The way the Sunday readings strike me often depends on what else I’m thinking about, and this week is no different. After spending some time Saturday reading around the blogosphere on the Motu Proprio, Paul’s letter to the Galatians made me think not of the circumcision controversy of his day, but of the liturgical issues of our own. To paraphrase, does it matter whether the Mass is celebrated in Latin or in English as long as it’s celebrated well, prayerfully and faithfully? I’ve said in com boxes elsewhere, the Mass can be well or poorly celebrated in any language with any rubrics. The TLM isn’t magic. Nor are all progressives in favor of clown masses or pagan rituals.
I have nothing against Latin. I’ve belonged to several parishes that incorporate Latin and Greek on a seasonal basis. I love the Latin hymns and Gregorian chants. But as I listened to the opening prayer, I realized that I would miss so much of the English translation. I would hate having to follow along in a missal to get the translation. Yet, I can appreciate that for some, the awe and mystery of the TLM carries great weight. I’m glad that Pope Benedict is encouraging a peaceful coexistence. Because too often issues like this divide those who should be focused on our common belief. Paul spent most of his ministry fighting this problem in his communities.
Ann Landers and Dear Abby frequently used the acronym MYOB or “mind your own business.” As good as that advice is, perhaps it’s better if we recall that as Christians we are to be minding God’s business. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds his followers to keep their focus where it belongs. It seems easier sometimes to complain about those who do things we don’t agree with, or those who we believe are wrong. Like the disciples rejoicing that the demons were subject to their words, we have a tendency to dance in triumph on the graves of our enemies. When we do that, we lose our center.
Isaiah speaks to the exiles of their return to Jerusalem and the temple, encouraging them in their rejoicing, but always reminding them that the Lord is the source of their prosperity. We need to remember that through all the changes the church has undergone in the millennia since Jesus and his disciples walked this earth, it’s still God’s church and his harvest is as abundant as ever. What are we doing to gather in that harvest for a spiritually hungry world?