“You can’t tell a book by its cover.” So the saying goes. But, so we go the opposite way with our judgments and evaluations of every thing and, unfortunately, every one.
Moses clearly tells his folks what is necessary to stay firm to God’s commandments. Yet, he fails the first commandment and misses out on entering the “Promised Land.” Poor guy. If he only listened to his own words. He lost trusting God with the trust God entrusted with him. Like Moses, forget about the other nine commandments. We just can’t seem to get beyond number one!
We all have the same dilemma working that out in our lives. It’s the risky trust of using the material things of life and then attempting to make them divine. What is of human choice and decision, and what is of divine intervention. That intervention is the saving salvation of our lives. We may decide one way, but it may not be how God wants us to behave.
“Ad Déum qui laetíficat juventútem méam. Suscípiat Dóminus sacrifícium de mánibus túis,
ad laúdem et glóriam nóminis súi.” Those are the prayers the altar boy said while you all sat there. Human or Divine?
Remember the “communion rail?” (There’s a term we no longer hear about.) The host is given by only the priest along with a long prayer repeated for each, individual person. As a grade school altar boy holding the paten (a flat metal object just in case the host dropped before reaching the tongue), I would slightly touch the necks of those students I didn’t like. Human or divine? You decide.
Vatican II thought the communion rail was too personal of a reception when we are the Body of Christ. Processing in line shows us walking together to receive who we collectively are. The Body of Christ, together.
And, I really miss women wearing their hats and white gloves in church. (My tongue is in my cheek.) I remember an Alexian Village resident who approached me and declared, “I hate Vatican II.” I waited for some theological argument but he continued, “I sold women’s hats.” Store closed and he went to work for Sears. Human or divine?
About the book. The cover or the content? We all know the answer, but how often do we love to dwell and remain on the cover. It’s so much easier. It’s so much more convenient. It’s so much us.
The Baptism none of us remembers becomes the unfolding of faith’s mysteries throughout our lives. How can the human and divine become one? To say easy answer, we’d all say “the Mass.” But it’s the Mass that’s lived out there. And it’s the Mass actively living within us. Is making the divine our daily human activity? After our silly human three-second summation of the another’s cover, does it seem that we supposedly divined the person’s content? Deep down inside us we know the proper attitude and behavior for our lives. All lives are complete with many plots (complete with twists and turns to keep us reading), a myriad of colorful characters, lots of drama, numerous disappointments, and grand, glorious resolutions. Like any good book contains. And all the beautiful and dark colors each page presents to us about the mingling of the divine with the human. Just like when the priest mingles the water and wine at the beginning of the Offertory.
Lofty? Unreal? Pie-in-the-sky? Not really. It’s admitting our frail human lives and transforming them into the divine as best we can. If not divine, then at least divine-like. Two points for effort. That’s what Jesus taught us and that’s what he lived for.
I’m working in my south-side parish. Parish Council meets at night and we often go out to eat afterward. 9:00 pm. Patty Melt. Manhattan. Smoking. (We could smoke in restaurants back then.) I’m wearing a roman collar … back then. Toward the end of our meal, a stranger leaves and drops a note next to me. She writes that St. Paul says that “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Then, something like “How embarrassing you are.” Taken back, I look at the back of her note, and it’s a bank deposit slip with her name and address on it.
The next day I write to her and quote what we heard today, “What comes out of our mouths is more important than what enters it.” Then I wrote, “Now that we exchanged Bible quotes, why don’t we meet and talk.” I never heard from her.
Do we humanly divine both ourselves and others? That’s called idolatry. Do we divinely humanize ourselves and others? That’s called Jesus Christ.