November 19, 2011
Ez 34:11-12, 15-17; Ps 23; 1Cor 15:20-26, 28; Mt 25:31-46.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of ordinary time. The image of kingship and kingdom, like most of the images used to describe Christ, is rich and multifaceted. All of today’s readings, however, either feature or allude to a certain dimension of Christ’s kingly power: his role as Judge. Ezekiel, describing the Lord as a royal shepherd, reports that the Lord “will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats” (Ez 34:17). The Gospel of Matthew makes the link between King, Shepherd, and Judge even clearer when it describes the Son of Man seated “upon his royal throne” (25:31) and separating the nations “as a shepherd separates sheep from goats” (25:32). In the reading from 1 Corinthians, Christ does not separate any sheep, but he does destroy every “sovereignty, authority, and power” (1Cor 15:25) hostile to himself, so that “God may be all in all” (1Cor 15:28). Christ, in other words, is judge of everything.
It’s no secret that the theme of judgment has always been central to Christian preaching and, therefore, to the Christian imagination. For many nowadays, however, it seems to provoke only anxiety, and to have so little to do with the “Good News” of the Kingdom. Read the rest of this entry »
October 17, 2011
This week we take a look at the state of the American Catholic Church as shown by America Magazine between the years of 1954 to 1958.
In the pages of America we find a 1956 missive entitled “Five Live Problems for Catholics” which gives the interested reader a concise initial listing of the main concerns facing Catholics during the Cold Wars years of ’54 to ’58. We might be helped in our efforts to examine Catholicism as presented in America during this time by using the author’s list a sort of schema.
First we are able to note a genuine desire for social acceptance, a desire well-captured in the virulent rejection of the phrase “Catholic ghetto” – whether it be used to describe the Catholic sociological situation, jobs appropriate for Catholics, or the isolationist quality of much Catholic intellectual work. Examples of such concern abound in America’s pages during these years. See for example the continuing, and dominating, worry over Communism. In a short piece on the visit of Soviet Premier Khrushchev to England we see a glimpse of such a Cold War Catholic mindset. The editors seem shockingly suspicious, writing that despite Khruschev’s “smiling” face, the Western powers have been “too thoroughly educated in Soviet duplicity” to be anything less than over prepared. And this preparation, at least in the pages of America, does not limit itself to military might. Indeed, the true task is to fight the “materialism of the Communist state, which reduces the human being to a numberless tool” by “defending the spiritual worth of the individual.” Here again we see the holy trinity of mid-century Catholic identity: anti-communism, patriotism and a free society upheld by strict morality. Read the rest of this entry »