Today we have Matthews’ genealogy of Jesus. Mark and John do not have anything about Jesus’ birth and early years. Matthew’s infancy narrative was added and is not meant to be taken as historical fact. It is meant to convey biblical truth about Jesus who was the Son of David and therefore the long-awaited one.
I am surprised that the chief priests and their cronies never questioned Jesus’ lineage. There are some real culprits in Matthew’s account. Jacob, with his mother’s help, deceived his blind, elderly father and stole Esau’s birthright. Tamar was married many times and then went to work as a prostitute and disguised herself to deceive a grief stricken Judah. Rahab was a prostitute who aided and abetted enemy spies in her own country, something Homeland security would not appreciate. Finally, we have David, an adulterer and a murderer. Quite a lineage.
Throughout biblical history, God had to deal with people who left a lot to be desired when it came to living the covenant. Yet, God’s plan somehow seems to move forward. In spite of deceit, prostitution, adultery and murder, God’s plan moved forward.
Need this surprise us? We have the abuse scandal, prelates overstepping their bounds in the name of Church Doctrine, church leaders failing to challenge government on immoral wars, and liturgical dalliance. Amid a severe economic crisis which is causing misery for more and more people, liturgists are “refining” the word we use at Eucharist.
What difference does it make whether we say, “And with you” or “And with your spirit.” I am sure the starving person in Africa does not really care about such liturgical niceties. People are suffering in an AIDS pandemic and the Pope tells them they cannot use condoms. Do they really care what the celibate old man thinks?
Fewer and fewer people are going to church. Churches are being “consolidated.” And Rome is playing with words. Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Look at this change. In the Bible, “Lord God of Hosts” refers to God as a warrior God. God of Hosts is the God who leads armies into war. Is that what we should be proclaiming in 2010?
In form B of the Penitential Rite we now answer, “Lord, have mercy.” Look at the new wording and the guilt trip, Priest: Have mercy on us, O Lord. People: For we have sinned against you. If you are interested, there is information on the proposed changes at http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/examples.shtml
I do not know where all this is going. I do know that, if God can work with deceitful people, prostitutes, murderers and adulterers, God can work thorough this chicanery. I know that justice will trump liturgical reform in the final analysis. Justice is what the church is supposed to be about.
The message of advent hope really challenges the faithful these days. Yet, we know that Jesus overcame death. He can overcome the patriarchy of the Roman iteration of Christianity. I am afraid that Jesus would not be talking kindly to the liturgical reformers, “Woe to you. . . .”