Our first reading, Colossians 3:12-17 speaks to how we should behave as a parish. “Put on,” speaks to Aristotle’s influence in the writings of our church fathers. We have habits and the priests at our Cathedral wear habits. A habit is something we put on, as much as it something a religious puts on. St. Paul calls us to develop the listed habits. The Greek for “Heartfelt Compassion,” has “Womb,” as its root. The corresponding Semitic word, reaches out and is the root for their word, “Mercy,” mercy coming from the gut.
“Kindness,” in the Greek, comes from a root meaning, “Oh!” It is being so filled with feeling we cannot help but express it. “Humility,” comes from “Humus,” of the dirt. “To dust you came, and to dust you will return.” “Forgive one another,” the usual translation of this passage, and then “admonish,’ one another.” The original Greek goes further concerning how to behave than “Forgive.” St. Paul describes a community far removed from the congregations of churches, Protestant and Catholic, we see today.
The Cappadocian Fathers, describe community as participating in Perichoresis. This is the divine dance of the Trinity and between the Trinity and the church community. It is the dance of flames as the indwell in one another, then separate, but always having the same source. Lastly, it means the communal dance of the parish community. St. Paul speaks of a community that is mutually pleasing one another.
We keep one another in mind, knowing the names, the needs, the hopes, and the desires of the other members of our community. Doing this, Christ indwells in us, as part of this Perichoresis. Emile Durkheim wrote one of the first books on Sociology. Catholics were far less likely to commit suicide than Protestants. The reasons, the Protestant Work Ethic, and Rugged Individualism.
Catholics had a support network, family and Church. We kept each other in mind, gathered, sang psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in our hearts, in perichoresis with God. We found one another jobs, fought harassment in the workplace, and fought to protect our environment, in conformity with Genesis 2. We fought to make sure hearth and home, work and market were all safe places to be. We did this in God’s name, seeing in the Eucharist, the Physical Presence of God.
In our second reading we also find, “Wives, stand under your husbands, as is proper in Kyrie. Husbands love your wives; avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, listen to your parents in everything…. The Greek for “Stand Under,” calls to mind the formation of an army in combat array. The Greek father was the commanding officer of his ship. His spouse was the executive officer. The wife’s role was as a helper, not a subordinate. View her as being as competent as her husband is. The children listened to their parents.
This entails, “When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” He told them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know, I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke tells us he stood under his parents, the same word St. Paul uses for how the wife stands under her husband.
We read of the typical Brooklyn Jewish community of a century ago. Jesus is brash with his mother, to the point of insolence in the Anglo-Saxon family of then, and the middle-class family today. Our Blessed Virgin confronts her son, and he confronts her back. There is a dance going on here, and we are wise to see how the dance plays out. At its heart is a mercy reaching from Our Blessed Virgin’s womb, through Jesus, and into us. At rock bottom, there is the divine dance of community. Do we have it?