05 December 2016

Bang. Zoom. Through the roof, Alice.


Today's readings:

  • Isaiah 35:1-10
  • Luke 5:17-26

This text in the Douay, the RSV, and the NABRE with Mass texts.

Quorum fidem ut vidit, dixit: Homo, remittuntur tibi peccata tua.
Whose faith when he saw, he said: Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
Luke 5:20

Whose faith did Jesus see? Jesus saw the faith of the men who brought their friend down through the roof. The Greek and the Latin are both plural: Jesus saw their faith and so forgave the sins of the man on the stretcher.

The great Orthodox Saint, Seraphim of Sarov (also venerated by Byzantine Catholics) taught his disciples to "Acquire the Spirit of Peace and thousands around you will be saved."

We do save those around us. - and they save us If you wish to be made fully mindful of your status as a sinner, of your reliance on the prayers of the Church, sing a Byzantine Rite Panikhida. The texts convey the voice of the departed begging the prayers of the living. I am aware that the only way I can be saved is through the prayers and love of this community around me.
As you see me set before you
Mute and without breath
Weep for me, my brethren, family, and all who know me,
For I spoke with you only yesterday,
And suddenly the fearful hour of death came upon me.
Come all those who love me
And give me the last kiss,
For never again shall I journey or talk with you
Until the end of time.
For I go to a Judge Who is impartial,
Where servant and master stand side by side.
King and soldier, rich and poor, are held in equal esteem.
For each will be glorified by his own deeds
Or will be put to shame.
But I ask and implore you all
To pray without ceasing for me to Christ our God,

That I may not be put into the place of torment because of my sins,
But that He may appoint me
To a place where there is the light of life. 
In addition to the living, the Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox rites are filled with invocations like "Holy Mother of God, Save us!" Save, again, does not mean "avoid hell, go to heaven after you die" but rather it means "healed, made whole". We ask the living, the dead, the Saints, our neighbors, our families, and the Holy Souls in Purgatory to pray for us as we pray for them: we are not saved alone.

We are, exactly, saving the world around us by living out our Christian Faith. This is such a marked difference from the Evangelical Idea of "pray the sinner's' prayer or spend eternity in hell". We are answering God's "altar call" every time we approach the altar. We have Jesus with us in the Blessed Sacrament and the praying community of the Church. We can, this Advent, or anytime, drop someone "through the roof" to Jesus. And so, who would you place before Jesus to ask for their salvation? With whom would you join? "If two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 18:19

Who would you save? Live out your faith. Who would you convert? Live out your faith.