By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Francis: Do Not Act Like Courtiers and Remember the Existential Liturgy of Life

Here are the two most striking portions, in my view, of the Pope's sermon today in the Mass celebrated with cardinals, new and old (emphasis added):

May we always allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit of Christ, who sacrificed himself on the Cross so that we could be channels through which his charity might flow. This is the attitude of a Cardinal, this is how he acts. A Cardinal enters the Church of Rome, not a royal court. May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences. May our language be that of the Gospel: yes when we mean yes; no when we mean no; may our attitudes be those of the Beatitudes, and our way be that of holiness.

The Holy Spirit also speaks to us today through the words of Saint Paul: You are God's temple God's temple is holy, and that temple you are (1 Cor 3:16-17). In this temple, which we are, an existential liturgy is being celebrated: that of goodness, forgiveness, service; in a word, the liturgy of love. This temple of ours is defiled if we neglect our duties towards our neighbour. Whenever the least of our brothers and sisters finds a place in our hearts, it is God himself who finds a place there. When that brother or sister is shut out, it is God himself who is not being welcomed. A heart without love is like a deconsecrated church, a building withdrawn from God's service and given over to another use.

Source link: Zenit

The idea of an existential liturgy is essential to understanding the Gospels. The temples which we are as individuals point to the entire world, created by God for good, as itself a temple. When the Pharisees attack Jesus for letting his disciples pick grain on the Sabbath, Jesus responds with the famous saying that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The entire world, including that field of grain in which Jesus and his disciples were walking, is the temple of God where acts of mercy like feeding the hungry even and especially on the Sabbath are called for. When the Good Samaritan enacts mercy, he was celebrating the essential existential liturgy that, ironically, the priest and Levite had bypassed. The work we do in the world as the temple of God is true liturgy--a "public work." The liturgy inside a church building imperatively and urgently points outward to the liturgy in the world, the existential liturgy, and empowers that existential liturgy with wisdom and grace to enact mercy in the world. The liturgy in the church building is a microcosm of the wider world.

(Image attribution: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives)