Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Lectionary: 360

As God is faithful, our word to you is not "yes" and "no." For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, Silvanus and Timothy and me, was not "yes" and "no," but "yes" has been in him. For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him; therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory.

When I preside over our Mass I try to pay attention to every word; I try to enunciate every syllable. I also try to avoid stepping over the boundaries and enunciating the words of the congregation; words like Amen, And with your spirit; and We proclaim your death O Lord and profess your resurrection until you come again. 

These responses belong to the congregation and the presiding priest should not speak them; anymore than one would say to someone after receiving a gift, "Thank you, you're welcome." The presider who responds to his own greetings has said too many so-called private masses, which is an oxymoron. 

The Amen of the congregation, which speaks for the entire church of the past, present and future, here in this place and throughout the universe, goes through Jesus to God for glory.
And we should pay attention to what we're doing. 

Saint Paul was very conscious of the words he used, especially yes and no. His very beloved Corinthians disciples had accused him of obfuscation, but his conscience was clear. He had announced the Gospel to them very clearly; but other Christian missionaries arrived in Corinth after he left and, to promote their own agenda and probably to feather their own nests, had confused the neophyte congregation with "another gospel." They had dissed Saint Paul's teaching with their superior nonsense. (This should sound familiar to anyone who watches the History Channel and hears the claptrap they promote as religion.)

Hearing of their distress and offended by the insinuations of his enemies, Paul swore he had never dissembled, "As God is faithful, our word to you is not "yes" and "no."  

As he did so often in his letters, he based his behavior, his teaching and his defense on the solid rock of the Gospel: "For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us... was not "yes" and "no," but "yes!"  

In a similar passage in Saint Matthew's Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples, "Do not swear at all!.... Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one."

The disciple's words, like her very being, have their foundation in the Word of God, who is God. They flow from her baptismal identity, that "character on the soul," which means she belongs to God and her testimony is true

If I pay attention to every word and syllable as I read the prayers of the Mass, it's because I believe words matter. They must be spoken intentionally, intelligibly and intelligently. We are the light God shines into our world. That light does not turn on or off when we enter or leave the church. It must shine brilliantly and clearly at every hour of the day. 

1 comment:

  1. For young people today, there are so many, many conflicting words. It is good to be clear and consistent in the message of our Lord Jesus Christ!


I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.