Tuesday, October 20

Oratory Worship and Sermon on the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The texts for Sunday October 18th 29th Sunday in Ordinary time is a portion of Isaiah 53 (the Suffering Servant) Hebrews 5:1-10 Christ as High Priest and of the order of Melchizedek, and Mark 10 James and John ask to sit on Jesus' right and left.  The Gospel passage ends with "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many."

Taking the end of the Gospel portion and the theme of Christ as High Priest and Isiah suffering servant, I found myself drawn to reflect on the crucifixion.  I've been reading James Cone over the last year or so and am at the moment reading The Cross and the Lynching Tree, and am convicted by Cones claim and challenge that American theology can't fully comprehend the cross without relating it to the lynching tree.. One of the presentations at the NPTS Symposium this year argued for an interpretation of Isaiah 53 as the lynching of the suffering servant, as a means of taking up James Cone's challenge and exhortation.

In my sermon I drew out an implication of making this connection, especially in light of Jesus' replay to James and John's blustery assertion that they could be baptized with the baptism Christ was to be baptized and drink his cup. Jesus' says they indeed would.  The Apostles all, except John died martyr deaths, they indeed drank the cup Jesus drank.  The Martyrs and Saints of the early centuries of the Church drank that cup. The martyrs of the faith, were lynched as Christ was. It dawned on me and I said this in the sermon, that those who were lynched in this country, Blacks and other minorities who were lynched by whites are martyrs, who were baptized and drank the same cup as Jesus Christ.

I said a good bit more but I didn't write a manuscript and there isn't a recording and I can't quite reconstruct my meditation on these passages and lynching in the United States by whites of black and other people o color.  But by speaking of those who were lynched as martyrs, something of the reality of martyrdom opened up to me that hadn't been in touch with before.

As I prayed the Eucharistic prayers and lifted up the bread and wine, there was an added dimension of depth, and horror, and beauty. I had a deepening sense of Christ presence as I named the presence of those who have been lynched as martyrs of the faith. And I sensed that through Christ and this bread and wine, I was joined with those who were lynched and all the martyrs and saints . Taking into myself the body and blood of Christ suddenly had a reality to it that it had never had before.