Friday, July 10, 2009

Episcopal Ordination of Fr. Augustine Di Noia, OP

I'm driving down to Washington, DC, tomorrow morning to attend the ordination Mass for Fr. Augustine Di Noia, OP, at the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 2pm. Archbishop-designate Di Noia will be the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

In the mean time, I suggest you listen to some of his lectures hosted at the Dominican House of Studies web site. Some are excerpts only a few minutes in length, others are hour-long lectures. I just listened to the first one (about 10 minutes, on the Transfiguration of Christ), and he brought up a point that I made in a Bible study a few months ago.

First he brings up an interpretation by Pope St. Leo the Great, that the Transfiguration was meant to show the Church (us) what will become of her. Fr. Di Noia then quotes St. Paul: "we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another." (2 Cor. 3:18)

Then he brings up the words of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi: "For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."(Matt. 16:25; cf. Matt. 10:39; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33) Here's a decent paraphrase of Fr. Di Noia's words:
Jesus is essentially saying, "Unless you become like me, you will not find your true self." Compare the person making that statement to yourself, as a parent, teacher, bishop, priest, preacher. What one of us would ever say to someone in our charge, "You will never find your true self unless you become like me"?
I brought a similar concept up in the Young Adult Bible Study I lead at St. David the King in Princeton Junction (which will be starting up again in late September). We were studying the Second Reading for the 3rd Sunday of Easter (Year B), John 2:1-5. I've included up to verse 6 here (as I did in the study):
[1] My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; [2] and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. [3] And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. [4] He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; [5] but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. [ By this we may be sure that we are in him: [6] he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. ]
One of the questions I posed to the group was:
The origin of “What would Jesus do?” is probably 1 John 2:6. Is St. John speaking of agreeing with Jesus as a good moral example, or something more?
The language of "abiding" comes up repeatedly in John's gospel and in his first epistle. The point I made at the Bible Study is the same point that Fr. Di Noia was making. We all have role models, people we look up to, people we see as good examples to follow. But would any of us say we "abide" in our models and they "abide" in us? No. But Jesus goes that far: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (John 6:56) "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Jesus is not just a "good moral example" for us to look up to. He is something more, much more. We are incomplete without him. As Vatican II put it, "Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself." (Gaudium et Spes 22)

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