What was described in the psalm:
"I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me,"
is what happens in the Gospel, for Peter.
The Lord restores him and returns Peter to being a fisher of men.
That's what we see him doing in the first reading.
We see Peter and the Apostles dragged before the Sanhedrin.
Notice exactly what they demanded of the Apostles:
Not that they stop believing in Jesus; but merely, "Keep quiet about that!"
That is most often what is demanded from us.
There are many times our culture and society make the same demands of us.
You and I should expect this—this is more or less the normal state of affairs
for a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.
So…if we don’t we find ourselves being told
to "hush up" about Jesus, why might wonder, why not?
This applies as well to how we, as Catholics,
hear what the Church teaches us.
We all know there are teachings and practices
of the Church that not all Catholics understand, or agree with, or follow.
I don’t have to give you the list.
So, there are times we Catholics we want the pope,
or bishops, or our pastor, to hush up! on some subjects.
Again, that is pretty much how it’s always been.
Think about it: if you and I belonged to a Church
in which nothing it taught, or asked of us, was hard…
Wouldn’t that make you think it was too easy?
As your pastor, I know not everything I say or do wins total support.
Some of that is my own fault; I don’t always explain everything as well as I might;
sometimes I say the wrong things; and my flaws and weaknesses are very clear—
you see them better than I do.
Sometimes, folks want to know why a decision "had to be" a certain way;
but, of course, not all decisions work that way.
A lot of times it’s a judgment call, and it’s a question of vision and direction.
For example, how we celebrate the Mass.
Some folks want to pick the music; some are very specific
in demanding how long Mass will be; still others insist I add things and make it longer!
Would you believe I even have folks who complain I sing too much!
I think that’s funny, but I mean no offense if you don’t.
I’ve heard from a few who are unhappy we’ve used some Latin prayers.
That doesn’t surprise me; nor was I surprised many like it.
And that most of you didn’t get too excited either way—that, too, didn’t surprise me.
I know my judgment isn’t perfect, But I don’t make these decisions
to curry favor with anyone; I am trying to be faithful.
On the question of Latin prayers…
Many are surprised that this is precisely what the Second Vatican Council said to do.
It is what Pope Paul VI said to do; it is what our current holy father has said.
Now, I was going to share some quotes with you, from the Council, and from Pope Paul VI,
who issued the revised form of the Mass, and from our current pope…
But it would take 10 to 15 minutes to review all that, and that is too much time.
So—here’s what I did.
I’ve made some photo copies. Anybody who wants to know more, ask me afterward,
and I’m happy to give you a copy. **
If you wonder, why didn’t this come up 20 or 30 years ago,
I’d say, because back then the Church was wrestling with other things.
If you’re wondering why doing what the Council called for should take so long—
my answer is, it always does! It takes a while to digest, and get it right.
So I have to tell you, if you think the process of "implementing Vatican II" is all past,
that’s not the case. It’s very much a current project, and will be, for years to come.
Realizing that will help make sense of the changes we’ve experienced, and those still ahead.
Now, I don’t mean any big, dramatic changes, just an ongoing process of "getting it right."
So part of that is including some Latin, as the Council said to do.
As I said, I’m not surprised at various reactions, And I realize this is an adjustment.
There have been some over-reactions.
One person was verbally abusive; another gave me an ultimatum: Do it my way, or else—
0ne person said, "is it important what Vatican II said?"
Some folks have been a bit over-dramatic; some are feeding the rumor mill,
such as telling you, I’ve got a secret plan to have all the Masses, all in Latin!
That’s pretty funny. It’s also not true. Instead, I'm planning it to be Aramaic! (Just kidding!)
So let’s set all that aside, and ask, what’s the big picture here?
In the second reading, John the Apostle is in heaven, and he says,
"I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea,
everything in the universe, cry out" in worship to God, and to the Lamb.
When we enter into the Mass, that’s what we’re taking part in!
It’s not our own, private version of the prayer;
it’s the timeless, universal prayer of the Church.
So it should be both contemporary, rooted in the present-day,
and universal, ancient, and timeless.
How we celebrate the Mass is subject, not to my wishes, or yours,
but what the Church calls for. I must be obedient to the guidance of the Church,
and sometimes that isn’t what folks want.
Also, getting it right is pretty important.
And, we should not be surprised when our worship, in the Mass,
has elements that are ancient, timeless—and dare I say? Mysterious.
John the Apostle was lifted up into the worship of heaven.
I am pretty sure he was overwhelmed by that.
And the same should happen to us.
* I simply can't think of a title for this homily -- so feel free to suggest one in the comments!
** I will try to post that in the next day or two... Update: the handout is reproduced immediately below this post.