March 16, 2009

More Testing Thoughts

Testing is often used as an exclusionary process but the great thing about God is that he is resolutely non-exclusionary Being, as shown by today's readings. The homilist mentioned that in every Mass Christ uses the word "all" three times:
“Take this all of you and eat. This is my body which will be given up for you” / “Take this all of you and drink, this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, this cup will be shed for you and for all."
Now of course Heaven is exclusionary since we can't hold a belief in universal salvation. But it is still who humans who long for exclusion and caste; when Jesus ate with sinners He was greatly criticized. In "The Power of the Cross", Michael Dubruiel mentions the parable of the Prodigal Son:
Jesus tells this parable when he is in the process of being judged as someone who consorts with sinners. The "punch line" of the parable hits home for all of us prodigals: Those who are most likely to come to their senses are those who have experienced the emptiness of a life apart from God. The elder sons really don't see any readon to party; they haven't come to their senses yet.

Who is the greatest sinner in the parable of the Prodigal Son? Could it be the older brother, who is angry that his ungrateful little brother had come home? Often we resent this; we identify more with the elder brother than with the younger. In fact, when I've spoken on this parable it has often angered someone: Someone in their family, like the Prodigal Son, has taken the family's money, only to come back penniless and in search of more.

Ironcally, some Scripture scholars think that in the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus is the son who takes the inheritance of the Father - his divine mercy and love - and squanders it on sinners! In the end, the Father is pleased. Once you've heard this way of looking at the parable, it's hard to see it any other way.

Yes, God's mercy is great; however, to experience it fully always involves a bit of crucifixion on our part. Our natural human way of looking at things is invariably fallible and has to die.

6 comments:

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I like the point about the recurring word "all," but what about all the liturgies in which the third "all" was a "many"?

zippy said...

Heh. You are opening yourself up to a pro multis controversy. The Latin in the consecration is roughly (from memory)

"Accipite et manducate, ex hoc omnes. Hoc est enim corpus meum, quod pro vobis tradeteur."

"Accipite et bibite, ex hoc omnes. Hic est enim calix sanguinis meum, novi et eterni testamente, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur en remissionnem peccatorum. Hoc facite in meum commemorationem".

I'm pretty positive I've misspelled some of that. But the English translation, if I'm not mistaken, would be something like:

"Take this, my friends, and eat. This is my body, given up for you."

"Take this, my friends, and drink. This is the cup of my blood, of the new and eternal sacrifice, shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me."

IOW, the "all" stuff seems to be an artifact of the currently-in-use English translation. Its existence is rather controversial among FSSP-type trads (especially the translation of "pro multis" as "for all").

A new translation of various parts of the Mass in English is supposedly coming, I believe, and it will be interesting to see it.

TS said...

True, I thought of that too. Still leaves you two alls :-)

TS said...

The ironic thing is the homilist is a throw-back in that he's very pious in the traditional sense -- loves the old Mass, loves the Latin, has everyone kneel to receive the Eucharist, etc...

So I'm sure he's heard about the translation controversy but it didn't stop him from using the potentially flawed English translation in his homily, a translation I consider a felix culpa.

zippy said...

I was under the impression that the first two "alls" aren't really there either: "my friends" (or something like that) was translated as "all of you". So maybe all of the alls are felix culpae :-)

TS said...

Well all I know (pun intended!) is the all the alls are in there every time I go to Mass and that's good enuf for me! :-)