At Tale of Two Homilies

St Andrew: "But I don't have an NVQ in Social Care!"
I went to Mass twice yesterday once in the morning and once in the evening.

The Gospel reading was about the calling of St Andrew...

'The next day again John stood and two of his disciples. And beholding Jesus walking, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak: and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turning and seeing them following him, saith to them: What seek you? Who said to him: Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest thou? He saith to them: Come and see. They came and saw where he abode: and they stayed with him that day. Now it was about the tenth hour. And Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard of John and followed him. He findeth first his brother Simon and saith to him: We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona. Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter.'

The two priests both took up the theme of 'come and see' the Lord, but what was striking was the contrasting ways in which the priests explained how Jesus might be sought or found. For one priest, Jesus is to be found in the place where He lives, namely, the Church He founded. For this priest, Jesus Our Lord is to be found in the Tabernacle, in the Sacraments of Confession and in the Most Holy Eucharist.

For the other priest, Jesus is to be found in those feeding the hungry, in the hungry, in those who visit the sick and in the sick. He said that wherever someone was helping the outcast or showing love to a sick person that Jesus was there. No mention was made of the Tabernacle, of the way in which the Lord Jesus comes to us in Confession, taking away our sins as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World and no mention was made of His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

I found it quite interesting that one could go to two different Churches in a day and receive two very different takes on how Jesus can be sought and found. Of course, there is a sense in which both Priests are right, and that knitting the two concepts together would form a whole idea of how the Lord can be seen or discovered. However, it seemed to illustrate the different emphases of different Priests. For one, the emphasis is upon Salvation - that our deepest need is for salvation and that the Lord is to be found in the Sacraments of Holy Church.

For the other, the Lord Jesus is portrayed as a kind man who helps poor and sick people. It seems that it is the latter emphasis which has dominated the Church in the post-Concilliar era. This is the image of Christ that comes to the fore - the Christ who urges us to do good or be good people. However, for Priests, knowing the human condition so well and the inbuilt self-destruct button that we all rather enjoy pressing from time to time, the emphasis should really be on Christ as both Judge and Saviour. I don't really understand how the Church's social teaching has come to almost usurp the central message of the Church for centuries. Of course we need Priests to remind us of the need to be kind, caring and compassionate to the poor and sick, but above all, we need Priests to remind us that our Souls are dear to God, that we are not our 'own property', as St Paul said in the reading and that Christ didn't come to make the World a better place. Christ came to save the World from sin and everlasting death.

By the way it seems it didn't work out for Jason at his friend's house. He's back in a car park, so keep praying for him.


Anonymous said…
Some "homilies" or what passes for such are often merely personal likes or personal opinion of the priest, and not necessarily bad for that, but I prefer a homily that relies on the authority of the Church or church documents (and that includes the Bible!)
Sometimes it may be no harm to ask a priest his Authority for saying something or other!
"Of course, there is a sense in which both Priests are right, and that knitting the two concepts together would form a whole idea of how the Lord can be seen or discovered."

In the sense of being the absolute truth! However in a sermon you might want to get one idea across on that day. Maybe both priests will re-balance things in subsequent sermons.