How wonderful! We have a Pope who tells us that we need to become more like Jesus.
Such a simple statement. Why then should there be any Catholic opposing it?
Does such a statement conflict with Catholic teaching and tradition? It must be or there wouldn’t be Cardinals seeking to remove the Pope from office and church hierarchy worried about how change might affect the catholic congregations throughout the world.
Perhaps the simple approach to considering how the Church might progress forward is to examine everything we do and ask the question ’Is this the way Jesus would have done it.’
While this might be in keeping with the Pope’s simple request, it would certainly ring alarm bells in those who could see their control and position being diminished.
The Last Supper
After 3 years on the road, Jesus must have had a reasonable following of disciples, both men and women. So, one can imagine there was quite a crowd in the room that had been prepared for the Last Supper.
I think we need to remove from our minds the 15th Century Leonardo Da Vinci painting which seems to be the only impression we have been given of this final meal. How inaccurate can it be that Jesus and his 12 apostles have all been placed on one side of a long table just for the event like a posed photograph.
Scripture tells a different story. In Matthews Gospel we read how Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his DISCIPLES, saying, “Take and eat, this is my body.”
It was the disciples who received His Body and Blood and it was to the Disciples Jesus said, “Whenever you do this, you do it in memory of me.”
While men may have received preferential treatment in those days, Jesus addressed his words to ‘the disciples’ which included women and men not considered a part of the top 12.
In considering the Popes statement that we should ‘become more like Jesus,’ we should relook at the role of women in our society which has changed since the days of Jesus and see how Jesus even included them in his directive to ‘do this in memory of me’. Why then should there not be women priests and leaders in our Church?
The Mass (Eucharistic Celebration)
We attend Mass and recite or listen to preprepared prayers and even follow the bouncing ball to say together other preprepared prayers. We listen as the Priest recites preprepared prayers and even bow our heads as he says to himself the prayers of the Consecration.
The question must arise, ‘what would Jesus do?’ It is interesting that the only prayer Jesus taught us was ‘the Our Father’ so I don’t think Jesus would be all that happy with preprepared material that was fed to us the people. Instead, Jesus spoke to his followers using stories. Stories that didn’t necessarily have a preprepared ending. Stories that gave his audience an opportunity to determine what the outcome might be and how that could be incorporated into their lives.
This style, used by Jesus, if used today, would allow our congregations to look more deeply into their own personal lives and develop a deeper understanding of what Jesus wants us to do in our lives. Rather than just listen to or trot out preprepared prayers.
By virtue of our Baptism, we are all called to be Disciples, so I believe if we are to become more like Jesus, we all should participate in the Consecration with the priest where we have the bread (wafer) distributed and then we recount the events of the Last Supper together. We are then ‘doing it in memory of Him.’ We feed ourselves the bread and the Spirit within us creates the miracle of changing the Bread (wafer) into the Body of Christ.
In like manner after ‘supper’ we follow a similar pattern with a drink we normally might have with our meal. (It doesn’t have to be wine).
We would then become participants in the Eucharistic Celebration just as the Disciples were participants at the Last Supper. This would enable us to become more like what Jesus sees in us, His Disciples.
Introduction of stories into our liturgy
Here we can learn from our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. The tribes would gather and tell stories to ensure the history and spirit of the tribe was passed on through the generations. Can the Gospel be delivered using stories?
Our Priests spend 7 years preparing for their ministry. During this, they study and learn much about the background to scripture and how life and the law were in the time of Jesus. Information that could be given to us as part of the Scripture story to help us more fully understand the Gospels.
I am a story writer but my stories, although based on Scripture, are designed to help individuals develop and strengthen their relationship with God. They do not ‘toe the catholic line’ nor do they promote any religion, and therefore would never receive an Imprimatur from the Catholic Church. Because of this, I daresay they wouldn’t even be allowed to be used as part of our Eucharistic Celebration.
We are supposedly a missionary people
When we finally reach the gates of Heaven and God asks us, “What have you done for me” If our response is that we went to Mass every Sunday and ‘fulfilled our obligation.’ God could well reply, “That’s what you did for yourself not what you did for me.”
At the end of our ‘Celebration’ if the parting words from our priest were to confirm with us that we had received the Eucharist which is food for our journey. And that the Holy Spirit would rekindle in us the desire to go out into our community with the gifts we have been given and take the message of Jesus Christ to all we meet. The resultant enthusiastic “Amen” should lift the roof off the church.
Let us get rid of the cobwebs surrounding our apathy
After the Resurrection, the Disciples found it comfortable in their locked room hiding from the authorities. It was the Holy Spirit who fired them up. We can also feel comfortable together in our church but we need to realise we are a Missionary Church and ‘fulfilling our obligation’ is what happens after we leave the safety of our church and go about being missionaries within the Community in which we are located.
To appreciate our responsibilities to God and to our faith we must rid ourselves of the apathy that exists in our present Church environment and let the Holy Spirit carry us to fulfill our role within the community as Disciples.
I’m Peter Mack and that’s how I feel.