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May 15, 2018

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Immersed in Christ: Wednesday 8/23/17

Wednesday, Week Twenty

 

The Responsorial (Psalm 23) reminds us Jesus is our God-given king “O Lord, your strength gives joy to the king.”

 

Judges 9:6-15 takes a negative view of kings. In the parable, the trees want “to anoint a king over themselves.” All the good trees refuse rule while the buckthorn (not even good for shade, and a fire hazard to boot) accepts. “The argument is that the best do not have time to be kings; therefore it usually falls to the worthless to accept the role of monarch....” So why would Jesus accept to be King over us? Why would the Father send and anoint him for it?[1]

 

The answer is in the Eucharistic Anamnesis and the Offering  that follows it: “Calling to mind... [Christ’s

death, resurrection and presence at God’s right hand], we offer you his Body and Blood, the acceptable sacrifice.... Look with favor on your Church’s offering, and... grant.” We look at the bread and wine on the altar, transformed into Christ’s Body and Blood, we remember what is made present in them — Jesus himself dying, rising, reigning and returning — and we offer them to the Father, asking him to look and remember his own great deeds that established the Covenant, and to act according to his promise.

 

To do [anamnesis] zikkaron-remembrance of Jesus is to raise to God [in offering] the covenant sign, Jesus himself, that God will see, remember and act once again.[2]

 

The “remembrance” tells us that Jesus was anointed by God to be our King and Messiah in fulfillment of the Covenant. His “great deeds” are proof that in him God will reign over us and continue until his Kingdom has come to perfection. “O Lord, your strength gives joy to the king” whom you sent, and to all who hope in him.

 

So we ask him (in the second Epiclesis, which follows) to act in response: “Grant that we... may be filled with his Holy Spirit and become one body, one Spirit in Christ.”

 

Matthew 20:1-16 makes clear what kind of King Jesus was anointed to be. In the parable he is the “owner of an estate.” Not worthless. It soon becomes evident that when he goes out to “hire workmen for his vineyard,” his need for their labor is not his primary concern. He keeps hiring all day long, even “late in the afternoon,” and he reveals his motive: “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” He agreed to pay the first ones hired “whatever is fair.” But then he paid the last as much as the first. That was far more than “a full day’s pay for a full day’s work.” It showed he was not paying for what he got, but paying what his workmen needed. He hired more to save them from unemployment than for what he gained from their labor. Jesus isn’t a “buckthorn” tree. He is our King for our good, not his, and what he gives is not proportionate to human labor, any more than human labor can achieve it. It is the pure gift (grace) of divine life.

 

Initiative: Offer Jesus to the Father as a gift he gave us to offer to him and for us.

 

 

 

 

[1] Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968.

 

[2] See Peter Fink, S.J., “Eucharist, Theology of” in The New Dictionary of Sacramental Theology: “When the Church gathers to enact the eucharist it does so in remembrance (Hebrew zikkaron, Greek anamnesis, Latin memoria) of Jesus Christ. The word itself has many meanings. When translated into Latin it became an act of imitation (what Jesus did at the Last Supper) and obedience (his command, “Do this in remembrance of me”). In Greek it had more the meaning of “participation,” the koinonia which Paul describes in 1Corinbthians 10:16. The Hebrew, from which both the Greek and Latin are derived, is much richer in meaning.... Genesis 9:8-17 gives its full scope: God makes a covenant; God establishes a sign of the covenant; the sign is presented to God so that God will remember and act once again according to the covenant....”

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