lördag 14 april 2007


The Hunchback of Notre Dame is so named as he was deposited in the cathedral on Quasimodo Sunday, that is the Sunday after Easter Sunday. It comes from the Introit, "Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia." (1 Peter 2:2,3)

The Gospel text for this day is John 20:19-31. I am always reluctant to quote scripture, but this is an exception.

'When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." '

This theme is emphasised in the Communion verse "Mitte manum tuam, et cognósce loca clavórum, allelúia: et noli esse incrédulus, sed fidélis, allelúia, allelúia." (Put in thy hand, and know the place of the nails, alleluia: and be not incredulous, but believing, alleluia, alleluia.)

This needs comment. "The Jews" refers to the religious authorities, since all the people inside the room were Jews too. We are told that the doors were locked in order to make it clear that this Risen Jesus can pass through solid objects. But we are also told that he can be touched and felt, and elsewhere in the Post-Resurrection accounts, that he eats real food. So the Risen Christ, though real, is paradoxical.

This raises a second point, concerning the liturgy itself. The scriptures and liturgical texts (Introit, Gradual, Offertory and Communion) have been carefully selected to emphasis the teaching relevant to each day of the year. The Latin texts, in particular, are concise and give focus. So this is a plea to clergy to stick to what is in the books, preferably using Latin. If congregations are unfamiliar with the Latin, this provides an excellent opportunity for study and catechesis.

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