killing the just one


Posted By on Sep 20, 2015

(fr Cyprian, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time) I don’t know if it’s just me (though I doubt it is), but sometimes things that are too beautiful and people who are too good can be really irritating. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. Someone who is more talented than us, someone who is smarter than we are, more organized, better at sports, better looking. And, God forbid, someone who seems to hold all those things together in a wondrous package! Why do they irritate us? I think it’s because they shake us out of our complacency and mediocrity. I think of the composer Salieri as portrayed in the movie and play Amadeus, who is beside himself with jealousy and self-loathing when he hears the music of Mozart, because the enormous talent of Mozart revealed him for all his mediocrity. I think this happens when we see someone phenomenally intelligent or outrageously talented or astoundingly good-looking. There is something unsettling about real beauty, real talent, real goodness––and also about real innocence. It’s what we do with that unsettling movement, that irritation, that counts though. One reaction is simply to celebrate God’s great generosity in having made something, someone so beautiful. Another reaction is to be spurred on, inspired to achieve and assimilate the greatness we see. But another, and perhaps more common reaction, is to want to destroy it, because it is a mockery of us, of our own ugliness or of our own mediocrity. That’s why we love to eat our leaders and destroy our heroes and our celebrities in our culture. We want to level the playing field, lower the bar. The playwright in Amadeus makes the comparison to Jesus when he has Salieri say to the priest: “Your merciful God destroyed his own beloved Son rather than let mediocrity share in his glory.” I always think that this is the image portrayed in the slaughter of the innocents in Matthew 2. That’s what I see in Herod, so threatened by this beautiful, innocent Prince of Peace that he has to destroy all the little innocents of the land. And I wonder if we don’t do this too to our own children. Their innocence and weakness irritates us, and so we give them that hard edge as soon as possible so that they can survive in this dog-eat-dog world, and make them as cynical as we are­­­­—twice as fit for hell as we are ourselves, as Jesus says about the scribes and Pharisees. That’s of course what’s going on in this reading we hear from the book of Wisdom, which we also hear toward the end...

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We had an enthusiastic crowd for Cyprian Consiglio’s book release concert at Holy Cross parish hall in Santa Cruz this last September 4.  Joining Cyprian was the very talented Gitanjali Lori Rivera.  Many books were sold, after being autographed of course, and some CDs also.  The music was...

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(fr. Cyprian) On September 9, we have the option to celebrate a rather remarkable saint, Peter Claver. He was born in Spain, joined the Jesuits at 20 years old, and, partly due to the urging of a lay brother named Alphonsus, asked to be sent to the colonies of New Spain, in Colombia. He was deeply disturbed by the treatment of the African slaves that were being brought over for the mining industry there, in spite of the fact that three popes had by this time condemned slavery. When he was solemnly professed in 1622, he signed his final profession document in Latin as: Petrus Claver, aethiopum semper servus––“Peter Claver, servant of the Ethiopians forever.” He is known as the “slave of the slaves.” He was preceded in his ministry by another remarkable Jesuit named Alonso Sandoval. You must remember, to enslave people you have to somehow convince yourself that they are not really human. What’s remarkable about this Alonso Sandoval is that he studied the rituals, language and culture of the African peoples, so much that when he returned to Spain he wrote a book about it. So, obviously he thought of them as human beings. But Peter Claver went one step further: he would head for the wharf as soon as a slave ship entered the port, board the ship and go down below to minister to the incoming in the rat-infested, disease laden filthy holds of the ships. He did this for forty years, and it’s estimated that he catechized and baptized 300,000 of them. The two readings that we coincidentally had for that day couldn’t have been more perfect for Peter Claver. The first was from Paul’s letter to the Colossians (3:1-11), which I love, especially the phrase, well beloved to monks of all sorts: you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. I like to render that “your true self” or “your real self is hidden with Christ in God” or “our real self is hidden in God––with Christ.” And we are to look for our true selves, our real selves, there––in God. But God is not somewhere far away. I think we can get thrown by the idea of the things that are above that Paul calls us to, and not the things of earth. I seem to keep running into this phrase the past few days––“the ground of our being,” and “the ground of our soul,” especially among people who are studying Meister Eckhart. God is the ground of our being, and our real self is hidden there, in the ground of our very being, hidden with Christ...

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