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January 15, 1988     The Message
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January 15, 1988

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January15,1988 Commentary The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Mass Readings By FATHER Mass Readings for Sunday, Jan. 17, 1988 John 1:35-42 The context of today's reading is the witness of John the Baptizer to Jesus. John has denied be- ing the Christ (Messiah), and also denied being either the prophet Elijah returned from heaven, or the prophet like Moses expected by the people of that time because of a prophecy by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:5-18. John has also stated that he st,es in a lesser role than Jesus, a role serving on- ly to point out Jesus to his people. Instead of a baptism of Jesus, this gospel has John stating that he saw the Spirit descending upon Jesus and that this is the only way that he knew who Jesus was. This seems peculiar when compared with the Gospel of Luke in which John the Baptizer and Jesus are cousins through their mothers (Luke 1:36). Christian art went even farther by depicting John and Jesus playing together as children. Such a picture does not fit into the Fourth Gospel. John is standing with two disciples. He sees Jesus and says to the two disciples: "Look! the Lamb of God!" A strange designation to us, but .the author is writing theology, not history. This lhapter is full of titles applied to Jesus, the author's way of telling his community what Jesus is. He has already told us what John the Baptizer was not. The titles he applies to Jesus are: the Word, the Light, Lord, Lamber God, Rabbi (Teacher), Messiah (Christ), Son of God, King of Israel. Now that'is quite a line up and the author selects and arranges material for his first chapter to incorporate all these titles. In today's reading he gives us three of these titles: Lamb of God, Rabbi, and Messiah. First, .amb of God: The author has already described the work of the Lamb of God m 1:29: who takes away the sin of the world," a phrase which is stressed in our liturgy by a threefold repetition. What is the meaning of this title? In the Old Testament the Call of fir.,;t disciples: Judea or Galillee? lamb is the principa ! victim used for sacrifice. Above all it is the symbol of the Passover com- memoration. The lamb without blemish is the sacrifice of peace with the Lord in Leviticus 3:6. It is the offering of atonement for sin in Lev. 4:32-35. This title echoes the Servant Song of Isaiah 53:7: "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth." In the Book of Revelation the martyrs wash their obes and make them white in the blood of theLamb, Rev. 7:14. The lamb signified innocence and gentleness. "Learn of me for I am gentle and hum- ble of heart," Matthew 11:29. The second title given Jesus today is "Rabbi," which the author interprets for his readers as "Teacher." In the Gospel of John disciples address Jesus frequently (eight times) by this title. How dif- ferent from the Gospel of Matthew where the disciples are forbidden to be called by this title (Matt 23:8) and where only Judas addresses Jesus as "Rabbi." Strictly speaking, the meaning of the word is "my master" from the Hebrew word mean- ing "to be or become great." The third title is Messiah, or Christ. This term means "the Annointed One," implying that Jesus is the descendant or "Son of David" who was to rule over Israel and restore it to its former glory. This title is so meaningful for the author of the Fourth Gospel since he, more than the other gospel authors, emphasizes the kingship of Jesus. (See John 18:33-37 and 19:14-15.) In the Gospel of John the cross is more a throne from which Jesus reigns than a means of execution. Instead of "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" as in the - other three gospels, in the Gospel of John Jesus' last words are: "It is completed." Jesus remains in full control of events, as the annointed (Christos) King of Israel. Now where were the disciples Called? Accor- ding to the Fourth Gospel it was in Judea, near the Jordan where John was baptizing. It is only from this gospel that we learn of the connection bet- ween disciples of Jesus and disciples of John, that Jesus' first disciples came from among those of John. In the other three gospels the disciples are called to the following of Jesus in Galilee, far to the north of Judea. Since they are to be "fishers of men" they are to be called from their occupation -- fishing. There is no mention of them being disciples of the very penitential John the Baptizer Again, we have a difference in theology. The primary interest is not history but how to present the meaning of Jesus for the particular community for which an author was writing. In the Fourth Gospel the call of the disciples is the means for proclaiming the various titles of Jesus. In the other gospels their call serves as an example for the im- mediate following of the call to discipleship, although the theme of immediate response to Jesus is not absent from the Fourth Gospel. In all the gospels they are called as witnesse of Jesus' teaching and work.. In today's gospel one disciple, Andrew, goes to work immediately and finds another disciple, in this case, Simon Peter, his brother. Perhaps in this we find the lesson for ourselves. Discipleship is not a call to the individual Christian for herSelf alone. Discipleship is to be shared with others. To bring others to Jesus is to bring peace, as we read in John 20:21: "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, sodo I send you." The response of the three disciples in this gospel reading is im- mediate and enthusiastic. We join with them in their enthusiastic profession of faith: "We have found the Messiah!" We join with the prophet Samuel in today's first reading -- the response of every true disciple: "Here I am, Lord! Speak! Your servant is listening!" Other readings for Jan. 17, 1988: I Samuel 3:3.10; I Corinthians 6:13.20. Vatican Letter Patriarch brings experience to tinderbox of turmoil in Galilee where Christ grew up. As is typical of the shifting political sands of the Middle East, when he was bornl Nazareth was part of Palestine, but is now part of Israel. He is the first Arab to be named to the sensitive post, in keeping with Vatican policy around the world of appointing natives to local church leader- ship positions. Eighty-five per- cent of Latin-rite Catholics in the patriarchate are Arabs. Symbolically, Patriarch Sab- bah's appointment was an- nounced Dec. 28, at a time of By AGOST1NO BONO NC News Service VATICAN CITY (NC) -- The duties and worries of the Latin- rite patriarch of Jerusalem ex- tend beyond the 65,000 Catholics under his spiritual care. The job requires walking the tightrope of MiddleEastern religious and political tensions. It means protecting Catholicin - terests in the Holy Land, where iam and Judaism dominate the religious scene and are in- tertwined in the often an- tagonistic political relations be- tween Arabs and Jews. Almost all of the patriarchate Catholics live in Israel, Israeli- occupied territories and Jordan, an area about the size of Massachusetts and Indiana combined. Into this tinderbox of turmoil Pope John Paul II placed an Arab who is Palestinian by birth, travels on a Jordanian passport and has experience dealing with Israeli authorities. The new Catholic leader is Patriarch Michel Sabbah, born in 1933 in Nazareth, the town tgQckto,00/ce (.o/,//./u/citf . a specially designed and localized area within our Medicare appr'0ed skilled nursing care facility specific for rehabilitation of individuals who have experienced a fractured hip or hip replacement. offering therapies directed toward promoting independent ambulatory and self care. staffed by a specially trained nursing staff 24 hours a day. providing emotional support to residents and their families through individual and group counseling. individualized treatment plans allow the resident to be part of the rehabilitation management team. family & resident involved in formulating discharge plan for return to the community. specialized activity program to maintain community involvements and leisure activities, For Further Information Call: Kathleen Brady, Consumer Relations Director Evansville North s 425-8243 Medco Center of Evansville North 425-5243 North 650 Fairway Drive Unlcare Heallh Facilities Inc. major political disturbances as Israeli troops battled rock- throwing Palestinians pro- testing Israeli occupation of the territories of West Bank and Gaza. At the time of the ap- pointment, 21 Palestinians had died in the confrontations. The timing caused Vatican officials and Patriarch Sabbah to quickly deny interpretations that the naming of an Arab was a sign of church political par- tisanship on the side of the Palestinians. Vatican officials noted that the search for the first Arab to head the Latin-rite patriarchate was a two-year process, begin- ning in 1985 when Patriarch Giacomo Beltritti, an Italian, turned 75, the church's normal retirement age. Patriarch Beltritti had been in his post since 1970. THE VATICAN implicatio_n Funeral Homes Four Convenient .Location, s was that a person had been found who commanded credibility and respect from all the region's antagonistic forces. Patriarch Sabbah certainly comes to his job with'ex- .perience in pastoral dealinffs : with Arabs and government dealings with Israelis. At the time of his nomination he had been pastor of a church in Am- man, Jordan, for 17 years. He was also president of Bethlehem University, a Catholic institution in the West Bank. Almost all the univer- sity's students are Palestinians. During his four years at the helm of Bethlehem University, Israeli authorities closed it several times, claiming students were using the campus as a base for anti-Israeli ac- tivities. In a few brief interviews after his nomination, Patriarch Sah- VA TIC4N ej2 WEST CHAPEL 3033 W. MARYLAND ST.