Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sunday Sermon, August 20 -- The Conversion of the Jews (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish - Sermons on Romans, Part 7)

St Paul tells us that, even as the Jews as a whole rejected Jesus opening the way for the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles, so also the Jews as a whole will ultimately receive the Gospel prior to the end of the world and the day of Judgment. Although nobody is saved simply for being Jewish, the Jews do remain the "chosen people" of God, and they have a crucial role to play in salvation history.

This dynamic of proclamation from Jews to Gentiles and finally back to the Jews is symbolized in the ritual of the traditional Roman Liturgy, as interpreted in the beautiful liturgical commentary of St. Albert the Great, the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Mass begins with the Missal on the "Epistle side" of the altar. The singing of the Epistle by the subdeacon, facing the altar, "towards the east," facing Jerusalem to the east of Rome, symbolizes the preaching of the prophets, and especially St. John the Baptist, who proclaimed Christ to the Jews.

Then the Missal is moved to the "Gospel side" of the altar and the deacon sings the Gospel facing the side wall of the church, "towards the north," facing the pagan Gentiles to the north of Rome. This action symbolizes the proclamation of the Gospel by the Church to the Gentiles. The Missal stays on the "Gentile side" for almost the whole Mass, but at the end it returns to the side of the Jews, to symbolize what St. Paul prophesies in our second reading: their final acceptance of Christ at the end of the world!

Listen online [here]!


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