Welcome to sackcloth, ashes and hairshirts! However, if this is your chosen Lenten garb, remember that you need the permission of your regular confessor! Personally I would never allow it...
Let us, this week, drop two heavy anchors right down, deep, to the seabed of our faith.
The first comes from the OLD TESTAMENT READING [SIRACH 3: 17 – 20.28 – 29]: “for great is the might of the Lord.” The second appears in the NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE [HEBREWS 12: 18 – 19. 22 – 24a]: “You have come … to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.”
Now, we must ensure that these two anchors are secured to one ship – and that vessel is clearly known as “the Lord is his name.” [TODAY’S PSALM – 68 or 67].
So, we are faced with:
“for great is the might of the Lord,”
“You have come … to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,”
and these two are secured by
“the Lord is his name.”
It is absolutely vital for every Christian disciple to NAME whom they believe in – and WHY! If we fail to do this, God-in-Christ becomes nebulous – we start to drift because we lack the appropriate anchor. In addition, there is a danger that we start to add barnacles (which impede progress) to the ship of faith’s hull.
I must NAME my God! There is a difference between ‘hey, you!’ and ‘Pierre!’ The moment I am able to call someone by NAME, the one called becomes a PERSON,and I become a PERSON to him or her. To call a PERSON by NAME establishes a basic relationship, and the frequency of the ‘calling’ enriches and secures the relationship.
THE LORD IS HIS NAME!
Nearly all our formal Christian-Catholic prayers end with the words, through Christ our Lord! Then, a final word is added, AMEN! This final word, too often, implies little more than a sense of relief ….. either the meeting can, at long last, begin – or it is, at long last, finished, and we may go home! Here, we have lost the plot entirely, and reverted to the hey you syndrome! The ‘amen’ should always be a personal acclamation and proclamation which truly mean, SO BE IT! So be it that Christ IS OUR LORD! Unless we NAME him at the start of anything, the prayer actually means nothing. I, myself, always like to add two further proclamations to the amen – and say them aloud: (1) SO BE IT, and (2) SO IT IS! …… CHRIST THE LORD, SO BE IT! SO IT IS! “The Lord is his NAME!”
This is to whom we come! Why? …. because he, “(JESUS) is the mediator of the new covenant.“ This phrase should clearly indicate that OUR LORD mediates! The word mediate only makes sense when we clearly acknowledge that two other parties are involved – God and Me! In my naming of the Lord, I name myself AND The Father! In addition I acknowledge that I enjoy the ‘offices’ of a powerful mediator: “for great is the might of the Lord.” How many of us really understand and accept this fact of our faith?!
It belongs to our human condition that we all, often unconsciously, seek security (strong anchors) in our relationships. However, what is often overlooked is the fact that we ourselves must become an ‘ingredient’ in the very security we seek – and this is essentially linked to and with our naming of ‘the other’ ….. as well as the naming of ourselves! If we are to name ourselves ‘Christians’ then we must name Christ as Lord …. OUR Lord, MY Lord!
So, we may now have a look at TODAY’S GOSPEL READING [LUKE 14: 1. 7 – 14]. There we should be able to see a splendid example of how easy it can be for individuals to name only themselves. In so doing they isolate their living from what is really going on. The invitation and the one who invites become secondary, if not entirely forgotten. The individual sees only (i) their own supposed ‘standing’ with the host(ess), and strives to ensure that everyone else is aware of it, and (ii) presents him or herself to the host(ess) as the most important guest. I am not the only guest THE LORD has invited. He, as mediator, establishes me in my position. I do not establish myself.
Earlier on it was mentioned that we can add ‘barnacles’ to the hull of a ship. These slow us down and impede progress in discipleship. This particular Gospel extract shows us how we can become our own worst impediments. We become the focus, and this prevents us from truly enjoying and celebrating what THE Host has provided – for me as well as for the others HE has named!
NAME the Host. NAME yourself (if necessary, as “maimed”). NAME the others at the celebration.