| Memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Psalm 119:89, 90, 91, 130, 135, 175
Most people today don't remember actually seeing the Ed Sullivan
Show; they may remember hearing that it was an early showcase for Elvis
Presley and the Beatles. I remember the program, and the special star
I remember was the great actress Helen Hayes. Her "act" was a simple
recitation of St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians about charity.
Of course she did a superb job, and the literary beauty of those lines came
across magnificently, even to me as a child.
But while the scriptures can be performed, or read or taught in a classroom
as literature, I usually don't like that approach. These are
sacred works, inspired by God and meant for the instruction of our minds
and souls. If they are to treated on the same level as elegant rhetoric
or gripping fiction, I may or may not be interested.
Today's readings find me making an exception from my priggishness.
Wow! They DEMAND to be read aloud. I may still consider the
lines from the Book of Wisdom, the Psalms, and the Gospel of Luke as statements
of eternal Truth and exhortations to improve my spiritual life, but today
I want to hear these lines declaimed, not once but many times.
The opening list of adjectives -- how irresistibly they build up!
The personification of Wisdom as a woman -- how beckoning! "An aura
of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty" -- if
only Helen Hayes were alive to speak those words to us on television!
The metaphors and similes in Wisdom here -- the references to the spotless
mirror of the power of God, the virtue fairer than the sun, surpassing every
constellation of the stars, taking precedence over light, invulnerable to
wickedness -- oh, what imagery we are given!
Each sentence, each phrase from the Book of Wisdom is like a song on a
compact disc I want to play again and again. And the refrain in the
psalm, "Your word is for ever, O Lord": like a repeated theme in a symphony
by Beethoven -- we can ask if anything can be more wonderful. Finally,
the Gospel's image: "as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one
side to another, so will the Son of Man be in his day" -- this is
truth, this is religion, this is more than literature. But today,
I invite my readers and friends to say these words aloud, and to savor their
clarity and majesty. And then to thank God that He has given us ears
to hear and eyes with which we can see, that He has given us words -- and