Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday word

E. Campion, S.J., R. Southwell, S.J. & companions (01 Dec 2006) Rv 20.1-4.11-21.2; Ps 84; Lk 21. 29-33
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
God’s Politics of Now

In 1970 Pope Paul canonized 10 Jesuits and beatified 16 other Jesuits as martyrs during the persecution of Catholics in England and Wales between 1575 and 1679. Many more died in the persecution. Edmund Campion, who was hanged on this date, had returned secretly to minister to the Catholics. He wrote a challenge to the privy council of Queen Elizabeth, who demanded all to make an oath of loyalty to the queen both as monarch of the land and leader of the church. He recognized her as sovereign of the land but not of the Church of England.

His challenge prayed that the queen and her allies and he and the Catholics they persecuted could one day be “at last friends in heaven.”

Three sentences of Campion’s challenge bear quoting: “And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league--all the Jesuits in the world--cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn [London’s place of hanging], or to be racked with your torments or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God, it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted; so it must be restored.”/1/

Campion made clear an ancient conviction: prayer is both prophetic--announcing the desire of God--and the “most powerful political posture.”/2/ To be convinced that God in Christ by their Spirit will reconcile earth and heaven impels each one of God’s royal, priestly people to live already that reconciliation because each one experiences it in some way. Like budding trees, we are to witness to the reconciliation that renews us as God’s friends to help others befriend God, too. That happens now, for whenever heaven meets earth no time exists: only now. Faith was planted now; faith will be restored now, when we give ourselves to the One who entrusts it to us each moment. Prayer reveals God’s politics, and they are more real than our own.

1. Office of Readings for the Memorial, The Supplement to the Divine Office for the Society of Jesus, p.133.

2. The phrase, which I am trying to make my own more and more, originated with one of my teachers. In the context of the experience of the risen Lord, Luke Timothy Johnson never equated “political” with a party or an issue but as the way a Christian person exists with others in the world. He made that clear throughout his The Writings of the New Testament: an Interpretation, esp. in his chapter on the Book of Revelation, pp. 573-592.

Photo by Ami Shah

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