Clarinets and candle light : A reflection on this Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 20:27-38)

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For those that may not have guessed yet, I lean more to the traditional side of things. When it comes to liturgy I am no different. I saw a clip on twitter this week which I forwarded (you can find me @G0d_lover) that showed a disgraceful mass with a clarinet playing celebrant, belly dancers (in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament) and Holy Communion distributed to the congregation seated at candlelit tables! I mean, where’s the parousia?! (That is the name given, basically, to the line up of the faithful into heaven of which the queue to receive the Eucharist is a sign.)

This morning’s mass, thankfully, fell short of clarinets and candle light but had a number of, what some may call, “liturgical abuses”: readings were unnecessarily changed, liturgical dancers made an appearance… Yes, it was a mass for young children, so “accommodations” had to be made.

What has all this got to do with this Sunday’s gospel? Jesus speaks to “some Sadducees – those who say there is no resurrection” – about marriage. However in the context of marriage Jesus gives a lesson on the resurrection. There is the clear lesson of eternal life (“he is God, not of the dead, but of the living”) but he alludes to more than this. In saying that those in the “other world” do not marry, he points to a deeper change in our state of life. Once we cross the great divide of death nothing is the same. Perhaps a better way of saying it is that everything of God is perfected. Marriage should never be for an individual. Marriage is for the dedicated service of two individuals to each other. Marriage becomes a way to holiness; to communion with Christ. In heaven this communion is perfected. This widow was graced enough to get possibly seven men to heaven (though whether heaven existed in its current state or not is a matter for another time!). Widows and widowers are themselves the best adjudicators whether or not they have succeeded in their role to get their spouse to heaven. I mean, apart from the spouse and God.

This perfection in heaven is living – and real. All things offered for the greater glory of God are perfected in heaven. Marriages are among them. So are masses, no matter how poor or disrespectful they seem. I remember speaking about this problem (of masses with little respect) to my spiritual director. She advised me to focus on Christ. Be aware of the form and matter. If these are present, so is Christ. I still tell myself “Jesus is here, Jesus is here” during what I would consider poor masses, but it is true. I am not the judge, Jesus will be. And he will perfect all things offered to God, whether marriages or masses, whether clarinets or candles.

Pray for the souls in purgatory. They are in the process of being perfected.

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