I'm a born and raised practicing Catholic in a family of Irish-American Catholic Democrats. For me and my family, the Catholic Church isn't just a religion it's our culture: it's how we were raised, educated, interacted with friends, interacted with extended family, and how we will die.
Now I'll be the first to admit that the church has been a really pain in the ass over the last two decades with all the scandals and political games but I still practiced with the faith that the church of my childhood would return. I was raised under Vatican II and I was taught that this Jesus guy was a real decent guy. So decent that we would really have to work hard to be like him - I call him Hard Jesus because he challenges us. But my issue with the church over the past two decades was that the leaders in my church worshiped the Easy Jesus, the one guy who reinforced their inner bigotries and their love of lots of stuff. So how does a church who worships Easy Jesus change to the worship of Hard Jesus?
More below the cloud.
After high school it seemed a right choice to go to a fine Catholic college and I chose a prominent Jesuit university. What I found great about the school was that it was a Liberal Arts school in the traditional sense but there were also these cool guys called SJs (Society of Jesus) who asked the students to question everything - even our understanding of the church. I studied World Religions taught by a Buddist professor, graduate level Christian Social Theory by an Episcopalian woman priest and learned enough to realize that we are all in this together. It was a great experience and I recommend it if you are considering an education.
So you can see why I was so excited by a Jesuit Pope. We had a few scare mongers at this site who had us worried about the new guy but I knew that a Jesuit could be trusted. Any Pope that gives away the security of the Pope-mobile has an understanding and faith in his own mortality. There is an honesty in this that is rare. Most people lie to themselves about their mortality and if they will lie to themselves, what keeps them from lying to you?
In a few diaries of Pope Frances, it had been asked why he isn't doing anything yet. Well I think things have started to change and I'll explain how and why below. So, about my title... I was sitting in my church Sunday and the liturgy floored me:
Reading 1, Amos 8:4-7In my entire life I had never heard this spoken in church before. Read it a few times and think about it. The reading of Amos really tied in well with the Gospel of Luke below and I'm pretty sure it was by design.
4 Listen to this, you who crush the needy and reduce the oppressed to nothing,
5 you who say, 'When will New Moon be over so that we can sell our corn, and Sabbath, so that we can market our wheat? Then, we can make the bushel-measure smaller and the shekel-weight bigger, by fraudulently tampering with the scales.
6 We can buy up the weak for silver and the poor for a pair of sandals, and even get a price for the sweepings of the wheat.'
7 Yahweh has sworn by the pride of Jacob, 'Never will I forget anything they have done.'
Gospel, Luke 16:1-13Last week we discussed Pope Frances' homily for this week's reading Pope Frances: Money is the Root of All Evil but make sure you also read the bold lines above. This reading calls for the redistribution from the land owner who tips the scales to the land users by the steward, the man who worked for the land owner. In this gospel, Jesus didn't condemn the steward for "cheating" the landowner, in fact it seems he wants us to be like the steward. The priest in my church then did his homily on a Robin Hood like anecdote and finished with a quote from his Brazilian friend Fr Helder Camara "When I give food to the poor they call me a saint, when I ask why they are poor they call me a Communist."
1 He also said to his disciples, 'There was a rich man and he had a steward who was denounced to him for being wasteful with his property.
2 He called for the man and said, "What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer."
3 Then the steward said to himself, "Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed.
4 Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes."
5 'Then he called his master's debtors one by one. To the first he said, "How much do you owe my master?"
6 "One hundred measures of oil," he said. The steward said, "Here, take your bond; sit down and quickly write fifty."
7 To another he said, "And you, sir, how much do you owe?" "One hundred measures of wheat," he said. The steward said, "Here, take your bond and write eighty."
8 'The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.'
9 'And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into eternal dwellings.
10 Anyone who is trustworthy in little things is trustworthy in great; anyone who is dishonest in little things is dishonest in great.
11 If then you are not trustworthy with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches?
12 And if you are not trustworthy with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?
13 'No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.'
Now you have to be asking "what the Hell just happened?" I mentioned how this was going to happen in the diary Pope Frances: Money is the Root of All Evil
In the diary I noted that Pope Benedict in June of 2012 appointed Archbishop Muller to the the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Benedict then resigned 8 months later. Muller was a pupil and friend of Fr Gustavo Gutierrez, the father of Latin American Liberation Theology and Pope Frances just had closed door meetings with Muller and Gutierrez. In that diary I asked, "what did they discuss?"
What is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? It is the body that determines the liturgy that every Roman Catholic church worships on a given Sunday.
Thank you for your time.
Update: It appears that this is a trend and we'll see more of a populist message in the weekly Liturgy. This coming week's liturgy will go back to readings of Amos and Luke and both have populist messages. We start with Amos 6:1a,4-7
Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
you notable men of the foremost nation,
to whom the people of Israel come!
You lie on beds adorned with ivory
and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs
and fattened calves.
5 You strum away on your harps like David
and improvise on musical instruments.
6 You drink wine by the bowlful
and use the finest lotions,
but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
your feasting and lounging will end.
and Luke 16:19-31
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.I like this. A lot.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”