We Dare to Say

WeeklyMessageHomilist:
Father Phil Bloom

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time,
October 23 2011

Bottom line: The new translation – that we will start using in just five weeks – will help us better express our love for God through Jesus. He is consubstantial with the Father. And because of Jesus, we dare to call God “Father.”

Two weeks ago I spoke to you about the revised English missal. I highlighted two changes: Instead of saying “and also with you,” the congregation will respond, “and with your spirit.” And during the consecration the priest will speak about Jesus’ blood shed “for many.”

This Sunday I would like to again address the upcoming changes. This fits with the Gospel since Jesus gives us the two great commandments – love of God and love of neighbor. The most important way we express our love for God is by participating in the Mass. Here we renew Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He unites us to his self-offering to the Father. So the Mass is the greatest prayer – the greatest expression of love for God. It is also the best thing we can do for our neighbor. Everyone needs prayer and the most perfect prayer is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The new translation will help us enter more profoundly into the Mass. If we receive it attentively, it can give us a deeper understanding of our relation to the Father through Jesus. Let me give a couple of examples.

First, beginning on November 27, we will have an updated translation of the Nicene Creed – the one we normally say after the Prayers of the Faithful. Instead of saying that Jesus is “one in being with the Father,” we will say, “consubstantial with the Father.” Consubstantial is not a not a word we use in ordinary conversation, but when you break it down, you can see what it means: “con” signifies “together” and “substantial” refers to “substance.” Jesus is the same substance together with the Father – like ice and steam are the same substance: water. Jesus is as completely God as is the Father – and the Holy Spirit.

That is who Jesus is. We will also have a change that will help understand what he does for us. As an introduction to the Our Father, the celebrant will use these words: “…we dare to say.” To dare is different than to be confident or to have courage.

This might seem like a small change, but let me give an illustration of the difference between daring and courage: Suppose Bill Gates gives a party for his family at the Space Needle. He rents the whole thing and has invited only his family. You, however, want to attend – desperately. You somehow slip by the guards and the next thing you know, you are standing in a small group, a few feet away from Bill himself. One of his bodyguards realizes you don’t belong and pulls you away. He asks what you are doing here and you say, “I just had to be here.” The guard is not going to applaud your courage. He is more likely to say, “How dare you!”

Now suppose further: When the guard starts hauling you to jail, Bill Gates’ son come running, he speaks your name and throws his arms around you. Bill sees it and says, “Come in. I am going to consider you a member of my family. In fact, I am going to make you legally my son.”

Something similar happens in the Mass. I am not a natural son of the Father. But because of Jesus I have become an adopted child. So have you through your baptism. For that reason we dare to call God “Our Father.”

Think about it. If I became an adopted son of Bill Gates, my worries would be over – at least my financial ones. But in comparison to God, Bill Gates’ fortune is like a grain of sand.* God, by way of contrast, owns the earth – and all it contains. And all the galaxies and even the dark matter belong to him. Yet you and I dare to address him as, “Father.”

So we can see from these two examples: The new translation – that we will start using in just five weeks – will help us better express our love for God through Jesus. He is consubstantial with the Father. And because of Jesus, we dare to call God “Father.” Amen.

**********

*If you ask what Gates’ fortune is, it is not roomful of gold or even a stack of bank notes. It is electronic digits somewhere in the computers of financial institutions. The digits (like gold or checks or currency) represent a spiritual reality: shared consciousness – the covenant that has resulted from a long history of conversations among humans. We sometimes speak about religion offering spiritual rewards while other pursuits offer material rewards. The reality is almost exactly the opposite: Most of what the world calls wealth exists in a spiritual form; what Jesus offers is blatently material – resurrected bodies living on a new earth.

General Intercessions for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (from Priests for Life)

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

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