Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21
Confession, they say, is good for the soul.
Well, I made a somewhat subtle, yet glaring mistake here recently. And it's instructive. I had the task of writing out those LONG petitions that the Church has us do on Good Friday. In the midst of way too many other things, I accomplished this task and hurried the results to my colleague, Marie, to put into the binder for those who would lead the community in prayer.
Well, things were going just fine. We had heard the scriptures read with such heart. We had sung in response to the Word. And, now, before venerating the cross, the community collected itself to pray for the many needs of the world.
The person who read petition number six did a fine job and spoke it loudly for all to hear, just as it was written on the page. Here are the exact words. Notice anything?
Let us pray for those who do not believe in Christ - that the Holy Spirit may help us attend to the mystery of God's presence in the world and one day bring us into unity before the Throne of God...
I heard this and was horrified! Egad, I'd messed up and somehow put in an "US" where there should have been a "THEM!" Yikes! I wonder if any one caught it! I really do wonder.
On reflection, though, notice what we prayed for - for those who do not believe in Christ: us! Was that a moment of distraction by the typist? Was it a moment of inspiration from the Spirit? Was it a moment of honest, the old 'Freudian slip?' Well, maybe all of the above and then some.
With this all in mind, let's take another look at today's readings, especially the famous "Bread of Life" passage from the Gospel of John. Some scholars have held that this gospel is trying to do something just different enough when it comes to dealing with the Eucharist. Recall: no Last Supper and no institution of the Body and Blood of Christ, as such. Instead, Jesus washes the disciples' feet and talks for about five chapters. Then, there's chapter six. It's the Bread of Life discourse.
Jesus, in John's gospel, seems to be always saying, "Believe in me. Abide in me." That's it, believing is abiding in Jesus who abides in the One who sent him. Therefore, believing is about abiding in the heart of God as a companion to the Risen Jesus, the Christ. It's probably not unlike that notion that Paul talks about when he says, "Pray always."
Inasmuch as this is the case, then maybe this little slip up on petition number six from Good Friday isn't so bad. If believing is abiding, I don't abide much, therefore... and so, I want to pray that I / we come to believe in Christ by abiding in him.
One quick story. When I worked at the Jesuit novitiate back in the late 80's, a novice talked about what a consoling and comforting and safe place it was. And, it in fact was. And, what he and others learned as they went along was that it was also a most dangerous place. For, it was a place to be called to abide in Jesus as we / they were - and as the Risen Christ is. It is the crucible of God's love where we are made and re-made into the image of Christ.
So, let us pray for those who do not believe in Christ - that
the Holy Spirit may help us attend to the mystery of Christ's presence
in the world...
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