“Scratchpad Reflections” are daily meditations on the scripture readings for the date noted and are written by Dominican Brother Daniel Thomas to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the daily liturgies and Masses of celebration. Here is the reflection for:
May 1, 2016 – 6th Sunday of Easter
Saint for the day: Joseph the worker
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 – Psalm 67 – Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
“Jesus said, ‘I command you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. What I command you is to love one another. (John 15:16-17)
A note for “what it’s worth:”
I might begin today’s reflection with the popular phrase, “Win some; loose some” as it applies to the way our liturgical cycles are set up. Given the reality that nobody knew the exact dates for the resurrection, ascension of the Lord or the coming of the Holy Spirit the Church settled on an easy way to fit this in. Therefore, we had 40 days of Lent: remembering both the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness and the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert. Watch out if you start counting because it may or may not include the three days after Ash Wednesday or the Sundays or the Paschal Triduum. But there are 40 days somewhere in there. Then we are given another 40 days of Easter which would land us on what used to be called, “Ascension Thursday.” Then, in a sense of rounding it off, the Church added another 10 days to get us to Pentecost – the word actually means 50 – a perfect number in Biblical terms.
Then the Church realized that many people missed the celebration of “Ascension” because it wasn’t a pubic holiday so they moved it to a Sunday and in doing so, lost the numerical connection of the rhythm of counted days which was so important to the ancients who didn’t have connection to the internet or written down calendars! Maybe all the above might just be more useless facts but I thought it might help you understand how the Church celebrates some of our major feasts.
I’m reminded of a story told in Chaim Potok’s book, “The Chosen” where the Orthodox Rabbi plays a little game with his son and the boy’s friend. He would give them a mathematical problem to solve which would get them to set of numerical numbers that could then be lined up with the Hebrew alphabet to give a “proverb.”
When the friend caught the Rabbi cheating with his numbering, the Rabbi simply said, “I had to cheat or the numbers wouldn’t have work out exactly! The Church has done something like that in our celebrations in order to make it possible for the most people to celebrate important Feasts and Seasons. Don’t get me started on the Christmas Cycle and the 12 Days of Christmas, but the same sort of thing happened with the time between Christmas and Epiphany. But that another story.