Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Attending Holy Week Ceremonies — but with reservations by Tony Flannery, Irish Priest, My Response: Dump Toxic Theology, Create New Holy Week Liturgies, Focus on Following Jesus Today



My Response: Well said, Fr. Tony Flannery! Let's dump the toxic theology! Our focus in Holy Week should be on following Jesus's life and teaching,  serving our sisters and brothers with compassion,  and seeking justice for people who are excluded,  no matter what the cost.  I believe that this approach means embracing a God who is Love and recognizing  the Divine Presence, that is within everyone and everywhere in the universe.  This  call will lead us into a greater awareness of our oneness with all beings, but it may  also lead us into suffering and rejection- like Jesus. We need Holy Week Liturgies that reflect a contemporary, healthy theology that does not blame a stern father God for Jesus' death to save us from the sin of Adam and Eve.   We need liturgies that integrate the new cosmology in the struggles we face as we live the Gospel vision of compassion and inclusivity here and now.  We need liturgies that invite us to contemplate the Great Love at the heart of reality. We need liturgies that challenge us to act to transform injustice and to discover the face of God in the messes in our lives and in the turmoil everywhere.  Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, https://arcwp.org

APR 15
My Problem with the Liturgy of Holy Week.
The traditional Catholic teaching about Jesus is that he came on earth to save us. Our salvation was necessary because the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, had angered God, and in his anger he closed the gate of Heaven against humanity. Jesus, by his suffering and death, appeased the anger of God, and restored Heaven to us humans. The liturgy of Holy Week is full of this notion:
“He came among us as a man, to free mankind from darkness”.
“The suffering and death of your Son brought life to the whole world”.
“Though innocent, he accepted death to save the guilty”
“He has opened the gates of Heaven to receive his faithful people”.
And on and on, with much more of the same, all emphasising the same point, that humanity was lost from God until Jesus accepted that he had to suffer and die a horrible death to appease God.
I don’t believe this any more, so these constant references in the liturgy irritate me.
I don’t believe it, because it makes God out to be a cruel, vindictive being, who lives in a different realm ‘up above’. We know now that humanity has lived on this earth for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years before Jesus. I cannot accept the type of God who would create humans, and then shut them out for all that time. It makes no sense.
This notion of the purpose of Jesus on earth is to some extent present in the writings of Paul, but is more to do with the writings of Anselm in the eleventh century.
Three basic beliefs I have now make it impossible for me to accept this explanation of the life and death of Jesus.
1. I believe that creation is not a historical event, but that it is a constant reality, and that the Divine action is at the heart of it, inspiring and energizing it.
2. I believe that the Divine Presence (God) does not live in a distant realm, removed from creation, but is imbued in all aspects of creation.
3. I believe that we humans are not born into sin, but are born into life and love, the unfailing love of the Creator God for all his creation.
And what about Jesus? I believe that his suffering and death were not dictated by God, but were the result of his life and teaching. He challenged the institutions of his time, both secular and religious, and they did what institutions do to anybody who challenges them, they got rid of him — or at least they thought they did!
I also believe that the focus we have in our time on the death of Jesus gives an unbalanced understanding of him. The life and the teaching of Jesus are what is really important about him, and what his purpose was in this world. He came, not to die in order to appease his Father, but to show by his example and teaching how we should live in this world. That is what he meant by the phrase he used constantly, ‘the Kingdom of God’.
So, if we can learn to live, in so far as is possible for us, by the values and attitudes that Jesus outlined in his life, we will come to know a Divine Presence that is not distant, but is within us and all creation, and whose one desire is to pour out the Divine Love on us every moment, until we reach its fulfillment when, after death, we become part of that Presence.
So I will attend the Holy Week ceremonies, but with those reservations.

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