Disturbing the Peace
Before the king of Israel is nailed to the cross, he enters the town ceremoniously. He is riding, so he can appear as a king.
However, on a donkey, so he cannot be mistaken for one of the great men of the world. When he was born, heavenly choirs sang of peace on earth, now his disciples on earth sing of the heavenly king’s arrival to Jerusalem, who brings this peace. It does not stay peaceful though. The pious ones accurately recognize that the Messiah disturbs the religious peace. The image of the crying stones shows: God’s loyalty is stronger. tac
He proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem. As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’” So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” They answered, “The Master has need of it.” So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”
were accused of deceit
A small number
obtained menial jobs
as informers and errand boys
we have to make it happen in life”
On the earthly womb of Christ
So I began to visit the Jews. And above all, I saw that the reason they were regarded as a special people was because it was in their womb that the thought was first born that the peoples of the earth, of all the earth, were equal children of God.
Precisely because they were the first to say that all humans of all peoples were equal children of God, now people would say that they, the Jews, saw themselves as special children of God. For thus it is in this world, where the antichrist rules for now: that those people who say they want good are accused of evil. The old Jews said they were God’s chosen people. But for which purpose did they say this? For the purpose of bringing forth the savior, the Jesus Christ. So, in all actuality, the pride of the Jews was humility. They were not just veritably chosen because – as we know – the savior of the world came from the womb of the Jews, but also because they brought forth the only son of man, of whom it is not pride to be proud of. They did not only bear the savior, they also denied him. They were truly God’s chosen people. They are chosen in two ways: not just because they hardened their hearts. So they, the Jews, are chosen in two ways: firstly, because they brought forth Jesus Christ; secondly, because they denied him. Through their virtue as through their sin they have prepared the salvation of the world. That is why anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and hates, despises or even just thinks little of the Jews, his earthly womb, is the brother of the antichrist. Even the pagans still honor all those places, at which their saints and prophets showed them their human weaknesses. Whoever thinks little of the Jews, also thinks little of Jesus Christ. Whoever is a Christian, honors the Jews. For if the Jews were chosen to bring about Jesus’ earthly death, then through that they have confirmed God’s covenant with Abraham, the covenant with which the salvation of this world began. And if God has chosen the Jews to not only bring forth Jesus Christ, but also to deny him, then this happened because he himself smote the children of Israel with blindness. And it is also He who is allowed to smite them again, He alone. Whoever hates the Jews is a pagan and not a Christian. Whoever hates anyone at all, no matter who, is a pagan and not a Christian. And whoever believes he is only a Christian because he is not a Jew, he is a pagan twofold and threefold. May he be cast out of the community of Christians! And if the Church does not cast him out, God himself casts him out.
Translated from: Joseph Roth, Der Antichrist (1934)
This 5th Sunday in Lent gets its name from the beginning of the opening psalm: Judica “Grant me justice”. It points to the domain of justice and reaching a just verdict.
It forges a link with the tale of “Jesus and the adulteress” through association more than anything else. In the tradition of the prophets there is a lot of talk about adultery. It is another word for the fragile, always endangered, but intimate relationship of Israel to its God. This connection is also implied here. Augustine comments on Jesus’ reaction with the following: “The one who sinned shall be punished, but not by sinners” (Puniatur peccatrix, sed non a peccatoribus). Currently people everywhere are picking up stones to throw at the Church and the many sinners within. In 1971 Gertraud Wallbrecher wrote to a friendly Franciscan: “It is our wish that one may only criticize the Church if one simultaneously risks one’s life for her renewal.” ars
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
On life in community
The apple tree wants to copy the pear tree
the potato plant ogles the watermelon
but what do we do with a melon flood?
since our kitchen owes its renown
to the savory potato dishes.
It depends on the perspective. That is why this Sunday’s gospel plays with terms of kinship and descriptions of ways of life.
The father and servant commend the runaway to the older one, who stayed at home, as “your brother”. But he rebuffs them. For him the washed-up bon vivant is just “your son”. He could not be more distant. The servant states matter-of-factly that the lost one has returned home safe and sound. But the father calls him dead and returned to life. The short novella is a lesson on life in community. It depends on the perspective, on where I am standing: If I keep my distance to the shared history because it is full of mistakes and failure, then everything becomes foreign and distant, even the neighbor. If I know myself to be someone that is of no use, but still needed, then “your son” turns back into “my brother”. acb
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable. “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”
Fragment on Holy Scripture
According to its form, its rhythm, its cadence: a book from the night of the times. That is true, and at the same time the reader of our times, today, can read his own story in the bible, book by book, unlike in any other book:
he can discover it there, then understand it, then face it. The reader is the tragicomical hero of all the biblical stories; not just of the stories, but also of the love poems, like in the Song of Songs, and of the cries for help, like in the Psalms, over and over again. You, reader, have lived the first moment of color in Eden, and you will witness those black and blacker last moments, your mouth full of vinegar (and worse), where you will cry out with the question, why your so to speak omnipotent Father has abandoned you. Hence for the reader the bible is a terrifying, dangerous book: He is forced to see what his true situation as a mortal is, deep down. Lost son, who feels safe because his Father has forgiven him for once – even prepared a feast for him. But after, on the cross, where is he, my Father and his promised feast? The bible can awaken sheer horror in its reader: ah, this lunatic, who thinks he is God, immortal; that sniveler, who in distress boasts of the omnipotence of his Father to his adversaries, and of how He will come to the rescue at any moment; this so-called Son of God, who dies like a stray dog – I am all of that, I, who am reading this. You, who read the bible today: Beware, danger of death! Or danger of life? Ensouling danger? Inspiring danger, since that night of the times? Healing danger? Danger of salvation?
Translated from: Peter Handke, Langsam im Schatten (1992)
“I have seen”
Today people search for visions of the future of the Church – and yet, mostly the classic issues are discussed.
Israel’s approach is different. It knows God’s vision and that He does His utmost to make it come true. Through Moses the people are represented as God’s partner. His eyes are watchful and so he hears: God knows about the misery of his people and wants to remedy it. That is why he “came down”. In other words: He needs those who share his view and let themselves be sent, so they can do what has to be done: to find an alternative and pave the way out of the enslavement to foreign powers. It is about a shared chance of life in freedom in the face of God, in the land of milk and honey. hak
a Church assembly is in session. It opens, not with a party manifesto, but appropriately, with a mass. Surprising, but it is still like this:
There are people who put their hope in the Church. She has always been a free initiative, right from the beginning. And for the people on the inside to let themselves be infected by this hope – people also come together on the outside and demand: New Light in the Church. And to emphasize the demand on those on the inside, they turn on their flashlights. In any case, this discrepancy between hope and actual implementation can only be bridged by us. After all, it is said: You are the light of the world”. At least, that is what is written in the bible. pez
In good company
The three disciples who were on Mount Tabor with Jesus realized something that determines the Church’s path to this day: Jesus was no lone wolf.
He did not fall from the sky like a meteorite, but rather he stands in the tradition of Israel. It shaped him and with that also the Church. Two figures appear next to Jesus, with everything they stand for: Moses, whose instructions form the basis of our life together to this day. Elijah, who did not yield to the overpowering zeitgeist of his days and thus set the standard for all further prophets. In this company the disciples realize who Jesus actually is. Jesus and his message are part of this fellowship once and for all. ruk
About eight days after he said this, he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
On Death, without Exaggeration
Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.
There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.
always arrives by that very moment too late.
In vain it tugs at the knob of the invisible door.
And as far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.
From: Wisława Szymborska 1923–2012, On death without exaggeration (https://genius.com/Wislawa-szymborska-on-death-without-exaggeration-annotated)
A question of power
Jesus can’t do magic? Can’t jump from the temple battlement without hurting himself? No, he can’t.
Because he is no mythical demigod. He is a human being through and through like each one of us. And along with that a Jew, who knows exactly whom alone worship is due. But he is also a free human being and has to make the decision himself, a decision of faith. The most severe of the three challenges the devil puts to Jesus is central: Worship me! It is about the question of power: who ultimately calls the shots? It is not enough for the evil one to have power and glory over the kingdoms of earth, but rather he wants to be worshipped. His goal would have been, with the help of Jesus, to climb to the position of him as the Most High. To this day, history shows signs of the reign of the devil through hate and destruction. Jesus knows himself to be son of the Jewish people and of his God, whose power is called love and service. That is why he can keep the world in the balance of powers. And everyone who believes helps him with that. bek
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and: ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
Who will sing the New Song
Israel sang it with Miriam
by the shore of the Red Sea at the edge of the desert
Moses sang it on Mount Nebo
seeing the land but not entering it
David sang it in front of the Arc of the Covenant
Daniel sang it with his friends
in the overheated furnace
Isaiah sang it
when the escaped ones returned
The wisdom teachers sang it
during the encounter with the rationality of the Greeks
The Maccabees sang it
in the face of the inexhaustible oil of the temple lamp
Zachariah the silent one sang it
Mary the pure one visited by God sang it
Old Simeon sang it
Jesus sang it over the small and poor that saw
Paul sang it when he found the future of Israel
The desert fathers sang it
when they turned their backs on the corrupt cities
Benedict’s monasteries sang it
when they cultivated the jungles and swamps
Francis sang it
when he left everything behind to move pope and sultan
It roved around and lent its notes
to the enlighteners and Church critics
Did Nietzsche not sing its melody
Did Marx not hold its sheet music
in his hands upside down
Why were its verses split after Luther
Why did its beauty leave the churches in modern times
Why did it have to ring out as a song of death in Auschwitz
And why almost die
under mountains of concepts and papers
Who sings the New Song today
that is not just melodious not just true
That continues to tell the story
Everyone who leaves
teaches us a little
Most valuable lesson
on the deathbeds.
All mirrors as clear,
as a lake after great rain
before the hazy day
blurs the pictures again.
They only die for us once,
What would we ever know
Without the safe scales
we are placed on
when we are left behind.
These scales, without which nothing
We, whose words miss,
we forget it.
They cannot repeat
Your death or mine
the next lesson:
So bright, so clear,
that it darkens quickly.
Translated from: Hilde Domin (1909–2006), Nur eine Rose als Stütze (1959)
So where is …
the usually nicely fashioned box, the tabernacle, with the red light that always makes the churches seem a little alive? This I ask myself as I walk into a church in Southern Bavaria.
In a displayed description I read curiously: “Whoever enters this church for the first time and looks for the tabernacle might need some time before they discover it. And sometimes they might need people to point it out to them: the tabernacle is held by a dove hanging above the altar.” “This search”, so it continues, “might also be a symbol: Where is ‘the innermost part’ within ourselves, where we find strength and support? This is not easy to find either. And for this, too, we need time and sometimes people, who support us in the search.”
The way I look for the box in the church, so I should search for “strength and support” deep within myself. I ask my inner self: How do we find comparisons that get to the heart of the matter, a language that conveys the rationality of the Jewish-Christian faith? pez
The pleading of ten
When they were gone, I opened the prayer book and tried to say a prayer, but it didn’t come out. There had to be ten.
The voice of ten, the pleading of ten, the unity of ten; because the main goal was that those who were praying had compassion for each other. But there have to be at least ten for the prayer of words to unite us; there has to be the mutual understanding, that we feel the shared nature of our fate, our weakness, our frailty – our loneliness.
Translated from: Henryk Gryberg, Kalifornisches Kaddisch (1993)
Clerical project management
The Church should “reinvent” herself, is a piece of high-profile advice, a demand in view of the turbulences.
To that I can only say: No, the Church does not need to reinvent herself, the Church is not even capable of reinventing herself because she did not invent herself in the first place. The Church is not an invention of man, but God’s project, which he started – also because of our sinfulness – and which he carries through the times in spite of it!
Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, January 27, 2019, in the Regensburg Cathedral
The other person sees something different than me.
When I look at myself, I see from the inside out,
can’t disregard myself.
The other person looks at me from the outside in,
Sees what is and what was.
And what depressed me for years,
What always had me thinking “if I’d only…”,
“I should’ve…” turns into:
It was the necessary source of friction,
through which all of today’s possibilities could ignite.
The other person sees more than me.
You can furnish your upper story however you like. That is even easier today than it used to be. You can build dream worlds up there, or nightmare worlds, according to personal preference.
If you want to be big and stand above everything, then you will stand on the tops of mountains and look down at everything. If you want to be small and lost, the darkest, bottomless depths will open up around you. If you call out into the future or the past, an echo will call back that is either hopeful or desperate, just as you like. If you want to put all blame on everyone else, then all evidence will support this. If you want to put all blame on yourself, it won’t be any different. You can dream what you like, as long as you like. That is quite pleasant, as a whole.
Then Michel Houellebecq publishes a new book. This time it is called “Serotonin”. And suddenly an icy wind blows. Houellebecq has no interest in dream worlds in upper stories. He declutters the upper story, throws out the dream worlds. The upper story is very bleak afterwards. And when you think that it’s over, Houellebecq shows you the door and throws you out of your own upper story. Then you come down somewhere. It’s a very hard impact. It could be that this is reality, your point of impact. It could be that for Houellebecq it’s just about what he observes about himself and everybody else day after day: A miserable, devastating, seemingly forlorn reality. Then the desire for your own upper story grows great. Climbing back up there to your own dream worlds, that would seem natural. saw
On the Christian Europe
This so-called Christian Europe for almost four hundred years has become the birthplace of a new paganism, which is growing steadily in the heart of the Church, and threatens to undermine her from within.
The outward shape of the modern Church is determined essentially by the fact that, in a totally new way, she has become the Church of pagans, and is constantly becoming even more so. She is no longer, as she once was, a Church composed of pagans who have become Christians, but a Church of pagans, who still call themselves Christians, but actually have become pagans. Paganism resides today in the Church herself. In the long run, the Church cannot avoid the need to get rid of, part by part, the appearance of her identity with the world, and once again to become what she is: the community of the faithful. Actually, her missionary power can only increase through such external losses. Only when she ceases to be a cheap, foregone conclusion, only when she begins again to show herself as she really is, will she be able to reach the ear of the new pagans with her good news.
Translated from Joseph Ratzinger, Die neuen Heiden und die Kirche (1958) by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.: https://www.hprweb.com/2017/01/the-new-pagans-and-the-church/
The story of the foundling
Every Sunday at mass we hear texts from the bible. Every time they read us the riot act properly. And yet we like to go, yet we always like to listen to the old texts, always newly curious and attentive. Why is that?
They speak of a place of longing that is closed off to us, we hear of a world of longing that we have no access to.
The place of longing came into the world “when Israel came forth from Egypt”. The people around Moses wanted leave the land of meat kettles of drudgery and bondage, they fled to the desert with the dream of their patriarch Jacob; and during the 40 years of their life in the desert they sweat out a new order of life; and Moses brought it down on tablets from the mountain of the Lord, of the God of their father Jacob. In the Torah, their new principle of life, and in their life God proved Himself their savior. And Israel swears: “We will do it!”
For over a thousand years they lead this life with their new God, who saves and envies. For the religions court, Israel gives in, lies on the ground, repents, gets up, swears, courts further. And then they build Him a temple, with the Torah in the Holy of Holies and with a high priest.
Israel is doing poorly. Foreign powers alternate in their reign of drudgery on the country. During the reign of the Romans one of the sons of Israel gets up: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up! “But he was speaking about the temple of his body”, the community of his discipleship, the rest of Israel that fully listens to the word of God in the flesh, with the entire entirety of life, and the entire intellectual capacity of thought, and entirely out of pure joy. The gospels tell us of this revolution of Jews and Gentiles. “The kingdom of God is among you.”
The Church grows, grows, grows rampant, becomes temple, becomes the world religion. Over the course of a thousand years and more its highly differentiated theology grows along with the temple-church-religion. It grows along with a theology of the kingdom of God, of the place of longing in the world beyond and our meek earthly vale of tears.
The gods return in other powerful places of longing in this world. The communist religion of salvation spreads brutally over half the world, the brown canopy stretches over Germany, and in this Reich the “salvation of the Jews” was unbearable for the Heil Hitler. The world witnesses the inconceivable genocide of the people of God in the midst of Christianity.
Today “after everything is over forever”, today we live in a materialistic, capitalistic, global lap of luxury, addicted to places of longing, with a little bit of pleasure for the day and a little bit of pleasure for the night. We want to dance, in a boundless pleasure-world-place-of-longing, and we are dancing on a volcano. Because our exact world of science shows us the consequence of such dancing. A moment of materialistic, capitalistic, global fraternity? A possible solidary look outside the box of our goings-on? In the world we are like little bacteria in a round Petri dish in a super nutrient solution. The bacteria thrive, multiply, multiply on and on until the entire dish is filled. “Have dominion over the Petri dish!” Then the super nutrient solution is used up and the bacteria die. That’s how it goes, even with the big animals. Empty churches, empty world. Where can help come from? Our help is in the name of the Lord! Lord? Address unknown? rus
Not mission, but dialogue
The task Christ left to his disciples is the mission among all peoples and cultures. The goal is to introduce people to the “unknown God” (Acts 17,23). Man has the right to know God because only he who knows God is able to live the human existence properly. That is why the missionary mandate is universal – with one exception:
Missionizing the Jews was simply not intended and not necessary because they alone among the peoples knew the “unknown God”. Therefore, it is not mission that applied and applies to Israel, but dialogue about whether Jesus of Nazareth is “the Son of God, the Logos” for whom, according to the promises made to his people, Israel and, without knowing it, humanity waits. Taking up this dialogue anew is the task set for us in this hour.
Translated from: Joseph Ratzinger/Benedikt XVI., Nicht Mission, sondern Dialog, Herder Korrespondenz 12/2018