August 10, 2009

Knowing the Audience

This morning I offered a funeral Mass. There was no wake in advance of today, so I didn't have the opportunity to meet the family, though I did speak with the daughter of the deceased and a deacon, a family friend, who assisted at the Mass.

It was only after the Mass, in the sacristy, that the deacon informed me that some of the folks in the front pew were Jewish. The gospel they had chosen was the raising of Lazarus and I would have preached somewhat differently had I known; perhaps to preach on Martha's faith in the resurrection on the "last day," the Resurrection of the Lord and the recapitulation of Joshua's leadership, the inbreaking of the final destiny of the world in the temple-less New Jerusalem, etc. (They had also chosen this part of Revelation as the second reading.)

Not knowing any of this, I preached up the baptism and eucharistic angle, of being united to Christ in his passing over from death to new life. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I would have done something different had I known. Oh well.

12 comments:

Paul A. Zalonski said...

but but but Father you did do what the Church has asked, no? it sounds to me that you did fine. perhaps the Jewish audience would accept the integrity of the Christian preacher more than some one pandering to them? I am not saying you did this today as much as it is an internet observation. of course, it would have been good to know to whom you were preaching, however...

Qualis Rex said...

Father, I agree with Paul. You did your job. The good news is just that. The message will be received by all who will listen. God put those people there and gave you the words today for a reason.

4narnia said...

i, too, agree with Paul and Qualis Rex, Fr. C. the Holy Spirit gave you the inspiration and the words those people were meant to hear. just trust and leave it in God's hands. PEACE! ~tara t~

Qualis Rex said...

Fr Charles, just to keep things light, I don't know if you have ever seen the Mel Brooks movie "High Anxiety". There's a very appropriate scene where Mel as a Psychiatrist is delivering a speech when some children walk in and he then has to tailor it to their verbage so they will understand it. In your situation, it may have been something like, "Our Lord and Sav- er...Isha ben Maryam, tells us to eat from his...er...have a nosh already. So, that we can all obtain eternal life. Such a deal! Only a dimf could refuse. Puh puh puh!"

Brother Charles said...

"Does everybody want soup?"

Brother said...

Why...the only appropriate response would have been to go and give them a big hug and thank them for giving us so much BECAUSE, "Salvation comes from the Jews."

Anonymous said...

Except for what Brother commented, it is woefully dismaying to see these racist and offensive tones- across the boards. You should know better!
I am Jewish, from a Holocaust survivors' family- and also a professing Christian (Catholic)- and I know enough not to refer to *anyone* as a "those people."
True, you never really know who exactly is present. It may cause you to employ some compassionate tact, but more importantly to remember the Lord, the Messiah, who enjoins us not to get into divisive gestures that create "us and them" environments.

Brother Charles said...

Please forgive me, anonymous, if anything in my post seems offensive to you. I certainly don't mean anything to be dismissive or racist.

I have a Jewish father, childhood friends who were and remain good Jews, and was almost engaged to a Jew once. Based on these facts of my life I think I have some reason to think I can preach with sensitivity to an assembly mixed in the way I describe.

It is always my effort to do so.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you must be a man of God, as I am, and so I can see this is more than a "some of my best friends are..." comment.

Good. Then the next right thing to do is to inspire others (like some of your commenters) to keep loving God and loving others. The Church has a lot to live down, and Lord willing we can turn the tide.

Brother Charles said...

Indeed. Much more than that.

And the Lord does will it.

Qualis Rex said...

Anonymous, please forgive me if you took anything in MY post as offensive in particular. I would have hoped that the some of the words/phrases used particularly in yiddish/catskills humor I used would have conveyed that I'm speaking as an "insider" as well (as I'm sure Brother Charles caught this). I honestly don't know what this country would be without the contributions Jewish immigrants made, specifically to entertainment and comedy. This was just my homage. Once again, no offense intended and much respect given. And welcome home.

Brother Charles - definitely NOT my favorite scene in that movie. As a matter of fact, I'm not going to affirm or deny I know what you're referring to at all there... : P

Qualis Rex said...

Ahhhhh....I see. Anonymous, I said "those people" meaning EVERYONE in the pews. I was NOT referring to the Jewish ones in particular (or anyone). So, please add "attending the funeral" to "those people". Sorry for the choice of words there as I can see where it may have conveyed a different meaning other than intended.