I questioned hubby again regarding his insistence that the changes in attitude to Lent were somehow more significant than the change of the mass from Latin to the vernacular. He said he liked the post VII emphasis of the positive contribution Lent can make to your spiritual life, as opposed to the rather dour and negative (suffering for the sake of suffering) attitude pre VII. What concerned him is that Lent had become too easy, somehow he feels we loose too much of Christ in the rush to sanitise the suffering. This is relevant to the rest of my musings below.
I love Matthew’s Gospel, and I love this cycle readings for Mass that we are currently having. They tell a linear story of the growing hatred the authorities have for Christ, but as with everything else in Matthew’s Gospel, nothing is quite that simple, it shines and glitters differently depending on how the light catches it.
I feel our parish priest was struggling with this Sunday’s reading, wrestling with the violence inherent in the tale, he couldn't accept that Chirst actually told this tale. He gave a sermon that had been written by a theologian, not himself. The gist of which was as follows:
The tale is a reworking of a similar one in Luke but with considerably more violent imagery. This had been inserted by later writers. Jesus never said those things. It is a morality tale for the Jewish authorities.
My problem is this: The Gospels must always be "interpreted" in the light of the Truth they contain. This Truth is divine and timeless. At no point is any story in the Gospels intended purely for one generation or one select set of people. The reading is uncomfortable, yes. But everything in Matthew's Gospel is tied up with the Four Last Things, everything is about our salvation/damnation. This is uncomfortable. But it is a discomfort we must face, like mortification in Lent. These discomforts are part of adult faith, they should make us grow towards Christ in love, longing and meekness. Intellectualise them away and awesomeness of our salvation fades away.