Right thing, wrong reason

by | Oct 20, 2013 | Reflections

Vincent EucharistThirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), October 27, 2013 – Sir 35, 12-14. 16-18; 2 Tim 4, 6-8. 16-18, 2; Lk 18, 9-14

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites (Mt 6, 5)

Says Pope Francis, “What is worrying is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.”  Through the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, which also teaches that the true disciple considers himself a sinner completely dependent on God and his mercy, Jesus warns us of the risk of a similar ideologization.

The Pharisee spoils prayer, utilizing it as an ideology to proclaim his righteousness and to declare everyone else unrighteous.  His impeccable observance has gone to his head, his membership too in a chosen race.  To this surely belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, the promises and the patriarchs (Rom 9, 4-5).  But God can raise up children to Abraham from stones (Mt 3, 9).

And there is no lack today of us pharisaical Christians who spoil good things.  It matters little to not a few of us whether the Liturgy is valued as the summit and font of ecclesial life or there is full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations.  We fight for either the old or the new rite to promote rather our own particular vision or agenda, conservative or liberal.  We use the old or the new as a tool, as a weapon even, first and foremost to exalt ourselves, install ourselves in power and to consolidate it for ourselves, as well as to demonize, humiliate and topple opponents.  Yes, the Pope is right.

It is good, moreover, that he alerts us about “the temptation of spiritual well-being.”  He asks us, I believe, not to take for granted the many means of salvation in the Church—“We have everything, we have the Church, we have Jesus Christ, the Sacraments, Mary, everything, a nice job working for the Kingdom of God; all of us are good”—nor disregard “the unction of the cross, the unction of humiliation.”  Spoken last September 27, without any reference to the saint of the day, these papal words recall, nonetheless, his memory.

St. Vincent de Paul followed the Master to the cross and carried his own cross; he knew that there was no better place to be than at the foot of the cross (cf. Coste IV, 281; I, 152).  He lived humbly convinced that the sinner that he was would spoil everything if God did not lend a hand, that he would never be fit to do the work of God without having deep humility and self-contempt (Coste XI, 271, 343, 441) and a firm faith in the one who affirms the right of the lowly and gives strength to defenseless preachers, so that they may fully proclaim the message.

He too, this evangelizer of the poor, forbids us to use the Eucharist as an ideology to maintain the partiality that exalts the wealthy and shames the poor.  The unjust crucifixion of Jesus decries all injustice.  It is sacrilegious to use as an ideology to justify what is unjust the memorial of the crucifixion and the pledge as well of the glorious righteousness to come.

Ross Reyes Dizon

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