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?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Retro Rioting

It's hard to know how to react to the riots in London at the moment but I do 'smell a rat'. They came to the end of the street last night and, although I slept through the noise, there's clear evidence of last night's festivities on the street this morning. Whilst I can almost understand the indignation that spiked the protests a couple of days  ago last night's foray into the leafier parts of Greater London just seems to be recreational vandalism by a non generic, non race specific and gender inclusive bunch of 'yooves' who have got too much time on their hands after finishing their GCSE at whatever public school Mummy and Daddy have 'cashed the investments bonds in' for. The bigger 'rat' I smell is that I wouldn't be surprised if all of this becomes the opportunity for some government knee jerk legislation for the return of national service.

It's all a bit 'retro'. Reliving the glories of 1968 or whatever the 'defining moment' of your grandparents' youth was. It's probably also fuelled by the unrest overseas at the moment and the way this is reported through social media. 'Hey! If they can have a revolution, why can't we?' There is a fundamental difference however. There lots of people are dying. Here there are major slip ups, to be sure, but the major frustration seems to be not 'keeping up with the Jones' in a society where we are driven by unrealistic expectations of material success and comfort. Having said that there was that rather disturbing picture of a young lad riding off with his bike basket stuffed with groceries whilst nearby the white vans were pulling up to empty the local electronics store.

So what's the Catholic response? For the moment I'll have to wait and think on this one however at Mass this morning we added the De Profundis to the prayers after Mass as an act of reparation for any wrongs we have caused but also for those who may have been killed or hurt in the current unrest.