one is friendly. Since the Jewish law had 613 different commandments, the scribe wants Jesus’ opinion on which is the greatest. Jesus doesn’t quite answer the scribe’s question, but quotes from the Jewish scriptures. He identifies the “first” commandment as the one to love God (Deuteronomy 6:4b-5) and the “second” as the commandment to love the neighbour (Leviticus 19:18). When Jesus quotes Deuteronomy, he is referring to the great Jewish prayer known as the Shem‘a Yisra’el or Hear O Israel. It is such a fundamental prayer that Jewish people recited it daily, in the morning and in the evening. In quoting this prayer Jesus declares that love of God is an absolute religious value because God first loved all people and the only response people can make to that fact is to love God. This was a fundamental value for Jewish people of the first century AD and now Jesus establishes it as a similar essential value for his disciples.
Love of the neighbour (as oneself) implies healthy self-esteem and self-valuing. By placing this commandment alongside that of loving God, Jesus makes love of the neighbour into another way in which God is loved.
The scribe reacts positively to Jesus’ answer, welcomes it and adds that both these commandments are “much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” In saying this, the scribe recognizes that Jesus now replaces the entire Jewish law, along with the Temple and is rituals. It is because the scribe is able to recognize what Jesus is doing that Jesus declares him to be “not far from the Kingdom of God.” Jesus is making an important point. Jewish people are not excluded from the Kingdom of God. Along with the Gentiles, they too are called to hear the Word of God and accept it. However, Mark doesn’t tell us whether the scribe became a disciple or not. At the end of the encounter his critics no longer challenge Jesus’ authority. Some of them will return later in an effort to do away with him, but they will be defeated by his resurrection.
Dt 6:2-6; Ps 17; Heb 7:23-28;
NOVEMBER 11: 32nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Today’s Gospel needs careful reading by all in the church, but especially by those in positions of leadership and influence. The kind of religious hypocrisy that Jesus condemns in the scribes can occur in any religion at any time. In recent times some cardinals and bishops have begun to wear once more a long robe called the cappa magna, which has not been used since the 1960s. It’s a seven-metre long silken train with a huge hood lined with ermine in winter and silk in summer. Cardinals wear a red cappa magna while bishops wear a purple one. This is not to suggest for one moment that those who wear this garment are in any way comparable to the scribes of Jesus’ day. But what does it mean that some church people do so in Jesus’ name in the midst of the worst economic recession the world has faced and in the context of the gravest crisis our church has known? What does it mean in the context of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel?
1 Kg 17:10-16; Ps 145; Heb 9:24-28;
NOVEMBER 18: 33rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Jesus has just left the Temple and is now within 72 hours of his death. He sits down on the Mount of Olives with his disciples who are enjoying the view of the Temple and its complex of buildings. As they look at the city, Jesus offers a long and difficult speech that runs the length of the entire chapter (Mark 13:1-37). It is largely a farewell speech in which he encourages his disciples regarding the crises they are going to face in the future.
The language Mark uses in this chapter is often called “apocalyptic.” The term comes from the Greek word apokálypsis, meaning “revelation.” Apocalyptic writing usually deals with visions of the end times. Very often the images used are somewhat surreal with the intention of creating a sense of wonder at the new order that is coming about.
Jesus talks about a future time when a series of terrifying phenomena will occur. These events will signal the end of the world, as people have understood it. They will also signal the return of the Son of Man in glory and the final establishment of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is talking about himself and his glorious return as Messiah.
In the course of his ministry Jesus attempted to show what kind of Messiah he was called to be. His miracles and teachings all pointed to it. When people got ahead of themselves and tried to identify him with the conventional Messiah of Jewish expectation, he would have none of it. Now as he faces death and trusts that God will vindicate him, he offers the disciples a description of the Messiah he really is, using apocalyptic language from the Old Testament. When he returns in glory as Messiah, he will send out “angels” (or messengers) who will “gather the elect” from the ends of the earth. The elect are those who have responded to the Good News with repentance and faith.
At the beginning of the chapter, the disciples asked when these events would take place. Jesus did not quite answer their question at first, but takes it up now in the image of the fig tree. Unlike most trees in Israel which are evergreen, the fig tree is not. It loses its leaves in autumn and only puts out new ones in late spring. When people see the new leaves they know that summer isn’t far off. In the same way, when people witness the events that he speaks of, then they will know that Jesus is returning as Messiah.
Jesus then assures his disciples that these events will take place in their own lifetime. These particular verses are difficult to interpret since the end times did not come about in his disciples’ lifetime. Jesus’ statement needs to be understood as apocalyptic language. By it Jesus is saying that the end is very near. Like him, the disciples must surrender their fate completely to God.
The “when” and “how” ought not to matter. In fact, only the Father knows when the final triumph of the Kingdom will be.
Dn 12:1-13; Ps 15: Heb 10:11-14.18;
NOVEMBER 25: THE SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE SERVANT KING
Pope Pius XI created this feast in 1925. The Blackshirts under Mussolini were already in power in Italy. A comical-looking rabble-rouser called Adolf Hitler had just become leader of the Nazi party in Germany. The world lay in the Great Depression and atheism was on the increase. What Pius XI was doing in creating this feast was to say to the world that despite dictatorships and economic collapse and false values, Jesus Christ was still King of the Universe.
In 1969 Pope Paul VI gave the feast its current date on the last Sunday in the liturgical year.
He also established it as a solemnity (which is of highest liturgical rank) and gave it a new title – The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe.
This is a tremendous feast with which to end the liturgical year because it turns upside down all the pre-conceived ideas we have about hierarchy, kingship and what it means to be in authority. As we hear in today’s Gospel, even Pilate is confused. His idea of kingship is of an all-powerful ruler, controller and dictator. Jesus makes it clear that he is not that kind of king. He has not come to ‘lord’ it over people. He is not interested in an earthly type of kingdom. His kingdom is very different – it is not of this world. It is not simply that Jesus is talking about a different place. He is talking about a different way of living, one that is not about control or power but love and service. Jesus’ power comes from God and it is a power that builds people up rather than diminishes them. He doesn’t deny that he is a king but it is not the word he would use. The only thing that matters to him is the truth and that truth is God.
Those who belong to God listen to the voice of Jesus, the servant king, and follow his example.
Dn 7:13-14; Ps 92; Rv 1:5-8; John 18:33-37
GLIMPSES OF REALITY
In his November editorial, Fr Gerard Moloney analyses the Lessons from Jimmy Savile.
“If you were a pop fan growing up in the 1960s, 70s or 80s, it was difficult not to be a Jimmy Savile fan also. Savile was a radio dj and presenter of Top of the Tops. He also hosted a popular TV show called Jim’ll Fix It, where he helped young viewers make their dreams come true. A larger than life character, with a flamboyant personality and appearance, Savile was a noted charity-worker and philanthropist, who raised more than £40 million for good causes, for which he received a knighthood in 1990.
Following his death in October 2011, numerous tributes were paid to him for his work as an entertainer and charity fund-raiser.
And then, slowly, a different side to the television and radio star began to emerge. An ITV documentary in early October alleged Savile was a sex abuser. In the days after the programme aired, police received more and more allegations about Savile’s activities. At the time of writing, Scotland Yard had formally recorded eight criminal allegations – two rapes and six indecent assaults – against the former presenter. Police are pursuing more than 120 potential leads and say his victims were girls and boys from all over the UK. Savile, the eccentric hero who fixed it for so many young people over so many years, has been recast as a ‘predatory sex offender’ who abused scores of children over four decades. Now he lies in an unmarked grave after his £4,000 headstone was removed in the dead of night at the request of his family. In a total fall from grace, Savile has gone from national icon to pariah.
As more details of his sordid past began to emerge, Savile’s story began to bear more and more similarities to the child sex abuse scandals that have done such damage to the Catholic Church.
First, it is clear that some colleagues in the BBC and elsewhere were aware of Savile’s activities, but failed to do anything about them. During his reign of terror, Savile was allowed to sexually assault teenagers as young as 13. It is alleged that he was free to roam hospital wards attacking young patients, and allowed to prey on pupils in schools and in studio dressing rooms. BBC bosses have struggled to explain why nothing was done to stop Savile, and why a Newsnight investigation into his behaviour due to be broadcast last December was shelved. It has emerged too that several police forces investigated Savile while he was still alive yet none of them ever brought charges.
It all hints at cover-up, of the kind that bishops and others in authority in the Catholic Church have been accused of doing in the face of allegations of sexual abuse by priests and religious. It is a reminder that the first instinct of institutions, religious and secular, is self-protection. They don’t want to have their reputation damaged, and so they turn a blind eye to allegations of wrongdoing, pretend it isn’t happening, and cover-up if necessary.
Second, the Savile scandal is a reminder of the role that power and status play in enabling sexual abuse. Jimmy Savile was a powerful man. His position as one of the top TV and radio personalities in the country gave him easy access to teenagers and meant that anyone who accused him of inappropriate behaviour was unlikely to be taken seriously.
The same was the case in the church. The clerical collar gave an abuser easy access to children; it also conferred authority and respect. Priests and religious were trusted individuals. Anyone who made an allegation against a much-loved churchman was unlikely to be heeded.
Third, Savile’s abuse took place over four decades, beginning at the start of the 1960s. It coincided with the sexual revolution, that period when the traditional codes of behaviour in relation to sexuality began to break down in the western world. Studies indicate that the 1970s and 80s were also the years when sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church reached a highpoint. It would seem that a barrier of sorts had been breached, and in those years of increasing sexual liberation and confusion, terrible things took place that even today we are still trying to deal with. The Jimmy Savile story is a tragedy for his victims, his family and his fans. It is a sad reminder that child sexual abuse is a societal and not just a church problem, that all institutions need robust child safeguarding policies, that status and celebrity can be the sex abuser’s perfect friend, and that there is an onus on all of us to ensure our children grow up safe from groping hands.”
The November issue has lots more to articles and features to inform, inspire and challenge:
THE ATHEIST DELUSION: DEFENDING GOD IN THE 21ST CENTURY
How do people of faith respond to the claims of those who proclaim there is no God?
A HYMN FIT FOR THE FEAST
The story of Fr Patrick Brennan C.Ss.R. and “Hail Redeemer King Divine”
By Brendan McConvery, C.Ss.R.
LET YOUR ‘AMEN’ RING TRUE
The Eucharist invites us to become what we celebrate
Flesh and blood, real people have replaced my plaster saints
I HAVE GREATLY SINNED…
Simple words that pile on unnecessary guilt
The chaplain promotes the spiritual wellbeing of the entire school community
Having carved it with love, he carried it with him every day the rest of his life
MY GOD CONNECTION
The divine is encountered in Underground Cathedrals, too
THE VOICE INSIDE
Following the stirrings of her conscience has led Katey Feit to a prison cell
Click here to order your copy of Reality or to subscribe for the year.
WHAT’S UP IN ‘FACE UP’?
The November issue of Face Up is packed full of features for all young people.
Your vote – who cares?
If you thought politics was as scintillating as counting from a billion backwards then a read of our special report might well change your mind...
Next time you’re stabbed in the back, take our advice on how to move on and leave the hurt behind you.
My Super Sweet Election
At what age should you be allowed to vote? 21... 18... 16? The debate starts here.
A Dark Night – Does Batman have blood on his hands?
Following the Aurora movie house massacre last summer, we ask: is Hollywood to blame?
“I want to live in Ireland forever”
A chat with two of our country’s official new residents.
Where youth holds the key to the future
Trócaire’s report on Zimbabwe’s murky election process – and why hope lies in the actions of the country’s next generation of voters.
An inspirational SERVE story about the 14 students who flew to the Philippines to support a tribe in trouble.
SPIRIT & SOUL:
Who said the meek are weak?
This month we take a look at The Beatitude most in need of an image overhaul.
Mix photography with faith and what do you get? The stunning Faithfoto project.
Get your copy of Face Up now. A subscription also makes a perfect gift for a teenager in your family. Click here for more details.
YEAR OF FAITH
The “Year of Faith” will begin on 11 October 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and conclude on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King. It is year designed to encourage people to understand more profoundly the foundation of their Christian faith.
Click on this link for more information, news and events taking place during the year:
Redemptorist Communications has a range of wonderful resources to help us deepen or rediscover our faith in this important year for the Church. Click here for details of our products.
TO END WITH: A REFLECTION!
“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”
MARY ANNE RADMACHER