Sunday, August 18, 2013

Parents against children

Luke 12:49 - 53

In these troubled times, we often refer to the divine origin of the family.  Heck, we even sometimes mention the commandment to honor our parents.  

But in Luke 12: 49-53 the Lord says:

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 

From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

What is envisaged?

The saying envisages a family of five living together: a father and mother, the son and his wife, and the daughter.  (The daughter is single, because otherwise she’d be living with her husband’s family.)  

It's interesting that the division is generational, with the two parents set against the three younger people, which reminds us of the cryptic promise in Malachy 4:6, “And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema” (Douay-Rheims).  

And the point?  

The point is, of course, that if our family tries to hold us back from following Christ, then there has to be a parting of the ways. 

It may be simply leaving the living room to avoid an objectionable TV program that the folks are watching.  It may even involve having to leave home if we're kicked out for having joined the Church (and, yes, this does happen sometimes).   

Christian witness can provoke all sorts of bitter and recurring comments. But the thing is that the calls of the Gospel are paramount and override any anything else, no matter how deserving.  The most important thing about us is that we're washed in the blood of the Lamb and are now part of the family composed of God’s adopted sons and daughters.    

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vatican legislation on line!

The Internet is a great tool in legal research, and I’m constantly using AUSTLII for researching Australian statutes and decisions.  There are similar guides for other jurisdictions, such as BAILII which provides a guide for British and Irish materials. 

And now World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) has a new site: Vatican City Laws. 

Vatican City Laws only gives six statutes at present, but it includes the texts of the following documents: 

·                the Lateran Treaty of 1929 (in an English translation)

·                the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State issued by Pope John Paul II on 26 November 2000 (in an English translation)

·                the Law and Governance of the Vatican City State issued by Pope John Paul II on 16 July 2002 (in Italian).

But there’s much to be done.  For example, the Lateran Treaty is filed under 1871, instead of 1929.  And it would be useful to be told the language of the normative text.  (Do Vatican canonists still use Latin or have they lapsed into the vernacular Italian?)  

Still, it’s an encouraging move towards increased transparency and the rule of law.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

The marriage at Caana

Christmas and the Epiphany give two aspects of Christ's coming.  Christmas celebrates His birth and coming to the Jewish people.  Epiphany is about His manifestation to the whole world, ie to the non-Jews or gentiles.  (The word Epiphany is from the Greek word phainein, meaning to show).

In celebrating the Epiphany, the Church meditates on three events: the visit of the Magi, the Lord's baptism by St John the Baptist, and the marriage at Caana.  So it's appropriate for yesterday's Gospel to be about the third of these.  (In the Novus Ordo lectionary, even if though today is listed as a Sunday in ordinary time, rather than a Sunday in theEpiphany season.) 

While the wedding feast at Caana shows the practical  charity of Mary and Our Lord, this is not the main point.  St John includes it in his gospel because it manifested [Jesus'] glory and His disciples believed in Him (John 2:11).  And it does this in three ways.

First, St John (who was actually present) quotes the Master of Ceremonies.  While other people used the best wine first, and brought out the cheaper wine when the guests were inebriated and less critical, the MC says in surprise But you have kept the good wine until now.  For St John, this indicated a deeper truth.  After the Mosaic dispensation, Christ has now come and provides the good wine.

Second, when Mary points out the lack of wine, the Lord says, My hour has not yet come.  For St John, this was a reference to the passion on Calvary, and the water and wine at the wedding feast pre-figure the water and blood that come from the Lord's pierced side.

Again, John was an eye-witness at the Crucifixion and later mentions the water and blood coming from the Saviour's side (John 19:34).  He continued to meditate on this, noting in one of his letters (1 John 5:6) that Jesus Christ [came] not by water only but with the water and the blood.

Third, the humble wedding feast prefigures Heaven, which is characterised as the marriage of Christ and His Church. 

This is touched on in the other Gospels, which quote Our Lord's statement that He is the Bridegroom and the parable about the wedding feast. But it is St John who - in the Book of Revelation/the Apocalypse - describes how the marriage is celebrated at the end of time, after all this world's tribulations have passed (Rev 19:7-9). 

As the angel said to St John, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  The point is adverted to in the Novus Ordo, when the priest proclaims, This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper

And, as wine is meant to bring joy (Ps 104:15), let's ask Our Lady to pray that we may be admitted to the feast.  Cause of our Joy, pray for us.