Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ce soir: Souper-bénéfice de l’Archevêque - God's Priests

Ce soir, mercredi 26 octobre à 19 h je serai l’hôte de mon souper bénéfice annuel au Centre de conférences du Hampton Inn à Ottawa, 200 chemin Coventry à Ottawa. Sept cent vingt (720) invités sont attendus pour cet événement qui se déroulera à guichet fermé.

Trois organismes de bienfaisance ont été choisis en tant que bénéficiaires :

La fondation Waupoos est une communauté christocentrique intégrant leur devise de « prière, travail et  jeu » à l’intérieur de ses activités, tout en offrant un lieu de vacances aux familles dans le besoin. La ferme Waupoos a été fondée en 1980 par le regretté Rév. Fred McGee, o.m.i., et par des membres du mouvement Cursillo.

Le Service familial catholique Ottawa est un organisme de bienfaisance offrant une gamme de services sociaux, en anglais et en français, aux gens de la région d'Ottawa. Ces services sont assurés par un personnel professionnel compétent dans le cadre de divers programmes visant à renforcer et appuyer les individus et les familles dans leur propre développement. Le Service familial catholique Ottawa a été fondé en 1940 et a été incorporé en 1968. Ils ont reçu en 1992 leur désignation en vertu de la Loi de 1986 sur les services en français.

Le Centre catholique pour immigrants Ottawa fait la promotion et facilite l’accueil des nouveaux arrivants au Canada. Le Centre sensibilise la communauté et l’invite à répondre aux besoins des nouveaux arrivants; il aide les nouveaux arrivants à réaliser leur plein potentiel dans la société canadienne. Les services offerts incluent l’hébergement temporaire et l’aide au logement, l’orientation, l’établissement et l’intégration, l’interprétation linguistique et culturelle, le développement, la formation et la recherche de liens communautaires, ainsi que l’aide à la recherche d’emploi.

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       Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year “A”) – October 30, 2011
[Malachi 1.14-2.2, 8-10 [Psalm 131]; 1 Thessalonians 2.7-9, 13; Matthew 23.1-12]

Some years ago, a book by William R. Millar—Priesthood in Ancient Israel (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2001)—caught my attention.  The author traces through the Old Testament two conceptions of priesthood.  One he designates the Zadok-Aaron approach and the other the Abiathar-Moses line of thought.  Since Aaron and Moses were brothers, both trajectories go back to a single family and are variations of each other.

The latter, Zadok-Aaron interpretation of what a priest is derives from the establishment of the Jerusalem temple. Accordingly, it exalts Zion where God is conceived as consuming his sacrifice in the ordered space of the temple (cf. 2 Chronicles 7.1-3).  In this view, believers are called to withdraw into the holy.  The sacred is that which purifies, embraces perfection and reaches toward higher discipline.  God is said to establish boundaries, and the sacred story of the community of faith moves from vulnerability to stability (Millar, p. 30).

Millar contrasts this with an earlier, Abiathar-Moses cluster of traditions that exalted the wilderness and God's meeting with his elect at the holy mountain Horeb (=Mount Sinai).  There, God spoke his word from a blazing height (cf. Deuteronomy 5).  Believers are drawn into relationships, and the sacred is that which heals.  The holy embraces imperfection, and reaches toward wholeness as the sacred story moves from slavery to freedom (Millar, p. 30).

Millar says the Zadok tradition, which originated with Aaron, was espoused in the time of Jesus by the Sadducean high priests (Sadducee is a Greek version of Zadok).  Meanwhile, the Moses-Abiathar tradition was taken up by the prophet Elijah and, later, by Jesus.

The last writings in the Jewish canon of Scripture are the Books of Chronicles, offering hope to Jews about to embark on the challenges of the second temple period.  When the Christian community established its canon of the Scriptures, however, it reordered the sacred books so that the Old Testament would conclude with the prophet Malachi, from which today's first reading is drawn.

The Church did so because it wished to make its own Malachi's criticism of powerful priests who were not meeting God's standards.  God, according to his messenger—Malachi means “my messenger”—was about to purge corruption from amidst the ministers of his people:

      “The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming says the Lord of hosts.  But who can endure the day of his coming...?  For he is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the [priestly] descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness' (3.2-3).

Malachi was zealous to correct abuses in Israel's faith life: overly-political priests, abuses in worship (people were offering defective animals in sacrifice), permitting intermarriage with foreigners that led to a loss of faith among Israelites, and the spread of social injustices.

Malachi appealed to the common fatherhood of God shared by Israelites as a reason to shun marriage with foreigners.  He conceived marriage as a covenantal bond instead of a contract that could end in divorce.  Malachi anticipated the exalted vision of the spousal union and abhorrence of divorce that characterized Jesus' teaching on marriage.

In the closing words of his public ministry, Jesus took up Malachi's vision.  He allowed that the scribes and Pharisees, because they had been constituted religious leaders, were to be followed in what they said.  But not in what they did!

Jesus attacked their religiosity which he considered bankrupt, giving humility and the ideal of service as antidotes to a too exalted impression of one's priestly self: “the greatest among you will be your servant”. 

Paul models the ideal of priestly service by his gentle manner towards the Thessalonian converts (“we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children”).  Paul saw his vocation to be not only one of sharing the good news, but—to the extent possible—his very life and self.

Eschewing externals (titles and honour and acclaim) and cultivating an interior outlook of lowliness, humility, and service helps disciples become like their Master, Jesus Christ, God's unique and true high priest.

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  1. Archbishop, there is a priest at St. Joseph's Church in Ottawa, Fr. Boyer, who is using the church to promote homosexuality, abortion and the homosexual pride parade. What is being done about this? It is plainly on their website.

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