Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Oh, yeah.

The comments thingy is weird on this blog. I have to activate it EACH time I post, and sometimes, because I am fallible and all, I forget.

-J.

The whole Epiphany thing

As I was considering the Magi episode, as we were taking down the Christmas stuff--I'm not sure if it's an Iberic thing or a Catholic thing to start doing so on 1/6--I noticed the elements of the whole thing and how they apply to Mr.--or Dr., Miss, Mrs., etc.--Modern Christian. (No relation to Fletcher Christian, sorry.)

Let us, for the purposes of this discussion, take as correct the traditional assumption the Magi were Kings; let's now see what happened from their perspective and how it applies to us today, OK?

We all know they "saw His star in the east" and came schlepping along. Cool. Great. Got that. But wait! How did they know it was His star? They have to had some knowledge that allowed them to say:

Melchior: Aha! There's the star!
Gaspar: That's right! Better get a move on. Hey, Balthazar, saddle up the camels and the dromedary.
Balthazar: Why is it always me?
Melchior: Quit whining, we have a Messiah to greet...and YOU always get the dromedary.
Gaspar: Hey! Don't forget your myrrh.
Balthazar: Got it. Just wish I could buy a vowel.

So where did that knowledge come from? We can't assume it was directly infused into their brains, but it seems logical they, like us, had some scriptural (possibly even Scriptural) knowledge of this. This was sufficient knowledge to get them going.

Which is the other, and to my mind the biggest, thing. They got going. God has given us, in Christ, His salvation for the world. Which, y'know, rules. But what God has not done is:

1- Cram that salvation down our throats (more on that another time)
2- Told us to call 1-800-SAVIOUR and our salvation will be conveniently delivered to us at our doorstep.

The Magi were up to speed on that and they left all of the comforts of life back in Midia, Persia, Pamphylia or wherever Magi come from to go on an arduous journey following a star (not even Him, just a star) so that they could come face-to-face with Jesus and--watch this, now--pay Him homage. Notice they didn't say "A Messiah. Cool. Bring Him right over." They sought the Christ. Not such a cute and cuddly story now, is it?

Likewise, we are called to drop what we are doing, leave our material comforts and follow the signs (you may not get an actual star, so don't panic, awright?) until we meet Him and then pay Him homage. Notice this is not an obligatory episode. We don't have to do jack. We don't have to acknowledge Him, drop our comfy-cozy setup, traverse afar or any of that. We also don't have to spend the rest of eternity with Him, but hey, y'know, whatever flicks your switch.

Oh, and when you pay Him homage, remember to do so out of love and gratitude and joy, not because, like, you have to, m'kay?

-J.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Catholic Hanukkah

Wait!

It's not an oxymoron!

Don't panic!

Remain calm! All is well! (quick, what movie is this from?)

The deal with Hanukkah is that, while not as big a deal to Christians in general and Catholics in particular, as, say, Christmas, it still carries a powerful message that we would all do well to heed.

Sure, you have all that sorta up-front stuff about a Big Deal Miracle, which is always nice because it causes you to think about God 'n' stuff. When the impossible happens, well, that's pretty cool and it lets you know Someone Is Watching. Great. Cool. Excellent. But, as is the case with all miracles, that's just the beginning the proverbial tip of the proverbial iceberg. That's not what the miracle is about.

Go one layer deeper and you will see that there is more to it. One night's light grows into light for EIGHT nights. Quiz! Does "Ego Sum Lux Mundi" mean anything to you? It ought. In the narrative of Hanukkah, the undefiled (little bells should be going off in your head now) oil provides light for however long it took for the people of God to keep the light going on its own. Sometimes in our very awkward walk towards the divine we stumble and fall and those times, when our own legs will not or cannot carry us, we are carried by the God who made us. Sounds like pretty good stuff to keep in mind for Jews and Christians, yes?

But wait! It gets better!

The Hanukkah narrative is mentioned in the two books of the Maccabees. This is a book which is explicitly present in the Catholic versions of the Bible (also Orthodox). This book records that a woman and her seven (insert "Twilight Zone" theme here) sons suffered horrific tortures in defense of their faith in God and remaining true to divine will. They did so in the explicit hopes of resurrection. Our Christian faith informs us of the source of this resurrection, doesn't it?

Also, in the books of the Maccabees, Judas Maccabeaus (sp?) is noted as having "set aside" the temple of God and we know Christ described himself as such and also, specifically stated how He had been likewise set aside while standing in the Temple area. (I want to make sure I have my Scripture references right, so I'll hold off on citing for now.) St. Paul also exhorts to be set apart for God in that same vein.

See what I mean?

-J.