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Roger Karban

Ordained in Rome in 1964, Roger R. Karban is a priest of the Diocese of Belleville with scholarly expertise in the Sacred Scriptures. He received a Licentiate in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and did his doctoral studies in Scripture at St. Louis University.

Karban has been the chair of religion departments at Mater Dei and Gibault Catholic High Schools; director of the diocesan diaconate program and is currently the administrator of Our Lady of Good Council Parish, Renault, IL. A part-time faculty member of St. Louis University and Southwestern Illinois College where he teaches the Bible as literature, Karban also teaches adult weekly scripture classes in Belleville, Breese, Carbondale and Lebanon, IL. With the vision of Vatican II, Karban presents workshops, not only in the diocese, but throughout the country.

 

 

Roger's Essays

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05/05/2019

MAY 5TH, 2019: THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19

An inherent problem in appreciating Scripture is that a lot of things which happened over a long period of time are often telescoped by our sacred authors to appear they took place more quickly. The apostles’ understanding of Jesus’ resurrection provides a classic example. The angels at the empty tomb, the women’s experiences and Jesus’ Easter Sunday appearances seem to have provided his disciples all the proof they needed to convince them he’d truly risen. And all this happens in less than 24 hours.

Thankfully someone attached today’s chapter 21 to John’s finished gospel to let us know it didn’t happen exactly that way. The vast majority of today’s scholars are convinced our first reading contains the earliest account of a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus we have. There are no angels, no prior appearances. After their disastrous Passover pilgrimage, Jesus’ disciples trek back to Capernaum and do what most people do when their world has crashed, just mope around, doing nothing. Probably in that condition for weeks, Peter finally does what Elizabeth Kübler-Ross tells us we all must eventually do: return to work. “I’m going back to fishing,” he announces.

It's only when the Rock and his fellow fishermen return to doing what they did before they encountered Jesus of Nazareth that they discover this itinerant preacher is now present in their lives in a new, unique way, present especially when they share a meal, something they had often done with the historical Jesus. Yet notice there’s not ironclad recognition of the risen Jesus, either at the sea or on the shore. Only the “beloved disciple” recognizes him from the boat, and though all recognize him during the meal, some seem to still have questions about whether it’s the Christ or not.

But it’s a significant aspect of John’s theology that when they recognize the risen Jesus, they also recognize they’ve been called by him/her. Peter provides the example. In a classic reversal of his three denials, this leader of the apostolic community now professes his love three times. Like Jesus, he’s a changed person.

Luke also zeros in on Peter’s changed personality. All his gospel readers remember how he cowered from a serving girl on the night Jesus was tried. Yet now in Acts, just a few weeks later, he boldly stands up in public and challenges the high priest’s command to “stop preaching in (Jesus’) name.” Though he once feared the suffering that would be his by admitting his association with this Capernaum carpenter, he now “rejoices that (he) had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” What once brought pain and death, now brings life.

Likewise the author of Revelation looks at the “Lamb’s” suffering and death through different eyes. By enduring such pain, he wasn’t destroyed, he was “enthroned.”

But, as I mentioned above, it took some time for Jesus’ followers to reach that amazing conclusion. Presuming the weakness of our human nature, it’s almost impossible for us to instantly morph into the individuals the risen Jesus expects us to be. That’s why we shouldn’t feel inferior to our biblical heroes. Those who described their scriptural transformations weren’t interested in setting up a timeline for us to copy; they were much more concerned with giving us an ideal picture of what our own transformations should one day become.

I’d personally love to find out how long it actually took Jesus’ disciples to put two and two together and discover the meaning of the empty tomb, or for Peter to build up the courage to eventually “witness” for the risen Jesus. I presume those closest to the historical Jesus would be the first to understand that, in old age, I’m still trying to become another Christ.

COPYRIGHT 2019 - ROGER VERMALEN KARBAN

This essay comes to you from FOSIL, The Faithful of Southern Illinois, http://www.fosilonline.com.
Email: info@fosilonline.com, or write FOSIL, P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL, 62222


05/12/2019

MAY 12TH, 2019: FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Acts 13:14, 43-52; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; John 10:27-30

One of the reasons Luke wrote Acts is found in today’ first reading. Some early Jewish critics of Christianity were claiming that from the beginning Jesus of Nazareth was planning to destroy Judaism by opening the reform he preached to non-Jews. According to them, the Gentile converts multiplying in Christianity during Luke’s day and age weren’t accidental. The whole process was part of the Capernaum carpenter’s master plan from day one.

Luke responds, “No way!” The Gentiles who were accepting the risen Jesus’ faith were a total surprise. If non-Jews were becoming other Christs it was only because many of those who were originally invited to experience Jesus’ dying and rising personally rejected the invitation.

Luke shares his read on this unexpected situation in today’s first reading. Paul and Barnabas, as good Jews, initially bring the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection to their fellow Jews in the Antioch synagogue. Only after those worshipers contradict what the pair proclaim with “violent abuse,” do the two state the evangelist’s thesis: “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”

No secret plan existed to evangelize Gentiles. Paul and his co-evangelizers were forced to develop one out of necessity when the unexpected happened. Though Jewish Christians were still obligated to keep the 613 Mosaic laws along with imitating the risen Jesus, Gentile Christians simply concentrated on the latter.

The greatest 20th century scholar of the Christian Scriptures – Rudolph Bultmann - once observed, “Eventually the preacher became the preached.” During his earthy ministry, Jesus of Nazareth preached a reform of Judaism. After his death and resurrection, he/she became the reform he had once preached. Nowhere is this change clearer than in today’s famous gospel pericope about Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Most probably written in the mid-90s, this Johannine passage speaks about Jesus shepherding his people. It isn’t the first time the gospel Jesus lists the characteristics of a good shepherd. He does so a generation or two before in both Matthew and Luke. But in those prior passages, he never identifies with the shepherd. He simply speaks about God – as a shepherd – wasting lots of time and effort going after “lost” sheep. Only at the end of the first Christian century does someone eventually identify the risen Jesus as such a shepherd. The preacher has finally become the preached.

Of course, once people no longer have the “Jewishness” of their faith to fall back on, they have no choice but to concentrate completely on the Christ, as does the author of Revelation. His theology closely parallels John: “The Lamb . . . will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water . . .” If you’re not following the risen Jesus, you’ll end up dying of thirst.

The basic problem for non-Jewish Christians is that those who break concentration on the risen Jesus among them are going to have terrific difficulties accomplishing the reform he preached. I presume that was the main reason celebrations of the Eucharist were essential for the earliest Christians. They simply couldn’t be who they were expected to be without creating frequent occasions to give themselves to one another.

It’s more than a shame that the biblical Breaking of Bread eventually developed into just a series of prayers and rituals by which a person gains sufficient graces to one day get into heaven. None of our Christian sacred authors could have foreseen that development.

Church historians tell us reform of the church must begin with reform of the Eucharist. Considering the recent translation foisted on us by Rome, we’ve got a long way to go.

COPYRIGHT 2019 - ROGER VERMALEN KARBAN

This essay comes to you from FOSIL, The Faithful of Southern Illinois, http://www.fosilonline.com.
Email: info@fosilonline.com, or write FOSIL, P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL, 62222


05/19/2019

MAY 19TH, 2019: FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Acts 14:21-27; Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35

What do we do when the opposite of what we expect will happen actually happens? Are we so busy concentrating on what should have been that we don’t even notice what actually took place?

Years ago I experienced some of “that” while visiting friends in Paris. One evening they took me to meet their pastor in Belleville (France that is.) During the introductions, the priest smiled, shook my hand and said something to me. I quickly turned to one of my friends and instinctively said, “Tell Father I’m glad to meet him, but please tell him I don’t speak French.” My friend hesitated for a few seconds, then quietly informed me, “He’s speaking English to you!”

We heard about a similar happening in last week’s readings when, beyond all expectations, most Jews who encountered the good news rejected the faith of Jesus while many Gentiles accepted it. Jesus’ first followers originally presumed non-Jews would have little in common with this Jewish carpenter and the reform he preached. Yet by the time Luke composes his Acts of the Apostles in the mid-80s, Gentiles are making up the vast majority of the Christian community while the percentage of Jews in the church falls year after year.

A unique Christian pattern is being created. Followers of the risen Jesus are expected to constantly “hang loose.” Those who are serious about accepting his/her faith can never be certain where he/she is going to take them next. The invitation could come from the most unexpected people, and lead down the most overlooked roads. Luke zeros in on this phenomenon in today’s Acts pericope.

When Paul and Barnabas returned to the community in Antioch which had originally commissioned and sent them out to spread Jesus’ faith, the church couldn’t help but be amazed at the report they gave. Though they sent them to evangelize Jews, they actually converted Gentiles! And when they backtracked through these new communities the pair discovered they were so generously adapting their lives to Jesus’ faith that they could begin appointing leaders among them. Christianity was much more than just a fad.

Slowly but surely, Jesus’ followers are discovering their faith is creating what the author of Revelation often refers to as a “new heaven and a new earth.” Right before their eyes, “the former heaven and the former earth had passed away.”

Yet in the midst of all these changes, there’s one constant in the faith of Jesus: love. Everything isn’t up for grabs. John’s Jesus couldn’t be clearer in his Last Supper discourse. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It’s this love which demands the frequent changes. The same act of love doesn’t always show love to everyone at the same time. As Paul and Barnabas discovered, other Christs have to reflect not only on what should be, but what actually is.

I, for instance, was always taught to expect dire “things” to result from inviting non-Catholic Christians to participate in the Eucharist. These transubstantiation unbelievers would probably do something to disrespect the host – or worse. (I clearly remember horror stories of people taking the host out of their mouths and conducting “black masses!”)

Yet in my personal experiences I’ve encountered nothing but good when the “rules” are broken and intercommunion happens. Not only are the recipients profoundly grateful to receive the Body of Christ, but it creates a oneness among the participants that can’t be accomplished any other way. Eucharist is no longer a reward, but a help.

During those times, is the risen Jesus is actually speaking English to us?

COPYRIGHT 2019 - ROGER VERMALEN KARBAN

This essay comes to you from FOSIL, The Faithful of Southern Illinois, http://www.fosilonline.com.
Email: info@fosilonline.com, or write FOSIL, P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL, 62222


05/26/2019

MAY 26TH, 2019: SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Acts 15:1-2, 27-29; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29

One of the most important concepts in our Christian Scriptures revolves around the community’s belief that the teachings of the risen Jesus continue to come to his/her followers through the years. They don’t end either with Jesus’ ascension or the end of the biblical period. John’s Jesus clearly states that belief during his Last Supper discourse. “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” (16:12-13) In other words, his Spirit will keep the revelation coming.

Even in today’s gospel pericope we hear Jesus assure us, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit . . . will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” The Spirit is always in our lives, constantly teaching the community what the risen Jesus wants us to learn about God’s will. Though our sacred authors certainly presume revelation is an ongoing process, our church “officially” closed the canon of Scripture within a century of the historical Jesus. At least on that level, this church-mandated shut-down implies that our job in the faith today is just to review, no longer to discover.

But if we actually did listen to the Holy Spirit, and go beyond what the gospel Jesus taught his people, what form would that new teaching take? How does the Spirit communicate its ongoing revelation to the church? Does she regularly schedule listening sessions or setup ecumenical councils? Who conducts the meetings, takes the notes or verifies the Spirit’s message? Where should the sessions be held? Perhaps it would be best for the Spirit just to go one on one with a special designate and cut out the middle people, sort of like the church does with papal infallibility. Yet if we listen carefully to today’s Acts passage, those middle people are essential. Luke’s convinced that’s how the process is done. After the ascension in Acts, the risen Jesus works only through people; he/she no longer works directly in the life of the church.

Former St. Louis University historian Jack Padberg once remarked that there’ve been no significant changes in the church which haven’t been preceded by years – if not generations – of disobedience. (Private reconciliation is a classic example; something for which we must credit that great “rule breaker” St. Patrick.) It seems the same holds true for the Holy Spirit’s changes.

When Paul and Barnabas began baptizing Gentiles without first converting them to Judaism, they were at least skirting an early church law, if not actually breaking it. No wonder some Jewish Christians want to go back to the status quo, to the days when things are once again in black and white.

It’s too bad that those who have chosen today’s Acts reading have omitted 20 verses! Obviously there’s lots of discussion – call it arguing – over this Gentile issue. Such a community-changing decision doesn’t just come into people’s mind fully cooked. It takes time before it develops. Though we long for the day when the community experiences a New Jerusalem, we’ll experience lots of “hit and misses” before that event actually takes place.

John’s Jesus presumes we must give ourselves over to a Spirit-filled, ongoing process. Those who expect immediate, facile answers aren’t hearing our readings. As frustrating as Pope Francis can be at times, he seems determined to implement this process. Instead of just telling us what the Spirit wants, he’s listening to what the Spirit is saying – not just to those in authority in the church, but also to the rule-breakers. He wasn’t being flippant when he uttered those memorable words, “Who am I to judge?” He was simply being serious about the Spirit’s ongoing role in the church.

COPYRIGHT 2019 - ROGER VERMALEN KARBAN

This essay comes to you from FOSIL, The Faithful of Southern Illinois, http://www.fosilonline.com.
Email: info@fosilonline.com, or write FOSIL, P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL, 62222


05/30/2019 or 06/02/2019

MAY 30TH or JUNE 2ND, 2019: ASCENSION OF THE LORD

Acts 1:2-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Luke 24:46-53

We always encounter confusion when we deal with Jesus’ ascension. Only those who ignore Scripture and simply adhere to our yearly liturgical framework are spared the mixed messages our sacred authors convey. Though the vast majority of Christians believe Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection and is securely ensconced in that celestial zip code, only one evangelist actually narrates such an event: Luke in his Acts of the Apostles. It’s clear from Mark, Matthew and John’s narratives that the risen Jesus is simply “out there” somewhere. He/she hasn’t gone anywhere. The risen Christ could “pop up” anytime at anyplace to anyone.

Even today’s Lucan gospel pericope doesn’t appear to describe a definite departure. The passage talks about Jesus being “taken up to heaven,” but within the first verses of Acts he’s again back among his followers teaching them for 40 days. It appears the evangelist is saying only that at this point of salvation history Jesus comes and goes. I, for instance, can “go to the store,” but a little later in the day, I’ll be back. In this case, Jesus is not yet leaving us for good.

The Pauline disciple responsible for the letter to the Ephesians isn’t much help. He simply speaks poetically about the position the risen Jesus maintains in each of our lives. Among other things, God has seated him/her “at his right hand in the heavens, far about every principality, authority, power and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Beautiful thought, but poetry isn’t history. In some sense it’s parallel to telling your significant other, “The sun and moon rise over you.”

Taking that for granted, the question students of Scripture must answer is, “Why does Luke uniquely remove Jesus?” Why does he disagree with the other three evangelists on that point? He alone claims Jesus leaves and doesn’t come back. He seems to take the ascension literally, not poetically. There must be a reason for him to have developed such a theology.

According to most scholars, Luke uniquely seems to zero in on the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. For him that “promise of my Father” is at the heart of the Christian community. We can’t carry on Jesus’ ministry without the Spirit. How would we know what to do or in what direction to proceed? Jesus’ ministry is a living entity. We don’t just memorize a plan, then keep repeating it. It’s something to be experienced, a new event every day. According to Luke, we’re continually learning there’s more than one way to preach “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Without the Spirit, the message of Jesus dies.

In some sense, Luke thinks it’s necessary to get Jesus “out of the way” before the Spirit “takes over,” the Spirit who will empower us to be Jesus’ witnesses “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” That seems to be why Luke’s angel warns the disciples to stop “looking up to the sky.” The Jesus whom many first century Christians are still expecting to come back in the Parousia is now gone. Though we presume he’ll eventually return, we’ve work to do in the meantime. And it’s the Spirit who will guide us into and through that work. What a shame to miss the main event while we’re waiting for a preliminary event to take place.

Were we in Luke’s place today, what would we want “out of the way?” What’s keeping us from making the Spirit the center of our lives? Any ideas? As a scriptural Catholic I suspect our hierarchical system would garner more than a few votes.

COPYRIGHT 2019 - ROGER VERMALEN KARBAN

This essay comes to you from FOSIL, The Faithful of Southern Illinois, http://www.fosilonline.com.
Email: info@fosilonline.com, or write FOSIL, P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL, 62222


06/09/2019

JUNE 9TH, 2019: PENTECOST

Acts 2:1-11; I Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

Though I intend each of these commentaries to be read independent of my other commentaries, I’m afraid this particular Pentecost piece logically follows on last week’s.

For many Catholics, today’s feast is somewhat parallel to the fourth commandment. We eventually outgrew it. Just as God’s command to “obey” our parents only applied when we were children, so anything to do with the Holy Spirit came into our lives only when we were young enough to take our school exams. Though the Cardinals entering a papal conclave logically join in singing “Come Holy Spirit” before they choose the next pope, I’ve never heard of any parish singing that hymn before they pick their next pastor, nor any diocese doing so before it elects its next bishop. The hierarchical system we’ve created – then later blamed on the historical Jesus – has taken away the necessity to depend on the Spirit for any help in our lives of faith.

When, in the summer of 1965, I returned to the United States from Rome as a newly ordained priest, I was expecting to get a fair amount of static from the older parishioners of any parish to which I was assigned. They’d be the group most resisting the Vatican II changes I was bringing with me. They had, for a lifetime, bought into the theology that the Roman Catholic Church was founded by Jesus as an unchangeable institution, an institution that this young priest was informing them was changing.

To my surprise, I discovered my presuppositions weren’t always verified. The elderly were frequently my staunchest supporters! They accepted my explanations and went along with the reform. I had more problems with middle-age parishioners.

Years later, my friend and teacher, Carroll Stuhlmueller, explained the reason for their reluctance to change. “They’re young enough to hold out the hope that one day they’re going to discover things in life that never change. The Catholic Church filled that expectation. Older people know that’s an impossible dream. In their senior years, they simply take change for granted. It’s become a way of life.”

I frequently remember Teilhard de Chardin’s remark that as a youth he longed to uncover an element in his environment that never changed. He thought he found it one day when he came across a small piece of iron from a broken plough. He couldn’t bend, break or destroy it, until . . . he noticed it began to rust after it rained. He was eventually forced to admit the only thing that didn’t change was change.

I presume the main reason Luke brings up the wind, fire and noise accompanying the Holy Spirit’s arrival springs from that basic insight. Each is a disturbing element. (I distinctly remember letting my grandmother in on one of my treasured childhood plans. When I grew up I intended to cut down all the trees! That would stop the wind from frightening me.)

The evangelist presumes there’s no need for the Spirit if the risen Jesus doesn’t demand constant change in her/his community. For Luke, the Spirit is the force behind the Christ’s wind, noise and fire, and causes the directions in which they blow, sound and burn. He’s not alone.

For Paul, the Spirit instigates the gifts which are creating chaos in Corinth. And for John, the Spirit leads us into the great “unknown” that forgiveness creates. In each case, followers of the risen Jesus would be more unchanging, more peaceful if they just didn’t have to deal with such an uncontrollable element.

I belong to a church that has consistently employed various (successful) hierarchical deforestation programs. Thankfully I’ve also lived long enough to have encountered a pope who’s actually started planting trees instead of cutting them down. Francis must have had a very understanding and wise grandmother.

COPYRIGHT 2019 - ROGER VERMALEN KARBAN

This essay comes to you from FOSIL, The Faithful of Southern Illinois, http://www.fosilonline.com.
Email: info@fosilonline.com, or write FOSIL, P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL, 62222


06/16/2019

JUNE 16TH, 2019: HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY

Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

Ever guilty of going about things backward?

I presume this is the situation many of us Christians face every Trinity Sunday. Though our sacred authors describe and comment on God from one direction, we’re usually approaching him/her from the opposite direction. While our writers create the biblical pictures they develop based on their personal experiences of that God, many of us shape our personal God-experiences just to fit into their pictures. Our definition of God is frequently more important than our experiences of God. First, we look for a theology, then search for experiences to reinforce it.

Our sacred authors weren’t brought up on catechisms; they were formed by experiences. Though they later attempt to put their experiences into some form of logical patterns, it’s clear from the many – often contradictory – biblical theologies we encounter that no one size fits all. Those willing to be involved with God are committing themselves to an adventure almost impossible to describe. Perhaps that’s why, in God’s wisdom, our Scriptures were composed by Semitic – not Greek – thinkers, people who refuse to analyze their exploits. Instead of coming up with either/or ways of looking at their God-adventures, they concentrate on synthesizing them. They’re always on the lookout to add another dimension or surface an aspect they never before noticed. Their one goal is to zero in on the both/and of their experiences.

Not long ago I learned of an interesting custom among 19th century North American Plains Indians: “counting coup.” In battle, the tribe’s most courageous warriors would simply touch an enemy - not kill or wound him - then ride off. After the conflict, the survivors would gather to count the touches and compare notes. Among other things, they were convinced such “coups” transferred some of their enemy’s strength or spirit to them in ways that killing them couldn’t achieve.

Could saving and collecting our sacred writings be another way of counting coup? In a sense, our biblical writers have touched God, and lived to tell us about it. They could have “killed” God by giving us a technical, catechism definition of divinity. But instead, they only touched her/him, leaving something for another day and another encounter. Best of all, they shared the spirit they gained from their contact, helping us uncover another dimension of someone who boasts unlimited dimensions.

Unlike our Semitic-thinking sacred authors, we Greek-thinkers are in the business of killing, not touching. When we get done with the subject we attack, there’s nothing left but to bury the carcass in some theological manual.

Thankfully today’s three sacred writers touch and don’t kill.

The author of Proverbs could never have buried his or her coup in one of those manuals; it’s simply too poetic. The writer actually “co-creates” with Yahweh, standing next to God during the creation process.

Paul and John, on the other hand, bring up things on which many of us rarely reflect. The Apostle zeros in on the failures and weakness that come to the fore when we reach out to God in our lives. Yet the instant we put our hands on the divine in our midst, we see the limits of those hands. In the same way, the Evangelist takes us beyond what we “cannot bear to hear now.” We can never look forward to retiring from the battle, no matter how often we engage with God. It’s an essential part of who we are.

No matter how we’ve learned about God in the past, there’s always time to rearrange our priorities. It might take a lot more courage, but what an experience we’ll have to boast about? We’ll not only leave God intact, but have a strength we’ve never had before.

Maybe those Indians knew what they were doing.

COPYRIGHT 2019 - ROGER VERMALEN KARBAN

This essay comes to you from FOSIL, The Faithful of Southern Illinois, http://www.fosilonline.com.
Email: info@fosilonline.com, or write FOSIL, P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL, 62222


06/23/2019

JUNE 23RD, 2019: BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

Genesis 14:18-20; I Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11b-17

I grew up with images of “Corpus Christi” which completely contradict today’s readings.

We old-timers graphically remember those glorious processions in “days of yore.” The event was held outside if possible, but if necessary up and down the aisles of our parish church; thurifers swinging, incense rising, bells ringing, everyone’s eyes riveted on the small host in a golden monstrance, each straining to get at least a glimpse. One of the highlights of my seminary career was traveling over the Italian hills to attend the Orvieto procession in June, 1963 – just a few days before Pope John XXIII’s death - 700 years after the tradition originally began.

Back then everyone was expected just to watch and look. It involved almost no practical participation. Some unknown priest had already done all the work; we showed up only to admire the end product. Yet nothing could be further from the biblical concept of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Our sacred authors presume the community – not one individual – “confects” the Eucharist. Their actions lead to the risen Jesus actually being among us.

Both Paul and Luke pinpoint what their communities can (and must) do to pull off such a tremendous event.

The Apostle perfectly summarizes the situation: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” Unless someone’s willing to die, we’re eating just a piece of bread and drinking just a sip of wine. If we refuse to give ourselves to one another, there’s nothing miraculous even to look at.

Though in this passage’s original context, Paul graphically hammers away at what his Corinthians should be sharing, in today’s liturgical readings it’s left up to Luke to be specific. Following the conviction of our gospel scholars that all six bread miracles are Eucharistic, it’s essential to note – contrary to popular belief – that the people, not Luke’s Jesus, feed the crowd. He simply starts the process, “Give them some food yourselves,” and ignores their complaints. He’s the distributor, not the multiplier of the food his community provides. The loaves and fish are miraculously increased in the giving. An action that normally would produce less, actually produces more!

Our present problem revolves around the “stuff” we’re to share today. When the Eucharist was celebrated in the context of a pot-luck meal, the actual food and drink that both Paul and Luke mention makes sense. (Even the pagan priest/king Melchizedek provides Abraham and his men with bread and wine.) But, except for occasionally helping feed the poor, we probably should look beyond just sharing our “victuals” with one another.

As a pastor and Eucharistic presider, I almost always engaged in “dialogue homilies.” I gave a brief homily on the readings, then opened the floor. It took a little while, but eventually many of the parishioners took advantage of the opportunity to reflect on the Scriptures. No one seemed to mind the homily’s added length, and most gained from the community’s insights. (I always did!)

On those rare occasions on which no one added, I usually reminded the people, “I presume some are leaving the Eucharist hungry today. Though the Spirit blessed you with the food they needed, for some reason you didn’t think you had enough to share. Always remember, there’s only enough when someone begins to give what she or he has. It’s how we die with the Christ.”

Considering today’s feast, it would be a shame if we revert to listening to the risen Jesus’ word instead of sharing Jesus’ word. Why would anyone reinvent the feast of Corpus Christ? We already have such a weekly “celebration” in most of our parishes.

Can’t you smell the incense burning and hear the bells ringing?

COPYRIGHT 2019 - ROGER VERMALEN KARBAN

This essay comes to you from FOSIL, The Faithful of Southern Illinois, http://www.fosilonline.com.
Email: info@fosilonline.com, or write FOSIL, P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL, 62222


Archives in PDF format:
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Each archive file has two articles with the most recent at the bottom.

2019 Essays
June 16 & 23, 2019
May 30 or June 2 & June 9, 2019
May 19 & 26, 2019
May 5 & 12, 2019
April 20 & 28, 2019
April 14 & 18, 2019
March 31 & April 7, 2019
March 17 & 24, 2019
March 3 & 10, 2019
February 17 & 24, 2019
February 3 & 10, 2019
January 20 & 27, 2019
January 6 & 13, 2019


2018 Essays

December 25 & 30, 2018
December 16 & 23, 2018
December 2 & 9, 2018
November 18 & 25, 2018
November 4 & 11, 2018
October 21 & 28, 2018
October 7 & 14, 2018
September 23 & 30, 2018
September 9 & 16, 2018
August 26 & September 2, 2018
August 12 & 19, 2018
July 29 & August 5, 2018
July 15 & 22, 2018
July 1 & 8, 2018
June 17 & 24, 2018
June 3 & 10, 2018
May 20 & 27, 2018
May 10 & 13 2018
April 29 & May 6, 2018
April 15 & 22, 2018
March 31 (vigil) & April, 2018
March 25 & 29, 2018
March 11 & 18, 2018
February 25 & March 4, 2018
February 11 & 18, 2018
January 28 & February 4, 2018
January 14 & 21, 2018


2017 Essays

December 31, 2017, & January 7, 2018
December 24 & 25, 2017
December 10 & 17, 2017
November 26 & December 3, 2017
November 12 & 19, 2017
October 29 & November 5, 2017
October 15 & 22, 2017
October 1 & 8, 2017
September 17 & 24, 2017
September 3 & 10, 2017
August 20 & 27, 2017
August 6 & 13, 2017
July 23 & 30, 2017
July 9 & 16, 2017
June 25 & July 2, 2017
June 11 & 18, 2017
May 28 & June 4, 2017
May 21 & 25 or 28, 2017
May 7 & 14, 2017
April 23 & 30, 2017
April 13 & 15(vigil), 2017
April 2 & 9, 2017
March 19 & 26, 2017
March 5 & 12, 2017
February 19 & 26, 2017
February 5 & 12, 2017
January 22 & 29, 2017
January 8 & 15, 2017


2016 Essays

December 25, 2016, & January 1, 2017
December 11 & 18, 2016
November 27 & December 4, 2016
November 13 & 20, 2016
October 30 & November 6, 2016
October 16 & 23, 2016
October 2 & 9, 2016
September 18 & 25, 2016
September 4 & 11, 2016
August 21 & 28, 2016
August 7 & 14, 2016
July 24 & 31, 2016
July 10 & 17, 2016
June 26 and July 3, 2016
Jun 12 & June 19, 2016
May 29 & June 5, 2016
May 15 & May 22, 2016
May 5 & May 8, 2016
April 24 & May 1, 2016
April 10 & April 17, 2016
March 27 and April 3, 2016
March 24 & 26, 2016
March 13 & 20, 2016
February 28 and March 6, 2016
February 14 and 21, 2016
January 31 and February 7, 2016
January 17 and 24, 2016
January 3 and 10, 2016


2015 Essays
December 25 and 27, 2015
December 13, 20 and 25, 2015
November 29 and December 6, 2015
November 15 and 22, 2015
November 1 and 8, 2015
October 18 and 25, 2015
October 4 and 11, 2015
September 20 and 27, 2015
September 6 and 13, 2015
August 23 and 30, 2015
August 9 and 16, 2015
July 26 and August 2, 2015
July 12 and 19, 2015
June 28 and July 5, 2015
June 14 and 21, 2015
May 31 and June 7, 2015
May 17 and 24, 2015
May 10 and May 14 or 17, 2015
April 26 and May 3, 2015
April 12 and 19, 2015
April 4 and 5, 2015
March 29 and April 2, 2015
March 15 and 22, 2015
March 1 and 8, 2015
February 15 and 22, 2015
February 1 and 8, 2015
January 18 and 25, 2015
January 4 and 11, 2015

2014 Essays
December 25 & 28, 2014
December 14 & 21, 2014
November 30 & December 7, 2014
November 16 & 23, 2014
November 2 and 9, 2014
October 19 & 26, 2014
October 5 & 12, 2014
September 21 & 28, 2014
September 7 & 14, 2014
August 24 and 31, 2014
August 10 and 17, 2014
July 27 and August 3, 2014
July 13 and July 20, 2014
June 29 and July 6, 2014
June 15 and June 22, 2014
June 1 and June 8, 2014
May 25 and May 29, 2014
May 11 and May 18, 2014
April 27 and May 4, 2014
April 19 & 20, 2014
April 13 & 17, 2014
March 30 & April 6, 2014
March 16 & 23, 2014
March 2 & 9, 2014
February 16 & 23, 2014
February 2 & 9, 2014
January 19 & 26, 2014
January 5 & 12, 2014

2013 Essays
December 25 & 29, 2013
December 15 & 22, 2013
December 1 & 8, 2013
November 17 & 24, 2013
November 3 & 10, 2013
October 20 and 27, 2013
October 6 and 13, 2013
September 22 and 29, 2013
September 8 and 15, 2013
August 25 and September 1, 2013
August 11 and 18, 2013
July 28 and August 4, 2013
July 14 and 21, 2013
June 30 and July 7, 2013
Jun 16 & 23, 2013
Jun 2 & 9, 2013
May 19 & 26, 2013
May 9 & 12, 2013
April 28 and May 5, 2013
April 14 and 21, 2013
March 30 and April 7, 2013
March 24 and 28, 2013
March 10 and 17, 2013
February 24 and March 3, 2013
February 10 and 17, 2013
January 27 and February 3, 2013
January 13 and 20, 2013
December 30, 2012, and January 6, 2013

2012 Essays
December 23 & 25, 2012
December 9 & 16, 2012
November 25 and December 2, 2012
November 11 and 18, 2012
October 28 and November 4, 2012
October 14 and October 21, 2012
September 30 and October 7, 2012
September 16 and September 23, 2012
September 2 and September 9, 2012
August 19 and August 26, 2012
August 5 and August 12, 2012
July 22 and July 29, 2012
July 8 and July 15, 2012
June 24 and July 1, 2012
June 10 and 17, 2012
May 27 and June 3, 2012
May 17 and May 20, 2012
May 6 and May 13, 2012
April 22 and April 29, 2012
April 7 (Easter Vigil) and April 15, 2012
March 25 and April 1, 2012
March 11 and March 18, 2012
February 26 and March 4, 2012
February 12 and February 19, 2012
January 29 and February 5, 2012
January 15 and January 22, 2012
January 1 and January 8, 2012

2011 Essays
December 18 and December 25, 2011
December 4 and December 11, 2011
November 20 and November 27, 2011
November 6 and November 13, 2011
October 23 and October 30, 2011
October 9 and October 16, 2011
September 25 and October 2, 2011
September 18, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 21, 2011
August 07, 2011
July 24, 2011
July 10, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 12, 2011
June 6, 2011
May 22, 2011
May 5, 2011
April 10, 2011
May 8th, 2011
April 24, 2011
April 3, 2011
March 20, 2011
March 6, 2011
February 20, 2011
February 6, 2011
January 30, 2011
January 16, 2011
January 2, 2011

2010 Essays
December 25, 2010
December 10, 2010
November 28, 2010
November 14, 2010

 

 

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