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On Saturday I had a conversation with Jesus (on another of my blogs not in person) and Jesus asked (I wrote) this…

Why are you assuming that people will respond ignorantly and use the hurricane as a way of criticizing the government … the sins of ObamaCare bringing down the Wrath of God?

Then came Michele Bachmann’s statement on Monday, August 29…

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians,”  Bachmann said to supporters. “We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He  said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?”

Wow! I was a prophet. But not really.
People have been using natural disasters as a way of pointing out the sins of others since Bible times and probably before.  But surely rational people are ready to give up this view of God as the sender of boils and blight.  Then again what has reason got to do with politics, or religion? Sometimes nothing, apparently. And to be fair, don’t we all secretly ask the same question when something really annoying or really catastrophic happens to us: Why me?  What did I do to deserve this? Everything from zits on the nose on the day of an interview to debilitating disease and untimely death, will raise this question. And in the absence of a rational, just explanation, we are left wondering about God. Is God good after all?

Catholic practices have often promoted this view: if you attend 8 masses in a row; if you wear the scapular when you die; if you repeat the Chaplet of Divine Mercy..!  As if God can be manipulated or bought off by ritual acts. Amos saw through that in the 8th century BCE. It’s time we caught up with him.

To believe that our prayers will divert a hurricane or remove a cancerous growth seems pagan to me.  I am more comfortable with a far distant God who isn’t involved in my sh… stuff. But that could be because my prayers weren’t answered and I am just pissed off. That’s the crux of the matter isn’t it. What does God do for me

Many evangelicals preach that God will reward good people with financial security and good jobs and health. And if you don’t get those things either you don’t have enough faith, you have sinned and are hiding it, or you just didn’t plant a big enough Seed of Faith (make a big enough donation to the Minister). Job’s friends all over again.

Catholics don’t officially buy into that Prosperity Gospel theology, but yet we are often guilty of the same kind of thinking: If I have been a good person, done my best (most of the time), paid my taxes, and supported my Church, why is God doing this to me? Well maybe God isn’t doing it to you any more than God was doing it to the politicians over the weekend.

Time to let go of the “God of boils.”

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I read something today: sitting in church doesn’t make a person a believer, just like sitting in a garage
doesn’t make someone a car.

That is worth pondering I think.

According to David O’Brien of the University of Dayton, the recent calls to disobedience and group protests of priests in America, Austria, and Australia are “.. a sign that the pastoral needs are sufficiently grave now that priests are speaking up and saying, ‘Wait a minute, you can’t just ignore the pastoral consequences of the things you do and say at the top.’ ”

This is excellent! Priests are finding the courage to stand up for Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who is being threatened with dismissal from the priesthood for speaking out in support of women priests, and for the Bishop of Toowoomba, Australia, who was forced to resign for the same reason. Pew Catholics should be standing with these protestor/priests, signing the petitions, placarding  and planning. If  Catholics don’t want their parishes to close and their sacraments to be rationed they need to wake up to the facts and start supporting the option of marriage for our priests and the ordination of women priests.

It is heartening to see such courage among our clergy. But as much as I am encouraged by this activism I have to wonder, are  the pastoral needs of sexual abuse victims not sufficiently grave yet to elicit the support of such priests and bishops?  Are the pastoral consequences of the things that have been said and done at the top in the last 60 years for the protection of criminal priests and Church assets not yet sufficiently appalling for these good and honorable priests to stand up and shout to their Bishops: 

Enough! Open the files, dismiss the lawyers, get down on your knees and beg… beg for God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of all Catholics. And when you get up, you had better be ready to start over.

These good priests need to gather abuse specialists, victims and their loved ones, the families of victims who have committed suicide, concerned Catholics in SNAP and other organizations who have been advocating for victims for decades and having to fight the Catholic authorities every step of the way, and ask them: What do we need to do?  How can we help victims and their families heal? And they need to bring their findings to the Bishops, who need to start really listening. Then maybe the Bishop of Rome will start to listen too.

What an idea! The courage and conviction of good Catholics organizing for change from the ground level up. Well, it’s not so new. People like Roy Bourgeois and Tom Doyle, Barbara Blain, Barbara Dorris, David  Clohessy, Jason Berry, organisations such as  Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful and so many more, have been living it for years.

It is only people and organizations such as these, and the groups of priests who are challenging their bishops, that give me hope for Catholicism, or at least a Catholic Church I would want to be associated with.

Living the Gospel of Love
Call To Action 2011 National Conference
Nov. 4-6     Milwaukee, WI

Dominican nuns serve heroically in midst of Iraq’s violence  from Catholic Culture.org.

“Early in the crisis, especially in 2003 and 2004, most of Iraq’s hospitals closed down,” she added. “We run Al-Hayat Hospital in Baghdad, and we stayed opened. We stayed open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We stayed open for the people.”

The Dominicans have been serving in Iraq since the thirteenth century.

“The War in Iraq has drawn the attention of the Christian world to the presence there of a native church with roots extending all the way back to Apostolic times. There are also about 200 Dominicans there. Dominican friars first came to Mesopotamia, the country the world now calls Iraq, in the thirteenth century.  They established a small community in Baghdad to minister to Christians there  and to study Arabic and the culture and history of the people at the University of Baghdad. A church and priory were built in Mosul in the northern part of the country.”

For more details you can visit the Dominican Life site. Or click on the logo below for a list of articles about Dominicans in Iraq.

Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Seder? 
by Jonathan Klawans

“..there are various reasons why the early church would have tried to “Passoverize” the Last Supper tradition.20 Placing the Last Supper in the context of Passover was a literary tool in early Christian debates about whether or not and how Christians should celebrate Passover.”

This process of Passoverization did not end with the New Testament. The second-century bishop Melito of Sardis (in Asia Minor) once delivered a widely popular Paschal sermon, which could well be called a “Christian Haggadah,” reflecting at great length on the various connections between the Exodus story and the life of Jesus.22

“Passoverization can even be found in the Middle Ages. Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic custom of using unleavened wafers in the Mass is medieval in origin. The Orthodox churches preserve the earlier custom of using leavened bread.23 Is it not possible to see the switch from using leavened to unleavened bread as a “Passoverization” of sorts?

Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder? Most likely, it was not.”

     
Click on the title above to go to the article on the BAR site.

I learned something today in our Synagogue staff meeting that really blew me away. As a Catholic Religious Educator I was used to the simple (now I understand simplistic) correlation between the Last Supper and a Passover seder.  (Seder means order or sequence, as in order of service – the sequence of prayers in the ritual meal.  The Passover Seder is a particular order of service for Passover.) But the Last Supper was not a Passover Seder, could not have been a Passover Seder. So the struggle within Christian theology to figure out the day of the week of the Last Supper and whether it coincided with Passover is pointless. Why? For the simple reason that the Passover Seder is a Rabbinic tradition developed AFTER the destruction of the Temple in 70AD and codified in Rabbinic texts around 200A.D.

So any paralleling between the Passover and the Last Supper is anachronistic. Perhaps in fact the Last Supper ritual of bread and wine was a Sabbath ritual or Sabbath-like. Certainly the tradition of the four blessings with wine did not exist at the time of Jesus death.  Was the Last Supper ritual written as a theological midrash (interpretation) by the Gospel writers, comparing Jesus with the Passover lamb? This would have made sense after his death when they were struggling to find some redemptive value in it and not see it simply as a failure.  Did Jesus compare himself to the lamb which was sacrificed in the Temple on the feast of Passover for the expiation of sins ? Again, that is possible if he knew he was going to die and saw his upcoming death as that of an innocent victim whose death brought salvation to his followers.  But what if Paul developed the midrash of the Last Supper?  Paul who was a rabbinic scholar. Paul who came to believe in Jesus after his death.  Paul who was the first to write the account of the Last Supper.

There is a lot to consider here. 

Michelle Lesley

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