Friday, January 26, 2007

The Old Testament Mass

It has been a busy week and I am just now getting around to a post on last Sunday's OT reading. Father Len gave a great homily, but the following passage (excerpted, emphases mine) really struck me for a different reason.

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden pulpit which they had made for the purpose... And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God; and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground... And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemi'ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh 8:2-10, RSV)

When the lector read this, I couldn't help thinking, "What a great prefigurement of the Divine Liturgy!" The people gather together to hear the Word of God from the scriptures. The clergy give homilies to interpret what's been read. The people praise God, mourn for their sins, then gather for a feast of thanksgiving in praise of God. The only thing lacking in this Old Testament eucharistic celebration is the Living Word, the fulfillment of the written Word and the food for the Thanksgiving Feast. Okay, Christ is quite a significant "Only Thing," but I think my analogy holds up pretty well.

I am sure that little insight is not original on my part - (if it is, you should probably ignore it) - but it is original to me and further cements my faith in the integrity of revelation. Father Don always refers to the scriptures as a "seamless garment;" indeed it is. It's really cool whenever I see it for a new time.