For Many

WeeklyMessageHomilist:
Father Phil Bloom

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time,
October 9 2011

Bottom line: In a few weeks we will hear a more exact translation of Jesus’ words: “My blood…poured out for many.” We can be part of that joyful multitude. By prayer, by the sacraments We can each day increase our taste for God.

You probably know that at the end of next month we will have a revised English missal. To help prepare for this change, I want to say something about the new translation – in light of today’s Gospel. To lead into the topic, I start with a joke:

Once a priest – at the beginning of Mass – was having trouble with the church sound system. He started tapping the microphone and muttered, “There’s something wrong with this microphone.” The congregation dutifully responded, “And also with you!” (smile)
Well, that joke will soon be out of date. When we inaugurate the new English translation, instead of saying, “And also with you,” the congregation will respond, “And with your Spirit.”

Why the change? There are a number of reason. First and most obvious: “And with your spirit” more exactly translates the Latin, “Et cum spiritu tuo.” The Latin itself goes back to the Hebrew: “Spirit” (ruah in Hebrew) represents the entire person in his unseen dimension – his power to relate to God and to others. So the congregation is wishing that Lord be with the celebrant’s spirit – his deepest being. To lead the people in worshipping God, the celebrant needs the Lord profoundly present inside him. For that reason you will say to me, “And with your spirit.” There’s more to say about this, but I will save it for our parish workshop in November.

This Sunday I would like to address the words we hear in the central part of the Mass – the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Instead of saying Jesus’ Blood is shed “for all” the priest will say “for many.”

There are important reasons for this change. First, like “and with your spirit,” the words “for many” more accurately translate the Latin text. The Latin says, “pro multis.” You can easily recognize that “multis” contains the root of English words such as “multiply,” “multitude” and “multiple.” Those words imply a big number, but do not necessarily mean “all.” Christ of course did die for all, but redemption is not mechanical or automatic. Jesus offers sufficient grace to all. We, however, have to open ourselves to that grace.* In the Bible it clearly states that Jesus offers his life “for many.” For example, in Mark 14:24, Jesus says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Yes, Jesus died for all, but not all want his blood upon them.

We see that in today’s Gospel. Jesus speaks about a king with a long list of people invited to a wedding banquet. The banquet is heaven – as our first reading makes clear: “a feast of rich foods and choice wines” where God “will remove the veil that veils all people…he will destroy death forever.” Sadly the invited guests refuse to come. They have more important things on their mind. They even make fun of the king’s messengers and mistreat them.

All are invited, but not all respond. It’s hard for us to come to grips with the fact that not everyone might be saved. Yet that is the conclusion of today’s parable: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

I have to be honest. I do not like the idea that some might be excluded from heaven – especially when I consider that one of those people might be me. I am confident about God’s love – but I am not so confident about myself. For that reason I ask: How could a person be excluded from heaven?
Well, it is important to understand that heaven is a banquet. Everyone likes the general idea of a banquet, but regarding any specific banquet it depends on what is on the menu. Some people love oysters while others can hardly stand to look at the little mollusks. The same can be said about other foods. French eat “escargot” and Mexicans have a soup called “menudo.” Escargot are ordinary garden snails and menudo is made from a cow’s belly – tripe. A person has to be willing to try them in order to appreciate how delicious they might be.

Something similar applies to heaven. Not that it will make a difference whether we have a taste for oysters or tripe or snails. It will matter, however, if we have a taste for God. Even though we are made for God, in this life we have to develop a taste for God. We have a “God shaped hole” in our hearts – but we can try to fill that holes with other things – a kind of spiritual junk food. People often do not go to Mass because “it is boring.” Well, a salad is boring in comparison to French Fries. But a person can cultivate a taste for salad – just like a person can develop a taste for God.** We have to allow God to make us ready for heaven – to have a taste for him

Hell, on the other hand, is a self-made prison. A man builds his own hell out of things such as anger, pornography, hurt feelings, vanity, false self image and lies. They become his daily diet – and he loses (or never acquires) a taste for God. Heaven’s banquet (which is nothing more and nothing less than God) holds no attraction for him – other things seem more compelling.

So, yes, Jesus shed his blood for all – and he invites all to the heavenly banquet. But not all accept the invitation. In a few weeks we will hear a more exact translation of Jesus’ words: “My blood…poured out for many.” We can be part of that joyful multitude. By prayer, by the sacraments we can each day increase our taste for God. Amen.

**********

*On this point, the homilist could develop the image of the wedding garment. As Fr. Benedict T. Viviano, O.P., observes: “This (the wedding garment) representas a converted life full of good deed. Sinners are invited, but expected to repent.” (The New Jerome Biblical Commentary)

**In his homily at the “Red Mass” in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Sartain made a similar point: “As human persons we are not fully alive – even if we follow a balanced, healthy lifestyle and nourish ourselves with all that is good and beautiful in culture – unless we live for something beyond ourselves, unless we give ourselves to Someone beyond ourselves.”

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
October 9, 2011

The Wedding Feast
At age 16, life was about rock ‘n roll. If my own band was not performing on Saturday night, I was out in the audience, watching another band.

It would have never occurred to me to spend my Saturday nights at a Catholic conference or retreat. True, no matter how late I was out, I’d never miss Sunday Mass. But that’s not because it was the source and summit of my life. It was because I didn’t want to go to hell. Being roasted over an open fire for all eternity definitely did not appeal to me. But neither did wasting my Saturday night in a Church event that was not strictly required by divine law.
…more

Our Faith is a Love Story
This parable from the twenty-second chapter of St. Matthew, comprised one of Christ’s parables, in which He compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a great marriage feast. Christ says that “The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain King, which made a marriage for his son.
…more

The Banquet of Eternal Life
Christ reveals his love and mercy in all that he says and does. All of his teaching reveals the saving love of God. So with the parables. These stories of the kingdom reveal the outpouring of God’s desire to embrace us in Jesus Christ. God is love. His love and mercy are fully revealed to us in Christ. We meet and know Christ in the truth, handed down to us in the Tradition and the Scriptures. The work of the Church in every age is to proclaim the saving truth, that all mankind may be saved.
….more

Father Barron’s “Catholicism” on EWTN
Finding Father Robert Barron these days is an easy task. This is good news for those who love the Church, and good news for those on the outside wondering if they should step in, or even back in as the case may be. Whether it be books, radio, DVDs, or television, Father Barron’s seemingly ubiquitous voice has been called “one of the Church’s best messengers” by Cardinal Francis George. With a nimble intellect and loving heart, Father Barron has given the faithful an arsenal of catechetical material. However, now he presents the Catholic faithful and a searching world a landmark production on a scale and quality rivaled only by Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Father Barron’s 10-part miniseries Catholicism has been hailed by George Weigel as “the most important media project in the history of the Catholic Church in America.”
…more

Our Lady of the Rosary
With the entire Mediterranean at the mercy of Ottoman fleets, Muslim slave-traders had been ravaging coastal towns in 16th century Europe, and carrying whole villages to the slave markets. Pope Pius V helped organize a coalition of Christian fleets, notably Spanish, Venetian and that of the Papal States. The Pope asked the Churches of Catholic Europe to solicit the interposition of Divine Providence by praying the rosary, and that our Lady might intercede on behalf of the Christian navy.
…more

What Does it Mean that the Gates of Hell Won’t Prevail
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says to Simon:

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Lots of ink (and blood) has been spilled on the issue of Peter’s role as the Rock, and that’s usually where the debate ends. Catholics say that Simon is the rock, since Jesus just renamed him Peter (which means Rock), and this is pretty clearly what’s meant. Protestants deny this, claiming that Peter’s Greek name means small rock. Nevermind that Jesus named Peter in Aramaic, not Greek (as John 1:42 tells us), and that Petros is the masculine form of the Greek word for rock (petra).
…more

Why I Pray to Mary
When Protestants hear that I went to Bob Jones University, but am now a Catholic (after they pick up their jaw from the floor) they ask me whether I “really believe all that Catholic stuff.”
…more

Turning the Problem of Evil on Its Head
Atheists are fond of using the argument from evil to debunk the notion of God. It goes something like this:

1.If God is all-powerful (omnipotent), He could stop evil.
2.If God is all-loving (omnibenevolent), He would stop evil if He could.
3.Therefore, if an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God existed, evil would not.
4.Evil exists; therefore, an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God does not.
…more

Earliest Christian inscription identified? Maybe?
There is an old adage which everyone, people who participate on blogs included, ought to kind in mind: Scripta manent… Things that are written down endure.

In a story posted on Fox News I read about the possible identification of maybe the oldest known Christian inscription. It is in Greek and was found at the 4 mile mark of the Via Latin near Rome. Today it is in the collections of the Capitoline Museums. The dating derives from the shape of the Greek letters, including the sigma and omega, used at Rome in the second half of the 2nd c.
…more

Martin Sheen discusses new film about The Way of St. James
Actor Martin Sheen spoke in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 1 about his latest movie, which was filmed entirely along The Way of St. James, a European pilgrimage route that leads to the city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

“If this is the last thing I ever do, I couldn’t be happier,” Sheen told his audience at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
…more

Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free
Some years ago I read an essay by the Franciscan Theologian Richard Rohr. I will say, (honestly) that I do not share a lot of agreement with Richard Rohr (no need to detail that here), but I found this particular essay compelling. I do not recall the exact title of that essay but in my mind the title “Five Hard Truths that Will Set You Free” seems the best title. The following five truths from that essay are indeed hard truths.
…more

Exploring Four Myths About the Crusades
Back in Seminary I remember a Church History instructor warning us not to be “too defensive” of the Church when others point to our shortcomings. He said that the Church is so big and so old, that just about anything you can say probably has some truth to it. He went on to clarify that it didn’t mean that everything said about the Church was necessarily fair or set in proper context to be understood. Neither was it fair that the Church was often singled out. Nevertheless given the billions who have been Catholic over 2000 years, there are plenty of sinners and plenty of saints, lots of glory and lots that was gory. So be careful he said, “Never deny, seldom affirm, always distinguish.
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My ‘granddaddy’ John Wayne, actor and Catholic convert
John Wayne, for many, was a Hollywood legend who symbolized true masculinity and American values. To Fr. Matthew Muñoz, though, he was simply “granddaddy.”
…more

The First Epistle of St. John
The Roman galley cruised through the surf and flotsam into the harbor on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. While the galley slaves slumped exhausted across their oars, the convicts disembarked and formed a long chain bound for the penal colony and marched up the road to the sound of the lash and the soldiers’s hollers: Hoc!
…more

Did St. Ambrose Believe in the Real Presence?
On Thursday, I also noted that St. Augustine’s mentor, St. Ambrose, wrote in the late 380s that the Eucharist “is the true Flesh of Christ which crucified and buried, this is then truly the Sacrament of His Body.”” A Protestant reader, H.R. Diaz III, responded:

You’re right, Joe; He does say that. And since he’s basically quoting Scripture, he’s right. However, he disagrees with Romanism [sic] when he further explains:
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It was when I nearly died that I learned how to say ‘yes’ to my family
Editor’s note: Melanie Pritchard is a nationally renowned pro-life and chastity speaker. Last year she nearly died after suffering an amniotic fluid embolism while giving birth. Doctors gave her a 0% chance of survival: however, despite all the odds she experienced a complete recovery. Read more about her story here.

If you can’t say no, what does your yes mean?

My life before suffering an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) was busy. I was a wife, mom, held a part-time job as an education director, spoke nationally, was on boards and committees, attended galas and conferences, and volunteered for organizations. When I suffered the embolism, I was given strict instruction from my doctors to do nothing but sit on a couch and rest. For this girl who never sat still, I wondered if I would go stir crazy. Because I was more interested in surviving, I did as my doctors said and found
…more

NOBODY SAYS IT BETTER!
Babies Go To Congress to Defend Pregnancy Centers

There’s nothing that captures people’s attention in a more positive way than the happy sounds of a baby. Today on Capitol Hill, those sounds – translated by moms in some cases– will declare: “Pregnancy Help Centers are good for America!”

Pregnancy help centers are a model for informed choice, giving women complete information about adoption and parenting, as well as all the risks associated with abortion and the details of human development. But pregnancy centers are under siege. Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and their cronies have been working hard to discredit the lifesaving work of pregnancy centers.
…more

Canadian Pro-Lifer Is Jailed Again — and Is Counseling Pregnant Women in Prison
In his seminal work, After Virtue, philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre argues that the abandonment of Aristotelian ethics lies at the heart of modern society’s slide into moral decadence and decline. Having abandoned an ontological, “is-ought” conception of the world, MacIntyre maintains that society now lacks a foundational vision to guide and order itself. Individualism, reigns supreme.
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Physical Graffiti: A Catholic Perspective on Tattoos, Piercings, and “Body Art”
Every day, across the United States — indeed, throughout the world — men and women, boys and girls, get themselves tattooed and pierced. And not just their ears. They are participating in the modern fad of “body art,” which has its origins in antiquity, but which in recent decades as developed into some extreme forms that are often quite disturbing.
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Question about Mary’s Sinlessness
I have been in e-mail with a devout Roman Catholic who referred me to an article you wrote on Mary. I thought about asking you some questions about it, but referred them to my friend as he seems to be very knowledgable as well. However, I have a question if you have some time to reply to it: the question of the sinlessness of Mary according to Roman Catholic doctrine. From a Catholic angle in order for Jesus to be sinless, Mary would have to be sinless as well.
…more

The Drama of Grace
In the Gospel of St. Matthew there is Jesus’ parable of the merciful master and the merciless servant. The master holds one of his servants accountable for a debt owed to the master, and is ready to order the servant and his family sold into bondage, and all of his property sold as well, for payment of the indebtedness. But the servant falls to his knees and begs forgiveness of his debts from the master. “Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.
…more

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