Thursday, 17 November 2011

A Neat Bit Of Evangelisation...

"On the Cross, Jesus said, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' Why would he say that if he knew he was God?"

That question is quite a common one, in my experience. Most people in Catholic schools know enough of the Gospels to throw something similar at you, triumphantly, as if it would completely undermine the faith as taught for two thousand years. After all, people in the past were just dumb, weren't they?

Even the devil can quote Scripture.

I think that what we have lost is the idea of Tradition. Tradition now tends to be associated with stuffiness, and harking back to the bad old days, and being against progress. However, the living Tradition of the Catholic Church is very different. It is the knowledge, passed down through the centuries, (NOT "old wives' tales") which fleshes out the accounts in the Gospels - the things which St. John records as being too numerous to write down.

Stuff that people just used to know.

Of course, with modern teaching methods, one can never "just know" anything - one has to be able to give chapter and verse - reasons for one's knowledge. Not just so-and-so said, and I trust them to tell me the truth, but actual reasons, and anyway one must always recognise that this is just one opinion among many...

I think that, since the sort of biblical exegesis we've seen with the New Jerusalem Bible and its ilk - exegesis which depends on treating the Scriptures as dead documents to be translated as "accurately" as possible - we have lost the idea of the Scriptures as the living Word of God, interpreted through the Church's Tradition. I said this once before, when I noticed that the writings of the saints about Scripture passages didn't appear to correspond to the meanings given to those same passages today... which is why I tend to prefer the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible when looking stuff up. That's the version the Church used for most of her history.

Anyway, Pat Archbold has obviously found a brilliantly inspired way to answer the question about Jesus' cry from the Cross. He managed to identify the modern-day equivalent of common knowledge and tradition and apply it. I have to admit that I didn't get the cannoli reference - not being an American male brought up on the Godfather films - but I'm sure there are other frames of reference which could be substituted...

6 comments:

Ben Trovato said...

Mac, great approach, but I don't know the Godfather either. It might be interesting to think of parallels, that would work in our varying contexts. Scott Hahn uses 'Come on Virginia, don't let it wait' (a quotation from a Billy Joel song) to make a similar point.

Liam O'Hara said...

At a Lenten recollection at the London Oratory one of the fathers explained the apparent conundrum of Jesus' qutotation of Psalm 21 (22), 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'

The father of the Oratory said that Jesus was reminding the Jews mocking him at the foot of the cross of the prophesies of this death.

For, as any observant Jew would know, Psalm 21 (22) continues:


'They have dug my hands and feet. [18] They have numbered all my bones. And they have looked and stared upon me. [19] They parted my garments amongst them; and upon my vesture they cast lots.'

Patricius said...

Sorry, I don't know The Godfather, either. The examples that occur to me from popular culture are from adverts past and present such as "All because the lady loves Milk Tray" (You are probably too young for that one) or, more recently, "Should've gone to Specsavers!"
A single phrase can evoke a whole network of ideas. (I think we are getting something of that in the new translation of the Mass.) Earlier this week Pope Benedict encouraged the praying of the psalms as found in the Divine Office. They are, in my opinion, fundamental to understanding Our Lord as we meet him in the Gospels. In fact there is much in the Old Testament that acts like a mirror upon the Gospels. St Jerome famously said "ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ". He said that, if I am not mistaken, in his commentary upon Isaiah! This morning at mass I found myself bowled over by the first reading from the Second Book of Maccabees dealing with the cleansing and rededication of the temple by the valiant Judas and his brothers being followed by the Gospel account of Christ's cleansing of the temple. The New Judas Maccabeus!

Mac McLernon said...

Yes, Liam, that is exactly what Pat Archbold pointed out, if you'd checked out the link I gave...

Patricia McLaughlin Durel said...

I;m sorry, but I really need to unsubscribe from your emails (Way too many emails coming in) and I can't for the life of me find how to do it. Blessings.
eire2neamh@verizon.net

Mac McLernon said...

Patricia, I don't actually send out emails.

If, as I suspect, you opted to receive email notifications from the doobrey whatsit in the sidebar, all I can suggest is that you check the bottom of the email carefully for an unsubscribe option - as I have no direct control over who receives email notifications...

Sorry!

I hope you get it sorted, as there's nothing more irritating than unsolicited emails of blog posts and comments. Google Reader is a much more civilised way to keep track of things!

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