Adoration Hour With the Pope

We attended at 8:00 a.m. local time, at this lovely Guadalupe chapel at a local parish:

Adoration Altar

It was good. Couple thoughts:

– One thing that pleases me to no end is that attending Catholic events in the East Bay (or California generally) is like a trip  to the United Nations, except quieter, cheaper and with fewer Marxists. Being in the Guadalupe chapel tended to slant the crowd Latin American, but still – not white bread America. Which is good.

– I’ve long been amazed at how our Sola Scriptura, Bible-lovin’ separated brethren could read John 6 without some serious cognitive dissonance.  What *do* they imagine Christ is talking about?

– On that topic, I’ve also long been (slightly) curious about why John, of all the Evangelists, leaves out the Institution of the Sacrament from the Last Supper narrative. Recently read Walking with God by Gray and Cavin, which suggests an answer. I’m embarrassed to admit one point the authors raise escaped me – you know, the pedantic Great Books guy – that the writers of scripture come from a very sophisticated story-telling tradition, with its own rules and traditional practices. You know, like every other freaking culture, only more so, as the Israelites are both long-lived and conspicuously devoted to their stories.

Anyway, any sort of even moderately sophisticated reading has to ask: in what context was this text read? What conventions is it following? One convention: the Jewish writers  do not hit you over the head all the time – often they prefer to leave little leaps for the reader, to better engage him and make the story memorable. Gray and Cavin give the example of Abraham’s banishing of Hagar and Ishmael, and the subsequent call for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Nowhere does account spell out that Abraham had condemned Hagar and Ishmael to death, it merely says he sent them off without supplies or protection, which readers would know meant he intended them to die. God then calls on him to kill Isaac, which the readers would see as reasonable justice for a man who murdered his own son and his mother. God makes it all work out with miracles left and right, sparing Hagar and Ishmael and Isaac, and calling Abraham to greater fidelity and holiness. The context in which this story was read was one in which the children of Abraham know they have failed to keep God’s law, have sinned repeatedly, and yet have been, from Moses on down, repeatedly and miraculously spared what justice would require.

And so on – it’s a good analysis, check it out. In the case of John’s Eucharistic theology, the thrice-repeated insistence by Christ that He is eaten and drunk, and that that Body and Blood are real food and real drink, and that if you do not eat of His Body and drink of His Blood, you will have no life within you, the context in which this was read was – the Mass. By the time John wrote his Gospel, the practice of celebrating the Eucharist by reading Scriptures, hearing a homily, and then sharing in the Bread and Wine had become well-established. John didn’t leave out the Last Supper consecration narrative to denigrate it – he left it out to emphasize it. The hearer of that passage would then see what it means by the actions of the priest right before his eyes. The hearer of the Word is engaged, and the message made more memorable, by not spelling it out in the text, but by letting the liturgical context actualize it.  Since the other 3 Evangelists and Paul, writing earlier, had spelled it out, there was no risk of the connection between the Real Presence at Mass and the Last Supper being missed.

Well, unless you willfully want to miss it.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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