The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Proverbs 31, 10-13.19-20.30-31; Psalm 128; 1 Thessalonians 5, 1-6; Matthew 25, 14-30

In today's Gospel Jesus is presenting us the parable of the talents. It challenges us to ask the question of what we are doing with our lives that God has given us as a talent, a treasure. But we can see many other parallels and similarities between this parable and our life. We are constantly getting so many talents and treasures, we are showered by God with so many graces and gifts that sometimes we don't even recognize them as a grace, we rather see them as our rights and privileges.

Let us take for example of a wonderful gift of the Eucharist. Do I realize that it is a GIFT, a TALENT, and a TREASURE given to us by God for our salvation? What do I do with this treasure, what do I do with the gift of the Liturgy, the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ? How often do I rather prefer to HIDE THIS TREASURE? How often do our faithful Catholics are like the last one among the servants coming to the King, burying the treasure of the Eucharist, the gift of the Sunday Mass in the worries and preoccupations of every day’s life?

Even the present renewal of the English Missal could be -for us- a treasure, a wonderful opportunity of a deeper and more profound understanding of the Gift of the Eucharist, or we can miss once more this opportunity and burry the treasure in the ground, pretending that we didn't get anything special, that it is our right, our entitlement and take it as granted.

Actually there are two possible methods or tactics of approaching the new translation of the English Missal and the renewal of our postures and gestures during the Mass:

1.     I can pretend that it is a worthless and absolutely unnecessary or even useless going backward to the so called "pre-Vatican" theology, I can be frustrated or disappointed, I can try to resist or to disagree, OR

2.     I can try to understand, to deepen and develop my understanding and my knowledge of the Eucharist, the precious gift, the talent given to the Church for the salvation of her members.

Let us take for example the new wording of the Consecration of the Blood of Christ. Why this "new" which is absolutely not new (!!!), so called exclusive language.

Why for "many" and not for "all"?

Now the priest says:

This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and FOR ALL so that sins may be forgiven.

Beginning Nov. 27 he will say:

“For this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and FOR MANY for the forgiveness of sins”

Here’s why:

In the Sacred Liturgy, there is no moment more important or more filled with grace than when the priest repeats Christ’s words, first spoken at the Last Supper, and the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood.

For the past 40 years, English-speaking Catholics have heard those words of consecration, when spoken over the cup, translated as: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it: This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.”

Most of those changes won’t raise any eyebrows. Chalice, rather than cup (cup is too vernacular it is the mug, the goblet, etc.) the poured, rather than shed. Eternal, rather than everlasting. Each has its significance, and together they give a more reverent tone to the prayer, but none are controversial or puzzling. The same can’t be said, however, of the phrase, “for you and for MANY.”

At first hearing, it sounds as if the Church is saying that Christ didn’t die for everyone, that there’s some special class of individuals who aren’t of “salvation-grade quality”. But that can’t be what the Church actually means. Or is it?

The answer is no ... and yes. Christ did die for everyone. He offers salvation to all. He invites ALL. But not everyone accepts what he offers. Not everyone accepts the invitation. That’s what the phrase “for you and for MANY” reminds us. Jesus Christ is proposing His redemptive death and resurrection to all, but because of the human freedom He is not forcing anybody to accept His proposal, and so … He is dying only for those who in their freedom accepted this sacrifice.
Otherwise how He can die for those who a stubbornly rejecting, neglecting or denying Him and His redemptive death? Is it not against the fundamental gift freedom? Why by using the human translation which is “more inclusive” namely “ALL” we are forcing those who won’t like to be included into the Redemptive Sacrifice of Christ? The atheists like: Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are irritated and frustrated by this kind of “all including catholic terrorism”. And that’s what the original Latin says: PRO MULTIS and not FOR ALL.

In Latin, the phrase used is "QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS", which literally means “for you and for many,” or “for you and the many.” “The many” can mean the same thing as “all,” but traditionally that’s not how the phrase has been interpreted, not by Catholics and not by Protestants who continue to use the words “for many” in their own communion services.

In part, “for many” because the passage is a translation of the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, words which refer to a passage from Isaiah 53 about the suffering servant who would make many righteous.
(Mt 26,28: Mk 14,24)
( 24και ειπεν αυτοις τουτο εστιν το αιμα μου το της καινης διαθηκης το περι πολλων εκχυνομενον)
Kai eipen autois touto estin to aima mon to tes kainos diathekes to peri pollon ekshunomenon
24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them".
Do we pretend that Jesus didn’t know what He was saying using the word: “peri pollon” - for many and not for ALL?

It’s also been translated as “many” rather than “all,” because of Jesus’ own words about heaven and hell in Matthew 7:14: “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

On a spring day outside Jerusalem, the Second Person of the Trinity saved every member of the human race, potentially. It’s ‘potentially’ because not everyone will be saved. The Lord says that in the Gospel. Again, however, that’s not to say that Jesus doesn’t want to save everyone. He does. But, in order to receive salvation, something on our part needs to happen. We don’t earn our salvation, but we need to embrace it and live it.

Our decisions have consequences. Our crucifixes have Christ’s arms spread wide to show that salvation is for the many. But if we eliminate human choice, then morality has no meaning or content, i.e., one can do whatever one pleases and just presume God will forgive all offenses without repentance. But that’s not how it works, and presumption is a sin against the Holy Spirit.”

By returning to the traditional “FOR YOU AND FOR MANY,” the Church asks us to remember that:

·        The words remind us, that there is no such thing as automatic salvation. Just because someone poured water on your head 50 or even 70 years ago doesn’t mean you’re saved!
·        The language, these words, also force us to confront our own sins which are the real sins causing the death of Christ on the cross,
·        They’re meant to be a call to an examination of conscience. At every given celebration of the Mass, they’re an invitation to ask, ‘Where do I stand? I recognize Christ has died, so what have I done to accept it?’
·        What did I do with the gift, the treasure of Christ's Blood?

God is constantly giving us some talents, but it's up to us to use these talents, to accept them as a precious gift and not as our rights and privileges. It is up to each one of us individually to accept or to reject the Talent of the Eucharist, which is poured for all, but unhappily not all are accepting this gift. And this is why Jesus used the words:

"… this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and FOR MANY for the forgiveness of sins".

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