Thursday, May 09, 2013

Wed. Sixth Week of Easter

I graduated on Saturday, and I have to say it feels really weird not to have a thesis or major paper looming in my future. I have one more paper to write for canon law (my last for diaconal formation), but other than that, I just have my own personal projects.

Oh, and homiletics. I have a few more of those in the next few weeks. Here's a reflection I gave off the cuff yesterday at sung vespers with the chancel choir (mostly boys between the ages of 7 and 15). Actually, I can only approximate what I said because I went in only with my personal reflections on the readings and no notes.

Acts 17:15, 22—18:1
John 16:12–15

In the reading from Acts, Paul is talking to the Athenians, and he recognizes that they are a pretty sophisticated bunch. They had a lot of great philosophers—people like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle—guys who had really big brains. Paul pointed out that they had discovered through reason, by using their brains, that there was One God, and Plato even came to recognize that that One God had a certain aspect of threeness to it, similar but not quite like the God we know to be One in Three.

But the Paul goes on to say what the Athenians can't know by reason—that God has revealed Himself to us, and that He rose from the dead. So Paul is saying here that we know God by both faith and reason. We need both.

In the gospel reading, Jesus explains how this revelation works and how it is guided by the Holy Spirit—the paraclete or advocate. Now in our Church, we believe that we have two streams of revelation: sacred scripture and sacred tradition. Sacred scripture is, of course, the words we have in our bible, while sacred tradition is what the Church has lived and practiced for the 2000 years of its existince: our prayers, our liturgies like this one, our devotions, the way we live our daily lives. And we also have something else—the teaching authority of the Church, what we call the magisterium, which in interprets scripture and tradition but is always at their service, never changing what is passed down. These three pillars are like three legs of a stool. If we have only one leg on our stole—scripture—our stool isn't very stable. But with all three we have a solid foundation. All of these are led by the Holy Spirit to lead us.

Now our Church teaches that we can find bits of the truth in many traditions, just as many of our Protestant brotehrs and sisters also teach bits of the truth, but the Holy Spirit guarantees His guidance of the teaching authority of our Church, which Paul calls elsewhere the "pillar and bulwark of Truth."