Friday, August 19, 2011

F(r)isking the Gospel

During the week something rather irked me. In the Church where I say Mass I came across an Order of Service for a funeral that had taken place the previous night. On the front cover was a quotation, from a secular source, which amounted to a denial of the value of praying for the dead. My first reaction was to package it up with a covering note to the Congregation for Divine Worship. Then I read this weeks Gospel and was rather stopped in my tracks. So with tongue 'sort of in cheek' an attempt at 'fisking' today's Gospel.

Luke 18: 9 - 14

At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves as just, and despised others. I think we get the tenor of what is to come. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one was a pharisee, and the other a publican. Perhaps one was going for a worship session with 'Defending Shiloh II' the other attending a specially arranged service of the Ugaritic Psalter Association. The pharisee standing (nota bene), prayed thus with himself (note the direction- seems to have been using some liturgical text celebrating his collective goodness): O God, I give Thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers; as also is this publican (that's right casting all his grievances onto a much maligned minority group without any real voice in the local hierarchy to defend themselves). I fast twice in the week; (Good for him!) I give tithes of all that I possess. (However obviously obsessed with material issues he might be). And the publican standing afar off (his meeting was obviously stuck in some obscure side chapel) would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven, but struck his breast saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner (Mea culpa! Was this external sign of penance what really offended the other chap?). I say to you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.


Of course it could be fisked in the 'opposite' direction quite easily and that is perhaps the timely warning from this Gospel. No matter how much we just know we are right it's appropriate that we maintain considerable humility in our certainty. Now where's the address for the Congregation?

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