I’ve been thinking for a while about composing my own “homilies” for the Readings of the Mass.
You see, I play organ for a small chapel in a nearby retirement village. The chapels on site are staffed by the elderly, retired priests who reside there. It would be better if we had a Catholic chaplain, but the facility hired a nonCatholic for that job, and, besides, there aren’t enough younger priests to go around as is. (So pray for Vocations!)
Now, I love our priests. They are kind, holy men, loving, generous of spirit, often wise… but I did point out that they are elderly, didn’t I? One of them is slipping more deeply into the “confusion” of being very elderly and frail, a couple of the priests who serve one of the other chapels have physical disabilities that makes it very difficult for them to stand and celebrate the Mass, and at least one was tagged from seminary to be a teacher and never pastored a parish in all his years in the priesthood.
The former professor tends to get excited by various and sundry academic issues (he keeps his mind alert by continuing to study, even into his mid-80s), and his homilies reflect that. The “confused” former parish priest almost always preaches about the Holy Rosary… which is lovely, but the residents there have been praying the rosary since before I was born and they don’t need to be reminded what the various Mysteries are. Do they?
So – yesterday the Gospel reading was Luke 9:28-36, the account of the Transfiguration. We’ve all heard the story before: Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on Mt. Tabor, and there he reveals to these privileged three His full glory …
His Glory. Can you imagine it? Because I can’t. I can barely get my mind around the idea of Jesus Christ as God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity… but just how deep and wide and far that goes is beyond my scope.
I would have loved to have heard more about this, but Father talked about the Rosary, instead (the Transfiguration is the Fourth Luminous Mystery).
And if I’d been offering the homily, I would have used the opportunity to remind anyone listening that there is something dangerous going on in our society – the evangelical and pentecostal tendency to reduce the Second Person of the Holy Trinity to “my buddy, JC.”
Jesus Christ becoming “my buddy JC” – what a travesty! No wonder Christians have gotten careless about moral theology! “My buddy JC” would be one of the guys, no different from myself, maybe swilling beer and chainsmoking – he wouldn’t be offended at a slightly off-color joke (like the attempted or alleged humor manifest in last night’s Oscars presentations?)… nor would he care if John sleeps with his girlfriend, or Billy gets drunk and verbally abuses his wife, or if Lucy uses contraception and resorts to an abortion when it fails.
Right? And if the kids want to cohabit without benefit of clergy, God doesn’t mind. I mean, after all, “my buddy JC” doesn’t care. Nor does he care of Dan gets trapped in the gay lifestyle, because after all “my buddy JC” is all about love and tolerance and acceptance, right?
Wrong. Dead Wrong.
He’s our Friend, possessing integrity of His own identity and Character, concerned with our wellbeing and available to the most profound intimacy of our relationships.
But he’s not that careless lacksadaisical “Buddy JC” – not at all.
He is, most remarkably and mysteriously, both our most intimate friend AND the Creator of the Cosmos. He laid the rules down, and He calls us to follow Him in them because they are part of the design to bring us to our best selves and our ultimate complete Union with Him in the Beatific Vision.
The Transfiguration jerks us out of our lazy, selfish reduction of “my buddy JC” and into the remembrance that He IS the Great I Am, the Eternal Judge, Born of the Father before all ages…
And, oh, how we do need reminding!