26th Sunday of the Year — September 26, 1971 — CNR
Somewhere around the year 750 B.C., worshippers had gathered at the Israelite shrine at Bethel for one of their religious feasts. They could come with a certain sense of ease, confident that the professional prophets at the shrine would give them little reason to question their impatience to have the feast over so they could return to their businesses, untroubled by doubt, secure in the fittingness of their wealth. Perhaps it was not until he began to speak, that they noticed a rather strange figure, a man from the rural south, a cattleman or farmer. Probably they would not have been surprised at what he began to say, for in a series of six short judgments he predicts doom on Israel’s neighbors and enemies. But then, the sharper among them may have noted that these nations are condemned, not for their idolatry or pagan vice, but rather “for inhuman cruelty, for enslaving and obliterating a people, for the denial of compassion and the claims of brotherhood, for the subordination of human life to material gain, and for impiety and the profanation of human dignity” (Vawter, Conscience of Israel, p. 81).
All of them, however, waited to hear which nation would be mentioned in the seventh, the most important place. And all of them must have been surprised to hear him begin: (more…)
25th Sunday of the Year – September 22, 1974 – CNR
This Sunday and the next, the Gospel-readings concern the use of wealth, today in the parable of the unscrupulous servant, next week in that of Lazarus and the rich man. Each of them is prepared by a reading from the Book of Amos, the Old Testament’s fiercest condemnation of unjustly gained and carelessly wasted wealth and power.
The week which these two sets of readings bracket has been designated a Week of Fast for World Hunger, so that it seems appropriate to devote a little time and attention at least to what has become the chief moral question of our time.
Today’s parable must surely be a scandal for a country which has almost made a religion out of prosperity and in which one is supposed to get very upset at low-level dishonesty, while winking at it in those of a certain wealth and power–unless, of course, they are vulgar and blatant in their greed. That a “devious employee” should be praised threatens to upset the whole system. (more…)
24th Sunday of the Year — September 12th, 1971 — CNR
The fifteenth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel is the whole Gospel in miniature. Christianity may have developed enormously in the last two thousand years, erecting a vast and sophisticated intellectual and institutional superstructure. There may be great difficulties in understanding the complexities of certain doctrines, in providing for the larger community of thought a defence of the reasonableness of faith, in discerning the concrete implications of faith for the complex problems of our age. But to find the central meaning of the New Testament, of what Jesus of Nazareth was all about, of what this gathering today is all about, we have only to turn to Luke 15 to hear the word about the God who rejoices in the return of his lost son. (more…)
Here is a copy of an essay that Fr. Yves Congar wrote on the ancient theme of the Church as Mother: Congar Mother Church
The longer version, in French, of the article can be found at: Yves Congar, “Au lecteur,” in Karl Delahaye, Ecclesia mater chez les Pères des trois premiers siècles: Pour un renouvellement de la Pastorale d’aujourd’hui (Unam Sanctam 46; Paris: du Cerf, 1964) pp. 7-32. This preface to the French translation of the work is dated 3 September 1963. Reading it, one feels that after the drama of the first session of the Second Vatican Council, Congar was expressing a feeling of liberation, and of vindication.
23rd Sunday of the Year – September 5, 1971 – CNR
The second reading at today’s Mass might prompt a puzzled look or two. It is taken from Paul’s letter to one of his converts, a man named Philemon. Written from prison, it is the shortest of Paul’s letters, barely a page and a half long. It is also the most personal of his letters, a man in Christ addressing his brother in Christ about another brother in Christ.
While Paul has been in prison, he has met a man named Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, who had fled his service, apparently after having done his master some injustice. He has become a Christian by Paul’s ministry, as Philemon had before; and while Paul wished to keep him with himself, he felt bound by law to return Onesimus to his master. This little letter accompanies him on his return.
There is no evidence that Paul demanded that Philemon release his slave, although perhaps he did expect that Philemon would be moved to permit him to return to Paul. Paul offers to make good himself the damage Onesimus had done; in any case the slave’s return gives Philemon an opportunity to practice forgiveness in Christ. For, Paul says, “perhaps he was separated from you for a while for this reason: that you might possess him forever, no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially dear to me; and how much more a brother to you, since now you will know him both as a man and in the Lord.”
There is the heart of the matter. (more…)