Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

Homily – 24 March 2013 – Open Some Doors

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Palm Sunday of the Passion of Jesus Christ – March 24, 2013 – Open Some Doors

Lk 19:28-40; Is 50:4-7; Ps 22:8-9,17-20, 23-24; Phil 2:6-11; Lk 22:14-23:56

Tomorrow evening during the Passover meal Jews will open the front door to their homes so Elijah may enter. Elijah was the prophet who challenged the corrupt King Ahab (871-852 BCE). He also healed people who were sick and he was kind to those who lived alone. According to the story Elijah never died but was taken to heaven in a chariot. Legend has it that periodically he returns to earth to reenergize those who want peace. For Jews, Elijah’s fiery stance against injustice symbolizes the promise of a messiah. [1]

The entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem marks another arrival, another opening of doors. In our first Gospel reading we heard about the pilgrims (on their way to Jerusalem for Passover) accompanying Jesus shouting “Hosannahs!” This exclamation of joy, once used to welcome people into the Temple, took on another meaning. As Joseph Ratzinger wrote “it had become a designation of the one promised by God.” [2] For Christians, Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise. Jesus is a new Elijah.

During our holy week, like our Jewish friends, the stories of our ancestors in faith become our stories. We boldly confront the realities of today like they did in their time. Full of hope, we too imagine justice and peace entering our lives. For this to happen doors have to be opened.

There is a need to clear the pathways for young undocumented immigrants who want to work and get an education. These youths are like our sons and daughters who themselves just want to succeed. There is a cry to open doors for women who have been exploited by patriarchy and hurt by male domination. Here at St. Vincent’s, we open our doors wide to welcome all who have been neglected or misunderstood in other churches.

But sometimes doors have to be shut for our own protection. Slam the door on the private sale of guns without universal background checks; shut the doors on businesses employing unfair labor practices; close doors on laws that discriminate and stigmatize people because of race, religion, disabilities or sexual orientation. There is a need to stop mean-spirited people who use social media to harm the reputation of others; and a need to “shield us from a culture of militarism and an ideology of consumerism.” [3]

Doors swing both ways. We open them to let in fresh air of opportunity; we close them to keep out what is toxic. Jesus died on the cross because he was convicted of doing what Elijah did — challenging corrupt authorities, healing sick people. In reflecting the voice of Isaiah the poet and prophet Jesus strongly announced that the “reign of God has begun in his person and the authority of the Roman Empire (and unethical religious leaders) is overthrown.” [4]

Theologian Elizabeth Johnson suggests, the cross stands in history as a “life-affirming protest against all torture and injustice, and as a pledge that the transforming power of God is with those who suffer to bring about life for others.” [5] Who suffers for the life of others? Last week Pope Francis I called all of us to be protectors. He said, “it means protecting … each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about ….” The pope continued, “In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it.” [6]

Let us enter the doors of holy week with eager anticipation. On Holy Thursday, after supper, we celebrate a eucharist touching the real presence of Christ found in one another. On Good Friday we focus on the cross. It calls attention to the injustices in the world and beckons us to eradicate them. At the Easter Vigil we open the doors of new life for our Elect, Camille, Ron, Starr and Wendy with a baptismal bath, a fragrant anointing, and a mystical meal of bread and wine.

Celebrate the holy week. Come … open some doors.

___

1 http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2258/whats-the-deal-with-the-prophet-elijah

2 Ratzinger, Joseph. Jesus of Nazareth. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press) 2011, 7

3 Brueggermann, Walter. The Liturgy of the Passion. http://www.odysseynetworks.org/news/onscripture-the-bible/walter-brueggemann-on-the-liturgy-of-the-passion-isaiah-50-4-9a

4 Brueggermann, Ibid.

5 Elizabeth A. Johnson, “Jesus and Salvation,” Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America 49 (1994) 15 in Hilkert, Mary Catherine. Source Theological Studies. 56 (2):341-352. 1995 June

6 Pope Francis I. Inaugural Homily March 19, 2013

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Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

One thought on “Homily – 24 March 2013 – Open Some Doors

  1. Elizabeth Johnson’s, quote of the cross stands in history as a “life-affirming protest against all torture and injustice, and as a pledge that the transforming power of God is with those who suffer to bring about life for others.” I couldn’t be more enthused about this message. What a wonderful blessing it is to know there are so many like minded people.. I would also add that the cross (though it stands in history) is also at a “Cross-roads” for the people of faith. I share a cautious optimism with many others regarding our new Pope. I’ve seen and heard him speak in support of several, what I like to call (Christian-Crucial issues) things since his election. My memory may be escaping me, but I don’t think I’ve heard any of the last two popes speak of “Protection” as a practice of faith. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it.” Great quote again…. Perhaps we should be using an edited version of the cliché these days, instead of “Keep the faith” should we be considering something more proactive like “Protect the faith”….

    Like

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