April 9, 2007


The way we did the Good Friday service in my parish was quite striking. Each language group proclaimed John's Passion and prayed the intercessions in a different place. The English, Spanish, and Vietnamese speaking communities each had their own cleric, so I went with the Africans. Arabic isn't their native language, but they use it as an inter-tribal lingua franca.

It was really something to follow along in the Arabic Passion. Soon I was able to pick out some proper names: Peter, "Butrus," Pilate, "Pilatus." Other words I recognized from other well-known Arabic phrases, e.g. "Akbar" for the "high" in "high priest." Still other names and words were close to the pieces of Hebrew vocabulary I had learned in Scripture classes: Jesus, Jews, king.

As I stood there with the Africans, I was thinking about how different I was from them in every way, in language, history, experience, even in shape and color and appearance. And yet, in Christ we were one body because of our baptism into his death, and because of our communion in the Body and Blood of the Lord, risen into the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

For the Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion, all the groups came together in the main church, and all I could think of was Isaiah's joyful vision of the various nations streaming to the Temple of the Lord.


Anonymous said...

Happy Dyngus Day!

Don said...

Thank you for a thoughtful reflection. It is always interesting for me to hear prayers in another's language. A few years ago I accompanied the friars to Siena College and while there I heard Mass in Spanish. The priest actually recited both Spanish and English during the Mass. I am also reminded of my youth and the Latin Mass. Those words, Agnus Dei, Dominus vobiscum, In Nomine Patri are still in my consciousness. :-)Don