All the things used in the children’s session were left out for the adults to try and work out what the children did. There were some inventive ideas!
We began with a prayer, based on the Lord’s Prayer:
Father God, Source of life and Love, whose name is more beautiful and full of meaning than any other,
May your reign of love be seen and known and lived, revealing every way you really are here with us where we are,
May we recognise all life giving gifts and be full of gratitude today,
May forgiveness give us true freedom today.
May we be led by you, out of dark prisons of false hope, towards a light filled coming home.
All because everything good comes from you, belongs in you and finds its meaning and fullness connected to you,
Like the children the adults watched the scene of the cleansing of the temple from ‘The Miracle Maker’. We then read the gospel passage and had a time of silence for Lectio Divina. We then discussed what people had noticed while praying with the passage, summarised below:
“ People were always looking for proof, for signs from Jesus. Belief only came with the miraculous or significant. Jesus knows what is in their hearts and he doesn’t ‘trust himself’ to them. They fail to understand what is going on. They are attracted by the spectacular, without seeing the meaning behind it. There is only one sign of real importance- power over life and death- Jesus’ Passions and Resurrection: Destroy this house and I will re-build it in 3 days”
“Different Bibles gave different versions of the text. One translated “Zeal for you house consumes me” as “Zeal for your house devours my life in fire.” There are echoes here of Jeremiah. The cleansing of the temple is a prophetic act. Here we talked about the significance of the market stalls being in the court of the Gentiles. Also doves are commented on in the passage. These were the sacrifice that the poor brought as they couldn’t afford larger animals. Jesus’ parents had brought doves when he was dedicated as a baby. The stall holders were ripping off those with very little, people like Mary and Joseph, like those Jesus had grown up with.”
“No one in the crowd commented on “My Father’s house.” Yet his claims to be the Son of God are used later in Jesus’ trial. Here, in public, the leaders don’t confront him.”
“Making of the cord shows how angry Jesus is- one of the few stories of his anger. There are times when we have to say “Enough” and stand fast because things are not the way God intended. However we need self-awareness. Jesus is the only person who is free from mixed motives. This doesn’t mean that we stay silent or don’t take action. It means action needs to come out of contemplation of Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us. This process must include seeing where we pursue something because it fulfils a need in us, rather than because God has called us to it.”
“This story brings home the physicality of Jesus. Apart from the physical act of turning over tables there is the reference to the Sanctuary of His body, his physical body where God is present. It foreshadows the physicality of the Passion and the Resurrection. In the film clip we saw Jesus surrounded by people. He knows them all, sees them as they are. He loves them, they are his creation. This was a reminder of a comment made in a seminar on the love of God. ‘If there had been no fall, Jesus would still have come in the Incarnation because he loved us so much that he just couldn’t resist being with humanity. When we see the act of saving work that Jesus does on the Cross, this act of Reconciliation we are seeing something more glorious than was in Eden, because humanity is taken deep into the heart of the Trinity”
“Who is this person who cleanses the Temple? We can’t know unless we get near to him, get close in order to see and hear. Otherwise if we remain on the periphery we only remain with rumour and hearsay. We don’t get to know Jesus. We have to sit close and take time to listen. This was physically true for the people in Jesus’ time and spiritually true for us today. Only in getting close do we get a chance to get to know Christ and get to understand. Now we can only physically get close when we are at Mass or sitting in front of the Holy Sacrament.”
This was a good place to move on to the Reflection on the Eucharistic Congress, looking at the Liturgy of the Word. We thought about how the gospel in proclaimed in a service: heard, sung, in the homily as well as in the reading of Scripture. The Priest, in Persona Christi, proclaims the Gospel, when we stand- a position of prayer. We heard the reflection and then a meditation on the corporate nature of listening to Scripture- this takes us right into the heart of the Communion of Saints, for the second week running. Here is the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ in scripture and in sacrament in the heart of the Mass. Here is the Temple of the Holy Spirit; embodied in the Church- it is corporate in nature. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to draw all of these things together into a whole.
To look closer at the dynamic that goes on when we hear the liturgy of the Word in church we read the following quote from Joseph Ratzinger’s (Pope Benedict XVI) book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’:
“The author [of a particular book in the Bible] does not speak as a private, self-contained subject. He speaks in a living community, that is to say, in a living historical movement not created by him, nor even by the collective, but which is led forward by a greater power that is at work…”
“The Scripture emerged from within the heart of a living subject- the People of God- and lives within this same subject. One could say that the books of Scripture involve three interacting subjects. First of all, there is the individual author or group of authors to whom we owe a particular scriptural text. But these authors are not autonomous writers in the modern sense; they form part of a collective subject, the “People of God,” from within whose heart and to whom they write. Hence this subject is actually the deeper author of Scripture. And yet likewise this people does not exist alone; rather it knows that it is led, and spoken to by God himself, who- through the men and their humanity- is at the deepest level the one speaking.”
“The connection with the subject we call “The People of God” is vital for Scripture. On one hand this book…is the measure that comes from God, the power directing the people. On the other hand, though, Scripture lives precisely within this people, even as this people transcends itself in Scripture…The People of God- The Church- is the living subject of Scripture; it is in the Church that the words of the Bible are always present. This also means, of course, that the People has to receive its very self from God, ultimately from the incarnate Christ; it has to let itself be ordered, guided and led by him.”
We finished by explaining a little of what the children had done, particularly the image of the seed that we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in allowing Scripture to grow and bring fruit in our lives. We need to engage with the Liturgy of the Word as individuals, in order to be drawn into this corporate experience of God’s work through scripture. At the end of the session, only the “Peter Pan’ activity had to be explained. The content of the children’s session seemed to be clearer now the adults had had their session!