“So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:33. Douay-Rheims.
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 at Mass
One more time, I was hearing the readings at today’s Holy Mass when suddenly I saw this article coming to me like a bolt from the sky. Fortunately, I was prepared. I had a tiny sliver of paper and a pen. I quickly wrote the basic stream of ideas and now I’m sharing this little gift from Heaven with all of you.
It is important to remember that after Pentecost, the New Israel, the Church continues the mission of the People of God, the Elect. After that point, they are no longer the members of one nation but of many nations, races, and cultures. They are fulfilling the destiny that the original Israel had rejected when they cried out: “We have no King but Caesar!” This is the Israel of the Messiah, the Christ accepting the challenge of conquering the world with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The first reading was Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28. God in the Pillar of Cloud visits the encampment and talks face to face to Moses. All of Israel, all the families used to gather at the entrance of their tents, facing the Pillar of Cloud. Picture everyone, including Moses, prostrated before the LORD of Israel. Now picture every person and family in every Holy Mass celebrated in the world since the Pentecost of 33 A.D. I ask you to think of that image because that is what we now understand as “the encampment of the saints.” Remember also that the primary meaning of “saint” is “set aside” or “sacred.” Those meanings are valid for every person that God has invited into the camp, even if their behavior is not yet perfect. “As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.” (Psalms 103: 6-13 NRSVACE)
“When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tents. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (Exodus 33:10-11 NRSVACE)
Remember that Moses had spoken to God “face to face” in Mount Sinai. The encounter made Moses’ face radiant: “his face shone because he had been talking with God.” (See Exodus 34:29-35 NRSVACE) There is another scripture we may want to remember before we put all of these thoughts together:
“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end. Many shall be running back and forth, and evil shall increase.” (Daniel 12: 1-4 NRSVACE)
The image of the LORD visiting Israel in the Pillar of Cloud reminded me of the Holy Mass as it used to be celebrated before the Church adopted the Novus Ordo. The tents all facing the East reminded the Israelites they were being liberated by the Divinity that had befriended Moses. After four centuries in Egypt, the Israelites were familiar with the idea of the life-giving sun representing the life-giving God. Now they were beginning to be acquainted with the God of their forefathers, the God that had obscured the face of Rah, thus humiliating the sun-god of the Egyptians. This God of Israel was not “a thing” in the sky, He was the Creator of everything and He could appear before them as He pleased. The radiant face of Moses proved that God could somehow pass his power and glory to the people elected to be His People.
The long and marvelous lesson was now beginning there in the wilderness of Sinai and one day, that very God was going to visit Israel and walk among them. Who would have thought that God was going to offer Himself as sacrifice in a New Passover that would be repeated all over the world? Who could possibly imagine that one day, at the end of time, the People of God would again be living among enemies in a larger Egypt that would encompass the whole world?
The reading of the Gospel goes right into that:
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen! (Matthew 13: 36-43 NRSVACE)
This may be a bit of a confusing post at this point but I promise you it will make sense in the end.
The u-turn after the Council
Many things happened after the Vatican Council but I will concentrate in only one thing, the appearance of the Novus Ordo, and then within that, one innovation: the Priest is now facing the people, giving his back to God. If God would speak to Moses (a prophetic type of Christ) “face to face as as one speaks to a friend” … How could a priest (in persona Christi) give his back to the divinity and face the people? … How could God allow such novelty and apparent disrespect?
Some have seen a type of the Holy Spirit in the radiance of Moses’ face. The radiance is of God but comes from Moses as a witness of the purity of Moses’ message. The priest facing ad Orientem is facing the point of the rising sun that is Christ. In the Tridentine Mass, the priest is facing Christ on the Cross in a gesture fraught with all kinds of meaning.
The reading of the Gospel centers in the parable of the harvest at the end of time but a key part of it seems to be that the just will “shine like the sun” once the harvest is finished and the weeds are gathered and burned in the furnace of fire. Now a furnace is something much smaller than the sun but fiery enough to consume the weeds. The sun however, is a friend of the just. It not only fails to consume them but gives them some of its brilliance, just like Moses’ radiant face results from his friendly encounter with the divinity. Is there a message here? I think there is.
Notice that the reading of the Gospel (Matthew 13: 36-43) has a lot to do with the end of times. The harvest is “the end of the age” when the wicked and the just can be distinguished from each other. See also the angel’s warning in Daniel 12: “evil shall increase” that is: the weeds will grow to their fullest, allowing the harvesters to tell the just from the wicked.
God has allowed the sons of evil some latitude so they can grow and “do their thing” to some extent. The priest is now facing the entrance door while giving his back to God but God may surprise everyone by coming through the door and facing the priest again! God may do this and sneak on the people still facing the altar. We know He is coming when He’s least expected, “like a thief in the night.”
“So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.“